ARC Review: Savage Angel by Stacy Gail

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance, Fantasy romance
Series: Earth Angels #2
Length: 138 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: February 4, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Feel nothing. Sara Savitch’s personal mantra has been hard to live by ever since her torrid one-night stand with army doctor Gideon Mandeville. Descended from the Seraphim, angels known as heaven’s soldiers, Sara may be an expert fighter, but she’s an amateur when it comes to relationships.

Physically unharmed, but still battle-scarred, Gideon has returned to Dallas in the hopes of regaining his faith in humanity—and in himself. Instead he’s walked into a nightmare. His father is on a serial killer’s hit list, and has hired a personal bodyguard—the very woman who has haunted Gideon’s dreams for a year.

As Sara works to build an impenetrable fortress around her client, she yearns to tear down the one around Gideon’s heart. With his bitter rejection of warriors, will he ever be able to accept her true nature? Sara must find a way to trust Gideon with her secret as the killer closes in….

My Review:

Although I enjoyed Savage Angel, the second book in Stacy Gail’s Earth Angels series, there were a couple of things that niggled at me just a bit.

Sara Savitch is leading the security team for Noah Mandeville, one of her security firm’s oldest and most loyal clients. Noah is recovering from a heart transplant, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that someone is targeting every single recipient of organs from the same donor that provided Noah’s new heart, and Noah’s next on his hit list.

The complication is that Noah’s son Gideon stole Sara’s heart right before he left on a tour of Afghanistan. He’s returned to help deal with the threat to his father’s life, but he’s been unwilling, or unable, to deal with what happened between himself and Sara at his going away party.

What happened was an absolutely incendiary one-night (actually one-afternoon) stand against a wall. One that neither of them has ever forgotten.

But Sara has no experience with relationships. None at all. She doesn’t understand Gideon’s complete lack of communication. His response to her message that his father had survived his transplant was was beyond terse.

Gideon returns from Afghanistan suffering from an extreme case of PTSD. Even though he served as a doctor, he saw combat. And came back shattered down to his soul.

Because Gideon is so screwed up, he tries to push Sara away and off his father’s security team. He has no idea who or what he is pushing around, and his treatment of her is not merely Neanderthal, but frankly unforgiveable.

Then he finds out what he’s really dealing with. Unfortunately, Sara finds out who their real enemies are. The world is nothing like Gideon thought it was. There are much greater evils abroad than he could possibly have imagined.

There are also angels. Gideon is just lucky that one of them loves him in spite of everything he’s done.

Escape Rating B-: The first third of this story made me want to smack someone, possibly Gideon. It may be because I just finished the first book in the series, Nobody’s Angel (see review), but the title Savage Angel is also a dead giveaway. I knew Sara was an angel, but the story kept trying to be coy about what she was.

Gideon might not have known what Sara was, but the readers do. That was so not the big reveal. It was just annoying.

Gideon starts out as more than an arsehole. I know it was the PTSD talking. And he is trying to push Sara away. Considering that he accused her of having gotten the job of leading his father’s security team by providing sexual favors to his father while the man was recovering from a heart transplant, Sara forgave him WAY too fast. With her skills, she should have kneed him in the family jewels for that remark, and made him grovel for a few days. At least a few days.

On the good side of the equation, once the story picked up steam, it really got cracking. I could see where this tale feeds into a larger story arc. There’s obviously a bigger bad operating behind the scenes, and the tension just got ratcheted up.

More, more!

***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.

Guest Post: Stacy Gail is Making Heroes + Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to welcome Stacy Gail to Reading Reality. Why? Because not only is Stacy the author of today’s featured review (check out my review of Nobody’s Angel for deets) but she also wrote my absolute favorite holiday story for 2012, How the Glitch Saved Christmas (reviewed at Book Lovers Inc.) I not only adored her glitch, but science fiction romance is one of my reading passions.

And writers like Stacy help me live those circuit-filled dreams. So take it away, Stacy! 

Angel VS Algorithm—Let’s Get Ready To Rumblllllle!
by Stacy Gail

Before we begin, I’d like to thank Marlene at Reading Reality, for kindly allowing me to stop by and chat about Nobody’s Angel, my latest release from Carina Press, and the first book in The Earth Angels paranormal romance series!

