Review: Charming by Elliott James

charming by elliott jamesFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Pax Arcana #1
Length: 366 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Date Released: September 24, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

John Charming isn’t your average Prince…

He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn’t change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar… Right?

My Review:

I’m not sure why, but when I originally picked this up, I thought it was going to be slightly cutesy. I think it might have had something to do with the whole “Charming” name. The mental trail went from Charming to Prince Charming to fairy tales to cutesy.

Having read Charming, I can see just how off-base I was, and in a good way. There is a connection between John Charming and Prince Charming, but not the way I thought. The book Charming is urban fantasy of the kick-ass anti-hero school, where the hero and monster hunter is none too sure whether or not he’s one of the monsters himself.

And the kind of dark and gritty world where bad things happen to good people every bit as often, sometimes moreso, as bad things happen to bad people. Or bad monsters. Or just bad things.

This is also a story where the vampires are very definitely the bad guys, and where the werewolves may or may not be much better.

The setup for this particular urban fantasy world is pretty awesome. It’s the Pax Arcana, and as a founding myth, it’s rather cool. The concept is that there has always been magic in the world. The supernatural has always walked (or slithered, or whatever) among us. But, and it’s a very big but, when the fae folk left our world for wherever, they left behind a powerful spell that prevents any normal human from truly seeing all that magical weirdness that happens all around us.

And being tricksy fae, they also created an all too human group of Pax enforcers and scattered them all over the world, under a magical compulsion that makes them fight the supernatural and protect mankind. It also makes them reproduce so that they make new generations of guardians to protect the world.

The internet is making their lives a bit difficult, something that will probably feature more in later books.

This story, and the series, centers on John Charming. He’s supposed to be one of those Knight-enforcer types, but something went seriously wrong. His mother was bitten by a werewolf just before he was born. He might be a werewolf. He might not, But his former colleagues have decided that whatever he is, he’s an abomination who must be eliminated. They keep trying, often with catastrophic results and collateral damage. Their neverending hunt keeps John alone and on the run.

Until a Valkyrie walks into his bar, hunting a very stupid vampire who has some surprisingly smart friends.

John finds himself in the middle of her vampire hunt, and part of a group of surprising, and surprisingly ept, volunteer monster hunters. John finds himself doing the right and wrong thing simultaneously, as he falls for the Valkyrie and drives her lover to become an even bigger monster than the ones they are hunting.

And all he wanted to do was stay safe, keep his head down, and quietly tend bar. But John Charming’s life is never that quiet.

Escape Rating B+: While the dark and gritty setting and tone of this story will remind a lot of readers of every urban fantasy they’ve ever read and loved, the creation and explanation of the Pax Arcana itself is extremely cool. It’s a combination of self-fulfilling prophecy and vicious cycle all rolled into one. One often very nasty, but still, one.

The story is told in John’s first person perspective. It gives the author an excuse to explain the way the world works, and we see John’s twisted view of his world and everything in it. In some ways, John and his world remind me of the early years of The Dresden Files, without as much descent into the male gaze. Although at least so far, John’s love life is every bit as unlucky as Harry’s.

One of the things I liked about the overall story is that it doesn’t descend into a romance, or even worse, the dreaded love triangle. It’s not that John and Sig the Valkyrie don’t have strong feelings for each other, but there’s no hearts and flowers, and certainly no HEA or even HFN. Instead, they act as catalysts in each other’s lives, making the other realize that there is shit they need to take care of before they might be ready for each other or someone else.

Of course, some of Sig’s shit nearly gets everyone killed.

I hope we see the good parts of this team again. Both Molly and Choo represent different and equally bizarre and believable ways that regular people might find themselves discovering the Pax. Sig’s story about how she enlisted Police Detective Ted Cahill by hanging him over a building and forcing him to see the magic is equally off-base and equally plausible in this world. She needs a cop, so she recruits one by force.

All things considered, Charming is a very interesting introduction to a new-to-me gritty urban fantasy world. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. And for anyone interested in snagging a copy of Charming for their very own, there is a Goodreads giveaway going on right now.

daring by elliott jamesI’m headed straight to Daring, the second book in the series, to see how John gets himself into even more trouble.

***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: Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann + Giveaway

bite at first sight by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal historical romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #3
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 7, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London, stumbles upon a woman in the cemetery, he believes he’s found a vampire hunter—not the beautiful, intelligent stranger she proves to be.

Cassandra Burton is enthralled by the scarred, disfigured vampire who took her prisoner. The aspiring physician was robbing graves to pursue her studies—and he might turn out to be her greatest subject yet. So they form a bargain: one kiss for every experiment. As their passion grows and Rafe begins to heal, only one question remains: can Cassandra see the man beyond the monster?

