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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Author:  Erin Quinn
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)      
Ratings:  Violence-4; Sensuality-4; Humor-2  
Publisher and Titles:  Pocket
       The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love (8/2013)
       "The Forbidden Love of Alex Moore" in Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Fiction
       The Three Fates of Ryan Love (1/2015)
       The Seven Sins of Ruby Love (coming in 2016)

This post was revised and updated on 1/29/15 to include reviews of The Three Fates of Ryan Love and "The Forbidden Love of Alex Moore." Those reviews appear first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of the first novel.

             NOVELLA 1.5:  "The Forbidden Love of Alex Moore"             
     This novella is included in a box set entitled Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Fiction. Although I purchased it for my Kindle several months ago, it is not available on as I write this review. Perhaps it will reappear, but I can't be certain.

Here is the publisher's blurb: "Alex’s mission: Kill the hellhounds that have invaded earth and return to his home in the Beyond. But from the start, things go horribly wrong. The hounds are cunning and a human female witnesses their attack—she intervenes and saves Alex’s life. Now he must keep the alluring Lilly alive while fighting his desire for her. When passion flares, Alex risks all to protect her and defend the forbidden life he craves."

     Alex is a soldier from the Beyond who is sent to the frozen North during a blizzard to track some hellhounds that have escaped to Earth. Alex and Lilly meet during an attack by those hounds. They are immediately attracted to one another as Lilly tends to Alex's wounds back at her cabin. As the story progresses, they fight off more hound attacks and fall deeply in love (that well-worn "alone in a cabin in the woods during a snowstorm" syndrome)This is a typical paranormal soul-mate romance, right down to the hero's lonely life and brave protection of his true love and the heroine's tragic childhood (i.e., abandoned by junkie mother, lost foster parents to death, found long-lost sister who then died almost immediately). 

     Don't worry too much if you can't find this novella for purchase because it adds very little to the overall series story arc. The most important concept that emerges from the story is that the Beyond is in a state of flux. More and more Beyond creatures are escaping to Earth, and some are adapting and passing as humanswhich is what Alex eventually decides to do (as we knew he would from the very beginning of the story). 

     The Kindle version has a few grammar and usage errors (e.g., "meddle" for "mettle" and several verb-tense mistakes), but not so many as to be too distracting. Click HERE to read an excerpt from "The Forbidden Love of Alex Moore." 

             NOVEL 2:  The Three Fates of Ryan Love             
     The hero is Ryan Love, eldest of the four Love siblings. After their mother died, Ryan played a major parental role in raising his younger brothers and sisters, particularly the twins, Roxanne and Reece. Reece's tragic death has hit Ryan very hard, and he has suppressed his sorrows by working long hours at the family bar, Love's. Roxanne has left town with her reaper boyfriend, a man whom Ryan dislikes and mistrusts. Ruby is living in the family home.

     As the story opens, Ryan finds a beautiful naked woman in the parking lot as he leaves the bar late one stormy night. She warns him that he must grab his valuables and some clothes and leave the bar immediately because it is going to be destroyed within the hour. That woman is Sabelle (aka S'belle), a seer from the Beyond. Sabelle claims to be an escaped slave of the Fates. Here is her explanation of the Fates: "Destiny is controlled by the Three Sisters of the Fate…The Three control the Coven of Oracles. Seers. They use the seers' visions to shape destiny. Yours. The whole world's…They are very powerful. Even gods fear the Sisters of Fate." Over centuries, the Sisters lost their own seer abilities, so they capture and imprison other seers, use the information from their visions, and manipulate the future to suit their own ends. The head of the Three Sisters is Aisa, a cold and calculating goddess who wants Sabelle back at any cost.

     The story follows the usual two branches: the love story and the action story. Sabelle is already half in love with Ryan. She has been watching him for years, wishing that she could see (and touch) him in real life. Ryan is immediately attracted to Sabelle, but he doesn't trust her completely because he senses that she is holding back on the truth about her reasons for coming to Earth (which she is). Ryan's distrust doesn't stop him from indulging in several graphically depicted bedroom romps with Sabelle, although he almost always suffers from post-coital remorse. The frequent (and lengthy) angst-filled interior monologues deal with Ryan's inability to commit to a romantic relationship and Sabelle's fears that Ryan will dump her when he finds out about her true plans. In the action part of the plot, Ryan and Sabelle travel to Sedona, where Sabelle hopes to meet with someone who has been sending her cryptic anonymous messages and seems to want to help her. Eventually, they link up with some some allies in an attempt to take down Aisa. Near the end of their adventure, Ryan and Sabelle find themselves in life-threatening danger and must put their lives on the line for one another.

