Release Blitz for Life After Humanity (Thorns and Fangs #3) by Gillian St. Kevern (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Life After Humanity

Series: Thorns and Fangs, Book Three

Author: Gillian St. Kevern

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 15, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 119000

Genre: Paranormal, vampires, supernatural beings, werewolves, alternate universe, cliffhanger ending

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Synopsis

Ben is a recovering vampire determined to pick up the pieces of the life that came to a halt when he was murdered over a year ago—even if that means distancing himself from his few remaining friends. Nate, struggling to navigate his new identity as a Class 3 Unknown paranormal, knows it will take more than mastery of his affinity with plants to convince Ben they belong together.

When Ben’s application for human status is denied, he must fight to leave the paranormal world behind him while Nate’s generous impulses drag him into conflict with a werewolf pack with designs on ruling New Camden. As Ben’s vampire family draws closer to finding him, his vampire instinct awakens—throwing his continued existence into jeopardy. The hunt for the missing werewolf continues, and Nate and Ben become pawns in Councilor Wisner’s plans to take control of the city. Their only hope is each other—if they can see that before all is lost.

Excerpt

Life After Humanity
Gillian St. Kevern © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Someone had broken in.

Ben stood in the doorway of his New Camden apartment. The door swung open at his touch, even before he’d fished his key out of his pocket. Beneath his feet, the protective wards laid around the apartment throbbed like an open wound. Someone had forced their way past Ben’s carefully laid defenses—someone who was still there.

Damnit. Ben set his briefcase down noiselessly beside the door. Just one day. One day without anything supernatural happening. Is that too much to ask?

He didn’t move, using his senses to probe the darkness beyond the door. Vampire—or werewolf? He hadn’t felt any interference with his wards until he’d reached his apartment. That ruled out a magical practitioner or any lesser supernatural being that would have needed to unpick the spell piece by piece. Please, not another demon. None of the boxes dotted around the living room were big enough to hide an intruder. Unless they crouched behind the sofa or pressed against the wall in the shadows, they weren’t in the living room.

Keeping his attention focused on the apartment, Ben fished for his umbrella stand and the cane leaning against its back. It looked benign, as if it had been forgotten by an elderly visitor, but when Ben twisted the handle, he released the long blade hidden within.

Not Ben’s first choice of weapon—the blade was too long and too dainty—but it was a weapon, able to stand up to vampire or demon. If this is a werewolf, I am in serious trouble. The stale air of his apartment lacked the distinctive ripe odor of werewolf. Still, Ben couldn’t rule it out.

Why would a werewolf break into my apartment? True, Ben had a past as a supernatural investigator for ARX and had killed a few werewolves in his time—but that was the past. There was nothing linking his life now to ARX—was there?

Ben slipped noiselessly into the dimly lit living room, heading for the sofa. Nothing there—or in the shadows. He scanned the room, but everything looked as it had that afternoon when he’d stepped out to meet his accountant. All I did was my taxes! Where’s the harm in that?

But bringing his financial records up-to-date for the year he’d been dead had taken all of the afternoon. Ample time for whoever it was to find a hiding place. Ben stood motionless in the living room, straining with his senses for any clue to the intruder.

The open doors of his apartment were in deeper shadow than the rest of the living room. Reaching for the light switch was tempting, but Ben’s eyes were now accustomed to the dark. Readjusting would cost seconds he wasn’t sure he had. His eyes fell on the stacks of paper on his living room table.

At first glance they seemed undisturbed, but a closer look revealed a few papers had drifted to the side. Disturbed by a breeze? Ben turned to the kitchen door. A sliver of light was just visible through the crack beneath.

A trap. There was nothing of interest to any supernatural being in the kitchen, so it would be the last place he searched. His guard down, his senses dull, he’d be unprepared for whatever waited beyond. Or—Ben frowned as he approached the door—was there another explanation?

A faint sizzling sound emanated from beyond the door, followed by the heavy smell of garlic.

Ben’s nose twitched. A werewolf would not cook an enemy dinner. A demon wouldn’t know how. A vampire might—but a vampire would not use garlic.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Taking a deep breath, Ben slowly levered the handle down and let the door drift open. His fear was confirmed.

Nate stood at the counter, his back to the door. The strength implicit in his broad shoulders and muscular arms was softened—but not disguised—by the domesticity of his actions. As Ben watched, Nate lay down the knife and used the chopping board to slide his neatly diced peppers into the frying pan. At his elbow a pot boiled merrily.

Far more dangerous than any werewolf. Ben swallowed, finding it hard to speak. He felt as if he were caught in a spell, unable to do anything but watch.

Absorbed in his task, Nate seemed unaware of Ben’s presence. He was dressed down, wearing a faded T-shirt that hugged his torso. The edges of his jeans were frayed, hanging down over his bare feet. His hair hadn’t been styled, and it curled up at the base of his neck. Finished adding the mushrooms to the pan, he stirred its contents and then stretched out a hand to the basil growing in a pot on the windowsill. The window reflected his smile, inward and alarmingly personal.

Ben swallowed. Nate had broken in—so why did he feel like the intruder?

Dangerous. Ben dug his fingers into his arm. Focus! Casual worked annoyingly well for Nate, made more effective by the knowledge that Nate made a point of looking good. There were few people who got to see Nate dressed down. But Ben couldn’t think about that, or how right Nate looked in his kitchen. He had to get Nate out of his apartment before it was too late.

“What happened to seeing less of each other?”

Nate started, snatching his hand back from the basil. He turned, and Ben’s initial flash of triumph gave way to alarm. Nate’s eyes were a great weapon. Hazel and framed by dark, almost decadently soft lashes, they radiated whatever Nate felt with an immediacy that was hard to resist.