My Review:

220px-Love_at_first_biteAs I finished up Bite at First Sight with a smile on my face, I found myself making a mental connection between the phrase, “love at first sight”, the title of the very tongue-in-cheek vampire romance movie, Love at First Bite, and finishing with the title of this third book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series, Bite at First Sight.

The phrases and titles blend together in a kind of word game where you change or remove one word and get from A to B to C. And it all fits!

The amount of slightly campy humor that was injected into Love at First Bite fits right in with the Scandals with Bite series, even though this latest entry is a bit darker than the earlier pieces of fanged, fluffy fun in the series.

This one needed to be just a bit darker, so it works. I’ve also just realized that the story is a play on the “Beauty and the Beast” trope, and the darker tone works well for that, too.

This series uses the tried-and-true convention of matching an unconventional heroine with an even more unconventional hero, or possibly vice versa.

Cassandra Burton’s unconventionality is tied up into what she does, while for Rafe Villar is it part of what he is. The author definitely makes it work.

Cassandra was ahead of her time. She doesn’t merely want to become a physician, she is actively preparing herself for that role, in spite of a society that laughs at a woman who wants to go to medical school. (It’s the early 19th century, society laughs (and actively forbids) women from stepping out side a set of preconceived and limiting roles).

Like most of the would-be doctors in that era, her only way of studying human anatomy from the inside is to dissect corpses. Therefore, like many doctors of her era, Cassandra is forced into becoming an occasional graverobber.

bite me your grace by brooklyn annAnd that’s where Rafe comes into the story. After the events in Bite Me, Your Grace (reviewed here) and One Bite Per Night (likewise here) Rafe is now the interim Lord Vampire of London. There have been recent scuffles between vampires and hunters in London, and there are all to many vampires who believe that someone is disinterring recent graves in order to find more of their kind.

Rafe finds Cassandra in the midst of her body-snatching quest, only to discover two things – she’s not after his (or any) vampires and she’s one of the few people he can’t mesmerize. She’s immune to his power. But by the time he figures that out, it’s too late – he’s revealed that vampires exist, and that puts her under vampire house arrest until the mysterious Elders tell him what to do with her.

This is a kind of torture for both of them. Cassandra and Rafe have met before – Cassandra was one of Angelica Ashton’s friends long before Angelica became the Duchess of Burnrath (and a vampire herself). Rafe was Ian Ashton’s second-in-command during that rather messy courtship.

Cassandra has always been fascinated with Rafe, not because he’s quintessentially tall, dark and handsome, but because he isn’t. Rafe was horribly burned, and the doctor in Cassandra wants to repair the damage. He’s also quite striking, although handsome wouldn’t be the right word. Cassandra, a widow, has some other ideas of what Rafe could do to, or with, her that she tries not to reveal.

She just plain fascinates him, but he assumes that she couldn’t possibly be interested in someone as scarred and disfigured as he is.

Of course, they are both wrong, but it takes a long house arrest and a lot of shared danger for them to finally figure that out. When they do, it’s almost too late. Rafe’s enemies are using his tolerance for the all-too-human Cassandra as an excuse to stage a coup. And if the conspiracies don’t bring Rafe down, the Elders he has disobeyed just might.

Escape Rating A-: This series just keeps getting better. So much so that I really hope the author continues to explore this world where vampires meet the Regency. It’s a lot of fun.

I said that this book was darker than the first two, which definitely had a higher froth quotient. It’s darker because both protagonists have more pain and darkness is their own histories, and because the conspiracies and potential coup provide an underlying layer of dark deeds and betrayal that color the narrative.

Rafe is terribly scarred. He fought off a vampire hunter who attacked him during his daysleep, and was so intent on killing the crazed bastard that he followed the man outside into the sun to finish him off. The price was a scarred face and more importantly, a withered and dysfunctional left arm. People, including other vampires, see Rafe as crippled. Rafe seems to think that the scars only reflect his internal darkness. He sees pity or revulsion in people’s eyes, and he turns away, first and with rudeness, so that he doesn’t have to face them.

Cassandra wants to be a doctor, but in the society in which she lives, even her intellectual pursuits are frowned upon. She is used to hiding who she really is and what she really wants, or only associating with people who sympathize and understand. That she is a widow loosens some of the social strictures, but not enough. She is under scrutiny at every moment. In Rafe, she sees a personal and professional challenge. She wants to see if his arm can be repaired. She longs to discover if the hot dreams she has about him mean that he might possibly show her some of what she missed in her loveless marriage.

