Sunday, November 26, 2023

Monster Without Mercy

Monster Without MercyMonster Without Mercy by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick, fun, and satisfyingly silly paranormal romance. It was definitely a unique spin on your good girl/bad guy story.

Xavier has been cursed by his father to lose his powers if he doesn’t get someone to give up their good soul for him. After ignoring it for far too long, his trusted and snarky advisor (who steals the show in many scenes) finds a descendent of an angel who may fit the bill. Xavier shows up in his evil ruler glory to save said person (Mercy) and whisk her away to safety. That kind of backfires a bit, and there’s oodles of explaining to be jammed into very dangerous times, but it turns out that Mercy has been surrounded by folks trying to take advantage of her!

In this case, Xavier might somehow actually be the safest bet for her, especially when he starts demonstrating some very un-evil behaviors. This is especially concerning to those how know Xavier as the evil-doer who literally hurts when he does nice things. After many quick twists and turns and fun new intros (more books please?), we do get ourselves to a nice HEA here.

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Heart of Glass

Heart of Glass (Skye Druids #3)Heart of Glass by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely my new favorite of the series so far. Something about Ferne and Theo’s story really had me hooked from the start.

Ferne’s tale has been on a slow build up to this book, where she finally takes the leap and heads to Skye. After being raised to believe that she will be disowned by her London family and hated by the Skye druids by stepping foot there, it’s taken all her courage just to go. Once she arrives, she follows her instincts and they lead her to Theo. Theo is in a weird position where he straddles the line between humans on the isle and the druids. With this weird murderous fog/mist attacking druids, he needs to solve the case to satisfy both parts of his life - as a cop and Druid.

Ferne and Theo meet with fireworks and it only gets better from there. Somehow Ferne was able to talk mind-to-mind to a Druid there and she is all in on using anything she can to help defend these people. It even goes so far as to endangering her life and going against her brother’s wishes. With so much at stake, she risks it all and gets very close to losing. There are a lot of moving pieces and it was really satisfying to see them move into a pattern that gets us one step closer to a big showdown. We get some resolution, don’t worry, but it isn’t as permanent as I’d have liked to see. I know there is still a lot of unanswered stuff we need to work through, but the story is really getting there.

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Blood Heir

Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder, #1; World of Kate Daniels, #13)Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a terrible fan of Kate Daniels because I didn’t even know this came out. Once discovered, however, I dove right in!

If you are up to date with the Kate books and spinoffs, you know that something is going on with Julie. Turns out that after teaming up with Kate’s aunt, she determines that she needs to try to undo a mystical prophecy about someone out to kill Kate. Since Kate is essentially Julie’s mother, she tries to hit the magical big bad head on, but doesn’t exactly get the results she is after. All this is summarized nicely in the story at the end of the book (maybe skip there first?), but what we are left with is a Julie who has no recognizable face and no recognizable scent. Throw this all together with the fact that she didn’t really stop the prophecy and instead just delayed it a little. Oh, and the prophecy has a caveat that she can’t tell Kate, so don’t hold out hopes for all the fun visits we’d like to see between these two.

What do we get, though? We get Julie, forced to navigate her old hometown but without the connections she used to have. Sure, some folks are OK to let in on the secret, but even her long lost love ends up not showing any sign of recognizing her. These two tiptoe around one another in an adorable and wonderful way. That was definitely a highlight. While, again, we are no able to fully stop things that are set in stone in this book, we do make a good nudge towards resolution. Oh, and there’s a whole big story about a magical artifact and cookies and self-important hyenas.

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

The King of Fire

The King of Fire (Aurelia Ryder, #0.5)The King of Fire by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure really how to rate a very short story set in the world of Kate Daniels. This does give at least more exposition than I got at the start of the Aurelia Ryder Book 1 (though I hear this is contained at the end maybe).

We join Julie, who’s in the process of becoming Aurelia Ryder. We get to see how she ended up there, a near-fatal misstep, and her interactions with her brother and grandfather. All of these things add up to become the precursor to Book 1, where Julie has officially become Aurelia. I wish this was longer, but will gobble up any and all KD stuff.

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Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon

Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon (Black Rock Guardians #2)Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon by Susanna Strom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really enjoying this world and definitely recommend starting at book 1 if you are considering starting here. The setup in the first book is what made this book so much “easier” to settle into. If you are set on plowing through, there’s probably enough to catch up, but it won’t be as rewarding a payoff.

