Book Review: Angel Dreams (An Angel Falls #2)

angelDreams-tour

New Release from Jody A. Kessler – Blog Tour & Giveaway! Both novels in this award-winning series will be on sale for only .99 cents for a limited time.


AngelDreamsSupernatural boundaries will be crossed as Angel of Death, Nathaniel Evans, risks his eternal soul to save the one he loves, the paranormally gifted and nature-loving, Juliana Crowson.

While working with a new client, Nathaniel finds out that pissing off a demon-wielding warlock in order to help a suicidal teen with misplaced sexual tendencies may be the last thing he ever does as an angel. Unable to stand aside, Juliana’s involvement in Nathaniel’s new case quickly develops into a misadventure with gun-toting bikers, table dancing, and a shamanic exorcism performed by her temperamental Native American friend, Chris Abeyta.

Can Nathaniel and Juliana’s love endure blood-letting rituals in the forest while helping a terrified teen find the will to live, or will fate and the rules of the afterlife tear them eternally apart?


At the conclusion of “Death Lies Between Us,” Nathaniel and Juliana were camping out under the stars following their adventure at Castle Hill, a haunted mansion occupied by even more dangerous humans. Juliana might have died in the house is not for Nathaniel’s interferance. Now she knows what he is, and he enjoys her company, he’s reluctant to tell her the exact nature of the failure that got him demoted as an Angel of Death. He was never there to guide her into the afterlife. Her brother was the client, and a new angel is following him now.

Whereas the first book in this series was centered around unintended consequences, “Angel Dreams” delves more into the paranormal world surrounding Juliana, including angels, demons, witches, Native American shamen, and her own unique connection to the Earth. Ms. Kessler doesn’t shy away from the ugliness, representing the darkside of power with physical sickness and emotional pain. I very much appreciated Juliana’s strong spirit playing a critical role in both her actions and her survival of the consequences that follow.

I do have a few issues with the story. First, I didn’t feel the Castle Hill story was neatly tied at the end of the first story, and I had expected that to be revisted. Other than a mention in the first chapter, this book doesn’t address it. And two, I find myself hoping that Juliana soon sees her shaman friend, Chris Abeyta, as more than her friend. No, he’s not quite the book boyfriend that Nathaniel is, however, Chris is flesh and blood 24/7, which I feel gives him the advantage.

Angel Dreams does make up for it’s shortcomings with action and suspense. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of the series.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews


032About the Author

When Jody isn’t navigating the terrain of her imagination and writing it down, she can be found exploring the wilderness of Colorado with her family, or in the kitchen baking cookies & brownies – and then trying not to eat them all. She’s passionate about continuing to learn and reads anything and everything that catches her interest. Jody is a full time mom, a Reiki Master, and has taught Hatha yoga for over a decade.

Jody’s debut novel, Death Lies Between Us, is the winner of RomCon’s Readers’ Crown award for best Paranormal Romance in 2014. She is currently working on a historical time travel series set in Montana in the 1860’s. The first book in the series, The Night Medicine, will be published in March 2015.

Jody A. Kessler invites you to visit with her at: www.JodyAKessler.com, or on Facebook & Twitter

For a chance to win a $10 amazon gift card or a signed paperback of the Death Lies Between Us (An Angel Falls, #1) please enter the rafflecopter!

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Book Review: The Last Guardian Rises (The Last Keeper’s Daughter #2), by Rebecca Trogner

lastGuardianRises

Lily Ayres, Sanguis Ancilla to Krieger Barnes, has retreated into the shadows of the archives, hiding from the king and the intense emotions he arouses in her. How long can she deny him? Will she accept her role in the Other world and the abilities arising within her?

Krieger Barnes, Vampire King of North America, has shared his blood, his kingdom, and his heart with Lily. He summons her, needing her nearness, needing her to attend the council meeting with him.

Merlin, the king’s advisor, must fight the darkness that threatens to overtake him. Can he survive the dark magic?

Lucien Black, the wielder of the Dragon Sword, is once again charged with Lily’s protection. How will he explain his avoidance of her?

A being buried deep underground, inside a cage of iron and wrapped in chains, escapes. Is he the dark entity that the Others feel and fear?


