Review: The Wanderer’s Children by L.G. O’Connor + Giveaway

wanderers children by lg oconnorFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Series: Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #2
Length: 506 pages
Publisher: Collins-Young Publishing
Date Released: December 16, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

The Wanderer’s mission three decades ago: secretly sire children to hide his bloodline, and protect them until their destinies can unite in the final battle between good and evil. That time has come…

Cara Collins, the First of the Holy Twelve, longs for one last peaceful weekend with her bridesmaids as she plans her wedding to Simon Young, her former Trinity Guardian, before duty calls with the Angelorum to gather the Twelve and prepare them for battle. Life, as she knew it, has changed; weird is Cara’s new normal. Her newly acquired Nephilim DNA is wreaking havoc on her and those closest to her as her body transforms into Amazonian proportions and an overabundance of pheromones threatens to land her in hot water with Simon—not to mention a sudden suspicious outbreak of “insta-love” among her friends.

Michael Swift, Cara’s Trinity Messenger, has spent months running from his attraction to Cara’s brazen best friend Sienna, the only woman who has ever skirted his considerable defenses. But if he wants a future with her, he must confront his tormented past head on, or risk losing her and destroying the future of the Angelorum.

As dark forces and outside threats gather, Cara has more to worry about than fitting into her wedding dress and playing Cupid to her friends. A second encounter with rocker Brett King shows Cara once again that there are no coincidences. One of the Wanderer’s children, Brett and his secret siblings are the key to gathering the rest of the Twelve.

When the newly forming team finally comes together, an unexpected revelation shakes them to their core. They must all look deeper into their souls as new secrets come to light to discover what’s really at stake in the final battle between good and evil…if betrayal and Lucifer don’t rip them apart first.

My Review:

trinity stones by lg o'connorI picked The Wanderer’s Children because I read (and reviewed) the first book in this series, Trinity Stones, earlier this year. It is such a complex story that I had to see what happened next.

It is still a complex and convoluted story. In my possibly not so humble opinion, it is also still one single story. It’s not just that the action from The Wanderer’s Children follows directly from the end of Trinity Stones, but the complexity of the worldbuilding and the interrelationships among the characters is getting more intense. Reading The Wanderer’s Children definitely requires reading Trinity Stones first. The story is piling on layers within layers, and it only makes sense if you know how everyone got to the point (or fix) they are currently in.

I think we’ve even met all the characters, or certainly all the important ones, in Trinity Stones. It’s just that in The Wanderer’s Children, some of the focus is shifted from Cara and Simon to other people involved in the upcoming battle between good and evil, especially their friends Michael and newly met Brett King, as well as all of Cara Collins’ best friends.

I did have a momentary fear that we were going to head into romantic triangle territory, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead, we have Cara throwing off so many pheromones that everyone in her vicinity pairs up as soon as they meet.

In spite of the insistence on free will on the part of the angels (yes, I said angels) and angelic sympathizers working on keeping evil at bay, we do stray rather close to “fated mate” territory with some of the newly introduced couples. The free will part seems to come into play in the way that the couple may not get their acts together as a result of secrets or baggage that they are carrying.

So there are a bunch of things going on in The Wanderer’s Children. One of the major plot threads is the continuing growth of Cara’s powers. She nearly died at the end of Trinity Stones, and the cure that she was injected with continues to play havoc with her body and mind. Mostly in a good way, but there are definitely some downsides.

The romance in this story is between one member of her angel/guardian trinity and one of her best friends from college. (See, I said you needed to read the first book first)

The course of true love does not run smooth, or it wouldn’t be worth fighting for. Michael has some serious baggage from his childhood, and he doesn’t realize that Sienna has her fair share of demons (not literally) to fight. His reluctance to bring his trauma out into the light contrasts nicely with Sienna’s mostly out there personality. She hides with bravado, he hides by running away. Their mutual exploration and explosion is lovely to see straighten out.

But the more interesting issues revolve around Brett King, the rock star Cara met in Trinity Stones, and her other college best friend Jessa. It’s pretty clear that their romance will come in the next book, but they have a long way to go first. It’s not just that Brett has discovered the world of the angels and his place in it, but also that Jessa has one scary, possessive, evil stepfather.

And then there’s Cara’s other friend, Irene. She has scary bosses in the NSA who send her to spy on her best friend for reasons yet to be revealed.

And Irene has totally misinterpreted everything that has happened with her friend Cara and her fiance Simon (and Michael and Brett and everyone else). Irene has let herself fall into one serious misunderstandammit that might just tip the balance of power the wrong way.

If Jessa’s stepfather doesn’t scare her into tipping it first.

Escape Rating B: The action in this story is incredibly absorbing. Every single person has a big part to play in the battle between heaven and hell, and most of them have no idea that there even IS a battle coming. One of the neat things in this story is the way that Cara takes Brett under her wing to help him adjust to this strange new world that he is suddenly part of.