“Jesus, Ben! You scared the shit out of me—” He came to a halt. “Is that a sword?”

Ben looked down at the blade in his hand. It wouldn’t help him now. “It’s a family heirloom. Used to be my grandfather’s.” He turned back toward the front door.

“And you just keep it there by the door?” Nate followed Ben to the kitchen door to watch.

“In case of intruders.” Ben sheathed the sword and dropped the cane back in the stand. He shut the door. His heart raced. Ben took a moment to summon all his anger. I was this close to a day without anything supernatural happening! “You’d better have a good reason for breaking into my apartment.”

“I do.” Nate stood in the kitchen doorway, one hand resting against the frame.

“Let’s hear it then.”

“I had a bad feeling this afternoon. A premonition.”

Not this again! “It wasn’t a premonition.”

“It felt really real. I was just watching TV and all of a sudden, these words popped into my mind. You were gone and I wasn’t going to see you again. It really freaked me out.”

“Enough to add breaking and entering to your criminal file?”

Nate radiated hurt. He wrapped his arms around himself. “I had to see you. No one answered the door, so I tried calling. When it had been a couple of hours and you hadn’t answered your phone, I—well, I got worried.”

“And that’s when you broke in?” Ben pulled his phone out of his pocket, tapping in his pin.

“That was an accident. I had my hand on the door, and I was thinking about how much I wanted to be on the other side, and the door just…relaxed.”

Eight missed calls… Ben jerked his head up. “Relaxed?”

“I tried the handle and it opened.” Nate’s eyes settled anxiously on Ben’s. “Did I break anything?”

Ben looked down at the welcome mat beneath his feet. He didn’t need to lift it to know what he would find. His runes, intact but faintly smudged. “Only the natural laws regarding the magical properties of runes.”

Nate scratched the back of his neck. He dropped his gaze, shuffling his feet, but was unable to keep from looking up to check Ben’s expression. “Are you mad?”

Embarrassment looked wrong on Nate. Ben was reminded of a dog caught doing something he knew he shouldn’t be—and felt the tight knot of anger in his stomach undo. Curse him! If Ben was going to get out of this encounter unscathed he needed his anger. “Of course I’m mad. My apartment is my place. Coming home to find someone’s forced their way in is…not good.” Not good? That wasn’t going to convince anyone—least of all anyone with Nate’s perceptive nature.

It was hard to read Nate’s expression. “I made dinner. As an apology.”

At least he realized he needed to apologize— No! I have to be firm. “I think your apology is burning.”

“Shit!” Nate ducked back through the doorway to attend to the frying pan.

Ben took the opportunity to escape.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Gillian St. Kevern is spending Christmas in her native New Zealand, where the seasonal festivities include pavlovas, walks on the beach, and a distinct lack of sweaters, seasonal or otherwise. She will almost certainly get sunburnt at some stage.

Gillian reads and writes a variety of genres. She’s a huge fan of paranormal with an emphasis on vampires. The third and fourth books in her vampire series, Thorns and Fangs, are due for release in January and February 2018. She also explores Welsh Mythology in the on-going Deep Magic series. In 2018, she plans to explore another beloved genre―vintage mysteries. She loves discovering new books and authors, so please get in touch if you have any good book recommendations to share!

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A Jeri Review: Fight the Tide (Kick at the Darkness #2) by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fight the TideYou really, really must read Kick at the Darkness first as this is the follow up book. And I am guessing (hoping?) that there will be a book three.

Fight the Tide picks up right where Kick at the Darkness leaves off. Adam and Parker are aboard a sailboat trying to survive. They have no idea where they are really going or what to do. But they want to survive. One day while Adam is on shore getting supplies, Parker is victimized by modern day pirates. Feeling like less of a man, a broken person, he puts on a brave face for Adam. When they hear a distress call, Parker absolutely does not want to help, fearing the worst. But Adam can’t leave these people with 2 children when they are sinking. And so we meet Craig, his daughter Lilly, and Abby and her so Jacob.

This installment is no longer a romantic love story, but one of survival and making your way in an unknown world. In book 1 it was Adam who was untrusting of the world. In book 2, it is Parker. That flip kept this book very interesting. Adam has a whole new “coming out” when he admits to the others that he is a werewolf.

While I really enjoyed this book, it was a bit of a hybrid of The Walking Dead and Waterworld.  There were tears, gasps, sighs and oh my gods. At times I was a bit lost in the sailing jargon, but then on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. We still get moments of romance between Adam and Parker, but this is far from a love story.

I admit I like book 1 more, but book 2 was a necessary bridge to the story coming for us in book 3. A story I cannot wait for.

The cover is gorgeous and a perfect representation of Parker and Adam and their sailboat, seemingly alone on the open seas.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by KA Books
ISBN139781988260068
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Kick at the Darkness – add it to your Goodreads here

Review: MIA Case Files 3: Craving by K.C. Burn

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Rating: 2.75 stars

MIA Files 3 CravingAgents Brandon Ellison and his partner Oliver Cardoso were on a mission for the MIA (Metaphysical Investigative Agency) when it  went horribly wrong, injuring Brandon Ellison.  That mission and its aftermath ended Brandon’s career as a field agent due to his disabilities and broke up the partnership, both romantically and as agents.

Now seven years later, Oliver and his new partner, Carmichael, are on a mission when almost the exact thing happens again.  But this time, with more experience under his belt, Oliver and partner come through with minor injuries.  When they go to complain to the head of MIA’s Research and Development Team, they find Brandon Ellison in charge and unable to explain what went wrong.  But Oliver’s new partner doesn’t trust Brandon, and thinks Brandon is behind the malfunctioning sonic charge that almost got them killed. Brandon is equally distrustful of Carmichael as well as jealous of his closeness to his former lover.

