Cover Reveal: The Devil Made Me Do It, by Shawna Romkey

The Devil made me do it preview 1

The Devil Made Me Do It (Speak of the Devil #2)
By Shawna Romkey

Coming from Crescent Moon Press, June 2014

About the Book:

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

SR-37-150x150About the Author:

Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

For more info, check out her website at www.shawnaromkey.com.

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

ARC Review: Desperate Possession (Protectors #3), by Hildie McQueen

DesperatePossession-400-600Crescent Moon Press
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Paranormal Romance

Fallon Trent is going to die. Either the Protectors will kill him or he will do the honors himself. Either way, the powerful demon in him will not be allowed to flourish. After living so long, why does the love of his life have to enter his life at the same time as possession.

As a human demon slayer, Tonia Mohr’s sole purpose is revenge. The more demons she kills the better – and she will continue finding the one that killed her husband. But will she be able to keep her oath when the man she loves becomes more demon than not.


In Hildie McQueen’s Atlanta, there are Protectors and demons. Three castes of the latter, in fact, walking around looking very human, and some are up to no good.
The third Protector novel focuses on the plight of Lord Fallon Trent, a British noble who, like his brothers-in-arms, acquired immortality in his 20s, along with nightmares and the physique of a Greek statue. A privileged young man in prior to his change, Fallon has long had a way with women, so a lover’s bed is a good place to pick up where “Desperate Surrender” left off.

Tonia Muhr–a US Marshal by day, demon slayer by night—begrudges the clothing that hides Fallon’s body from her as he dresses to leave her apartment. She doesn’t know much about him. His name. He’s British. He’s filthy rich. And if sexual talent were converted to dollars, his actual bank account would pale by comparison. He’s that freaking great at it. At the same time, he wants her to stop looking for the kind of trouble that introduced them, and with a murdered husband in the ground, walking away from the demon world is something she won’t do.

Fallon’s recent performances in bed aren’t entirely his doing. A master demon has been slowly preparing him for possession over the course of weeks. The symptoms of this process are a desire to kill everyone around him, which he fights, and a voracious appetite for sex, which he indulges with a very willing Tonia.

In between romps, Fallon patrols the streets and looks for the demon that’s marked his claim on him, where his paths continue to cross paths with Tonia’s.

Tonia and Fallon’s do-si-do with demons becomes a tango when he finds her bleeding and near death on her bathroom floor. Fellow Protector, Roderick Cronan saves her life the same way he once saved his own wife; he infuses her with the only blood available…Fallon’s. It was once a rare thing, but there are now three mated protectors in Atlanta. What’s their exasperated boss Julian to do with the fourth soldier to disobey his very clear orders?

First, he throws the Protector’s rule book at the lone remaining single man on the team with a stern command to, “Read it.” Then, he insists Fallon join with Tonia in the same ancient Roman ceremony that joined Roderick, Cynden, and Kieran, to their respective wives. This takes place on the spot, without input from Tonia, and it doesn’t go over well at all.

What was once a glorious casual sex relationship becomes marriage overnight, complete with competing expectations, mistakes, and bruised egos. The sex between them is passionate, almost animal, and possibly driven more by Fallon’s demon’s lust than his own. It doesn’t care much if it fills the growing rift between Tonia and Fallon, or pushes it open wider, as long as it gets fed.

Desperate Betrayal, the first book in this series, was an exercise in trust and forgiveness between soul mates. Book two, Desperate Surrender followed man overcoming deep-seeded emotional scarring to reluctantly grasp happiness and hold onto it for dear life. In the third, Desperate Possession, the battle against demons is closer to home than ever, and deeply personal.