While they separately spend a lot of mental energy trying to stave off their mutual attraction, the reasons why they do so make sense. He neither believes in love, nor that anyone could possibly love his scarred self. Cassandra’s experience of what married life is like for a woman make her shy of shackling herself to anyone. Also she knows what Rafe is and can see that they have no future.

The political in-fighting in Rafe’s new dominion keeps the suspense level high. Cassandra does distract him, and he is new to the job. Also, he’s just plain new at the idea of managing anyone other than himself, and makes a whole lot of “new leader” mistakes. The underlying sense of privilege and prejudice that empower the leaders of the so-called revolution are properly disgusting. Their use of propaganda and whisper campaigning seems all too modern. They are good enough at being bad to be a serious threat to Rafe’s and Cassandra’s lives.

Cassandra finds a sphere in which she can finally be who she really is, providing she lives long enough to enjoy it. But Rafe is the one who really grows and changes during the story. He has to reach beyond his self-imposed isolation to discover that he has friends who will stand by him at any cost, and that he is capable of both inspiring loyalty and feeling it in return.

If the combination of paranormal and historical romance sounds like fun, this book proves that it really, really can be. Even better, this story can stand on its own, although once you’ve read it you’ll want to go diving into the previous books for the background.


Sourcebooks Casablanca is generously giving away 3 Scandals that Bite Book Bundles to lucky commenters on the tour. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to be entered!

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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: One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann

one bite per night by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #2
Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible.

When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences..

My Review:

bite me your grace by brooklyn annThis is the second book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series (after Bite Me, Your Grace, reviewed last week) and I liked this one better than the first. I now have high hopes for book 3, Bite at First Sight, which I have scheduled for next week.

The formula is very similar to the first book, but it has been tweaked just a bit in ways that minimize the number of misunderstandammits and make the characters fit more comfortably, at least for this reader, into the unconventional heroine meets brooding hero plot.

(OMG I just realized that Lydia Price marries Vincent. If this isn’t a play on the name of the late horror film actor Vincent Price, I’ll eat my (fictional) parasol.)

Returning to the work in hand, Lydia truly is unconventional, not just on the inside where it counts, but also in her background. Her parents married for love, which was unusual enough, but her father gave up his wealth and title to marry her commoner mother. His mother disowned him and any children he might have, and turned her aristocratic and autocratic back on the lot of them.

Lydia grew up in New Orleans, where her parents fled to make a fresh start. It was a happy family until both Lydia’s parents died of yellow fever just about the time that Lydia should have been looking for a husband.

Instead, the orphan is on her way to England, to the hopefully accepting arms of the only family she has left. Unfortunately for her, that family is her hateful grandmother. Fortunately for Lydia, her grandmother is so hateful that she essentially bargains Lydia off to an old family connection.

Once upon a time in the 1600s, Vincent Tremayne, Earl of Deveril, pledged an alliance with his best friend, who was then Lord Morley. Lydia’s grandmother is that Lord Morley’s descendant, and Vincent feels duty bound to harbor his old friend’s great-great-granddaughter. Because while Lord Morley is long dead and has had several generations of descendants, Vincent is the Lord Vampire of Cornwall, and is still very much alive.

But Lydia brings a lot more life to his lonely castle than he ever thought possible. And not just because he has to finally hire enough servants to keep the whole place functioning again, as well as retain a chaperone for Lydia to supervise her “coming out” Season in London.

Lydia’s American upbringing has made her a refreshing change from the mostly simpering debutantes who have nothing on their minds but snaring a titled husband, whether by fair means or foul.

Lydia rides, shoots, fishes and paints. Those first three make her an ideal Countess for the remote Cornish estate – but all Vincent sees is a young woman with a zest for life who couldn’t possibly fall for the monster that Vincent sees himself to be.

All that Lydia sees is a handsome, brooding man who lights up in her company and encourages her intellectually.

Vincent admittedly also sees a way of getting back at her grandmother by ensuring that Lydia makes a more favorable match than her cousin, the grandchild that the old lady favors because she has the poor chit under her thumb.

Vincent’s first salvo in that polite war is to hire the best chaperone in England to supervise Lydia right out from under her grandmother. Miss Hobson sees the Earl and his ward together and decides that the most brilliant match available to Lydia is the one that appears to be the one after Lydia’s own heart. Miss Hobson begins scheming, in her quiet but effective little way, to get Lydia and Vincent together.

(After all, Vincent IS an Earl. It is a very brilliant match!)