When Brandon invites himself along on their next mission to investigate problems with the weaponry, fireworks fly once more between Brandon and Oliver as their rivalry and memories vie for dominance and old love starts to resurface.  With hundreds of lives at stake, old and new grudges must be put aside if everyone is to survive this latest mission.

I picked up this book by K.C.Burn without reading any of the prior books in the series and that has left me as well as any other reader confused from the start. Burn supplies the reader with no back history to explain the alternative world I found myself reading about.  Apparently a war is going on between the human world and Umbrae (?) with portals being opened by the enemy to let through all sorts of creatures, from werewolves, vampires,demons and more. Who the nefarious Umbrae are and why they are unhappy with the human race is never quite explained.   Unlike other books where you can gather enough information from the various story threads to piece together a vision of the world, the author just assumes you have read the previous books and carries on.

So I will just concentrate on those portions of the book the reader can understand, the characters.  I liked the character of Oliver Cardoso. A green agent when the first accident happens, now he is a seasoned field op of 43, older and greying.  Oliver is certainly the most layered character you will find here.  Burn does a nice job conveying his weariness over the job and the emotional isolation he has imposed on himself since the first mission.  Brandon Ellison is a harder character to warm up to .  For Brandon, everything has hinged around that first failed mission.  His disability and his loss of Oliver has consumed his life.  The fact that Brandon ended up at head of R&D seems like a fluke to both Brandon and the reader as well.  Hard to root for a couple to get back together when half of said couple just doesn’t feel real.  Harder to care about a alternative universe when the danger seems minimal, the action downplayed, and the calculated “aha” moments more on the level of a high school play.

The plot, how to explain a plot that doesn’t track?  People are getting infected, the MIA must stop the portals from opening up, wherever they pop up, let’s set off some sonic explosions, the infection is spread by bites and being gay helps.  There are quite a few flashbacks but the uneven timeline just works against the story instead of for it because of the jerky manner in which it is handled.  The flashbacks here just serve to break up any momentum the story had built to date. The narrative structure consistently diffused any sense of danger or dread in the events happening around the main characters, and any sense of being connected to the characters and their situation just dwindled away. Between the style of writing and the lack of exposition this story just comes across as one  sad mess.

Here is an example.  Two characters are having a conversation about being gay:

“Brandon shrugged. “Whatever makes us gay makes us better agents.” Oliver had expected a lecture about genetics and heredity and antigens.

Not only would such an explanation be lost on Luis, but Brandon had been pretty pissed when he’d realized gay men were better agents because they were more likely to recover from Umbrae bites without going mad, while having a greater chance for death when the portal closed if the possession managed to complete the three-day physiological transformation.”

*head desk*

That just makes my head hurt, especially the last, long sentence and the entire book reads that way.  I love alternative worlds and  zombies, werewolves and vampires? Bring it on but make it believable or at least entertaining.  Make me want to lose myself in the events happening on the pages instead wanting to put the book down unfinished.  In the end the fleeting promise of one character did not hold my interest for long and although I did finish the book, I won’t be going forward to explore this universe further.  I did it so you don’t have to, that’s my motto and I am sticking to it.

Books in the series include:

Wolfsbane (MIA Case Files #1)

Blood Relations (MIA Case Files #2)

Craving (MIA Case Files #3)

Review of With or Without Series by JL Langley

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ating: 5 stars for the series

My first introduction to JL’s shifters came when I picked up the Hearts From The Ashes anthology and read With Love, the first in Langley’s shifter series.  It featured a young clutzy Omega wolf named Laine Campbell who was perpetually in hot water over things he said or creating chaos with the things he did.  Everything about Laine was adorable, from his hair to his manner of speech and I fell in love immediately.  So did Dev, the Alpha wolf moving to Ashton with his betas and business partners.  He was hooked on Laine and I was hooked on Dev.  I could not believe it when the story was over. I wanted more shifters, specifically I wanted JL’s shifters and I wanted them now. This is a reoccurring theme with JL Langley’s books so be prepared.

Then came Without Reservations in 2007 and my addiction was official.  Without Reservations is the story of Chayton Winston, a veterinarian living in New Mexico.  He is also a shifter and all his life he has been dreaming of a fair haired mate, much to his Native American  parents chagrin.  His entire life Chay has considered himself heterosexual until an injured wolf is brought into his office.  The wolf is a gorgeous male shifter and his mate.  He is also Caucasian something he is sure his mother will never accept.

Keaton Reynolds wakes up in a veterinarian ‘s office to find himself injured and being treated by his mate.  He should be overjoyed except he just got out of a relationship from a shifter who had a girlfriend on the side but also said he was Keaton’ mate.  Keaton is not one to repeat his mistakes and a hetero shifter is not someone he wants to take a chance on, no matter what his body and even his heart may think.  But Chay won’t give up on Keaton and finally Keaton agrees to get to know Chay better.  And slowly they start to build a relationship together.  But there is Chay’s mother’s disapproval to overcome and a power struggle in Keaton’s Georgia pack that threatens them both.  How will they overcome the odds to find the happiness they both deserve?

I reread this book all the time.  Chayton Winston and Keaton Reynolds are such wonderful creations that I return to their story time and again.  Chayton is one of the nicest people you will meet in the author’s novels.  He is both elementally patient and rock solid in his beliefs so that when presented with a man as a mate, he accepts it.  If it switches his sexuality over to gay, ok as long as he gets his mate, something no wolf shifter would ever turn down.  And you believe this paradigm shift absolutely as being in character for Chayton because he is so real from the moment we meet him.  Keaton also engages our hearts and affections with his prickly nature  and forceful personality packed into a slight build.  A small white wolf, he has the personality and power of an Alpha without needing to lead. Keaton would rather teach and help educate so the fact that his mate would be a healer, a veterinarian makes complete sense.  JL Langley surrounds these two with people as authentic and believable as they are and gives us a mystery to boot.  Just an outstanding novel.

