Review: Turned by Virna DePaul

turned by virna depaulFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Belladonna Agency #1
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand.

Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden.

But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.

Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own.

When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.

Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

My Review:

DEPAUL_Turned_BlogHop_21I picked this book up from NetGalley because I signed up for the Turned Blog Hop from Romance at Random last week. (The hop is still going on, so enter here!)

Turned introduces us to a slightly different version of the fanged ones. In this world, some vamps are born, and others are made, in other words, turned from human to vampire. There are lots of politics involved, because, well, immortal vampires make for convoluted politics. But in this case not all of the political complications are on the vampire side.

Ty Duncan is an FBI who was turned against his will by a bunch of rogue vampires. The rogues are rogues from their own laws, because in this world, the vampires don’t want to increase their population by turning humans. They just want to stay under the radar and not come out of the coffin.

The FBI not only knows that vampires exist, but they have been recruiting rogues to turn people for them. Some senior FBI officials see vampires as faster, stronger, better agents, and don’t even think that anyone who is a rogue is probably a rogue through and through.

So the FBI loses control of its vampire-makers, after the rogues turn two FBI agents, Ty and Peter, very much against their will (and with extra added torture and other collateral damage).

Now the FBI needs to track down the rogues and cover its ass with the Vampire Queen, who specifically told them not to turn anyone. In other words, the FBI has a good old-fashioned clusterfuck on its hands.

Especially when they find out that their former rogues are running a human blood slavery operation on the side. Just when they thought it couldn’t get much worse, it does.

So of course they create an even shadowier arm of the agency to track down the rogues and put a stop to the blood slavery. Let’s call this the creation of plausible deniability, although there is also a certain amount of “locking the barn door after the horse it out”.

That shadow-arm of the agency is called Belladonna, and the name is intended to mean both “beautiful woman” and “deadly nightshade”. Their intent is to recruit deadly women who can become agents and spies, whether they ever become vampires themselves or not.

Ty is instructed to recruit Ana Martin, for two reasons; she has already proven that she can be deadly when the situation demands it, and because the suspected leader of the blood slavery ring is a man who has been obsessed with Ana since he jumped her into a gang when they were teens.

Ana lets herself be recruited because the Belladonna Agency has promised her the one thing that she has been searching years for; contact with her long-lost sister. Both Ana and Ty try to hide their mutual ulterior motive, that they are attracted to each other with a need that neither of them can fight, no matter how much they both believe that they are not worthy of the other, and that any possible relationship is doomed from the start.

But nothing that Ana has believed all her life turns out to be true. Everyone betrays her, or has betrayed her, and more than once. Except Ty. No matter what happens, he tells her nothing but the truth, and not just because vampires are unable to lie.

Ana just has to learn to trust her feelings, and herself, before it’s too late.

Escape Rating C+: Because this is the first book in a series, there is a lot of setup and there are still some things that are unexplained. Vampire society looks complex (it generally is) but we don’t learn how things got this way or what the vampires are really up to.

We view what it is like to be a vampire from Ty’s perspective, and he’s both untrained and miserable about his turning. He hates himself and his life. He keeps trying to protect Ana from the monster that he feels he is, instead of letting her decide for herself. Too often, his way of protecting her is to push her away rather harshly, and she naturally reacts by pushing back, equally harshly.

Also, although this is a love story, it uses the insta-love trope. One gets the sense that Ty and Ana are fated mates, although that’s never explicitly said. But they have a stronger instant chemical reaction to each other that is more than just insta-lust. (And Peter has the same reactions to the Vampire Queen when he meets her).

If there is a fated-mate component, it would be better to know that, rather than have the story lead down that road and then NOT explain.

Ana is a very strong heroine. She’s made a good life for herself in spite of an extremely rough start, and she takes a beating, whether physical or emotional, and keeps moving forward. The other women introduced in the story as the rest of the team are definitely promising potential heroines as well. The prospect of reading their stories is one I’m looking forward to.

***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.

Turned Blog Hop

Welcome to the Turned Blog Hop, sponsored by Romance at Random!

The hop is celebrating the upcoming release of Virna DePaul’s Turned, the first book in her new paranormal series The Belladonna Agency. (If you’re on NetGalley, the eARC is available now. I started it yesterday and it’s marvelous fun!)

But if you want to get in on the celebratory prizes, there are plenty in this hop. Here’s the list:

(must be 18 or older with a US mailing address to participate):
·  10 Preview copy winners of TURNED by Virna DePaul
·  5 Preview Copy winners of WANTED by J Kenner
·  2 Preview eBook copy winners of A Vampire’s Salvation by Virna DePaul
·  2 Preview eBook copy winners of Arrested by Love by Virna DePaul
·  Grand Prize of $20 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!

The more places you enter, the more chances you have to win. Just check out the links at the bottom of the post.

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Interview with Samantha Kane + Giveaway

I’d like to welcome today’s guest, Samantha Kane. She’s here to talk about her first book in her new historical romance series for Loveswept, The Devil’s Thief. It’s a fun, frothy romance about stealing hearts (and pearls) from reformed rakes and the friends who set them up for their proper comeuppance. Take a look at my review for more details.

