What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 8-5-12

Looking at the calendar, it’s pretty clear that the break is over. Three tours this week AND three next week.

Oh, and I’m going to a family reunion over the weekend. Can I schedule or what?

Lucky for me, my friend Cryselle from Cryselle’s Bookshelf will be guest reviewing on Friday! Thank you, Cryselle!

But between now and Friday, what’s going on?

Monday’s Ebook Review Central features Dreamspinner’s June titles. This was the month they released their Time is Eternity Daily Dose collection of short stories, novellettes and novellas. Let’s just say it felt like eternity compiling the review list with all the added titles. You’ll see tomorrow.

Tuesday I’ll be interview Sheri Fredrick’s about her contemporary fantasy Remedy Maker, as well as reviewing this fun new book. Her Remedy Maker, Rhycious, is a centaur with PTSD after a century-long war against the wood-nymphs. One of the cooler things about this story is that the mythological creatures live in real-world Pennsylvania, in Amish country.

Wednesday is the day that Laurie Frankel will be giving away a copy of her new book, Goodbye for Now, in conjunction with an interview and a review of that absolutely fascinating story. I’m still trying to find the right words to describe the story. It’s a love story for the 21st century, absolutely. What happens when a geek decides that he doesn’t want to let go?

Thursday’s guest is Nana Malone. She’ll be at Reading Reality to talk about Forsaken Protector, the second book in her Protectors series. (The first book, Reluctant Protector, is available free for Kindle, check it out!) These read like superhero romances to me, and they’re fun!

And if this week isn’t awesome enough, there’s next week to look forward to!

Jane Kindred will be here early next week to talk about her wicked angels and protective demons series, The House of Arkhangel’sk. The first book in the series, The Fallen Queen, was amazing and intense, and the second book, The Midnight Court, promises more of the same. Along with convoluted angelic court politics and demonic love. Reviews will be posted with the interview. Yum!

Speaking of yummy, I couldn’t resist Adrienne Giordano’s Relentless Pursuit when it popped up on NetGalley. I’ve read the entire Private Protectors series, and I’ve loved every single one of them, so a new one is a real treat. If you like romantic suspense of the security-agency persuasion, give Giordano’s series a try. Start with Man Law. (Not thrilled with the title, but the book was terrific!)

That should be enough for one week. Or even two. But it’s not. The next Robin Owens Celta book, Heart Secret will be out on August 7. Yep. Already pre-ordered.

Review: Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Who would have thought that angels would make such terrific tortured heroes? Now the concept that fallen angels would become demons, and evil ones at that, well, that concept has been around forever.

Everyone knows the quote from Milton. That one about it being, “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” But Gena Showalter has already shown that demons can be redeemed, or can fight their nature, with the help of the right woman. She proved that in her Lords of the Underworld series.

Wicked Nights is the first story in a spinoff series in the same universe, Angels of the Dark. And Zacharel certainly is a dark and brooding angel. Also a disobedient one. His Deity has made him general of an army of misbehaving angels who are all one step, or maybe that’s one wingspan, away from falling into the dark.

Zacharel is the one who is whipped every time one of them disobeys. Or accidentally kills a possessed human when they battle the demons. Every one of his soldiers is damaged goods. They’ve all been tortured by the dark.

Zacharel lost his brother to the demons. Hadrenial was the best part of him. But after his repeated, soul-destroying torment by the demons, Hadrenial begged Zacharel to kill him. To kill his spirit, destroy his soul and burn his body. To remove him utterly from existence. In the angel’s realm nothingness was better than being consigned to hell by self-murder. And Hadrenial’s self-destructive actions became more and more depraved by the day. Zachariel finally gave in, and killed him. Destroying his soul. He also carved out a piece of his own soul, all the love he felt in the universe.

Or so he thought.

Annabelle Miller watched a demon rip her parents to pieces right before her very eyes. Eyes that the demon had just ripped from their sockets. Then he marked her as his own and left Annabelle to attempt to explain what she saw to the police. Who of course believed that she was an insane psychopathic murderer and locked her up in a mental institution.

Where she was under continual attack by, not just demons that no one else could see, but by the staff who treated her as fair game for sexual assault. After all, no one would believe the crazy girl.

Until the angels came to investigate the place. Zacharel’s army was tasked to discover why this one building kept being attacked by demon armies. It was assumed that someone inside was possessed.