The London Season offers plenty of opportunities for Vincent to avoid the affection that is growing between himself and his ward. Duchess Angelica Ashton, wife of the Lord Vampire of London and heroine of Bite Me, Your Grace, sees plenty of opportunities for a little mischief and more than a bit of matchmaking.

Lady Morley sees a titled Lord that she can both steal from her commoner granddaughter and possibly bring under her own sway into the bargain. She has no idea what she is attempting to bite off.

Lydia just sees Vincent pulling away from the friendship that they established in Cornwall. No one sees the very real danger that stalks them all.

Escape Rating B: Because readers of the first book already know quite a bit about the vampires of England and their governance, this story is able to delve more into its characters and spend a bit less time on explaining everything.

I like Lydia as the heroine. Her unconventionality is organic to her story. She’s not rebelling against expections, she’s trying to figure out where she fits between the expectations that her parents raised her under and the much, much stricter set of rules that confine English young ladies of a certain class. The rules of life have changed right under her, and in the midst of very real grief, and she is learning her place in her new world.

Vincent believes that as a vampire, he is a monster. He feels guilty for living, for everything he does, and does not want to bring someone else, namely Lydia, into a life which he feels will crush her spirit as it has crushed his. At the same time, he is an excellent lord, and takes care of his people, both human and vampire, and does what is a very good best by them. Ian Ashton often sends those who have been damaged by the change to Vincent for supervision and healing, and their partnership in this regard is quite successful.

As much as Vincent falls in love with Lydia, and it is great to watch them slowly and carefully reach out for each other, while he is certain that anyone else would be better for her. He sincerely tries to find her a mortal husband. In the end, Lydia has to seduce him (with Angelica Ashton’s wardrobe) to get him to see the light. Even then, he’s still in the process of convincing himself that his selfishness will not harm Lydia, and he isn’t certain.

When the decision is taken out of his hands, it puts all of them into even more danger. Rash actions produce drastic results. And while this story does eventually come to its blissful happily ever after, it was also incredibly pleasing to watch Lydia give her disgusting grandmother the comeuppance that she so richly deserved.

bite at first sight by brooklyn annOne of the secondary characters in this story who has continually made my “curiosity bump” itch is Ian’s second, the scarred Spanish vampire Rafael Villar. I am looking forward to finally discovering his story in Bite at First Sight. I have high hopes that it will be even better than One Bite Per Night.

***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: Bite Me Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann

bite me your grace by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #1
Length: 354 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 2, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

England’s “vampire craze” causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

My Review:

I thought that this story was a lot of fun, but at the same time it felt as if it was as much of a send up or spoof of Regency romances as it was a Regency romance with a paranormal twist.

Still, it’s a genuinely light-hearted and fun spoof, if you want to take it that way. And there is a happily ever after that is going to mean a lot more of that “ever after” than is usual.

However, the tension in the story came more from a series of misunderstandammits than I would have preferred. On that other hand, so many of those misunderstandings are the result of a general lack of knowledge and information on the heroine’s part about the nature and preferences of vampires, as well as her more typical lack of knowledge of men and the way the world works.

Young misses of the upper classes were supposed to be innocent of worldly knowledge. Vampire knowledge is kept secret, so of course she hasn’t much clue on that score.

It was terrific to see the interweaving of the real rise in supernatural fiction with Angelica’s introduction into the real life of vampires. This story takes place at the time when Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) were all the rage.

And causing London’s Vampire Lord to gnash his fangs in his search for Polidori, his inspiration, and which one of the London vampires betrayed their kind and exposed them to ridicule and possible discovery.

Because London’s Vampire Lord is also Ian Ashton, the Duke of Burnrath. He has a place in ton society that he doesn’t exercise much but does cause a lot of jealousy and resentment in certain quarters. Also, his eccentric life (no one ever sees him at night) makes him an easy target for anyone who wants to suggest he is a vampire. Which, of course, he is.

In this case we have both an unconventional hero and an unconventional heroine. Ian is a vampire who regularly leaves the country, and returns 50 years later as his own properly documented heir. Being the Vampire Lord of London is sometimes frustrating, but he’s also getting tired and bored. And Polidori’s story has him seething.

Angelica is a headstrong young society miss who does not want to marry and turn into a society drone. She wants to become an author like Mary Shelley or Jane Austen. Of course, she has no idea what she will be getting herself into. Her plan is to “ruin herself” with her behavior so that her parents (especially her overbearing mother), will stop pushing her to get married.

