Series Shakedown: InCryptid Short Stories by Seanan McGuire

Aeslin Mice

I am a huge fan of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, which, for the uninitiated is amazing.

Cryptid, noun:

1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.

2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.

3. See also: “monster.”

The Covenant of St. George was founded to uphold one simple ideal: anything that was not present on the Ark—anything they deemed “unnatural”—needed to be destroyed. Monsters. Creatures of myth and legend. All of them would be wiped from the Earth in the name of Man’s dominion. Unfortunately for them, not all the monsters agreed with this plan…and neither did all the human beings.

After their rather abrupt departure from the Covenant, Alexander and Enid Healy found themselves alone in the world, but with a simple mission of their own: to protect the cryptids of the world from those who would harm them without just cause. It was a cause that would eventually claim both their lives, leaving their children, and their childrens’ children, to take up the fight. Now in the modern day, their descendants struggle to stay beneath the Covenant’s radar, while defending the cryptids from humanity—and humanity from the cryptids.

Flower of ArizonaThe main books are all set in the modern day, following the lives, deaths, and loves of the Healy’s great-great-grandchildren. Luckily for us, Seanan is a kind and benevolent ruler, gifting us with little bits of the InCryptid past between novels.

These (free!) short stories feature the adventures of the first generation of Healy cryptozoologists after their dramatic defection from The Covenant.

To date, Seanan has published 8 trips into the life and times of Fran and Jonathan Healy, with more on the way. But how do they stack up against the main series?


The Flower of Arizon – In which Jonathan Healy meets his future wife and immediately learns that women in the Wild West can and will kick your skinny city ass.  The Aeslin Mice feature prominently. They understand that Jonathan Healy is a bit slow on the uptake. (+)

One Hell of a RideOne Hell of a Ride – Alternate Title: One Helluva First Date. Trains have never been so exciting. (+)

No Place Like Home – At this point we’re all beginning to suspect that Jonathan Healy is a bit austic or otherwise neurologically atypical. First time you ever brought a girl home and you’re trying to pass it off as not bringing a girl home? Hah! Good luck with that. This story is awkward for poor Fran, but a must-read for all fans of the Aeslin Mice. (+)

Married in Green – Years later and these two crazy kids are finally getting married! This fun romp is filled with foreshadowing, but becomes very sad after you read The First Fall. (+)

Sweet Poison Wine – What kind of honeymoon do cryptozoologists go on during the height of the depression? A kick-ass one! Sadly lacking in mice, but it’s probably for the best. I don’t think I’d lay odds on the Mice in a hotel run by Medusas. (+)

The First FallThe First Fall – Anyone who has read the main books was probably confused before this story. The family tree at the beginning of Midnight Blue-Light Special didn’t match up with what Fran and Jonathan were showing us. Warning: these 29 pages will make you cry. (+)

Loch & Key – Family camping trips are boring. Swimming with Nessie’s American cousins is not nearly as interesting as you’d think. (-)

We Both Go Down Together – I call bullshit! Frances Brown-Healy almost slit her future husband’s throat within minutes of meeting him because he pulled a gun on her (and had a plan to get away with it). There is no goddamn way she’d just let some asshole get away with kidnapping her child. Chop him up and feed him to the fishes? Yes. Let go? No. (-)


The InCryptid Short Stories simultaneously work as an introduction to the world of the InCryptids, and extras to keep diehard fans entertained between books. You don’t need to know anything about Verity Price to follow Frances Brown – but if you do know Verity, you’ll enjoy the connections between the past and future.

Go read these stories now! Then thank Seanan for her generosity by buying Discount Armageddon, Midnight Blue Light Special, and all the books of her alter-ego, Mira Grant.

(Observant Seanan fans will note I made no reference to the Toby series. I don’t care about Toby. Toby is simply taking up precious time Seanan could be spending on InCryptids, Newsflesh, and Parisitology.)

Review: Skies of Gold by Zoe Archer

Skies of Gold by Zoe ArcherFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Series: The Ether Chronicles, #5
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

Two Lonely Hearts . . .

Kalindi MacNeil survived the devastating enemy airship attack that obliterated Liverpool, but even her engineering skills can’t seem to repair her broken heart. Seeking to put her life back together, Kali retreats to a desolate, deserted island—only to discover she’s not alone. Captain Fletcher Adams, an elite man/machine hybrid, a Man O’ War, crashed his battle-damaged airship into the island after the destruction of Liverpool, never expecting to survive the wreck. But survive he did.

One Desire . . .

Believing he is nothing but a living weapon, Fletcher is wary of his newfound companion—a pretty, damaged, but determined young woman. Together they are stranded on the island, and it is only a matter of time until desire gets the best of them both. Soon Kali and Fletcher each find that they may be just what the other needed. But a danger from beyond the island puts them to the test. Will it rip them apart or bond their hearts forever?

My Thoughts:

I just discovered that this is the last book in Archer and Rossi’s Ether Chronicles and I am completely bummed. Call me a very sad panda.

skies of fire by zoe archerEven though this is the final book in the Ether Chronicles, a reader could start with this one, and then decide that they loved the worldbuilding so much that they wanted to start at the very beginning, Skies of Fire (reviewed at Reading Reality). Yes, I know, I’m fangirling a bit now. Sue me. (Please, don’t.)