With Caution came next.  It remains my favorite of the series and again one I read over and over again.  With the characters of Remington Lassiter and Jake Romero, JL brings a level of complexity and depth to her characterizations that I had not seen before.  And added to our main characters, she introduces us to the rest of the men who will become their pack.  Each man is a unique unforgettable creation as they sit astride their motorcycles and roar into our hearts.  Remy is a shifter we meet in Without Reservations and he makes a rather disastrous first impression upon us in that story.  But here we discover the dark background that surrounds him in shocking detail as well as the reasons for his actions.

There are parts of this novel so bleak and despairing your hearts will bleed for Remy and his brother Sterling  even as our hero bleeds out from the abuse.  Remy’s sexuality and his acceptance of a male mate is a huge part of this story and his past as well.  I cannot give Langley enough credit for the sensitive way she deals with child abuse and recovery as an adult.  There is also a murder mystery to be solved, and the exploration of a naturally submissive nature.  There is some mild bdsm that works beautifully within the plot of the story and the glimpses of new couples, mates, for future stories.  One couple in particular has had the fans clamoring for their story since this book was published.  This story has depth, multi-layered characters and a multitude of themes running through it, not the least of which is how Reservaton law can also isolate the members it is supposed to protect, control issues and child abuse.  Heavy themes indeed but this book is also packed with love and redemption.  With Caution is an incredible read you won’t want to put down.

Next comes a series of free stories that can be found on the Fiction With Friction website until JL Langley’s site is back up and running.  These are in order:

A Lot To Be Thankful For (With or Without Series 3.1) Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (the fans just wouldn’t shut up for their story)

A Sterling New Year (With or Without Series 3.2)  with Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (love, love these two and so will you, get on the bus)

With Abandon (With or Without #4) brings back Aubrey Reynolds and the rest of the Georgia pack that we met in Without Reservation.  Aubrey is Keaton’s brother and our introduction to him in Without Reservation was not exactly a positive one.  Matt Mahihkan, one of Gadget’s sons from With Caution is back and going to college in Georgia. Matt was a quirky young man who we got to know only superficially but JL Langley brings him together with  Aubrey Reynolds and that combination sparks all sorts of problems not the leasts of which is that Aubrey is not out to his family or the pack. And Matt is not only out and proud but turns out he is Aubrey’s mate. It took me a while to like Aubrey, perhaps some of that was left over emotions from Without Reservation.  But his reluctance to accept Matt officially as his mate made him hard to like.  He has to grow on you, something none of the other characters has had to do.  Matt, of course, is absolutely adorable and we entrust our affections with him from the get go.  And with Matt, comes some of the members of the New Mexico pack we have come to love as well.

Next come three free short stories in succession. I am convinced JL Langley thought the fans would be showing up on her doorstep if she didn’t at least throw them all several bones. I will admit to being one of them:

Christmas Dinner at Reynolds Hall (With or Without, #4.1)

Attack of the Killer Dust Bunnies (With or Without, #4.2) 

Christmas Cookies and Garland (With or Without, #4.3)

So what and who are coming next?  That would be Sterling and Rhys.  This is the story everyone has been yelling for, myself included. I believe JL Langley said it will be done in a few month from now but isn’t sure when it will be published. That will depend upon Samhain Publishing’s schedule.  Be still my heart.

Without Fear (With or Without series #5) – coming from Samhain Publishing.

So that’s JL Langley’s shifters in a nutshell.  I am not sure I did them justice.  Shifters of all species hit my buttons. Native American shifters hit them twice.  I don’t care if they are wolves, big cats or even weresloths of London (thank you, Charlie Cochrane for that memorable story).  But thinking back to the beginning, it all started with JL Langley’s wolves who come to life on the pages of the With and Without series, grabbed both my attention and my heart and have never let them go.  I have these books in paperback (prior to my Kindle) and I have them now in eBooks as well.  From their killer covers to their outstanding characters and plots, I return to them often.  To reacquaint myself with old friends and find comfort in their presence.

Some find JL Langley through her cowboys and others through her sci-Regency series.  I found her through her shifters.  If you are new to JL Langley as an author, try them all.  Start from the beginning of each series and work your way down.  You will find yourself with a new  addiction just as I did.  Write me. Let me know what you think. I will be waiting.

Review of Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Nate Stanford is back home in Wolf Creek, Texas following the death of his brother, Rick.  Guilt stricken over his falling out with his brother, of not being there when Rick needed him the most, Nate is determined to buy back his family’s ranch as a way to make amends to his dead brother.  Rick’s Alpha, Nate Morgan, has given Nate a place to stay and a job to tide him over. But there is someone else interested in bidding on the family farm to his consternation.

Jared Ambrose came to town to take the job of Deputy in Wolf Creek, bringing with him his younger brother Tristan.  Since their father died, Tristan has been getting in trouble, drink binging and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Jared hopes that a change from Lubbock to Wolf Creek will make all the difference to Tristan and their relationship which has become increasingly distant.  Now that their family has been narrowed down to two, Jared hopes to make Sheriff and settle down permanently in a town where the wolf shifters outnumber humans 3 to 1, even if the humans aren’t aware of the fact.

When a fight in a bar brings Nate and Jared together, both men realize they are mates.  But Jared is afraid the town won’t vote for a gay Sheriff and Rick’s death has left Nate feeling unworthy of Jared, so  neither man acknowledges their bond.  But someone is causing trouble for the pack in Wolf Creek and the Supernatural Council is sending operatives to evaluate the situation and the current pack leadership.  As everything becomes increasingly unsettled, Nate and Jared will have to come together to fight for their pack’s and Tristan’s safety or have their decision to remain apart threaten the stability of those they love.

