Guest Post by Nina Croft on Living Forever + Giveaway

blood and metal by nina croftAs part of the celebration of her latest fantastic Blood Hunter book (see today’s review for deets) I’d like to welcome Nina Croft back to Reading Reality. In addition to the tour for Blood and Metal, Nina sent me a fantastic guest post about one of the central themes in a lot of her fiction. “Who wants to live forever?” along with that age-old romantic question, “If you could live forever, who would you want to spend it with?” As so many of her marvelous stories involve vampires and other immortals, this question comes up a lot. The answer, at least when Nina is answering the question, is always interesting.

Who wants to live forever?
by Nina Croft

Well, I do for one.

Of course, I might change my mind in a few thousand years, but until then it seems a way better option than the alternative.

I’m Nina Croft, and I write all sorts of romance often with a speculative element, and this week, BLOOD AND METAL, book 5 in my Dark Desires series releases.

The series is essentially science fiction romance with a paranormal twist and follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of the crew of the space ship, the Blood Hunter.

I hope readers find the series fun and sexy, but there is also an underlying deeper theme to all the books—that of man’s fear of death and the search for immortality, whether through science, religion or by some paranormal means.

The idea of immortality, and the price people would be willing to pay to obtain it, has always fascinated me, and I believe it’s one of the things that draws people to paranormal. It’s part of the lure of the vampire—the fact that they cannot die (well not easily anyway). It’s certainly one of the main things that draws me, as a writer, to the paranormal.

My Dark Desires series takes place in a future when man has fled to the stars and there they have discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian—a rare substance available to only a few. A new class has evolved; the Collective, super rich and immortal, they rule the universe. And just about everyone else is desperate to earn enough money to pay for the Meridian treatment. Though as the series goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that money isn’t the only price to be paid. And some members of the Collective are getting a little squeamish.

The series began with Break Out. Ricardo Sanchez, my hero, is the owner and pilot of the ship. Unlike most of the civilized universe, Rico isn’t interested in Meridian. He doesn’t need it, because he’s already immortal. Rico is a vampire and has lived a long time (he was born on Earth in the middle ages).

Move onto book 5. In Blood and Metal, Daisy, the co-pilot of the Blood Hunter, has never wanted immortality, rather it was thrust upon her when she was dying and Rico did the only thing he could to save her life…turn her into a vampire.

Fergal, our hero, on the other hand, doesn’t so much want to live forever as he doesn’t want to die (a slightly different goal but with the same results.) With that aim, he signed up for a totally experimental cybernetics programme, and is now dealing with some unexpected results.

So neither Daisy nor Fergal really wanted to live forever, but both are now immortal (if they get to survive the book), and they both have to learn to deal with that.

So what do you think? Would you like to live forever? And just how much would you be willing to pay? Let me know for a chance to win an ecopy of Break Out (book 1 in my Dark Desires series), Bittersweet Blood (book 1 in my Order series) and Operation Saving Daniel (book 1 in my Melville Sisters series).

[photo of Nina Croft]About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

To find out more about Nina, look for her at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I have adored all of Nina’s series, so I’m absolutely thrilled that she is letting me give away an ebook prize pack of the first books in her three series. The winner will receive ebook copies of Break Out (reviewed here) Bittersweet Blood (reviewed here) and Operation Saving Daniel (reviewed here). I’m a fan, so I’m happy to be able to share some of my favorites with a lucky commenter.

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Review: Blood and Metal by Nina Croft + Giveaway

blood and metal by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #5
Length: 268 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: August 24, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

She’s his last chance for redemption…if she doesn’t kill him first.

Copilot of the Blood Hunter, Daisy is a newly-turned vampire, and she’s hungry. Really hungry and it’s interfering with her plans for revenge. Unfortunately, the only thing that can distract her from said hunger is sex…which is a problem when she can barely refrain from draining any man dry within moments. But old flame Fergal Cain might just be the sexy-assed solution to her problem.

Part human, part cyborg, and with a poison coursing through his system, Fergal’s running out of time to find the scientist who has the cure. Unfortunately for him, the misfit crew of the Blood Hunter put a serious kink in his plans. And if the poison doesn’t kill him, the hot little vamp he can’t resist might do the honors herself…

My Review:

Plant girl turned vampire meets intrepid reporter turned cyborg. Or at least that’s one variation on the romance between Daisy, copilot of the Blood Hunter and Fergal Cain, escaped prisoner. However, there are many, many layers to both of their identities, and lots of both internal and external tension in this latest installment in the marvelous Blood Hunter series.

temporal shift by nina croftThe previous book in this series, Temporal Shift (reviewed here) serves as a bit of a reboot for the series. During the events of that book, which take place on the other side of a wormhole, only six months pass for the crew of Blood Hunter. It’s during those six months that Daisy, a genetically modified young woman with a whole lot of chlorophyll in her DNA, is nearly killed and is changed into a vampire in order to save her life.

The crew of the Blood Hunter has already lost some of their nearest and dearest in the galactic power struggle that they keep finding themselves in the middle of, and Rico, who swore that he would never turn anyone again, turns Daisy to keep her with them. Especially since her near-death is all his fault.

But Daisy the vampire is also a problem. She’s hungry ALL THE TIME, and doesn’t have enough control to manage her hunger. Her crewmates are now also food, but food she doesn’t want to kill. Lucky for her, they are all immortal and can afford to feed her regularly. Rico tells her that sex will also quiet her hunger, but every single person on the Blood Hunter is part of a couple. Everyone has already found their soulmate, except for poor lonely and starving Daisy.

When they come back through the wormhole, they discover that 20 years has passed in the world they left behind, and everything has gone into the shitter. The very militant and anti-anyone-not-pure-human Church of Everlasting Life has taken control of everything, and people in general are either true believers or truly terrified.

deadly pursuit by nina croftThe head of the church, Temperance Hatcher, is responsible for the deaths of too many of the Blood Hunter’s crew. And he has two of the crew as hostages, Alex and Jon. Alex has been forced to resume her role as reluctant High Priestess in order to keep her husband Jon alive. (If you’re curious about how they got together in the first place, read Deadly Pursuit (reviewed here) for the story of Alex’ escape from the Church and their unlikely romance.)

In their first unsuccessful attempt to break Jon out of prison, the crew rediscovers Fergal Cain instead. When they first met, Fergal was an investigative journalist infiltrating a company that produced cyborgs. Twenty years later, Fergal is an escaped cyborg attempting to rescue the one man who knows the details of Fergal’s condition, and the one man who can possibly keep him alive.