The series is alternate history steampunk world war, with Britain and the U.S. fighting against the Hapsburgs and the Russians in a Victorian era with aether-powered airships. What makes the series fascinating is that they really do show the world-spanning scope of the war, so the books are not just set in England, but also in America and even North Africa.

And, the discovery of a metal called telumium (yes, I know, it’s this world’s version of unobtanium, but it makes things fun) has created a fantastic steampunk version of the bionic man; Man-O-Wars. They are a combination of airship captain and airship centaur, without the body-blending. Well sort/kinda. Read and find out for yourself.

Skies of Gold has a bit of the Tarzan/Jane myth, only if both Tarzan and Jane remember their “civilized” roots and want to escape from them. Also if Jane is a female MacGyver. (I started to say a prettier MacGyver, but that depends on the eye of the beholder, and, well, nevermind.)

In this case, Tarzan and Jane, make that Fletcher and Kali, both have terrible cases of survivor’s guilt, and in a grand case of coincidence, (there are no such things as coincidences, of course) from the same battle. She was severely wounded when the enemy bombed Liverpool, and his ship crashed after routing the enemy from their bombing of Liverpool.

They’ve also both survived heartbreak when their former lovers couldn’t see past the changes that war had made in their outward appearance. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. They find themselves, and each other, on a remote Scottish island where they each planned to be alone.

When they are discovered by an enemy, they have to return to the world they both left behind in order to save an unsuspecting friend from a trap. They’ve already saved each other.

Verdict: This series is a treat for those of us who love steampunk romance. I’m very glad that if the Ether Chronicles had to end, they finished with a full-length novel, and one as good as Skies of Gold.

Kali and Fletcher are interesting people, and are different types of main characters. Not just because they both have survivor’s guilt, but also because neither of them quite fits their stereotypes. Fletcher isn’t completely alpha, and Kali is both disabled and a minority in addition to being a professional woman. She’s on the island to be independent, and he’s there to be dead. They both have PTSD and they pull each other out of it.

The relationship they develop builds slowly and carefully, and that’s the way it should be. There’s nothing instantaneous here except wariness.

The villain arrives as a bit of demon ex machina at the end, but I was having way too much fun to care. He served his purpose as a means of bringing the story to its (and his) ending.

I’m just damned sorry the ride is over.


I give  Skies of Gold by Zoë Archer 4 ½ aether-powered stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others by Jo WaltonFormat Read: ebook borrowed from the Library
Number of Pages: 302 pages
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s website | Publisher’s website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

My Thoughts:

“If you love books enough, books will love you back.”

Having read Jo Walton’s Among Others during WorldCon, I can’t help but wonder how many of the people around me at the Con have read the book, particularly since it won the Hugo in 2012 (and the Nebula in 2011).

I know that a significant number of that audience share the same feeling as the protagonist of the story, that books, and especially science fiction, saved her sanity if not actually her life. It’s part of what brought us all together, after all.

And yes, me too.

The story is that of a girl just falling over the boundary into young womanhood, who lives on the broken borders of too many worlds, and is trying to repair the breakage in all of them. At the beginning, her love of science fiction seems to be the only thing that helps her hold herself together.

Morwenna Phelps is a Welsh girl who is forced to go to an upper-crust English boarding school. She is a twin who is still suffering from the death of her literal other half in an automobile accident that has left her disabled, possibly permanently.

She has lost the only home she has ever known and been forced into the care of a father with whom she has never had any contact. Because her mother is a mad woman that her family refuses to deal with properly.

And/or depending upon one’s perspective, because her mother is a dark witch who is trying to capture her and use her to power an evil spell. It was in the thwarting of her mother’s earlier attempt that her twin lost her life.

Mori sees fairies and uses magic to counter her mother’s witchcraft. Or is it the last vestiges of her childish need to cope with her mother’s madness?

Whatever the case may be, Mori copes with everything the universe has thrown at her, including an entire school full of mean girls and a father who frequently forgets that she exists, by escaping into the far flung worlds of science fiction.

It is in the star empires of the grand masters that she finds kindred spirits, not just between the pages of books, but among the other science fiction lovers in the library and the town who meet each week to discuss great, and sometimes not-so-great, lit.

In pursuit of the fictional future, whether hopeful or dystopian, Mori discovers the way to meet her own.

Verdict: Among Others contains elements of autobiography, a mix-in of “contemporary” fantasy, and loads of love for books and libraries.

I put “contemporary” in quotes because the story is set in the late 1970’s, due to the autobiographical elements in the story. The author herself grew up in Aberdare, as the heroine did, and was both disabled and sent to an English boarding school, paralleling the character in the story. No twin. (Lovely interview in the Austin Chronicle with more details)

There was a part of me that kept wondering whether Mori’s “seeing fairies” and practicing magic was real, or if it was a coping mechanism for everything she was going through. I’m not sure that mattered to my enjoyment of the story, but it niggled at me a bit.

The heart of the story is how Mori keeps herself going through her love of reading science fiction and fantasy. It’s not just that she reads, but that we hear what she thinks about what she reads. So there’s Mori’s thoughts on which writers and books she loved, and disliked, and why, along with what is happening to Mori and what she’s doing to counteract the bad crap going on in her daily life.