Because Angelica is fascinated with gothic horror stories, she decides to check out Ian’s London house, which is conveniently across the street from her own. She lets herself in during the day and starts hunting for a ghost. She expects to find lots of inspiration in Ian’s dusty estate.

Instead, Ian finds her. According to the rules of the day, simply being alone in his house with him without a chaperone is enough to ruin her. What she doesn’t expect is that Ian will decide that marrying a human woman will throw off the scent of the very real vampire hunters who are after him.

That Angelica had no thought that her parents would fall all over themselves to “leg-shackle” her to the man who ruined her, whoever he might be, is just one of the ways that Angelica’s naivete is so clearly (and frequently) displayed.

Verbally sparring with Angelica, who is well if unconventionally educated, makes Ian feel alive in more ways than just sexually. She is different in ways that make her a challenge as well as a delightful surprise.

But they don’t talk to each other about what is really going on. Not just that Ian is a vampire, but what that will mean. Or even that he truly enjoys her unconventionality, especially including her extreme forthrightness.

That lack of communication nearly wrecks their fledgling marriage. Even more important, it very nearly gets both of them killed.

Escape Rating C: I liked Ian and Angelica, and the premise of the story was good, but there were too many things that drove me bananas.

As much external tension as exists in this story between Polidori’s elusiveness, the vampire hunter, and the continuing speculation on whether or not Ian is a vampire, the author concentrated too much on Angelica’s and Ian’s communication problems, which were legion. Everything that goes wrong in their story comes down to eavesdropping, misunderstandings and a complete unwillingness to talk to each other about anything serious. While this may have been the actual pattern at this point in history, that the entire difficulty in the relationship comes down a giant misunderstandammit almost made me stop in the middle.

Both Angelica’s mother and her grandfather felt like cardboard cutouts instead of real characters. It’s not just that Angelica sees her mother as being stupid, but that she consistently acts that way. Her mother’s desire to get Angelica married off is logical. That she never sees her very unconventional daughter as the person she really is grated on this reader’s nerves. While our time period may have different goals at least some of the time, what her mother wanted was the right thing for that era. That she never figured out that she used the wrong arguments and persuasions every single time made me cringe.

Angelica’s rich grandfather was just a nasty and overbearing bully. And creepy.

With all of the family drama going on, the introduction of a real bloodthirsty vampire hunter into this mix felt over-the-top. That one of Ian’s vampires was able to defy him and deceive him over Polidori also didn’t fit with the descriptions of how much vampires were obedient and beholden to their local lord. That the female vampire in question was as naive as Angelica, if not more so, made no sense.

This story had a lot of interesting ideas that didn’t quite gel for me. Your mileage may vary.

***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 Quick and the Undead by Kimberly Raye

quick and the undead by kimberly rayeFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Tombstone, Texas #1
Length: 158 pages
Publisher: ImaJinn Books
Date Released: November 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Book Depository

Welcome to Tombstone, Texas, where anything is possible, even your wildest fantasy. Once a haven to outlaws, Tombstone is now a tourist town that gives travelers a taste of the old West. What visitors don’t realize, however, is that the super-hot cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen walking the streets aren’t actors—they’re originals. These ancient vampires claimed Tombstone two centuries ago.

So step right up, folks, and book your trip today! The outlaws of Tombstone will be waiting . . .

Travel blogger Riley Davenport loves her job, travelling to the most exotic places in the world. Even better, it keeps her one step ahead of her stalking ex. The last thing she wants in her life is a strong alpha male. But that’s exactly what she gets when she comes face-to-face with Sheriff Boone Jarrett, a hero right out of her most erotic fantasies.

Boone isn’t just the law in Tombstone, Texas. He’s also an ancient vampire and the target of a crazed killer. He certainly doesn’t have time for romance. But a temporary fling? Now that he can handle.

Unfortunately, their first night together ends in disaster when Riley witnesses a murder. And to protect her, Boone forces her into hiding. Only her “captivity” ends up becoming the realization of her wildest, most carnal fantasies. Still, Riley’s not going to fall for him, at least that’s what she tells herself.

But as she gets to know him—the man and the vampire—she starts to wonder if she can hold out . . .

My Review:

220px-Tombstone_year_1891The town of Tombstone that you’re probably thinking of, the one with the O.K. Corral? That’s in Arizona. Not that I’m not pretty sure that the name Tombstone isn’t designed to blend your memories of that Tombstone with this Tombstone. Using such a familiar name in popular Old West legends brings a whole lot of atmosphere to this new one, and it makes perfect sense both from the author’s standpoint and in the context of the story.

