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Monday, February 4, 2013


Author:  Cecy Robson  
Plot Type:  Blend of Soul-Mate Romance (SMR), Paranormal Chick Lit (CH), and Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence4-5; Sensuality2-4; Humor3
Titles and Publication Dates:  
        Prequel:  "A Curse Awakened" (e-novella, 8/2014)
         .5    "The Weird Girls" (e-novella, 12/2012)
         .6    "A Curse Awakened" (e-novella, 8/2014)
        1      Sealed with a Curse (paperback & e-novel, 12/2012)
        2       A Cursed Embrace (paperback & e-novel, 7/2013)
        2.5   "A Cursed Moon" (e-novella, 12/2013)
        3      Cursed by Destiny (paperback & e-novel, 1/2014)
        3.5   "Of Flame and Promise(e-novella, 1/2016)
        4      A Cursed Bloodline (e-novel, 11/2014)
        5      A Curse Unbroken (e-novel, 3/2015)
        6      Of Flame and Light (paperback and e-novel, 10/2016)

NOTE: In the novels with the "Curse" titles, the featured character is Celia Wird, but the "Flame" titles are told from the perspective of Celia's flame-wielding sister, Taran.

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 2/10/2017 to include reviews of "Of Flame and Promise," (novella 3.5), A Curse Unbroken (novel 5), and Of Flame and Light (novel 6). Obviously, I allowed this series to fall through the cracks in my to-be-read shelf, so I had some major catching up to do. In any case, I have arranged all of the reviews in reading order within this post, beginning with an overview of the world-building.

     Set in Dollar Point, California, on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe, the series follows the adventures of the four Wird sisters, each of whom has a different set of supernatural powers. In the introduction to her prequel novella, Robson explains the premise for the series: "The Weird Girls series is the journey of Celia, Taran, Shayna, and Emme Wird, sisters who obtained their powers as a result of a backfired curse placed upon their Latina mother for marrying outside her race. Their story begins when the supernatural community of Lake Tahoe becomes aware of who they are, and what they can do."

     When their parents were killed during a home invasion when Celia (the eldest) was 9, the sisters were shifted through the foster-care system, finally landing with a woman who really loved and cared for them. All through their childhoods, they were taunted and bullied because of their strange abilities and their last name, which was cruelly changed by their tormentors to "Weird." As the author says in her prequel introduction: "'Weird' isn't welcomed among humans, nor is it embraced by those who hunt with fangs and claws, who cast magic in lethal blows, and who feast on others to survive. I wanted to show 'weird' could be strong, brave, funny, and beautiful."

     All four sisters are nurses, each with a different specialty. They have just bought a home near the shore of Lake Tahoe—the first real home they have ever had—and hope to live a peaceful life there. Here are the sisters:
>>Celia (narrator of the "Curse" books): She is a shape shifter who usually takes the form of a golden tigress, but if an animal touches her skin, she takes that animal's shape. Here, she explains: "If an animal came in contact with me, and I couldn't block its spirit, a bit of its essence transferred into me. One violent seizure and some drooling later, I'd emerge as that critter. The problem was, I couldn't immediately change backespecially if stressed." She can also partially shift—changing her fingers into claws and her teeth into fearsome fangs while maintaining her human body shape. Her final power is to shift—breaking her body down into molecules, disappearing under and across solid ground, and resurfacing unscathed. Her major weakness is that she cannot heal her injuries. Celia longs for a man of her own, but she scares everyone off with the essence of the tigress/predator that lives so close to the surface of her personality. 
>>Taran (narrator of the "Flame" books): She is the most profane, aggressive, and belligerent of the four and is the one who gets the sisters in trouble in the prequel. Taran can pull magical power from the world around her and manipulate it to do what she wants, turning that power into fire and lightning that is signaled by blue and white sparks shooting from her fingers.  
>>Shayna: She is the prettiest of the four—a flirty party girl who calls everyone, "Dude." She can manipulate metal and wood into weapons, turning toothpicks into arrows and metal into daggers or swords. Her aim is perfect, and she never misses. 
>>Emme (the youngest): Unlike her sisters, Emme is fair, blond, and blushingly shy. Her abilities are telekinesis and healing.
     Comic relief comes from the squabbling dialogue among the siblings and from the nosey Mrs. Mancuso, their disapproving neighbor, who verbally chastises the girls at every opportunity.

