Tag Archives: Paranormal Romance

Review – His Darkest Salvation by Juliana Stone

Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: July 26th
How I got this book: NetGalley

In a world on the brink of chaos, passion and vengeance collide …

After six months in hell, Julian Castille has returned to the world a changed man. No longer the calm, powerful CEO, but a shifter fully embraced by the blood of his clan. Julian has one goal: find the key to the portal that stands between the human realm and unprecedented darkness—and win back the pieces of his soul. The last thing he needs is a distraction like the beautiful, enigmatic Jaden DaCosta.

Three years ago, a forbidden night of passion left Jaden forever altered: mated to Julian Castille–bound to a man who despises her. But the temptation to trust this darker, more savage—and more captivating—Julian is overwhelming. And as they fight for their immortal souls, their insatiable desire for each other may prove their fatal undoing…
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I was anxiously awaiting the book about Julian and Jaden, the final Jaguar Warriors novel, and getting the rest of the details about the portal and demons and everything else that was left to wrap up the story line. As much as I liked about this book, there were things I didn’t like, which makes this a difficult review to write.

Julian has been missing for a few months now, and suddenly he is back from the dead. No one knows where he was, and he returned with a touch of darkness that has those close to him wary. Jaden has always known Julian was her mate, and despite their horrible history, still feels something for him despite burning hatred. When he comes to her for help finding the portal, they will have to find a way to work together.

But with Jaden’s double crossing of her family, Julian’s time in hell including his bargain to get out, and the intense feelings that bounce between then – the stakes are constantly raised. When they finally find the portal and realize that together they might have the real deal, are they going to be able to even have a chance at life?

Again, this is a really hard review for me to write, because I have strong negative and positive feelings about this book. As the conclusion of the Jaguar Warrior’s series, I was glad with the way everything wrapped up nicely. All the questions surrounding the portal, the demons coming to earth, and the core characters were resolved in a way that was believable and satisfying. I especially liked that the few secondary characters who are not part of the core character cast were set up nicely to be stars in Stone’s next series: The League of Guardians. I’m *hoping* that Declan and Ana are up next, and I can’t wait to get their story as they are both very intriguing characters.

I also really enjoyed getting to see everyone again. All the Castille brothers were back and in action, fighting for their futures. I’m a sucker for seeing old characters once again, and love that the brothers play a big role in each other’s lives without taking over the main story. I can only hope we get a glimpse of these characters again in the next series.

Unfortunately the part that really annoyed me while reading was the romance between Julian and Jaden. I liked their characters separately, but when the two of them got together, they drove me bonkers. Julian is so hurt and jaded from his time spent in hell that he has become this angry and dark and brooding jerk who honestly doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Jaden has been playing both sides of the fence for so long now she is damaged in ways that seem almost insurmountable. And given their history, they honestly seem to hate each other. They say awful things to each other, cut deeper than either imagined, and yet neither of them really says their sorry. I think that bothered me the most. One moment they are hating each other and having angry sexy times, and the next they are admitting they are in love. O_o

It felt sudden and cold and almost convenient. I wanted to smack them both upside the head for the horrible things they did to each other, then I wanted to do it again when neither of them really put forth an effort to communicate about why, but just accepted their mating happily. I wanted to believe in their romance, but I just couldn’t see how either of them came to the “love” decision after everything they went through.

All in all His Darkest Salvation was an interesting reading experience for me. I can’t recall the last time I really had such conflicting feelings about a book. I enjoyed so many things, the conclusion of the overall plot arc, the secondary characters, and even the hero and heroine as individuals. But the romance (or lack there of) just brought the story down for me.

I give His Darkest Salvation a C-

REVIEW: Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle

Publisher: Forever
Where did get this book: e-ARC
Release Date: Out now

Enter the world of the Dark Dynasties . . .

For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty’s search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he’s never known . . . Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she’s had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer-she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire’s vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces . . . or unleash her dark destiny?

*Blurb from goodreads*

 

 

Lily Quinn isn’t having a great evening after it has turned out to be a bit of a dud, but when she encounters a handsome and mysterious stranger, Ty MacGillivray, who claims that he needs her help because of the terrifying psychic powers that she has kept hidden could help to trace the vampires who are attacking his bloodline which is on the verge of disappearing.  Her life changes irrevocably forever and Lily soon is drawn into deepening danger that threatens her life. But as Lily reluctantly agrees to help him, and even though she is  deeply attracted to Ty, he might be the reason who endangers her.

