Demonically Tempted

Demonically Tempted is the second book in Stacey Kennedy’s intensely amazing paranormal romance/urban fantasy Frostbite series. The events in Demonically Tempted directly follow those in the first book, Supernaturally Kissed. You should read Supernaturally Kissed before Demonically Tempted. All the 5 star reviews of Supernaturally Kissed were dead-on, it’s fantastic. And so is Demonically Tempted. You’ll be tempted to stay up late to finish it!

Right where Kissed left off, Tess Jennings sees ghosts, especially her ghost-lover, Kipp McGowan, a cop who is determined to continuing serving with the Memphis Police Department, even as a ghost.

But Tess is the only one who can see him. And Tess’ ability to communicate with ghosts is very useful to the cold-case squad. So many cold-cases involve old homicides, and so many victims, well, have the kind of unfinished business that results in ghosts. Ghosts that Tess can help.

Tess gets a job offer from the Memphis P.D. Which she really has no choice about taking. Her old job isn’t there anymore. She spent too much time working with the cops on Kipp’s case. She got fired.

But working with Kipp’s old squad is okay. They accept her and Kipp as a team. But, there’s a problem. The supernatural community is not so accepting. Kipp is a ghost. His issues are resolved. He should cross over. And he isn’t, hasn’t, won’t. Because of Tess.

Tess’ powers are untrained. She started seeing ghosts when she was seventeen, after a very near-death experience. The Police Department has brought in a medium, someone who has more experience working cases, to work with her. Dane Wolfe says he can train her, but something about Dane gives her the heebie-jeebies, even more than the ghosts.

And something is seriously up with the ghost community. There are lots of ghost coming to see her. Deliberately. There is a dark spirit terrorizing them. Tess didn’t even know the ghosts were organized, and now they’re passing the word around about her. They want her to actually “Ghostbust” a bad spirit for them. What’s up with that?

So the quiet life Tess had at the beginning of Supernaturally Kissed is toast. Instead, she’s a police consultant with a ghost-lover and a real would-be Ghostbuster for the good ghosts on the ghostly side of Memphis–something she didn’t know existed. And she feels guilty for keeping Kipp from crossing over. Because she loves him more than she’s ever loved any man, and it’s going to rip her apart when he leaves. Which is what is supposed to happen.

And she’s in the middle of her first real case, which is nothing like it appears to be. And might be part of the whole supernatural Ghostbusting-thing.

Maybe Tess should ask for her quiet life back?

Escape Rating A: This just keeps getting better. And darker and deeper. The urban fantasy mix-in of the cop shop is marvelous–all of Kipp’s squad trying to get used to Tess, and knowing that he’s there watching, but they can’t see him. Some of them answer the question they know he’s just asked, even though they can’t hear it. Now that’s teamwork!

There’s angst here, too. Tess and Kipp know this can’t last forever, and there are definitely problems. Their relationship is hot, but, their ability to physically interact is seriously limited. And they definitely love each other. They want to do what is best for each other, but don’t know what that is, since they have no clue what comes next. What happens to ghost, after?

Demonically Tempted ends on a scrape-your-jaw-off-the-floor cliffhanger. I wanted to reach through my iPad and shake the next book out of Ms. Kennedy right then and there. (This feature needs to be added to future iPads)

The cover reveal for Mystically Bound is tomorrow.

Supernaturally Kissed

Tess Jennings sees dead people. Ghosts. And they’re usually pretty clueless. No “Ghostbusting” required. Mostly they’re lost and confused and they need Tess to deliver a final message to somebody, or close out some unfinished business for them, or maybe just tell them they’re dead. Then they move on.

They aren’t supposed to spend an entire evening whispering dirty nothings into her ear. Not in a voice so sexy it ought still be doing phone sex, whether the operator is dead or alive.

But when Kipp McGowen, starts coming on to Tess in Supernaturally Kissed, the first book of Stacey Kennedy’s Frostbite series, he’s a ghost. The most deliciously handsome and mentally together ghost that Tess Jennings has ever seen. But definitely a ghost.