In the Last Keeper’s Daughter, Rebecca Trogner introduced Lily Ayers, a strange and fragile young heiress entrusted by her father to the care of ancient vampire, Krieger Barnes, the King of North America.  The first human he’s allowed into his court, Lily joins Krieger’s inner circle—composed until then of a witch, a wolf-shifter, and a cursed slayer—as his Sanguis Ancilla. It translates roughly as “blood slave,” a title that is more necessary than accurate for the complicated pair.

In the world of vampires and witches, and as she blossoms from a timid child into a willful woman, Lily’s nature as an “Other” (creatures neither human nor vampire) quickly becomes apparent, as does her role in something grand and sinister bubbling beneath the kingdoms of the supernatural. Krieger, bound by blood and primal instinct to protect Lily, finds himself in a truly frustrating position of being an honorable man. Because he loves her, he sets her free, allowing her to choose who she will give her heart to, and he waits for her to come to him.

Trogner reveals in The Last Guardian Rises that Krieger has the patience of a saint. Fearing the king would not forgive her for killing his brother at the climax of the first book, Lily turned her focus toward the castle’s archives, looking for information that would help the king while she avoided him. Days became weeks and then months, until the Krieger summons her, gives her thirty minutes to show up, and warns he won’t ask twice. She drags her feet only to learn that the king is not mad at her. Quite to the contrary, he’s loving, gentle, and demanding, exactly as she remembers, which means that the battle of wills between our romantic leads has begun anew.

In Guardian, we see more of the politics of the vampire world, more of the mystery’s machine, and more of the implications and consequences of each successive action. At a pivotal point in Detective Hunter’s arc, he tells Krieger, “We’ve been played.” The king then has to deal with a difficult situation forced upon Hunter, so how they’ve been played is not explicitly answered. It becomes apparent through the story arcs of Merlin, Hunter, King Beline (the King of Europe), that the awful transgression committed long ago against Lily’s mother on behalf of a demon was not an isolated incident. Krieger, along with his people and allies, spend months scorching a global conspiracy tied to Catholic orphanages from the Earth, only to have the pieces fall into place when Lily casually recommends a priest for Hunter’s upcoming marriage.

In addition to magic, spies, adventure, and lies, Trogner also gives her heroine two powerful, tortured men to hold her heart. The first, of course, is Krieger. The second is vampire Lucien, Krieger’s brother-by-choice and faithful servant. He was long ago imbued with the blood of a dragon, which allows him to wield a special sword capable of killing anything, but the spell came with a terrible price. Lucien cannot have sex with someone he loves. To do so would release the dragon from its prison within him. He releases his physical needs with meaningless sex, but as one of the men Krieger trusts the most, Lucien becomes one of Lily’s guardians, and every moment with her tests his resolve. Lily could make things easier by fully committing herself to Krieger and not flirting with him, but as she admits to the king, she loves Lucien, too.

A twist toward the end of the Guardian sees Krieger and Lily at once desperately in love with the other, yet separated by growing mountain of circumstances out of their control, anger, loss, and enough good intentions to build a bridge to Hades and put the ferryman out of a job. Playing the role of the Beast once again, Krieger will let his Belle go with hope that she will return to him, a decision that will move the action from Virginia to Big Sur, California, and a confrontation with Strigoi “Anson,” who claims Lily as his mate when he first lays eyes on her.

I found the details of The Last Guardian Rises intriguing, the escalation of Krieger and Lily’s relationship fulfilling, and the sex scenes very well written, yet I found the story a little slow. However, with Lily’s blood bond to Krieger broken by her demon father, and her desire to have children the king cannot give her but Anson can, book three of this story promises to be explosive, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Reaping Me Softly, by Kate Evangelista

Reaping Me Softly 450X679Omnific Publishing
Release Date: October 2012
YA Paranormal

Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?


Reaping Me Softly opens with an introspective solo scene. Death has a migraine. It’s not really surprising with the paperwork he has to keep up with. A hundred people die every minute on earth and he has to sign every single one. And it’s not just him. Nikolas Clark, the Reaper of Georgia, has been going through the motions for several lifetimes now. He’s so bored, so depressed, so fed up, that he forgets to take in residual energy from the souls he reaps. He’d have faded away to nothing if not for Arianne Wilson, a girl in his chemistry class, who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Arianne is a troubled girl. (What teenager isn’t to some extent?) At school, she’s in the crosshairs of the school bully, cheer captain Darla, and so is everyone who talks to her. At home, her family is divided. Both of her parents work. Her mother also spends nights at the hospital with Carrie, Arianne’s sister, whose first kidney transplant is failing while she’s on a waiting list for another. Arianne donated that kidney. She’d donate her other one if her parents would let her. Even if it were possible, she died on the operating table the first time around. Since then, Arianne’s been able to see ghosts, naked people who show up just about everywhere. She can’t talk to them. They don’t bother her. She’s gotten used to them.