Dark Awakening had a really promising start. I really enjoyed the opening scene when a young woman is about to be turned as a vampire and join a vampiric dynasty line, but is interrupted when bloody mayhem ensures when the ceremony goes tragically wrong. At this point I thought that this was going to be a great read. However, this wasn’t the case as the promising beginning ebbed away with the tension and lackluster characterisation.

I was most disappointed with the romance, which I found didn’t have a great basis for romantic tension and the characters, especially Lily’s was inconsistent. When she is initially approached by Ty, they were drawn together,  and initially that was a great start. However later when she’s forced to flee with Ty due to his enemies pursuing them both  and she realises that he is a vampire, she is understandably  afraid of him and is suspicious of his intentions. But the attraction that plays out never really transitioned well because as their romance evolved, there were a few scenes where he would use his powers for seduction as a way to subdue and seduce her, and I never really felt she wanted him and was compelled to.  Although later on in the book, this improved with both Lily and Ty mutually feeling the same, but I found her feelings inconsistent because there was no explanation on how she came from that point to falling in love with him. At that point, I never really believed and felt the basis of their  romance worked.

Another aspect that made this book a bit of a slog to read, was the TSTL elements with the characters. Throughout the book, Ty and Lily were warned about a trusted vampire leader, time and time again, and it got to a point where it was obvious that they were partly behind the attacks on vampires and the reason why the vampire court was in disarray. Yet, Ty was determined to ignore the warnings and his own misgivings  and to deliver Lily to them so she could help trace who was behind the attacks. But it was only until he was pointed out by another character that it was dangerous to trust this leader, that Ty realised this was a mistake, even though his best friend and others have said it was a bad idea. Another factor was Lily’s phone-call to her best friend to let her know she was alive and safe after she absconded with Ty. It was one thing to let her know but it fell into a cliched trap that had major consequences to Lily and Ty  and the telephone call conversation was pretty awkward. I knew this was a way to push forward the plot and mystery but it was very predictable that these plot points and characterisations fell into cliched pitfalls that never really helped to give tension and mystery to the plot, which was a shame because the premise was interesting.

I loved the idea of vampiric dynastic lines and the different types of vampires and their powers and shapeshifting shapes, as well as other supernatural creatures. But that initial promise never really lived to that expectation. I also felt the the pacing really dragged in the middle of the book and I almost DNF, but even though it picked up at the end, I wasn’t engaged enough with that to really enjoy the book.

Overall, I would have loved to enjoy Dark Awakening because I found the premise and opening enjoyable. I found that the cliched traps that led to TSTL moments and inconsistent characterisation didn’t appeal to me. I did actually enjoy the side characters of Jaden, Ty’s best friend, and Damien, who was his nemesis of sorts, who were intriguing. And I may check out their stories but with this book, although it held great promise, the execution didn’t tick my boxes.

I give Dark Awakening a D+

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DNF Review – Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper

Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley
Naomi West was plucked from one prison and placed undercover in another: the gilded cage that is Timeless, New Seattle’s premier spa and resort, where owner Phinneas Clarke—the most seductive man Naomi has ever met—may be hiding a killer. She’s an agent of the Holy Order, trained to hunt the guilty and render justice. But while she’s tracking down a rogue agent on a killing spree, Phin is determined to uncover her most damning—and dangerous—secrets. Whatever the cost.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

When I first read Cooper’s Before the Witches (Review here), her short novella that introduces us to the world she created in the Dark Mission series, I thought I would be hooked. I really enjoyed the way she set up the world, and everything sounded so intriguing…

Well I missed the first full length novel in the series, Blood of the Wicked, and picked up Lure of the Wicked through NetGalley. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem since the books seem to be about different heroes and heroines.

Let me start by saying I only made it about 40% of the way through the book. I found that I had a difficult time keeping track of what exactly was going on, wasn’t really able to relate to the characters, and at times I felt like a pinball machine; bouncing to and fro.

While Naomi seemed to be a very fierce and kick ass character, she was also hard to relate to and understand. Whenever she was first and foremost in the scene, things were jumbled, convoluted and confusing. I found myself frequently going back and re-reading passages to try and figure out what I was missing, and being unable to do so. While Phin was a little bit better, I felt like many of his actions and reactions came from left field. One moment he is watching Naomi work out and the next he’s giving her an orgasm against a punching bag. O_o  While the scene was super hot, I was left a little cold in that the emotions weren’t there.

