Review: Night Fall (Frostbite #2) by Jenna Byrnes

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Frostbite- Nightfall coverSouth Side Chicago Detective Cullen Ryder lives for his job after a drunk driver killed his lover, leaving Ryder alone and grieving.  In the past few weeks, the number of homicides has jumped dramatically.  Someone is killing the homeless and prostitutes, leaving them drained of blood in the streets and alleys where they were found.  The coroner laughingly suggests a vampire on the hunt but why are they drained of all their blood?

Vampire Ethan Harte has returned home to Chicago after the last city he visited got too hot to stay.  Even in winter the poor seedy side of Chicago is full of victims for a hunting vampire.  Than Ethan runs into his old high school friend, Cullen Ryder in a bar and things turn sexually and emotionally intense in just one night.

But Ryder is a Homicide Detective with 15 years of experience and he’s hunting a killer. A killer that just happens to be his old friend and newest love. Ethan knows it dangerous to stay in Chicago with Ryder on his trail but he wants just a little more time before he has  to leave.  If Ryder discovers who and what Ethan is, can their newfound love survive the discover and Ryder’s sense of duty?

I loved the premise of this story but found the author’s Night Fall lacking in quite a few ways.  Cullen Ryder is the better of the two characters.  He is a seasoned detective, still hurting over the death of his lover by a drunk driver.  Byrnes gives this character a back history that rounds out his persona while letting us into his every day life to see the respect he has garnered as a detective on the force.  Unfortunately as the story progresses the author seems to forget about the character she has created as Ryder changes and his character adjusts to accommodate her storyline.  Furthermore, her vampire, Ethan Harte enjoys being a predator while giving lip service (however, briefly) to the moment he was changed.  Statements from Ethan to Ryder like “This relationship is over when I say it is over”, and the unpleasant actions that follow serve to derail the story and any sort of romance the author had intended.

The ending was, in my opinion, so off putting that I have no intention of reading the followup story even though an excerpt is included at the end of Night Fall.  Unless you are a diehard fan of jenna Byrnes or must read every vampire story that comes along, I would give this a miss and head over to the other Frostbite tales instead.

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 52 pages
Published December 13th 2013 by Total-E-Bound Publishing (first published December 12th 2013)
ISBN 178184853X (ISBN13: 9781781848531)
edition language English
series Frostbite #2

The Frostbite Collection includes:

Gravedigger (Frostbite #1) by Aurelia T. Evans
Night Fall (Frostbite #2) by Jenna Byrnes
Succulent Dark (Frostbite #3) by D.J. Manly
The Study of Blood in Winter (Frostbite #4) by Catalina Dudka

Review: Heroes & Villains (Heroes & Villains #1) by Harper Kingsley

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

heroesvillains400Once Vereint Georges realized he had superpowers he dreamed of the day he would become a superhero and help save the world.  He would be adored, famous and hopefully wealthy.  But the reality was far different than he ever could have imagined.  Vereint didn’t like sewing his costumes and he had to keep his day job in order to live. Then his first rescue as the superhero Starburst went horribly wrong.  The person he rescued was badly burned by his superpowers and Vereint threw up in front of the cameras.  To make it worse, his superhero name reminded everyone of the candy and not a hero.  In fact, there were so many superheroes that he was ridiculed by the very people he was supposed to save and mocked by the other superheroes who wouldn’t accept him, especially the superhero Blue Ice.   Vereint hated being a superhero but what else could he do?

Well, he could become a villain and soon Darkstar was born.  Vereint found it incredibly freeing and lucrative to be evil.  He was even good at it!  Soon the populace of Megacity feared and idolized him.  Darkstar even had people wanting to be his minions.  Vereint as Darkstar had finally made it and life was outstanding.

Blue Ice, aka Warrick Tobias, hated Darkstar.  He hated him when he was Starburst and hated him worse now that he was supervillain Darkstar.  Darkstar was all Warrick could think about.  It was almost like he was obsessing over him.  Of course, Darkstar was impossibly gorgeous with that black hair and mesmerizing blue eyes.   Darkstar even invaded his dreams so what is a superhero to do?

When Darkstar and Blue Ice’s clashes turn amorous it leaves both metahumans confused and maybe even hopeful.   A superhero and a supervillain falling in love? Is that even possible?  It’s time for Darkstar and Blue Ice to find out.