At the opening of the story, there is news of a car accident on I-75. She doesn’t think much about it, until two classmates from her chemistry class, including her lab partner, are called to the principal’s office. This leaves Nico Clark without a lab partner, too, so their teacher puts them together. While Arianne is drooling over Nico, she drops hydrochloric acid on her skin, and Nico saves the day by knowing exactly what to do.

I wouldn’t exactly call Nico and Arianne’s relationship “instalove.” Arianne’s had a crush on the guy for years. Nico, however, does fall flat on his face in love rather quickly. Despite having multiple classes with her over the year, and having a locker right next to hers the year before, he has no recollection of having seen her before. Granted, he’s been depressed by his Reaper occupation and his being in school is mainly about fitting in. His best friend teases him, often, for being incredibly dense. But Nico goes from oblivious to lovesick in five seconds flat, and after she saves his life, he really is done for, to the amusement of his Reaper mentor, Tomas, and even Death himself. However, the author remedies this with a punishing ending that promises to make the boy work to keep Arianne.

Reaping Me Softly, is a cute book with serious themes underlying the sweetness. Darla, the bully, is a monster that keeps the entire school, including teachers, on a tight leash. Carrie’s declining health and the literal accumulation of death surrounding Niko and Arianne keep mortality close at hand. The prose is at times a bit too flowery, and in one scene, I remember reading through it three times before I understood what the author meant. These problems aside, I enjoyed reading it. So much, I moved the sequel, Unreap My Heart to the top of my reading list.

Reaping Me Softly is a clean YA read. There’s a scene depicting battle between two Reapers and the aftermath torture. There is no drinking, little swearing, and no inappropriate touchy-feely scenes. I would recommend it to fans of Evangelista’s other paranormal novels, Taste and Savor, and of YA paranormal romance in general.

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Sorrow’s Point, by Danielle Devor

Sorrow's Pointe CoverCrescent Moon Press
Release Date: October 2013
Dark Paranormal

When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her.
I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead.
I’m not the girl I should have been.

Not all exorcists are created equal- especially those that are “marked”. When defrocked ex-priest, Jimmy Holiday, agrees to help an old friend’s sick daughter, Lucy, he unearths unexpected horrors. Blackmoor, his friend’s new residence, has a dark history that makes it appear almost alive. Jimmy must decide if Lucy is only ill, or if the haunting of the house and her apparent possession are real. After the house begins affecting him as well; seeing colors of magic and his voice taking on an unusual power, Jimmy discovers that he is apparently “marked”. Whatever being “marked” means, Jimmy doesn’t care. He wants to help Lucy. Helping Lucy means performing the exorcism. Jimmy knows the ceremony, but it’s belief that matters. And if a demon is using a little girl as a meatsuit, his faith had better be strong enough to kick it back to Hell. Otherwise, he might damn them both.


In the spirit of full disclosure, Sorrow’s Point is not my kind of book. I don’t do well with creepy. I jump at all the Hollywood studio tricks. Most of the time, my husband is staring at me with a look that falls somewhere between “I married you?” and “You’re so cute.” Yeah, if he wants to watch scary stuff, he is on his own and he knows it.

So, I put off reading Sorrow’s Point until the end of my Christmas road trip. I started reading it at dawn, and finished while it was still light. This was intentional. I wanted enough time to get in something fluffier before night fell. Since I was reading in the car, I couldn’t just turn on all the lights in the house. In hindsight, these preparations were unnecessary. The book is not as scary as I was anticipating, or even as it should be, leaving me to wonder if it’s the problem is with the book…or me. (The last book I recall scaring me was an Agatha Christie title, and I’ve read lost of Stephen King and Robert McCammon since then.) Maybe, I’m not scared when I read?