Fair warning: reading this book is guaranteed to add to your TBR pile. Mori is passionate about the books she loves. Also the ones she hates. But she will convince you to read, or re-read something. Several somethings.

But Among Others is, above all, a passionate reminder that we can, and do, rescue ourselves, if we just keep on doing. With time and a little help from our friends. Not if we keep on trying, but if we keep on doing. Mori and Yoda would have gotten on like a house on fire.


I give Among Others by Jo Walton 4 and ½ twinkling stars.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

black dog blues by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Series: Kai Gracen, #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 22, 2013
Number of pages: 277 pages
Publisher: Coffee Squirrel Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

My Thoughts:

Black Dog Blues is the first book (I truly hope there are more) in a rather gritty urban fantasy series. Notice I said urban fantasy series? One of the hallmarks of urban fantasy, as opposed to paranormal romance, is that the protagonist of an urban fantasy series generally has a pretty lousy love life.

I’ve always thought that Harry Dresden was the poster boy for urban fantasy, not that Kai Gracen bears ANY resemblance to Harry. But my point is that if anyone is reading Black Dog Blues looking for Kai to get within a continent’s length of a happy ending with anyone of any gender (or species), they’re in the wrong genre. It says so right there on the label.

It’s going to be several books before Kai gets within spitting distance of accepting himself enough to be relationship material for anyone else. I have high hopes for those books.

Also, possibly as a legacy from the TV shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time, there’s been a recent spate of stories portraying the fey (elves, fey, faeries, elfin, a rose by any other name, etc.) as dangerous. Shona Husk’s Outcast Prince (review here) is part of the trend. Black Dog Blues is part of the wave, and oh goodie. The elfin in Bad Dog Blues are immortal, and they have their own agendas. They’re dangerous. Not necessarily evil, although some are, but not automatically good just because they’re elfin. They’re other. As they should be.

The world is futuristic and seems post-apocalyptic. Something happened, some event we don’t know, and “Underhill”, the place of the sidhe and the unsidhe, merged with our world, with very dangerous results. Like dragons mating over the Mojave desert.

Kai is a licensed Stalker. He kills monsters for bounty, among other dangerous things. He’s also an elfin who lives in the mostly human underclass, and that’s where he wants to be. The slow reveal of his backstory is gut-wrenching and incredibly well done.

At first, you think the story of this elfin child being sold over a lost poker game to an old Stalker sounds incredibly cruel. Then you realize that piece of neglect was possibly the best thing that could have happened to Kai.

Now that they’ve found him again, the abuse he suffered as a child picks right back up where it left off. But he’s not a child anymore. Whatever he is.

Verdict: Black Dog Blues is very dark, very gritty, and very well done. The story dives right in to Kai’s world as it is, there’s no history lesson about how things got to be. Kai deals with his life as it is, so the reader does too. It works.

Kai trusts no one, and he’s right not to. Everybody lies, everybody double-deals. On the human side, almost everyone reflexively hates the elfin, but it’s not personal. For him, that’s better than the way his own people treat him.

Being coerced into elfin politics is the last thing he wants, but it’s the job he has to do to keep his license and his living. He knows he’s being set up, but he’s stuck. He endures. Kai is someone who faces into his pain and keeps on going. It’s the only thing he knows.

I didn’t need a love story to make Black Dog Blues work for me. YMMV. I actually didn’t want one because Kai doesn’t like himself enough for him to be a good bet for anyone else. This series is going to be his journey, and it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


I give  Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford 4 and ½ stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Armies of Heaven by Jane Kindred

The Armies of Heaven by Jane KindredFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Series: The House of Arkhangel’sk, #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Number of pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Entangled Select
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

Full-scale war has broken out in Heaven, and Anazakia must embrace her destiny, leading an army of Virtues into battle against a Host of enemies to restore the House of Arkhangel’sk. Furious with her for putting her trust in the angel who has done them all irreparable harm, Vasily tries to ignore his growing resentment, while Belphagor returns to the world of Man with a cadre of beautiful androgynous Virtues to restore the sundered alliance between the Fallen and the gypsy underground. Without their help in enlisting the terrestrial forces of Grigori and Nephilim, Anazakia’s Virtues are hopelessly outnumbered. But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

My Thoughts:

Fallen queen by Jane kindredWhat goes around, comes around. Not exactly profound, but there is definitely a sense that everything, good and bad, from The Fallen Queen (reviewed here at BLI) and The Midnight Court (reviewed at Reading Reality) comes back around in The Armies of Heaven.

The chickens all come home to roost. Chickens and angels both have feathers, right?

The House of Arkhangel’sk is the heavenly reflection of the House of Romanov. And both were manipulated by the Snow Queen, Aeval, because she didn’t get what she wanted when she wanted it. Yes, she was just that petty. Aeval is that cold.

Aeval set in motion a series of events with far-reaching consequences on earth and in the Courts of Heaven. Because she is the Snow Queen, she had no care for any of those consequences, as long as she got what she wanted.

But now there are three players on the board. Aeval is still the Usurper Queen of Heaven. Anazakia is fighting to regain her throne. And somewhere, Anazakia’s former nurse Helga is holding Anazakia’s daughter Ola prisoner in an oubliette while she puts forward a surprise candidate for the throne.