     This is a lightweight, somewhat entertaining series so far, but its vampire-werewolf rivalry in the lead romance is stereotypical and stale. The freshest element is its use of a quartet of women in the lead roles. Granted, the women mimic the bickering and comic clashing seen in most series with multiple male leads, but it's still refreshing to find a series that allows strong women to have dominant roles.

     The author has several pages on her web site devoted to this series. Click HERE to go to a page entitled "The Weird World," which contains mythology on the werebeasts, the vampires, the legend of the cursed gold (gold is the new silver in this world), and the mystical powers of Lake Tahoe. Click HERE to go to a brief glossary of "Weird World Terms." Click HERE to meet the Weird Girls.

                  NOVELLA .5:  "The Weird Girls"                  

     In this introductory novella, we meet the four sisters, learn their back-story, and get a feel for their personalities. The plot kicks off when Taran, with her usual volatility, picks a fight with a witch, resulting in retaliation from that witch's coven. In order to save her sisters from the witches' vengeance, Celia invokes an ancient rule and challenges Larissa, the beautiful-but-evil coven leader, to a duel. The rest of the story follows Celia as she is horrifically attacked by Larissa, both physically and emotionally, and is forced to fight harder than she ever has in order to win the challenge and keep her sisters safe.

     Even though the author includes background information and character introductions in this novella, you don't really need to read it before reading the first novel in the series because all of that information and more is repeated in Sealed with a Curse.

     One last point: About half-way through the story, Celia dreams about a mysterious man who is very protective and who tells her "I'm always with you Celia, You just don't know it yet..." Although Celia says that this is a recurring dream, the man never appears again—neither in this story nor in book 1, so I'm not sure whether he was an authorial idea that didn't pan out or whether he will appear in some future book. Click HERE to go to this novella's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left..

                    NOVEL 1:  Sealed with a Curse                    
     As the first novel opens, the girls have been called into vampire court where they are accused of murdering a young vampire man belonging to the keep (i.e., household) of Misha Aleksandr, one of the local vampire Masters. When it turns out that the man was infected by blood lust, the sisters are acquitted, but by now they have caught the attention of the Tahoe supernatural community and their lives will never be the same.

     Soon thereafter, the exotic and handsome Misha asks Celia for her help in determining who infected his vampire minion. At first, Celia turns him down, but when more vampires become infected, she considers the consequences of a blood-lust epidemic on the human population and agrees to help.

     The first wrong note is struck when Misha immediately falls for Celia in a big way: paying off the mortgage on the sisters' house, giving them diamond and sapphire jewelry, and more. The two never really have a conversation of any length, so it's a mystery why he immediately starts calling her "my darling" and seems to think that she belongs to him. Although Misha is an attractive man, Celia is not really interested in him because she has her sights set on the handsome werewolf she saw while she was jogging on the shore of Lake Tahoe. That werewolf is Aric Connor, the local werewolf pack leader (and Misha's bitter enemy). So...what we have here is a stereotypical paranormal romance triangle: a hunky werewolf and a sophisticated vampire, vying for the hand of a beautiful, magical heroine. This time, though, the werewolf wins out because the heroine seems to prefer Aric—the Jacob Black/Alcide Herveaux/Richard Zeeman character, rather than Misha—the Edward Cullen/Eric Northman/Bill Compton/Jean-Claude character.

     The plot follows Celia—sometimes alone, sometimes with Aric or Misha, and sometimes with her sisters—as she tries to unravel the mystery of who is orchestrating the progression of the deadly blood-lust infection. I was able to guess the identity of the villain in the first quarter of the book, so it was just a matter of wading through a lengthy series of extremely repetitive battle scenes until that villain was unmasked on the page. The story line goes like this: infected vampires attack; Celia and crew fight them off; good guys relax for food and romance; more infected vampires attack; repeat over and over again. On the good side, the action never stops, but on the bad side, it's the same action every time. Celia is horribly injured in just about every battle, but Emme always comes through to heal her enough that she is well enough to go on to the next fight.

     During their peaceful interludes, the sisters all hook up with werewolves from Aric's pack. This happens very quickly for all of them, with the exception of Celia, whose relationship with Aric hits some bumpy spots at first and never quite reaches consummation.  

     If you don't mind reading about yet another werewolf/vampire romantic rivalry, you might enjoy this series. At this point, this series is mediocre in quality, but that could change if Robson develops more skill in dealing with the first person point of view and if she fleshes out the characters and cuts back on the repetitive battle scenes. Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left.