Confession:  When it comes to my heroes, my tastes are…exotic.  Heh.

If you don’t believe me, I have proof.  This past December I had a futuristic/sci-fi release in a Carina Press holiday anthology, by the name of How the Glitch Saved Christmas.  It was a fun project, a “gateway” novella to a futuristic world that’s going to tie up the lion’s share of my attention in the upcoming months.  In Glitch, I created Edison Wicke, a smart-mouthed, street-savvy cop, and, oh yeah—he’s a cyborg.  This part-man, part-machine, all-yummy guy had been living in my head for a while, so it was a kick to finally get him out into the world and let him stretch his meched-out legs.

Months before I wrote a single word on Glitch, I’d submitted a very different sort of project to my editor, along with an outline of a four-part paranormal series.  This series, The Earth Angels, would be built around the mythological beings known as the Nephilim—super-powered angel-human hybrids that got wiped out in the Great Flood.  But, since Goliath was supposed to be one of these guys, it’s suggested that some survived that extinction event.  That amazing concept is where The Earth Angels series picks up, with the modern-day, mostly human descendants of those long-ago survivors.  Nobody’s Angel starts things off with Zeke Reece, paramedic by day and masked hero flying through the shadows by night.

The question is, which hero is better?

I know, I know—that’s like asking a mother which kid is her favorite. 😛  For me, both Edison and Zeke are totally swoon-worthy in their own ways, so it’s hard to make comparisons.  Since that’s the case, how about we break it down as to what each hero can do?  They both have superhuman strength, speed and endurance (and rest assured, both of their ladies appreciate a man with impressive stamina *straight face*).  Zeke can fly, while Edison can withstand a fall of several stories without breaking so much as a nail (he does, however, break the ground like a meteorite wherever he lands).  Zeke battles spiritual beings and banishes them from this realm to the next, while Edison can search for information at the speed of thought, can see and record in a broad spectrum, from ultraviolet to infrared, and has fighting skills that rival Neo’s in The Matrix.

So…which one’s better?

In my mind, it’s a dead heat.  Whether they were born with some crazy angelic mojo in the DNA, or built in a futuristic lab to take a licking but keep on ticking, these two men haven’t earned the label of hero because of what they can do.  It’s who they are that makes them heroic.  Edison chose to become more than human because he was devoted to the idea of doing his job to the best of his ability—the job of serving and protecting his corner of the world.  Zeke may not have chosen to be born as part of an accursed race, but instead of lamenting that fate he does everything he can to make his world a safer place.  Both would sacrifice anything for the sake of others, and both would walk through hell and back for the women they love.  When it comes right down to it, who wouldn’t want someone like that—a true hero—in their life?

So tell me, do you have a preference?

About Stacy:

A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.

Where to contact Stacy: | website | twitter

Where to buy Nobody’s Angel:
AmazonBarnes & NobleAll Romance, eBooks.comGoogle Play



GIVEAWAY: Stacy will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC for the grand prize; and second prize is a Zazzle mug with cover art on front, plus a Starbucks Via coffee pack (US only) to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn host. Leave a comment with your email and name in order to enter for a chance to win!

Review: Nobody’s Angel by Stacy Gail

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Earth Angels #1
Length: 89 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: January 21, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Investigative journalist Kendall Glynn is horrified when a friend and colleague signs off permanently during a live newscast, jabbing a pen into his jugular. Kendall’s no expert, but judging by the strange white veil in the anchorman’s eyes, she would swear he was a man possessed.

A descendant of the accursed Nephilim, Zeke Reece prowls San Francisco by night, keeping the city free from paranormal phenomena. But even he is no match for whatever malevolent force is behind a recent rash of murder-suicides. And when a beautiful tenacious reporter becomes the next target, Zeke has no choice but to stay close to her, until he can find the evil spirit and cross it over.

The closer Kendall gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in. Fortunately, a sexy and mysterious masked stranger keeps swooping in to the rescue. Kendall’s life depends on finding who or what is responsible for the killings, before it finds her.

My Review:

Maybe not an angel, but definitely a hero. Possibly even a superhero.

