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Thursday, December 31, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Kate Baxter's LAST TRUE VAMPIRE SERIES with a review of The Warrior Vampire, the second novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Ten Paranormal Romance Novels of 2015

     Here are my nominations for the top 10 paranormal romance novels of the year. I have to admit that I cheated a bit by including three novels in a single entry for Lori Handeland's SISTERS OF THE CRAFT TRILOGY because the novels were all published within a two-month period in 2015. So...three cheers for Handeland for not making us wait a year between each novel! 

     First on my "Best" list is my favorite romance novel of the year: Hunted Warrior, Lindsey Piper's final novel in THE DRAGON KINGS trilogy. If you haven't been reading this terrific series, please give it a look, but start back at the beginning so that you'll get the entire intriguing story. The remaining books on my list are arranged alphabetically, by author. 

         To read my full review of each book on this list, click on the PINK-LINK SERIES TITLE in each entry below. All of my review posts for series books are ongoing and all-inclusive. That means that each series post contains a reading-order list of all the novels, stories, and novellas; an overview of the world-building; and reviews (or sometimes, summaries) of all of the books/stories published in that series to date, with the newest review at the top of the post. 

     If you are an urban fantasy fan, click HERE to take a look at my list of Top 10 Urban Fantasy Novels for 2015.

                        ****     *****     ******     ******     *****     ****         

 OF 2015
Lindsey Piper: Haunted Warrior—Third and final novel in THE DRAGON KINGS TRILOGY
From my review: "Piper has outdone herself on this final episode of the Dragon Kings story. The starring lovers are multi-faceted and interesting as they attempt to deal with the tragedies of their pasts and their contradictory views of the future. The plot twists and turns as they search for magical artifacts that will be instrumental in defeating the enemies of the Dragon Kings...Piper has crafted an elegantly calibrated conclusion to her series by weaving together elements that she introduced (but never fully explicated) in earlier books along with new revelations. Now, everything becomes clear, and it is obvious that Piper had this all planned out from the very beginning. This is a great finale, and I was enthralled from the very first page." 

Jennifer Ashley: Mate Bond—Seventh novel in the SHIFTERS UNBOUND SERIES
From my review: "This book is a fresh and inventive addition to the series with its mature lovers, engrossing plot line, and interesting secondary characters, many of whom are not at all what they seem (and wait until you find out the true identity of one of them!)...If you're a fan of the series, you'll enjoy this different approach, and if you're new to the series, you could read this as a stand-alone…The romantic situation is so engrossing and the action moves along at such a fast pace that you just keep turning the pages, anxious to see what happens next.

Kresley Cole: Sweet Ruin—Fifteenth novel in the IMMORTALS AFTER DARK SERIES
From my review: "Cole does an excellent job in developing these characters, so their eventual...HEA is quite believable and very entertaining…Jo is Cole’s strongest, smartest, most delightfully captivating heroine ever. Jo will NEVER have a girly TSTL moment, and she is NEVER blindly submissive to anyone, not even to Rune (especially not to Rune). Cole takes her time with the couple’s burgeoning romance, creating a perfectly crafted relationship that includes lots of sly humor, natural-sounding dialogue, heartbreaking emotion, and passionate love-making. For me, this is one of the best books in the series so far. Sweet a terrific novel with a fast-paced, engrossing plot and a wonderful pair of lead lovers. Don’t miss this one."

Lori Handeland: SISTERS OF THE CRAFT TRILOGY (set in Handeland's NIGHTCREATURE world) 
         1  In the Air Tonight
         2  Heat of the Moment
         3  Smoke on the Water
From my review of In the Air Tonight: "Handeland has always been a good story teller, and in this novel she has created an interesting premise; a likable pair of lovers; a spooky, action-filled plot; and a series story arc that promises a family reunion that will include both dead and living relatives." 

Molly Harper: The Single Undead Moms ClubFourth novel in the HALF-MOON HOLLOW SERIES (NICE-GIRLS SERIES spin-off) 
From my review: "This is a typical book for this series, with a feisty heroine, a virile hero, and plenty of snarky dialogue and silly slapstick situations. Although the plots are always light as a feather, I do enjoy reading this series for its crazy antics and sarcastic give and take. If you've been reading the series regularly, you'll recognize all of the supporting characters—or as Harper calls them, 'my League of Adorable Weirdos'—and fall right back into the wild and crazy world of the Hollow."

Thea Harrison: Midnight’s Kiss—Novel 8 in THE ELDER RACES SERIES
From my review: "As usual, Harrison tells a great story, with lots of erotic passion, dramatic danger, heart-rending angst, and a tender HEA to bring the story to an end. Julian and Melly are sympathetic characters, even though—at first—Melly comes across as a bit shallow and over-girly. Fortunately, she soon shows her true colors, as her courage and her ability to Macgyver herself out of difficult situations become the key to their escape from the tunnels." 

