Retro Read: Blood and Rain(Book 1) by Shira Anthony

Blurb

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Review

First, I think anyone interested in this series should be PSYCHED to know that all 3 books are finally released. I didn’t touch this because I didn’t want to be in cliff-hanger torture while waiting for the series to finish. So…. Once I saw book 3 released I said – at last! – I can begin this series!

Second, this is Shira Anthony. So… you know you best be prepared for in depth world building, complex characters, lots of angst, and pain, and maybe some not-so perfect MCs.

I think, as someone who has enjoyed her other series – Blue Note and Mermen of Ea – that this (so far) seems to follow in their footsteps. Book one is all about the back story and world building and introducing us to all the myriad characters. Right now my interest in piqued with Charles and Francois more than Adrien – but time will tell…

I’m not a big fan – ok I hate – cliff hangers, and I’m actually more attracted to short stories than I am to epic multi book series – but – I’m looking forward to starting book 2. I do love Shira’s writing style and though I’m not loving the flashbacks and there was a lot of the time that I was really confused as to who was where and when but… – I love me some biting and vamps who like biting and all the magic – so….

4 of 5 stars

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Recent Release: Escaping Exile (The Escape Trilogy Book 1) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40794384-escaping-exile?from_search=true

Blurb: Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.
Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream-but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.
As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?

Review:
I really enjoyed this ☺
The blurb sucked me in. I’m a ‘sucker’ (sorry!) for paranormal or historical stories and with this book I get both.
Andrew, (a vampire), has been exiled to some remote island as a punishment. He meets Edmund when he rescues the latter from a shipwreck – Edmund is the sole survivor.
As Andrew nurses Edmund back to health, he begins to look at the injured man less as sustenance, (he is a vampire after all), and more as a lust/love interest. While Edmund recovers the two men forge a friendship that turns into something more. Though it is a short story, it didn’t feel rushed – the backstory is interwoven into the current happenings, so the story feels longer than it actually is. I would have liked to know a little more about Edmund’s past, but that may come later.
This is book 1 of a trilogy but it ends with a good HFN. However, I am sufficiently hooked that I want to see what happens with Andrew and Edmund in the future.

4 stars out of 5


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Audiobook: The Bureau by Kim Fielding narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Bureau-Audiobook/B07FB87WNZ?qid=1533351357&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=ZB9XMTGMAM0FQQVEZ38X&

Blurb:

This collection contains the first three Bureau novellas:

Corruption

Once a proud demon of the night sky who carried nightmares to humans, Tenrael has spent decades in captivity as the star attraction of a traveling carnival. He exists in miserable servitude to men who plunk down ten dollars to fulfill their dark desires.
Charles Grimes is half human, half…something else. For 15 years he’s worked for the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, ridding the country of dangerous monsters. When his boss sends him to Kansas to chase a rumor about a captive demon, Charles figures it’s just another assignment. Until he meets Tenrael.

Clay White

Someone – or something – is murdering young men in San Francisco. Clay White has been fired from the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs, but he’s determined to track down the killer. When he comes across a vampire named Marek, Clay assumes he’s caught the perp. But the encounter with Marek turns out to be more complicated than Clay expected, and it forces him to deal with his own troubled past and murky psyche.
As Clay discovers, sometimes the truth doesn’t come easy – and the monsters are not who we expect.

Creature

Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who – or what – he is. Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.

When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream – to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs – all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him.
Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man – and what a monster truly wants.

Review

Book reviewed here previously

This is a collection of stories that introduce the Bureau of Tran Species Affairs.
The stories are a little dark, somewhat film noir-ish, but interesting. I read and enjoyed Creature, (my favourite of the 3), as a standalone, so when I saw that Joel Leslie was narrating the trio of stories, I was more than happy to experience the collection. The stories connect, but are definitely self-contained standalones.