Kipp is a cop with the Memphis Police Department. And he needs Tess to help him solve one final case before he can “move on”, or whatever it is that ghosts do. He needs Tess to deliver all the information he has on the case that got him killed.

What’s weird about that case is that Kipp was working a cold case. It shouldn’t have gotten anyone excited enough to gun down a cop. But it sure seems like whoever murdered Hannah Reid five years ago must have gotten nervous about a cop asking questions about the old case. Even if the cop in question doesn’t know which rock he overturned that uncovered his killer.

Kipp didn’t see his murderer. It isn’t that easy. He wants Tess to go to the police station and talk to his partner.

Tess is NOT THRILLED. She knows what’s going to happen. The cops are going to be certain she’s a fake. Or crazy. Or both. She’ll be exposing her gift (or her curse, it’s all in the definition) and nothing good will come of it. At least not for her.

But Kipp is certain this is the only way he’ll get the resolution he needs to cross over. And Tess knows she won’t get him out of her life until he does. And dammit, she finds him amazingly, incredibly hot. Having him around, as a ghost, all the time, watching her, talking to her, in that sexy voice, describing all the things he’d do to her if he weren’t a ghost–she’ll combust.

She goes to the station. And it’s every bit as bad as she feared. Except that Kipp is there with her. Really with her. So it’s good. Even though it shouldn’t be. And that’s a problem.

Because he’s a ghost. And the longer he stays, the better they are together. The better they are together, the more difficult it will be when his case is finally resolved, whatever that’s going to take.

The more Tess works with Kipp and plays with Kipp, the more danger she is in. Working with the cops is dangerous enough, but the real danger, is to her heart. What happens if she falls in love with a ghost?

Escape Rating A: This is one of those times when the book is every bit as good as all the buzz you’ve heard. Everyone raved about Supernaturally Kissed and they were absolutely right. This story is a wow!

Tess is wounded and keeps to herself because she’s got a gift, or a curse. She can see ghosts, and she helps them cross over. Kipp is a ghost who needs her help. The only problem is that Kipp is her wildest dream of a man she would have wanted, if only he were alive!

Struggling with being a ghost, with needing to rely on others, and with the awareness that his time has already run out, makes Kipp into the man that Tess needs, except it’s already too late. Kipp’s a ghost. Resolving his last case is the loose end that keeps him from crossing over. When it’s done, he’ll be gone. But he’s a cop, and the case needs to be done so that Hannah Reid, the woman whose death he was investigating, has justice, and so that her murderer isn’t free.

It was never about Kipp. That’s what made him a good cop. That’s what makes him a good hero for this romance, in spite of being a ghost. Or maybe because he’s a ghost. A very hot ghost.

The Frostbite series continues with Demonically Tempted and the upcoming Mystically Bound (cover reveal tomorrow)

Dark Inheritance: Fallen Empire

Two flavors that taste surprisingly good together: the manners of the Regency period, dipped into the darkness that comes after the complete collapse of civilization that results from an utterly devastating plague.  In other words, what happens to the upper crust of the ton in a dystopian world?

Unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, K. Reed’s Dark Inheritance: Fallen Empire is not playing for laughs. Someone has unleashed a plague on England, and the population has been reduced to a mere remnant of itself. Only the strong survive.

There are no zombies, no vampires, no ghouls. Well, not in the classic horror sense. There are only men and women who have survived a deadly disease that seems to have struck down eight or nine out of ten. Civilization has collapsed. Whole towns have ceased to exist. It’s as if the Black Death struck full force in 1804 instead of the 1400’s.

The English blame Napoleon. If the same thing happened in France, the French probably blame the English.

But Grayson Merrick, Baron of Harwich, doesn’t have time to worry about who the French think caused the plague. He’s much too busy holding his own lands. He kept his coastal fief of Harwich together, and relatively safe, when most of the lands around him descended into chaos. It’s required iron discipline, and a will of adamant, but two years later, he’s carved a safe zone for his people and is bringing more villages under his protection each month.