Annika is the sister with some baggage from the previous book in the worst way. She was forced to kill a man to defend her family and now she’s got to live with that. She’s also got to live with a “babysitter” from the pack who is not exactly the best counter worker at their bakery. It also doesn’t help that they are dancing around each other, pretending that the attraction doesn’t exist. Thing shift into high gear when Courtney reappears and ups the threat level. The pack does what they do and locks the sisters down in the complex, but the threats just keep coming.

Being the kind hearted person that she is, Annika can’t just sit there while folks get injured protecting her. Zane, in ultra-protect mode, is along for the ride here. It was really fun to watch Annika smooth Zane’s rough edges and ultimately made them both better for it. We get our HEA here, but beware - there is a definite cliffhanger. This book honestly could have ended at the HEA and I’d be happy but we resolve most if not all the book loose ends, aside from the cliffhanger stuff. Fair warning if that upsets you, you might want to wait to dig in here until the next one is in your hands.

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Magic Claims

Magic Claims (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #2; Kate Daniels, #10.6)Magic Claims by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s so nice to go back to the world of Kate & Curran. In this book, Kate really shines.

Kate is still trying to “lay low” but after her previous Wilmington adventure, it seems unlikely. While progress on the fort is done, they receive a visitor loosely tied to Kate’s work in the previous book. It quickly becomes clear that they have been made an offer they can’t refuse. We all know that Curran is going to be beast lord whether he wants to or not and that Kate is still following (loosely) in her father’s footsteps. This sets them on the journey to a town that has been “cursed.” They receive visits demanding sacrifices and it appears nobody from the town is able to leave for more than a day.

Having no patience for bullies, Kate, Curran and their newly formed “pack” head out in to the evil woods to have a talk with the evil that lurks there. Turns out, there’s a lot of fighting that has to happen before we get to the talking stage. It’s Kate at her absolute best - just flexing her fighting and magic to the best of her ability, standing up for those in her protection. There are absolutely bigger forces at play, moving the chess pieces around, but it was still so satisfying to see Kate step up and make the tough decisions. I loved this story and hope we don’t have to leave Kate here forever.

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Witch You Weren't Here

Witch You Weren't HereWitch You Weren't Here by Emma Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting world that was build here - complete with witches, magic, mayhem, and mystery!

Kay has been struggling with her magic lately. She took an alternative route in life, not choosing to lean into her magical abilities and instead went into IT. There are oodles of regrets and drama in her hometown that she’d like to avoid, but on a work trip out of the country, she somehow ends up running right into her childhood crush. Said crush ended up stomping on her heart pretty badly, so she doesn’t open right up to him about her own magical troubles. Instead they end up reluctant travel companions, both racing against cancelled flights and huge storms.

At first, I admit, I was anti-Harry (the childhood crush). We slowly peel back the layers that led to their terrible heart-stomping encounter, but with enough time, magic, and good vibes, we eek our way to a HEA. There’s even a big mystery to solve, and a wedding to manage, all rolled into this seemingly “normal” romance (with witches, though). I really enjoyed the introduction to this world and hope we swing back to visit again.

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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Magic Tides

Magic Tides (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #1; Kate Daniels, #10.5)Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I missed this world. After taking such a long break in between, it was like visiting with old friends. This story is not the longest, but gave Kate and Curran enough time to flex and remind us that they are AWESOME.

The happy couple and their kids are settling into life away from the craziness that was Atlanta. OK, so they bought a fort and are renovating it, but that’s still more normal than their previous lives. The mission is to stay under the radar here. That all changes when their son finds out that the contractor they are using’s nephew gets kidnapped. Enter Kate, who must be so eager for a fight that she stomps (or prances on Cuddles) up to the local gang leader’s house and literally burns it down. Man, it was great to watch her in action again.

Curran is no slouch either. He has been tasked with protecting the humans and readying his son for his first taste of combat. Again - AWESOME. I missed the beast lord and all of his groupies. We get to visit with old faces, new faces, and just generally bask in the familiarity of Kate & Curran kicking butt. This probably doesn’t appeal to newcomers to this world as much as it does to me, but it is probably still enjoyable.

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Time’s Fool

Time's Fool (Dorina Basarab #6)Time's Fool by Karen Chance
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What did I just read? I checked a few times to make sure this wasn’t some spin-off in a spin-off series but somehow this is deemed part of the Dorina series itself. Why? This is largely a story about Kit and his younger love story. Dorina is there but more of a supporting character than anything and certainly not in her current form. At this point I have no idea why this fits in anywhere and should instead be deemed a novella side plot.