What can I say about ‘a Joel Leslie performance’ that hasn’t been said before? He brings life, character and a wealth of acting experience to the stories he narrates; so much so, that one becomes personally invested in the characters. In this case, he made me want to take Tenrael (Corruption) home to care for. And John (Creature), you could almost ‘see’ how he bloomed under Harry’s care – I could feel the affection and emotion he felt for Harry, life (such as it was) in general.
Joel Leslie, simply put, is a pleasure to listen to.

5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Recent Release: An Arranged Mating by Jane Wallace-Knight

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40810918-an-arranged-mating?from_search=true

Blurb

[Siren Classic ManLove: Alternative Contemporary Paranormal Romance, MM, shape-shifter, vampires, werewolves, HEA]

Hunter White left home as soon as he was able. Coming back to take over as alpha, Hunter learned of the serious debt his father had left the pack with. Desperate to save them, Hunter entered into a deal with a powerful vampire. The nest leader would pay off all the pack’s debts, on one condition—Hunter had to take a vampire for a mate.

Vampire Aeron Lyons had been in some serious scrapes during his unnaturally long life, but nothing came close to this. Being given to an alpha werewolf, like he was some sort of bargaining chip, wasn’t what Aeron wanted for his life, but he wasn’t dumb enough to say no to a man like Ken Roberts.

Resigning himself to join a pack who already dislikes him on principal, Aeron has no idea how rocky the road ahead will be or how he’s going to spend the rest of his life with a man who hates him.

Review

Review

 

I was surprised by the level of darkness in this story. I’m more used to this author’s humorous side and this was a bit different. Not a huge divergence, but striking to me.

 

In general the blurb sets this up nicely, and we get two enemies who must mate and their own attraction to one another coupled with circumstances helps them find love as well. The antagonist was suitably nasty as was the (predictable) evil uncle.

 

There was a lot of hot smexy times and though I didn’t always love Hunter, in the end everything turned out really well.

 

I thought the ending was believable in a way that some of these paranormal stories aren’t and I appreciated the author for that! My biggest complaint was I wanted Aeron to stick up for himself more and for the ILYs to be a little more believable.

 

3.5 of 5 stars

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Release Day Review: Twice Bitten by Rayna Vause 

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/twice-bitten-by-rayna-vause-9731-b

Blurb

With a new species of vampire stalking the streets, the stakes are high. But that’s not the only reason hearts are on the line.

Danny Reynolds thought Kieran McCade was the one—true love and hot lust forever—until Danny found out Kier’s bloody secret and ran away screaming. Months later, Danny is facing his own paranormal crisis, and he needs Kieran’s help, but are there enough ways to apologize for breaking a vampire’s heart?

Nothing about Danny’s transformation is normal—not the attack that led to it, and not the symptoms Danny’s plagued with—but being in close proximity to Kieran is even worse than becoming a thing that goes bump in the night. Danny and Kieran aren’t the only things threatening to bump each other off, though. Secret organizations and clashing vigilante agendas want to get their hands on Danny. His only hope is to find a fix for his problem before he’s either captured or his abnormal transition starves him to death.

Danny and Kieran might have a real chance to repair their broken romance… but only if they keep Danny alive!

Review

These are hard reviews for me to write… when a story really impacts me – one way or the other – I have an easy time expressing how I feel about it. If I loved it – I have much to gush about. If I hated it – I have much to rant upon. But when I simply didn’t feel moved by it… I don’t have much to say.

The writing isn’t bad. The characters seemed ok, but I didn’t feel any connection with them. Some of this is definitely personal preference: I don’t like when the paranormal is “known” and I don’t like “reconciliation” stories so that’s two strikes against this story without the author having done anything “wrong”. Those are just things that don’t appeal to me.

When I read the blurb I was looking for maybe… humor? Drama? Angst? Some of that is there, but there isn’t much humor and – for me – that might have edged this from a “meh” story to something that grabbed me.

However, I am not the author and this isn’t my story. So, all I can do is report on my feelings and let you know that it was an okay vampire story wherein society knows about the paranormal and two lovers are reunited after a vampire attack.