The Blood Hunter crew can’t leave Fergal behind, they’ve just blown his cover as a prison guard. But Fergal is certain that he can’t stay with the Blood Hunter, he’s carrying too many deadly secrets that will either get them all killed, or get him tossed out an airlock. But when he and Daisy discover that they are everything the other one needs to cure everything that ails them, he can’t make himself turn away.

Not even when it is much, much too late.

Escape Rating B+: I’ll confess to being a bit confused by the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey bits in Temporal Shift, so it was great that the author put the crew back into normal space and into a story where time behaved normally again.

At the same time, the 20 year break served as an interesting reboot. When the crew left normal space it took the leaders of the two of the three major power groups with them. So the Collective and the rebel conclave both collapsed without their leaders and the Church very much ascendant took over everything.

Rabid theocracy is not anyone’s friend in this book. In this case, the True Believers in human purity are unable to tolerate any deviance, either in DNA or in thought. The prisons are full and the people are scared, quite reasonably, to death.

Fergal Cain has a big secret that he is carrying through most of the book. However, it is a secret that is easily guessed by the reader. And my knowing what it was did not detract from the drama, because the tension always revolved around other people’s reaction to that secret, not its existence.

Daisbreak out by nina crofty and Fergal make a perfect pair. He is a cyborg, and he normally has to hold back on his strength and capabilities. Daisy is a vampire who is afraid to let down her guard out of fear that she might kill her partner. Except that Daisy discovers that while Fergal may be terrific in bed, he isn’t food for her vampire. As a cyborg, he tastes terrible!

But that they are each able to let down their respective guards makes their intimacy, both physical and emotional, hard for them to resist. Fergal has never belonged to anyone or anything before, and his connection to Daisy, and through her to the crew of the Blood Hunter, kills his resolve to remain alone. It may be safer on his own, but he finally discovers that being connected to other people is worth it.

And Daisy finds herself in a relationship that is not just worth fighting for, but also worth living for, and someone with whom she may be able to share “forever”.

If you like your science fiction romance with a heaping helping of non-stop action adventure, start this series with Break Out (reviewed here). You’ll be glad you did.



Blood and Metal Button 300 x 225

As part of the tour, Nina is giving away 2 sets of the paperback copies of the first three books in the series, Break Out, Deadly Pursuit and Death Defying and 5 ecopies of Temporal Shift, book 4

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***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: Temporal Shift by Nina Croft

temporal shift by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #4
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Entangled Select
Date Released: November 17, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KoboAll Romance

Caught between destiny and desire…

After diving into a black hole in search of the source of Meridian, the key to immortality, the crew of the Blood Hunter finds themselves stranded in an alternate universe.

Engineer Devlin Stark doesn’t want immortality. He just wants to live long enough to get his revenge on the man who murdered his brother. Now, he’s trapped in a strange world with a crazy woman who claims he’s fated to be her lover.

Saffira Lourdes has a destiny: to save humanity and lead her exiled people to the Promised Land. Haunted by visions of the past and future, she’s been sustained through the years by a dream lover. Unfortunately, Devlin doesn’t believe in fate. But it’s obvious there’s a connection between them, one that will soon be tested by the limits of time and space. Saffira is about to make the crew of the Blood Hunter an offer they’ll find impossible to refuse.

They’re heading back to Earth, and they’re going back in time…

My Review:

First, I want to take whoever decided to play with the series title, and whoever chose the strange series listing for Temporal Shift at Goodreads and Amazon, and shake them until their teeth rattle.

break out by nina croftIt is extremely unobvious in a lot of the blurb copy, but Temporal Shift is very definitely the fourth book in Nina Croft’s awesome science fiction romance series, Blood Hunter. The series starts with Break Out (reviewed here) and continues with Deadly Pursuit (here) and Death Defying (here). Temporal Shift makes way more sense if you’ve read the other stories first.

The series is also being renamed Dark Desires, which I find less descriptive but possibly more saleable, but that just adds to the confusion.

The action in Temporal Shift follows directly from the harrowing events at the end of Death Defying, but the whole thing only works if you have at least some understanding of the players and the set up.

The owner of the ship, El Cazador, is a vampire named Rico Sanchez. The year is 3048, and the Earth as we know it was destroyed centuries ago. Only a select few made it out on large colony ships, but somehow, both the vampires and the werewolves managed to get themselves aboard those ships. (People in cryosleep don’t notice that a vampire is taking a sip, after all)

The story in Temporal Shift contains more than enough time travel to cause the crew of El Cazador to question whether everything they thought they knew about their history is actually true, or whether that temporal shift is more of a loop.

It all starts by falling (or fleeing) through a black hole to an unknown destination. When you are being pursued by not just one but two space armadas, any port in a storm, even a potentially deadly wormhole, looks like a viable escape.

But they don’t find a safe haven. What they find is that they are the starring players in a centuries old prophecy, and that it’s a bit difficult to figure out exactly where, or when, they are. What they discover is that they may have looped back to the beginning of their own history. Which means that they are in the unfortunate position of being able to screw it up completely.

Everything hinges on the local time-mancer (read prophetess) Saffira. She’s been saving herself for her destined sacrifice to history, and for a man who loves her in her dreams. Both arrive in the El Cazador, but not in the way that she expects. Finding a way to help her people escape, and getting the very angry and closed off Devlin to fall in love with her, is going to take way more time than it should. Centuries in fact, but only for her.

When the woman who returns is not quite the same woman who left, no one is sure whether any of the complex plans they have laid will work. But they have to try, or they are all doomed.

Escape Rating B+: I think this story only works if you’ve read the rest of the series, or at least the expanded edition of the first book, Break Out (which is totally awesome).

The thing about time travel stories is that they can be totally confusing if you don’t know all the history involved in the time being traveled to. And I’ll confess to getting confused, even though I have read all the books. At the same time, it was a lot of fun to meet Rico back in the 15th century. Also bloody and terrifying, but neat to see the time streams cross.

The whole story is about crossing the time streams. Callum Meridian was on the original voyage, but his ship survived and he discovered the immortality drug, Meridian. So the ship in orbit on the planet inside that black hole represents his own personal past, dropping into the middle of his present.

There is a lot about messing with time, and trying to figure out how to make sure that they all (or their ancestors) act in time to get saved so that they are not on Earth when the disaster strikes. But this is all a giant time loop, and they caused the future they now live in. This is obvious at the end, but not so much in the middle.