     This plot seems more formulaic than the first novel did. The scene at Wal-Mart with the scorpion attack and the out-of-control cars feels awkward and artificial. Aisa is the most boring type of villain, with absolutely no redeeming qualities and no depth beyond her evil, one-note persona. Although Ryan and Sabelle have plenty of lustful physical chemistry, she tells so many lies and half-truths that I never liked her much as a person. Ryan's character isn't very well developed, so I didn't really connect with him. The four allies who join them near the endtwo familiar and two newadd some much needed life to the story. Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Three Fates of Ryan Love

     In this mythology, supernaturals are called Others and they live in a realm called the Beyond"Heaven, Hell, and everything in between." When a human person dies, his or her soul is takenor reapedby a reaper, nameless Others who spend their immortal lives at this single task, all the while trying not to be tempted to take a soul before that person's body actually dies. Some reapers get addicted to accumulating the tiny bits of soul that they retain from every human they reap, and they eventually turn into scavenger demons and then into hellhounds. 

     Others who break God's laws are consigned to Abaddon (from the Book of Revelation, 9), which is comparable to Hell, but much worse. Abaddon is named after its fallen-angel leader (aka King of the Abyss, Angel of Death, the Destroyer), who can command hordes of locusts and flocks of giant ravens to do his bidding. "Scavenger demons took delight in killing, in the terror that consumed their victims, but Abaddon had bathed in their blood. He'd been so cruel, so vicious that he'd been locked away, named for the place of destruction where he'd been banished." (p. 28) To enter mortal Earth, Others must come through portals, and the demons are always trying to break through so that they can cause trouble on Earth. 

       Set in Tempe, Arizona, the series follows the adventures and romances of the siblings in the Love family: Ryan, Ruby, and twins Roxanne and Reece. Each has a magical connection or power, and in each book one of them finds a supernatural mate.

             BOOK 1:  The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love             
     As the story opens, 25-year-old Roxanne Love and her twin brother, Reece, have died and come back to life together three times: once when they were newborns, once by drowning, and once in a car crash. The reaper charged with taking Roxanne's soul is determined to reap her soul once and for all, so he possesses the body of a suicide victim and heads for Tempe to find her. Naturally, the body he possesses is tall, dark, muscular, and totally sexy. The reaper (who has no other name) assumes the identity of his new body: Santo Castillo, a policeman who kills himself because of grief at the deaths of his pregnant wife, his mother, and his surrogate father. When Santo arrives at the Love family's bar, he's just in time to witness a demon invasion in which both Roxanne and Reece are killed (that's death #4) by a scavenger demon and some hellhounds. Santo grabs Roxanne and they go on the run. The story follows them as they are constantly under attack by various demonic Others, including locusts, giant ravens, and more hellhounds.

     The point of view is always third person, but from several viewpoints: primarily Roxanne, Santo, and Reece. This pays off nicely as we are able to get inside each one's mind and watch how each character develops as various events occur and as each has some eye-opening epiphanies. Luckily for the reader, Quinn does a great job of avoiding the usual overload of repetitive angst found in so many paranormal romances. Roxanne has spent her life feeling like a freak because her multiple resurrections have created a storm of publicity and a mob of stalkers. She doesn't know why she keeps coming back, but she does know that each time she dies, someonean unseen male presencecomforts her and makes her feel safe while she's in the Beyond. Reece, on the other hand, comes back from his death trips screaming and panicked; no one is comforting him. Roxanne has always said that she just wants a normal life, but she eventually realizes that, "She was a polite, lonely woman who guarded every word and locked every door behind her. She said that she wanted to be normal, but inside she knew that wasn't possible...She was the woman who tried to jump into a pack of ravenous creatures to save someone she'd never met but was too afraid to reach out to someone she wanted to know. Wanted to know very badly. Wasn't that the opposite of normal?" (p. 187)

     The reaper unexpectedly absorbs all of Santo's memories, emotions, and skills. He can drive a car (and hot-wire one), speak both Spanish and English, and remember every moment of Santo's grief. He even begins to think of himself as Santo rather than as a reaper. As Santo, he also feels lust for the first time in his very long existence. Very soon, the reaper senses that "his identity, already abraded by Santo's, roiled and twisted in the flotsam until even he couldn't determine where one ended and the other began. The line of demarcation between the two vanished in the torrent." (p. 114) In the beginning, the reaper's sole purpose is to discover the secret of Roxanne's immortality and then kill both her and his Santo self by fire, but when he meets her face to face (and body to body), he changes his mind. "Each time Roxanne died and returned to life, he collected a sliver of her soul and those small shards made him yearn for more of her. Always more. It's what had pulled him from the Beyond to take the rest." (p. 62) Santo's biggest fear is that if he tells Roxanne the whole truth about himself, she will hate him.

     This is a well-written paranormal romance, with plenty of compelling action, lots of emotional depth, and excellent character development. The next book will tell big brother Ryan's story. Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love

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