Michael and Sienna’s relationship is the core romance, and their journey towards each other (after a lot of running away on Michael’s part) is sweet as well as hot. They both have a lot of healing to do, and it needed to take them time to do it.

I will say again that this world has a lot of “moving parts” and there is still considerable ongoing worldbuilding. Reading Trinity Stones is required to make things make sense, and I’m really glad there was a list of “dramatis personae” at the beginning to get me back up to speed.

While the story is careening madly down the hill toward the epic confrontation at some point in the future, I had some issues with Irene’s storyline, and to a lesser extent, Jessa’s. Irene is clearly being misled by her NSA handlers, and it is not clear which side they are on. It is very clear that they are not on Irene’s side. But Irene increases her own heartache by keeping huge (and slightly unbelievable) secrets from her friend Cara, and letting herself be led down a complete path of misdirection, mostly self-inflicted. Irene feels either too smart to fall for this stuff or too stupid to carry out her clandestine mission. YMMV.

Jessa’s freaky-jealous stepfather seemed a bit over-the-top when added to all the issues that Irene brings to the table. And there are two huge cliffhangers that the reader gets dropped off of at the very end that made me want to scream in frustration. As much as Irene and Jessa drove me batty, I want to see what trouble they get Cara into next very, very badly.


L.G. and TLC Book Tours are giving away a copy of The Wanderer’s Children to one lucky U.S. or Canadian winner:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Master of the Game by Jane Kindred + Giveaway

master of the game by jane kindredFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance; m/m romance
Series: Demons of Elysium, #3
Length: 285 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Now that his lover is back in his arms, Belphagor is taking his own sweet time to say the words Vasily longs to hear: “You’re my boy.” And savoring the sweet torture of driving the firespirit into a frenzy of unfulfilled need.

As the undisputed master of Heaven’s gaming tables, Belphagor never plays unless he’s certain of winning. But this time, political machinations send the game—and Vasily—tumbling to the brink of even his formidable control.

Vasily can’t deny enjoying their delightfully edgy play—until the airspirit auctions him off for a night to the one demon with a gift for taking things too far. Seductive Silk, tight-lipped about the end of his relationship with the sweet submissive Phaleg, may also be involved with a new faction threatening the pregnant queen of Heaven.

Belphagor couldn’t be less interested in the games angels play, but when angelic and demonic intrigues overlap, he’s drawn in against his will. And forced to break his one inviolable rule: Never gamble what you can’t afford to lose.

Warning: Contains more than a mouthful of m/m ménage, with intense D/s situations featuring intricate rope work, balaklavas, and a flurry of snow.

My Review:

king of thieves by jane kindredMaster of the Game is a story on multiple levels; it’s the continuation of Bel’s attempt to rid Raqia of the child slavery ring from King of Thieves (reviewed here), it’s the foreshadowing the dynastic war among the supernal realms that blows into full eruption in The Fallen Queen (reviewed here), and it’s first and foremost the love, sex and domination story between Belphagor and Vasily.

Considering the Vasily is a fire-spirit, it would be correct to call Master of the Game one very hot mess, in a completely captivating way. Everything boils over into delicious decadence.

Master of the Game is still (and always) Belphagor’s story, no matter who might be occupying center stage on any particular page.

After three books of the Demons of the Elysium series, I still see these as the story of how Bel changes from the selfish bastard he presents himself to be (and clearly used to be, based on his history) and the demon who saves the supernal realms in The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy. There had to be a transformation, and this is the way it went.

prince of tricks by jane kindredThe first story, Prince of  Tricks (reviewed here) was mostly about Bel finally admitting to himself that he actually loved Vasily, and that they weren’t just mutually using each other. The second showed him rescuing a bunch of demon children who had been sold into sexual slavery, meanwhile risking his relationship with Vasily in the process.

Bel does the right thing using some of the wrong methods. And doesn’t learn his lesson, because he does it again in Master of the Game. The difference is that this time Vasily calls him on it when he’s gone too far.

But the stakes are even higher this time. A group of Angels from the higher courts is planning to assassinate the queen, before she gives birth to yet another baby, but one who might be male and cement her husband’s rule.

fallen queen goodreadsInstead, the wrong woman is killed and the events that follow set the stage for The Fallen Queen. The child that the queen bears is the daughter who falls.

But the trick is to try to get the King to let go of his idealism about demons, so that he can survive and not be overthrown. At least not now. Later will happen, well, later. Everyone hopes much later.

In the middle of the politics, a very personal quest surfaces. Bel needs to rescue the demon children that he failed to save in King of Thieves from a fate that isn’t worse than death, because it is death.

A very long, painful and drawn out death.

Bel uses everyone and everything around him to get the results he wants. He nearly loses Vasily, again. Vasily nearly gets killed, again. It’s what they do.

But the story that hurts the heart is that of the Angel Phaleg, who admits that he loves the demon Silk so much that he will risk his career and his life for a man that he is not supposed to be seen with on the streets, let alone love.