All this time, Anazakia believed that Aeval had ensorcelled her cousin Kae into murdering their family, including the child her sister Omelia was carrying. His own child. Now the truth is revealed, that Helga murdered Omelia by performing a butchery of a Cesarean birth and taking the child.

Helga says she wants social justice. Many in heaven who want to see the aristocracy thrown down are rallying to her banner. There have been too many inequities for too long, and reforms are needed, but Helga is only out for herself. At any price, including the sacrifice of both children.

As the armies gather, as allies become enemies become allies, Anazakia and her friends fight to find the children, and to attempt to save as much of both heaven and earth as they can. Every relationship and belief is strained to the breaking point.

But this story is ultimately about the importance of the family you make. On her 17th birthday, Anazakia went riding with her cousin Kae. On that ride, he was ensorcelled by Aeval. Everything else happened because of that ride. Kae was her best friend then, and Anazakia has to admit to herself that she still loves him, that he was not responsible for the things he did while he was under Aeval’s blood-spell.

Kae has to let himself believe that too.

And Anazakia has to make a deal with her worst enemy in order to achieve the best part of what she wants. It’s a damn hard lesson to learn.

Fate is cruel. Even for the Queen of Heaven.

Verdict: What makes this story so fascinating isn’t the battles, or even the politics (although the politics are incredibly intricate), it’s the people.

This is a series that has to be read as a whole, because the relationships are so complex. Even with the summary at the beginning of this volume, there’s no way to understand who these people are to each other without reading the whole series.

Midnight court by Jane KindredBecause Anazakia fell from heaven, she becomes more than a spoiled princess. She makes her own family with the demons Belphagor and Vasily, and eventually with Ola, and then Love, and Kirill. And finally, again, Kae. She opens up and grows because she got shaken from her setting, even if that shake was in the worst way possible.

She’s a better person, and a better queen, because of what she experiences. Otherwise she would have been just another complacent, spoiled princess, and nothing would have ever changed.

If The Midnight Court was like Russian tea, The Armies of Heaven is more like baklava, made of of many, many individual layers, each of which has it’s own flavor (and is sometimes full of nuts) and is its own part of the whole melange.

Every single tiny piece of the story, from first to last, came back to haunt by the time this book ended. Every thread got tied off. And the weave of them all was complicated, and very much like the Kushiel series or Babylon 5, every detail mattered.

The end came around to the beginning, both with Aeval and with Kae, although with Aeval, I was left wondering what it was all for from the forest sprites’ point of view. Is there another tale yet untold?

The idea of using the Tarot to send messages to the internet from heaven was just plain cool.


I give  The Armies of Heaven by Jane Kindred 4 and ½ heavenly stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: A Riveting Affair by Candace Havens, Lily Lang, Patricia Eimer

Riveting Affair by Havens, Lang, EimerFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 339 pages
Release Date: March 25, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Ever After
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Candace Havens’ Website | Lily Lang’s Website | Patricia Eimer’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast

Rose Verney wants to fulfill her father’s dying request: to complete construction of the teleportation device he designed. Knowing just who can help her succeed, she seeks out Sebastian Cavendish, her father’s brilliant former student.Sebastian hasn’t left his home since he returned from the Civil War. He’s a broken man, his prosthetics a reminder of the terrible destruction his inventions brought to the battlefield. He wants nothing to do with Rose and her father’s masterpiece, but when she barges into his abandoned lab and begins construction, it’s everything he can do to resist getting involved. Especially when she charms her way into his monstrous heart.

Demon Express

Professor Maisy Clark, professional demon hunter, is on the trail of an evil scientist responsible for the deaths of hundreds. Julian is worse than the monsters he creates, but he’s also obsessed with Maisy and willing to kill anyone who gets too close to her. Just when she thinks she has Julian cornered, the sexy marshall Jake Calloway insists the investigation is his, and everything goes to hell. Maisy came to Texas to corner the scientist whose macabre experiments have taken so many lives, and Calloway is just another distraction she doesn’t need. Julian is her responsibility, one she’s not about to share. Even if Calloway can help, Julian will know Maisy is falling for the marshall, and she’s not willing to risk his life.

The Clockwork Bride

When engineer Aida Mulvaney attends a masquerade ball at the home of a staunch Luddite earl with a personal vendetta against her father’s company, she doesn’t expect to end the night married to the earl’s son Julian Capshaw, a brilliant engineer in his own right. The marriage will allow both of them to pursue their love of science, without interfering parents and ridiculous social stigmas. Though they escape to the Continent to start new lives, Julian’s father will have none of his heir’s disobedience. Before long, a marriage begun for the sake of convenience becomes a union of passion, but will it survive the machinations of an earl determined to destroy everything they love?

My Thoughts:

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Lily Lang

This retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” was definitely my favorite story in the book! For one thing, this one was just the right length, not too long and not too short (more on that later). It began and ended within its frame.

This is a redemption story, as all the best reworkings of Beauty and the Beast generally are. Sebastian feels that the only way he can repay the world for all the killings done by his war machines is to suffer physical and mental anguish and to never create or use another machine again. Rose needs him to be her partner, to help her finish her father’s legacy. She remembers how he used to be when he was her father’s student. She doesn’t care about how he looks, what she cares about is his spirit, his desire to create and invent…the sharp mind that was the equal of her father’s.