I never did get how Saffira’s people came to live on the planet in the black hole. In the end, it’s not as important as what she does to get them all out. It was obvious how she was going to solve the central dilemma, but that didn’t make it any less painful when she does.

I’ve enjoyed the entire Blood Hunter series quite a lot. This is science fiction romance mixed with a very interesting bit of world building. And that world building only gets more convoluted (and fascinating) with the time travel explorations of Temporal Shift. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

***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: The Descartes Legacy by Nina Croft

descartes legacy by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Romantic suspense, Science Fiction Romance
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Edge
Date Released: September 30, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Lucas Grafton has spent the last ten years hunting the Conclave, a secret organization who took everything from him: his wife, his child, his very identity. Now he has a lead—an imminent terrorist attack on London—code-named Descartes.

Born with a genetic illness, Jenna Young has always known she was different. But the unexpected death of her father catapults her into a world of murder and terrorism she never expected. In order to stay alive, she must solve a twenty-five year old mystery—and her only ally a hard bitter man in search or retribution, her only clue the Descartes Highlands, an area on the near side of the moon.

Luke’s need for revenge collides with Jenna’s hunt for the past, and together they must stand against the Conclave. All the while uncovering the truth behind Jenna’s illness, a truth that will make Jenna question her very humanity.

My Review:

The Descartes Legacy takes a fairly standard romantic suspense story and enhances it with a bit of science fiction in order to create a “can’t stop reading” experience.

All the elements of romantic suspense are right there; heroine experiences a major life change event that makes her investigate something mysterious. Said investigation pushes the buttons of some very shady customers and heroine finds herself in serious jeapardy without knowing why. In swoops hero to save her life and help her with her investigation. Bad guys continue to pursue for nefarious reasons. Heroine makes life-changing discovery. Evildoers attempt to suppress heroine’s knowledge. After climactic fight, hero and heroine start new life together.

Just because something follows a formula, doesn’t mean that the author hasn’t taken the elements of that formula into new and interesting directions. In the case of The Descartes Legacy, those elements were born on the moon.


Jenna Young believes that she is dying. She believes that she has a genetic disease and that her father-the-doctor has been giving her medicine to keep the disease at bay. Then he dies suddenly and she’s running out of meds.

She thinks she’s sick, so she turns to another doctor to get the medication she needs. Her friend gets tortured and killed, and she has no idea why.

What she did makes perfect sense, based on what she believed. But what she believed isn’t true. Over the course of the story, Jenna discovers that nothing she believed about herself and her origins is true.

Her father didn’t just lie, he covered up his part in a world-spanning power-hungry organization called “The Conclave”. An organization whose genetic experimentation both created Jenna, and ordered her “termination” at age 4.

Jenna’s always known she was different. But as she is forced to dive into the murky politics of The Conclave, she discovers just how different she is.

And Jenna’s not the only one peering into the depths of the Conclave’s evil, nor is the death of her doctor-friend the only torture-and-murder to be laid at their door.

Lucas Grafton has been looking for revenge against that organization for ten years, since they murdered his wife and daughter. But Luke’s search for justice runs him headlong into Jenna’s need for the truth.

Luke starts out uncertain whether Jenna is an innocent bystander, a co-conspirator, or bait in a trap. Eventually he discovers that she is all three, but by then, he’s willing to sacrifice anything to keep her safe.

And she feels the same way about him.

Escape Rating A-: The story ends with a series of stunning revelations that make the reader yearn for more. It doesn’t feel so much that things have concluded as that there is a pause in the action. Jenna and Luke’s story isn’t over, and I want to know what happens next. Very, very much.

The science fictional elements in The Descartes Legacy are of the “laboratory” variety rather than the space ship type. It’s not just that Jenna was created through some very tricky genetic engineering, but it’s the source of some of her genetic material that pushes the story through the science fiction envelope.

The “Descartes” in the title is not a reference to Renaissance philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, at least not directly. It refers to the Descartes Highlands on the moon, and to Apollo 16’s mission there.

The Conclave is a many-headed, completely heartless beast of an organization. The plot that Jenna and Luke discover is chilling in its inhumanity. Discovering the nature of that plot and stopping it add to the breakneck pace of the story.

But this is also a romance, and that part of the story hinges on the chemistry between Jenna and Luke. For all the science fiction, their story together has a few too many times when Jenna is a drugged and helpless captive, waiting for Luke to rescue her. Considering the powers she discovers during the story, she gets kidnapped a bit often.

And there was definitely a touch of insta-love in their relationship. But the thriller and suspense elements still kept me racing to finish the story.

*This review originally appeared in the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

***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: Death Defying by Nina Croft + Giveaway

death defying by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Blood Hunter #3
Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Select
Date Released: February 24, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Part snake, part human, and—some would say all bitch—Captain Tannis of the starship El Cazador has one goal in life—to earn enough credits to pay for the Meridian treatment to achieve the immortality she craves. And one last job will get her there. The assignment: protecting the most powerful man in the Universe.

Being leader of the known universe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks big time. And after five hundred years, Callum Meridian, founding member of the Collective, is bored out of his mind. But as things are changing, he’s changing—into what, though, he isn’t sure. Callum is determined to discover the truth, and he’s employed the crew of El Cazador to help him do it.

Not everyone agrees with his plan, though. His own people will stop at nothing to prevent the truth coming out, the Church is taking advantage of the confusion and attempting a coup, and even the crew of El Cazador seem close to tossing him out the airlock without a space suit. But defying death has never been more dangerous, sexier, or more fun.

My Review:

deadly pursuit by nina croftDeath Defying begins its action/adventure/romance/space opera story just at the point where Deadly Pursuit leaves off.

And the crew of El Cazador is being pursued, with deadly intent, yet again. It looks like all the forces they have previously defeated are out to get them, once in for all.

It doesn’t help that the Collective and the Church are out to get each other, with the crew of El Cazador seemingly caught like fish in a large, space-spanning barrel.

The Collective controls the immortality-granting drug Meridian. After 500 years, the founding members of the Collective have a few problems. They’ve managed to gain control of the galaxy, or at least their corner of it, by their control of the drug. People who defy them are banned from ever receiving “the treatment” that gives them not just immortality, but membership in the elite circle that controls the system. Very few people are willing to lose their chance at the drug, no matter how high the price for it or how slim the chance that they could ever receive it.

But Meridian has a downside–doesn’t everything? Those who take it are not just made immortal, they are irrevocably changed. Everyone knows that members of the Collective are telepathic with the group. But the whole “growing wings” thing is totally unexpected. The members of the Collective are becoming something other than human. In a system where many people consider Genetic Modification to be “less than human”, what will winged people be?