The Protectors novels are among my very favorite in the Paranormal Romance genre. The chemistry between characters is at times amusing, heartwarming, and maddening. The settings are rich, the fights are explosive, and the sex scenes are scorching. With incubus, Sebastian, taking on a larger role, the introduction of two very interesting new characters, it is clear that Ms. McQueen is not done in Atlanta. So, I will be anxiously awaiting the next novel, hoping (and crossing my fingers, and praying to gods I don’t believe in) that we’ll soon know Julian’s story. I mean, with a new master demon at the helm in Atlanta, it might be time for the Protector’s leader to pick a bedroom at Fallon Trent’s house.

I would recommend the Protector novels to fans of Paranormal Romance, Christine Ashworth’s Caine’s Brother’s novels, Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, and SyFy Channel’s Lost Girl.

I was given an advance copy in return for my honest opinion.

My Red Star AwardAbout My Book Reviews

Book Review: Relics, by Maer Wilson

Relics 1600x2400Relics, by Maer Wilson

When the creatures of myth and magic return to Earth, they’re nothing like your mother’s fairy tales.

Most of Thulu and La Fi’s clients are dead. Which is perfect since their detective agency caters to the supernatural. So, a job finding relics for an ancient daemon is simple.

The daemon needs the relics to keep a dangerous portal closed. His enemy, Gabriel, wants the relics to open the portal and give his people access to a new feeding ground – Earth.

Hoping to create chaos, Gabriel opens portals to other worlds and the creatures of magic return to Earth, stunning humanity with their existence.

When Gabriel threatens their family, Thulu and La Fi’s job becomes personal. They’ll need powerful allies in the race to find the relics before Gabriel does. But maybe that’s what grateful dead, magical allies and daemonic clients are for.

RELICS opens at a dire moment for Erik and Fiona Thulukan, whom I will hereafter refer to as Thulu and La Fi. A powerful supernatural being holds her hostage, a blade to her throat, while other beings—humans, creatures, and ghosts—hold their collective breath and try not to make a move that will cause result in La Fi’s death.

There, the author cuts the scene and takes the reader back many years to when La Fi was ten years old and learned that she could see, and talk, to dead people.

Maer Wilson draws her reader in with the short prologue scene, and then describes at length the life that La Fi builds in San Francisco with her adopted family, the Thulukans. (Before you think she shacked up with her “brother,” the adoption was organic. She lived with her aunt and they were absorbed into the Thulukan’s functions as extended family.) The story, which is separated into parts, actually begins in part two, when they take on an unusual case.

The author has an illustrative voice and she has built her story layer upon layer, giving equal attention to building scenes as developing characters. I can’t explain the value of this to the story without spoiling the biggest scene of the book, but I will say that in one moment, I suddenly appreciated every word she had devoted to her details.

Falling under the “Private Investigator” trope, RELICS is an introduction to a series with the potential to grow as long as Ms. Wilson wishes to continue. It lays out backstory, establishes special gifts and powers, enemies and allies, and a cast of strange and wonderful creatures from a network of alien worlds to which Earth is connected by portals. Any sequel will have the advantage of this groundwork already in place, and the author can steam ahead with the dilemma of Thulu and La Fi’s next dead client.

The writing style may be a little mature for teenagers. This book was clearly written for by adults. Having said that, I don’t recall much objectionable content. There is one hint of close door sex, profanity is kept to a minimum, and there is moderate violence.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Medusa: A Love Story, by Sasha Summers

Medusa Birthday Bash Banner - final

MedusaALoveStory-SashaSummers_smMedusa: A Love Story, by Sasha Summers

It’s said love can change a person. Medusa wasn’t always a monster…

Medusa is ruled by duty, to her Titan father and the Goddess Athena. She’s no room for the tenderness her warrior guard, Ariston, stirs. When Olympus frees her from service, her heart leads her into the arms of the guard she loves… and curses her as the creature with serpent locks.

Ariston goes to war with a full heart… and dreadful foreboding. He learns too late of the danger Medusa faces, alone, and a Persian blade sends him into the Underworld. But death, curses, nor the wrath of the Gods will keep him from returning to her.

Poseidon will use Greece’s war to get what he wants: Medusa. He does not care that she belongs to another. He does not care that she will be damned. He is a God, an Olympian, and she will be his.