Relative safety means that he has time to worry about the future, the future of England. Rumor says that the Royals are all fled, or dead. That the government is gone. He heard one fairly credible rumor that some of the governmment officials were still alive in London, and he mounted a expedition to check it out. He found London a burned out wreck, and no government left. Almost no one left alive except the rats.

The heart of the Empire is dust and ashes.

As he returns to Harwich Grayson decided to take his foraging party, (for that is what they are, it is not possible to go out into the countryside without searching for supplies) to the house of his former commander.

His commander has died of the plague. Everyone in that house has died of the plague. Except for one beautiful woman. Who has survived, and like all survivors, is probably immune. But she is weak and will slow them down returning to Harwich.

Grayson has always told his men not to take survivors. They can’t save everyone. They don’t have enough supplies. This is a brutal necessity in a world gone mad. But he wants this woman. She is the only thing, the only person, he has asked for, for himself, in the time since the plague, since he began saving everyone else.

His men make space in the carriage they are using to haul supplies, and they bring her back to Harwich.

Her name is Juliette, Lady Adair. They should have met in a ballroom. He should have been able to respectfully pay his addresses, before the world went mad.

That world is gone.

Instead, he installs her in his rooms, because they are the only place good enough for her. There are no proprieties any longer.

And the first thing she sees when she wakes up is Grayson whipping a man for being falling down drunk on sentry duty, and allowing bandits into the safe zone. The man chose the whipping, because it was a preferred punishment to being exiled. Exile is death in this terrible world.

And Juliette understands. Only the strong survive. She is one of the strong ones. She is a member of the British Government. The question is, whether or not she can trust Grayson with her secret.

And whether he can trust her with his.

Escape Rating A-: This is an a darkly fascinating alternate history. The reader does not know how the plague came about, because the characters don’t know. The world has gone mad. How do the strong survive? Who do you trust? Life still goes on, but what changes?

The description of this story was a post-apocalyptic Regency romance, and it kind of is, but more in an alternate history sense. Everyone remembers the mannered culture of the ton, but the sane people know it’s over.

There is a love story, and the lovers, Grayson and Juliette, both think about what things would have been like, if, but recognize that the world has shattered. They regret what they’ve lost, but mostly the people and how much easier life was. They are pragmatic. Very. And while it’s expected in the hero, it’s also excellent to have in a Regency heroine. A simpering miss would be dead. Literally.

Regarding the spying and skullduggery against the French, it’s absolutely fascinating that even with the plague, the enmity between France and England is eternal.

The Mongoliad Book One

The Mongoliad, of which Book One has just been published, is any number of things. It’s the first book in something its seven creators call The Foreworld Saga–more on that later. It’s also a cooperative effort with seven, count them, seven authors–but it isn’t a collection of short stories. It’s a novel, at least as published.

It started out as an experiment. A serial novel, published online at, then the result edited down and published as a novel.

About that serial story, and the origins of the novel, and the effect it has on the book that I read. In other words, why did I go hunting for the website?

The Mongoliad, Book One, felt like it dropped me into the middle of the story. Or two stories.

The book takes place in 1241. In history, that was when Ögedei Khan, son of the famous Genghis Khan, controlled most of Asia, and had stretched his vast empire into Eastern Europe.

Not part of history was the “Circus of Swords” that draws the great Western champions to Legnica in Western Poland. There was a battle there during the Mongol invasion of Europe. But not a tournament.

The authors of The Mongoliad invented the tournament as part of their alternate history, The Foreworld Saga. They wanted to create a story-vehicle for fighters of as many different schools of Western Martial Arts as possible to get a chance to use those arts. (This idea isn’t new, Tolkien initially wrote the Lord of the Rings because he invented Elvish first and wanted to create a world where it was spoken)

So, we have the “Circus of Swords”. We have a group of champion fighters. What’s the story? The tournament is not the story.

One part of the story turns out to be leaving the tournament on a quest to assassinate the Great Khan and save Western Europe from invasion.