Rose engages his mind, and brings him back to the land of the living. She brings his house back to life, too. They become partners first, and friends. Even though the very first scene is Sebastian being extremely beastly, in the end, they fall in love because they know each other well.

The story never drags. I almost got sucked into reading it again writing the review!

I give Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Lily Lang 4 and ½ stars


The Clockwork Bride by Patricia Eimer

Master Engineer Aida Mulvaney reluctantly goes to a masquerade ball with a friend and ends up eloping with Julian Capshaw, the son of a Luddite Earl,who also happens to be an engineer. Their fathers also happen to be long-standing enemies, to the point that maybe the M and C last names could be Montague and Capulet instead of Mulvaney and Capshaw.

And this is Victorian-era steampunk, so anti-Irish prejudice is in full-flower. You guessed it-Aida Mulvaney is Irish, or her family certainly is. The elopement part was actually fun, they don’t pretend this is a love match. But when things go downhill, Capshaw’s father’s schemes and machinations come off as too bwahaha evil when we don’t know enough about his motives.

Julian and Aida’s stay in poverty because of said machinations took up too much story, especially since we don’t know enough. That part of the story dragged. Then a whole lot of melodramatic froth got ladled on at the end.

I give The Clockwork Bride by Patricia Eimer 3 stars


The Demon Express by Candace Havens

When I read The Demon Express I had the feeling that I had been dropped into the middle of a story that had been started somewhere else. It felt like there was a whole lot more story going on than what I was reading in that one story. I want the rest of it.

I was left with a lot more questions than I had answers. Actually, the story didn’t end so much as it stopped. Maisy is clearly more than human, but in what way? Julian is some kind of monster, but what kind? What happened between them? More important, how does he track her? Does he really know what she’s feeling, or is he just a master manipulator?

The Demon Express felt like the teaser for a “real” story that I hope is coming later. I don’t like being teased this way without knowing that there is a full-length novel on the horizon. For certain.

I give The Demon Express by Candace Havens 2 and ½ stars.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

river of no return by bee ridgwayFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: Apr. 23, 2013
Number of pages: 464 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Formats available: ebook, hardcover
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

My Thoughts:

Too many reviewers start by saying that The River of No Return reminds them of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. I may be the last lover of time-travel stories that has not read that book.

Instead, The River of No Return reminded me inexorably of the late, lamented Kage Baker’s awesome novels of The Company. Especially the early ones when it was clear that she was still having fun and before Mendoza became such a tragic figure in her own life.

In the Garden of Iden by Kage BakerWhy? Because at the heart of both Kage Baker’s series (start with In the Garden of Iden) and The River of No Return there is an organization, at war, oh so definitely at war within itself, that is attempting to control the flow of time. And the knowledge about how to manipulate time. There are operatives, and there are secrets, and inevitably, there are lies.

In both Kage Baker’s stories and The River of No Return, the organizations see a time in the future when their organizations come to an end, and believe their end represents the end of the world, as opposed to merely the end of the world as they know it.

They definitely do not feel fine about what is coming, and they are trying everything, including breaking all their own rules, to prevent that end.

In The River of No Return, we see the story through the eyes of Nick Davenant, a man who starts his life as the Marquess of Blackdown, and should have died in battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Instead, he instinctively jumps time at the moment of his impending death, into the arms of “The Guild”, and into the 21st century. He’s told that he cannot return, and given more than enough money to keep him happy in our brave new century.

Then suddenly The Guild decides they need him to be Blackdown again. So they politely inform him that every rule they taught him was a lie. And they send him back, expecting him to be just as compliant back in his own time as he was here.

In his own time, he was never a compliant man. Especially not when threatened at gunpoint. After all, he has already died once. All they can do is kill him again.

And he has learned, once and for all, that The Guild is not to be trusted. Perhaps their adversaries are.

Verdict: This is a story with multiple layers. The overarching story is the war between The Guild and their opposing force, the Ofan. The Guild believes that time-travelers should be kept in the dark about their gifts, and the Ofan believes that the talent should be trained and exercised.

If anyone else sees this as a Time War a la Doctor Who, raise your hands.

time travelers wifeThere is also a love story in the 19th century, that has elements of a Regency romance, but that’s not the whole story either. Julia Percy starts out as a slightly unconventional woman of her time, but discovers that she is a key player in the time war. She is not a fixed point in time the way that the heroine is in The Time Traveler’s Wife, if I understand that plot correctly.

Julia starts out the story being acted upon, and ends the book having great agency of her own. She takes control of her own life, and it makes her a much more interesting character than she would be if she stayed in the Regency mold.

Both sets of time travelers are operating in the dark, and the story occasionally gets murky because of it. There are plots within plots within plots, and sometimes the only way to keep things straight is to just follow Nick and Julia.

The author has made Nick and Julia’s story extremely well worth following.


I give  The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway 4 and 1/2 shining stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft

17376967Format read: ebook
Series: The Order, #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2013
Number of pages: 246 pages
Publisher: Entangled Edge
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s website |Publisher’s website |Goodreads

Tara Collins just wants to be normal. Everyone else wants her dead.

Tara’s eccentric aunt raised her to be fearful of the world and follow the rules. But after her aunt’s death, Tara is ready to take control and experience life for the first time. But she quickly discovers that everything she’s been told is a web of lies. Determined to solve the mystery of who she is truly, she hires private investigator to help her uncover the truth.