Medusa begins in a scene anyone who’s seen Clash of the Titans will be familiar with. A daring young man, armed with a sword and shield, walks into the ruined temple to slay the cursed Gorgon, Medusa. He knows his chances aren’t good; every man who’s come to this island before him has tried and died. The monster surprises him, though, offering instructions on how to take her head.

The novel then rewinds about a year, to when Medusa was a cherished priestess of the goddess Athena. Her guardian has recently been replaced by Ariston of Rhodes, a loyal soldier who’s worth much more to Athens on the battlefield than babysitting Medusa. He doesn’t really mind though, as she’s beautiful and engaging. His loyalty to Athena becomes a problem for him. His job is to protect Medusa, whose vow of purity demands that she not be touched. Within days, touching her is all he wants to do.

Sasha Summers is a master of the tiny detail. Her characters, Ariston and Medusa, are intimately aware of their own breath, their own heart beats, even the slightest tickle the other causes under their own skin. I am of the opinion that there are few devices quite as powerful as sexual tension, and while the innocent Medusa serves Athena, the desire between her and Ariston builds into a palpable force.

Much of fun of Greek mythology is the tragic course it takes, and the author plots two trails through purgatory for her pair. One leads Medusa to torture, divine curse, and the hospitality of her Gorgon sisters, while the other leads Ariston literally to hell and the mercy of Hades, the god of death.

The characters of this creative twist are exceedingly well rounded, particularly the gods. Poseidon is a selfish, game-playing boar. Yet, while not quite guilt for his actions, he is the god on Olympus who seems most concern that her punishments continue. Athena, traditionally a wise and just goddess, is anything but when she’s offended (and it doesn’t take much.) Hades, typically feared for being heartless, displays great mercy. The author displays the Greek gods as we’ve come to know them: noble and concerned for Greece most of the time, yet at other times, they are conceited, petty, and cruel. And still, Summers manages to make the key players surprising.

I would recommend this book to any lover of Greek myth and romance.

★★★★★
About My Book Reviews


GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Sasha is giving away COOL stuff for Medusa’s birthday!
Birthday Bash Giveaway Collage Update

  • Autographed copy of “Medusa, A Love Story (Loves of Olympus Series, Bk #1)”
  • Autographed copy of “For the Love of Hades (Loves of Olympus Series, Bk #2)”
  • Thea (owl) Necklace
  • “Medusa” car charm
  • Series Swag

Enter this Rafflecopter to win!

Tip: Leaving comments on blog posts increases your chances of winning, so visit all of the stops on the tour and comment often! The schedule is here: 

http://www.enchantressofbooksblogtours.com/p/sasha-summerss-medusas-birthday-bash.html


New Releases: Medusa, A Love Story, by Sasha SummersSasha is part gypsy. Her passions have always been storytelling, history, and travel. It’s no surprise that her books visit times past, set in places rich with legends and myth. Her first play, ‘Greek Gods and Goddesses’ (original title, right?), was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She’s been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she’s doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.

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

Interview with Christine Ashworth

To conclude Unofficial Christine Ashworth week, I got the author herself to sit down and answer my question about her Caine Brothers series. If you read any of my reviews this week, you know that I’m a just tad bit fond of her tribred boys. Now, for the interview!

The Caine Brothers live/work/play in Santa Monica, California. I just happened to visit the town this summer, and by visit I mean we turned off of the 105 onto Pacific Coast Highway and motored along on our 6000 mile road trip, BUT I remember thinking that Santa Monica was beautiful. It’s no wonder to me why the Caine family made their home there, or that the Caine boys eventually came back home.

aerial-third-street-promenadeI know this isn’t a question, but I worked in the Santa Monica area for almost ten years and I still love it there. I took drawing classes through UCLA Extension upstairs at the Third Street Promenade, and people watching there is so much fun. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a stop in to the 3rd Street Promenade!