Also, a lot of inhumane acts have been committed in order to keep the supply of Meridian flowing to the select few who qualify. But the supply has run out. The planet where Meridian was found is all tapped out.

The Collective doesn’t want to relinquish their control by admitting that they can’t elect anyone else into the club. Their leader wants to let the whole “wing thing” out into the open. Quite possibly because he’s tired of hiding the fact that he can fly. He wants to test those things out!

When the Council turns down his request for the big reveal, he goes to plan B–escape on El Cazador. The fee he’s paying for their assistance is the last bit of coin that Captain Tannis needs to fund her own Meridian treatment.

Instead, the Council betrays its leader, Callum Meridian, and plans on using double-and-triple crosses to get the Church of Everlasting Life to destroy the planetary source of Meridian in a blaze of glory–so they have a public scapegoat for the end of the supply.

Both the Church and the Collective plan on catching Callum in the cross-fire; the Church because it has decreed the Collective as anathema, and the Collective because Callum wants to delve into secrets that the Collective wants hidden.
Both sides have tackled with the crew of El Cazador before, and wiping them off the face of the galaxy would be a pleasure for either side.

But the crew is much too clever to go down without a fight. Several fights. Especially now that they have recruited their own rebel alliance to help even the odds.

Callum Meridian has been unwilling to admit that immortality has gotten boring. On El Cazador he discovers that fighting for his life, and the lives of the crew who have managed to become friends–is the opposite of boring.

Falling in love is the best experience of all, and one he thought he was no longer capable of. But will loving and losing be worth the price, if he has to live with it forever?

break out by nina croftEscape Rating B: Death Defying, and the entire Blood Hunter series so far, has been an absorbing combination of space opera and romance. In Break Out, as much as I adored it, the space opera took a backseat to the romance. In Death Defying, it’s the romance that takes the backseat, and the space opera political maneuvering that comes to the fore.

All three romances have been between a man who has been around entirely too much, and a woman who has little or no experience of sex, love or romance. Not necessarily because they are young, but because their lives have otherwise excluded romantic possibilities.

The heroine of Death Defying, Captain Tannis, almost seems too damaged to have changed so fast. She was experimented upon by a mysterious lab for 14 years, from the ages of 4 until she turned 18, and she can’t stand to be touched. She wants Meridian so she can hunt down the people who tormented her. Callum is the first man she’s ever let touch her, and she manages to forgive him for letting that lab, and other inhumane acts, be perpetrated on his watch as head of the Collective.

I didn’t quite buy into their romance, but the political machinations and Callum’s search for the secrets to Meridian kept me on the edge of my seat. The Church and the Collective are using each other, and both want to wipe out El Cazador. That ship is in everyone’s sights, and it takes a huge trick for them to escape both sets of clutches.

It was difficult to believe that the Church could get even more evil than they were in Deadly Pursuit, but they hit new lows. Not that the Collective is any better.

Riding the spacelanes on El Cazador has been so damn much fun that I’ll be sorry to see it end. I thought that Death Defying wrapped up all the loose ends left over from the first two books in the series, the fabulous Break Out and the terrific Deadly Pursuit. I was incredibly pleased, but I’ll admit also slightly surprised, to see that the author has two more books planned for the series.

I can hardly wait to see how she picks this up from where she left us this time!


Nina Croft Double Feature BannerNina is generously giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on the tour. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. For more chances to win, check out the other stops on the tour.

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***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: Bittersweet Darkness by Nina Croft + Giveaway

bittersweet darkness by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Order #3
Length: 251 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Edge
Date Released: February 24, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

There are no monsters, only good guys and bad guys. That’s the creed by which Detective Inspector Faith Connolly has always lived.

When Faith discovers that she has a time bomb counting down in her head, she has one goal; to solve the murder case she’s working on—a young girl who was found drained of blood—and in doing so gain closure for a long ago murder never solved. Her investigation brings her in contact with Ash Delacourt. Ash is all black leather, big guns and sexy bad attitude—definitely not one of the good guys.

As payment for a debt, Asmodai AKA Ash Delacourt, finds himself working with the Order of the Shadow Accords. He’s the demon representative on the newly formed Committee for the Integration of Mankind and well…everything else. It’s a chance to be near his daughter, make a new start, and—once he’s met the delectable detective—maybe have a little fun.

There are no monsters. But as Faith’s investigation deepens, her beliefs are eroded and for the first time, she is falling in love—with one of the bad guys. But how can she ever let Ash close when her time is running out…?

My Review:

I always believed that “bittersweet darkness” was just a description for especially delicious dark chocolate, until I got into Nina Croft’s Order series. The books are every bit as yummy (and addicting) as the best pure dark chocolate.

Like the other books in the series (Bittersweet Blood and Bittersweet Magic, both absolutely marvelous) Bittersweet Darkness is the story of a woman who has unknowingly been living a lie about her relationship to the supernatural, and a man who embodies everything that is dark, dangerous and otherworldly.

It’s not just about exploring the fire between Faith Connolly and Ash Delacourt, it’s about Faith finally discovering the truth about her past, and Ash figuring out that even a demon is capable of loving and being loved, even a second time around.

Ash Delacourt is a demon. In the first two books, he has been better known as Asmodai, a Prince of the Abyss. He’s also the father of Tara Roth, vampire Christian Roth’s wife. (Their story is the heart of Bittersweet Blood).

Tara and her dad have issues. Ash was using Tara to get back at Christian. By the time he discovered that Tara was the daughter he thought had died, Ash had done one heck of a lot of damage, and most of it to Tara.

bittersweet magic by Nina croftBoth Tara and Roz, the heroine of Bittersweet Magic, are mixed-blood. Tara is half-demon and half-fae. Roz is part-Angel. The fae hate mixed bloods, but the angels are positively rabid about it. They believe that any part-Angel is an abomination, and they want Roz obliterated.

Meanwhile, The Order of the Shadow Accords has created a Council that represents all the races, in the hopes of keeping all this internecine warfare from spilling over onto the unsuspecting original-recipe humans.

But it already has. They wiped out one crazed vampire who was going around exsanguinated young women, and leaving them for the human police to find. But one team of human police got a little too close for the Council’s comfort.

One partner was recruited, but the other refuses to admit that there might be anything supernatural in the world. Ms Oblivious is Faith, the heroine of Bittersweet Darkness. There’s a block in her mind that absolutely prevents her from believing in anything that goes bump in the night, even when confronted with incontrovertible evidence.