Sorrow’s Point, I believe, should be classified as macabre. The home, Blackmoor, is creepy because it’s old, opulent, and way too big for the needs of a single family. It’s more of an old castle, two football fields wide, and when the Andersons move into the house, it comes fully furnished. The family learns after moving in–despite real estate laws requiring disclosure of crimes that took place on the premises–a Black family member killed, dismembered, and ate his wife and daughter in the kitchen, an event that cast a shadow over the town that persists until the present. The horrible affliction of the Anderson’s daughter, Lucy, animates the house enough to make it feel alive to those within it, but like watching a stage play, the characters keep the tension between them. Unlike The Stanley Hotel (The Shining) or the home in Amityville, Blackmoor remained a setting for me. Once this was clear to me, I retained hope throughout the story that if Lucy could be rescued, the family could go about their lives in this house.

I could be wrong, and horror fans can correct me, but I don’t think that’s the feeling I should have in the middle of a demon possession story.

And because I don’t feel that I am qualified to judge the book from a genre standpoint, my 4-star rating is based solely on the writing. The prose is mostly good. The narration is clear. The setting is appropriately dark and triggers the senses. The dialog works well. I think, if optioned for film, it would stand on its own in the genre, and would benefit from special effects. My main problem is that in a few places, the author meanders into sections of second-person POV—which uses the word “you.” Rather than characters talking to each other, or the narrator addressing himself, Will addresses the reader and requests participation in the story. It’s a technique that works in some storytelling situations, like Michael Weston’s narrative bits on Burn Notice. In Sorrow’s Point, however, the second-person POV sections feel like notes that were never fully fleshed out. I was yanked out of the story every time I encountered them.

The characters in the story feel real. Jimmy Holliday, former Catholic priest, is a man who is annoyed the responsibility of saving this family has fallen on him, yet as much as he could take or leave her parents, he finds he cannot walk away from Lucy. Will Anderson, a long lost friend from childhood, is one part nice guy, one part coward, one part doormat, and suffers from selective memory. His one saving grace is that he loves his daughter, but he predictably fails in husband, father, and friend departments. Will’s wife, Tor (short for Victoria), is a trust fund baby used to getting what she wants. When she’s not losing sleep or changing Lucy’s IV and feeding bags, she’s cooking. Each meal is more complicated than the next, and she puts three on the table. Every single day. Honestly, for a good portion of the book, I thought Tor was possessed, too, and I kept waiting for her connection to the Black Family.

I have never seen the Exorcist. Not interested. Don’t wanna. Having said that, six-year-old Lucy Anderson is exactly what I expected from what I’ve heard about the Exorcist.

Finally, there’s Tabby, the witch that Jimmy met while he was a priest, and over whom he was defrocked. Jimmy’s a man of integrity. There was nothing between him and Tabby while his vows were intact, but they lived together for several years after he left the church. Tabby is a good witch, with a warm, loving personality. As Will and Tor’s relationship disintegrates over their daughter’s demise, Tabby and Jimmy pick up the slack, put together a case for exorcism, and remember why they loved each other long ago. Tabby was my favorite character in the book.

Sorrow’s Point includes scenes of light magic, dark magic, Ouija boards, torture, physical violence, harsh language, and a young child exhibiting the affects of demon possession, including sexually inappropriate speech and behavior.

***I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.***

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Speak of the Devil, by Shawna Romkey

SpeakOfTheDevilCrescent Moon Press
Release Date: March 2013
YA Paranormal

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?


Teenagers are complicated, sensitive creatures, and on the surface, Lily is normal for her age. She loves her friends. She loves going out with her friends, Mike and Julie, who are not afraid to take a bit of a risk for a good time. One night, the three go out in a rainstorm and their car ends up going over a bridge.

It’s hard to be grateful to be alive when your friends are dead, and it’s your fault. Seconds before the crash, Lily did something innocuous, but it distracts Mike, causing the slide that resulted in the car going over the edge. Going to school is torture. The other kids treat Lily carefully, but she projects her guilt onto them, and receives their sympathy as blame. To start over, she moves to Kansas City to live with her dad, and finish high school with kids that don’t know about the her, the accident, or her dead friends.

There, she meets a group of kids who are beautiful in a punkish sort-of-way, and entirely too talented for their age. The apparent leader among them is Luc, to whom Lily is immediately drawn, but he steps aside because his friend Mo thinks she’s “the one” for him. But, it doesn’t last, because Luc feels the same connect to Lily as she feels to him.