Alexandra Ivy: When Darkness Ends—12th and final novel in the terrific GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY SERIES
From my review: "This is a great story with a nicely balanced lead couple (Cyn and Fallon), a love story on the side (Magnus and Tonia), and our favorite alpha vamps: Styxx, Viper, and Dante. There is plenty of sardonic, good-old-vamp-boy bantering among the men and lots of feisty female vs. alpha male bickering within the two love relationships….In the Epilogue, the vamp boys drink some expensive brandy and sit back to discuss the strangeness of finally achieving peace in their world…The book ends with the men's final toast, which sums up the series quite nicely: 'To mates who don't take shit…And to brothers who stand by one another even when facing Armageddon…To friends…For eternity.'"

Nalini Singh: Aarchangel’s Enigma—Eighth novel in GUILD HUNTER SERIES 
From my review: "This is yet another of Singh's great stories, with a well-devised plot, suspense-filled action, charismatic lovers, several important sub-plots, and a slam-bang showdown that resolves the main plot. The sub-plots, primarily the ones involving Raphael and Illium, will certainly be further developed in future books. Whenever I read one of Singh's books, it is always a can't-put-it-down experience. (I lose a lot of sleep because there's no way I can make myself stop reading just because it is 2:00 a.m.) As the effects of the Cascade roll through the Angel world, more trouble is definitely on the way, and I can't wait to see how Singh plans to play it all out." 

Hester Young: The Gates of Evangeline—First novel in the CHARLIE CATES TRILOGY 
This one isn't a typical paranormal romance. I'd classify it as a romantic paranormal thriller. From my review: "Young gives us a haunting, sometimes heartbreaking, tale in which her smart and adventurous heroine follows her dreams as she introduces us to to a wealth of quirky characters and ferrets out chilling answers to dark questions that have been kept secret for thirty long years….This is a terrific debut novel from an up-and-coming author. Its mix of eerie Gothic and ghostly elements, amateur sleuth and whodunit tropes, moral and religious issues, murder, and betrayal will grab you by the throat from the very beginning and take you on a wild ride through the bayous." This promising series is just beginning, so give it a look.

Rebecca Zanetti: Wicked Edge—Second novel in THE REALM ENFORCERS SERIES
From my review: "Daire and Cee Cee are delightful lead characters...Their verbal sparring is fun, and Cee Cee's ability to drug Daire multiple times, blow up his apartment, and keep her secrets from him make for a wild and wonderful romantic ride. Their bedroom scenes are frequent and graphic with neither of them holding back on their emotions. I enjoyed this book much more than the first one, mainly due to the engaging lead characters and the wild plot." 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Kresley Cole's IMMORTALS AFTER DARK SERIES with a review of Sweet Ruin, the 15th novel in this great series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Monday, December 28, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Thea Harrison's ELDER RACES SERIES with reviews of Shadow's End (novel 9) and "Liam Takes Manhattan" (novella 9.2)

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new reviews.

Friday, December 25, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Rob Thurman's CAL LEANDROS SERIES with a review of Nevermore, the tenth novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Dianna Love with reviews of the newest novel and novella from her BELADOR SERIES: 

     Witchlock (novel 6) 

     "Tristan's Escape" (novella 6.5) 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new reviews.

Monday, December 21, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Lucy March's NODAWAY FALLS SERIES with a review of For Love or Magic, the third novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Saturday, December 19, 2015



I have just updated an ongoing post for Paige Tyler's SWAT: SPECIAL WOLF ALPHA TEAM SERIES with a review of In the Company of Wolves, the third novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Novel by Lilith Saintcrow: "Blood Call"

Author:  Lilith Saintcrow 
Title:  Blood Call 
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality3; Humor—1 
Publisher:  Orbit (8/2015)

                          PUBLISHER'S BLURB                          

     A brand new thriller with a supernatural twist from New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow. 

     Anna Caldwell has spent the last few days in a blur. She's seen her brother's dead body, witnessed the shooting of innocent civilians, and been shot at herself. Now she has nowhere to turn-and only one person she can possibly call. 

     Since Anna dumped him, it seems waiting is all Josiah Wolfe has done. Now, she's calling, and she needs his helpor rather, the "talents" she once ran away from. As a liquidation agent, Josiah knows everything about getting out of tough situations. He'll get whatever she's carrying to the proper authorities, then settle down to making sure she doesn't leave him again. 

     But the story Anna's stumbled into is far bigger than even Josiah suspects. Anna wants to survive, Josiah wants Anna back, and the powerful people chasing her want the only thing worth killing forimmortality. An ancient evil has been trapped, a woman is in danger, and the world is going to see just how far a liquidation agent will go. 