But she can’t let her last case alone. She believes that if she finds her serial killer, she’ll find a link to her own past. She doesn’t know that the Council has already wiped him out.

She also doesn’t have a clue that she’s absolutely right. There is a link to her past. The question is whether she can find resolution to her case, to both her cases, before the aneurysm in her head blows up and kills her.

And whether Ash is able to let another woman he loves die without a fight.

Escape Rating A-: Unlike the first two installments of the series, Faith starts the story as 100% human. A little too human in fact, as she has a ticking time bomb in her head in the form of an inoperable aneurysm. She wants to close that serial killer case, and find some answers, before she dies.

She has had an involvement with the supernatural, but she’s been blocked from remembering it. While it’s pretty clear early on that somebody messed with her mind, exactly who and exactly how is quite a surprise in the end, but it doesn’t change a lot about who Faith essentially is.

Faith doesn’t want to get involved with Ash because she knows that she can’t give him a future. She’s interested (very) in a fling, but she is dying and doesn’t want to break anyone else’s heart in the process.

[Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft]Ash is the one who changes the most in this story, and in the course of the series. He starts out on a selfish quest for revenge in Bittersweet Blood, but by the time he meets Faith, he’s on the road to becoming a better man. He desperately wants a good relationship with his daughter, and he’s having to work damn hard to get halfway there (with good reason). But his need to make things up to Tara turns him outward in general, makes him less self-centered. It also helps him to heal from his loss of Tara’s mother, and he’s ready to let others into his life and heart.

He doesn’t plan on falling for Faith, but watching it sneak up on him is terrific. And nearly heart-breaking, both his and ours.

[photo of Nina Croft]About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Nina’s writing mixes romance with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

If you’d like to find out about new releases then sign up for my New Release Newsletter at:

To find out more about Nina, look for her at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.


Nina Croft Double Feature BannerNina is generously giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on the tour. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. For more chances to win, check out the other stops on the tour.

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***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.

A Look Forward: My Most Anticipated Reads for 2014

2014 numbersWhat a difference a year makes!

It was surprisingly easy to pick the books for this list. I know exactly which books I’m dying for this year. Well, the first ten, anyway. I wasn’t planning on fourteen, but Cass jumped in and rounded out the list. (Thanks, Cass!)

Then I took a look back at last year’s list, and my eyes crossed a bit. There are two repeaters. I don’t mean series where the next book in the series is on the list, although that happens too, but two books that were delayed in publication. So I’ve waited a whole year longer than originally planned. (Not that I didn’t find plenty to read instead)

And a couple of things I thought I would read as soon as they came out, I didn’t. (Best laid plans, etc., etc.)

So here’s this year’s set of newly laid plans. Let’s see how it goes. Why do I hear a “bwahahaha”, coming from somewhere in the shadows?

skin game by jim butcherSkin Game by Jim Butcher is the 15th Harry Dresden book. I can’t believe the series has been going on that long. I fell in love with Harry because he started out as a hapless and frequently luckless wizard in my favorite former hometown, Chicago. But I still love his trademark snark, even as Harry has gone from being a two-bit wizard-for-hire to the Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness.

Damnation by Jean Johnson is the fourth book in her Theirs Not to Reason Why military science fiction series. I heard her read from Damnation at WorldCon in San Antonio, and I can’t believe I have to wait until August to finally get the next chapter in Ia’s story. There have been moments in this series that have sent chills down my spine. This entire series has been awesome.

guild by jean johnsonThe Guild, also by Jean Johnson, is the third book in her Guardians of Destiny fantasy romance series. Her military sf is kick ass, but I found her through her fantasy romance, and she’s utterly marvelous. The second book in this series, The Grove, was on my 2013 best list. She does fantasy romance where the fantasy worldbuilding is top notch and her heroines are always the absolute equals of her heroes. Her women have friends who talk to each other, and the plot of the fantasy is as important as the romantic happy ending. Her stories are always a treat!

Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara is the tenth of the Chronicles of Elantra, and I can’t wait for Kaylin to get back to the city. She belongs there. Removing her from the city and the Courts for two books was interesting and told a lot about her friends among the Barrani, but took away from Kaylin as the center point. I want Kaylin back where she belongs!

silver mirrors by aa aguirreSilver Mirrors by A.A. Aguirre is the second book in their (A.A. Aguirre is the joint pseudonym of Ann and Andres Aguirre) Apparatus Infernum series. The first book, Bronze Gods, was one of my best of 2013. The world is just such an awesome mixture of steampunk and “magic goes away”, with an urban fantasy/detective duo that is something special.

Death Defying by Nina Croft has been the biggest tease for the end of December. It’s also the third book in her Blood Hunter series. I loved the first two books (Break Out and Deadly Pursuit) in that science fiction romance series so damn much that I gave Break Out an SFR Galaxy Award. I’ve been waiting since then. Death Defying almost made it into 2013, but not quite. What is so cool about the Blood Hunter series is that Croft figured out a plausible way for vampires and werewolves to make it into space. So along with a science that has granted immortality to a privileged few, there are vampires, who are also immortal. And it makes sense.

shield of winter by nalini singhShield of Winter by Nalini Singh is lucky 13 in her Psy-Changeling series. I still love this series, but it’s pretty obvious that the overall arc of the worldbuilding is drawing to a conclusion. The Silence Protocol will fall, the questions revolve around what is going to take its place; order or anarchy. I think I’ve become as or more fascinated with the big story than the individual romances. And I simply can’t express how grateful I am that the cover design has improved with Heart of Obsidian and Shield. The previous US covers were simply abominable.

Lock In by John Scalzi. Honestly, I wouldn’t care what the summary said on Goodreads. It’s by Scalzi, and I’m going to get the eARC from Edelweiss as soon as it pops up. But seriously, it sounds cool, but not one of his funny ones. This looks like one of his big idea books mixing virtual-reality, epidemiology and the misuse of power. Wow!

And now for those books that I hoped to see last year, but were delayed in publication…

written in my own hearts blood by diana gabaldonWritten in My Own Heart’s Blood is the eighth doorstop in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The Outlander series has been described, and it sounds about right to me, as “historical fiction with a Moebius twist”. The past and the future intertwine in a way that has to be read to be believed. Her 18th century is like you are there, and in a way you are, because you are experiencing it through the eyes of a 20th century woman who found the love of her life in 18th century Scotland. Outlander is the standard by which all other time travel historical fiction and romances are judged. I can’t wait to lose three days in the next one.

