I’m not even referring to the number of titles. Since they added the Retro and Horror lines, Samhain has always published about 25 titles, give or take, so Samhain’s March list isn’t exceptional. It just felt long.
The reviews, of course. There were a couple of books that didn’t find an audience. And a couple of the retro titles that didn’t get reviewed this time around.
Samhain has had some terrific success getting prequel and mid-series novellas from fairly big-name authors where the rest of the series is in print from a more, shall we say, traditional publisher. Those books rack up huge reviews, and I would suspect, big sales.
Natural Evil, by Thea Harrison, is book 4.5 in her very popular Elder Races series. Book 4, the recent Oracle’s Moon, was published by Berkley, a division of “Big 6” publisher Penguin. The ebook novellas, #3.5 True Colors and #4.5 Natural Evil, were published by Samhain. These always get double-digit review numbers in the first month, and more trickle in every month after release. Natural Evil was no exception.
What’s different this month is that there were a lot of titles that went into double-digit review numbers. And they weren’t even all series books. Well, some were the start of a series, but they weren’t books that had the built-in anticipation that book 2 or 3 or 6 in a series has.
Seven books had 10 or more reviews. This is excellent! But it does make it a lot harder to pick three to feature.
The book that slides into the third feature place for Samhain this time around is The Runaway Countess by Leigh LaValle. Reviewers fell in love with this Regency romance by debut author LaValle. This is the story of a Robin Hood heroine (not hero) and the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire (of course it’s in Nottingham) who saves her from the punishment she should suffer for being a thief. But she’s not as bad a thief as she’s accused of being. And he wants to do some really naughty things to our heroine, Mazie, who, like Robin Hood, is somewhat more than she appears to be on the surface. The reviewers didn’t just enjoy the story, they all expect great things from Ms. LaValle in the future.
Prowling into the second place in this week’s list is Hunter’s Prey by Moira Rogers. Fittingly enough, this is also book 2 in Rogers’ Bloodhounds series, after Wilder’s Mate and the mid-series teaser novella Merrick’s Destiny (officially #1.5). The world of the Bloodhounds is an alternate history, steampunk post-Civil War U.S. in which vampires roam the Western night and their ghouls fulfill their orders during the day. The only creatures capable of fighting the vamps on their own terms are the Bloodhounds, formerly broken men turned into were-hellhounds by the mysterious Guild. Hunter’s Prey is the story of one such Bloodhound, and the woman brave enough to become his mate. With each book a little more of the overall tale of the Guild and everything else that is happening is being teased out as well. This series is awesome if you like steampunk, cowpunk (U.S. Western steampunk) vampires, shapeshifters or historic paranormal erotic romance.
The big book of the month for Samhain was Rocky Mountain Desire by Vivian Arend. This is number 3 in her Six Pack Ranch series, and whatever it is she did when she revised and expanded the Six Pack Ranch books from their original publication, it definitely works for readers and reviewers. The first two books in this series, Rocky Mountain Heat and Rocky Mountain Haven, were both featured titles on ERC, and there’s no reason to break the streak for book 3. Guilty Pleasures put Rocky Mountain Desire on their Crème de la Crème list because it’s good! The entire series is about a family of very handsome brothers in a small mountain town who, one after another, each find their perfect match. By book three, you have not just the romance, but family meddling and the fun of seeing how the couples from the first two stories are getting along. Done well, it’s a recipe for a terrific story. And Ms. Arend does it very well indeed.
Are you curious about which other titles had double-digit review numbers? Check out the complete Samhain list for March to see the answer. Wondering why the same book got a 5/5 from one reviewer and 3/5 from another? Read their reviews and see for yourself.
Ebook Review Central will be back next week with the four-in-one issue covering Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver and Riptide.