While the blurb of the book pulled me in as far as the suspense went, it almost seemed as if there was too much going on. Too many sub plots, too many turns and not enough answers. While I didn’t expect anything to be resolved within the first 40% of the story, I also expected to move that part of the plot a lot further than it had.

Unfortunately I just didn’t get into this book, couldn’t seem to get into it enough to continue on, even though I wanted to enjoy it. I’ve read some really good reviews for this book, so maybe it’s just me?   Other Reviews If you read this book let me know your thoughts!

 

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Joint Review – Nightfall by Ellen Connor

It’s Ellen Connor Day today at The Book Pushers! First up, Has & Minn bring you their review of Nightfall, the first in the Dark Age Dawning Series. Be sure to come back this afternoon for an Interview with Ann & Carrie, as well as a chance to win your very own copy of Nightfall!

 

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: June 6th
How we got this book: ARC from author

Their instincts will save them.
Their passion will transform them.

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought, in her wildest nightmares, that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her–one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna’s father. Skilled and steadfast, he’s ready for the Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and the mutant dogs attack–vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion–a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

MinnChica: I love post-apocalyptic books, and when the covers were released for the new Ellen Connor duo, I knew right then and there that I would have to read these books. When I discovered that Connor was non other than long time favorite Ann Aguirre and new to me Carrie Lofty, I was even more stoked. I love when authors come together and write kick ass books. Nightfall is no exception. This book seriously kicked ass!!

Has: When I heard they were teaming up, I was in geektastic heaven. I loved Carrie’s historicals (if anyone who hasn’t picked her books up before, I implore that you do because they are historically rich in details and her characters are beyond fantastic). And I haven’t made it a secret that I AM A HUGE fangirl of Ann. I also love Apocalyptic themed books and the fact that two of my favourite authors have written a series is beyond good gravy!

MinnChica: I honestly had no idea what to expect going into the new series, and I loved the magical spin that they put on the world. My mind is still reeling, weeks later, over how intense and descriptive and well thought out and just mind boggling the world building really is in this series. Fans of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance alike should all read this book, ASAP!

Has: Agree! The gritty and stark tone was conveyed really well to me. In a lot of ways, I felt I was watching a movie in my head, because the descriptions and imagery was so vivid and real. They were also claustrophobic and so so tense. The early scenes in the cabin and later on in the station, I swear I could cut the tension with a knife.

MinnChica: Yes, the tension was definitely at an extreme all though out. I personally had a hard time getting through the first part of the book. To me the first few chapters were slow and a little confusing, being that the world was so complicated and changing right before our eyes. But once our characters left the cabin, went out into the world on their quest to find the Ranger Station and other survivors, I found I couldn’t put it down anymore.

Has: I found the same with the introduction scenes too. I felt just like Jenna, confused and unaware of what was going on. And I wished we saw more of that be expanded. But the characters and that exciting chase out of the cabin kick-started the pace and tension in the story. The introduction of the secondary characters was a fantastic way to show how much the old world had crumbled. I loved how the inner and outer conflict affected each other, because it definitely ratcheted the danger and personal tension amongst them.

MinnChica: Oh most definitely! The trek through the forest, encountering all the changes within people and to the world, the race to get to safety before another one of their little group was lost to them, even though they were still weary around one another. AHHH it was amazing!!

Has: I think this is what made the book for me. The characters! They were real, relatable and they had flaws. There was no easy way outs and how that affected their plight to survive. I really loved the snarky goth teen, Tru, who had a damaged past, and how much he developed in the story. The same goes for Mason and Jenna’s development too. I loved how they each challenged and changed each others’ views and outlook and it made them better people and definitely more able to survive in this chaotic and terrifying setting.

MinnChica: Me too. The characters did it for me, especially since they were all SO different from one another. I loved Mason’s growly and gruff ways; watching him learn to care for others instead of just himself. Jenna with her determination to make it work in the new world, she was great. And Tru was awesome too. I loved how he was the only one that was able to comfort and get through to Pen, the young girl who wouldn’t even open up to her own mother. Fabulous!!

Has: Oh yeah! And don’t forget the romance! OMG The romance! It was one of those romances that had the couple challenging and dancing around each other, and the tension between them. *Sigh* And I want my own Mason – just sayin’.
I have to quote one of my favourite scenes here, where they have a bit of an interlude from the world around them.