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear is the continuation of her completely splendiferous Promethean Age series. They are portal fantasies, where Faerie exists next door to our world in a way that means events can, and do, affect both us and them, usually to the detriment of one or the other. And whoever scored last has a nasty tendency to strike back. The original cover sucked, and it went back for a better one. At least, that’s what the author said at WorldCon. (The first cover really, really does suck, we’ll have to see about the second one when it gets here. I just want the damn story)

Two books I should be anticipating but aren’t exactly…

Wicked After Midnight by Delilah S. DawsonWicked After Midnight by Delilah S. Dawson and Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr. These two books have nothing to do with each other, except that they are both January books, and I would normally be chomping at the proverbial bit to get at them. However, I have ARCs. I’ve already read Rex Regis, and can’t recommend it, and the entire Imager Portfolio series, highly enough to anyone who loves epic fantasy.

I started Delilah S. Dawson’s Blud series after I met her at Dragon*Con in 2012. The series is steampunk with a slightly creepy twist to it, but they are darkly enchanting and I scoop up each book as soon as they are available. I know Wicked After Midnight is going to be a treat.

And now for a few words from the Alaskan delegate. Here’s Cass!

tropic of serpents by marie brennanThe Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan! Clearly. I invented a new rating system for Book #1 Then I preordered Serpents 6 months before it’s release. I’ve NEVER preordered something so far in advance. I have no idea what edition it is (hardcover? paperback?), what the cover art looks like…nada. Doesn’t matter. Don’t care. WANT BOOK NOW.

Symbiont by Mira Grant. Argh! I have to see what is happening with the Tapeworm Uprising! And then find some anti-parasitcs to ingest, thus purging my body of our future Tapeworm Overlords.


Wyrd-Sisters by Terry Pratchett new coverThe Discworld Collector’s Library. Holy shit these covers are gorgeous. ( I’ve read the covers off several of my favorite Terry Pratchett books, and I upgrades. Particularly the Death, Cultures of Discworld, and Witches Collections. I am only interested in certain Unseen University and City Watch books.

Untitled by Connie Willis. Connie read the first chapter from an untitled (and as yet unfinished) book at WorldCon and I have no idea when it is coming or what it will be called by I am waiting. Credit card in hand. Just give me a sign Connie…..

And there you have it. A few of the books we are looking most forward to in 2014. Of course, there will be more. Lots, lots more.

Which books are you looking forward to the most in 2014?

Once More with Feeling: The Best Ebook Romances of 2013

LJ 2013 Best BooksIn spite of what the opening paragraph of the article at Library Journal says, this is actually the third year that I’ve been asked to choose the Best Ebook Romances of the Year for Library Journal.

Just check the archives, if you’re terribly curious, here are the links to the 2011 and 2012 lists. This is one of the most fun things I get to do all year that can be more or less labeled as work, even though, as what I call reverse full-disclosure, Library Journal does not pay for the writing of this particular article or for the book reviewing I do for them.

Creating this list is always personal for me. These are books or series that I read or am in the middle of. They are the books that I gave either A ratings or 4.5 or 5 star ratings to, depending on where I did the review. Or in a few cases, B+ reviews of books I absolutely couldn’t get out of my head.

The first year, I was told to list 5 books. Last year, 5-ish. This year, my editor said 10 from the start. I think she figured out that I cheat and list series. I did again this year and went over the limit.

skies of gold by zoe archerArcher, Zoë. Skies of Gold. Avon Impulse. (Ether Chronicles, Bk. 5). ebk. ISBN 9780062241443. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE (4.5 star review)

The first four books in the Ether Chronicles (Skies of Fire, Night of Fire, Skies of Steel, Night of Steel) were on my 2012 list for good reason; this series is simply awesome steampunk worldbuilding. Also we have all the story possibilities inherent in a world war, but with airships and “ether” power. While Skies of Gold is a more than worthy successor to the first four books in the series, it is unfortunately the last book in the series. If you love steampunk romance, you’ll be enthralled. And then sad that it’s over.

forged in blood 1 by Lindsay BurokerBuroker, Lindsay. Forged in Blood I. ebk. ISBN 9781301493357. Forged in Blood II. ebk. ISBN 9781301349876. ea. vol: Lindsay Buroker. (Emperor’s Edge). FANTASY ROMANCE
I’ve adored the first five volumes of The Emperor’s Edge series (The Emperor’s Edge, Dark Currents, Deadly Games, Conspiracy, Blood and Betrayal) so much that I haven’t wanted to see it end. So I’ll confess that I put the entire series on the list even though only the last two books were published in 2013, and I’ve been saving reading the ending for a treat for myself. LJ was slightly puristic about things and only put the 2013 titles as the main entry on the list. The Emperor’s Edge is Epic Fantasy with a touch of Steampunk. The primary story isn’t a romance, but, and it’s a truly lovely but, there is a romantic subplot. Or maybe that’s sub-subplot. Our heroine convinces the best assassin not to kill her, and keeps on convincing him to help her, even though everyone tells her he’s just a heartless killing machine. Of course he’s not. Well, not completely.

[Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft]Croft, Nina. Bittersweet Blood. Entangled. (Order, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9781622669592. PARANORMAL ROMANCE (A- Review)
What a difference just a few days makes! At the time I wrote the article, I was just about to read the second book in Croft’s Order series, Bittersweet Magic (B+ Review). I didn’t want to jinx things by listing it, but I shouldn’t have worried. What’s so much fun about this paranormal romance series is that the standard definitions don’t really apply; the vampires maintain the Order of the Shadow Accords on Earth to prevent the Fae and the Demons from repeating their use of Earth as the battleground in the long-running Fae/Demon war. The contemporary fallout seems to be over the descendants of the Fae Juliet and the Demon Romeo of that war. But Demons are immortal, so Romeo isn’t dead. But his half blood daughter is ground zero for armageddon, and only the vampires can protect her. Make that one vampire with a personal “stake” in the result. The world-building in this just keeps getting better, and the love stories more complex.

black dog blues by rhys fordFord, Rhys. Black Dog Blues. Coffee Squirrel. (Kai Gracen, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9781301668625. M/M PARANORMAL ROMANCE (4.5 Star Review)
This is a dark and gritty post-apocalyptic urban fantasy much more than it is a paranormal romance. There are several characters in this story who care a great deal for the elfin Kai Gracen, but Kai doesn’t even like himself enough to be ready for more than friendship with anyone else. He’ll get there, but he isn’t there yet. The story drops us into Kai’s world as it is; we know what he knows. We don’t know why or how the sidhe suddenly merged with what used to be our normal, just that Kai has to endure whatever crap gets thrown his way. It’s the person who emerges from the endurance that makes the story. That and dodging the dragons mating over the Mojave Desert.