Christian Roth is more than your average PI. A vampire and ex-demon hunter, Christian lives among the humans, trying to be “normal.” But recently, things seem to be falling apart. There’s a crazed demon hell-bent on revenge hunting him down and a fae assassin on the loose with an unknown target. Plus, the Order he abandoned desperately needs his help.

As the secrets of Tara’s past collide with the problems in Christian’s present, she finds herself fighting her attraction to the dark and mysterious investigator. Falling in love does not fit into her plans at all, but Tara soon learns that some rules are meant to be broken.

My Thoughts:

In most fairy tales, terms like demon and fae have automatic associations with them. Fae=good and demon=bad.

But what if those are just names for otherworldly races who have different agendas from our own, and what humans think of them doesn’t enter into it at all?

Tara Collins has been hidden all her life behind a hedge of rules laid down by her aunt. Don’t leave our property, don’t drink alcohol, don’t take off your talisman, and most especially, don’t tell anyone the truth about yourself.

But when her aunt dies, Tara discovers that her aunt never told her the truth about herself. And Tara feels that she needs to know. She also feels like she is entitled to a normal life. At 22, she craves a life that includes other people and real experiences.

So she leaves her remote Yorkshire village and gets an apartment in London. She enrolls in university. She makes some close friends.

She hires a private investigator to dig into her origins. And that’s where all the fun begins.

Because for the investigator to have something to work with, she has to tell him the whole story, as she knows it. Breaking her aunt’s most important rule.

Tara chose Christian Roth’s investigations firm because her cat picked his name. Yes, you read that right. Tara took her cat’s paw scratchings as a sign. But then, Tara’s cat Smokey is not exactly what he seems, although Tara doesn’t know it. All Tara knows is that Smokey is her oldest and dearest friend.

On that infamous other hand, Christian Roth is a lot more than just a private investigator. Christian Roth is a vampire, and has been for over 500 years. It turns out that he is the perfect person to investigate her past.

Because Tara isn’t human. Neither are the beings her mother tried to protect her from.

And they’re back.

Verdict: Tara is a very sympathetic character. She’s grown up under unusual circumstances, and she just wants a normal life. It’s too bad that there’s no way she could possibly get one!

But it makes sense that she resists the idea that she’s not human as long as she does. It’s not a truth that anyone in her circumstance would want to hear.

Christian is a predator in business clothing, and he drops the businessman mask quickly. He’s been waiting for a purpose, and Tara gives him something to fight for.

The really cool part of the story is the war between the fae and the demons, and how it manifests on Earth. They’ve been trying to beat each other for centuries, if not more, and so much of what happens in the story turns out to be collateral damage. This was awesome. Also awesomely painful for Tara and Christian.

This paranormal version of the world, where the vampires and some of the other races that we are familiar with, like werewolves, are part of an organization called “The Order” that is policing Earth to enforce a treaty between the fae and the demons, is a place where there are lots of fascinating story possibilities.

I want more! I also have a not-so-secret desire for this world to connect to Croft’s SFR series, Blood Hunter. Vampires and werewolves in space!


I give Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft 4 1/2 blood-tipped stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders

Format read: ebook copy provided by the publisher for review
Release Date: 14 January 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Number of pages: 550 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAmazon, Barnes and NobleRead an excerpt


Scarlett Fever, by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.

Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.

Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart, by Nico Rosso

Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.

The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.

When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire, by Tamara Morgan

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes, by Adrien-Luc Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

Our Thoughts:

Stella: With Marlene we are both big superhero fans, so when we heard that Entangled Publishing released this new anthology full of thrilling superhero romance novellas we were more than excited to read them and then later duel about the stories. To keep it from being too long we decided to restrain our discussion to only 2 of the 4 novellas: Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane and Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan. So Marlene, en garde! 😉


Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

Marlene’s Thoughts: Superheroes and sasquatch. I’m not sure whether the question should be what do those those two things have to do with each other, or whether it’s even possible to make a romance out of them, let alone in Plunketville, Oklahoma.

I should have looked to see if there really was a Plunketville, Oklahoma.

The opposites-attract trope can make for a fun romance, and the heat amps up twice as fast in the middle of a scorching Oklahoma summer. Especially when your cover is to live in a trailer park in air-conditioning challenged Plunketville. (I can’t help myself, I just love the name Plunketville, as long as I don’t have to live there)

And one of you is a fireball-throwing rookie-superhero. Partnered with a control-freak rookie-superhero who prides himself on being, not just too cool for school, but too cool for everyone. Especially the out-of-control fireball known as Scarlett Fever.

Blade of Justice is all about being cool and controlled. He dislikes anyone and anything that colors outside the lines or refuses to plan every operation to the last detail. Superheroes like Scarlett.

Too bad that when General Hammer hands out assignments to their graduating class from the United Superhero Academy, he assigns Blade and Scarlett to Plunketville to discover the mysterious anomaly in the hot, dusty, ugly small town.

Their cover says they’re married. Scarlett changes that program immediately. She tells the locals they’re siblings.

It takes less than 24 hours before one of the local waitresses decides that Blade is the hottest thing she’s ever seen.

And before Blade starts to wish that his “sister” had stayed his “wife”.