In this new Tombstone, some old gunfighters are bringing in tourists for a taste of the real West. The one that they lived in 150 years ago, when they were all feared outlaws. Becoming vampires back in the day made them faster, stronger and of course, virtually immortal.

There were 10 of them, but in this modern day, there are only nine. Nine men and women who remember the west as it was, because they lived it. They should have scattered to the four winds, but in this particular version of vampirism, the vampires have to return to the place where they were turned on the anniversary of that life-changing event. For all of them, that place is Tombstone.

In the 21st century, they have become entrepreneurs of an expensive and exclusive Wild West resort (Think of Westwood without the rampaging androids). The Tombstone Ten (minus one) need the money from the resort to buy the land they need for their annual pilgrimages – and just plain because Tombstone is home and they want to preserve it.

The Quick and the Undead, while it sets up the scenario of Tombstone and gives us peeks at the previous lives of the vampires who run the show, is also a romance between a travel blogger and a man she thinks is just an actor plying the part of Sheriff Boone Taggart. It’s also the setup of a long-term suspense plot about the certainty that other vampires know who they are and where they are, and that the old vampire who made them is on his way back with unknown and probably unwelcome intentions for the gang he created and the town they made.

Back to that travel blogger, Riley Davenport, and Boone. Riley has been on the run for three years from an abusive ex. Her travel blog keeps her moving, and therefore difficult to track. She posts on a time delay, so by the time her posts on location X are being run, she’s already at location Y or even Z. She lives out of suitcase but it makes her feel safe. Also tired.

Boone and his vampire friends (and enemies) upset all of Riley’s carefully made plans. Tombstone offers as real an Old West experience as they can make, so there is no electricity and no internet. Which doesn’t mean that the vampires running the show don’t have all the modern technology available to track their very modern business, but that tech is NOT available to the guests.

Riley has avoided relationships while she’s been on the run. She’s lonely but afraid of finding herself attracted to another alpha male who will take over her life and kill her personality if not her actual self. While she is attracted to Boone from the moment she sees him, it takes her a lot of story to figure out that while he may be as alpha as they come, he doesn’t want to control her.

Especially since his drive to keep her safe from a crazed killer vampire is to lock her up in a cave until things are safe.

Escape Rating B-: I love the setup of the town and the series, but I’m not so certain about the romance between Riley and Boone.

The idea that they might experience a whole lot of insta-lust and decide on a short-term fling for the time she’s in Tombstone makes sense. That she decides she really loves him while she is trapped in a cave, even if it is definitely for her own safety, smacks a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. That she calls herself on it doesn’t make it any less true.

Riley’s ex is also a bit of a failed ‘Chekhov’s Gun’. She has lived her entire life for the last three years in rightful fear of this bastard, but he’s neither the big baddie nor even the little baddie in this story. He’s swept out with the trash in a brief mention at the end that he’s in prison for battering some other woman. (The irony is that this feels ‘real’ in a real world sense while at the same time being disappointing in a story sense.)

The suspense angles of the story, the question about who is after the vampires and why, worked well both as suspense and as a way of illuminating a whole lot more about Boone’s character and his past. The way that his closure gets delivered worked well for me.

I will say that the all-inclusive tourist town run by vampires setup reminded me a lot of Nina Bangs’ Castle of Dark Dreams series. Bang’s series is lighter and Raye’s is spookier/darker, but the idea of vampires creating fantasies for tourist consumption is fun either way.


***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: Falling from the Light by Regan Summers + Giveaway

falling from the light by regan summersFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Series: Night Runner, #3
Length: 278 pages
Publisher: self-published
Date Released: November 24, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Phoenix, AZ

All Sydney Kildare wants is a minute in the slow lane, some time to decide where she’s going with her vampire lover, Malcolm Kelly. But after sitting out the last battle, the powerful Master Bronson is giving orders again, and he isn’t above blackmailing his former courier to get what he wants.

With Mal sent to track a vicious killer, Syd is forced to infiltrate a pharmaceutical company responsible for a drug that turns vampires into real monsters. She’s unprepared and alone, but fiercely determined. If her investigation doesn’t satisfy the Master, Malcolm will pay the price. A wrong turn throws her into the middle of a vampire power play. Caught between twisting forces, with their freedom at stake, she’ll have to decide what’s more important: love, power or revenge. But choosing what feels right might turn out all wrong.

My Review:

The story in Falling from the Light is definitely a reminder that the vampires that have become the heroes of so much of urban fantasy and paranormal romance draw their origins from the horror side of the house.