                    NOVEL 2:  A Cursed Embrace                    

     The Wird sisters are young, attractive human woman, each of whom possesses a unique magical power as the result of a curse gone wrong. First, let's review the Wird sisters' werewolf partners, who play a big part in the story: 

    > Celia (eldest sister, tigress shifter, romantically inexperienced) and Aric (alpha pack leader and former womanizer, loyal to his pack, think Alcide Herveaux) (Celia also has a vampire admirer, Mishathink Jean-Claude)

    > Taran (fiery, beautiful, sophisticated, and mouthy) and Gemini (Aric's painfully shy but articulate beta, a "dual" werewolf whose animal splits away from his human body)

    > Shayna (metal-manipulating girly chick who calls everyone, "Dude") and Koda (hulking tough guy with a marshmallow heart)

    > Emme (gentle, shy, timid healer) and Liam (naively funny; says inappropriate things because he never filters his thoughts before he speaks)

     As the book opens, Taran has been having prophetic nightmares about hordes of bloodthirsty demons, and the Wird sisters are dealing with the aftermath of finding the savaged corpse of a were-raccoon at their front door. Aric has not called or visited Celia since their brief, romantic (but non-consummating) interlude at the end of book 1, but he shows up immediately when Celia notifies him of the were-raccoon's murder. Aric explains to Celia that this is just one in a series of murders, of both weres and human men, and that he and his pack have been trying to identify and track down the killer(s). The action part of the plot follows Aric's pack and the Wird sisters as they work on the case. As they search for clues, they learn of a major threat to both the supernatural and human worlds: an evil coalition of rogue weres and vampires who have formed a demon-led alliance they call the Tribe.

     The romance plot deals with the romantic triangle: Aric, Celia, and Misha, the local vampire leader who has lusted for Celia ever since he met her in book 1. At the end of that book, Celia was instrumental in returning Misha's soul, and he has magically marked her so that all she has to do is call his name and he can find her. Unfortunately, Misha "forgot" to tell Celia that this mark also serves as a conduit between them so that he can read Celia's emotions from afar. In this book, we learn why Aric hates Misha with such a passion. The two males posture and sneer jealously at each other every time they meet, which is a new situation for Celia, who has never before had a real boyfriend.

     Even though Aric cares deeply for Celia, the Elders of his pack have demanded that he sever his relationship with her. This part of the story is hard for me to understand because this were community is very diverse (e.g., were-rats, were-weasels, were-bears, were-lions, and more) Their prejudice against Celia appears to stem from the fact that although she can shift into tigress form, she can't heal herself like the other weres. So, even though Celia joins the weres in battle and kills just as many demons as they do, the Elders still won't accept her as a mate for Aric. Their objection to her seems tenuous at best. For most of this book, Aric defies the Elders and moves into the sisters' home and into Celia's bedroom, where they finally consummate their relationship (over and over again). Unfortunately, romances in paranormal fiction never run smoothly, and the book ends in a relationship cliff-hanger that will (perhaps) be resolved in the next novel. 

     Playing a larger role in this book are Bren, a lone werewolf, and Dan, a human nerd who is an expert on supernatural curses and spells, although he doesn't possess an ounce of magic. These characters are long-time friends of the sisters, and they add both humor and substance to the plot. Bren will be featured in the next episode in the series, a novella in which he joins up with Celia to hunt down some ghouls.   

     We learn more werewolf mythology in this bookspecifically, that a were can turn a human by biting into the person's heart in order to transfer the were essence, a process that has a high failure rate and can result in the death of the wolf who is instigating the change

     This series continues to mix soul-mate romance, chick lit, and urban fantasy, with emphasis on the first two. Oddly, the sisters fight bravely in battle, but turn into shrieking, vomiting girly-girls when faced with blood or wounds in non-battle situations, hiding their faces in their lovers' six-pack chests and "Ewwww-ing" like delicate damsels. Robson ups the levity by including two humorous scenes, one in which Taran teaches her sisters how to pose for their men in sexy lingerie and one in which the sisters serve as bait in one of Aric's training exercises for his young werewolves. For me, these scenes were more of an interruption than an addition, but I suppose some readers will enjoy them as comedy relief from the grim demon-hunting scenes. 

     Even with these weaknesses, the book is compelling in its action scenes. As far as the romance goes, I'm hoping that Robson will dial down the melodramatics in Celia's relationships and the lovey-dovey aspects of her sisters' romances and concentrate more on the action part of the plot—but that's just my preference, and others may enjoy the romantic drama more than I do. Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left. 