The Shifters’ Haven series is built around Wolf Creek, Texas and its pack of wolf shifters.  Wolf Creek is two thirds shifters in population, a situation that the human population is ignorant of as all shifters have worked hard to keep themselves hidden. Each book brings together a different mated pair with a continuous plot line of dissension among the Supernatural Council which is composed of shifters of all types, from hawk to cougar. From the first installment, you are made aware of the Council who governs all shifters with their rules and regulations and the possibility of corruption within that impacts Wolf Creek and beyond.  From book to book, each time a member of the Council intervenes or arrives on the scene, you become less assured as to who the “good guys” are.  Also each book widens the Wolf Creek pack with new family members and sometime new species of shifters are given haven.

Nate’s Deputy is the 5th in the Shifters’ Haven series and is being touted as a standalone too. But I would discount that as each book brings more of the backstory of Wolf Creek and its denizens as well as contributes to the mystery concerning the supernatural Council.  Lavinia Lewis does a wonderful job with her characterizations of the town’s members as well as her vivid descriptions of Texas, dusty and hot in the summer season.  You can almost feel the dirt and sweat accumulate on your skin or fur under the Texas sun. Wolf Creek is populated with all types of personalities, some craven, some hiding secret ambitions and agendas under bland exteriors as well as the stalwart and the noble ,the insecure and the downtrodden.  I think Lewis has crafted some wonderful individuals to populate her novels and Nate and Jared are no exceptions.  Nate, with his survivor grief to go along with brotherly guilt over his relationship with Rick, is someone we all can relate to.  He is so unsettled, so distraught with himself that the idea of someone else finding him worthy is hard for Nate to accept.  Jared too is realistic. He earned my sympathy and affection as he tries to assume responsibility for his younger brother, manage his own grief on losing his father and settle into a new town and job  while feeling utterly overwhelmed by the challenges in front of him.  Jared’s stress is palpable.

Another nice touch in this shifter series is that neither Nate or Jared want to accept or acknowledge their status as mates.  Usually in this and other series, the moment a mate is found, it is all about instant bonding with a straight shot to love happily ever after.  Not so much here.  Jared has his brother to think of and the ambition to become Sheriff in a town not always tolerant of gays.  Nate is uncertain about his future in Wolf Creek, still trying to come to terms with his brother’s death and his own lack of a role within the pack.  No rush to love here, just two men who happen to be shifters dealing with life’s roadblocks and detours.  I really liked their fumble towards a relationship.

My quibble here regards the continuing issues within the Supernatural Council and the problems they caused here.  The end seemed abrupt and a little too streamlined considering all the events leading up to the denouement, especially considering the main issue for the shifters of whether to remain hidden or come out to the human population is never really addressed.  Perhaps that is coming down the line in future books.  I can only hope so.  My other quibble is the length of the books.  All are novellas and could be helped by the addition of more length, more exposition.  Still  I found this to be a wonderful new installment to a terrific series.

Once again Posh Gosh is giving us lush, gorgeous covers for the entire series.  Beautiful branding and great design for each and every book.

Here are the Shifter Haven series in the order they were written and should be read in order to fully appreciate the characters, relationships and plots.

Luke’s Surprise (Shifters’ Haven #1) . Luke Morgan and Mark Malone’s story

Cody’s Revelation (Shifters’ Haven #2) – Cody Morgan and Stefan Drake’s story

Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven #3) – Kelan Morgan and Jake Bradfield’s story

Aaron’s Awakening (Shifters’ Haven #4) – Aaron Drake and Cary Lewis

Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5)

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6)

Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) coming in October 2012

Three Fates by Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes and Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars

The Fates sit, spin and weave the fabric of all human life.  Some people’s threads are guided to the path of true love, some are lucky in love and life while others have their lives or threads cut short, their loves lost , while others still have waited many lifetimes to find their true love again.  All human life woven into a tapestry by the Fates with some surprising and  unexpected results, even to the Fates themselves.  Three Fates weave the stories of three very different couples, from werewolves in Germany to Scandinavians in California.

Fate Delivers A Prince by Andrew Grey gives us a young werewolf with a terrible itch who visits Germany with his family only to run into a prince who takes his royal duties very seriously.  Only an intervention by Clotho will put these two on a path to love.

Jump by Mary Calmes brings us into the lives of Egyptian gods and the Fates.  When one god loses his mortal lover, he renounces his immortality and dies.  Bereft his brother God begs the Fates interference to bring the two together again, no matter how many lives each must live before they find each other again.

Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane stars Loki and Thor as the Nordic gods whose meddling changes the patterns of two families, giving one the abundance of luck after stealing the luck from another.  When Lief, the lucky bike messenger saves the life of Hacon, who is laboring under a family curse, the Fates have a chance to right a wrong as the Gods look on.

What a remarkable trio of stories by three amazing authors.  In each story, the Fates weave out the pattern of peoples lives but things never go as planned, not without a little interference by the weavers themselves. If you have ever heard someone say “well, it must have been fate” and you believed it, then these stories are for you.