Take What You Want by Jeanette GreyGrey, Jeanette. Take What You Want. Samhain. ebk. ISBN 9781619213746.
Ignore the New Adult label. Take What You Want is an absolutely marvelous contemporary romance that just so happens to be about two people in college. Ellen can’t go away for Spring Break, so she takes a vacation from herself. Just for a few days, she tries to be someone a bit different; instead of being shy and retreating into her books, Ellen buys sexy clothes on sale, goes to a townie bar and picks up the hottest guy in the place. She pretends to be “New Ellen” for just one night. Josh thinks no-strings-attached sex with a girl that he’s had a crush on since freshman year is a fantastic idea, but he knows exactly who she is. Ellen really doesn’t recognize him without his glasses. The next night is where pretense starts butting up against reality, because he wants to turn their one-night-stand into something more and New Ellen and regular Ellen have a difficult time deciding the difference between what they should want and what they do want.

armies of heaven by jane kindredKindred, Jane. The Armies of Heaven. Entangled. (House of Arkhangel’sk). ebk. ISBN 9781620611067. FANTASY ROMANCE (4.5 star review)
The fall of the House of Arkangel’sk is a deliciously complicated blend of the historic fall of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov with Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen with more than few tablespoons of the deviance, decadence and twisted political machinations of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. There is love to be found, but the path to reach it leads through dark places, and our preconceived notions of good and evil, right and wrong, do not apply in Kindred’s Courts of Heaven. The best man in the entire series is a demon, although he would never think of himself as good. The biggest fool is a certainly an angel, and he would definitely label himself as such. The series begins with The Fallen Queen (4.5 star review) and continues with The Midnight Court (A Review) before the conclusion in The Armies of Heaven. Prepare to be enthralled.

how to misbehave by ruthie knoxKnox, Ruthie. How To Misbehave. ebk. ISBN 9780345545305. (4 star review)
Knox, Ruthie. Along Came Trouble. ebk. ISBN 9780345541611. (5 star review)
Knox, Ruthie. Flirting with Disaster. ebk. ISBN 9780345541703. (A- Review)
Knox, Ruthie. Making It Last. ebk. ISBN 9780345549297.
ea. vol: Loveswept: Random. (Camelot). 4-vol. set. ebk. ISBN 9780804180436. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
This small town romance series set in central Ohio is all about the Clark siblings, Amber, Katie and Caleb. Knox specializes in contemporary romances where real people solve very real problems while going through major life experiences. The tension in her stories comes from the kind of situations that cause stress in ordinary life; trying to reinvent yourself, trying to maintain a marriage, dealing with grief, not dealing with grief, returning home, being part of the sandwich generation, financial stress. The difference is that Knox makes her characters people that we all identify with and lets them have a fantastically steamy romance while they resolve their problems. Her stories pull at your heartstrings and make you smile. Every single time.

case of the displaced detective omnibus edition by stephanie osbornOsborn, Stephanie. The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Twilight Times. SF ROMANCE
I adore Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings, with the exception of the whatever-it-is that Guy Ritchie birthed with Robert Downey Jr. (who should stick to Iron Man). But I seriously digress. I read, and reviewed, Stephanie Osborn’s Case of the Displaced Detective somewhat in its originally published parts: The Arrival (A- Review), At Speed (B+ Review) and The Case of the Cosmological Killer (B Review). In the case of Stephanie Osborn’s continuing opus, I very much admire her concept of a Holmes who is not quite our Holmes and has an excuse for being so. She has used theories of quantum physics to create not just a possible universe where Holmes would have been a flesh-and-blood person, but to create causality that would bring that person into our 21st century. He is not quite the “thinking machine” of Conan Doyle’s fiction because he is not supposed to be, and that opens up a world of possibilities. Real human beings, after all, feel real emotions as they solve mysteries. Sometimes they even fall in love.

The Story Guy by Mary Ann RiversRivers, Mary Ann. The Story Guy. Loveswept: Random. ebk. ISBN 9780345548740. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE (A- Review)
There was only one thing wrong with this story. It was too short, and at the time it was written, it was the only thing available by Mary Ann Rivers. The story is absolutely awesome, I wanted more by this author, and there just wasn’t anything else, yet.
What’s a “story guy”? A story guy is someone who may or may not be long-term relationship material, but who will, sometime in the future after the heartache is over, make a terrific story. Librarian Carrie West answers a personal ad from a very hot guy for one hour of kissing in the park every week. The answers to the questions about why this unattached and gorgeous man is willing to settle for so little for himself, and to make sure that no one is able to get attached to him, make for one marvelous and nearly heartbreaking love story. (And if you fall in love with The Story Guy you’ll probably also love Ruthie Knox’ Big Boy.)

Anything for You book coverScott, Jessica. Anything for You. Loveswept: Random. (Coming Home, Bk. 2.5). ebk. ISBN 9781301165766. (A+ Review)
Scott, Jessica. I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Coming Home, Bk. 2.6). ebk. ISBN 9781455554249. (A Review) MILITARY ROMANCE
Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series, which began in 2011’s Because of You (A Review) and continued in 2012 with Until There Was You (A- Review), is a military romance series that gets to the heart of what it means to love someone who serves in the military, because author Scott is herself a career army officer and is married to a career NCO. So instead of writing about the glory of the battlefield, she writes about the toll that deployments take on a family with inside knowledge of what it’s like to wonder if someone is coming home, and how hard it is to wait and worry. She’s able to convey the emotional cost to a soldier with a career-ending injury, not just because his body is messed-up, but because he’s lost his purpose and he’s worried about the people he’s left behind. If you want to read a military romance with real heart, read Jessica Scott.

That’s it for this list. The specific requirements for the Library Journal list were that they all had to be ebooks, either ebook-only or ebook-first, or ebook-mostly. In some cases, there is a print available on demand, but the ebook looks like the primary format, or it did at the time. Also, for this list, there had to be a romance in the story. Yes, a couple of times you have to be looking for the romance, it’s not the primary plot. But there had to at least be a romantic element.

I used to be able to put this list in preference order, but it’s gotten too big. And there’s kind of an apples/bananas problem. How do you compare a steampunk romance to a paranormal romance when they are both at the top of their respective trees?

I will do a “best of the year” list next week (which includes a few contributions from my friend Cass!) These type of lists are loads of fun. It’s great to look back and see what I’ve read and which books stick in the mind by the end of the year.

