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

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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

New Release: A Broken Magic (Born of Fire #2), by Justin R. Macumber

10699746_10152753809349437_542245791506566353_oOn a quest for domination, evil sorcerers from another land tore apart the barriers between our worlds, and the release of magical energy burned the Earth. Ten years later, a young woman named Skylar took control of the magic and used it to stop the sorcerers and seal the rift. Earth was saved.

Or so it seemed.

Now a new threat rises. Though the rift was closed, sorcerers from that distant land still lin in our world, and the greatest of them, Embreal, has vowed to open a new rift. Helping him is Cassandra, – a dark reflection of Skylar – who is devoted to him heart and soul. Will Skylar’s magic be enough to stop them? And, when she finally comes face to face with Cassandra, will she user her power against someone she so easily could have become?

A Broken Magic will be available on Amazon December 1, 2014.


“Justin Macumber’s Born of Fire series follows a very unique storyline and I love that it doesn’t feel just like every other book I’ve read. He has an amazing way of developing a universe that you can see. I am excited for what more is to come from Mr. Macumber.”
Amy Dale, author of OFF WITH HER HEART

“Justin Macumber knows how to master both action and character. His writing takes you to places you’ll want to go!” — Philippa Ballantine, author of WRAYTH, and HUNTER AND FOX

Book Review: Moth, by Sean Poindexter

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Moth, by Sean Poindexter
Ellysian Press
August 5. 2014
Dark Paranormal Fantasy

Social Worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child protective services worker, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery.

Children are vanishing and no one, not even their parents, remembers them. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but the truth is far more sinister than even Max is prepared to handle. For help he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough…forcing him to turn to the least likely ally of all: an enemy who’s cruelty and evil was almost his end…and haunts him still.

He’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this one alive.


Think about a moth for a moment. He and his more popular cousin, the butterfly, both begin their lives as caterpillars, munching their way across the landscape until they’ve grown fat and happy enough to curl into a ball and go to sleep. And when they wake up, they are different animals. They are no longer forced crawl along on their bellies, as they now have great wings upon which they can seek out their hearts content in the air.

The princely butterfly pursues pretty colors and sweet tastes. The moth, geekier by design, prefers hanging out in the dark, which makes the bright lights it believes to be the moon easier to find.

Sufism has many poems about moths, one of which became a popular metaphor in western culture. A succession of moths dance around a flame, each getting closer and closer before returning to the others to tell what they learned. Each one is told by the eldest of them that they have no more, or no greater knowledge than the moth before him. That is, until the last thrusts himself bodily into the flame, allowing it to consume him. He, the eldest tells the others, is the only one among them who understood the gift of the flame.

In Poindexter’s novel, Moth, Max Hollingsworth’s reluctantly supportive girlfriend recognizes her lover for what he is: a moth to the flame, one obsessed with his job and compelled to pursue his cases even to his own destruction. The title is more than a nod to Sadie, however. From the first page to the last, and focused on the meth/child sex trade that flourishes along the US Interstate highway system, this novel is driven by needs, wants and sicknesses which become cocoons where character defining transformations take place. Just like in nature, the moths outnumber the butterflies 100 to one.

Sadie’s relationship with Max provides pockets of sweetness in an otherwise bitter plot. Outwardly, she is Goth, complete with piercings, tattoos, heavy make-up and attitude to match, which altogether makes her a odd surrogate for normal society, but that’s precisely what she is. Sadie’s primary role is to provide the one ounce of self-preservation that Max has, but she also anchors the reader in a place just outside of the action. What Max is experiencing is beyond normal. What he is doing is beyond his call of duty. What he has borne witness to is beyond belief for a rational human being. The most brilliant part of Sadie is that the author never uses her POV. She reacts to Max, and other characters, in a way that is powerful enough to keep her, him, and the reader from acclimating to the bizarre world in which Max spends most of his time.