Angels are allowed to play with demons. Male angels are allowed to play with male demons. But letting it get serious is dangerous and forbidden and everything that Phaleg isn’t supposed to want. But still needs.

He uses his rank to save them all. And loses everything but the man he loves.

Escape Rating A: The world of Raqia and the Devil’s Doorstep is a place that is dangerous and seductive and will steal your soul.

Belphagor is not a good man. He’s not a good demon. But he seems to be what everyone needs to solve every crisis and patch up too many people’s broken places. He’s a savior who always sees himself as a tempter and a player.

He plays to win, but no outsider ever seems to realize that the stakes he is playing for are not the ones on the table. He’s not someone that anyone would be eager to meet in a dark alley–unless he’s their only answer to a prayer. Or a curse.

If you love the darkest of darks in your antiheroes, introduce yourself to Belphagor. He’ll steal your soul and your wallet, and possibly save your life. Or at least put you inside an awesome story.

JaneKindred_72dpi-optAbout Jane Kindred

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.You can find Jane on her Twitter account and Facebook page and on her website,


Jane is giving away a Diamond Accent Devil Heart with Wings Pendant in Sterling Silver and a $25.00 Amazon gift card! To enter, use the widget below:


Masters of the Game

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Trinity Stones by L.G. O’Connor

trinity stones by lg o'connorFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #1
Length: 366 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Date Released: April 22, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Anxiety-ridden New York investment banker, Cara Collins, has little to smile about on her twenty-seventh birthday between a hostile work environment and her impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that must remain secret or risk the lives of those close to her.

As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai—but when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear.

My Review:

Trinity Stones is the first book in what could be a twelve book series. It has a LOT of weight to carry to set up this slightly alternate version of our world where angels walk among us, waiting for the proverbial Last Battle between angels and demons.

Of course, they aren’t just waiting around, sitting on their feathered wings while humanity marches on oblivious. Although most of humanity is oblivious.

Mixed in with the prophecy of that last battle are signs and portents. The story of Trinity Stones is what happens when the first of those portents finds herself part of something that she was never prepared for.

Cara Collins is an investment banker who hates her boss and is in love with a man she can never have. Life sucks, right up until the point where she inherits $50 million and a whole lot of otherworldly trouble.

$50 mil certainly solves the “hate the boss” problem, but doesn’t do a thing for the loving someone she can’t have bit. Although it certainly provides one hell of a distraction–including visits from demons who really do reside in hell.

It’s not just that Cara finds out that her belief in a supreme deity has to expand to encompass more classes of angels than she thought imaginable, but also that she is going to be a front-line fighter in the war between heaven and hell–if she can manage to get out of her own way.

Her new life leads to danger, but also to fantastic new friends and a purpose bigger than she ever dreamed of. She even finds someone she can love, a man who makes her forget all about the one that got away.

Until she finds out that Simon Young is even more forbidden to her than her first love. Simon is assigne to be her Guardian as she fights the demons, and they aren’t permitted to let love get in the way of definding mankind against evil.

Escape Rating B: There were a lot of things to like about this story, and a few that drove me a bit crazy. YMMV.

There are, and there need to be, a lot of explanations for how this world is set up. Cara is supposed to be the first of the “Final Twelve” that portend the upcoming battle between good and evil. Which means there has to be tons of setup for the angels who help in the fight, and the people who are “assigned” to Cara as backup.

The portrayals of the growing friendship between Cara and the people assigned to help her, particularly Cara’s platonic friendship with Michael, are beautifully done. It is terrific to see a friendship between a straight man and woman that is clearly never going to tease at a possible romance. You don’t see that often, and it’s refreshing. Also Michael is just plain a great guy.

But there is a lot of necessary worldbuilding, to explain the angels, the soul-seekers like Cara, and the support network that they need. Occasionally there is quite a bit of info-dumping, and I still didn’t get the relationship between Cara’s “trinity” and the cornerstone, which is a person she needs to save from evil.

The angels are almost a military organization. That Cara wasn’t allowed to be involved with her guardian felt a lot like the military anti-frat regs. They can be involved with anyone but each other, so of course they fall for each other. And there was a bit of fated-mate in the relationship that pushed things along faster than would have happened otherwise.

Trinity Stones is a fascinating start to a series. I’ll be very curious to see what directions it goes in. On the one hand, I liked the fact that any belief system could lead to heaven, as long as the person lived a good, moral life. On that other hand, the story does presuppose acceptance of a lot of other traditional Judeo-Christian concepts, and I want the story to always be of primary importance. So far, so good.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Guest Post by Jane Kindred on Loving Russia + Giveaway

jane kindredMy special guest today is Jane Kindred, the author of the absolutely fabulous House of Arkhangel’sk series, as well as the book of the day, the decadently delicious Prince of Tricks. Jane’s guest posts always pack one hell of a punch, and this is no exception. So do her books!