Then the evil ramps up, Blade and Scarlett start off not sure whether they are still school frenemies, or partners.

But the supervillain in town just wants Scarlett gone. And Blade realizes that coloring outside the lines is more fun, and more powerful, than being in control.

Verdict: Scarlett Fever reminded me of Tiffany Allee’s Heels and Heroes. Everyone knows there are superheroes, there are regular schools for them, it’s an accepted part of the world. This means that everyone also knows that there are supervillains.

It was obvious who the supervillain was. Not what that person’s power was, but who they must be.

What was fun was watching Scarlett and Blade fall for each other. They have a lot of preconceived notions, because they did not get on at school. When they are forced to rely on each other in the field, they discover that a lot of their negative feelings towards each other were a mask for something else.

This was just a fun story. And the characters of Sherwood and Nestor were an absolute hoot.

I give Scarlett Fever 3 and 1/2 radioactive stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: It was by pure chance I read Scarlett Fever, namely that it was the very first story in the anthology and I started with it and I have to say in my opinion Holding Out for a Hero started out with a bang.

Scarlett Fever starts with the graduation exam at the Superhero Academy, where  Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice fight the graduation battle before being assigned to be each other’s partner for the next year. Their mission is in Plunketville, Oklahoma, and the small town provided a colourful location with several memorable secondary characters.

Scarlett and Blade are complete opposites: Scarlett is fiery, feisty, spontaneous while Blade is cool, level-headed and responsible, he is the ice to Scarlett’s fire, and the sparks crackle between these two. I loved their banter and their loaded silences as well, Blade was a hero the reader could have a serious crush on, while Scarlett was a likeable and very entertaining heroine with her huffing and puffing. The story was truly a superhero romance because Scarlett Fever was just as much about the explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Blade than the superhero mystery, and I absolutely enjoyed both!

She had to admit, it was easy to see Blade’s appeal. He exuded strength and confidence, and he kissed like the world was about to end.

Oh yeah, he definitely does… Can I just say yum? 😉

Verdict: Some people on Goodreads called Scarlett Fever silly, but I don’t expect to take my cartoon superheroes seriously (really, how could you take a hero who is called Blade of Justice seriously? lol 😉 ). But what I expect is lots of action, tongue in cheek humour and tons of fun and Scarlett Fever delivered! If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series you’ll love Scarlett Fever as well, and I sincerely hope Christine Bell and Ella Dane will give us more stories in this universe, because it was a lot of fun, and I personally would LOVE to read many more similar superhero stories! 😀

I give Scarlett Fever 4 and 1/2 fiery stars!

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan

Marlene’s Thoughts: Fireball was framed, over and over and over. Although this story has a happy ending, this is not a happy story.

Fiona Nelson seems to have been a victim of her own life. She willingly took the conversion serum that gave her the power to spontaneously create fire at a touch, but willing is somewhat of a relative term when it comes to Fiona and men persuading her to do the wrong thing..

She catches fire whenever she loses control of her emotions. She can’t allow anyone to touch her, because, well, love makes you lose control of your emotions. Sex just plain makes you lose control, whether you do it for the right, or the wrong, reasons.

And most of the people, especially men, who have touched Fiona have not done so with love. Or even like. Fiona has some serious self-esteem issues.

Or, as way too many people in her hometown referred to her, Fiona was the town bicycle. Every man got to ride her. She let them. Sex made her feel better. Momentarily. Then she felt worse.

The man who gave her the serum was one of her “lovers”. Now he’s her persecutor. General Eagle, out to save the world from the converted. He calls them the corrupted.

Fiona finds herself asking for help from the first man who told everyone she was so easy. Except Ian was just a boy then, and now he’s a researcher trying to prove the converted really exist.

Without revealing that he is one.

Fiona’s reappearance in his life is Ian’s chance to make up for having wronged her, all those years ago. His only excuse then was that he was young, and stupid, and didn’t speak up for himself very well. Because nothing much happened.

Now he can save her. Or condemn her to death.

Verdict: This story made me sad. It wants to be a superhero story, but it ends up being, I want to say a supervillain story, but not even that. Everyone is a victim. Fiona is a victim. Ian is a victim. Eagle is kind of a victim.

I wanted to kick Ian’s friend in the balls. Twice. he was just an arse beyond reason.

The government doesn’t come off too well either. They mostly manipulate. This story ended up as a sad mess.

I give Playing with Fire 1 and 1/2 sputtering stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: I am a fan of Tamara Morgan’s stories, I enjoyed Love is a Battlefield and her latest release Confidence Tricks was phenomenal, so yeah I admit, that her story was the reason I was the most looking forward to reading this anthology, but sadly Playing with Fire as Marlene just said made me sad as well.

Due to a natural disaster (something about an asteroid hitting Earth) a conversion serum was developed, many people excited to see what supernatural abilities it would develop for them took it without knowing anything about any potential side-effects and consequences, one of them being Fiona, who developed the power to generate heat and fire with her bare hands. Eight years have gone by and although she has come a long way handling this unique ability of hers, she still has a thin grasp on control whenever her temper flares. But with Fiona we don’t see any positive changes this superpower brought to her life only the bad: how for the past 8 years she had to relinquish all kind of human contact, relationship and had to resign herself to a life of loneliness and solitude.