In your Caine Brother’s series, you’ve combined demon, fae, and human into a new species: tribred. Of all the paranormal creatures to play with, what attracted you to demon and fae?

It was 2008. I’d read all the werewolf fiction and all the vampire fiction, and didn’t think I could compete with those, so I started playing around with other beasties. Demons drew me, but I had to make them softer – which is where the Fae comes in. Not that all Fae are soft – by no means! Once I thought of a tribred, I was satisfied that I had something that was my very own, that I could write in any way I wanted.

I also find it interesting, with the demon and fae in play, that your big bad is a human, albeit an ambitious one. Where did Kendall Sorbis come from? What was your inspiration for the witch I’d love to pour a bucket of water on?

Kendall showed up when I wrote a short story titled Demon Hunt – it was the first story I wrote in the Caine series, and at 15k, I was pretty happy with it. Then CMP bought up Demon Soul, and asked if I had anything else. I showed them Demon Hunt, and they asked me to make it a full length novel – and it would come second in the series. So as you imagine, I had some rewriting to do! But the plotline for Soul was pretty set, so I slipped Kendall in kind of sideways, as someone helping the vampire Satine for his own purposes. In Hunt, he took on a bigger role.

I’ve found a delightful similarity between Justin and Magdalena’s relationship and the one crafted by Shakespeare for Benedict and Beatrice. Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Was Much Ado About Nothing what you had in mind when you created Justin and Magdalena?

I am a huge fan of Shakespeare. My husband was the artistic director for the first ten years of Nevada’s Shakespeare in the Park, an Equity company that performs in Green Valley, just outside of Las Vegas. But – while I adore Shakespeare, I didn’t really have a thought about Beatrice and Benedict when writing Justin and Maggie’s relationship. That book was supposed to come after Demon Soul, but with everything changing, I had to drag out their romantic arc. At least I managed to get them into bed in Demon Hunt, even though it was “off screen”, so to speak!

Your fourth book in the Caine Brothers series is Demon Rage. I’m assuming it’s Justin’s story, although, one more book of unresolved bickering between Justin and Magdalena would hardly go unappreciated. Will we finally see Magdalena admit that she loves the guy?

Yes, it’s Justin’s and Magdalena’s story. If you read the teaser at the end of Demon Hunt, you know that the dynamic has changed between them. And that’s all I’m going to say at this point! (Oh, and I love happy endings!)

There’s a fourth Caine, cousin Kellan. Will there be a fourth Demon title? (Please, oh please, oh please say yes?)

I will write as many Caine novels and short stories as CMP will accept! Not only does Kellan have his story waiting, but so does Megan the doctor, and Mephisto is waiting impatiently for me to tell his story.

Yes! I love Mephisto! What’s next for you? After the Caine Brothers?

I’m working on two different YA novels; a contemporary romance set at the rodeo; and I’m writing two plays, as well. So yeah, I’m busy! Plus I have a day job, and a husband who likes seeing my face, rather than my back hunched over the keyboard, lol.

bottle-crimson-clover-bigMy husband does, too. What’s up with that? *wink* I have stack of 2-inch steaks in my freezer begging to for a proper mate. What wine would you suggest to go with pepper-crusted sirloin?

Ooh, that’s a good one. If it were just a plain steak, I’d say a nice, peppery Zinfandel. But since you’re doing pepper-crusted (YUM!), I’d go with a Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my go-to wineries is Kendall Jackson. Either their regular Cabernet or their Private Reserve Cab would go well with this steak. IF you want something slightly different, I do recommend Concannon’s Crimson & Clover. It’s a red wine blend that’s running under $10 at the grocery store, and it hit my “Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!” status, so that’s saying something!

Thank you for coming on my blog today and indulging my questions about the Caine boys.

Thank you so much for having me here, Wendy. I’ve had a blast!