Luc, the hottie with wings on the cover of the book, was born to human parents but he grew into an angelic calling to save one human soul. At the same time, he and his friends are suffering a crisis of their own. Dwelling on Earth takes its toll on angels, but this group, there are extraordinary circumstances with dire consequences. Luc needs Lily as much as she needs him.

Speak of the Devil is a YA Paranormal Romance that explores survivor’s guilt, the grieving/coping mechanisms of teenagers, and how finding/having a purpose can make all the difference in a young adult’s life. My one problem with the book is this. It is told primarily in Lily’s first-person POV, and because of her circumstances, this results in forty pages of a 16-year-old telling me she’s depressed. After a while, I really wanted to slap her and say, Stop feeling sorry for yourself. She does do something about it, leaves to go to a new school, but her attitude doesn’t really improve until her curiosity about Luc and his friends surpasses her self-pity. At that point, the story improves by leaps and bounds, but getting past the beginning was a little rough for me, thus my 4-star rating.

Speak of the Devil includes angels, demons, scenes of teen alcohol abuse, sexual attraction, and an attempted rape of the main character. Religious subject matter is interpreted in a generic “angels=good/demons=evil” way that doesn’t counter Sunday School, but God is missing, which may offend. I would recommend it for readers as young as 13, depending on the reader’s maturity.

I finished this book on April 2, 2013. I rated it on Goodreads with intention of returning to leave a review, and then…stuff happened. It was nine months ago, I don’t even remember what the stuff was. Pathetic. Truly pathetic. Anyhow, I received this book from Crescent Moon Press in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Death Lies Between Us, by Jody A. Kessler

deathLiesBetweenUsRelease Date: March 2013
NA Paranormal

Saving the life of someone you love should not be the worst thing you have ever done, unless you are an Angel of Death. Disgruntled with his position in the afterlife and conflicted by his feelings toward his new client, Nathaniel Evans forgoes the rules and saves nineteen year old Juliana Crowson from being hopelessly stuck in Forge Creek. This alters Juliana’s destiny and she finds herself in a series of near death accidents.

In the mountains of Colorado, Nathaniel comforts Juliana as she struggles to understand her paranormal abilities while coping with her brother’s drug addiction. When an ill-tempered Native American Shaman teaches her the difference between ghosts and place memories, she decides she wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. Too bad she doesn’t know that Nathaniel is part of it. Will fate bring these two together, or has Nathaniel made the biggest mistake of his afterlife?


When Nathaniel Evans first sees Juliana Crowson, she’s writing in a notebook while a boy that resembles her plays a guitar. Her face is hidden from Nathaniel by her long black hair and eyelashes. The poetry she’s writing in her book give him an ominous feeling, like she may have a death wish. It wouldn’t surprise him. He’s an Angel of Death and he’s there to help her make the transition into the hereafter.

Her time has not come yet, and because he has to be there when it does, he has the only excuse he needs to follow her. It’s in his job description, but he quickly realizes it might be bad for his soul. He was wrong about her death wish. On the contrary, she’s full of life. Within an hour of walking into her life, Nathaniel finds her in three potentially life threatening situations, and with each one, he feels the moment he’s waiting for draw nearer and dreads it. But when people who know Juliana leave her with her foot caught between a log and a rock in an ice-cold creek, Nathaniel can no longer watch. He makes himself visible and flesh enough to free her from her predicament, but fears that his interference may set her up for a death worse that the hypothermia he’s helped her avoid.

Death Lies Between us is a New Adult novel centered on a theme of unintended consequences. Every character in this story does something that impacts other characters, sometimes in undesirable ways, even across time and dimensions. There are moments of innocence, selfishness, cruelty, fear, greed, love, pity, and forgiveness, all of which come from characters one might least expect. This gives the entire cast a very human quality.

Nathaniel is a desirable hero with a tragic past that allows the reader to pity his mortal life and sympathize with his present situation. With two dangerous incidents averted, superstitious Juliana is on her guard and waiting for the third to come and claim her. Once introduced, they are subject to quick, mutual infatuation. The reader can only hope that she avoids the fate that Nathaniel’s presence promises.