                  NOVELLA 2.5:  "A Cursed Moon"                  

     This novella fills in Bren’s back-story and explains how and why Bren turned Danny Matagrano into a werewolf. During the action sequences, Bren and Celia fight off several types of hostile female spirits: La Llorona (a legendary Mexican spirit) and her ghostly children; some man-eating Ciguapas (Dominican succubi); and a few La Tunda (Colombian shape-shifters with wooden legs).  

     Throughout the story, Bren is his usual egotistical, sex-obsessed, over-confident, smart-alecky selfoffending, angering, and/or just plain annoying just about everyone with whom he comes in contact, including Aric and Celia.

     We learn that Bren’s parents died during his father’s attempt to turn his mother. After that, Bren became a loner until Aric invited him to join his Den. Bren isn’t used to following rules and schedules and orders, so his experience with the pack isn’t going very smoothly.

     Early on, Danny bets Bren that he (Danny) can get laid without any help from Bren (who has been trying to find Danny a bed mate). When Bren and Celia meet up with Danny at a crowded club, they find that the club has been attacked by a horde of hostile Latina ghosts and spirits, some of whom kidnap Danny.

     The rest of the story follows Danny and Celia as they head out into the forested mountains to rescue Danny from the clutches of carnivorous, soul-sucking ghosts and spirits.

     This novella is related to the series story arc, but reading it is not a must because it contains no new information and resolves none of the series conflicts. Basically, it’s just a collage of ghostly battles interspersed with scenes of Bren acting like a jerk, Celia and Aric mourning their lost love, and Danny being nerdy—first in a blue polyester leisure suit and later in blue fur.       

                      NOVEL 3:  Cursed by Destiny                      
     The supernatural community is currently immersed a war between the Alliance (a coalition of the vampire keeps, the were dens, and the witches' covens) and the Tribe (a motley group of ostracized weres, witches, and vampires led by demon lords). The Tribe is made up of small groups, each headed by a powerful demonic Tribemaster. A Tribemaster is "the deadly and highly intelligent offspring of a demon father and a powerful witch mother, capable of producing spawn with predatory instincts who feed on human flesh." (chapter 5) Celia and her allies soon learn that Tribemasters can take various forms, including a gigantic, fanged maggot; enormous, winged reptiles with yard-long fangs; and a seven-headed fire-breathing demon.

     In order to prepare herself to be the vampires' "perfect weapon" against the Tribemasters, Celia is living in a guest house on Misha's estate and training daily to improve her martial arts skills. Here, Celia describes her powers: "My powers were unique and strong, even in a world packed with supernatural muscle. My ability to shift underground unscathed made me difficult to track and conquer. My inner beast also made me formidable against anything with fangs or claws. Pure light could sear a demon and detonate an average vamp, but it had no effect on me….Weres matched me in strength, but they'd made it clear they didn't want me. So in my quest to rid the world of the Tribe, I chose to help the vampires, just as Aric had chosen his pack above and beyond me." (chapter 2) As this book progresses, Misha adds to Celia's skills by teaching her to shape-shift at will into the form of various animals. Currently, Celia is spending her days working on her fighting skills and her nights fending off Misha, who is determined to lure her into his bed and away from her brokenhearted devotion to Aric.

     As the book begins, Aric's wedding to Barbara, a pureblood were, is imminent, and Celia continues to be devastated that Aric chose to follow the commands of the were elders instead of following his heart. Throughout the story, Aric's treatment of Celia veers wildly from emotionless brush-offs to lustful encounters and from sorrowful partings to promises of eternal devotion. Celia's first-person narration contains a litany of anguished interior monologues concerning her love lifeor lack of it.

     Complicating Celia's precarious situation, is the fact that all of the Tribe's demons know her name and consider her to be their personal enemy. Misha claims that the magic in Lake Tahoe whispers to him that "The dark ones see you as a threat. But one in particular perceives you as the key to its destruction." (chapter 2) In this book, Celia eventually learns the shocking identity of that particular dark one. I don't know why Celia is so shocked because the villain's identity is telegraphed throughout the book.

     The story alternates between battles with the Tribemasters; anguished scenes between Celia and Aric; uncomfortable scenes between Celia and Misha; hostile stand-offs between Celia and the were Elders; and a few raucous scenes with Celia, her sisters, and their wolfy boyfriends. The book's title is based on a scene in which the were Elders call upon Destiny, a psychic who can read minds and foretell the future, to predict whether Aric and Celia are truly destined to be mates.  