“I …I -” He cleared his throat. “I can’t do that again.”
“I left you wanting.”
“Yes.”
“And that hurt.”
“God, yes.”
“You’re hurting. I get it now, John. You’re trying. Really trying. I know that.”
She was killing him by inches. He sensed what she needed — even now, asking him to reveal his own desires — but he couldn’t form the words.
“I felt your teeth on my skin and I trusted you,” she said. “Trust me now.”

MinnChica: I agree, I would love to have my very own Mason. I loved that the two of them had such a slow building romance. The time that they spent together out in the real world, and then hiding away in an abandoned store for safety and finally succumbing to each other… it was so romantic in it’s own way!

Has: Another aspect I loved was the rich description of the shifters, in the case of Jenna’s character. I loved it and how that transformed her character from the almost timid woman we met at the beginning. I loved how Ellen Connor turned the tables and the roles in the relationship between Mason and Jenna over the course of the book. I think it really helped to cement their relationship, and for me it was filled with emotional depth. I was glad Mason had to change too, because he was prepared and was warned about the upcoming apocalypse, and the inner conflicts that he experienced with Jenna and the other survivors fleshed out his character.

The scarier shifters, were quite horrific. It was really gory and definitely took elements out of horror. This really added atmosphere and an unnerving feel to the story.

MinnChica: Yes, the shape shifters in this story were CREEPY! I loved the contrast of the “good” versus “bad” people and how it had an impact on how the magic effected them. Even when the person wasn’t strong enough to accept magic, like in Edna’s case, it was very horrific and crazy, but awesome all at the same time.

Has: Oh definitely! I loved how the magical elements were incorporated into the story like this. I loved how Kris, the scientist, was in disbelief that his scientific views were being destroyed around him due to these events. That made it more believable for me because he was trying to analyse things, and he couldn’t. That helped to make this world feel really really real. I don’t think I have a read a PNR with these elements with the exception of one or two books.

MinnChica: All in all, I really enjoyed the first book in this new series. The world building was absolutely incredible, the character development was so in-depth, the plot was scary and creepy, but the romance was soft and sweet. Despite the very slow and somewhat confusing start, the book picked up and ran towards the end of the story, leaving me wanting more and more in this world.

I give Nightfall a B+

Has: Nightfall was a great start for this trilogy; the rich and flawed characters who find themselves in a world full of nightmares. The book was a tense, pacy and dark thrill-ride that continued right to the end of the story. The romance was also a joy to read and it was filled with intense emotions that really pushed the hero and the heroine. I also cannot wait for the next book. I highly recommend this book, because this is not your usual PNR.

I also give Nightfall a B+

 

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Review – Shadow Touch by Erin Kellison

Publisher: Zebra
Publish Date: Out Now!
How I got this book: eARC form author

 

MAGIC
It is bleeding into our world, bringing with it banshees, wraiths, fae from the twisting forests of Twilight. But Elllie’s problem is a very different kind of phenomenon…
SHADOW
It ought to be attached to her; instead it has a life of its own. And her dark mirror image is a wild thing, willfully seducing the very man Ellie hoped could help.
SCIENCE
Cam has devoted his career to exploring the boundaries between this world and the Hereafter. But nothing could prepare him for the mischief and mayhem of a soul split in two.
SURRENDER
Who will give in first: the man struggling to unite two halves of one fascinating female; the shadow fighting for freedom to experience the thrill of every emotion; or the woman who is about to discover her own deepest desires?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Kellison is back with a short novella from her Shadow series. This story was jam packed with both action and romance, and a horribly embarrassing predicament for the heroine.

Ellie has lived her whole life in seclusion. She never got out and about, never left her home, never had the chance to interact with others. Why? Because her shadow was completely detached from her and embodied the dark impulses that Ellie had no chance of controlling. Unfortunately for Ellie, her shadow was always buck naked, always acting on whims and usually a little crazy. When she can’t take it anymore, Ellie does her research and finds someone who she thinks will be able to help her: a doctor at Segue.

Cam has been working his whole life for the chance to study the Shadow. When he gets a call from a woman who has read all his previous research he agrees to meet with her. Little does he know that she is actually split in two, her shadow occupying half of her soul and spirit. Cam isn’t sure that he can help her, but the more time they spend together, the more he realizes that he desperately WANTS to be able to help fix her problems, and keep her around for the long haul.

I have to say I was totally surprised by the premise of this story. I felt so sorry and embarrassed on Ellie’s behalf. At the same time, I was also somewhat blown away by the idea. I really liked Ellie’s character. She was so strong to have lived her entire life different from everyone, secluded away because of her shadow, and yet sadly resigned to live a life alone and depressed. It’s rare that a short novella can have a huge impact on me, but there were times when Ellie was talking about her struggles that brought tears to my eyes.