What Zacharel found, was Annabelle. A woman who could see the demons. A woman who had been claimed by a demon. Yet a woman who had absolutely not invited that demon to claim her. As an angel, Zacharel could “taste” when someone was telling the truth, and Annabelle was telling that truth.

He was intrigued in spite of himself. And that was a feeling. Zacharel had no feelings. He’d cut them all out of himself when he’d killed his brother. But Annabelle’s defiance of her circumstances made him feel. She was not broken, not yet.

But he could see that she would be. Not yet, but one year, or two. And his task was to protect the humans from the demons. He decided to protect Annabelle by rescuing her.

The demons chased them. Everywhere. Zacharel discovered that he wanted to do much more than just protect Annabelle. Even if he didn’t know what it was that he was feeling. Or why the demons were so intent on this one woman.

She was his woman now. And hell could be damned if he would let them have her.

Escape Rating A-: This is one of those stories where you just kind of buckle up, because you know it’s going to be a really bumpy ride. And I mean that in the best way possible.

The Lords of the Underworld series was not sweetness and light. Those dudes all had somebody pretty nasty sharing headspace with them. This is a spinoff series, so don’t expect fluff here either. Both Annabelle and Zacharel have incredible amounts of baggage. Whole steamer-trunks full.

These two tortured souls take a long time to trust each other, and they should. There’s a very rocky road to even see happy someone over the next horizon, and that’s the way it should be. These are two souls who don’t think happy could have ever applied to them. Getting there is what makes the story.

One small spoiler. Dr. Fitzpervert doesn’t get anywhere near what’s coming to him. But it was a good start.



Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro was not quite the book I thought it would be. It didn’t have near enough romance to make the mark as a paranormal, and was neither gritty enough nor did it have enough of an urban or detective-y enough feel to be an urban fantasy.

The premise was interesting enough. In Jane Hellsbane’s world, there are a few people who are the offspring of human women and fallen angels. Those children are called nephilim. Our heroine, Jane, is one of those chosen few.

Jane has always been a little different. She’s psychic. For real. It’s not that she can see the future. It’s that she can see people’s emotions, especially if they are sitting in the room with her. So, she uses her gift to tell people pretty much what they want to hear, and they pay her. It’s a living.

Occasionally, she feels something really, really strong in the vicinity. What she doesn’t know is that it’s either one of two things. If it’s a good strong, it’s another person like herself. If it smells like rotten eggs, it’s a demon.

When Tommy Saint James knocks on her door when evening, battered and bleeding, of course she lets him in. Eight years ago, Tommy was the high school golden boy. Every girl had a crush on him, including Jane. Tommy didn’t let her see how badly he was wounded until after he got inside her house.

But Jane didn’t listen to Tommy when he told her not to let the mailman in. And Jane didn’t listen to Tommy when he told her not to pick up his sword. But if Jane hadn’t picked up that sword and  chopped off the mailman’s head after it turned into a demon, Tommy would be dead.

Except by picking up the sword, Jane committed the conscious act that changed her from just a nephilim into a full-fledged illorum, a fighter against the demons and their masters, the fallen angels. And it’s a job that Jane isn’t permitted to refuse. According to God, her act of free will committed her to the cause. If she didn’t want to become an illorum, she should have let Tommy die. Now she’s a soldier for the light, until the demons kill her.

Unless…There’s only one way to resign and live to talk about it. She has to find the fallen angel that seduced her mother (and then wiped her mother’s memories) and kill him. In other words, Jane has to kill her father.

Meanwhile, she has to keep the angel that is responsible for training both her and Tommy from falling for her. And then just falling. Period. But when Tommy is killed in the line of duty, all she and Eli have is each other.

Escape Rating C-: The description of this book was better than the execution. I wanted it to be more than it was. Either Tommy should have lived so that this was about their developing relationship while they fought evil, or there should be a way for Jane and Eli to have a relationship without him becoming a fallen angel and becoming evil. The whole thing about the “sins of the fathers being visited on the children” until they kill their sperm donors is way too melodramatic for me.

My willing suspension of disbelief started slamming the walls when it turned out that Eli’s only previous female illorum was Joan of Arc, and everyone started fearing for his soul because Joan tempted him so much that he broke most of the rules for her. And there is foreshadowing all over the place that Jane is some kind of incarnation of Joan.

Jane Hellsbane can be kick-ass without channeling Joan of Arc. I think it would be a better story if she were. Or if that is a necessary plot element, let’s not go there until Jane is established in her own right first.