In Andrew Grey’s story, he brings the Greek Gods, or rather Clotho , the youngest of the Moirai or Fates to help two young lovers accept their destiny.  Clotho is responsible for making decisions, weaving the human story.  When it looks like Cheyanne the young were is going to listen to his insecurities and poor self image instead of attending the ball, Clotho sends the appropriate dress and instructions to send him to the ball and a meeting with his prince.  Chey is young endearing young man, whose position in the family as the baby plus an undiagnosed skin disease has turned him into someone who craves a library and books over human interaction and society. The descriptions of Chey interactions with his father were so touching and had that authentic feel of a father and son trying to navigate their issues with each other. In fact all the relationships here feel very real whether it is family dynamics or odd man out at the ball.  Reading this story gave me the feeling of being there watching it all unfold. Andrew Grey gives us a great sense of setting with his descriptions of the buildings and streets in Munich, Germany combined with terrific characterizations.And the idea that love is an itch you must scratch as well as the balm? Priceless. And so is this gentle tale of love and a forever prince from Andrew Grey.

Anubis and Horus come to life in this touching tale of love lost and centuries later found once more.  Haven’t you ever looked at someone and sensed an immediate connection beyond all logic?  I did and let the moment and the person go by to my everlasting regret.  So this story had a special resonance for me.  When Raza and Cassidy meet and seem to know one another, I  almost wept so right did Mary Calmes get that feeling, that moment in time.  And the character of Cassidy Jane is someone I have never seen from her before.  Short, skinny, bald and wearer of bowties!  I kept thinking where did you come from?  And I loved him!  And Raza, seemingly implacable until Fate smacks him in the chest in the form of Cass and they put right what went horribly wrong so long ago.  But this is a Mary Calmes story, so you have two lovable and oh so human best friends for our two main characters, Snow Drake and Jamie Kidd.  I loved them too.  And there is angst, and anxiety towards the end that it will all go wrong again but the Fates have other ideas, and so does Anubis. That climatic scene at the end? Scary and fun? Ah, Mary Calmes, you did it again.  This was wonderful.  I so love Cass!  Can we please see all of these people again?

Our third and last weaver of human destiny is Amy Lane.  Here she invokes the Gods of Asgard and the Fates called Verdandi (neccessity), Urdh(fate), and Skuld (being).  Here the Fates or Norns, also known as the three sisters, live under the world tree,Yggdrasil, in the realm of Asgard. They weave together the destinies of men and gods as well as the changing laws of the cosmos.  Their tapestry was interrupted, the pattern broken when Loki comes and steals a golden thread of luck from one baby and gives it to another.  The Fates are horrified at Loki’s act, Skuld takes the broken threads and spit splices them together as best she can. This results in “The family with the thread, they shall be lucky, long-lived, and blessed—mostly. And the family without? They shall be unlucky and doomed—but optimistic and intelligent and resourceful.” A temporary fix until a solution comes around in the form of sons from each family that meet and heal the break in their destinies in a most extraordinary way.  Here we meet two of the most remarkable creations, two sons of Norway residing in California, undeniable in their uniqueness and depth of character.  Lief, the lucky “Thundergod” of bike messengers glows his way off the pages and into our hearts, his personality larger than can be contained within this story. Hacon Haldor aka Hake took a little longer to creep into my heart. Dark, thin, brooding, he can kill tanks of tropical fish by freezing them and make his mother’s plants turn black as he passes, although he doesn’t really believe he is to blame no matter what his ex boyfriend and brother says. Flanking these remarkable beings are Lethal, a pint sized bit of attitude and energy who is Lief’s best friend, Andre who is Hake’s ex boyfriend and cop, and two unforgettable cats, Loki (of course) and Vanir who have their own roles to play.  Element upon element, layer upon layer,  the yarn Amy Lane has woven intertwines until we are given a story tremendous in scope, as large as Asgard itself.  We have mythological elements, the scary world of bike messengers, marvelous explanations of the meaning of stories and hero figures, knitting, and some of the best cussing phraseology that has come down the pike.  I am talking some memorable wall hangings and cross stitch pillows just screaming out to be made with those phrases in mind.  And no I cannot repeat them here.  You will have to read the story!  Uh hem.

I loved these stories.  They spoke to my mind and my heart.  Clearly these wonderful authors were fated to write them as we are to read them, enjoy them and bring them close.  Don’t pass these by, don’t give Loki a reason to make more mischief (like he needs any).  Whether you believe in Fate or happenstance, these stories are for you.  No quibbles here.  Trust me.  You’ll love them.

Cover art by Christine Griffin.  Love it.  What a great sexy cover.  Amy Lane says she is the Fate in the hoodie.  Of course she is.  So who do you think are the other two?

Review of Ruffskin (Dance With The Devil #4) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars

It is a typical night at The Bremmer, it’s pouring outside and Johnny is arguing with Grimm inside over an alleged flirtation at a party they just left.  A messenger interrupts them looking for Peyton Blue, the werewolf coowner and bartender of The Bremmer.  The strange courier has a package to deliver, one that has an immediate effect on their beloved barkeep.  When Grimm chases after the courier, he disappears  under a magical spell.

The package is from Peyton’s past, bringing with it bloody memories and a death sentence.  It is up to Johnny and Grimm to find the messenger, and finish the conflict started years ago when Peyton still belonged in the Blue Pack.

Ruffskin is a short story that follows the characters of Dance in the Dark (Dance with the Devil #2), Johnny Goodnight and his boyfriend/guard Grimm,  and their friend Peyton Blue, a werewolf.  Without reading Dance in the Dark, you will miss the backstory on all the characters involved in the case here which would be a mistake and leave you confused as to the elements involved in Ruffskin.  That said, this is a marvelous addition to that universe.  Most of the denizens of The Bremmer, local bar and hangout, have interesting pasts and it’s bartender and owner is no different.