     We learn more vampire mythology in this book—specifically, that a vampire can change a human by biting into the person's brain in order to transfer the vampire essence. Unlike the weres' turning process, the vamps' change process is basically risk free for both the master vamp and the new vamp. When Misha explains the process to Celia, he points out that "vampires have traditionally valued the brain as the most important organ. We are intelligent and analytical. The weres believe the heart to be all-encompassing" (chapter 3)—I guess Aric didn't get that message.

     By the end of the book, nothing much has been resolved. The Elders are still opposed to the Celia-Aric relationship; the Tribe has not been completely defeated; Misha still lusts after Celia (and so does a lion-shifter named Tye); and Celia faces a frightening personal threat from the ultimate villain of the series. Regarding that villain: I didn't understand his motives at all, even after he explained them to Celia. 

     This is the weakest book in the series so far. Aric has become a cardboard charactera victim who appears to have absolutely no control over his life. Celia gets beaten down constantlyboth physically and emotionallyuntil her life is so depressing that I dreaded each new chapter, fearing that something even worse would happen to her. This is more of an open-ended, very depressing, transitional trough than a complete novel, given the fact that it consists primarily of a series of conflicts, nearly all of which are left unresolved. 

     The book ends with a glossary of terms entitled "Reader's Guide to the Magical World of the WEIRD GIRLS SERIES." Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left.

                    NOVELLA 3.5:  "Of Flame and Promise"                  

     Cursed by a spell meant to destroy them, Taran Wird and her sisters instead developed unique magical talents. With the power of fire and lightning literally at her fingertips, Taran doesn’t fear much. Demons, vamps, whatever—bring ’em on! Only one thing terrifies her: commitment.

     Taran is crazy about her boyfriend, Gemini, a sexy were with the incredible ability to split into two separate wolves. But after watching her sister go through heartbreak with the pack’s Alpha, Taran knows not to count on happily ever after—despite Gemini’s desire to claim her as his mate. Reluctantly, she agrees to meet his very traditional and conservative parents. Taran’s a bad-ass with a mouth to match, and Gemini loves her for it. She’s just not positive these attributes will please Mom and Dad.

     Unsurprisingly, every attempt by Taran to bond with Gemini’s folks proves disastrous. But in the end, Taran finds that winning them over means unleashing her powers . . . and proving that this foul-mouthed fire-starter is a force to be reckoned with.

     Although this novella wasn't published until 2016, the events are concurrent with the events in Cursed by Destiny (published in 2014). The story is told from Taran's perspective as she anguishes over her belief that she is destined to live without love and happiness. Even though she knows in her heart that she and Gemini are soul mates and will love each other for eternity, she refuses to commit to becoming officially mated because she sees the effect that a broken mating is having on her sister, Celia, now that Aric has left her.

     The novella opens with a sexy bedroom scene in which Taran comes across as a passionate woman in love with her equally passionate werewolf. But then Gemini spoils everything by asking Taran to meet his parents, who are arriving from Japan for a visit. This sets off a downward spiral in their relationship as Taran comes up with all kinds of reasons why meeting his parents just won't work for her, but never really admits the truththat she is certain that she is doomed to spend her life alone. When Gemini keeps pressuring her to go through the official mating ceremony, she again pushes him away without revealing the true reasons for her actions.

     When the parents arrive, the situation briefly turns into a dark comedy, with Taran going from one TSTL moment to another. She burns the dinner, curses like a sailor, accidentally lets Gemini's parents see an erotic photograph of their son in bed with her, and even causes Gemini's mother to fall off an icy cliff. 

     Eventually, there is a battle (because there is ALWAYS a battle in these books) in which Gemini is severely injured. Will Gemini recover? Will Taran and Gemini ever become official mates? Well, you know the answer to those questions if you have read the next novel, A Cursed Bloodline. I'm not sure why Robson decided to go back in time as she began the "Flame" stories with Taran in the leading role. I was expecting that she would just continue the story line from the ending of A Curse Unbroken. If you read this novella in the order in it was published, the dramatic tension will be nonexistent because you will already know all of the future outcomes, including what resolution of the Celia-Aric relationship and what happens to poor Liam (Emme's werewolf boyfriend).

     The best scenes in the story are those in which Taran tries her best to impress Gemini's parents, with one hilarious failure after another. The battle with the Tribemasters is a cookie-cutter copy of the ones in Cursed by Destiny, with repetitious descriptions of Taran's use of fire and flames to defeat her supernatural enemies. Throughout the story, Taran indulges in an overabundance of identical angst-filled interior monologues in which she bemoans her horrific childhood, her fear of commitment, and her belief that love isn't worth the agony that comes with it. This novella is not a promising beginning to the "Flame" part of this series.

     Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left.

                      NOVEL 4:  A Cursed Bloodline                      
         WARNING: This review contains spoilers for previous novels.         

     Although Celia and her allies won a huge battle at the end of Cursed by Destiny, their enemiesthe Tribemastershave not yet been completely defeated. As if the Tribemasters weren't enough of a problem, at the very beginning of this novel, a new and deadly enemy attacks Celia. Previously (in Cursed by Destiny), Misha told Celia that the magic in Lake Tahoe told him that "The dark ones see you as a threat. But one in particular perceives you as the key to its destruction." Now, she learns the hard way that that particular person is Anara, one of the werewolf elders. On the very day that Celia sees her baby's ultrasound image for the first time, she comes home to find Anara waiting for her. He beats her nearly to death and demands that she cut all ties with Aric and the wolves or he will kill her sisters and Aric. Not only that, Anara forbids Celia to tell anyone about his threats or to explain why she is breaking off her relationship with Aric. He forces her to make Aric hate herto make him believe that she is rejecting him because of his facial deformities (caused by severe burns he received during the battle with the Tribemasters at the end of Cursed by Destiny). And one more thing: Celia has told no one about her babynot even Aric or her sisters, and she must keep the baby a secret because if Anara finds out, he will certainly kill her. Anara believes that because Aric is a pureblood he must mate with a pureblood in order to carry on a pureblood line. He views Celia as an abomination who can never be allowed to mate with Aric under any circumstances.

     As the rest of the story plays out, Celia hides out in Misha's guest house where Anara can't reach her, but each time she emerges from Misha's protective wards, Anara attacks her and her friends, appearing to her in visions that cannot be seen by others. He pulls his powers from the entire pack, and he has the ability to turn pack members—even the ones who like her—against  Celia without their even realizing what he is doing. As if the physical abuse isn't enough, there is a high level of emotional trauma as Celia's sisters and friends (including Aric) begin to doubt her sanity and start to turn against her, leaving her alone to face multiple, ongoing dangers. At first, Misha is the only one who supports her, and he has his own devious reasons for that. 

     The Tribemasters' shape-shifting monsters also show up to attack Celia and her friends. One of those attacks turns into a really bad scene for Misha, and that leads to a new story line that takes Celia and her few remaining allies to Central America to battle an evil witch. This plot has many, many twists and turns, and all of them end with Celia being horribly beat up and near death. It was impossible to understand how her pregnancy held up when she was so badly injuredover and over again. The final battle scenea showdown with Anarais the most violent in the entire series (and one of the most violent I have read in recent years). By the end of the book, every one of Celia's allies has been horribly injuredsustaining burns, losing limbs and other body parts, undergoing horrendous torture, being drained of blood, being hit with evil curses, and worse.  

    This is definitely the most violent and disturbing book in the series so farso brutal and bloody that it was frequently difficult to keep reading. Celia gets beaten to a pulp time after time after time, recovering just enough to drag herself back to Misha's sanctuary, where Misha continues his seduction (because he is certain that Celia is his future bride). Throughout this book (just as in the previous novel), Celia's life is so awful that I was reluctant to turn the page because I knew that more scenes of pain and heartbreak were coming. Even when you start to believe that the horror has finally ended…it hasn't, because there is one final twist at the end that involves a reanalysis of Destiny's curse (back in book 3).

     By the end of the novel, many issues have been resolved, but life is by no means back to normal. The physical damage and emotional trauma that Celia, Aric, her sisters, and her friends sustain are life-changing and will definitely have a major effect on their future happiness.

    This book ends like the previous one, with glossary of terms entitled "Reader's Guide to the Magical World of the WEIRD GIRLS SERIES." Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art at top left.

                    NOVEL 5: A Curse Unbroken                    

     Fans of Keri Arthur will love the Weird Girls, four sisters cursed with supernatural powers. In Cecy Robson’s latest urban fantasy romance, the search is on for an unholy grail, while evil is licking its wounds—and looking for revenge.

     The preternatural world is changing. After a massive magical throwdown tore apart the established order, the dark elements are rebuilding their ranks unopposed. Celia Wird’s world is changing, too. She’s the mate of the pureblood were Aric, and his Warriors are honor-bound to protect her family as she and her sisters recover from unimaginable horrors.