The second part of the story takes place at the Great Khan (Ögedei’s) court. One of Ogedei’s brothers sends a young warrior, Gansukh, to court to try to convince the Khan not to drink quite so much. (According to Wikipedia, Ögedei Khan did actually drink prodigiously)

Gansukh is assigned a tutor to learn to navigate the dangerous ways of the court, because he is more used to killing his enemies with his sword than being flayed with sharp tongues. And in order to have any influence with the Khan, he will need to find a way to get close to the Khan without murdering his favorites.

So there are two stories, the Western champions working their way towards the Mongol capitol, Karakorum, in order to assassinate the Khan, and Gansukh, trying to find a way to save the Khan from his own alcoholism, and the resultant loss of respect. Also, Gansukh has to keep himself alive among the snakes at court.

These two stories are going to intersect, but not until at least Book Two!

Escape Rating C: It took half the book for the story to truly capture my interest. And half this book is 200 pages. If I hadn’t been assigned this for a magazine review, I might not have finished.

Gansukh’s story is the more coherent. His is a distinctive personality, and his point of view is easy to follow. Also, the “fish out of water” position he finds himself in is one that is easy to sympathize with. He wants to be back on the steppes, and the reader understands completely!

The Western champions are much harder to distinguish. There are too many, and they don’t talk a lot. A lot of men who are primarily interested in fighting don’t discuss their feelings or motivations a whole lot, which makes it hard to empathize. Everyone is mysterious. The point of view character is Cnán, a girl from a group known as the Binders — whose origins and motivations the reader also doesn’t know.

And is this alternate history, fantasy, or something else? The information at leads one to the conclusion that it is sort of alternate history, but not yet. A cliffhanger ending is one thing, but this much outright obscurity does not inspire me to continue.


Seized: The Pipe Woman Chronicles

Mediating between two opposing sides in legal disputes comes just a little too easily for Naomi Witherspoon. She is an ace mediator for her law firm, but when she discovers that she can “suggest” that the car ahead of her just get out of her way, and it does so by running a red light almost causing a head-on collision, Naomi realizes that all the sudden coincidences in her life are more than just her being very good at her job.

Naomi never expects to discover that a Sioux goddess has chosen Naomi as her avatar for the upcoming end of the world. And Naomi isn’t all that sure that she wants the job.

It makes the conflict of Naomi’s emotions and beliefs a wild ride in Seized, the first book of The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell.

As Naomi’s journey begins, her life seems pretty good. She has a job she mostly like, a best friend she trusts and a handsome man who she hopes will finally pop the question after eight years of on-again/off-again that seems to finally be on track.

But there are some gaps in her life she still needs to fill. Her law firm is pretty wishy-washy about her mediation practice, and that’s a big problem. Naomi doesn’t feel right about litigation, especially considering some of the rich scumbags they’ve started representing. She’s good at finding compromises, maybe too good. She loves mediation, especially the court-appointed work she’s been doing.

About that man of hers…well, Brock has been part of her life since law school, but he’s got one heck of a roving eye, and sometimes other body parts. He’s very handsome but just a bit on the shady side when it comes to practicing law. But this time, their togetherness seems to be sticking. Naomi just wishes he’d finally ask her to marry him already.

There’s one haunting blank spot in Naomi’s life. She doesn’t know who her father is. Her mother says that he died in the Vietnam War, and won’t talk about him. His name isn’t on Naomi’s birth certificate, and there are no pictures. Her mom won’t talk about him. But the war ended two years before Naomi was born. Pregnancy may seem like forever, but it doesn’t last that long.

Naomi’s best friend Shannon knows all the answers. At least, enough of the answers to put Naomi on the right path. But Shannon knows Naomi well enough that Naomi will have to start the journey for herself.

But Shannon believes that the world encompasses more than just technology and logic. She believes that there is still magic, and faith, and powers that shape the universe in ways that Naomi’s legalist mind doesn’t want to see. Shannon says that she’s “fey on her Irish granny’s side”.

So when Naomi figures out that some of her gift of mediation is more than just training. Shannon takes her to a ritual Native American “sweat” outside of Denver. A very special ritual just for Naomi. So that Naomi can meet her destiny. And save the world.

But only if she can manage to accept it. While that destiny turns her entire set of beliefs, her identity, her world, upside-down and inside out.