Stacy Gail has taken the legend of superman and mixed it with the biblical origin story of the nephilim, the fallen angels, in order to create one gorgeous alpha male.

He’s got his own fortress of solitude, his black mask to hide his identity, his mild-mannered alter ego, but no cape, because it would just get in the way. That whole fallen angels heritage, well, this dude has his own wings to fly with. Wow!

The mild-mannered alter-ego, Zeke spends his days as the most gorgeous EMT that San Francisco has ever seen. He spends his nights sending restless ghosts on their way.

But the ghost that investigative reporter Kendall Glynn sees transform her friend into a rabid murderer refuses to be caught. So Zeke appoints himself Kendall’s protector, just to keep her from becoming the geist’s next victim.

Yeah, right. Pull the other one.

It’s really because he can’t make himself resist her. Lucky for him, the feeling is mutual. Even if Kendall does worry that she’s falling for two men for a bit, Zeke the hunky EMT, and the mysterious Guardian Angel who keeps rescuing her.

While she chases a story about multiple crazed murder-suicides by seemingly normal folks who get possessed by spirits.

Turns out there’s a new wizard in town, and he’s out to play games with everyone who ever did him wrong. And well, just plain everyone. Unless Zeke and Kendall stop him first.

Escape Rating B: Nobody’s Angel is short and sinfully delicious. It’s the first novella in Gail’s Earth Angels series, and I’m happy that the next books are a bit longer. I liked this one but I wanted just a tad more story.

Zeke’s heritage is sad, and yet so cool. He’s Superman but with a tragic, and slightly biblical backstory instead of the tragic extraterrestrial backstory. His status as a fallen angel descendant gives him some serious self-esteem issues.

Kendall is just a bit too good to be true. She’s perfect at everything, and she can see spirits! She and Zeke fall into the insta-love trope/trap, which made for terrific chemistry, hot sex and a quick story, but I’d like to have seen a bit more effort to make their bond real, or real-er.

But I still can’t wait for the next book in the series, Savage Angel, in February.

***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.

Review: A Galactic Holiday by Anna Hackett, Stacy Gail and Sasha Summers

galactic holidayFormat Read:ebook provided by the authors
Number of Pages: 247 pages
Release Date: December 3, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Holiday Romance
Formats Available: ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Anna Hackett’s Website | Stacy Gail’s Website | Sasha Summers’ Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Do androids dream of electric sugar plums?

A detective who refuses to modify her body teams up with her cyborg rival to track down a burglar who is putting toys into homes. A solitary ice miner finds love and friendship while stranded on the surface of Galileo. And two hardheaded negotiators put their differences aside to evade an assassin and save their planets. Enjoy these visions of Christmases yet to come with three science-fiction novellas from Carina Press.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

How the Glitch Saved Christmas, by Stacy Gail
Galileo’s Holiday, by Sasha Summers
Winter Fusion, by Anna Hackett

My Thoughts:

A Galactic Holiday is one of Carina Press’ annual holiday trifecta collections, along with Red Hot Holiday (reviewed at Reading Reality) and Romancing the Holiday (reviewed here at BLI). Maybe I should have called them holiday confections, because they’re usually pretty yummy overall.

But the annual sci-fi collection (last year’s was the all-steampunk A Clockwork Christmas and yeah, I reviewed it too.) always has a slightly more heavy lifting to take care of than the contemporary anthologies. Because each story has to build its sci-fi world, justify its winter solstice holiday and tell its romance in the length of a novella. That’s a LOT of scaffolding to build and sometimes one element or another doesn’t quite hold up.

Let’s take a look at what we have for this year’s out of this world holiday collection!