     Celia hesitates to reveal the true extent of the Wird sisters’ trauma, but they aren’t the only ones keeping secrets: Aric and the werewolf Elders are tracking a stone that grants limitless power. So is a tough coven of witches. Then Misha, a master vampire with his own plans for the stone, sends Celia after it. Can she and the vamps beat both the weres and the witches to the treasure before it falls into the wrong hands?

     Fearing for Celia’s safety, Aric begs her to stay out of the hunt. What they don’t realize is that they’re the ones being hunted. But Celia’s ready to prove that she’s not easy prey.


     Celia and Aric are allowed about five pages of happiness and peace at the very beginning of chapter one—just time enough for Aric to propose, but not enough time for Celia to accept. At that point, several seemingly harmless white doves morph into massive, murderous shape-shifters whose goal is to kill Celia. The rest of the book follows Celia through her usual day-to-day series of life-or-death battles, each leaving her beaten to a pulp and soaked in blood.

     Added to the physical injuries that Celia and her allies suffer during every battle are some mental and emotional problems. After the fight in chapter one—which they seem to have won—Celia, Aric, and their friends all begin to have strange dreams, chest pains, and bouts of erratic behavior. By the end of the book, this mental affliction spreads to everyone but the vampires.

     Meanwhile, the main plot centers on the search for a magic stone called Shah that grants favors to whomever touches it. More gory battles ensue during that search, which takes Celia and her allies all the way to Malaysia and back.

     By the end of the book, at least one long-unanswered question is resolved as the sisters finally learn the true circumstances of the murder of their parents. Another more recent problem is also solved, but you’ll have to read the book to find out which on. It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on long before it is spelled out on the printed page. Just pay attention to the message that the mysterious voices keep chanting in Celia’s mind—a message that actually has multiple meanings. (At one point, Celia even hears the Eagles singing it—just to be sure that she (and you) are paying proper attention.)

     In the romance department, Celia and Aric stumble through some more rough spots in their always-rocky relationship, and so do Taran and Gemini. As usual, Taran behaves like a total jerk, completely ruled by her emotions. Ever since her devastating injury (in A Cursed Bloodline), she is so full of rage and jealousy that she turns against Gemini and isolates herself from her sisters. I am not looking forward to the next books in this series, which will put Taran in the starring role. She has always been a rather one-dimensional character, so I can only hope that Robson will add some nuance to her personality in the next two novels.

     To sum things up, this book is more of the same: violent battles, horrific injuries, unhappy romances, and an ending that appears to be happy, but also includes some ambiguous threats for Celia and Aric’s future. If you enjoyed the previous books in this series, you will probably like this one. Personally, I got bored with the constant, repetitious battle scenes, which document every slice and dice and every organ and limb that is slashed or punctured. Although this novel isn’t quite as gory as A Cursed Bloodline, it comes very close.

     Click HERE to go to the page for this novel and click on the cover art to read an excerpt.

                    NOVEL 6: Of Flame and Light                    

     Taran Wird holds the unique ability to conjure fire and lightning. She is mated to Gemini, Second in Command to the Squaw Valley Pack of the Lake Tahoe Region, and the sole werewolf to possess the ability to split into two wolves. And although they are mates, Taran's insecurities have driven them apart.

     Devastated by an injury that left her with a zombie-like limb, Taran struggles to regain command over her magic. But when her arm and her power turn against her, lashing out on those she most loves, she knows she can no longer carry this burden alone. Not that she likes the alternative.

     The only way to regain control of her magic is to align and learn from the local coven of witches―the very ones who sought to banish her when she and her three unique sisters first moved to the mystical region. But although Taran is trying, the teachings don't come easy, and the tasks leave her weak and emotionally shattered.

     Yet Taran must learn and learn fast. Time is running out. The fire she once mastered so easily has become her greatest adversary and is now slowly burning her alive.

     Back in A Cursed Bloodline, Taran’s right arm was—as Taran describes it“chewed off by a psycho werewolf.” In an attempt to replace that arm, Gemini took Taran to the Squaw Valley pack Omega, who used ancient werewolf magic to create a new arm. But the ancient earth magic of Taran’s new arm is fighting with her otherworldly, fiery magic. Ever since she got her new arm, she has not been able to wield fire and lightning with the power and ease that she used to have. In fact, she can’t rely on her powers at all because sometimes they just fizzle and die when she needs them the most. And to top it all off, her new arm is a horrible alabaster white with fluorescent blue veins and nail beds that contrast horrifically against the deep olive skin of her natural body. She keeps the arm covered with elbow-length gloves or hides it under long sleeves because people tend to stare at her as if she were a freak.