The problem was that this story was depressing on all levels: Fiona had awful teenage years, she had a reputation of the “high school slut”, and it was not due to false rumours and gossips because she really did do the whole football team as Fiona tells us. And even after that not only the world but mostly Fiona objectified her body and traded sexual acts for any kind of human contact: attention, compassion, companionship. Fiona’s past not only made me sad for the young vulnerable girl she was and still is, the problem is that I don’t feel her opinion of herself, on the matter of sex and her self-esteem have changed.

Besides a superhero who still hasn’t risen above her sad past, the hero also made me sad. His best friend was a jerk and even at the last rescue didn’t manage to redeem himself to me. And I wouldn’t call the romance romance as it didn’t have much time or space to develop, since both the hero and heroine were stuck in very different places than the hero and now, at times stuck in high school and their guilt ever since, then trying to escape the threat looming.

Verdict: Although Playing with Fire had a mutant human heroine, somewhat her attitude doesn’t make me think of her as a superhero. I felt sorry and sad for her, and just wanted to hug Fiona and tell her it will be alright, but one of my problems is that I’m not sure at all it will be. The universe in the story seemed very dystopian to me, and I seriously can’t think of any friendly or trustworthy person there. Don’t write off Tamara Morgan based on this story, try one of her contemporary romance for something lighter and fluffier.

I give Playing with Fire 2 and 1/2 stars!

To read Lea’s review of From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders CLICK HERE.

To read Marlene’s review of Ironheart by Nico Rosso  CLICK HERE.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Prince of Power by Elisabeth Staab

prince of powerFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Chronicles of Yavn #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

This Fight Is Personal…

Wizards and vampires have been mortal enemies since the beginning. Now Anton, son of the Wizard Master, has one last chance to steal the unique powers of the vampire king’s beautiful sister, Tyra…and then kill her. But when he meets Tyra face-to-face, everything changes…

Tyra will stop at nothing to defeat the wizards, until Anton saves her life and she suddenly sees an opportunity she never could have imagined…

As the sparks ignite between them, together they could bring an end to the war that’s decimating their people, but only if they can find a way to trust each other…

My Thoughts:

What if Romeo and Juliet had way more serious reasons not to be together than a mere “family feud” but still managed to end in, if not happily ever after, at least, happy for now?

That’s somewhat the premise of Elisabeth Staab’s Prince of Power, the second book in her Chronicles of Yavn series.

Her Romeo, or rather, the prince on one side of this equation, is the son of the head wizard from King of Darkness. Poor Anton, he should have been born human. Or vampire. Anything but spawn of psychopath.

Anton is a nice wizard, which in Staab’s universe is an oxymoron. Dad thinks he’s failure, and has him killed. But fate intervenes. Or someone intervenes.

So Anton finds himself a patient at the shelter where Tyra, the sister of King Thad of the vampires (that still sounds funny, really, even if his full name is Thaddeus) works as the center director. Tyra has always believed that she is half-human. And that she was abandoned at the vampire compound by her “mother-the-nutcase”.

(Thad’s dad the late vampire king did not cheat on his mate, just in case you’re wondering about the backstory. Tyra’s conception and birth happened a couple of decades before Thad’s parents got together.)

Meanwhile, Anton feels compelled to watch over Tyra, even while she’s at the shelter. Amnesia nothwithstanding. Even though he doesn’t remember who he is. He remembers her. And, he feels better when he’s near her.

Tyra knows she should think he’s just fixated on her because he’s lost. Or something like that. Instead, she is drawn to him. (It doesn’t hurt that Anton is handsome as sin).

But when Anton finally regains his memory, they both discover that he is one of her race’s worst enemies. Only, she should have felt the evil in his soul. Because wizards always exude an evil aura that vampires can sense.

And Anton simply doesn’t have one. Not because he can mask his. Because there isn’t one there. He’s not evil.

It turns out that he really does love her. Even more once he regains his memory. But her people believe that he must be eliminated. No matter how often he proves that he is willing to fight with the vampires against the wizards.

He’s willing to fight to stay with Tyra. No matter what it takes.

king of darknessVerdict: I liked Prince of Power even more than I did King of Darkness (see today’s review at Reading Reality for details), probably because Prince turned so many tropes on their tropey-dopey little heads.

This definitely is not a fated mate story. It’s the furthest thing from it. Anton and Tyra are on opposite sides of a very, very high fence. They shouldn’t get together. Ever. In King of Darkness, Anton is supposed to kidnap her and refuses. And gets beaten for that refusal.

Also, of this pair, Tyra is the warrior, Anton is the healer, and they’re both okay with that. Being half-vampire, she is always going to be physically stronger than he is. And he’s cool with that. He will fight for her, and he will fight for them to stay together, but “fight” has multiple meanings. Most of his fighting is going to be patching people up afterwards.

The deeper story of the vampires and the wizards also gets some exploration. Thad is king because his father was killed by the master wizard. That master also gets killed, by Anton, with some conniving help from his murderous brother. Both forces are now being led by the “new guard”.

But there’s a reactionary “old guard” waiting in the wings to disrupt things on the vampire side. It wouldn’t be a vampire story without vampire politics to mix things up.

And the developing side stories are cooking quite nicely, too. I can’t wait for book 3.


I give Prince of Power by Elisabeth Staab 4 and one half stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.