But here’s Samantha to tell us where she got the idea for her “Saint’s Devils”, and a few other things. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the post!

Marlene: Hi Samantha! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Samantha: I’m 45, married for 16 years, and I have 3 kids ages 12, 9, and 6. I live in the South and I love it here. I love both the mountains and the beach. I like to knit, though I’m not very good at it. I did just finish a cute little stuffed animal for my son’s birthday. I’m moving next week and still have so much to pack! I’m actually moving the day my new book comes out. Because you can never have enough stress, right?

Marlene: Please describe a typical day of writing for us. Are you a planner or pantser?

Samantha: I’m a plotter. I used to be a pantser, for my first few books. I think you can tell the difference in my writing. I wanted to bring more depth to my stories and plotting has always been my weakness. Now I plot using screenwriting techniques, Act I, Act II, Act III, mid-point, climax etc. I plot each scene in the book, including point of view, and I outline character and romantic arcs. As for a typical day, I don’t have those. I write whenever I can, which may be morning, may be afternoon, may be evening. I do try to write in the morning before I go to the gym on days when I don’t have other commitments. Then lunch, writing, pick up kids, homework, dinner, writing.

Marlene: Why romance? Why not fantasy, or mystery, or science fiction? What is it about writing in the romance genre that drew you to writing in it in particular?

Samantha: I love the emotional investment in romance. I’ve written science fiction; it turned into science fiction romance. I’m sure whatever I write will have a romantic element. I just think adding romance to any plot increases the reader’s emotional investment in the stakes for the hero or heroine. It creates an intimacy between the reader and the story that’s lacking in other genres.

Marlene: What can we expect of The Devil’s Thief?

Samantha: Good things, I hope! This is a bit of a non-traditional Regency. There’s a lot of humor and action. Burglaries, fistfights, chases, criminals, and some pretty hot sex scenes. There’s a lot of interaction between the hero and his friends, other Devils who will be the heroes in future books in The Saint’s Devils series.

Marlene: And what about the rest of the series? Is there a story behind that most intriguing title, The Saint’s Devils?

Samantha: The Saint’s Devils is the nickname given by society to the heroes of the series. They are a group of rakes that have been friends since school. Their unofficial leader is Sir Hilary St. John, a Sherlock Holmes type character who was inspired by Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes. Sir Hilary helps the heroes solve a mystery involving their heroine in each book. Sir Hilary is mysterious, his past is shadowy and he is frequently engaged in secretive inquiries for mysterious clients. The second book in the series, Tempting a Devil, is Roger Templeton’s story. He’s the ne’er do well Devil, penniless, hilarious, and drunk more often than not in The Devil’s Thief. He’ll meet his match in an old friend from his childhood, Lady Harriet Mercer. No longer the tomboy Roger remembers from his youth, Harry is a gorgeous widow in need of help with a secret that could break Roger’s heart.

Marlene: The Devil’s Thief is your first title for Loveswept. How did you feel when you got the call that the book had been accepted?

Samantha: I was excited. I’d heard of Sue Grimshaw, my Loveswept editor, when she was the romance buyer for Borders, and I was eager to work with her. I think Loveswept fits my style of writing and I like the idea of being part of the beginning of the new Loveswept. My readership is digital, and Loveswept definitely fit me in that way, too.

Marlene: And how is The Devil’s Thief different (or similar) to your award-winning erotic romances?

Samantha: The Devil’s Thief is a very sensuous mainstream romance, so expect some scenes that don’t artfully fade to black. I think my readers will recognize the intense emotional and physical relationship that Alasdair and Julianna have. However, it is not erotic. And there’s more humor in this book than in my Brothers in Arms books. The camaraderie between the Devils is similar to the close relationships the men in my BIA books share, without any sexual overtones. I think the similarities most evident will be the fully drawn characters, both the main and the secondary characters, and the emotional element of the story.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future? What is next on your schedule?

Samantha: I have a short Brothers in Arms story coming out this week, Love and War: The Beginning. It was originally written as a free read for my newsletter subscribers and I’m now making it available to everyone. I’m also working on the 3rd book in The Saint’s Devils series, which should be out next year. Within the next few months look for another Brothers in Arms novella and a full length Brothers in Arms next year.


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

1. Because they love a good, old school romance.
2. Alpha males and clever heroines excite them.
3. They like humor and witty dialog in their romance.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask?

Samantha: My favorite kind of music is country.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read and why that particular book?

Samantha: I can’t think of one. I hesitate to recommend books to people who don’t ask. And I recommend different authors based on what kind of book people like to read. I tend to recommend authors rather than books. So I recommend JR Ward, Nalini Singh, Eloisa James, Rachel Gibson, Kristin Higgins.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Samantha: Night owl, definitely. Then I pay for it in the mornings.