Escape Rating B: This has the potential to be a very interesting series, and I definitely liked the opener. The story is ultimately about a war among the gods, through human avatars. What was interesting was that the primary point-of-view deity chose, not a warrior, but a mediator as their avatar. So the war is might be decided through negotiation rather than outright warfare. Neat choice!

This is a building of the fellowship type of story. A teacher, a healer, a mediator, a guardian create the team. The overarching story looks like a battle of the pantheons, with a flavor of “this has all happened before, and it will all happen again” thrown in for good measure. The gods and goddesses are picking sides, not because the conflict can be stopped, but because they want to make sure the result it “better” than the last time.

What constitutes “better”? That’s always the question. Naomi’s side represents better for the environment. The other side is looking for more unbridled development. Odin is on the other side. This has the potential to make things very, very interesting in the later books.

There is a love story involved, or rather, an insta-attraction sub-plot. But whether Naomi and Joseph’s story turns out to be real love or the goddess making sure things go along the right path for her purposes is something that will be further investigated in book 2. Which I want to read.

Lynne will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter on the tour.

So, if you want to read all of Naomi’s journey (or all that’s available so far), here’s your chance! Comment! Leave a comment on this review, and on all the stops on the review tour this week. Lynne will be giving one lucky commenter a $10 Amazon GC. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

May 21: A Case of Reading Insomnia
May 22: Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews
May 23: From Me to You … Video, Photography, & Book Reviews
May 24: Reading Reality
May 25: Stories of My Life


Alien Revealed

First contact. In the story of Alien Revealed, the sexy science fiction romance by Lilly Cain, that phrase about the protocols surrounding the first meeting between humans and aliens takes on some amazing new variations.

And I don’t think any of them are quite what Star Fleet might have had in mind. Although Jim Kirk probably did. 😉

But in this first contact story, the humans are the less scientifically developed race being contacted by the more scientifically advanced Inarrii. And the contact is accidental. As in collision.

Agent Alinna Gaerrii has been observing the human Starforce installation from her covert base on the moon. Some of that observation has included a bit of close-in flying in a stealth pod. That’s what got her in trouble. An unscheduled airjet swerved into the airspace over the base and collided with her pod. The resulting crash wasn’t pretty. The airjet’s passengers were killed, and Alinna’s pod, with all of its alien technology, hit the trees. Alinna survived, just barely, but it was exactly the kind of situation for which self-destruct signals were created.

The humans were not supposed to know that they were being observed, Not quite yet. Alinna was just about ready to return to the Confederacy Alliance base on Jupiter’s moon Europa to report that the humans would be excellent candidates to join the Alliance against the brutal Raveners. The diplomatic team would return to begin treaty negotiations.

Instead, Alinna, wounded and bleeding, was found by Starforce pilots investigating the crash site. Also found was a small piece of melted plastic, the last remains of her ship.

Starforce Major David Brown mistakenly identifies Alinna as the psychtech who was supposed to have been aboard that airjet. The one who was scheduled to evaluate his Special Forces team before their mission to Mars.

Alinna decides to go along with the mistaken identity, using her Inarrii abilities of reading emotions as a way of observing the humans up close. Even though she will break every protocol of observation that an Agent is supposed to maintain, she is certain the information will be worth it. Everything she’s seen of the humans shows that they are exactly the allies the Confederacy needs.

But David Brown is a shock. Because Alinna can reach him, mind-to-mind, as though he were another Inarrii. Which he manifestly is not.

That any human can achieve mind contact makes the humans even more valuable as potential allies than anyone could have guessed. They can be full partners.

But for Alinna, alone and isolated for far too long for one of her people, David is much more. The mind contact that he initiates in his dreams soothes her. Inarrii need touch almost as much as food and water; and Alinna has been alone for months.

When those dream-meetings, and dream-matings, move into the real they discover that they might have something worth changing their lives for … if they can get past their very big differences. And the people who are shooting at them.

Escape Rating B: As I said in my review of the second book in Cain’s Confederacy Treaty series, The Naked Truth, this science fiction romance leans a little more on the romance side of the equation than the science fiction side.