Yet, it’s in the love story arc of the story where a latent flaw inherent to any romance with a ghost lies. The only “happily ever after” requires the death of the living partner, and the thought of Juliana’s death was Nathaniel’s conflict. How could he do his job when his instinct was to protect her? Appearing to her is not a huge deal, because the girl has supernatural talents that she is struggling to come to terms with, but manifesting as a touchable person takes a lot of effort for him. Basically, I didn’t feel that Juliana was at risk of dying, but neither did I feel there was hope for a future with Nathaniel. A happily-for-now was possible if she survived the novel, but I found myself hoping for the development of a third scenario that involved Chris, a cranky, 25-going on-70-year-old Native American shaman.

Without giving anything away, I will say I was satisfied.

In her debut novel, Jody Kessler has written a solid paranormal novel that bring together Native American folklore, restless spirits, supernatural gifts, and angels on missions. It is the first of a planned series, and there are a number of loose ends left to be tied. The haunting of Castle Hill, (one of the primary settings of the book), Juliana’s brother’s drug addiction are both realistically still in play, as is an apparent fall from grace for Nathaniel, who seems unable to follow rules where Juliana is concerned.

I would recommend Death Lies Between Us to fans of NA Paranormal Romance, particularly readers who enjoyed Avery Olive’s “A Stiff Kiss” or Toni de Palma’s “The Devil’s Triangle.”

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Keeper’s Daughter (Unnamed Series #1), by Rebecca Trogner

LgTheLastKeepersDaughterThe Last Keeper’s Daughter (Book 1 of a series), by Rebecca Trogner

To the outside world Lily Ayres is the privileged daughter of an old moneyed family. She is young, beautiful, and a talented horsewoman. All of which are enviably qualities, but few know that beneath this thin veneer of societal perfection lies a deeply troubled young woman. For Lily rarely speaks and is incapable of normal, human interaction.

Unable to understand why she is this way, she further retreats inside herself, until memories and suppressed emotions begin to bubble to the surface. Murder, revelations of her family’s hidden purpose and dark secrets are revealed as she is thrust into the supernatural world of Krieger Barnes, Vampire King of North America.

Walter Ayers, the last son of one of Virginia’s old money families, owns a massive home on a sprawling estate, complete with it’s own cemetery and a whole wing that is forbidden to enter. Its summer, but a fire burns in the secret library’s hearth for the pleasure of a guest. Walter is a member of a secret order, the ‘keeper’ assigned to the King of North America, and Krieger Barnes has come to hear an odd request. The aging man is dying and fears his clandestine life will bring harm to his daughter, so he asks the king to take his daughter. In 2000 years, Krieger has never brought a human into his court. He is reluctant to do so now, but it is strange of a human father to offer his daughter to a vampire, and he’s intrigued.

Rebecca Trogner has an unusual voice that blends simple prose with stream of consciousness. This works particularly well with her lead female, Lily Ayers, a timid woman with the character traits of autism. She is highly intelligent, but timid, selectively mute, and highly sensitive to sound. Also, she can remember every face she’s ever seen and where she’s seen them, a talent she considers a curse and thus avoids meeting new people. We learn a lot about Lily in her first scene as she arrives a friend’s store at a scheduled time to be closed, uses the back door because the front has bells, and counts her steps to avoid a creaky board in the floor. Lily’s friends, accustomed to interacting with her over years, help her communicate to the reader who she is under the skin by responding to her body language.

In the first chapter, Krieger Barnes comes across as cold, calculating man. Born during the reign of Augustus Caesar, he’s born witness to the depths of what people are capable, human and otherwise. Like Joss Whedon’s Angel, these experiences have shaped Krieger into a man who is both a cold killer and yet just to fault. Unlike Angel, he has always had a soul. He is cautious regarding his personal relationships but not uncaring, and the author provides many ways for the reader to relate, even empathize, with the vampire king.

The Last Keeper’s Daughter is a mystery, as the first chapter clearly suggests, one that spans several generations of the Ayers Family and culminating within Lily herself. She is special, something between human and “Other,” and also more than both. The danger lays in the fact that Krieger and his inner circle, (a witch, a wolf shifter, and a slayer), are not the only people who know. Still, as much as Krieger is bound by blood and primal instinct to protect Lily, he cannot keep her caged to ensure it. The clues are specific to her, one, and two, she bristles at being treated as a child. So, solving the puzzle that is Lily and winning her love can only be accomplished if Krieger gives up his need to control every circumstance. It would try the patience of most men, let alone an ancient vampire king.