On Loving Russia When it Doesn’t Love You Back
by Jane Kindred

If you’ve spent any time at all on social media in the past six months, or own a television, you’re probably aware of the controversy surrounding the upcoming Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation. Following the passage of similar local laws throughout Russia in 2012, Putin’s government passed a Draconian law in 2013 that criminalizes the public discussion or support of “non-traditional sexual relations.” Anti-LGBT human rights abuses and crimes have been on the rise, with hate groups abducting and filming the torture of alleged gay youths to “teach them a lesson,” while authorities look the other way or actively encourage such crimes, even when they result in death.

Many LGBT groups have called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics and of its sponsors. Others, including the International Olympic Committee and sponsors such as Visa, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola, have dismissed the concerns, despite the fact that the Olympic charter stresses human dignity and disavows “discrimination of any kind.” For better or worse, the Sochi Olympics go on.

And for better or worse, so does my Russian-based series featuring a pair of gay and bisexual demon protagonists whom I like to call my “Russian leather demons.”

prince of tricks by jane kindredMy erotic m/m fantasy novel, Prince of Tricks, takes place in Russia and in the celestial city of Elysium, patterned after St. Petersburg of the early 20th century. Russia has never been a particularly friendly place for men who love other men, so it hasn’t been easy for my boys, even before the recent political developments. Belphagor has been in and out of the gulag system over the past 100 years, so he’s experienced the country’s worst. And yet, like me, he still loves Russia. And loves it enough to share it with his Vasily, despite the danger.

Having spent the last eight years of my life falling in love with Russia and writing these books (the Demons of Elysium series and the related epic fantasy series, The House of Arkhangel’sk), I’m extremely disheartened by the path this country I love has been taking. It’s hard to maintain that love in the face of increasing hatred. I can no longer travel to Russia (my choice, for reasons of personal safety as well as taking a moral stance), and my books cannot be sold there.

As things began to escalate in Russia over the past year, I found it increasingly difficult to keep writing the Demons of Elysium series, to keep celebrating Russian culture and my love for it. I wondered if it was time at last to let these books and these characters go. But I believe the only positive act I can take is to continue my love affair with (almost) all things Russian by continuing to write my now subversive stories.

I dedicated Prince of Tricks to Pussy Riot (two members of the Russian feminist punk group were imprisoned in 2012 for staging a protest performance against Putin’s government in a Moscow church) and others in Russia whose voices are being silenced by these laws. I wish I could do more. But as the Human Rights Campaign says, Lyubov Pobezhdaet Nenavist…Love Conquers Hate.

About Jane:

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

Prince of Tricks Button 300 x 225


caviar-gift-basketJane is giving away a fabulous Caviar gift basket from the House of Caviar, or one $150 gift card to one US winner. Ten winners will receive their choice of a $10 gift card from either Amazon or B&N. Wow!
To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Prince of Tricks by Jane Kindred

prince of tricks by jane kindredFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance, M/M romance, fantasy
Series: Demons of Elysium #1
Length: 375 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: January 7, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

When desire rises, angels will fall. One, by one, by one…

Demons of Elysium, Book 1

Over the past century, Belphagor has made a name for himself in Heaven’s Demon District as a cardsharp, thief, and charming rogue.

Though the airspirit is content with his own company, he enjoys applying the sweet sting of discipline to a willing backside. Angel, demon, even the occasional human. He’s not particular. Until a hotheaded young firespirit steals his purse—and his heart. Now he’s not sure who owns whom.

A former rent boy and cutpurse from the streets of Raqia, Vasily has never felt safer than in the arms—and at the feet—of the Prince of Tricks. He’s just not sure if Belphagor returns those feelings. There’s only one way to find out, but using a handsome, angelic duke to stir Belphagor’s jealousy backfires on them both.

When the duke frames Vasily for an attempted assassination as part of a revolutionary conspiracy, Belphagor will do whatever it takes to clear his boy’s name and expose the real traitor. Because for the first time in his life, the Prince of Tricks has something to lose.

Product Warnings
Contains erotic sex: m/m, m/m/m, m/m/m/m…oh hell. Let’s just say “mmmmmm!” and be done with it. Also one m/f scene. Smart discipline meted out with a great deal of love and charm. Erotic sex acts requiring copious amounts of elbow grease.

My Review:

midnight courtIf you’ve read Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy (Fallen Queen, Midnight Court and Armies of Heaven) then Prince of Tricks serves as a even more decadent backstory to the action in that series.

If you haven’t read the Arkhangel’sk series, then Prince of Tricks is the start of something amazing. It’s an erotic love story between two demons in a world where Heaven is nothing like what we imagine.

When angels and demons fall, they fall to Earth. Our Earth. A place where history either presages or parallels the courts of Heaven, but in a way that both surprises and haunts.

The story is Belphagor’s. He is the Prince of Tricks of the title. Bel is an airspirit who has lived his life in the lowest places of the supernal realms. Once he was a rent-boy, now he’s a gambler who reigns over a table at a dive in Raqia, the demons’ quarter.