As always, I recommend reading other reviews, but this was a 2.75 star story for me. Not bad, just not gripping.

I’d definitely be willing to look for more from this author in the future, but maybe with a more specific look at the blurb next time.

Rounded to 3 of 5 stars

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Audiobook Month: Prophesy (The King & Alpha #1) Audiobook by A.E. Via Narrated by Nathaniel Black

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Prophesy-Audiobook/B07DHRYQBZ?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_3&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=9RZC4B2GBMVBK6GPNEZT&

Blurb

Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice, himself is sometimes able to control.

His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him.

Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full.

Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leave his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause anymore chaos. At over one-hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.

“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophesy from being fulfilled.

This story DOES NOT contain/mention MPREG.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. It ends with a very HFN.

 

Review

I LOVED this! I am so psyched to see AE Via come to audio! I really hope she finds the ability to do more of her books in audio. This ROCKED. Nathaniel Black OWNED this! He is able to do ALL the accents as well as carry the drama in between the dialog with panache.  The story itself is wonderful, too.

 

We have two enemies, both alphas in their own worlds, who have no expectation of mating and yet find themselves not only drawn to one another but absolutely NEEDING the other. It was GLORIOUS! I love that uncontrollable passion and the feelings that come with it. Via is also gifted at giving us a good amount of action and adventure but not enough to detract from the base of the story which is our MCs falling in love.

 

There’s a good bit of humor, lots of hot mate sex, and LOADS of shifting and biting!

 

Absolute perfection, read by a true performer!

 

I cannot rate this highly enough!

 

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Audiobook Month: Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger, narrated by Peter Newman

 

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Romancing-the-Werewolf-Audiobook/B078K5WJG1?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=8ZH17MSQJCPY15NZDW8P&

Blurb: Gay werewolves in Victorian London? Why yes, yes there are.

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.

Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after 20 years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.
This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining.

Review: I had read a couple of the Parasol Protectorate books (M/F). While I liked them, I didn’t keep up once I discovered the wonderful world of MM ☺
I decided to try this on a whim and found it to be really good. It works well enough as a standalone if you’re familiar with that world. It’s wasn’t hard to follow even though it continues the 2 MC’s story from an earlier (unread) book, (possibly from the aforementioned series).
The narrator is a new man, (get it? Peter Newman … sorry, couldn’t resist), to me. The narration was good, entertaining. He was quite good at distinguishing the characters. He uses an echo effect to differentiate when Biffy is thinking. The effect took some getting used to, but I liked it – it suited the overall performance.
I hope there will be more of Biffy, Lyall and the pack, especially if the narrator is Peter Newman.

4 out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Month: Fangs and Catnip by Julia Talbot Narrated by Dorian Bane

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fangs-and-catnip-by-julia-talbot-9030-b

Blurb: A Dead and Breakfast Novel
A romance worth fighting for—tooth and claw.

Solitary vampire Fallon Underwood gets all the social interaction he needs being the silent partner at the Dead and Breakfast B and B high in the Colorado mountains. Change is hard for Fallon, so when his business partner, Tanner, suggests hiring a new manager for the inn, he’s adamant that they don’t need help, especially not in the form of bouncy werecat Carter Hughes.

Carter is a happy-go-lucky kitty, and he loves the hospitality industry, so the D and B ought to be a great place for him. He falls for Fallon as soon as he picks up one of Fallon’s novels, and begins to woo the vamp with gifts. When Fallon finally succumbs to Carter’s feline charms, the results are unexpected, to say the least. Their mating will have irreversible consequences—for their bodies and their hearts.