However, maybe because Alien Revealed is the first book in the series (Undercover Alliance is third, and it’s due out in June) a lot of the science fiction worldbuilding takes place in Alien Revealed. Which I liked seeing.

Even if I think that the base security is weaker than it should be. But folks snuck into Stargate Command who shouldn’t have, too. I did love some of the fun touches, such as the bit about the folks who really, really wanted to meet an alien were nicknamed You-fo’s, derived from UFOs, and no one ever believed them. Until all of a sudden they were right.

Dancing Naked in Dixie

Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark lives up to its teasing, tantalizing title. Every single bit of it. And it’s marvelous, in more and surprising ways than you might expect from the breezy picture on the cover.

Globe-trotting travel writer Julia Sullivan sputters that she’d rather dance naked for her next assignment than go to Alabama. However, she’s going to Alabama, and there is no way she’s getting out of it.

Julia’s been in kind of a slump recently. Like two years recently, ever since her mother died. She’s used her jet-setting, travel-writing job as a way of avoiding, well, pretty much everything. Especially her own problems.

What she hasn’t been doing is actually connecting with any of those fantastic places that she’s visited. Which means that her travel writing hasn’t been what it used to be. And the new editor of Getaways magazine is just the person to make sure she gets back on track. Or make sure she goes out the door. The new editor is her very much estranged father.

And he’s sending her to Eufaula, Alabama, to cover the Annual Pilgrimage, and do it right, damn it, or get fired.

Even if Julia would rather dance naked than find herself in the Heart of Dixie.

But once she gets there, after leaving her luggage behind and suffering one mishap after another, Julia discovers a few things.

Being forced to slow down a little gives her a chance to do some real travel reporting again, and not just take pictures. Connecting with the people of Eufaula makes her connect with herself again. And even though it hurts, it’s a good hurt.

And about that reporting…there’s some shady dealing going on under the shady porches of sleepy Eufaula. A real estate developer is doing something underhanded with the city council, and against the historic commission.

But the head of the historic commission, well, there’s just something about Shug Jordan that’s touched Julia’s heart in all the right places. It’s too bad he already has a conniving witch of a fiance.

And Julia’s just in Eufaula to write a story, go back to New York and save her career. If her story does its job, it should save the Annual Pilgrimage, too. She’s not supposed to be an investigative journalist. And she’s not planning on falling in love with a small town in Alabama or with a man named after a Football coach. Not a city girl like her. Not going to happen.

Escape Rating A: This is the story of Julia’s journey. She does happen to get the guy at the end, but really, that’s the icing on the cake. Or maybe even the sprinkles on top. For this reader, the real story was in Julia getting her act together all the way across the board and the HEA is the prize.

Julia starts out pretty messed up for really good reasons. And she’s been running away from her problems through travel, which is not a bad way to do it if someone else is footing the bill.

But going to Eufaula makes her face everything, and she does. She also falls in love with the place and almost all the people. And she solves some really, really big puzzles in her own life. She makes some good friends, heals some old wounds, and gets a fantastic reward in a terrific guy.

But reading her journey is what makes the story so good.

Dark Magic

Dark Magic by James Swain is one of those books that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Take one part Batman, one part A Discovery of Witches, one part Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and one part The Prestige, mix well, and what you have is one hell of a story. I almost forgot, add in a touch of either the X-Files or Men in Black, just for flavor.

Peter Warlock is the leader of the Friday Night Psychics. Who are the Friday Night Psychics? Just what they sound like, a group of psychics who get together every Friday night. Except that these aren’t charlatans, these are the real deal. Peter and his friends all have power, real power, of one kind or another.

They get together every Friday night to connect with the spirit world, to find out if there is anything bad going to happen. Well, anything big and bad. They live in New York City, after all. Something small and bad is always happening. The Friday Night Psychics are trying to prevent major catastrophes.

So when Peter foresees some kind of epic catastrophe radiating out from Times Square only four days in the future, they all start working on how to alert the police. They’ve always sent in anonymous tips before, but this is too big and too imminent for an anonymous phone call.