About Samantha
Reviewers have called Samantha Kane “an absolute marvel to read,” and “one of historical romance’s most erotic and sensuous authors.” Her books have been called “sinful,” “sensuous,” and “sizzling.” She is published in several romance genres including historical, contemporary and science fiction. Her erotic Regency-set historical romances have won awards, including Best Historical from RWA’s erotic romance chapter Passionate Ink, and the Historical CAPA (best book) award from The Romance Studio. She has a master’s degree in American History, and taught high school social studies for ten years before becoming a full time writer. Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.
Places to find Samantha Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter



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Naughty & Nice Blog Hop

On Friday I asked if you wanted to be “wicked”. Today, the question is whether you want to be Naughty & Nice!

It’s not really my question. Romance at Random is hosting this Naughty & Nice Blog Hop to celebrate their new release, Naughty & Nice, which features holiday stories (hence the title) by Ruthie Knox, Molly O’Keefe and Stefanie Sloane.

Here’s a list of the very, very nice prizes that Romance @ Random is giving away for this hop!

Prizes – R@R is giving away (must be 18 or older to participate):
· 15 Net Galley Preview copy winners of Naughty & Nice +
· 5 About Last Night by Ruthie Knox paper giveaways (US only) +
· Grand Prize of $15 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!

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And here’s the complete list of hop sites. Hop around to increase your chances to win!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-21-12

What’s the difference between wicked and naughty? Why is this question relevant to my Sunday Post?

The Wicked Romances Blog Hop (hosted by Reading Romances) started yesterday at Reading Reality (and LOTS of other places) and that is the question you need to answer in the comments to throw your hat in the ring for a chance at a $15 Amazon Gift Card. But the answers, oooh the answers are utterly fascinating.

And, tomorrow starts the Romance at Random Naughty & Nice Blog Hop. Of course, I couldn’t resist being a hop stop for that hop. Which totally brought up the question, what is the difference between wicked and naughty?

Two days is not one of the answers. Except maybe in this case.

So what wickedness occurred last week at Reading Reality?

Ebook Review Central Featured Titles from Dreamspinner Press for August 2012: #1 Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy, #2 Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C., #3 Strengthened by Fire by Andrew Grey.
B Review: Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1) by Courtney Cole
A- Review: Down for the Count (Dare Me #1) by Christine Bell
B+ Review: A Date with Death (1Night Stand) by Louisa Bacio + Interview
B- Review: The Naughty Angel (1Night Stand) by Shiela Stewart + Interview and Giveaway!
Wicked Romances Blog Hop (still plenty of time to enter!!!)

Whew, what a week! But that’s done and dusted. Except for the wicked, wicked hopping, of course.

What about this coming week, you might ask? I hope you’re asking. I’ve already told you about tomorrow’s Naughty & Nice Hop brought to you by the very lovely Romance at Random.

In addition, tomorrow’s Ebook Review Central will feature the Samhain titles from August 2012. Samhain can always be counted on to provide lots of options for featured titles, and this month was no exception. I’m still furiously tallying.

Tuesday, my guest will be Jessica Scott. She’ll be here to talk about her military romance series, Coming Home, and particularly the latest book in that series, Until There Was You. I’ll also have a review of the book.  (The first book in the series, Because of You, was excellent!) And Jessica has agreed to giveaway copies of both books.

Wednesday is my day to interview Nikki Logan, the author of Wild Encounter. Nikki’s romances feature both a romance between two people, and her romance with nature. In conjunction with the interview, Nikki will be giving away a copy of Wild Encounter. I’ll be reviewing Wild Encounter on Friday this week.

And on Thursday, my feature will be a review of Jillian Stone’s The Moonstone and Miss Jones. This is the second book in her Phaeton Black series. The first book, The Seduction of Phaeton Black, was an incredibly cool mix of decadent Victorian low places and bad boys with steampunk and, really surprising, Egyptian gods and magic powers. With a side-dish of Scotland Yard for spice. I had a lot of fun (see review) with the first book and have definitely been looking forward to the second!

And speaking of looking forward, I have a couple of guests that I’m looking forward to the week of October 29 (and who would have thought that the month was ending so soon!)

Lisa Kessler will be back on October 30 to talk about the latest book in her Night series,  Night Thief. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Night Walker (review here), so this will be a treat.

And on November 1, my guest will be Cindy Spencer Pape, the author of not one but two of my favorite series, the paranormal/urban fantasy series Urban Arcana, and the one she’ll be talking about, her Gaslight Chronicles. The latest book in the series, Moonlight & Mechanicals, will have just come out, so I’ll also have a review.

It seems like I’ve always got something good to look forward to. How about you?


Romance at Random Labor Day Blog Hop

Starting 9/1 through 9/15, Reading RealityRomance at Random, & the participating sites below, are hosting a blog hop with FREE books! Enter your name into the Rafflecopter & you could be chosen to win:

  • A Free Romance book! (10 winners in all)
  • Be one of 5 winners to win a prize pack from author Elisabeth Barrett (check out her new release, BLAZE OF WINTER, below)
  • Grand Prize is a $25 eGC

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Celebrating the next Loveswept release – BLAZE OF WINTER by Elisabeth Barrett – on sale 9/10 – Winter heats up in this hot new Star Harbor romance, as another sexy Grayson brother, a wickedly handsome writer, plots his happily ever after with a sweet stranger.

BLAZE OF WINTER by Elisabeth Barrett