ChristineAshworth1Christine Ashworth is a native of Southern California. The daughter of a writer and a psych major, she fell asleep to the sound of her father’s Royal manual typewriter for years. In a very real way, being a writer is in her blood-her father sold his first novel before he turned forty; her brother sold his first book before he turned twenty-five.

At the tender age of seventeen, Christine fell in love with a man she met while dancing in a ballet company. She married the brilliant actor/dancer/painter/music man, and they now have two tall sons who are as brilliant as their parents, which keeps the dinner conversation lively.

Christine’s two dogs rule the outside, defending her vegetable garden from the squirrels, while a polydactyl rescue cat named Zaphod holds court inside the house. Everything else is in a state of flux, leaving her home life a cross between an improv class and a think-tank for the defense of humans against zombies and demons.

Demon Soul | Blood Dreams | Demon Hunt
Christine’s Blog | Twitter

Book Review: Blood Dreams, by Christine Ashworth

blood-dreams-cover2Blood Dreams (Caine Brothers Series #1.5)
By Christine Ashworth

It’s December, and Los Angeles is in the grip of a serial killer – or so Gregor Caine would like to believe. But the moon grows fat as it builds toward the Winter Solstice and an eclipse. An old woman searching for a friend gone missing believes danger is coming, and the Blood Dreams that keep interrupting Gregor’s sleep portend a swarm of demonic activity.

After summer’s setback, Kendall Sorbis is finally getting started on his Revenge Life List. First up, open a portal to the Chaos Plane. Second, invite the Caines to come and play…

Hours after the Caine boys finish off what remains of Twisted, a vampire night club, a power-hungry witch stands by the smoldering ruin. The vampire slaughter has left behind a residue of power, and Kendall Sorbis has plans for it.

Six months later, days before the winter solstice, Gregor Caine is plagued by horrible dreams of dead bodies, blood running down walls, and women screaming while waiting to die. His brother Justin is having them, too. Sensing something bad coming, and seeking to protect their brother and his wife, the older Caine brothers send the newlyweds out of town on a late honeymoon. Meanwhile, the dreams get worse, the homeless body count rises, leaving Gregor feeling helpless, frustrated, and angry.

Blood Dreams is a prologue of sorts to Demon Hunt, laying pieces for the action and the character development that will come, including one crucial piece about Gregor and Justin’s baby brother, Gabriel, that occupies only three lines but speaks volumes about the man Gregor Caine, was, and will be.

Blood Dreams is absent of the creature violence and steamy sex scenes of its related novels, but Justin and Magdalena are in prime snarky form to liven things up. And, as I expected, the story was well-written, entertaining, and worthy of an hour before bedtime.

My Red Star Award

Book Review: Demon Hunt, by Christine Ashworth

DemonHunt-ChristineAshworth_smDemon Hunt (Caine Brothers Series #2)
By Christine Ashworth

Tribred Gregor Caine decided long ago to deny his blood legacy, so he isn’t thrilled when paired with a full-blooded Fae to hunt the demons threatening to decimate Los Angeles. As they fight side by side, he finds she calls to both his Fae and his demon blood; a call he can’t resist.

Warrior Fae Serra Willows crossed into the Human Plane to help destroy the demons released from the Chaos Plane. Finding and shutting down the portal between worlds is more challenging than she expected…and Gregor and his world more seductive than she had ever imagined.

As the killings escalate, Gregor and Serra realize one of the most deadly demons from the Chaos Plane has marked Serra as his own. To save her, Gregor has to face his greatest fear—losing his humanity to the darkness in his blood. But in a race against time, that darkness could become his greatest strength. And he will kill to claim Serra’s love.

Serra Willows journeys through a portal from her world to find an ally, Gideon Caine, and lands on the beach near Santa Monica and immediately slips into the role of a jogger on the beach. As she’s followed nearly to the car waiting for her by a human male, a demon walks on scene. Herein lies a struggle that will pervade the story’s hunt. Serra, a Fae warrior, is duty-bound to protect the weaker creature. And Gregor Caine’s man card stipulates that he shield women from harm. Anyone up for a game of paper-rock-scissors, because these two are about that stubborn? The demon settles the dispute by dragging Gregor from the bushes, and Serra must call down the wrath of nature to burn the demon to a crisp to save him.