Of course, it is a dark and stormy night that brings Peyton’s past home to him, a past he has tried so very hard to forget and one that could cause his death.  Johnny Goodnight is none other than John Derossiers, son of The Dracula Derossiers who rules the territory they live in. When the mystery and conflict from Peyton’s past intrudes on the bar and his father’s land, Johnny is called in to investigate and solve the problem.  And what a problem it is.  A dreadful dark secret that is at the heart of the chaos in the Blue werewolf pack. This is a very sensitive subject matter that Megan Derr gives a delicate and compassionate treatment, identifying the matter through the use of a poem instead of outright stating the nature of the abuse. Simply and elegantly done.

Ruffskin contains all the usual elements I have come to expect from Megan Derr.  Great characterizations, smart dialog and a storyline that keeps the reader engaged right to the end. Ruffskin is listed as the fourth book in the Dance With The Devil series but the author states at the beginning that this story fits in right after the second book as I have noted above.  While Midnight could almost be read as a stand alone (it figures into the books that follow it), the first three books should be read in the order I have indicated below:

Dance With The Devil (DWTD#1)see my review here.

Dance In The Dark (DWTD#2) – see my review here.

Ruffskin (DWTD#4)

Midnight (DWTD#3) – see my review here.

Cover:  Again another gorgeous cover by London Burden in keeping with the series and containing a simple graphic of a object center to the storyline.

Review of Midnight (Dance With The Devil #3) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars

Devlin White, Duke of Winterbourne, is the last of a great line of Black Witches.  With the death of his father, his remaining siblings has renounced the black arts for white and left for the new world, only he remains to carry on the family name and glory.   He receives a request from Lord Tamor, demon lord of his land, to investigate the latest draugr sightings in the countryside just outside his territory, far more numerous than ever before.  The vampires whose territory it is refuses demon assistance, preferring that of a renown and infamous witch instead.

When Devlin accepts the mission, he decides to leave behind his beloved ward, Midnight, who he treasures above all. The reason?  Midnight is a draugr as well, a living corpse made by Devlin’s own special magic, and until White can figure out why or who has called these draugrs from the grave, he doesn’t want Midnight close to the problem or Midnight may be influenced as well.

Powerful magic is at work and the culprit clever at hiding themselves and the motives behind their actions.  When Midnight appears on the scene despite Devlin’s orders, he catches the attention of the person behind the draugr attacks.  Then the race is on to find out who is responsible for the draugrs and stop them before they take control of the one being Devlin loves, whether he knows it or not.

Midnight continues our journey through the different territories of the world that makes up The Dance With The Devil series.  Each book contains  either overlapping characters or mentions characters/beings that are central to the next  book.  Midnight’s focus is on the walking dead.  We know them as zombies.  People or beings called from the grave, animated for some or someone’s purpose.  Midnight, the character, of the title is a unique draugr, created by Devlin White himself and another sorcerer, when just a boy.  With snow white skin, blue hair, nails and eyes only to give away his status as a walking dead, he is otherwise perfection to look upon with powers of his own.  He is an innocent among evil or those to whom evil or black magic are constant companions.  Midnight is also deeply in love with Devlin and doesn’t know how to get Devlin to look at him differently.  Every aspect of Midnight will claim the reader’s compassion and instill him into our hearts, so beautifully is he realized. In Devlin White, Derr draws our attention to the witches in her universe and their companions. I loved Devlin White who continues her rolecall of aristocratic main characters.  He is elegant, wry, and aware of his status without being autocratic and  unduly harsh.  He is a wonderful construct   among many here.  I found his feelings towards Midnight especially authentic.  He has raised Midnight since he was a boy.  In the back of his mind, he wonders if his feelings toward Midnight are appropriate, if he is not taking advantage in some way of Midnights total reliance on him.  Devlin recognizes his love for Midnight, but doesn’t want to recognize at what level that love exists.  It is a touchy emotional terrain he has to navigate over and Derr does a wonderful job of helping us understand not only his frustration with their relationship but Midnight’s as well because we get to “listen” to both sides of the argument they are having with themselves and each other. Barra, his man servant, is equally memorable as he is a “wolf elf” to use the term coined by a dragon.  A mongrel who is hurt by the term and gentle in spirit. Barra is such an interesting character all by himself, made more so by his interactions with others, especially a certain knight and his dragon.

Yes, that would be dragon, and where there are dragons, there are also knights, a goblin or two, an angel, imp, vampires, and several sorcerers as well.  Derr throws the whole complement of mystical and supernatural beings at us not only in this story but the entire series.  And each and every being comes through as believable, from their actions to skin color.

Derr’s vivid description extends to her settings, where the mist lies cold upon your face, the rains soak your clothes and the fog obscures the frightening creatures hunting you.  She doesn’t just inform you of the danger but makes you feel each second of every minute of the menace and perils facing our protagonists.  She can make your heart race and your breathe quicken along with Devlin’s as he faces down one opponent after another.  Derr finds subtle ways to endear her quirky characters to you even when they are characters that exist towards the edges of the story.  There is no character or stray plot thread that can ever be considered a “throwaway” in a Derr novel.  Somehow,  someway, that fact, that character will make a reappearance and resolve a plot point you hadn’t considered before.

Midnight is a solid 5 star story in the middle of a wonderful 5 star series.  Megan Derr really deserves such a larger audience for her stories and her talent, both of which encompasses many gifts as well as wild and wonderful elements. From supernatural detectives, a bar where everyone knows your name even if it be mystical in nature, action/adventure stories as told by demons and love lorn vampires, there is something for everyone here.  Start at the beginning or start here.  Just don’t let this series or this book pass you by!

The Dance With The Devil Series.  The first two especially should be read in order:

Dance With The Devil (DWTD #1) – see my review here.

Dance In The Dark (DWTD #2) – see my review here.

Ruffskin (DWTD#4) – see my review here (the switch in order is intentional)

Midnight (DWTD#3)

 

Cover.  The cover by London Burden is just outstanding.  Simple, elegant and with a cohesive design for the entire series.  I love it.