Guest Post by Author Nina Croft on the Lure of the Werewolf + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome one of my favorite paranormal and SFR authors (if you don’t believe me, take a look at my raves about her paranormal series The Order, and her SFR series Blood Hunter) Nina Croft, who recently published Operation Saving Daniel (reviewed here). She’s here to talk about…

Operation Saving Daniel Banner 450 x 169

The Lure of the Werewolf…
by Nina Croft

I love writing about all different types of paranormal creatures—you can let your imagination run wild and as long as you stick to the rules of your particular world, absolutely anything can happen. But if someone asks me what my favourite paranormal creature is, my mind always flashes to vampires. They are my first love (ever since reading Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice at an early and impressionable age), but all the same, these days I quite often find myself gravitating toward werewolves both in my reading and my writing.

Operational Saving Daniel by Nina CroftI’ve written many werewolves. The hero of my novel, Deadly Pursuit, book 2 in my Blood Hunter series, is a werewolf (albeit in space!) My Sisters of the Moon series is based around them, and Daniel, the hero of my latest release, Operation Saving Daniel, is a werewolf (if somewhat reluctant).

So what is the lure of the werewolf? Why do I go back to them time after time? Here are a few things that come to my mind:

  • I love a bad-boy hero and werewolves are total bad boys. They’re wild and they’re dangerous, and they have that whole animal magnetism thing going.
  • I love their dual nature, the fact that they are “human” most of the time, but that the beast is always lurking below the surface. I love that you can get a flash of that beast from time to time—a feral glint in an otherwise human expression and you know there’s more to them than meets the eye.
  • They are super-fast and super-strong—perfect for protecting you.
  • They are earthy and spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m an outdoor person myself so this definitely appeals. And they can go out in the sun—I’m a total sun-lover so this is a big plus.
  • Alcide. I just had to mention Alcide—the sexiest werewolf on TV.
  • Whereas vampires are cold and controlled, werewolves are passionate, temperamental, and hot-blooded.
  • They form packs so you need never be without a friend or someone to protect your back.
  • They’re Protective. Alpha werewolves are all about protecting the pack and the heroine (or the hero—my latest story is a female werewolf and she’s all about looking after her man. Whether he likes it or not.)
  • The whole “mate” thing works so well with werewolves. You can’t fight destiny—well, actually you can and that’s what makes it so interesting.
  • They turn into wolves and wolves are beautiful (I have four dogs and love all things furry, so I’m maybe predisposed to love werewolves.)
  • While they don’t have immortality like vampires, they do tend to have longer lives and they don’t get sick and can cure just about any injury.
  • And finally, anyone can become a werewolf. All you have to do is find one to bite you and then survive!

So, there are a few of the reasons why I love the furry beasts. But which is more to your taste, the cool, controlled vampire or the passionate, hot-blooded werewolf?

[photo of Nina Croft]About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

To find out more about Nina, look for her at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.


Nina is giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon! To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Review: Operation Saving Daniel by Nina Croft

Operational Saving Daniel by Nina CroftFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: November 25, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

At eighteen, Melissa seduced her best friend Julia’s brother only to run away shortly after. While Daniel was her fairytale prince, Lissa didn’t believe in happy ever afters.

Ten years and a near death experience later, Lissa is ready for a husband and family. But a cry for help from Julia puts that dream on hold. Daniel is acting weird and he’s about to marry his long term girlfriend—AKA The Evil One. Someone needs to save him.

Daniel has never stopped loving Lissa. Ten years ago when he gave her a little freedom, he always intended that one day they would be together. Right up until the moment he was bitten by a werewolf. Now, Daniel has to hide what he is. He won’t risk anyone else, especially the woman he loves.

But Lissa is back. Their attraction is stronger than ever and Lissa is nothing if not tenacious.

My Review:

There’s a long history of siblings believing that the person their brother or sister is about to marry is not good enough for their favorite family member; possibly even to the point of thinking that person is evil.

Daniel’s sister Julia has no idea just how right she is when she dubs Sophia “The Evil One”–the woman actually is a bitch–a werewolf bitch, that is.

Sophia is glued to Daniel’s side to make sure that he obeys the werewolf Alpha who turned him against his will; and to remind him that if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut about even the existence of the supernatural, more members of his family will die at the hands, or claws, of the wolves.

But Julia doesn’t know any of this, so she brings back the one woman guaranteed to penetrate Daniel’s emotional defenses. She calls Lissa back from managing charitable organizations around the world.

Lissa does humanitarian work, but she’s also running away. From her own past, and from Daniel. The only man she’s ever loved. Just once and ten years ago. But she never forgot.

He never did either. But he’s tried to. Because Lissa is another chink in his armor, another vulnerability. Something he can’t afford to have while he fights for his life. Fights for control.

Daniel is a research chemist. A talent that brought him to the attention of the werewolves ten years ago. A talent that may be his salvation–if he’s willing to push all the edges of the envelope in his research, while using himself as his only test subject.

He’s just afraid that after the battle is over, he will have lost the only thing worth fighting for.

Escape Rating B+: This was just too much fun! The relationship between Daniel and Lissa is such a beautifully realized second chance at love story that you are rooting for them to get together from the very beginning. Their relationship gets off the ground very quickly, but it doesn’t feel like insta-love because there’s all that backstory. They have a second chance.

We also have a “beauty and the beast” tale with a very modern twist. Daniel feels like a beast, not just because he’s an unwilling werewolf, but because he’s using genetic engineering to make himself an even bigger, badder werewolf. He needs to be an Alpha in order to survive, so he’s making himself get there ahead of schedule. He’s just sure that no one will love him, not Lissa, not his family, once they know what he’s become. Of course he’s wrong or we wouldn’t have a story.

One of the funnier bits is that the government knows about the werewolves and other paranormal entities. I hope that there are future books planned in this world and this aspect is explored in more depth. The government agency involved (this is set in Britain) is MI13. There is no MI13. Or is there? If there were, and it were gathering intelligence about paranormal entities, wouldn’t it be even more secret than usual?

Something that was almost hilarious at first reading, but makes you stop and think in retrospect, was Lissa’s and Julia’s reactions to discovering that Daniel was a werewolf. Not merely that they both believed him, but that they found it a much more acceptable explanation for his behavior than that he might have ever had feelings for the evil Sophia. Lycanthropism was more acceptable than a human bitch. It felt like a bit of worldbuilding was missing, albeit in a very fun way.

Operation Saving Daniel Button 300 x 225

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