For some reason Dorina is flung all over time to hunt down some big bad. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved, coven nonsense, Kit but much younger and less jaded, Mircea with his secrets, and time travel. Lots of time travel. It was exhausting in the way that Cassie’s books are exhausting but definitely not fun. I enjoy the writing but honestly felt myself tuning out when there is just so much history unnecessarily thrown in. Women took herbs to have abortions - OK, why do we need to know this now? Can we please progress the plot. There are long, drawn out stories just to… educate us? It reads like a historical novel instead of the paranormal romp I would have much preferred.

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Warrior’s Hope

Warrior's Hope (Dark Protectors, #16)Warrior's Hope by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t believe we got to the end of this story! It seems like just yesterday that all the main characters were children hanging out, and now they’re all leading teams of warriors! Weird, also, that with vampires and demons everyone gets to seems around the same age as their parents.

So, we knew eventually Hope would have to choose. This story has been building for books and books so to get the full impact, I’d recommend heading back to the beginning (maybe not the very beginning, but at least when this story arc starts with the seven). Hope has known all her life that she will have a role to play in defeating Ulric. He’s the big bad here that has officially been loosed on the world and has resumed his favorite pastime of stealing women who are possible mates. While Hope still believes in the good of her childhood friend, Drake, who is leading their enemies, her other BFF, Paxton knows that Drake is up to no good. It probably doesn’t help his case, though, that Paxton’s been in love with Hope for as long as he can remember.

This story starts with a big reveal about how Paxton has been spending his “research time” and how that impacts the safety of everyone involved. This single reveal and the ramifications end up leading us toward the stunning conclusion here. Don’t worry, though, we get lots of steamy goodness as Hope *finally* starts to see Paxton as a grown man. I admit - this was a struggle for me, but I got there by the end. We get everything you’ve wanted all along the previous books jammed into this one - Drake’s true nature revealed, Paxton’s true nature revealed, the Seven finally doing their Seven stuff, the keys doing their key stuff, rebellions, undercover relatives, and so much more! After all the build up, this was so very satisfying in the end.

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Personal Demons

Personal Demons: Includes bonus short story - Magicsmith Universe (The Rifter Series Book 2)Personal Demons: Includes bonus short story - Magicsmith Universe by L.R. Braden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoops, I didn’t realize this was book 2 in a series where the world was already built. That being said, I was able to catch up here, and threw in a higher rating to compensate for me not really knowing everything I should going into this one.

Mira has issues. She’s adjusting to a new partner (Ty) and still working on the delicate balance that is having a demon sharing your body. Sure, you get lots of power and the ability to do good, but you’ve also got to literally feed the demon. With her demon also comes a whole lot of discrimination and judgement, some of which Mira just assumes comes from Ty all the time. Ty, on the other hand, definitely remembers Mira and his time together before they became partners. Their new partnership gets truly tested when they are called back to Mira’s home town to hunt some evil doers.

Mira somehow believes that she can go down to Florida and magically avoid all her relatives. No such luck and it works out in the most wonderful way. The horrible gritty realness of this family really hooked me. While the start of the story was spent with me trying to figure out what I’ve gotten myself into, I was fully on board when her grandmother arrives. This is ultimately a mystery with oodles of paranormals thrown in (and lots of food). While there is not a gigantic romantic component, it still checks the boxes for a paranormal that could eventually grow up into a romance.

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A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books! I’m not sure how to review them anymore because I’ve reached maximum cringe. There are such bright points of happiness and wonderful things but I also know that there are more books in this series and things have to get back to bad in order to build the story. Brace yourself, because this one took us on a wild ride filled with massively shifting dynamics.

When we last left Feyre and Tamlin, they were happily reunited but with the looming threat of their dark deeds under the mountain coming back to haunt them. More specifically, Feyre’s bargain with Rhys in order to save her life. What’s a week of time in the grand scheme of saving a life, right? Well, after the dust settles, it is definitely weighing on the “happy couple.” Feyre is trapped in her new life, handed from one party to the next, told what to wear, what to do, and appears to be just a shell of who she was before. Where did the wild fighter go? Who is this woman who is sick every night with memories from her last fateful task? It was torture to watch, but somehow gets worse when she is walking down the aisle towards Tamlin, in a gown she hates, with flowers she specifically didn’t want, and no clear way out. Enter Rhys - who we all knew would be a wrench in the plans.

Where to begin? I get it - we hate him, and he’s a bad boy, but… wow. This book does things that I was surprised by. I’m not going to spoil too much, but the journey we go on with Rhys is no simply night and day (get it???) but subtly nudges you on the path to liking him. It’s really well done and with happily smutty results. I *loved* the night court and all the wonderful dreams that reside there. Even knowing that he don’t end up super happy at the end of this one, the journey was worth the cost in this case. I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens next!

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