I throughly enjoyed this book.  I didn’t know what to expect from the blurb but the reality of the story was so much better than I expected.  In fact, I felt as though I got two books for the price of one.  Heroes and Villains is the story of two metahumans who live in the metropolis of Megacity (of course).  Harper Kingsley starts off the story in a setting than any reader of comic books would recognize.  Those anonymous buildings populated by typical humans going about their business even as superheroes and villains clash in the streets and air all around them.  Disasters and super battles are commonplace and there is such a surfeit of superheroes and supervillains that each has a council to keep them organized.  For the superheroes, it is the League of Superheroes and  for villains it is the League of Ultimate Evil.  There is the Police Commissioner and his Code Black that will summon the superheroes when needed.  It’s all there and accounted for, all the elements we have come to expect, love, and maybe even giggle at when we think of superheroes, supervillains and the cities they live in.  As I was reading, all I could think of was how much fun Harper Kingsley must have had writing this story.

From the names to the costumes and superpowers, Kingsley takes our superhero characters and has fun with them, starting with the position that the reality of being a superhero isn’t what it is cracked up to be.  What if, when a fire happens, not one hero shows up but twenty? And some are great and others? Maybe not so much.  What happens when the superhero isn’t wealthy but just getting by in a Dilbert like desk job?  How do they account for the time they must take away from their jobs to save people and put out the fires?  Like Vereint, they must come close to getting fired because they have used up all their vacation days.  Plus they might not be able to pay their rent on time because they have to spend their money replacing costumes.  It’s a great parody and I loved it.

Kingsley works magic here with the superhero trope.  With their arrogance and position in society, the author’s superheroes act more like a group of mean girls than heroes. Blue Ice in fact is a legacy superhero (five generations of his family have been in the business), and he feels weighed down by the responsibilities he has shouldered since the age of 14.  He lives in the penthouse of Tobias Towers, naturally, and secretly despises the humans he is supposed to protect.   He also resents the  adulation and lifestyle that is Darkstar’s while also being envious of his freedom.  I loved all the details Kingsley brings to the character of Blue Ice.  It’s not only funny, but it also rings with authencity.  Warrick Tobias as Blue Ice really dislikes his job and is in denial about so many things about himself, including his sexuality.  So how does he handle it?  By being a bully.  He is as responsible for Vereint becoming Darkstar than anyone else because of his constant mocking and demoralizing actions towards Starburst.  Warrick is also in his 30’s and now has to follow a Heart Healthy diet. Here is a taste of Warrick Tobias:

It wasn’t like Warrick didn’t understand that he was acting completely insane, but he just couldn’t seem to help himself. There was something about the whole Darkstar situation that just drove him to the verge and maybe a little bit over. The fact that he didn’t really know why he cared that much just made it even worse because the mystery itself was eating away at him.

Warrick spooned up his last bite of maple and brown sugar oatmeal before picking up the plump yellow banana he’d chosen for his breakfast. He squeezed it gently between his fingers, seeing that it didn’t have a single brown spot. It was a singularly beautiful piece of fruit.

As he’d resigned himself to the idea that he was in his thirties— his early thirties, but his thirties nonetheless— he’d had to make a few dietary changes in his life. He’d had to cut back on the sugars, the trans fats, the delicious carbs, and basically everything else that he loved so that he didn’t end up bulging out of his supersuit. He couldn’t have a greasy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hash browns at his favorite diner anymore, and if he did go there, he had to pick things off the Heart Healthy menu.

I hate egg white omelets and turkey bacon. I want to eat fatty pork bacon and scrambled eggs covered in melted cheese. I bet Darkstar doesn’t have to worry about anything. His super metabolism probably …

“Dammit!” Warrick shouted, flinging the hapless banana across the room to splatter against the wall. Everything in his head came back to Darkstar and he just couldn’t help himself. It wasn’t like he was obsessed or anything. Except that it really seemed like he was obsessed, and not even the self-knowledge that he was out of control helped any.

And Vereint Georges is just as nuanced and believable character as Warrick.  His character changes from a naive, hopeful young superhero to someone who gradually becomes disenchanted with the harsh reality of his dreams.  Nothing measures up.  He’s the new boy, the young “dorky, loser” as the popular kids nee superheroes call him.  Always on the outside, never has the cool clothes, trying to hard to fit in and perpetually disdained for his efforts.  And when he has finally had enough, we are with him 100 percent.

He couldn’t really understand why no one could take him seriously. He tried just as hard as every other hero, so why didn’t he get any kind of respect?

