Reviews: Refined Instincts (Instincts #5) by S.J. Frost

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Refined Instincts coverBroken and starving, vampire outcast Troy Raines has returned to Chicago where everything went all so wrong to die the final death. The death of his best friend and former lover Isaac,and their misguided revolution against the Tribunal and the Ancients cost him everything. Now all Troy wants to do is finish the job vampire Daniel Valente started when he threw Troy off a building.

Renart Bellerose has been busy since the ending of the rebellion repairing the damage caused by his young, misguided vampires.  Renart has tried to make amends by being the Master he should have been to those he Turned and now he is seeing the results in those around him.  But they also serve to remind him of what and who Renart has lost, specifically Troy Raines.  From the  moment Renart looked upon Troy, he wanted him.  And after Turning Troy, Renart gave him everything he thought Troy wanted, power, money, but those weren’t the things Troy craved. Troy wanted Renart’s love and attention and when he didn’t get those, his anger exploded into a rebellion that cost many their lives and has the Tribunal hunting him down for treason.

When Renart finds Troy in Chicago, their reunion erupts into a moment of passion and anger, reinforcing the feelings they had always had for each other.  But danger is all around them as the Tribunal closes in on Troy and Renart finds himself a target of the Ancients wrath.  Will it be too late for Renart and Troy to find the happiness they always wanted or will the laws of the Ancients cost both of them their lives?

Refined Instincts brings back two of the most confounding characters of this series, ones that the readers will have mixed emotions about, and unites them in a relationship full of regret, guilt, and passion.  Throughout the Instincts series, Lord Renart Bellerose has been a sort of prickly, charming and untrustworthy thorn in the side of Lord Titus Antonius  and his lover, now  Eternal Partner, Andreas Nikandros (Natural Instincts – Instincts, #1) .  Even more, his attitude those young men he Turned  and the shear number of Turned  earned him the scorn of other Ancients as well, such as Lord Ryunosuke Kimura and his Eternal Partner, Sir Daniel Valente (Enduring Instincts – Instincts #2).  Renart has always hovered around the edges of the action in the preceding stories, a lively persona that picked at our curiosity each time he appeared on the pages.

Troy Raines also has had a reoccurring role in the series and not a admirable one.  As the leader of the rebellion, Troy oversaw the capture and torture of  series favorite Daniel Valente as well as the kidnapping of Andreas, lover of Lord Titus.  I am sure that there are many readers who still retain some dislike for this character based upon his actions in previous books.  All it took was for Daniel to throw Troy off the roof to start his transformation from villain to misguided, tragic reformer.   S. J. Frost started Troy on his path to redemption in Enduring Instincts when it becomes evident that the rebellion and the power is Isaac’s, not Troy’s.  Then when Troy is injured and unable to care for himself, he becomes an object of pity.  Bit by bit, Frost takes this character apart until the reader is left with nothing but compassion for the person he has become.

I found both characters intriguing and loved the manner in which Frost brings them back together.  It completes the rebellion aspect of this series and does so by fleshing out two secondary characters in a charming and wholly satisfying way.  It is definitely a favorite of mine of the series.  I thought that instead of glossing over past issues, Renart’s part as the igniting factor of the rebellion due to his poor treatment of his Turned and Troy’s blindness over Isaac are given equal treatment to help flesh out the characters and past events.  Renart’s past history does give the character a much needed foundation for his actions and behavior towards others around him.

I did feel that the arrival of  all the other couples from the series, other than Titus and Andreas, was a element that needed a little different treatment.  It was if they arrived just so the author could please all the readers who had favorites, not really because the plot absolutely required it.  And of course the trial was over very quickly after so much was made of the Tribunal hunting them down.  I would have loved to have seen this aspect of the story given more dimension and depth.

Refined Instincts is a wonderful addition to a series many have come to love.  I am not sure how many more the author has planned for Instincts, but given the vitality of this story, the series is healthy indeed.  I recommend this story to all fans of the series, those readers who love vampire stories as well as fans of S.J. Frost.  But if you are new to the series, this is not a stand alone story.  It must be read as part of the series so go back to Natural Instincts to see how it all begins.

This is how it all starts:

The silence in the dark alley broke with the shuffle and drag of uneven footsteps. Troy slowly made his way, his keen eyesight picking out trashcans, litter, dips and holes in the pavement. He may bear an eternally broken body, but his other vampiric senses were still sharp, so much stronger than when he’d been human…those three short years ago.

Troy shook his head, wishing the motion would scatter his memories. But like his shadow behind him, they were dark ghosts that forever clung to him, never parting from him. Even when he couldn’t see them, just as a shadow waits for light to show itself, so his memories waited for a moment of weakness to bring him down.

He should’ve known returning to Chicago would strengthen them…and weaken him, but he needed to come back. This was where it all began. This was where he wanted it to end.

And he did want it to end. All of it. The memories, the regrets, the guilt, the pain—physical and emotional. He no longer wanted eternity. He wanted peace.