And they all know what will happen if they reveal themselves. They’ve already lost a friend that way. They’re not afraid that no one will believe them. The government will believe them. The CIA took their friend Nemo somewhere they could pump him for predictions–indefinitely.

But before they can figure out a way to alert the police, the evil forces send an assassin after Peter. Live, on stage, in the middle of his magic act.

Peter Warlock covers his real psychic powers by making his living as a stage magician. He pretends to read minds by really reading minds. He’s hidden his talents in plain sight his entire life.

The attack alerts the police and the FBI. It also blows the covers off Peter’s tortured past. The FBI agent who comes to interview Peter in the wake of the attack is the same agent who interviewed him when he was a child, after his parents were thrown into a car in front of his eyes and driven to their deaths.

Peter’s attacker and his parent’s murderers are members of the same society of dark magic mercenaries, the Order of Astrum. And now the Order is after Peter and his friends.

The police were already hunting for Peter’s would-be assassin. Every city that Jeremy Wolfe has visited has suffered from a series of murders of well-respected psychics, followed by an act of terrorism. Peter knows that his friends and his city are next. What he does not understand is how the deaths of his parents might be linked to this Order of Astrum.

The discovery of his parents’ true history threatens his identity, and his life. Peter finds that his friends have been keeping terrible secrets, secrets that he must unravel in order to find the truth about himself and his destiny. But once he learns all, he then must answer the eternal questions about the nature of good and evil. Will his ends justify his means? And will he always be able to choose good when there is evil in his soul?

Escape Rating A: Dark Magic is the kind of story for which the term “dark fantasy” was invented. Peter Warlock is such an intense character. He does remind me a lot of Batman, I mean Bruce Wayne. He watched his parents die, and he grows up tortured by their deaths. He creates this image of them as being so good, only to discover that they weren’t the people he thought they were.

The suspense factor was also very well done. There’s the part of trying to get one step ahead of the assassin, as he targets the psychics and then there’s the second part, just trying to find out what the heck the real target is.  Very techno-thrillerish and very cool.

If there turn out to be more books in this universe I will be a very happy reader.




Bad Girl Lessons

Where does a good girl go, when she wants lessons in taking a walk on the wild side? She goes looking for a bad boy to give her Bad Girl Lessons.

It’s not just an idea, it’s the title of a fun, sexy romp by Seraphina Donovan.

Evangeline Harper has already picked out the bad boy she wants to be her teacher. It’s the bad boy she’s always wanted, Jackson Cope.

Jackson is the local heartthrob. Local football hero, and grown-up bad boy. Jackson’s always been her Evie’s friend, and nothing more. She might have always wanted more, but he’s always had prettier, skinnier girls available.

This time, Evie’s waiting on the dock outside his bar with an offer she’s hoping Jackson won’t refuse. She wants him to teach her to be a bad girl. And she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She already knows she isn’t skinny enough for her mother, and she obviously wasn’t pretty enough for her fiancee.

He just left her at the altar while he ran off with her cousin. Evie is sitting on Jackson Cope’s dock in her wedding dress.

And Jackson Cope thinks that curvy, voluptuous Evie is the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. He always has. Always.

And the man who jilted her was his cousin Trevor. Whom Jackson hates with a passion. And it’s mutual.

Out there on that dock Jackson gives Evie a tiny taste of the pleasure she’s been missing. And then he lets her go to think about whether she really wants what she’s asked him for. Think about it with a clear head. Because he knows that once he finally gets the girl he’s wanted since he was fourteen, he’s never going to be able to let her go.

And he’s going to make sure she enjoys being a bad girl so much, that she forgets what it was like to ever be good.

There’s only a few problems with Jackson’s plan. After his cousin’s behavior, Evie can’t believe that any man would want her for keeps, let alone the town heartbreaker. She thinks Jackson is all about the fun.

And Trevor comes back for Evie, and not in a good way.

Escape Rating B+: This is one of those stories where you think you’re going to read just a little, and can’t stop until you’re done. If you’re looking for a story to sweep you away for an hour, this is a good one.