It’s clear that Bel has spent most of his life using other people, generally to their mutual satisfaction, so that he can survive a life where any vulnerability will be exploited.

His life has also been much longer than appears. At least a century, for all that he looks to be in his mid-twenties. Demons (and angels) don’t age while in Heaven. But Belphagor has fallen to earth more than once, and it’s marked him.

But someone has made him vulnerable, and that’s where this story begins. Bel has been in love with Vasily since the first time the younger demon attempted to pick his pocket. But he felt that he needed to wait until Vasily grew up. At least chronologically. A lot of this story happens because Vasily still needs to figure a few things out emotionally. He uses the wrong man to make Belphagor jealous.

Wrong not because of any jealousy Bel might finally discover that he feels, but wrong because Vasily sets himself up to be used in political maneuvering by an politically ambitious (and morally corrupt) angel. Vasily becomes the scapegoat for something much bigger than he or Belphagor imagined.

And Belphagor goes to surprising lengths to rescue the man he has finally managed to admit that he loves.

Escape Rating A: If you’ve read the Arkhangel’sk trilogy, Prince of Tricks is a must-read. Although the trilogy is about the fall and rise of the imperial family, Belphagor is often the prime mover of events, and he and his tempestuous relationship with Vasily are a big part of that story. If Vasily had not found a way into Bel’s heart, Bel wouldn’t become the demon who saves the queen.

But this story is about the beginning of the relationship. It can be read without having read the trilogy, but it cannot be read without fans and cooling drinks!

Not just because Bel and Vasily push each other to their sexual limits (Bel is extremely dominant, Vasily is not just defiantly submissive, but emotionally needy), but because Belphagor is an expert at using others’ sexuality both to prove his dominance and to seduce or beguile them into assisting with his own game. Or sometimes just for fun.

The combination is explosive.

Prince of Tricks Button 300 x 225

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Guest Post by Author Rebekah Turner on Creating the Applecross + Giveaway

chaos bound by rebekah turnerMy guest today at Reading Reality is Rebekah Turner, the author of the marvelously inventive Chronicles of the Applecross series, Chaos Born and this morning’s featured review, Chaos Bound. The world she has created is a fantastic borderland mixture of fantasy, myth and legend where her kick-ass heroine, Lora Blackgoat, both casts spells and occasionally crosses into our “Outlands” to buy boots and coffee.

Before you visit the Applecross, and if you love urban fantasy you really, really should, let’s hear from Rebekah on how she created this universe where angels and demons may both be the best kind of bad boys.

Creating the World and Characters of Chaos Bound
by Rebekah Turner

chaos born by rebekah turnerThe initial idea that grew into my first published novel, Chaos Born and now the second, Chaos Bound, originated with the main protagonist, Lora Blackgoat. She limped into my imagination one day; the cranky heroine of a few short stories I hammered out in between looking after my first baby.

While I enjoyed writing the short stories, Lora was a difficult character to get a handle on at first, as she steadfast refused to reveal her inner thoughts. But she stuck in my imagination and soon I was writing a longer story, with her as the star. After the book was finished, I realised Lora’s motivations seemed ambiguous and that I still didn’t have a hold on who she was. The answer came when I wrote the story again, but this time completely through Lora’s point of view. Within a few chapters, she bloomed for me and it was like I’d known her all my life.

My male characters; Seth, Captain of the City Watch and Lora’s ex-lover, and Roman, a half-angel warrior and her new love interest, were much easier to write and I had a complete ball writing the Roman scenes. Of course, I enjoyed Seth’s company just as much, though I sensed he had a rich and dangerous history I’d only just started tapping into.

When expanding further on the world Lora inhabited, I wanted the city to be dark, moody and with elements of the fantastic, but with a realistic baseline. It was to be influenced by our modern world, but with factions in power still clinging to the old ways, almost forbidding access to ours.

I’ve always written Lora’s stories with a mystery at their core, along with a dollop of romance and a sprinkling of horror, fused together by her wry view point. Lora is the anti-heroine with a bleak sense of humour that slices through her best and worst times equally and while this doesn’t always garner her new friends, she’s loyal to the ones she has and that’s a quality I love to write and explore, for as far as Lora will take me.

About Rebekah:

Rebekah TurnerRebekah lives in sunny Queensland and has worked in the past as a graphic designer. She now does freelance work when her kids are looking the other way. An avid writer since she could scrawl in her dad’s expensive encyclopedias, she has progressed from horsey stories to tales of dark fantasy with lashings of romance and a sprinkling of horror.

Her vices include eating overpriced ice cream, over analyzing 80s action and horror movies and buying stationery she just doesn’t need.


Rebekah is giving away an ebook copy of Chaos Bound to one lucky winner. This giveaway is open to ALL! To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Chaos Bound by Rebekah Turner

chaos bound by rebekah turnerFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Chronicles from the Applecross #2
Length: 177 pages
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Date Released: December 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Lora Blackgoat — mercenary and smuggler — has only just recovered from the last threat on her life and hasn’t even begun to sort out the mess of having both a nephilim warrior and a reborn hellspawn as potential lovers. Work should be a refuge, but a job finding missing persons puts her in the crosshairs of a violent gang and a merchant with a taste for blood sport.