Books in the Instincts series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that transpire:

Natural Instincts (Instincts, #1)
Enduring Instincts (Instincts, #2)
Loving Instincts (Instincts, #3)
Adapting Instincts (Instincts, #4)
Refined Instincts (Instincts,#5)

Book Details:

Published October 31st 2013 by MLR Press
ISBN 1020130160
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SJF_REFI
seriesInstincts #5

Brrrrr…..its cold Outside and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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DSCN4168Our region has seen single digit temperatures, ice, snow and flash freezing.  OK, it is January, a winter month, but still this is far too cold for this area and I think we are in shock.  I have kept the bird feeders full, as they are emptying them almost within an hour of being filled.  Same goes for the suet cakes hanging in the trees.

My yard is full of evidence of nightly visitors, deer tracks, fox tracks, raccoon and opossum. That is the opossum track to the left, notice the tail drag in the middle.  Their ears and tails are naked, getting frostbitten on nights like these. They crisscross and circle in search of food and shelter from the bruising cold winds and frigid Arctic air.   I always loved tracking in the woods after it has snowed.  So many stories are written on the glistening surface just waiting for someone to read them.

It snowed considerably the first year I worked as a Park Naturalist in Rock Creek.  And my first journey into the woods was amazing.  I remember walking  deep into the hickory oak forest and finding a small pile of Red Shouldered Hawk feathers on the ground, the snow spotted with blood.  As I looked around I noticed another grouping of feathers about 12 feet away, and then another.  And here and there the wing prints of a large bird, one who had landed with its prey, plucked for a while before taking off again with its heavy load.  Further and further I tracked until I finally found my culprit.  A great horned owl’s nest, high in a dead white oak tree, the base of which was strewn with owl pellets and fresh feathers.  I stood in awe of such a majestic and efficient predator.  A silent killer whose wings were capable of carrying a meal almost its own size, a shark of the skies where everything was considered fair game, including other owls.  I stood there for a while until throughly chilled, picked up a feather and owl pellet and headed back to the nature center, memorizing my path as I went.  I knew I would return there to check for owlets in another month or so and to see what other prey the Great Horned Owl had found.  This adventure cemented  my love for raptors and owls in particular.

This week a Snowy Owl appeared in downtown Washington, DC.  It appeared unconcerned that it stopped all traffic, vehicle and foot, as people gazed on in amazement.  How marvelous….

Snowy Owl in DC

snowy owl in dc

snowy owl in dc 2http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/01/24/snowy-owl-joins-capital-weather-gang-at-the-washington-post/

The cold is lingering into this coming week, a perfect time for reading a book or two or three.   Here are the books I reviewed this week.

Monday, Jan. 27:                  The Dreamer by M. King

Tuesday, Jan. 28:                  The Fall by Kate Sherwood

Wed., Jan. 29:                        Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water #2) by SE Jakes

Thurs., Jan. 30:                     Refined Instincts by SJ Frost

Friday, Jan. 31:                      January 2014 Best Covers and Book Review Summary

Sat., Feb. 1:                             Bloody Love Spats by Valentina Heart

Scattered Thoughts May 2013 Book Reviews

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mayIt was a great month in book reviews.  While most of the book fell into the contemporary fiction category, there was a book in just about every genre.  One of my favorites this month was Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler, a science fiction gem of a story from Riptide Publishing. I have also found new authors like Sue Brown and her outstanding The Sky Is Dead.  Don’t pass either of these by. And if you loved Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov, then you won’t want to miss the followup novel, City Mouse (Country Mouse #2).  I thought it was even better than its predecessor.

There are stand alone stories and new books in continuing series. This includes one series (The Night Wars) that I will be reevaluating on the basis of the third book in the series, a real stunner called The Hellfire Legacy by Missouri Dalton.  This is a terrific book and I had not rated the second book very highly.  Now I am going back in June, reading all three together and write a  review of the series in June (and probably a mea culpa or two on my part as well).

The titles are linked to my reviews.  Really, there is something for everyone here.  Here are May 2013’s book reviews in order of rating:

5 Star Rating:

City Mouse (Country Mouse #2) by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov (contemporary)
Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler (Science Fiction)
The Sky Is Dead by Sue Brown (contemporary)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:
Adapting Instincts (Instincts #4) by S.J. Frost
Bad Attitude (Bad in Baltimore #3) by K.A. Mitchell (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Bullheaded by Catt Ford (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Closet Capers Anthology (4.25 stars) mixture
Damned If You Do: The Complete Collection by J.L. Merrow
Leaving Home (Home #4) by TA Chase (4 stars)
Moments by R.J. Scott (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Never A Hero (a Tucker Springs novel) by Marie Sexton (4.5 stars) (contemporary)
Night of Ceremony (Notice #4) by M. Raiya (4.5 stars) (fantasy, romance)
Noah by Ben Ryder (4 stars) (contemporary)
Shy by John Inman (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Still by Mary Calmes (4.75 stars) (contemporary)
The Hellfire Legacy (The Night Wars #3) by Missouri Dalton (4.5 stars) (supernatural)
The Isle of…Where? by Sue Brown (4.5 stars) (contemporary)
The Unforgiving Minute by Sarah Grainger (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:
Chateau D’Eternite by Ariel Tachna (3.75 stars) Fantasy
Fire Horse by Mickie B. Ashling (3.75 stars) (contemporary)
His Heart To Reap by Erin Lane (3 stars) (supernatural)
It Takes Practice by Willa Okati (3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating: