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

lastGuardianRises

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Moth, by Sean Poindexter

MothCoverEDIT-1-1600x2400

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★
About My Book Reviews

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: 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

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Or, may I suggest a new title. Abraham Lincoln: Ax-toting Badass.

I’m mostly kidding. “Ax-toting Badass” might give interested viewers the idea that this movie is a comedy, which it most definitely is not. And if I could hug the production team for withholding the best of our beloved Mr. President’s fight scenes from the trailer, I would. Honest Abewith his ax tipped in silver, is a madman (a vampire’s word, not mine,) and what you see here barely scratches the surface of the awesomeness.

In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, we bear witness to two events in a young boy’s life that shape the man that fights to hold the Union together amidst a fight against slavery, secession, and vampire hordes yearning for a nation to call their own. The movie’s makers give us an Abraham who is passionate, vengeance driven, clever, and honorable. He lives the latter half of his life by the words of his wife’s father, who told her to plant her feet and stand for what she believed in. The only question is where to plant her feet. Abe plants his on the principle that until all men are free, all men are slaves. Joining him in this fight are Mary Todd, his childhood friend Will, his business partner Speed, and Harriet Tubman with her Underground Railroad. The movie’s action spans a great triangle, from Illinois to New Orleans and to Washington DC, culminating at the battle of Gettysburg, where Abe and his friends finally get the upper hand on the Confederate Army’s vampire soldiers.

My husband and I saw this movie for our 7th Anniversary, which was yesterday. (And for the record, we consider it our 17th anniversary.) We expected a martial arts thrill ride, but the film also provided good writing, acting, and effects.

If you are a fan of vampires and/or action films, I recommend Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It was as surprisingly good movie.

Cover Reveal: Of A Darker Nature, by Michelle Clay

 With just one touch, Emily Cross can read the memories of the deceased. Working at a funeral home might not be the logical choice, but for Emily, it is a natural one. When she and her boss are attacked, the creatures she once thought were only folklore become all too real. Just as she’s about to be drained of life, the cadaver on the next table rises to fight them off. Feeling a connection to the man who saved her life, she makes it her mission to find him. As she delves deeper, she discovers a dark underworld full of vampires, magic and shape shifters.

Marcus Dane doesn’t know how he ended up in a mortuary. As an Enforcer for the Mistress of the City, he has been following leads regarding a powerful witch who wants to exterminate his blood-clan. His fear that the witch has recruited some of his fellow Enforcers is confirmed and now it looks as though the witch will make her threats real. He counts himself lucky to escape the mortician, because someone in the mortuary business disposes of vampires who are unfortunate enough to cross his table.

Sounds like a very fun read!

Book Review: Perpetual Light, by Jordan K. Rose

Perpetual Light, by Jordan K. Rose
Cresent Moon Press, February 26, 2012

Fate is cruel. Especially when the one you’ve sworn to love for all eternity, the very soul who changed your destiny, is the last person you should trust. After more than three hundred years of running, Lucia DiComano must make a choice. Forced to take her place as a Pharo of Redemption, the divine slayer needs to master her forgotten powers. Lucia turns to Vittorio, the one vampire she’s failed to deliver from eternal damnation. But overcoming smoldering remnants of love, lust and anger aren’t their only obstacles. Samuel, who may know Lucia better than she knows herself, hunts her with a fervor stoked by a thousand years of vengeful hatred. His plan-capture and enslave the weakened Pharo then take control of her elusive power. Can Lucia trust Vittorio long enough to reclaim her powers? Or will she have no choice but to kill him and battle Samuel alone?


Something strange is happening to 37-year-old fashion buyer, Lucia DiComano. The episode begins as an ache, followed by a cadence that she hears and feels. Her heart tries to keep pace with it, but fails. Darkness looms heavily around her. Her skin crawls. Then the ambient light around her becomes blinding bright, banishing darkness, panic, and all the other strange sensations with it. The episode, as well as her recent sensitivity to light, concerns her shopkeeper parents. As her mother hounds her, Lucia denies having any more nightmares. In truth, Vittorio, her dream husband, and the wicked blonde man who hunts her relentlessly, are frequent visitors. Inside, she questions her sanity as an alternative to possible demon possession, before mostly dismissing both.

She’s saved from the motherly interrogation by Peter, the last man on earth she wants to see. She’s been promoted at work; she has to train someone to take her place, and the cocky “junior” gets under her skin without saying a word. They are due to leave for Boston, where they are meeting Elizabeth, a jeweler, at a fashion event, and he’s come to pick her up. He takes her insults and abuse well until they are out on street, when his entire demeanor changes like a flipped switch. He orders her into the car. When she bristles at his rudeness, he picks her up, throws her bodily into the back seat, and drives like a maniac from Providence all the way to Boston.

At the event, everything goes sideways. A co-worker named Marie insists that she meet a Chilean designer, alone, outside of the hotel, and she’s not kind about it. In a separate incident, Peter, Elizabeth, and her nephew must intervene when a trio of foul smelling men with European accents confronts Lucia. They all seem to know each other. With the situation defused, Elizabeth introduces Lucia to her brother-in-law…Vittorio. He stuns her by knowing about her dreams. He knows what’s up with her eyes. He explains that he, Peter, and the others are vampires, and they have been protecting her for him. She doesn’t believe him, reacts poorly, and bolts into a restroom. Marie corners her there, determined to drag her out to meet the Chilean designer. Lucia gets away, but spotting Vittorio across the room, she looks for a back door out of the building. On her way out, she is confronted by the second man from her nightmares.

The evil blonde, Samuel, attacks her. She escapes, runs out of the building, and right in front of a moving truck. When she wakes up in the hospital, she doesn’t know her parents or her boyfriend. She cries out for Vittorio.

A caged-ball.

I am a huge fan of slow reveals, and in Perpetual Light, Jordan K. Rose pulls off the equivalent of a caged-ball. She starts with a heroine that knows nothing about herself, and surrounds her by people who know what she is, what’s happening to her, and the role she plays in the grand scheme of things. Add in the fact that they’re vampires, she’s a Pharo (slayer), and one of them is was her husband 10 past lives ago, and Ms. Rose has a recipe for undead armageddon. Which keeps things moving, but it’s the ball in the box that I found interesting. The author removes the layers of Lucia’s memory block, in the same manner as a whittler would the wood around the block. Bits here, pieces there, when details are necessary.

If her role, and the power that she needs to play it, is the ball in my metaphor, then the cage is a book. Vittorio and his vampire family have been keeping a journal about her past lives. She has holes to fill if she is to destroy Samuel before he captures and enslaves her, and the book has those answers. But Vittorio only allows her to see bits and pieces at a time. He fears that his and Elizabeth’s observations would be out of context, that they would hold Lucia back and take her down a wrong road. To be of use to her, he believes, her past must be remembered on her own.

Unlike Joss Whedon’s characters, Ms. Rose’s slayers don’t wield wood stakes and her vampires aren’t damned creatures that simply dust when impaled. Her vampires walk in sunlight. They go to church. They decorate Christmas trees and watch television. They have souls. Vittorio is a proper gentleman who cares for two younger vampires he sired as if they were flesh and blood sons. He’s gentle with Lucia. He is reasonable and fair with those around him. He exhibits tremendous control of his desires, his thirst, even his temper. One might be tempted to liken him to Twilight’s Carlisle Cullen, which would be a mistake. The vampires of this story, every single one of them, are vicious when provoked. Vittorio’s not the most savage in the story, but the degree of his control makes his mean snaps far more striking that Samuel’s vile actions.

Like Buffy, though, Lucia is a flawed heroine. As she regains her memory and power, the revelations range from lovely to horrible. While Vittorio loves her deeply, her actions enrage him at times and her power terrifies him at others. In similar manners, the author rounds out all of her principle characters but Samuel, who she leaves intentionally flat. There are hints there is more to him than bloodlust. Jordan K. Rose leaves a dozen plot threads dangling at the end of Perpetual Light. I have confirmed with her that there is a sequel. I think I know where Lucia and Vittorio’s long road ends, but I’m anxious to see how they get there.

A Busy Week at Crescent Moon Press

Crescent Moon Press released three new books this week, as well as a print version of one released last month. The covers and blurbs are below!

The Summerland, by Elizabeth Cheryl

When Abigail Parker moves to Salem, Massachusetts, with her Aunt Bridgette, nothing makes sense from the moment she arrives. A familiar but unknown voice whispers words of reassurance. Her aunt’s behavior is confusing at best.

When Bridgette’s gravely injured, Abigail desperately seeks help from a spell book she found in her closet. But something goes terribly wrong. Abbey is hurtled three centuries backward in time.landing in a vastly different Salem.

It’s summertime 1692 – the infamous witch trials are in full swing and Abigail’s sporting pink nail polish and a tattoo. Abigail finds William, the source of the familiar voice and something much more. However, she must return to modern Salem to retrieve the spell book.

Can she do so in time to save her family and without exposing herself to accusations of witchcraft? Most importantly, how does she leave when she’s just finding love?


Stealing Breath, by Joanne Brothwell

Deep in the backwoods of North Dakota, twenty–one year old Sarah Ross is searching for a missing child when she is attacked by a glowing–eyed, transparent… creature. Sarah survives, destroying the monster by using mysterious abilities she didn’t even know she had.

Bloody and bruised, Sarah flees the scene and runs directly into Evan Valente, a handsome, charismatic stranger who helps her back to safety. But what is Evan doing out in the forest at five in the morning?

Turning to a healer, Sarah is shocked to learn her eyes bear the mark of the Indigo Child—an evolved human with the ability to feel the emotions of others. But her indigo aura also makes her an easy target for those who wish to consume her powerful essence.

Soon, Sarah is falling deeply in love with Evan and wants nothing more than to follow her heart and trust that he is the man he says he is. But she can’t ignore the lingering feeling that Evan is hiding a terrible secret. The deeper she digs, the more danger she faces, leading her on a course that will force her to face the darkest, innermost parts of her soul.


Static Shock, by Eilis Flynn

Can you live without your computer? Can you wear a watch? Do you know anyone who can’t?

In a time not long from now, there are people whose life paths are determined by such simple details. Legally recognized as electromagnetics, or “Readers”, they are a twist in evolution, an anomaly in a society that has become technologically dependent. Considered second-class citizens because of their heightened electromagnetic fields, Readers can’t wear watches, get too close to a TV, or even drive for fear they will shut down the car’s electrical system. Computers become worthless doorstops quickly around Readers. Career prospects are limited.

Reader Jeanne Muir decides to expand her horizons when she’s unexpectedly offered a new job opportunity. But she hasn’t been told that her job description includes being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. Because Readers are not held in high esteem, Jeanne’s an easy scapegoat, and law enforcement definitely is not on her side. Knowing she was set up and the odds are against her, Jeanne can’t let herself be taken in-and risks asking mysterious, sexy Ran Owata, a fellow Reader who is no longer accepted among their kind, for help. The problem is: Can she trust him? Does she have a choice?


Perpetual Light, by Jordan K. Rose

Fate is cruel. Especially when the one you’ve sworn to love for all eternity, the very soul who changed your destiny, is the last person you should trust.

After more than three hundred years of running, Lucia Dicomano must make a choice.

Forced to take her place as a Pharo of Redemption, the divine slayer needs to master her forgotten powers. Lucia turns to Vittorio, the one vampire she’s failed to deliver from eternal damnation. But overcoming smoldering remnants of love, lust and anger aren’t their only obstacles.

Samuel, who may know Lucia better than she knows herself, hunts her with a fervor stoked by a thousand years of vengeful hatred. His plan-capture and enslave the weakened Pharo then take control of her elusive power.

Can Lucia trust Vittorio long enough to reclaim her powers? Or will she have no choice but to kill him and battle Samuel alone?

Perpetual Light, by Jordan K. Rose, was released on February 26th, but the print edition went live today on Amazon.


And finally, a new cover reveal!

Fae Dragon Chronicles: Book One, Love Chosen, by Marne Ann Kirk

For millennia, dragon and fae have peacefully co-existed, but the fae themselves have lived segregated and very different lives.

Now a malevolence threatens to separate them all permanently. Can a Queen’s guard and a rebellious outlaw join forces to defeat this common enemy?

Tyler’s touch sparks fierce desire, drawing Issie to him, but she despises his way of life and all that palace society represents. If he learns she wields majic to help the less fortunate escape the kingdom, he’ll charge her with treason. Her punishment – death.

Issie, is a sassy rebel who is constantly looking for ways to circumvent the conventions of their society. Tyler’s head warns that she’s a non-majical lower, beneath him. His heart sees by her inner strength and outer beauty. Only a binding love will lend them strength to save her life – their world.

Can either of them bend enough to trust that love?

Have I mentioned recently that I love my publisher already? No…well, I do.

Book Review: "The Forever Girl" by Rebecca Hamilton

*Sophia Parsons’ family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves…*

Isn’t that catchy? I love it!

I’ve mentioned before that I met Rebecca Hamilton on Authonomy. That means that I’ve been waiting for 16 months to read her book. You may wonder why I didn’t run out and buy it the moment it was released. Happy to explain.

My husband told me that getting books from Amazon to my iPad was a little tricky, and I took his word for it. A thing you have to understand about Robert is that he’s *that* guy with all things hardware/software. It’s not just me; most people take what he says about technical things at face value. (Some take it as gospel and still live by it years later, which is a great way of getting my husband to dislike you if you wanted such a thing.)

I should know well by now that when he says it’s tricky, he means that it will be tricky *right now*…for *me*. (He knows me very well.) However, it won’t still be tricky later, not even for me, because he’ll resolve what’s tricky in between reading Jalopnik and ogling pool cues and guns. Our conversation will turn to cars, then politics, then why I don’t like making chocolate chip cookie balls, and then how Nicki Minaj makes me want to stab something just by opening her mouth, and well…. A few weeks later I actually won The Forever Girl in a game of Twitter hangman shortly after remembering that I still haven’t bought it.

What’s your excuse?

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The Forever Girl. First thing…Look at that cover! Seriously, look at it. I’m not just fan-girl squealing here. Covers sell books, and this one is killer. It’s pretty and edgy. And sharp. I’m referring to pixels here…so many images are soft these days, and not in a pleasant romantic way. The model is dainty, and projects the self-consciousness and troubled soul of a woman caught between worlds. She is lovely inside as she is misunderstood without. The cover captures Sophia, so the book is off to a great start!

Cover: ★★★★★

Flip the virtual book over and read The Blurb:

Solving the mystery of an ancestor’s hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia’s mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.

As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.

But can she trust him?

It’s not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family’s curse: abandon her faith or abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The blurb is…meh. It describes the book, but unlike the cover, it doesn’t capture either Sophia or her plight. For example, the noise in Sophia’s head is the catalyst for everything that follows in the book. “An ever-present static” are the first words of the first chapter. But the blurb mentions the hanging of an ancestor first thing. I think it undercuts the severity of the problem that the reader will encounter first. I’d have moved her desire to solve the mystery to the second paragraph, as what throws her into harm’s way.

Also, there’s nothing in the blurb that indicates she performs spells at all until the 4th paragraph, when it’s clear that dark magic is what will resolve her conflicts. The book introduces her Wiccan practice very early, so the progression towards dark magic is very organic in the story. But in the blurb, it feels very sudden.

Blurb: ★★

First Page:

Ms. Hamilton starts us off in a small town near Denver, Colorado. Sophia is on shift at a local diner, trying to drown out the buzz in her head with Pink Floyd. The effort is thwarted when a Christian cult leader demands to pay her check and leave before the secular music corrupts her.

There’s already so much world building here. The buzz is a hook, and Mrs. Franklin’s audacity sweetens the deal. There’s no way I’d put this book down, so the first page is a winner. And the rest of the chapter has a lot to offer the New Adult audience.

Sophia is a college graduate with a BA in History, looking for a job teaching that she can’t find. She needs experience to get a job and needs a job for experience. It’s THE catch-22 of Generations X, Y, and Z (or whatever they’re called). There is a missing piece here, and I applaud Ms. Hamilton for leaving it out. Many liberal arts fields…history included…are stepping stones toward graduate degrees. Most students don’t know when they declare these majors that they will need additional schooling to put their education to work. Even teaching will require certification, which involves more school. Many, like Sophia, will find themselves back home four years later, waiting tables or something. I find Sophia’s frustration at not being able to find a job, and ignorance of what her education has actually qualified her to do in the workforce, to be incredibly realistic.

In addition, doing something rash to put an end to something you just can’t take anymore, that’s a very relatable, too.

First Page/Chapter: ★★★★1/2

Story:

The Forever Girl spans six months of Sophia’s life, during which she battles a family curse, loses a dear friend, picks up a hot guy that she resists committing to, and wrestles with issues that most of us would need a therapist, (or a grandmother), to untangle. But, that’s really just the window dressing. Sophia’s story is an exhaustive exploration of acceptance. Innocents are hung for witchcraft to calm fears and satiate jealousy. Grudges and wishes are carried for desperate centuries in vain. A ruling council of immortals lay down a strict law that on its surface protects humans, but underneath designed to upset the balance of universe. And Sophia herself, who bristles at the persecution of her neighbors for her Wiccan faith, must learn to trust things she doesn’t understand and embrace herself for who she really is.

Ms. Hamilton illustrates this evolution by having Sophia make foreshadowing observations about herself. My favorite is when the young woman realizes that she wants nothing to do with Charles’ world, but everything to do with him, and that she can’t have both. But that world wants her, for a lot of reasons good and bad, to the same degree that our world, which she holds onto for months, wants her gone. Ms. Hamilton threads the supernatural through every page, every subplot, so when she pulls that string toward the end, Sophia’s life turns completely inside out. Sophia leaves our world behind, and the supernatural world becomes home. It’s ironic, then, that this transition actually has less to do with Charles than with her. Without giving away too much, the supernatural world has been hers longer than it has been his, so I find the fact that she wanted nothing to do with it rather poignant.

Story: ★★★★

The Ending

There are twists and turns in this book, and many of them in the final chapters. With the progression of reveals at the end…and my personal affection for snowballing climaxes…I enjoyed the pace. Things about the world that weren’t quite settled for me fell in to place. Charles, who had some flat spots until the end, finally rounded out for me. Most important for the first book in a series, it ended in a place that resolves the first set of conflicts while setting up the story and major players of book two nicely. All in all, it was a very satisfying ending to a fresh, creative story.

Ending: ★★★★

So, how do I grade The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton? It’s a solid 4 of 5…on her scale.