Vampires are the primary creatures in this dark paranormal fantasy, but as far as vile antagonists go, they might just be physically harder to kill than their human counterparts. As an agent of Child Protective Services in Joplin, Missouri, Max meets people on a daily basis who are perhaps more heinous than bloodsuckers. At the very least when a vampire enslaves a child for food and sex, he can wipe his abuses clean. Not out of mercy, of course, but to simply cover his tracks and to remain below human radar. Human pedophiles brainwash their victims for the same ends, but in ways far crueler. I won’t spoil the details of how the author illustrated this, but I will say that he doesn’t pull punches.

Moth pushed every boundary of my reading comfort level and I would not recommend this book to just anyone. It’s inappropriate for young adults and I would give seriously caution to readers who are sensitive to child abuse. This novel is chock full for profanity, vulgarity, blood, violence, and scattered sex scenes (but only between willing individuals.) If any of that bothers you, none of this author’s books are for you, but especially not this one. While I typically avoid books described as this one is, I became enamored with Sean Poindexter’s voice while reading his the Dragon’s Blood Chronicles, and that gave me the confidence to trust him to take me into this story. I’m very glad that I did, firstly for the delightful cameo by quick humored dragon Garrett Terago, but also for the brutal honesty and raw emotion that bleeds on every page as Max survives his challenges only because he is too busy to stop for death.

★★★★★
About My Book Reviews

I believe in this book so much, I’ve posted this review four times.

Originally published on August 23, 2013, for Crescent Moon Press publication.
Republished September 28, 2013, for Ambrosia Arts publication.
Republished March 19, 2014, for Self-Publication by Author.
Republished July 31, 2014, for Ellysian Press publication.

ARC Review: Savor (Vicious Feast Book 1), by Kate Evangelista

savor_1600Savor (Vicious Feast #1), by Kate Evangelista
Crescent Moon Press
December 2013
Paranormal Fantasy
Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you’ve got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.
I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.

I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above.


In Kate Evangelista’s YA paranormal romance, “Taste,” sixteen-year-old Phoenix McCay falls asleep in her school library, misses curfew, and finds herself in the beautiful, and frightening world of Barinkoff Academy’s “night students.” There she becomes the unwitting subject of a science experiment, the obsession of dueling princes, and the catalyst for a long-simmering revolution.

SAVOR brings along the principle characters of the parent novel, personalities and social status included. Phoenix is beautiful and caring, but somewhat trapped in herself. Luka still calls the shots, while Demitri maintains the upper hand in a very delicate dance of mutual love and hate with his cousin. Demetri’s younger brother Dray is geeky and adorable. Luka’s sister, Yana is stylish, savvy, but with her wings clipped by her brother’s tight control. But SAVOR gives these characters a few twists. For starters, former Night Students are no longer bound to their underworld kingdom, burdened by the facts of their very existence. In fact, Evangelista left the world of “Taste” mostly in the Young Adult aisle when she turned her focus to a new heroine.

Dakota Collins is a college senior, whose strength, determination, and independence is plain as day to anyone with eyes. Her depth perception is crippled by an injury that compels her to wear an eye patch, yet she pursues a career as a photographer. She’s talented, driven, and professional. She is amazed that Luka Visraya, the hottest bass player on the planet, would entertain the idea of being the subject of her spring project, but he invites her to spend a month at his house, with unfettered access to the entire band, on condition of a non-disclosure agreement. The only rule seems to not ask questions people don’t want to answer.

Here, Ms. Evangelista gives us “Almost Famous,” set in the Beast’s mansion, with Morpheus at the front gates offering Belle red and blue pills. The world of Vicious, Luka’s band, surpasses her expectations before she even gets to their house. It’s opulent, frenzied, isolating, and at times, mad.