Evie is sweet and wounded, and the scene with her on the dock in her wedding dress is absolutely priceless. She’s hurt and angry and she wants to lash out and Jackson is her best friend and her deepest crush. She has absolutely nothing to lose at that point, so why not go for the one man she’s always secretly wanted? I really enjoyed watching Evie come into her own.

And Jackson? Every not-perfect princess wants to find a bad boy like Jackson who loves her just as she is. It was terrific to have a hero love a woman who was not a size 2 for a change.

Let’s just say that there is a romantic suspense element added when Trevor re-appears. And that Trevor gets everything that’s coming to him.


Satisfying the Curse

Satisfying the Curse by Kelly Gendron is a romantic suspense story that starts out by having the hero drugged and tied to a hotel bed to service the heroine’s curse! The scene teases her limits, his libido and the reader’s expectations, but all in surprising, and ultimately satisfying, ways.

About that bondage scene…Juliana Pratt believes that she is cursed. She’s twenty-six, and has spent her entire over-educated life in environments where she keeps herself as far away from men as possible. Her father has her convinced that her mother was a wanton adulteress and that Juliana suffers the same curse. Juliana has never even let herself be tempted to give in.

But Daddy Dearest is facing murder charges, and Juliana is the only witness that can corroborate his alibi. So while he is in prison awaiting his trial, she is free. Well, sort of free. Daddy Dearest (AKA Warren Pritchard) is rich and influential. He’s committed a LOT of dirty deeds, but always managed to buy his way out, until this time. During Juliana’s limited bit of freedom, she is supposed to be doing the talk show circuit, playing up the dutiful daughter image and making sure that any jury is prejudiced in his favor before the trial starts. In return, he has promised to finally give Juliana some of her inheritance.

But this talk-show junket is Juliana’s first experience of life outside of all-girls schools and educational institutions. She’s finally experiencing real life, even if it is a real life punctuated by regular death threats and attempted kidnappings.

Somebody wants her dead, or at least beaten down. And Juliana knows it’s her father. He wants to make sure she corroborates his alibi.

Juliana has a bodyguard. And that’s where the real fun comes in. Her first bodyguard, Josie, introduces her to the fun of watching mixed martial arts. Watching the fighters wakes up Juliana’s curse of wantonness. or that’s what Juliana believes. Juliana asks her bodyguard, her best and only friend, to help her get one particular fighter at her mercy for one night, so she can lose her pesky virginity and satisfy her curse.

The plan works flawlessly. Except…once  she’s got the man tied up and practically begging, Juliana can’t follow through. And her inexperience reveals the fact that she’s a virgin, which leads to the next flaw, the fighter may have done a lot of ring bunnies in his time, but he doesn’t play with virgins. Ever.

Then there’s problem number three, and it’s a doozy. Juliana’s protection detail gets handed off the morning after the curse-removal disaster to a new bodyguard. And the fighter she tried to play bondage games with is her new babysitter. And her curse still wants him, really, really bad.

Too bad Agent T. Ryker still doesn’t do virgins. No matter how much they beg. Or how much he wants to.

That her father is going on trial for murdering his aunt, the woman who raised him? That’s just one more reason to guard his heart from the beautiful woman whose body he’s supposed to be protecting.

Escape Rating B+: The opening scene started out pretty darn funny. The bondage thing was just crazy. And hot. But then things took twists into a little more serious territory.

Juliana (she goes by Ana) thinks she’s cursed, because that’s how Daddy brainwashed her. Ryker thinks he’s tainted because of the circumstances of his birth. As a pair, they have a whole train-load of baggage to sort through, and they really have to work at it. Misunderstandings abound! Neither of them have ever trusted anyone, and it takes them a while to figure out it’s even possible.

The level of sexual torment on both sides is also very hot!

I did spend a chunk of this book wanting to beat Daddy Dearest with a baseball bat. If he has a redeeming characteristic, I didn’t see it. Unrelieved evil is fun to read every once in a while.

There was a very nice twist at the end that surprised the heck out of me. Excellent, excellent!