Demon Hunt follows the formula set in its predecessor, Demon Soul. The Caine brother in focus is a damaged guy hiding years of emotional baggage behind a steel exterior. Witness to his mother’s rape by a demon, he’s lived his entire life denying his super-human blood because what good is it to him or anyone else. Learning that Serra is Fae annoys him. Having to work with her irritates him. Taking orders from her is enough to make the big man twitchy, much to the amusement of his younger brother Justin.

There’s much to praise about Ms. Ashworth’s work. Her writing is fluid. Her plots and subplots are complex and delicately interlaced. Her creature battles are fast, vicious, and thrilling. But she excels as sexual tension, keeping the reader on the verge of yelling at the pages “get it on already.” This is certainly true of the main couple, Gregor and Serra, as she offering casual sex and he’s gallantly holding back. But, Justin and his witch girlfriend, Magdalena, are on scene and sizzling with their Benedict and Beatrice style. (For those of you who don’t get the reference, please read Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.)

Don’t tell Maggie that I called her Justin’s girlfriend, because she might turn me into something slimy, but they are the air each other breathes. (Take note, Ms. Ashworth, I expect Demon Rage to be explosive. * grin *)

The Caine Brothers series has taken me completely by surprise. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Demon Soul, but this was not it. Part Angel and part Shakespeare, with a dash of erotic spice blown like a kiss off the author’s hand, The Caine brothers is a example of what the paranormal genre should aspire to.

My Red Star Award

Book Review: Demon Soul, by Christine Ashworth

demonsoul-200x3002-1Demon Soul (Caine Brothers Series #1)
By Christine Ashworth

Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn’t get it back soon, his next step will be into Hell. Only the naïvely mysterious Rose can help him retrieve it. Without her, he really will become the devil himself.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task-save Gabriel Caine. She’s drawn to Gabriel on the most basic level, but restoring his soul may cost Rose her life.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself—demon, human, and Feri bloodlines, and the strengths of each—into harmony and into the fight that decides their fate.

Before dawn, Rose Walters wanders into a Santa Monica strip mall, broke but for the clothes on her back and shoes that her feet are bleeding in after an eight mile walk. She repeats “Gabriel Caine” silently, right up until the moment she’s approached by the man himself. She’s dismayed to find a man whose twice her size and can read her thoughts as if she’s speaking out loud. How she is supposed to rescue him? That is what she was sent back to Earth to do. Still, Gabriel accepts there’s something special about her, right after he gets over her accidentally wicking away what remains of soul.

Not only did Christine Ashworth give me what I expected–beautiful yet flawed characters, emotional baggage, sexual tension, creature battles, and catharsis–but she included something very unexpected with Gabriel’s laid-back brother, Justin, and his witchy associate, Magdalena. They are, as far as I’m concerned, Benedict and Beatrice from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” They speak in snark and are obviously falling in love as fast as they can snap back at the other’s insults. Meanwhile, everyone around them sees the romance that Justin and Magdalena would swear to their graves doesn’t exist. And Ms. Ashworth uses torturous restraint, using them just enough to brighten and complement Gabriel and Rose’s story without becoming a distraction.

Demon Soul is a remarkably complex story for its length. Rose’s back story is woven into Gabriel’s current problem, which is the key to an ambitious vampire taking over her master’s Los Angeles crime empire, that the Caine boys aim to put a dent into. There’s also a delightful little demon named Mephisto that reminds me of Marie Sexton’s Cole Fenton that I hope makes an appearance in a future Caine Brother’s novel.

It’s also a fun read, despite some dark subject matter. I would recommend Demon Soul and the Caine Brothers series to fans of Hildie McQueen, the TV show Angel, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

My Red Star Award