Incapable of taking a bad picture, Luka is a battered doll beneath the skin. He is twenty-something going on fifty under the weight of his father’s expectations, from which his band has been his one relief. There is a trend among celebrities who stop getting told “No.” Michael Jackson and Britney Spears are prime examples, and Luka has all the ingredients in his life to self-destruct. He’s got more money than God and has the privilege to what he wants. He’s overworked, under pressure, depressed, has an alcohol problem, and people cower under his rage.

Dakota shares a lot with Luka in that she is also a battered doll. Horribly scarred, she maintains her self-esteem by pushing everything she has into photography and saying “screw it” to the rest of the world. Unlike Luka, to whom the word “no” would be defiance of his authority, to Dakota “No” is just simply a word. It looms over her with 50-50 odds of being the answer to any question she asks. Thus, she has an advantage over the other occupants of Luka’s household in that she doesn’t have to put up with his crap. He never says as much, but it is clear in their scenes together that Luka loves having someone unafraid to put him in his place. It’s a good thing, too, because the boy needs sensitivity and sexual harassment training.

SAVOR is a fun, sexy introduction to what I anticipate to be a mind-blowing series. It is intended for adults, contains mature (sometimes erotic) subject matter. I would recommend it to fans of NA Paranormal Romance.

***I was given an ARC by the author in return for my honest opinion.***

★★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Excerpt of The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton #bbf

SHERIFF LOCUMB AND I sat in a small room with a table and two chairs and a cheap light embedded into the suspended ceiling overhead. I wiped my palms on my pants, but the sweat kept coming.

He pulled up a picture on his cell phone. “Look familiar?”

Maybe he should’ve gotten an eight-by-twelve print. What was the picture of? Wood? A reddish-orange figure eight and a cross? I frowned and shook my head. “Should this look familiar?”

“Someone spray-painted this on the abandoned grain elevator,” he said coolly. “Why don’t you tell me what you know?”

“What I know about spray-paint?”

“Look.” He leveled his gaze at me. “Mrs. Franklin said one of the women in her congregation—well, her daughter got sick. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Mrs. Franklin thinks I have something to do with everything.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what? I didn’t get anyone sick.”

He puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. “I’m not saying you got anyone sick, Sophia. They think you hexed their child by spray-painting this satanic symbol.”

“You think I hexed someone? You’re kidding.”

Belle Meadow might be a small town, but surely it wasn’t so dull that they needed to call me down to the station for this.

“You’re here because Mrs. Franklin suggested you might be the one who vandalized the abandoned grain elevator, not because you ‘cursed’ someone.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, did you?”

“I’m Wiccan.”

He stared blankly. “What’s that have to do with the case?”

“Wiccans don’t believe in Satan.”

“Listen, lady. I don’t care what you believe in. Why don’t you just tell me where you were when the offense took place?”

“Which was when?”

“May tenth.”

“At Colorado State, taking my senior year finals.” Something a few minutes of research would have told him without dragging me down here. Besides, how did Mrs. Franklin know the date? Did she take daily drives around town with her calendar and journal, looking for signs of demonic worship?

Sheriff Locumb leaned back in his chair, slapping his hands against his knees before standing. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind waiting here while I check with the school?”

I gestured toward the door. “Go ahead.”

I would like to say I enjoyed the silence while he was gone, but the constant hushing in my brain made that impossible.

Sheriff Locumb returned with a cup of coffee and an apology. I didn’t drink the coffee, but I did ask him about the sick kid, and he told me it’d just been a case of chicken pox. Not a demonic plague or anything like that.

After squaring everything away, I returned outside to my Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. I couldn’t deal with Mrs. Franklin’s crazy accusations and the damn hissing. Something had to give.

Taking three deep breaths, I pushed the hissing as far into the back of my skull as possible. I wasn’t about to go back to work. Someone was bound to interrupt my relaxation efforts with a request for a drink refill or a complaint that their jalapeno loaf was too spicy or their ginger-lime chicken wasn’t chickeny enough.

As I drove home, I concentrated on the road—on one mailbox after another, on the way tree branches laced overhead, even on the glare of traffic lights, counting the seconds until they turned green. Anything to distract me from the noise.