how the glitch saved christmasHow the Glitch Saved Christmas by Stacy Gail was my favorite story in the collection. It not only embodied the spirit of Christmas in a hearwarming way, it also made the most sense as a science fiction story that extended the world we know. And the romance was both hot and sweet.
First of all, I dare anyone not to be reminded of Steven Spielberg’s movie A.I. by the end of this story. And, I double-dare you not to get a little misty-eyed. But that’s at the end. Returning to the beginning.
Chicago, although it is an utterly marvelous city, gets damnably cold in the winter. And it is entirely possible that it was named the Windy City, at least in part, for the windbags in city government, and not just the wind off Lake Michigan. Which, by the way, is brutal in the winter. The weather prediction of “cooler by the Lake” also applies in the winter, and it isn’t near as nice as it is is August.
In the background to the story, it’s pretty clear that the inventor of body modification should have made them work better in sub-zero temperatures. He also should have figured out that just because it was illegal to force someone to accept body-mods, that didn’t mean that someone couldn’t be pressured beyond all reason to accept them. And yes, I could easily see it happening.
Reina Vallette was a damn good cop. A fine detective. She just refused to accept body modification. She’d been dependent on machines once, when she was hospitalized under life-threatening conditions, and she couldn’t bear it psychologically. Also, her thought processes were too quirky to work any way except from her “gut”. (Gibbs on NCIS comes to mind). So the CPD made her the poster girl for insubordination.
Edison Wicke, on the other hand, is the golden boy. He’s a walking toaster, in Reina’s eyes. But still a damn fine detective. (Also a damn fine looking man!) So when someone breaks into an apartment in the Projects and delivers presents, Edison requests Reina as his partner.
He had his eye on her when his eyes were just human, and now, he wants her even more. She’s unique.
Better still, their styles complement each other. He’s data driven, and she’s pure instinct. New school plus old school.
But it takes a glitch in the system to show them that underneath their differences, they are both the same people they were before he got body mods, and before the system started busting her down the ladder.
They’re the best detectives that CPD has. And they’re the best for each other. But can they save the little glitch that brought them together?
I give How the Glitch Saved Christmas 5 frozen stars with the sun glinting off them for sparkle.
winter fusionWinter Fusion by Anna Hackett comes in a close second for me in this collection. The thing about science fiction short stories, at least for me, is that there is so little time for the world-building, the author needs to have something familiar to use as a short cut.
Ms. Hackett tells a Prime Directive-type story, with a merchant empire Federation instead of the slightly more militaristic one we’re used to. And the traders Savan Bardan and Brinn Fjord are part of the very recent dropping of the embargo on high-tech goods between Bardan’s Trade Guild and Fjord’s more primitive ice planet of Perma. Her father died of a disease that was eradicated on Guild worlds, but membership came one year too late to save his life.
Bardan’s decision was the one that kept Perma out of the Guild. Because high-tech too soon leads to very bad decisions. Sort of like lottery winners on spending sprees, only with planetary-wide ecological disaster-type consequences. All Bjorn knows is that her father is dead and that it’s Bardan’s fault.
Now he’s back on Perma, because the ice miners have found an unsynthesizable high-yielding energy resource that his planet needs. And Brinn is the Perman trader he has to negotiate with to get it.
However, someone is willing to kill both of them to make sure that Rendar doesn’t get the energy crystals.
While they are running and fighting together for their lives, Savan Bardan and Brinn Fjord are forced to strip off the masks they wear in public. They have to rely on each other to survive.
Bardan learns the personal cost of his decision to keep Perma out of the guild. The reason behind Brinn’s bitter rivalry. And Brinn learns the reason behind Savan’s judgment–the last time he gave a planet early admission, they ruined their world.
And the reason there’s always been such heat in their negotiations? Just another way to conceal how they’ve really felt about each other all along.
But first they have to survive whoever is stalking them. In the middle of a Perman winter. Without gear or shelter.
Winter Fusion is a very good take on the “enemies into lovers” trope. Very, very good. With a slice of “poor little rich boy” thrown into the mix.
I give Winter Fusion 4 dark stars.
galileos holidayGalileo’s Holiday by Sasha Summers was a cute story, but it was also the shortest story in the collection and I kept wishing there were more of it! I just didn’t have enough of the world-building to quite get the reasoning behind the hero’s actions, but the love story and the settlement definitely worked.
Riley is a tugger. A lone ice miner with a tiny, one-woman ship, like her mother and her grandmother before her. Raiders destroy her ship, lucky for her while she’s planetside mining ice. Even luckier for her, a mysterious man leads her to a settlement.
That mysterious man, Leo, introduces her into the life of Galileo, just before their winter Holiday, and what a life it is! Riley has lost both her home and her livelihood in one fell swoop, but the settlers take her in and make her welcome.
Her ability to fix every bit of electronics tech they have doesn’t hurt her cause one little bit. Especially since their security grid is about to go down. That grid keeps the cryptids out. (Yes, I did say cryptids.) Big ugly carnivorous bug-eyed monsters.
The settlers can use her skills, but it’s Leo who fascinates her. In a jumble of new experiences (eating real food, wearing cloth instead of space gear) Riley’s never felt anything like what she feels for Leo. And it seems to be mutual. But she knows it can’t be permanent. He’ll go back to his ship as soon as the snow clears, and she’ll have to find a new place for herself.
Until the Raiders come to take Leo, and steal the cargo of medicines he’s been hiding. Leo sacrifices himself to save her. Then the Raiders want to take her. And Riley has to decide what sacrifice she’s willing to make.
As I said, the story of Riley’s discovery of a life outside her tugger, and the life of the settlement, worked. The parts that drove me a bit nutty were the lack of background about the raiders and the outside galaxy. There were hints of a bigger picture that I wanted, that would have made Leo’s reason for being with the settlers make more sense, that I just didn’t have. I want the rest of this story!
I give Galileo’s Holiday 3 1/2 icy stars.