In this book, very bad vampires do bad things to bad people, and also do bad things to good people. Even good vampires spend so much energy posturing for the nastier members of their group that they spray a LOT of collateral damage among their human and vampire companions.

Also this is a “things are always darkest just before they turn completely black” kind of story. Sydney gets so far down that “bottom looks like up”. In other words, this is the story of how Sydney falls from the light into nearly permanent darkness, and then has to claw her way back. after a trauma that guarantees she’ll never be quite the same.

She’ll be okay, because she’s incredibly tough, but she won’t be the same. The story ends with Sydney and her vampire lover Mal hoping that they can escape the crap that they’ve gotten into for good. Of course, somebody has to die to make that happen. I will leave the “who” for you to find out.

The Night Runner series takes place in a world where the vampires have not just come out of the coffin, but where they seem to have their fangs into a whole lot of the criminal organizations and quite a few private companies. (When you live forever, you have lots of time to compound interest on your investments)

dont bite the messenger by regan summersSydney, and Malcolm, (sometimes it’s the other way around) are pawns in a world-wide vampire power struggle. At first, In Don’t Bite the Messenger (reviewed here) it seems as though the more nasty vamps were using Sydney to get to the vamp she worked for. In Running in the Dark (reviewed here) the more nasty vamps were using Sydney to get to Malcolm.

In Falling from the Light, both sets of vampires (let’s call them more nasty and less nasty) are using Sydney to get to Malcolm and Malcolm to get to Sydney. And since Sydney is the poor squishy human, she’s collateral damage no matter whose agenda is currently in play.

Including, unfortunately for their relationship, Malcolm’s agenda. He pretends to be worse than he is to protect her from the true villains, but nothing quite works like they planned.

The dark at the end of Sydney’s fall from the light is very dark indeed. It takes a supreme sacrifice, blind faith, and one hell of a lot of luck to reach the light at the end of this tunnel. But it’s worth it.

Escape Rating B-: It’s Sydney’s character that makes this series, which makes it very difficult (read that as gut-wrenching) when Sydney finds herself a captive of the nasty and insane vamps. What happens to her is very rough.

She’s also subjected to constant reminders that she and even Malcolm are just pawns in other vampire games, and that the vampires mostly consider her as talking food at worst or an intelligent pet at best. She has no rights, she’s physically outclassed, and her life is so worthless to most vampires that they have no comprehension of her thoughts or feelings. There are no laws that protect her except the law of the jungle, and vampires are excellent at maneuvering that to their own advantage.

Sydney only has one ace in the hole; she is immune to vampire glamour, but no one knows why. At least not until the boss vampire reveals it to her in this book, just in time for her to use those talents to save the day. Or at least the epilog.

But Sydney spends a lot of the first ⅔ of the story being beaten and beaten down, and while it was good to see her finally emerge into the light at the end, it was VERY tough to watch her suffer. The world of the Night Runners isn’t the same without Sydney’s snark, so it was great to see her recover it at the end.


Falling from the Light Button 300 x 225

Regan is giving away 4 ebook copies of Falling from the Light in the winners’ choice of format

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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: 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.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 5-25-14

Sunday Post

For everyone in the U.S., I hope you’re having a terrific Memorial Day weekend! It feels like it has been forever since our last 3-day weekend, and it’s about six weeks to the next one.

This coming week I had a chance to review some books that I just wanted to do, and discovered that a week isn’t nearly long enough!

Current Giveaways:

Little Island by Katharine Britton (paperback)

lovers at the chameleon club paris 1932 by francine proseBlog Recap:

A- Review: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose
B Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen + Giveaway
B Review: Little Island by Katharine Britton + Giveaway
B+ Review: B.O.Q. by N.P. Simpson
B+ Review: Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick
Stacking the Shelves (90)



case of spontaneous combustion by stephanie osbornComing Next Week:

Dragons & Dirigibles by Cindy Spencer Pape (review)
A Case of Spontaneous Combustion by Stephanie Osborn (review)
Silver Skin by D.L. McDermott (review)
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by John Scalzi

Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen + Giveaway

quick by lauren owenFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Historical fantasy
Length: 544 pages
Publisher: Random House
Date Released: June 17, 2014
Purchasing Info: Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

My Review:

As implied by the title, The Quick is a story about those of us who are alive, as opposed to, or in opposition with, or being preyed upon by, the dead. Or in this particular case, the undead.

It’s amazing when you look back, how long it takes any of the characters to say the word “vampire” in the story. In keeping with the Victorian lack of willingness to call anything what it really is, although everyone knows that they are, or want to be, or are studying, or are being chased by vampires, all the characters are supremely reluctant to say the word.