My Jeep shushed along the pavement, but the roll of the road didn’t do me any good. The quieter the world around me, the louder the buzzing in my brain. Coping was no longer a viable option.

At the last major cross street before my neighborhood, the noise in my head roared. I slammed my palm against the steering wheel, gritting my teeth.

Enough was enough. I flicked my turn signal in the other direction and veered onto the highway before my courage fled. It was time to turn away from caution and toward Sparrow’s Grotto. Toward something that might silence the hissing forever.

For more information, view Rebecca Hamilton’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Book Review: Soul Awakened, by Jean Murray

266196_508596702507155_238880954_oSoul Awakened (Key to the Cursed #2)
By Jean Murray
Crescent Moon Press, January 2013

Love for Blood or Honor

Kendra, and Egyptologist and demi-god in waiting, is the key to unlocking Bakari, the Egyptian God of Death, from his cursed slumber. Desperate to free him, she inadvertently binds herself to the god with a spell that only death will undo. To save Bakari from himself, she may have to sacrifice her innocence, and possibly her soul, before he becomes his family’s worst enemy.

Haunted by Sins of the Past

Bakari awakens to a world at war and a beautiful woman who has tethered his soul to hers. In the wake of his self-destruction, Kendra is his only hope of salvation, but another has vowed to keep Bakari from the one thing he craves most—his Parvana. His butterfly.

Soul Awakened opens with a black scorpion in the desert. It is night, so the little assassin blends into his surroundings as he waits patiently for an opportunity to strike.

The scorpion is the mark of Bakari, the God of Death, missing five long years from his post at the gates of the Underworld. Tortured by a sadist and left for long stretches confined in the dark, Bakari is little more than a wounded animal when Kendra Carrigan releases him from his sarcophagus. He cannot tell what is real from what is nightmare, and he still retains the power to suck the life out of anyone in his vicinity. It’s a lethal combination that costs three of Aaru’s guardians their lives and leads Bakari’s family to keep him confined in a cell until they can figure out what to do with him.

Kendra, a gentle-hearted Egyptologist, finds the treatment of Bakari appalling. She believes that he’s been confined in the dark, so keeping him locked in the basement seems cruel. If that had been the extent of his torture, he’d probably have been all right. Over the years, however, he was periodically released to eat, a ritual that entailed the goddess Kepi raping him before feeding him her own rotten blood.

Jean Murray tells Bakari’s captivity story in flashes, followed by episodes of disgust and guilt often experienced by sexual assault victims. Bakari hates the woman who tortured him, but he also feels it’s justice of sorts for the deeds of his previously decadent life. He desire for death is kept at bay only by a sense of obligation to Kendra, whose live became blood-bound to his during the spell she performed to free him. His father, Asar, forgives but doesn’t miss an opportunity for tough love and tosses Bakari into the warrior village under the command of his brother, Bomari, who would get along fabulously with the likes of XO Tigh from Battlestar Galactica and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. The guy has been jealous of his pampered brother for millennia. Bomari’s attempts to humiliate Bakari by assigning menial tasks, like polishing ALL of the garrison’s weapons, backfires when Bakari actually enjoys the tasks. It gives him time to think about how much his life sucks.

Having freed Bakari, Kendra has to find something else to occupy her time, so she turns to crime solving. There is a traitor in Aaru, a third party to Bakari’s kidnapping and the assassination attempt on Asar’s life (from Book 1), and she’s determined to figure out who it is. (Remember the scorpion metaphor from the prologue.) Doing so means asking Bakari exactly how the armed and dangerous God of Death was subdued and taken from his post at the gates of the Underworld. Talking to Bakari means going to the warrior village and defying Bomari’s orders to stay away from his unstable, self-centered brother for her own good. Of course, Kendra’s disobeyed Bomari’s instructions before, which is how Bakari got out of his sarcophagus in the first place.