Cam was definitely not the typical kind of romance hero that I enjoy reading about. He’s a super nerd. He didn’t have many of the Alpha Hero qualities that usually make me swoon. That being said, I was impressed that Cam was so willing to go to bat for Ellie; especially after knowing her for just one short day, and especially since he was going to bat for her against a powerful force. Cam was genuine and caring and that really endeared him to me.

The novella takes place just over two short days, so the romance was pretty rushed. I was glad that there were no declarations of love between Cam and Ellie. Instead the two hinted at wanting to try and make it work. For me, that made their relationship more believable.

All in all, Kellison knocked this one out of the ballpark with a short, action packed, sexy novella that will have her Shadow fans begging for more. I give Shadow Touch a B+

Review – Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur

Publisher: Dell
Publish Date: Out Now!
How I got this book: Purchased

DARKNESS DESCENDS.
LOVE ABIDES. BUT . . .

MERCY BURNS

Mercy Reynolds is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, but she’s also more—and less—than human. Half woman, half air dragon, she’s a “draman”—unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy. Now something will put her powers to the test.

Mercy’s friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister’s murder. Then a horrible accident claims Rainey’s life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer: If Mercy fails, according to dragon law, Rainey’s soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity. But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target? With nowhere else to turn, she must join forces with a sexy stranger—the mysterious man they call “Muerte,” or death itself, who’s as irresistible as he is treacherous. But can even Death keep Mercy alive for long enough to find her answers?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Keri Arthur has been one of my favorite paranormal romance authors since I first picked up the Riley Jensen series from my local library. When she released her first in the Myths & Magic series, I officially became a huge fan girl. Love. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Mercy is on a mission: save her best friend’s soul within 5 days. She needs to find the killers, all while continuing to work on a case involving the mass killing of a few Nevada draman towns. With the negative view of dramans (half dragon, half human) within the dragon subculture, Mercy is on her own in her investigation, until she runs into Death.

Damon (aka Death) is a trained council assassin. He is working on the same case as Mercy, trying to help out a friend who lost someone during the cleansing. The passion between Mercy and Damon burns hot, but Mercy’s draman status is a huge roadblock between them. While Damon is willing to work the case with her, and take her to his bed, anything above and beyond that is seemingly out of reach. The fire between them burns hot, but will it be enough to break down those barriers for a chance at forever?

I honestly can’t think of one thing I didn’t love about this book: the characters, the plot, the romance. Everything was amazing and perfect for me.

I thought Mercy was an incredible character. She was strong, set in her values, and outwardly confident. I loved getting to see her vulnerabilities as well, her upbringing as a draman and how that really influenced the woman she became. Her strong conviction to fight for the rights of the dramans was filled with passion and intensity, and I loved it. She knew what she wanted, and wasn’t afraid to reach for it with both hands. I loved her drive to run in head first, even when it occasionally got her into loads of trouble.

I have to say, I definitely want a Damon of my own. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, with a dose of danger on top. I loved that everyone but Mercy would quake in their books when he was around. At the same time, he wasn’t afraid to show a little bit of vulnerability towards Mercy, admit where his thinking might be at fault, and showing her that death did in fact have a little bit of a soft side.

The constant conflict between them, especially with regards to the drama issue constantly pulled at my heart strings. I was rooting for them and wanted more than anything for Damon to see the errors of his thinking, to come forward with the times and get out of the dark age. His grand gesture at the end of the book was (in my opinion) a perfect display of his feelings and commitment to Mercy, both in a relationship and as a partner who supported her cause for equal draman rights.

I am so disappointed to report that Arthur told me via twitter that there will probably NOT be any additional books in this world. I’ll admit that when I saw that, I cried a little. The world building in this series is so… perfect. I love the dragon and draman subculture. I love the differences between the sea dragons and the air dragons. I love the backstabbing and subplots between the dragon kings, even though it was only touched on briefly. Fans of dragon shifters need to pick up this series (Destiny Kills & Mercy Burns), and treat them as MUST READS.

All in all, I really just can’t say enough great things about Mercy Burns and the Myths & Magic Series. Everything that PNR fans love are featured and done with excellence: intricate world building, smokin’ romance, well developed characters, and an amazing plot.

I give Mercy Burns an A+