Review: Allegiance by Susannah Sandlin

allegiance by susannah sandlinFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Penton Legacy, #4
Length: 345 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: June 10, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

My Review:

Omega by Susannah SandlinAllegiance wasn’t anything like I expected, but it delivered the two HEAs I most hoped for at the end of Omega (see review) and Storm Force (and this one).

Allegiance also feels a bit like middle-book syndrome, but if it is, it’s the middle of a blended Penton/Omega Force story that started with Storm Force.

Allegiance finishes with one hell of a spine-chilling bang, and the story can’t possibly be over.

I feel like starting my review with “when last we left our heroes…” because Allegiance picks up exactly where both Omega and Storm Force leave off.

Matthias Ludlam, the sadistic asshat enemy in the first three books, is due to be executed for his crimes in the morning. Aidan Murphy, the alpha of the entire Penton vampire community, is due to become the North American representative on the Vampire Tribunal in two weeks. The special non-vaccinated blood banks are supposed to come online any day, providing vampires in North America with safe, clean blood and with no need to enslave or kill any humans. The donors are all volunteers.

Of course, it all gets blown apart. Spectacularly, and with maximum collateral damage.

The Penton community finds itself under attack, and at first no one is sure where the attacks are coming from. Only that they are deadly both to people and to morale.

As events unfold, the community learns that their enemy on the Vampire Tribunal, has freed Latham and is keeping him under wraps for some future evil.

Of more immediate concern, a saboteur is operating in the now tiny community, setting fires and destroying new buildings as they are constructed. Everyone assumes that the perpetrator must be human, because so many of the attacks and subversions occur during daylight hours.

Not only are they wrong, but the truth is more perverse than anyone imagines.

Storm Force by Susannah SandlinInto the midst of all this chaos, Cage Reynolds returns to Penton from London, and two more-than-human members of the Omega Force arrive to help with the defense. Robin Ashton, the snark-ass eagle shifter, and Nik Dmitriou, the touch psychometrist.

Without going into spoiler central, it’s difficult to talk about the rest of the story. Suffice it to say that everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, and goes on a short trip to hell in a handcart. The folks at Penton are in receipt of every kind of bad luck and horrible happenstance imaginable.

Then they discover that they not only have a traitor in their midst, but that their enemies know all their weaknesses and don’t care how many people they kill in order to keep Aidan Murphy out of power.

While things do get darkest just before they turn completely black, in the midst of this seeming defeat the story does end with the light of hope and vengeance at the end of the long dark tunnel.

And Cage Reynolds figures out that what he came to Penton for wasn’t love, it was family. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t finally figure out that the love he wants is just like hope, a tiny thing with feathers. And a non-existent brain-to-mouth filter. Not what he was expecting AT ALL.

Escape Rating B: The evil in this book is really, truly evil. Their version of “by any means necessary” takes the concept to some lows that haven’t been seen since the Nazis went out of business.

I’m not saying that the Pentonites have clean hands, but there are some things so despicable that they can’t even imagine them until they start setting the place on fire. Allegiance is a much darker story than any of the previous entries in either the Penton or the Omega Force series.

Allegiance also does not have a happy ending. I’m not saying that the romantic couple doesn’t end up in at least a happy-for-now, as does a welcome added romantic reunion, but the story as a whole, the Penton vs. the world story, ends the book in a relatively bad and slightly uncertain place.

Redemption by Susannah SandlinCage and Robin provide a lot of the lighter moments in the story. Their unlikely romance is fun to watch, especially since Robin doesn’t seem to censor anything she says or does. But it felt like an HFN ending at the most because the overall situation seems so bleak. It’s not that they aren’t capable of an HEA, it’s that “ever after” at this point in the story could be unfortunately short.

I’ve been hooked on this series from the very first book (Redemption, reviewed here) and it’s driving me crazy to see everything seem so desperate. I can’t wait for the next book. It’s time for the good guys to take the fight to Tribunal and kick (or stake) some evil vampire ass.

Allegiance Button

***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: Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force by Susannah SandlinFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Omega Force, #1
Length: 343 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: March 19, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

My Review:

Let me say up front that I had two problems going in to my read of Storm Force. I really, really, let me emphasize this, really wanted this to be Cage’s story. Frankly I wanted it to be his HEA in Omega (reviewed here), and it wasn’t, so I want to see his story pretty badly at this point, and it looks like I’m waiting until sometimes in the fall. Color me annoyed on that score, especially since I bought the book.

The plot also had some similarities to another military romance I read not that long ago, in that the hero was having a difficult time dealing with having been forcibly discharged by injury, and couldn’t figure out whether this private contract thing, with or without the paranormal aspect, was what he really wanted. The villains in both cases also have a “bwahaha” aspect.

Let’s just say that Storm Force turned out to be way better than that other book, superficial resemblances aside.

Storm Force does take place in the world created by Sandlin’s Penton Legacy series. It’s kind of a side-sequel. All of the Penton Legacy has taken place, but those characters don’t appear. At the end of Omega, Randa Thomas’ military (and still human) family creates a joint human/vampire paramilitary task force as part of the deal that resolves the story.

The hero of Storm Force is the leader of one of those joint teams, but in the couple of years after Omega, more than just vamps have joined the strike teams. The all-too-human Jack “Kell” Kellison has both eagle and panther shifters on his team.

Which makes it a bit unbelievable that he doesn’t even guess that the person-of-interest his team is sent to investigate is also a shifter, even if she’s a shifter of a species that everyone believes is extinct.

What the FBI (and everyone else) does believe is that she is either responsible for a downtown Austin bombing, or being framed for it. The question are why would a known, non-violent environmentalist suddenly turn extremist? Or who would hate her so much that they would kill over 200 people just to get her attention?

The answers require more shifts in his thinking than Kell could have ever believed possible.

Escape Rating B: As I said, this book had to win me over, because I wanted it to be something other than it was. It’s a lot different in tone Sandlin’s Penton Legacy series, with more of a military romance layer on top of the suspense. It’s also a glimpse of the rest of the world that the vamps and shifters live in post-epidemic.

Kell and his unit are definitely an interesting group. Robin, is the star of the show, she’s an eagle-shifter and absolutely snark-tastic. She loves pushing everyone’s buttons, not just because she’s the only woman, but also because she’s different in other ways. She’s the only bird-shifter in the group too. She lives to defy expectations.

Our hero, Kell, fits the wounded warrior to a “T”. He’s on the fence about having surgery to repair what can be repaired in his spine. He’s going to have to make changes in how he fights. He has to recognize that his best contribution to a team that includes shifters (all of whom are stronger than he is!) is his tactical brain and not his brawn.

He’s never risked his heart before, but the first time he meets the heroine, he knows that she can’t be the bomber. Which doesn’t mean that she’s not the focus of whatever is going on.

Mori is the heroine, and she is the focus of events. I had a bit of a problem with her. She’s trying to be both Alpha female and Omega shifter at the same time, and those signals mixed. Also she doesn’t seem to realize that the villain is psycho, and could not be reasoned with. He just bombed a building to get her attention, which should have spelled it out for everyone!!!

There were one too many final battles to get this one resolved. It took a ton of resolution for Mori and Kell to figure out not just that they loved and needed each other, but how their relationship was going to work. And then they had to have a second epic battle with the big crazy. In the middle of a hurricane on a remote island. And he should have been put down a lot sooner with a whole helluva lot less fuss.

But I still read Storm Force by carrying my iPad around the house because I couldn’t put it down. I just hope Robin’s story is coming up 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 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.