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

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Addie Bennet! Gimme Back My Blog!

Hello lovely readers. So, I’ve been doing a little bit of back and forth critique work with author Reese Monroe. (And by little bit, I mean that she rips holes in my work, and I rip holes in hers. All out of love. Swear.) Any how, while Reese and I were busy revising manuscripts, the “baby sister” of the Bound by Hades series snuck onto my blog! Ugh. The nerve of the little…. Well, she is cute. And she did bring the Shomrei hero dudes with her. So, I guess I’ll let her post stay.

Wendy

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ADDIE: Hi, everyone. Are you having fun on the tour so far? I know I am. I get to interview the Bound by Hades characters, so what could be better?

Today I have Justin and Theo. My big brother, Slade decided to crash the party last minute–and they say younger siblings are annoying….

SLADE: Hey, watch it, pip-squeak.

ADDIE: I think it’s going to his head that he’s the HERO of Claimed by Light. Yeah, he’s pretty awesome as a big brother and all, but…anyway. Did you see my post on embarrassing things about him? You so need to check that out.

But back to today’s interview. Theo, or should I call you daddy?

THEO: I’ll never tire of hearing that–or being that! Even if I have to chase my son to Egypt every other day.

ADDIE: It’ll be interesting see what happens with him. But what are you going to do with your down time now? I mean, you’ve not had much in … three books!

THEO: Guarding the Gates to Hades is never over. We might have a little reprieve now that we’d made it through this last adventure, so I think I’ll enjoy my wife. And my son. Actually try some of the fun human tourist-like things. I hear it’s a tradition to take your little one to Disney World.

ADDIE: That’d be sooo cute. I can just imagine you taking little Noah down the water slides.

JUSTIN: Right up until Noah opens a splice and vanishes in front of the crowds. **He slaps Theo** Dream on, Daddy.

ADDIE: What are you going to do to relax, Justin?

JUSTIN: I’m sure Yvonne and I can come up with a few things to occupy our time, now that Lucifer–er–now that our latest adventure has calmed down. See REESE, I can keep a secret!!

ADDIE: LOL!!  Reese warned me not to let you give away the plot, too. I was about to jump on you!

THEO: Can’t trust Justin with any type of secret.

JUSTIN: Well, duh, you can hack into my thoughts. Makes it kinda hard. What about you, Slade? What are you going to do?

SLADE: Hit the hot tub–often.

ADDIE: Okay, okay. I think it’s about time for the fast five.

JUSTIN: **claps his hands together** Bring it. Yvonne prepped me for it!

ADDIE: Favorite color right now.

JUSTIN: Pink **he winks**

THEO: Orange **he smacks Justin**

SLADE: Red

ADDIE: Favorite dessert right now.

JUSTIN: Fried Oreos

THEO: Apple Pie

SLADE: Fruitcake

ADDIE: Favorite time of day.

JUSTIN: Dusk

THEO: Dawn

SLADE: Dusk

ADDIE: Romance movie or action?

JUSTIN: Duh…. Action.

THEO: Action

SLADE: Action

ADDIE: E-Reader or Paperback

JUSTIN: Movies

THEO: Paperback

SLADE: What Justin said.

ADDIE: Guys are just plain impossible, aren’t they?

Thanks, everyone for following the blog tour. See you on the next stop! 🙂

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Claimed by Light (Bound by Hades #3)
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Release Date: September 15th, 2014

Forgiveness softens even the hardest of hearts…

College senior Slade Bennet is so close to his degree he can taste it…until his sister becomes tangled with a coven of demons and he must trade his soul to save her. But first he must kill the assigned target: a sexually charged beauty who ignites his protective instinct.

After the devastating loss of her Companion, the last thing Halena Girard can stomach is the emotional connection to a Mate. She lives for only two things: vanquishing demons, and seeking Artifacts rumored to lead to Lucifer’s downfall. That is, until she’s attacked by a…frat boy? Worse, a newly-demonic frat boy wearing the mark of her Mate.

Halena would rather kill Slade than give him her heart. Unfortunately, the only way Slade can find his sister and Halena the Artifacts is to work together. As they face the darkest of evil, Slade’s ability to crush Halena’s carefully erected walls might prove to be the most lethal battle of all.

Buy Links:
Kindle USA | Amazon Print | Kindle UK | Kindle Canada | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

lynnReeseOriginally from Minnesota, Reese Monroe currently enjoys living in the sunny Arizona desert with her husband of seventeen years and her loveable Shetland Sheep dog, Maddux. Monroe holds a degree in psychology from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. When she’s not busy writing her next trilogy, she can be found pounding the pavement, training for her next endurance event.

Connect with Reese on Twitter (@Rush_Monroe), through Facebook (Facebook.com/LynnRushWrites) or her website ReeseMonroe.net.

Book #1 in trilogy: Forged by Fate

Buy Links: Kindle USA | Kindle UK | Kindle CA | B&N | Kobo | iBook

Book #2 in trilogy: Marked by Hades

Buy Links: Kindle USA | Kindle UK | Kindle CA | B&N | Kobo | iBook

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Rafflecopter Code: Giveaway runs through 9.29.14. Prize is Kindle eReader

My 2014 Reading List

ShadesOfBlueBanner-430x1024So, I missed my reading goal for 2013. By 73 books. I’m a little embarrassed to call myself a reader. This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach. I’ve created a collection on my Kindle, and when I find a book that interests me, I’m going to add it to the “2014” folder.

God only knows when the next Protectors novel is coming out, so I will be getting my Hildie McQueen fix from her Shades of Blue Trilogy, which appears to have four stories. (More the merrier, I say.)

Also on the list is this six-pack of paranormal romances that I got on sale for $2.99 on Black Friday!

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AND Kate Evangelista’s Savor left me seriously sad that the sequel isn’t already available. I’ll be consoling myself with these two pretties when I get through the other ten mentioned above.

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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

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.

New Release: Light the Shadows, by Michelle Clay

LightTheShadows-MichelleClay

Paranormal Romance
Evernight Publishing
Release Date – April 17, 2013

You only get one chance at life then you die. The game’s over, no second chances.  But she was never one to follow all the rules.

In a strange twist of fate, a woman flees purgatory only to jump into a newly vacated body. When she wakes in the hospital, she has a brand new life and a whole lot of unanswered questions.  Now she’s Micah Munroe, a real estate agent with broken memories of the messed up life she once lived. A mysterious man who claims to be Death says she’s his granddaughter and that she’s something called a grimm.

Sully knows she’s an imposter because he reaped the soul of the real Micah only a week ago. He suspects she might be a misplaced shadow, what he calls spirits and vengeful ghosts. He becomes obsessed with finding out who she really is and just how she inhabited a new body.  He’ll stop at nothing to find the truth and send her back to purgatory where she belongs.  What he didn’t bargain on was how his body would react to her or how powerful the white light within her is.

“Light the Shadows” contains adult content.

32cc5a7a55650ad8976ff9.L._V373968068_SY470_Even as a child, Michelle Clay wasn’t afraid of the things that went bump in the night. In fact, the thought of a world where werewolves roamed and Dracula reigned king may seem like an eldritch dream to most, but was exciting to Michelle. Instead of turning on a light for comfort, she reveled in the dark, imagining the lives of what was out there roaming the night and frightening those who didn’t truly appreciate how interesting the supernatural really were.

Nowadays, her visions continuously take shape as she brings life to the worlds she has imagined since childhood. The wild imaginings that often got Michelle out of, or more often into, trouble as a young girl have informed and enriched her storytelling as an adult, bringing a fresh new voice to the paranormal romance genre.

Michelle currently writes from her Texas Hill Country residence, surrounded by colonies of bats, Native American spirits, haunted frontier forts and hidden ghost towns.

Stalk Michelle:

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.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

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

Book Review: A Stiff Kiss, by Avery Olive

StiffKiss-200x300A Stiff Kiss
By Avery Olive

Who knew kissing a corpse would change everything?

Death always hits Xylia Morana too close to home, but she likes it that way. She hangs out with the terminally ill, attends random funerals, and every so often, when the weather is right, she sleeps in open graves.

But after Landon Phoenix, the high school hottie, dies in Xylia’s hands, she sneaks into the morgue to say goodbye. How could she know stealing a kiss from his corpse would wake him up?

With Landon returned to the living and suddenly interested in Xylia, life has new meaning. But what Xylia doesn’t realize is that by kissing Landon back to life, she’s thrown Life and Death off balance. The underworld demands a body, and it might just have to be Xylia’s this time.

Xylia found her mother dead on Christmas Day. In the years since, she has been obsessed by death. Her father, a doctor, finds her habit of attending the funerals of strangers unhealthy. With a planned road trip held hostage on a condition of good behavior, Xylia puts on a goofy outfit in her school’s colors–the only clothes she owns that aren’t black–and she gets into her dad’s car to attend the last soccer game of the year. Xylia’s relationship with her father has become distant over the years since her mother’s death and soccer games are the one activity that they still do together. The ride is tense, though, in the wake of their argument.

During the soccer game, the team’s star, Landon Phoenix, has only one thing on his mind. Giving the talent scouts in the stands the best performance of his life. A scholarship is his only way out of the small town his family is struggling in. In fact, his focus is acute that the signs of his body failing him escape him completely. He throws a soccer ball back onto the field to begin the next play. It falls to the ground mere feet from him, confusing him. The last thing he sees is shock on his cousin Daniel’s face before his lights go out. He dies minutes later in the back of the ambulance while Xylia and her father try to revive him.

A few hours later, Xylia kisses Landon goodbye. And he sits up.

A Stiff Kiss is a complicated story told simply, following a formula that is reminiscent of the movie Big. A child dissatisfied with her present situation does something desperate which results in something bizarre. Like Josh Baskin, Xylia is at first horrified by the outcome of her actions, but later takes advantage of it, even as it becomes clear that there is a price to be paid for the new reality she enjoys.

But being a dual POV novel, Xylia’s decisions are not the only ones with consequences. Landon has an on-again/off-again girlfriend who won’t take a hint, a college plan that depends solely on soccer, and an exhaustion related death and ressurection in his medical history (which makes him pretty much un-recruitable). Has he been given a second chance? Or is he living on borrowed time?

Avery Olive incorporated the best and worst of teenagers into A Stiff Kiss. In Xylia, we see strong individuality paired with deep insecurity. Landon gives us passion, and drive fueled by desperation. In the students around them, we see scorn, fear, love, and pain, all in fleeting moments that pass away as quick as they come for teenagers, who take the wrong things too seriously or not seriously enough.

As a fan of YA paranormal and John Hughes movies, I very much enjoyed A Stiff Kiss. Put the resurrection bit aside and what remains is a story about a pair of kids whose broken pieces fit each other, and that’s something I think most people would relate to and find endearing.