Reluctantly, Lora turns to the two men in her life for help. Roman — the nephilim — professes to be her soul mate and turns to her when he feels the darkness of nephilim madness descending. But though Lora is drawn to Roman, it is Seth, ex-lover and reborn hellspawn, who Lora must ultimately ask to protect those she loves. Can she trust Seth to save Roman and her adoptive family, or will this be a fatal mistake?

My Review:

The Chronicles from the Applecross is a series where it really helps to get in at the very beginning. Fortunately, the beginning is not far away, and is also excellent. If you enjoy multi-faceted urban fantasy starring complicated kick-ass female protagonists, get a copy of Chaos Born right now. Lora Blackgoat is a whole world of fascinating.

chaos born by rebekah turnerChaos Bound picks up right where Chaos Born left off. Lora Blackgoat is a mercenary and an all-purpose “fixer” for the Blackgoat Guild in the magical borderland called the “Weald”. From there, it is possible to cross into our own non-magical world, the “Outlands” and bring back luxury goods. Lora is particularly fond of sports bras and expensive boots.

She also has the unique ability to make mechanical items function in the Weald, and make magic spells work in the Outlands. Lora doesn’t know why, but then, Lora doesn’t know her own heritage, either. She was a foundling, adopted and raised by the satyr Gideon Blackgoat and the otherkin Orella Warbreeder, but she’s never known what she herself is. She looks human, but knows she probably isn’t.

She also looks like a Witch Hunter, but doesn’t have the talents that go with that appearance. Lora also detests the practices of the Witch Hunter Guild. They have a tendency to massacre suspected dark path practitioners first, and ask questions later, if it all.

In Chaos Bound, Lora finds herself trapped between multiple sets of opposing forces. A competing mercenary company tries to muscle Gideon out of business. This sounds like simple business competition, but it sparks a blood-soaked chain reaction that nearly leads to a purge of all magic practitioners.

Lora is contracted to bodyguard a young actress, and the consequences of her assignment start a blood feud between the shapechanging griorwolves and a drugrunning gang of cuthroats and slavers.

In the middle of all of this, Lora discovers that the reason she has such unusual magical abilities is that she is something that has not been seen in millenia, if ever; she is a female nephilim. And that too many people (using loose definitions for the word “people”) want to control her power for their own ends. Not that she is remotely willing to let them.

Unfortunately, one of those people is her ex-lover. Who neglected to mention his own past as ex-hellspawn. Or that he is in the center of several of the recent power plays, trying to decide which one will benefit him the most.

The Applecross is a very complicated, and deadly place. It is awesome to read about, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Escape Rating B+: Chaos Bound (and also Chaos Born) are totally Lora’s show. Both books are told from Lora’s first-person perspective, and it’s her voice all the way. In other books this device falls flat, because the head you’re stuck in has to be an interesting head, and the perspective has to be informed enough that it doesn’t feel naive or stupid.

Lora is completely awesomesauce. Even when she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she’s still kicking ass and taking names.

Yes, she has low moments, and sad moments, and times when she gets overwhelmed, but she picks herself back up. She doesn’t wait to be rescued. She also goes off in the complete wrong direction a few times, but she keeps moving forward. Or occasionally ass-backward. But moving.

This is urban fantasy rather than paranormal romance. However, there is what feels like an obligatory romantic triangle in here, and I kind of wish it had been played down even more than it was. It feels like there’s going to be a showdown at some point, but I wish that the romance wasn’t tied into it. Or that the triangular aspects of the romance weren’t tied into it. Not every urban fantasy needs a romantic triangle. There is more than enough tension building in Lora’s life without one.

But, about the two “gentlemen” and their history, outside the nascent romance? Seth Hallow is ex-hellspawn, and he seems to have been in the Applecross and the Outlands since he got his ejection notice, a looooong time ago. Lora (and this reader) would love to know how many fingers he’s had in how many pies since the dawn of time. He’s been a busy boy.

Her other suitor is the nephilim, Roman. He’s probably been around a few decades, or maybe centuries, too. There’s serious history waiting to be explored.

But the story is all about Lora. Where did she come from? It’s more than obvious that Gideon and Orella are keeping secrets about her origins. (So is Seth) Every time Lora finds out more, it’s because one of those secrets has just bitten her in the ass.

I would love to know why the cover picture is the guy in torment? The Chronicles of the Applecross are absolutely Lora’s story from beginning to end. And it’s one hell of an absorbing story! I hope we get some more soon, because while this installment came to a definite conclusion, Lora’s journey is far from over.