Murray delicately executes Bakari’s catharsis and weaves it into the role reversal that slowly takes place between him and his brother. Into this, she also stitches—in both detail and timing—an awkward romance between Kendra, a sexually frustrated virgin, and the feuding brothers, both of whom want her but know they don’t deserve her.

I enjoyed Soul Awakened. It is a confident step forward Soul Reborn, the opening story of Key to the Cursed, which I felt was weighed down a bit by the necessary reven story arc. Soul Awakened is a much narrower story, which allowed Murry more pages for her characters to develop and interact. I am very much looking forward to the continuation of Bomari’s story in Soul Unbound, (Key to the Cursed #3).

Stars: ★★★★★

I was given an advance copy of the book by the author.

Book Review: The Will of the Darkest One, by Sean Poindexter

WillofTheDarkestOne_SeanPoindexterThe Will of the Darkest One (The Dragon Blood Chronicles Book 2), by Sean Poindexter

Crescent Moon Press, (December 5, 2012)

New alliances are formed between unlikely allies as the dragons try control the damage unleashed into the human world. The bond between Garrett and Meg is crystallized, but as their worlds collide there are repercussions. Aoni’a and Meg try to help Yvonne with her impossible secret with the unlikely assistance of a curious human sorcerer. As Garrett and Ardeth undergo a dangerous journey to save Yvonne’s new child, Meg continues to explore her own secret.

Darker motives surface as the vampires seek revenge. Max becomes a target in a retributive strike by a pack of vampires hoping for advancement, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew. The dragoness Gruda seeks vengeance for the death of Xyus, while Veles Fraise collects allies for his coming war against humanity. Shades of his ultimate plan are revealed; the ancient dragon Fraise may serve a higher, darker will than even his own.

The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles pick up where The Shadow of Tiamat leaves off. Megan Crunk’s best friend Yvonne is nearing her second trimester of a bittersweet pregnancy. Knowing that the child growing inside the human female isn’t human, Meg’s dragon boyfriend Garret Terago, and his friend Aoni’a, act immediately to mitigate the dangers of the woman’s condition. First thing, Yvonne only knows her baby’s father as the sadist that raped her, so Aoni’a takes her to a clearing on Garrett’s property and shifts into her dragon form, opening the human’s eyes to world in which she’s become entangled. Yvonne responds by promptly passing out. Luckily, Aoni’a has fast reflexes and catches the delicate woman before she hits the ground.

Dragons come about two ways. Typically, a female mates with the intention of spawning. The hatchlings grow to be reasonable creature. They have all the knowledge of their mother. They build out of the way lairs in which to hide their beautiful treasures. And they establish human identities and go out of their way not to attract attention. Aoni’a is unusual in that she enjoys the company of Hollywood’s elite, but all of Megan Crunk’s dragon acquaintances are otherwise typical.

Nigel Xyus, the dragon who impregnated Yvonne, was spawned the other way. A human sorceress magically impregnated herself for the purpose of creating a dragon that would serve her, and her son inherited her evil nature. Half-dragons are only half in that they have human mothers. Had Yvonne not become pregnant, Xyus’s human mother would have gone unnoticed.

Yvonne’s delicate condition drives several plot arcs of The Will of the Darkest One.

Firstly, dragon mothers carry their eggs for 12 months before laying them, after which the spawn will continue to mature for another three months. Yvonne cannot carry the egg longer than nine months. It will tear her apart from the inside, and being premature, the dragon will also die. So, the egg must stay inside Yvonne as long as she can carry it, and then it must come out. That requires the services of an arcanist to magically transfer the egg from Yvonne to Aoni’a. Enter Fred, a squat, smelly slob of man who would attract no attention at a comicon whatsoever but somehow manages to steal a few scenes from his dragon co-stars.