Review:
(Book reviewed here previously by Dee)
This is a different take on supernatural interspecies mating.
I liked the quirky characters at the B&B – from Fallon, the moody writer (vampire); Tanner co-owner (Bear) and Glenda (Gorgon). Tanner needs a day manager to help take on some of the day to day managerial duties, (since Fallon, co-owner has little interest in helping). Carter, a werecat, applies and gets the job. Carter is friendly, chatty, with a sunny disposition – all the things Fallon is not. But Carter ‘weres’ Fallon down (I couldn’t resist☺) and they fall in love.
It was interesting the way Fallon and Carter’s relationship progressed; especially the way they took on each other’s traits – Carter developing photosensitivity, while Fallon had a vague craving for meat. However, the two men have to find a way to adjust to their mating changes or they will slowly die. With the help of a B&B staff, a few guests and a local doctor, the two men figure out a way to adjust to each other and live happily together.
There is a bit of heartache when Fallon thinks he’s helping by pushing Carter away. As a result, Carter becomes feral and Fallon has to find a way to bring him back.
I enjoyed the story, especially the twist on the fated mates trope.
I hope there will be stories for some of the other characters, like Tanner or Dan (wolf, guest).

3.75 stars out of 5

Audio

Dorian Bane does a terrific job of giving every “unique” character in this funny story an equally “unique” voice. He’s definitely got the “tongue in cheek” vibe down and he mirrors the light hearted nature of the story perfectly. 

He excels at his dialog and is solid on the non-dialog parts. This is definitely the way to appreciate this story and is a great way to spend a weekend!

4.5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

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Recent Release: The Calling by M.D. Neu

Nine star Press
https://www.amazon.com/Calling-M-D-Neu-ebook/dp/B078HGXBX7/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519394410&sr=1-1&keywords=M.D.+Ne

Blurb
Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.

There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?

Review
My first thoughts when I started reading this book was where is this going. The reader is left to ponder the mysterious circumstances of Duncan feeling the pull to come to San Jose. When I did get more into the story I was equally intrigued and impatient to know what happens next. So much happens, changes and becomes revealed I couldn’t stop until I found out more. The Author provides a lot of details which helps the flow of the story. To be honest after reading the blurb I was expecting a paranormal a story but not necessarily vampires. It was a good surprise especially as I found this story to be an interesting new take on it. The whole hierarchy and customs are well developed making it a credible scenario. I especially liked that although we understand a lot has to happen for Duncan and Kirtus to be together, it’s kept off page. The romance between them is written very well and feels a natural development. The conclusion ties up a lot of lose ends nicely but frustratingly opens the door to more books.I only say frustratingly because I hate the carrot of the next story dangled in front of me if I can’t read it yet!

5 of stars out of 5

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Friends to Lovers: Blood Moon Book 1 Audiobook by MJ O’Shea Narrated by Michael Stellman

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Blood-Moon-Audiobook/B00KLGCPYW?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=2T00KJCB0EEKC1CAWWSG&

 

Blurb

Zack met his best friend, Noah, at Harper Lake when they were five years old. Summer after summer, his feelings grew, but he assumed Noah didn’t feel the same. But one night when they were 17, Zack kissed Noah…and Noah kissed him back. Zack was sure he did. But the next morning, Noah put an end to their friendship and walked away, leaving Zack with a broken heart.
A year has passed, and Zack goes back to the lake – where every leaf, rock, and turn in the road remind him of the biggest mistake he ever made. He hates thinking about what he lost, and more than anything he wants his best friend back. He figures it’ll be the longest summer ever. But then Noah shows up out of the blue, apologetic and more gorgeous than ever. Noah is sweet and attentive, and Zack can almost believe nothing had ever gone wrong. But there’s something different about his old friend, something not quite right. Zack doesn’t want to ruin the fragile new bond between them, but he has to know…what secret is Noah hiding?

Review

This is a great YA/NA friends to lovers story with a paranormal twist.

 

There is some good action and this books sets up the series nicely.

 

While it’s a bit predictable, it hits all the things I love in a paranormal romance and leaves us wanting more. There is a surprising amount of heat and not as much angst as I worry about seeing in YA/NA stories. The action/adventure is good, too.

 

Michael Stellman does a nice job with the narration.

 

 

Overall 3.5 of 5 stars

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