Given the stream of consciousness aspect, I feel that prose could have been stronger if the author had used deep third POV. Also, and it was possibly just overlooked in editing, but second person POV pulled me out of the narration on two occasions. But, the minor issues of voice aside, I very much enjoyed The Last Keeper’s Daughter. The story is intriguing. The characters are captivating, each with allure and mystery. The plot gives us a crack into a much larger story and all the implements necessary to rip the world wide open. I’m looking forward to the next book.

★★★★
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Book Review: Wilde’s Meadow (Darkness Falls #3), by Krystal Wade

Wildes-MeadowWilde’s Meadow (Darkness Falls #3), by Krystal Wade

Happy endings are hard to find, and even though Katriona is in the middle of a war with someone who’s already stolen more than she can replace, she aches for a positive future with her Draíochtans.

Armed with hope, confidence in her abilities, and a strange new gift from her mother, Kate ventures into the Darkness to defeat a fallen god.

Losses add up, and new obstacles rise to stand in the way. Is the one determined to bring Encardia light strong enough to keep fighting, or will all the sacrifices to stop those who seek domination be for nothing?

The Darkness Falls series takes a darker turn in book three. That might seem a difficult thing to pull off in a book where there is no sunlight, but Ms. Wade pulls it off with a lovely opening sequence. But first, let’s go back to Wilde’s Army for a minute.

The engagement between Kate and Perth Dufaigh became a moot point after she married Arland on the sly, which did not go over well with Perth’s father. BUT, there are higher powers in Encardia than scheming High Leaders and they don’t much care what Dufaigh thinks. Now, back to scene in progress.

Kate, Arland, and their ragtag army will head back out into darkness soon and they’re taking advantage of their time as newlyweds properly should. Then, there’s dancing. It’s a tradition in Encardia to celebrate life before sending brave souls to their deaths. Told you it was lovely, which is nice for the reader, because that’s when things turn dark.

So far, in the first two books of this series, the reader has been overwhelmed by darkness and glimpsed the dangers that lurk just beyond sight. In Wilde’s Meadow, Ms. Wade leads the way into a wasteland of putrescence, misery, and despair. Here, the beasts that Kate has learned to fight are not all that stands between her and the light of day. The blanket of darkness that shrouds this world is mirrored by the sins of its past and present. Like a hasty tower of blocks assembled by a toddler, one wrong move could bring this world down on itself.

Wilde’s Meadow plays with the stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kate’s army, each soul among them knowing he could die at any moment, works its way through them. With the focus of the story on Kate, her power, and her destiny, I found that Brit Wilde represented concerns that the reader might otherwise forget while worrying about whether Arland would live or die. Each person in this world has a prophecy. Each has a part to play in whether Kate ultimately wins or loses, and Brit shoulders a burden heavier than most everyone else.

I must say that as a whole, I enjoyed the Darkness Falls series. Krystal Wade’s use of magic is very simple, and it is very consistent through all three books. Her prose is unpretentious. Her characters are honest, even the devious ones, and allowed to grow naturally within the confines of their storylines. At it’s core, it is a story about love and courage in the face of impossible odds, and I would recommend it to an older teen audience.

★★★★

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Book Review: Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2), by Krystal Wade

15079819Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2), by Krystal Wade

“Hello, Katriona.”

Those two words spark fear in Katriona Wilde and give way to an unlikely partnership with Perth, the man she’s been traded to marry for a favor. Saving her true love and protector Arland, her family, and their soldiers keeps her motivated, but the at-odds duo soon realizes trust is something that comes and goes with each breath of Encardia’s rotting, stagnant air. The moment when concern for her missing sister spirals out of control, all thoughts of trust are pushed aside and she finds herself trapped by the daemon tricks Perth warned her of.

However, rescuing those she loves is only half the problem.

Kate still must get to Willow Falls, unite her clashing people, and form an army prepared to fight in order to defeat Darkness. When so many she’s grown fond of die along the journey, her ability to play by the gods’ rules is tested.

How will she make allies when the world appears stacked against her? And will she still be Katriona Wilde, the girl with fire?