Unrelated to Yvonne’s pregnancy, Aoni’a knows something about Meg, that she won’t tell her and Garrett. She guides Meg, but insists that the human must find many of the answers leading to the secret on her own. This sub-arc contributes to some vampire action in this book, but is meant to set up action in the next book.

After reading The Shadow of Tiamat, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I was left with such in incredible feeling of euphoria, I found myself unwilling to read another book for a week. Meg and Garret are endearing characters and their romance is sexy and beautiful. Like I said, this book picks up right where Tiamat left off. Meg and Garrett had been separated for a few months and just reconciled, so it should come as no surprise that make-up sex happens in the opening chapters. And, Sean Poindexter’s writing, so it’s hot steamy, Meg clawing at the shower walls and screaming at the top of her lungs, sex. Given his handling of sex in Tiamat, I expected there to be this scene, and then references to sex here and there.

No.

Garrett, as it happens, was the exception among dragons in regards to interest in sex. Most of the dragons in this book are quite active in their human forms. Aoni’a, in Meg’s words, is a ‘magnificent whore,’ having alluded to trysts with everyone from Marc Antony (and Cleopatra) to Rick Moranis. The one person she’s desired sex with but was never able to seduce was Garrett. In The Will of the Darkest One, we see dragons sharing intimate-but-non-sexual company. We hear of threesomes with human swingers. We see sadistic torture-fucking. And back in Garrett and Meg’s bedroom, the initial five-orgasm make-up session is just these two getting warmed up. The hottest of their scenes comes in around the two-thirds mark, when Garrett comes home after a long, dangerous trip in the effort to save Yvonne. He throws Meg down on the floor of their balcony, in the rain. Sex between them is something he enjoys, though not simply because it’s pleasurable. It makes him happy because it makes Meg happy, but he’s always in control, releasing himself usually upon her command. The beauty of the balcony event is in Garret losing control while making up for lost time. For the first time ever, Meg fears that he’ll hurt her. He doesn’t, but he does give her everything, which is all she’s ever wanted from him. Seriously, it’s the most incredible sex scene I’ve ever read.

It wouldn’t be a Sean Poindexter book without violence and there’s lots to be had. Due to limitations of sorcery, Garrett’s major fight of this book is in his human form, so we get to see him battling demons with a six-shooter owned by Jesse James, and the sword that belonged to a Frankish knight he ate a few centuries back. The vampire slaughter in this book then is left to “Meg” and her former boss, Max, who has a few of the funniest lines in a book laced with humor.

My one complaint about the book is that the ebook is littered with text and formatting errors. The paragraph tabbing is one, maybe two characters. Several scene breaks are missing, jumping the action from Missouri to a fortress in Europe without warning. There are Frankenstein sentences that somehow survived editing. I am notoriously bad about them in my own writing, so I found no difficulty reading through them, though a reader may be jarred from the narration by them. This story is so good, I couldn’t care less about the typos. Once again, I am left enchanted by Sean Poindexter’s imagination.

If you like paranormal romance, hot guys, snarky girls, and the idea of dragons squeezing vampires like tubes of toothpaste, The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles are for you. I’m actually a little pissed off that The Elohim Legacy (The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles, Book 3) isn’t on my Kindle right now, but at least you don’t have to wait for the first two.

Cover Reveal: The Devil’s Triangle, by Toni De Palma

The Devil's Triangle, by Toni De Palma

When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil’s sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he’s thrown into the life he’s always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend that can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn’t watch out.

While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what’s keeping he and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

Find Toni and The Devil’s Triangle here: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Book Review: Desperate Surrender, by Hildie McQueen

Desperate Surrender, by Hildie McQueen
Crescent Moon Press, 2012

When Wendy O’Sullivan is charged with guarding the Key of Peace, she reunites with the Protector she’s dreamed of since the day he rescued her from a demon attack.

Betrayed by his wife, Kieran Fraser, hasn’t kissed, much less loved a woman in over three hundred years, his heart firmly encased behind thick walls. The fierce immortal is charged with protecting Wendy, but can he shield himself from the diminutive spitfire, who manages to get past all his guards?