                          MY REVIEW                          
     Somehow, this novel slipped through the cracks, and I just got around to reading it this week. It's a very quick read with a fast-paced plot and an interesting premise set for the most part in a contemporary, mostly human culture. Into this urban setting, Saintcrow lets a bit of the supernatural bleed through the cracks into some dark corners. Saintcrow tells the story in the third person voice, alternating between Anna's and Josiah's perspective.

     Several years ago, Anna broke off her relationship with Josiah when she discovered that he had failed to tell her that he was a mercenary assassin. She never gave him a chance to explain his reasons for keeping his work a secret. Instead, she had a major tantrum, called him a lot of terrible names, and stormed out of his life. (For example, she called him a "filthy f---ing murderer," and screamed that "It makes me sick to think you ever touched me.") Although she claims to have missed him terribly all these years, she has never considered that her harsh words and her abrupt rejection hurt him and that he has probably missed her, too. After all, they were deeply in love and on the verge of eloping. But Anna is an egocentric young woman who rarely thinks about the feelings of others. By the third chapter, I was so sick of her whining that it was hard to read the scenes that were written from her perspective. Anna's deplorable behavior continues throughout the book. Just pages from the end, she finally realizes how badly she has wounded Josiah emotionally: "How long had he been hurting like that? Since she'd left him?…She'd never known. Never even guessed." 
Could she be any more self-absorbed?

     The story begins when Josiah gets a call from Anna on a burner cell phone that he has kept ever since she left him. (Later in the book, when Anna learns that Josiah kept that phone with him at all times just waiting for her call, she reacts in her usual clueless manner: "He'd kept it all this time, for some reason. It was only a few dollars and some hassle to change a number, right? Maybe he just didn't want to go through all that.") In any case, Anna begs for Josiah's help, explaining that her brother Eric has been murdered and that men with guns are stalking her. Then, she deeply insults Josiah by offering to buy his services to kill the men who murdered Eric, since he's such a hotshot murderer and all. Although Josiah has retired from the assassin business, he immediately steps up to help, along with Hassan and Wilhelmina (Willie)—his live-in staff and long-time partners and friends.

     The rest of the book follows the four "good guys" as they try to figure out the meaning of some mysterious notes and photographs that Eric gave Anna just before he died. Then, the situation gets very strange when the supernatural element makes a violent entrance into the plot. From that point on, the action is nonstop as Josiah, Hassan, and Willie fight off human enemies (i.e., local mobsters, covert government operatives) and supernatural attackers as they try to stay alive long enough to learn the truth about what is going on. Anna's role in the battles is to huddle hysterically against the wall, or in a corner, or in the bathtub with the expectation that Josiah and his friends will protect her. The most interesting person in the book is the primary supernatural character, who is delightfully charming and well spoken in between his bouts of gory ferocity.

     After the first attack, Josiah splits the group up, sending Anna with Willie and Hassan and going off on his own to do some further investigation. By this point, Josiah has rescued Anna from the side of the road; provided her with medical treatment, food, and safe shelter; fought off an attack by her pursuers; and is working on some strategies for future actions. For Anna, however, this isn't enough. When she throws yet another tantrum, Josiah explains that the situation has gotten exponentially worse and that his earlier plans have now changed. All Anna wants, though, is for him to kill Eric's murderers—right now. 
"My job is to make sure you don't join him. Revenge is pointless, Anna…." 
…"You won't help me?"…
"I am helping you. This is bigger than we thought. We're going to lie low for a little while, and I'm going to call in a few favors…" 
"You said you'd help me." 
"I am helping you," he repeated. 
"By getting you somewhere safe so I can work." 
"Oh, yes. Your…work." (Note: This sneering line oozes disdain for the man who loves her and is desperately trying to keep her alive.) 
     Later in the conversation, Josiah says, "Do me a favor and stop arguing with me. I have to think." Anna responds, "About what?" How stupid is this woman?"

     This novel would have been a hit if it weren't for the fact that the heroine is an immature, illogical, inane, insipid, irrational idiot who is definitely NOT interesting, impressive, or intelligent. (Sorry, there were so many appropriate "i" words that I couldn't resist.) Although Anna is 30 years old, she behaves like a naive, hysterical teenager. I will admit that Josiah makes a major wrong move on her early in their reunion, but he does apologize later. Anna refuses to accept his apology, though, and keeps throwing it back in his face. It never occurs to her to apologize to him for her own bad behavior. Anna is a real piece of work and entirely unworthy of Josiah's long-standing devotion. Josiah and his friends may be hired assassins, but they come across as caring individuals, not the blood-soaked mad killers Anna imagines them to be. Josiah obviously loves Anna (for reasons I cannot comprehend), but she is too self-absorbed to be aware of anything but her own distorted emotional world. It's really a shame that Saintcrow didn't give this story a stronger heroine. 

     Click HERE to go to Blood Call's page to read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art.