The Sexy Fae of Lost Girl (SyFy Channel)

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From a discussion with JJ a while ago, a week devoted to Book Series was born so the latest review in the Cambridge Fellows series will be posted the week of July 16th instead. So look for a whole week of my favorite series, I can’t wait.  So in the meantime, here is my blog on a new favorite TV series, Lost Girl, while I finish up writing two new reviews on book you all will love.  Trust me on this!  New author for both books too.  Let the anticipation build.

 

Lost Girl:

There I was casually flipping through the channels, a little bored and trying to find anything to keep me from doing the laundry, and then I found them. Be still my heart! Hello new addition to an old addiction.  The fav fae of Lost Girl.  The central main characters are Bo the bisexual succubus in search of her past, Kenzi a gypsy and Bo’s best friend, Dyson,werewolf, a member of the Fae and Bo’s lover, then there is Lauren,  human doctor ,pet of the Light Fae (also Bo’s lover), Hale, a male siren, and Trick, Blood King and Fae barkeep.

Lost Girl is the story of Bo, a succubus raised by human parents and unaware of her true identity.   A succubus feeds on the sexual energy or chi of humans, usually to the detriment of the human as Bo discovers when she hits puberty.  On a date with her boyfriend, Bo’s first sexual encounter ends traumatically as she drinks her boyfriend to his death.

Understandably freaked out, Bo lights out on her own, on the run from city to city, obtaining new identites even as she leaves dead bodies behind her.  This pattern is broken one night when she saves a young gypsy thief from a guy who slipped her a date rape drug.  Bo drinks the predator to his death and carries the drugged girl to the abandoned building Bo is hiding in to recover.  As Bo packs her things, ready to flee the city, the little thief, Kenzi comes to.  It seems that Kenzi recorded Bo’s feast on her smart phone before passing out and thinks Bo her hero.  And before Bo knows what hit her she has a new BFF whether she wants one or not.

Let’s say right up front that Bo is spectacularly hot.  She wears black leather like a second skin, has dark eyes that can turn hard like obsidian when angry, and packs a punch forceful enough to cold cock any thug or dark fae. I love her.  And Kenzi?  Adorable, funky, gypsy goth girl whose backstory is still waiting to come out.  I heart her too.  Any how back to the story.

The body Bo left behind comes to the attention of the local police who just happen to be two members of the light fae.  Dyson, a werewolf and police detective and Hale, a male siren,Dyson’s friend as well as cop partner.  They track Bo down and force her to visit The Ash, leader of the light Fae and The Morrigan, leader of the Dark Fae.  During this confrontation, Bo learns she is a succubus and a member of the Fae, an ancient group of beings at war with each other.  One thousand years ago, a truce was called and there has been a shaky peace between the light and dark Fae.  One part of that peace calls for all fae to align themselves with one side or the other.  You can be a Dark Fae or Light, but not “free”.  So Bo has been called before both sides to prove through battle that she is worthy (years of thinking she is human has left her clueless as to the ways and rules of being a Fae).  If she is not killed in combat, then she must choose to be either a Dark or Light  Fae.

As Bo fights her way through different opponents , Kenzi is desperately trying to find Bo after being left behind.  Humans are thought of as pets or meals by the fae, definitely not something to be bothered with.  Bo wins the last fight, with Kenzi’s assistance, and let’s the Fae know that she choses the Human side.  Meanwhile, there is a side thread with Dyson and Trick, owner and barkeep of The Dal Riata, the only Fae pub in town and neutral ground for all Fae.  They know more of Bo’s history than they are letting on, a mystery that unravels over the remainder of the season.

And that’s just the first episode!  After you get past a very hot Bo, and adorably sexy Kenzi, you meet Dyson who makes me want to squeal like a fangirl.  Irish, inked, and primal, he makes the wolves of True Blood seem civilized (and I like them).  The love scenes between Bo and Dyson are so hot the screen sizzles and walls shake. They get very physical.  No dainty love here.  And then there is Lauren, the Doctor who works in a laboratory for the Light Fae.  She is “owned” by the Ash right down to her pet tag. We don’t have her full backstory yet.  She is also hot for Bo.  And when they hit the sheets, the sex is sensual, believable, and steamy.  OK, look at Bo.  Who wouldn’t go to bed with her?

Hale grows on you as the  Dyson’s colleague and another Fae undercover agent in the police force. He is a male siren, able to render humans and even other Fae unconscious or stunned with his whistle. Over time, Kenzi and Hale become good friends. Hale’s family is Fae royalty and they find his job disdainful. Last, there is Fitzpatrick aka Trick, owner and bartender of The Dal Riata.  He is much more than he seems.  He is a Blood Sage with the ability to alter fate. As we learn more about Bo’s heritage, Trick’s history comes forward as well as the two of them entwined through their pasts.

Lost Girl presents us with rich stories peopled with mythical beings, complex characters, and beautiful sets filmed as through a glass darkly. A Canadian series, it is shown on the SyFy Channel here in the US.  Filming on the 3rd season starts this Spring which makes this fangirl extremely happy.

I have loved reading about Faeries, the Fae, the Tuatha del Danaan since childhood, stories from my grandfather and my introduction to The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.  Being of Irish and Scottish descent, my fascination with the Fae grew stronger with each year.  Whether it is tales of Peter Pan or Oberon and Titania, I cannot get enough of the wee folk, the fairies, the Fae.  Lost Girl is a great way to feed my need for all things sidhe.

You can find all episodes of the first season here at Showcase .ca.  There is also a list of songs used for each episode.  So join me in my Lost Girl journey.  Tell others.  We can all drool together.  Come on.  Really.  You will thank me!