Chaos Bound Button 300 x 225

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Interview with Author Jane Kindred on Angels, Demons and Overlords + Giveaway

Today’s extremely special guest at Reading Reality is Jane Kindred, the author of the dark (and decadently marvelous) epic fantasy tale of angels, demons and heavenly court politics about The House of Arkhangel’sk. I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book in the trilogy, The Fallen Queen, over at Book Lovers Inc. and my review of the book two, The Midnight Court, is here. Jane also wrote an amazing guest post “A Few Select Shades of Black and Blue” (about the current BDSM bandwagon and demon sex in particular) over at Book Lovers Inc.

Now, let’s get to those questions…

Marlene: Before I get into the really tough questions, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself? Your bio says you started writing in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury? Is there a story in there?

Jane: Didn’t everybody have a wayback growing up? Er…I guess I’m showing my age. For those who don’t know, it was the rear-facing third row of seats in the back of a station wagon. (And a station wagon was a car that forced you to go on family vacations, and played 8-track tapes.) Ours happened to be a Plymouth Fury, which is the same model as the car Christine. Just sayin’. I spent a lot of my adolescence writing love stories and fantasies on the way to and from church…and during church. Which may explain why I ended up writing about angels and demons having sex.

Marlene: Who or what were your inspirations for The House of Arkhangel’sk?

Jane: Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia—or rather, the fictionalized version of her—was the inspiration for the basic idea behind the series, and then I stuck my Anastasia in the middle of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair was another influence; I’ve always loved the idea of a prince enchanted by a wicked queen. And for Belphagor’s character, the germ of him started with an episode of Firefly called “The Message,” about a small-time con man who ended up gambling his own body.

Marlene: Were you seriously into Russian history before you started on the series? And how much research goes into each book to make the historic parallels?

Jane: No, I wasn’t into it at all before the idea came to me, although I’d always wanted to learn Russian, which I did (sort of) as part of my research. The research for the historic parallels was mostly done in one big chunk when I took a Russian Culture class and then read several books on Russian history and the Romanovs. Most of that stayed in my head. (The story of the Romanovs, particularly; it feels like it happened to people I knew.) I still refer back to those sources while writing the other books in the series, and I’m now completely obsessed with Russia.

Marlene: What do you say to readers and reviewers who might see the relationship between the demons Belphagor and Vasily as jumping on the current BDSM bandwagon?

Jane: I haven’t read the book that seems to have caused so many people to imagine BDSM is something that was recently invented. Plenty of books containing BDSM elements have been published since long before the current trend. I can’t imagine why anyone would jump on any kind of publishing bandwagon, anyway, given the speed at which traditional books are published. By the time you write something you think is “in,” it’s not, so it’s never a good idea to write to trends. I started writing The House of Arkhangel’sk in early 2006 and finished the first draft of the trilogy in 2009. Took another year to polish it and find an agent, then another five months before it was sold, and the first book came out seven months later. I’d have to have been extremely prescient to have timed my first novel to be released just before the rest of the world “discovered” BDSM in order to capitalize on it.

Marlene: People usually equate being on “the side of the angels” with goodness. But your angels aren’t necessarily good. And your demons aren’t necessarily evil. How would you define the difference?

Jane: Essentially, my angels are the celestial nobility, while the demons are the peasant class. I decided to use the idea of this class system to reflect conditions in pre-revolutionary Russia. Since no one in that equation is all good or all bad, neither are my characters.

Marlene: Now that they’ve been teased a bit by the first few questions, can you tell readers what they can expect of The Fallen Queen and The Midnight Court?

Jane: They’re epic fantasy on the darker side with a little bit of urban fantasy thrown in. Add an angelic imperial family, a wicked fairy queen, murder, mayhem, love, two naughty leather demons (“leather,” incidentally, is code for BDSM, for those who don’t know), and some dirty Russian words, and there you have it. Oh, plus a bizarre game of dice and cards that nobody could ever possibly win, except my tattooed demon scoundrel.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Jane: Belphagor, Vasily, and more Belphagor. 😉

Marlene: Turning the tables a bit, what book do you think everyone should read, and why that book?

Jane: The Princess Bride, because it’s the best romantic fantasy ever, and because there’s even more Fezzik and Inigo than in the movie.

Marlene: What are your upcoming projects? What comes next in the House of Arkhangel’sk?

Jane: The Armies of Heaven. And after that…I’m currently working on a second Arkhangel’sk trilogy, and I have another series that began with my novella, The Devil’s Garden, that I hope to find a home for someday soon.

Marlene: What do your two feline overlords think of all this? Do they interfere much with your writing? What are their names?

Jane: The photo I’ve included answers most of that. The one in the photo is Neo. He thinks he owns my lap. The other is Urd, an extremely round calico who demands hourly pettings. I feed these little overlords four times a day (first and second breakfast, first and second dinner—I have to divide up their meals into separate courses). If I didn’t, I’d have no peace.

Marlene: And for anyone else who happens to be going, where and when will you be at Dragon*Con next month?

Jane: I don’t have any particular plans. I’m not on any panels and haven’t looked at the schedule yet to see what I want to attend, but anything Joss Whedon or Star Trek related, and I’m there.