If it was just Blue Ice treating him badly, he might have been able to ignore it, but it was everyone acting like it was a crime that he wanted to save them. They made fun of his name, his ideals, everything about him.

What do I feel about the way everyone treats me?

The answer came in a surprisingly cold voice:   I’m angry.

And of course, they won’t like him when he is angry.

Clenching his hands into fists at his sides, he gritted his teeth and tried to bury his anger deep inside him. He almost had himself back under control and relaxed a little, sure he wasn’t going to completely lose it.

“You know, you’ve got a hole in your shirt,” Blue Ice said, pointing.

“THAT … IS … IT! I have had enough of all this crap.”

Filled with rage, Starburst could feel himself trembling uncontrollably. Violet color began rising around his body and he felt his hair shifting in an unfelt breeze. His eyes felt hot all of a sudden and he was afraid of what was going to happen, but he couldn’t stop it. He was just so frustrated and angry.

Thus Darkstar is born.  But there is so much more to come.  There is the physical attraction both men feel for each other, poseurs who want Darkstar’s attention, more mega explosions and evil doings galore.

Right up until the halfway mark, the story still has the feel of a parody about it.  Then it changes.  An evil deed by Darkstar has profound affects upon his thinking and the story starts to become darker with more real emotions and events that will play with the reader’s empathy and affections.   There were elements of cruelty before but now it fully comes out to play.  All the metahumans really don’t like the regular human beings very much.  They regard them as so much sheep and their actions reflect that.

Kingsley also starts to concentrate on the growing relationship between Warrick and Vereint, the changes in their characters and all the outside influences that effect their lives and potential future.    From the somewhat gentle lampooning of the genre, the author takes this satire to a darker level, bringing a certain amount of grit to the characters and the scenes.  Not everyone will appreciate the loss of the humor and cartoonish takeoff that the first part of the book represents. I liked this element but also understand its lack of appeal to some readers.

I also felt that the story especially the epilogue was a little long.  It certainly could have been shortened without harm to the narrative.   Still, I can say that I really liked Heroes and Villains, it is one of the more unusual stories that I have read recently and I throughly appreciated that.  From every aspect of this novel,  the attention to detail , the inclusion of all the expected comic book elements to the terrific characterizations,  I highly recommend this book to all.  Let me know what you think.

Cover designed by Aisha Akeju.  I am not sure what I make of this cover.  I appreciate the pointillism of the graphics that convey a sense of comic book similarity but I wish it had taken that element a little further in design.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st Edition, 211 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Harper Kingsley

Guest Interview: Meet Havan Fellows!

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Good morning all!  We (the pups and I) are welcoming Havan Fellows, author and creator of the extraordinary Wick Templeton and the Wicked’s Ways series, to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words this morning.   Welcome, Havan. Here’s your cup of coffee, watch out for begging critters!. *shoos away the terrors three*.

Thank you so much for having me here today, Melanie. *looks around and sits on nice cushy couch* wow, it’s so different being here than just looking in. *pets the puppies jumping all around my ankles*

Oh thank you again…*sips coffee and smiles* now that is a good cup of brew. Hits the spot, you know? I guess I should introduce myself, my name is Havan Fellows and I get a personal high from telling tall tales. It’s a gift/curse—depending on who you talk to in my family. Because yes, my immediate family knows I write M/M fiction & romance (or depending how feisty I feel at the time erotic romance *winks*).

So what started me on the Wick Templeton bandwagon? It’s a simple story about how Wick came about – but one that is close to my heart.

Here’s how I first described Pulp Friction back in January when we went public:

PF is an exciting new venture that was born in that beautiful head of Laura Harner…one day she came to Tom Webb, Lee Brazil and me and said:

“Hey…what if we swung it this way? You know, have the edginess of some hard-as-nails men doing what they do—how they do it—and getting the things done. Sure there may not be a HEA right away (if ever)…but we’ll deliver the thrill of the quick read suspense with a splash of sexy! So come on…who wants to sha-wing it with me?”

Okay *blushes and ducks head*—that might not be what she said verbatim…but I was paraphrasing, honest! hehe

Um…yeah, silly as it sounds that little snippet describes PF practically perfectly (say that 5 times fast). Just about a year ago Laura came to us with an idea of doing shorts…in the old pulp fiction style.