***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.

A Clockwork Christmas

A Clockwork Christmas is a really neat anthology of Christmas-themed steampunk romances from Carina Press. The individual novellas are not only available separately, but they each have their own absolutely gorgeous cover art. Since the big issue with anthologies is that you might like one story and another not so much, I feel compelled to review each one individually. And this way I get to show ALL the covers.


Stacy Gail’s Crime Wave in a Corset is the story that contains the most true steampunk elements. It’s also the one that stuck with me. Cornelia Peabody is a thief. A very, very excellent thief, in a Boston that is just different enough from the historic version that airships are commonplace and women learning engineering and technology, while rare, are far from unheard of. Cornelia never steals from people, only institutions. But she made one mistake. She stole a Faberge egg from Beth Coddington, thinking that it belonged to Rodney Coddington’s museum. The egg was the last light in Beth’s eyes, and without it, she lost her battle with a long-standing illness and died.  Rodney Coddington trapped the beautiful thief in revenge for taking away his Beth’s egg, and gave Cornelia seven days to steal it back. A lot can happen in a week, especially the week before Christmas.
Escape Rating: A

This Winter Heart by PG Forte is a story about a Christmas miracle. Ophelia Leonides is not a real woman. Her father made her out of mechanical parts with human skin and a steel skeleton. The woman her father had loved and lost contributed to her genetic makeup. When her father revealed the secret of her origins to her husband, Dario threw them out of his house, and out of his life. Eight years later, Ophelia returns to Santa Fe, bringing with her the news of her father’s death, and the one thing that her husband never believed possible–their seven-year-old and very much human son. Can Dario find his love for her again? Can he believe in this miracle?
Escape Rating: B

Jenny Schwartz’ story of the early days of the development of the Australian republic reminded me of Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missalonghi because of its setting and its take charge heroine. Wanted: One Scoundrel is a fun story about a woman who is the beloved queen of her small community, and thinks she is looking for someone to take her orders, but instead, finds someone to be her match. The subplot involving Australian political shenigans helped the love story along nicely.
Escape Rating: A

Far From Broken by JK Coi was the story with the most loose ends. A spy for the War Office comes home to find that his ballerina wife has been brutally tortured. The only way to save her life is to allow that same office to replace her missing legs, arm and eye with clockwork replacements. She is so traumatized by the torture she endured, the surgery, the pain, and the changes in her life, that she turns everyone away, especially her husband. While she endures all the necessary surgery, he hunts down her torturers. When he returns to the hospital to rejoin her, they face one last battle against the “inside man” who nearly killed her, and to save their marriage.
Escape Rating B: This story left too many loose ends. What was the war about? Who is fighting who? And why? Also, it could easily have been cyberpunk instead of steampunk.

I want to applaud Carina Press for this concept. They also released two other Christmas anthologies like this, Holiday Kisses and Men Under the Mistletoe. I reviewed Holiday Kisses for Library Journal, and I’m highly tempted to get Men under the Mistletoe just to complete the set.