Anything Joss Whedon or Star Trek related sounds like a perfectly good plan to me…assuming that any of our feline overlords let us out of our houses!


Are you teased? Good! If you are just itching to start reading The House of Arkhangel’sk, or if you’ve read The Fallen Queen and can’t wait for The Midnight Court, the Rafflecopter is waiting. The lucky winner will get their choice of an ebook copy either The Fallen Queen or The Midnight Court.

What are you waiting for?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Midnight Court by Jane Kindred

Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy reminds me of Russian tea, initially bitter, often and unexpectedly sweet, and filled with immensely complicated rituals. And incredibly satisfying for those who savor a heady brew.

The Midnight Court comprises the second book in this tale, following The Fallen Queen. The title is apt; in The Midnight Court Anazakia’s court is definitely in eclipse. All is as dark as midnight in a Siberian winter.

And the situation goes all downhill.

At the end of The Fallen Queen, Anazakia and her temporary allies rescued the demon Belphagor from Aeval. In the process, they burned much of the Supernal Palace that Anazakia once called home.

When The Midnight Court begins, it’s been months, and the alliance is fracturing. So is Anazakia’s peaceful household near the earthly 21st century Russian city of Arkhangelsk. Belphagor came back from Aeval’s torture broken; not where it shows, but inside. He’s not the demon he used to be.

And Vasily, his lover, is caught between anger that Belphagor offered himself to save them all, and guilt that in Bel’s absence, he fathered a child with Anazakia.

Ola, the child, is the light of all their lives. She is also a pawn of powers. For Anazakia is still the last heir of the house of Arkhangel’sk, and Aeval has no right to the throne of Heaven she sits on. It should be Anazakia’s. Or her daughter’s.

And Ola’s power is greater than anyone could have imagined. Because Vasily is not, as he was raised to think, a demon. He is a Seraph, one of the host. The little girl is more than a little girl. More than a sweet child or a toddler with tantrums. She is the holder of the fifth radiance, not air, fire, water or earth, but aether.

Some of the powers of heaven want to control her; others want to kill her while she is still a child, to make sure that the “wrong” party does not control her.

Ola is kidnapped, and the hunt begins. Across all of Russia, and through all the orders of Heaven, one tiny little girl is bartered back and forth like a tiny bomb, or a pearl of great price.

Her parents will sacrifice anything to get her back.

Escape Rating A: The Midnight Court (and the whole House of Arkhangel’sk series so far) is the kind of densely multi-layered political pot-boiling gut-churning romance that doesn’t come along very often. The nearest comparison is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart series, as much for the very long game political machinations as for the kink relationship between Belphagor and Vasily.

The part of the comparison that I come back to is the politics. Every layer of every relationship, both personal and political, is going to matter before this series is over, and Kushiel had that same feel to it. Everything counts. Sex is sex but IOUs are forever.

The saying that “revenge is a dish best served cold” may have had Aeval in mind. She manipulated both the Romanov dynasty and the House of Arkhangel’sk to get something she wanted.

Waiting for the Spring of 2013 for the final book of the trilogy The Armies of Heaven, is going to be absolute torture. I stayed up until 4 in the morning to finish The Midnight Court. It ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, in a scene that reminded me a lot of something from The Dark Knight Rises. Read Fallen Queen and Midnight Court and see if you see the same thing. It’s so worth it.


The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 8-12-12

Have blog, will travel. I’m in Pittsburgh, PA, and the HP Notebook Smart Power Adapter turns out to be both smart and pretty darn adaptable.

We’re in Pittsburgh for a family re-union (part of me wants to type family “re-onion”–layers, tears–and it’s not even my family) and I only packed half the power adapter for the laptop. These things happen in the best families.

Best Buy is everywhere. Us geeks really have taken over the world. Spare power adapters don’t actually SAY they cover a two-year old laptop. But the HP turns out to be universal. Here we are.

And is there ever a ton of stuff going on at Reading Reality! After the usual Monday Madness that is Ebook Review Central, there will be three author interviews this week. What was I thinking?

Tuesday my guest will be Jane Kindred, the author of The Fallen Queen and The Midnight Court, the first two parts of her House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy. Jane’s going to talk about angels and demons, politics and history, love and kink, and the Snow Queen. Intrigued? Stop by on Tuesday.


While this isn’t quite Russia week, my guest on Wednesday will be Irina Lopatina, who doesn’t just write about Russian folklore, she actually lives in Siberia. Really, truly. As part of a tour from TLC Books, I had the opportunity to interview her as well as review her debut fantasy, White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors.


Things should warm up a bit (a lot!) on Thursday, when my guest will be Eve Langlais, for an interview and a review of her latest book, A Demon and His Witch. All of Eve’s stories are on the steamy side, but Demon is the start of Eve’s new series, Welcome to Hell, so, I expect things to be nice and toasty heading into the weekend.

As if Atlanta hasn’t been hot enough this summer!