Faced with arranged marriages to others and battling demons, that will stop at nothing to trap Wendy. Will they be forced to surrender their love, for the greater good?

In Desperate Betrayal, the first of The Protector Novels, betrayal danced with fierce attraction as two strangers find their life-mates under undesirable circumstances. Much like the man it follows, McQueen’s sequel, Desperate Surrender, bears much resemblance to its brother, but under the skin, it’s truly a different beast.

The Protectors’ rules regarding marriage and family have been tested in recent years. One man created an unsanctioned bond with a woman, resulting in a miracle pregnancy. Another improbably found his life-mate when she literally tracked him down. Together, the incidents turned their boss, Julian, cold on Atlanta, as if there was something in the water that was responsible.

Kieran couldn’t have imagined he’d be a party to the mating mess. He takes every opportunity Julian provides to vent his tension. The women are compensated very well for nights they don’t remember, so it’s win-win in his book. His 6-foot-five frame and three-hundred-plus pounds of muscle serve as armor for the most fragile heart in the history of mankind. A woman would have to be lucky at a moment he’s careless to get anywhere near the atrophied organ. Marry one? He’d laugh at the idea if he knew how to laugh, which he doesn’t.

The bitter Scot is damned good at his job, and after he leaves behind a metric ton of demon dust on the streets of Atlanta, Julian decides that the escorts aren’t working. The boss believes that the only thing that will stabilize Kieran is a woman in his bed on a permanent basis, so he insists on Kieran settling down. The ironies are not lost on the Protector when he’s forced into an arranged marriage, by a boss who frowns upon such distractions, as a consequence for doing his job too well.

Even annoyed as the situation makes him, Kieran’s too empty to bother resisting much and agrees.

Wendy O’Sullivan, the best friend of Kieran’s brand new sister-in-law Emma, knows well more about the demons and Protectors than she should. (She told Emma how to find Cynden, setting in motion the events of the first book.) After saving her from a demon two years before, Kieran erased her memory of the event and of him. At least, he thought he did, but it didn’t take. She has thought of him every day since then, but she never thought she’d see him again. Then, one week before the start of Surrender, they crossed paths in Emma’s hospital room. Kieran vaguely recognizes her, but she is careful not to let on that she knows him. She knows he’d try to erase her memory again, and this time he might succeed. She fears losing more than just her memory of demons and of him, but of everything that’s happened since meeting him as well.

After she’s attacked once again, this time by a demon looking for a mysterious key, Wendy finds herself in Kieran’s care at the home of Lord Fallon Trent in one of Atlanta’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Just like that, Kieran’s women problems go from zero to two in short order. Suddenly, there’s a woman he wants, but she’s under his protection and professionally he can’t get involved with her. Even if that didn’t matter to him, he gave his word to marry the woman Julian chose, and the boss man’s not the sort to overlook insubordination or change his mind.

Kieran is a man of principles, so he surrenders what he wants to be fair to Wendy. He keeps his distance, even at the risk of being rude, and spends a good deal of time taking cold showers. It’s good for a stretch of delicious sexual tension, and when the man’s resolve finally breaks, it’s not with a crack but a shatter.

Where as Desperate Betrayal was an examination of trust between partners, Desperate Surrender delves into deep-seeded emotional scarring and the risks one man will take to take control of his life. In addition, Surrender takes a few steps out of its romance framework and includes the POV of additional characters—master demon Gerard and Fallon—to set up the events of the third Protector novel, Desperate Possession. This allows Hildie McQueen to leave her audience hanging with a sense of foreboding opposed to hanging onto the edge of a cliff, which as a reader I appreciate since the next installment may not be available for months.

I would recommend Desperate Surrender, and the Protector Novels, to fans of paranormal romance, particularly readers partial to Lynn Rush and Jean Murray, and also to the audience of SyFy’s Lost Girl.