We loved the idea immediately. It was something that would let us experience a different side of our writing. We brain stormed for days and nights – completely talking up the “what if” phase. Honestly I didn’t know if this would be a project that would take flight or not, but it was darn fun to dream about. 🙂

But the more we chatted the more it looked like this was gonna happen. I freaked! I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge.

I sat there biting my fingernails wondering if I was in over my head. One of the things we all wanted to do was have “bad” good guys. Men who weren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty in order to help people.

Enter Wick Templeton…

I can’t tell you the exact moment that he smacked my ass and called me mama…he just suddenly was there. All these scenes popped into my head of things he did or would eventually do – it was crazy. I’d be working on book two and a phrase he wanted to use in book four would suddenly be running through my mind. (at that time I had no flipping idea what book four was about either *heads desk* lol)

Wick was all for breaking whatever law he had to – not necessarily in the name of justice, but because darn it, it amused. Yeah (insert tentative giggles here), some of the things he wanted me to write…um… Honestly, Wick didn’t share as much with me as I hoped he would. For every chapter I wrote I wondered what this man was up to, why he was spurred on to do what he did. An ex boyfriend calls—one he obviously didn’t mourn over losing—and he immediately jumped into action. No talk about payment, no sexual tension between them, no hostility or any of those things that might have popped up…just Wick doing what needs to be done.

Admirable right? Don’t build him a statue just yet, trust me…

Then, the guy he wouldn’t admit being attracted to called for help—but that wasn’t the pivotal point that got Wick up and moving. Some serial killer was offing people in his town…that wasn’t allowed. No matter how much Wick wanted to poke and prod at Ned (in so many ways too lol) it was the fact that innocent people were being hurt.

Oh yeah, and Wick doesn’t like keeping his nose in his own business…smh.

But how much of our noses will he allow poked into his business? Not fair is it? He holds everything so close to his chest that it’s really difficult to pry even small details away to share with the readers. Only in writing the third book did he share even more of himself with me…and holy shite was I floored!

You see, upon writing Wicked Incarceration, I was blessed with the knowledge of what the next two books afterwards would be. With each book Wick upped the game some, toed that line you might say, and plans to continue doing that – making all of us wonder what side of that line he will land on.

*stops and sips more coffee*

Sorry, you’ve just taken part in one of my ‘rambling’ modes. Those closest to me know I can go off and just start babbling without any rhyme or reason behind it…and unfortunately when I talk about Wick…well I can talk for hours about him as if he is a real person that I’m kinda in awe with.

There are just so many facets to him, and he’s only allowing me to show a little bit of them at a time. Nice to know he’s as much an ass with the author as he is with everyone in his books right? lol

My sister stated it best – you see, she’s had to hear non-stop about Wick since last September I believe. Over lunches, on the phone, in emails…heck I’ve even PM’d her on FB to plot points out. But she’s never actually read one of Wick’s books.

After reading some reviews for Wicked Solutions and Wicked Bindings she informed me that she was finally going to sit down and read the series. She stated “I don’t care if I know most of the story through you, I need to read and experience Wick for myself.”

My point is – I could sit here with you sipping this freaking fantastic coffee and babbling about Wick all night long. No seriously, I’m not just saying that I really could do it…lol

But that wouldn’t give you the true feel of Wick…he’s someone you have to experience first hand.

I want you to experience that…I want you to read Wicked’s Way and let me entertain you for a couple of hours. With that thought in mind and in honor of Melanie allowing me not only to visit but to not put a word count limit on me *blushes* if you hop over to All Romance e-books you will find the entire Wicked’s Way series on sale for 33% off the cover price!

Yep…your eyes do not deceive you…from today until Sunday midnight (Eastern time) all four of Wick’s books will be available for only $2 a piece. *winks*

Thank you Melanie for your hospitality and thank you everyone for actually reading to the bottom of this very long blog post lol…

Oh and by the way, would you like a parting hint about Wick five? Okay – the first hint about the next Wick book…

A man from Wick’s past knows Ned’s secrets and is after their future…Wicked Truths. (working title) 🙂

Thanks, Havan, for stopping by.  As you all know by now, I am crazy in love with this series and that wicked, wicked man, Wick Templeton.  Yesterday, I posted the review for the latest release, Wicked Guidance.

For those of you new to the series, go back to the beginning and work your way forward.  Really, its the only way to fly. Here are the books in the series to date in the order they were written and should be read:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #01)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #02)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #03)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #04)

Your buy links here:

All Romance Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #1)Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #2)Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #3)Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) Wicked Guidance cover