     Adding to Taran’s frustration is the fact that Gemini refuses to touch or even look at her new arm. If she brushes it against him he pulls quickly away and refuses to talk about it. After the arm accident, cold silence replaced their love life until Gemini eventually moved out. Taran has many, many angst-filled interior monologues in this book, most of which center on the following theme: “For all my arm disgusts me, I never expected it to disgust him more. After all, this was the werewolf who claimed me as his mate. The same male who swore he’d love only me forever. I suppose forever only counts so long as I didn’t change, so long as I remained perfect in his eyes.”

     As this book begins, Gemini is spending a lot of time at the witches’ coven led by the beautiful Genevieve Lacoste (aka The Most Superior Head Witch, Lake Tahoe Region), and appears to be involved in a romance with her. Granted, Gemini is the pack’s liaison with the witches so he has to spend a lot of time with the coven, but Taran is convinced that he and Genevieve are having an affair, especially since Genevieve goes out of her way to encourage Taran to believe that is the case.

     Lately, Taran’s arm has been doing weird and terrible things: buzzing and glowing and sparking without warning. In the very first chapter, Taran and her sisters and their boyfriends are having breakfast when her new arm begins to burn and jump around, hitting out at her sisters and friends and knocking them into walls. The arm is acting on its own—completely out of Taran’s control. When Emme tries to heal her, she discovers that Taran’s fire is eating her alive.

     Aric decides that the only way to figure out what’s going on is to take Taran to Genevieve’s coven (or, as Taran calls it, “the hag squad”). Genevieve’s solution is for Taran to learn the art of witchcraft, which will help her get more in touch with the earth magic in her arm: “To regain control, you must accept your new arm regardless of its flaws and imperfections, make another sacrifice to even the scales, and learn to manipulate the new magic generated from your residual magic and that of ancient earth.” When Taran refuses to join the coven, Genevieve gives her the task of tracking down and retrieving a rogue witch. If Taran can use her inner magic and her arm’s magic to complete the task, that will be proof that she can work out her problem on her own. But if Taran fails, she must agree to become a lesser witch within the coven and start taking low-level classes (i.e., Witchcraft 101). Unfortunately, the rogue witch turns out to be much more powerful than Genevieve realized, and Taran fails to bring her back. That witch, then, becomes the book’s primary villain. (Although Taran would say that Genevieve is just as much of a villain as the rogue witch because she constantly caresses and coos over Gemini right in front of Taran.)

     The plot centers on the efforts of the wolves and the witches to track down the rogue witch (who is a necromancer) and figure out why she is threatening to attack the pack and the coven. There are some additional subplots that deal with Celia’s pregnancy (naturally, it’s a strange one) and the mean-spirited antics of Taran’s neighbor, the unhinged Mrs. Mancuso, who treats the Wird sisters just as horribly as ever. Additionally, we watch what happens when Taran joins the coven and learns some witchy magic—with disastrous (and frequently hilarious) results for Genevieve and her coven.

     Between her broken romance and her broken magic, Taran is in a very dark place throughout the book. Of course, the romance problems could have been settled in the first chapter if Taran and Gemini had just talked things through and opened up about their fears and feelings, but then the book would have been about 100 pages shorter—a novella instead of a novel. Much more interesting are Taran’s efforts to work out a treaty of sorts between her inner magic and her new arm. Although that struggle puts her life in danger more than once, Taran sticks with it, never giving up hope that she will eventually restore her magic and reclaim her man.

     As in most of the other books in this series, the lead character bounces back and forth through a series wildly disparate emotions: from dark humor to anguished torment to mortifying humiliation to sibling devotion to deep passion and back again. For me, the best thing about this novel is that there is only one big battle (at the very end of the book) as opposed to the one-after-another identical battles that have overwhelmed the last few novels. The brief and very weird fight scenes early in the book on the necromancer’s island are actually quite inventive—like nothing else you’ve seen in this series. On the whole, I enjoyed this book more than some of the recent novels in the series, so I hope that bodes well for future “Flame” novels. Click HERE to go to this novel’s page to read an excerpt.

1 comment:

  1. I've read both of the novels and the prequel and must say that they are fantastic! I am a huge fan. I love the snarky dialog and the fun, and sometimes really gross, adventures the girls embark on. The stories are quick reads because they are pretty fast pace. I think the writing is brilliant, personally. It takes a lot to keep me glued to a book and not want to put it down.