Wilde’s Army picks up the moment Wilde’s Fire left off. Arland, Kate’s mother and sister, and the rest of the inhabitants of the base have vanished. All except for Perth, the man Kate is supposed to marry to appease a political ally. Kate forms a tenuous partnership with him because, while she has no intentions of marrying the man, she does need him if she’s going to find the others. It’s in Kate’s nature to see the best in people, including this strange Ground Dweller, but circumstances require her to keep Perth at arm’s length and on a short leash. For his part, Perth is cooperative with her plans to rescue Arland and her family. He plays devil’s advocate and gives her advice, all despite her American teen snark.

The reader is reminded quickly that not only is the world around Kate a dark and dangerous place, but it is in part because of her. She is the one prophesied to destroy end the reign of darkness. The eldest daughter of High Leaders, ruling this world is her birthright. Naturally, the malevolent force who is oppressing Encardia delights in taunting and tormenting her with every tool at his disposal…vicious beasts, the lives of her friends and family, with exhaustion, hunger, and temptation. And still, the most dangerous thing in this world might Perth’s father, his ambition, his greed, and his careless flaunting of essential resources.

Opposite High Leader Dufaigh is Saraid Wilde, Kate’s mother and a woman of great power and perhaps greater secrets. She plays the Leaders’ game in Encardia with one hand in the cookie jar and the other behind her back, fingers crossed. At the risk of alienating both of her daughters, Saraid never tells the whole story, never reveals exactly what she’s thinking, and never gives a straight answer to questions. She has her reasons, but as Kate grows more and more frustrated, the reader does as well.

There were some details in the beginning that snagged my attention. I would recommend reading the final chapter of Wilde’s Fire before opening Wilde’s Army. There was also one scene where I feel the author backed herself into a corner and telling was really the only way out. Those issues aside, if Wilde’s Army has a big fault, it’s having the misfortune to follow Wilde’s Fire.

Krystal Wade’s strength is in her characters, though. The Arland / Kate / Perth triangle, as the three test the limitations of each other’s loyalty and patience, was well worth the read.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Tainted (Wasteland #3), by Lynn Rush

tainted-lynn-rushTainted (Wasteland Trilogy #3)
By Lynn Rush

After over four hundred years as a Guardian, Durk Langdon rebuked it all. Walked away from everything when his mate, Jessica, was brutally murdered. Yet he has no recollection of anything since that gruesome day.

Nothing alleviates his longing for Jessica or his disdain for the Guardians until a former brother in arms joins him and his cause. Visions of his lost love start appearing in the most unlikely places, until Durk learns she survived.

But when he sets out to find her, demonic obstacles he never could have imagined tear them apart.

If only he had trusted her…

Tainted brings us into the Wasteland storyline at some point after Durk Langdon abandons his calling. He is running, barefoot and half-naked, down a lonely highway. There’s no one behind him. He doesn’t know what he’s running from, but he knows that if he stops, he’ll die. Meanwhile images of Jessica, his murdered mate, flash through his mind. He hides when a car approaches. It stops and a woman gets out. She knows his name, but he doesn’t know her.

Ms. Rush drops the reader into Durk’s confusion at both the passage of time and reality in the opening scene. There is a sense that time has passed since the end of Awaited (Wasteland #2), but there are few clues as to how much. He remembers being in the mountains, but now he’s in the desert. Starting the story here was a deliberate, and wise, choice by the author because this confusion—not knowing what is real or who can be trusted—continues for half of the story. In fact, I was not certain that Durk was free of the torment that wiped his memory clean until the last two chapters.

Anyone who’s read the first two books of the Wasteland trilogy knows that Ms. Rush juggles her details with the deft hand of a circus clown. All three of her male leads have been flawed, damaged men, but Durk Langdon is all but an empty shell. He was going through the motions of serving the Light before he watched the woman he loves die. Combine his broken heart with lost time and severe torture, and Durk becomes a man who’s hanging onto one fraying thread while wondering why he still bothers.

While I felt that Durk’s part of the story was very well done, I have to admit that his and Jessica’s relationship felt a little thin for me. They are supposed to be intended mates, and Jessica has known this for thirty-five years. Durk has been in love with her for decades. Yet, I found timidity where I expected sexual tension.

It was great to see David and Beka, and Russell and Annabel, again, especially under the dire circumstances they face. And the guest appearance by archangel Michael is rave worthy. All in all, I found Tainted to be a solid finish to the series.

4-stars