The story always felt like it fit within our perceptions of the Victorian period. There’s a slow buildup, from the story of a young man who decides to live in London after he graduates, to his developing relationship with his roommate and best friend, to the sudden horrific break in his pattern, when he gets accidentally turned into a vampire.

Which leads us to the Aegolius Club. London is so famous for its secretive gentlemen’s clubs, that the concept that one club restricts its membership to vampires is not that far-fetched. Very eerie, but not too far out there. The commentary that the dreary London weather is tailor-made for creatures who shun sunlight is wryly on target.

Into this mix we have an intrepid explorer. James Norbury is the accidental vampire, and his creation, his “exchange” of life from quick to undead, undoes many of the Aegolius Club’s sacred traditions. They try to correct their mistake by either bringing him into their fold, or killing him. He escapes and begins to roam London, uncertain of who he is or what he can do.

His sister comes to London to find her missing brother. And it’s her story that we follow. Charlotte discovers not one, but three secret societies, all at cross-purposes to one another.

The Aegolius Club wants to use her as bait to capture her brother. The Alia are not quite the criminal underworld of vampires, although there are elements of that, but mostly they are the organized group of non-upper-crust vampires, banding together to fend off their enemies, the elite of the Aegolius, and to pool resources and run businesses.

(If you’re going to live forever, you need something to live on, not to mention, live in.)

Charlotte finds herself an accidental member of the Rag and Bone society. They gather knowledge of vampires, and fight them. They can help her find her brother, but there’s no saving him.

A lot of death and destruction is caused on all sides, because Charlotte cannot be convinced of that fact.

Escape Rating B: This book starts out slow, and then builds to a climax that grabs you with its consequences, sort of like the hand reaching out of the grave at the end of Carrie.

There’s a level of understatement in the way that the plot unfolds; no one believes in vampires and the Aegolius Club wants to keep it that way. Everything is muffled in “that’s not what we do” or “that’s not the done thing”. Although it seems totally appropriate that the members of the club are very stuck on tradition and do not like change; most of them are fixed in the era of their life (and death) and they can’t adapt. They are hiding in the club, not hiding from anything in particular, but hiding from the future. They lose their spark after their undeath, because they have nothing to work towards–except controlling the members of the club.

Tradition also shrouds investigation into the limits of their powers. Part of what sets events in motion is one new vampire who wants to study them scientifically, so he compels a scientist to conduct experiments. The legends that arise among the vampire population about “Doctor Knife” are all the more chilling because they are true.

The story rises or falls based on one’s ability to empathize with Charlotte. Even though it is her brother’s change that sets her in motion, the adventure, and the danger, are really hers. What we see is her determination to discover what happened, and her complete unwillingness to accept that there is no cure, no matter how many people sacrifice themselves or how much even James himself demonstrate that there is nothing she can do to save him. She intrepidly follows a course that is nearly guaranteed to lead to disaster, and certainly will not help the person she intends to help.

At the end, the reader is left wondering whether the story is completely over. In a fantastically chilling way.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


Lauren is giving away a print copy of The Quick to one lucky (and maybe quick) U.S. winner.

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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: Don’t Blackmail the Vampire by Tiffany Allee + Giveaway

dont blackmail the vampire by tiffany alleeFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Sons of Kane #2
Length: 156 pages
Publisher: Entangled Covet
Date Released: April 28, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Rachel Davis will do anything to get her sister out of a bad relationship with her fiancé. Even if it involves a few fibs, a little breaking-and-entering, and blackmailing the fiancé’s potential boss, Charles, for his help. So what if the handsome Charles happens to be a vampire?

Charles Wright has found the perfect way to trap the man threatening his brother’s wife: cozy up to him, get invited along on the skiing trip, and then search for incriminating evidence. How much better that audacious but gorgeous Rachel is just as eager to nail the bastard. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing wrong with a little blackmail between two consenting adults. Especially when it’s time for Rachel to pay up.

My Review:

Don't Bite the Bridesmaid by Tiffany AlleeDon’t Blackmail the Vampire is the sequel to Don’t Bite the Bridesmaid (reviewed here). As the titles indicate, this series is a fairly lighthearted take on vampires and paranormal romance.

Not that there isn’t some skullduggery involved, but it’s the good old-fashioned human kind. We’re just as capable as vampires of being rotten, with or without sharp fangs.

The fun thing about this series is that the existence of vampires may be a general secret, but it’s not specifically secret–the heroines in both books know perfectly well that vamps exist, because they know someone who nearly married one.

But I said this is a sequel, because the characters in this story were all introduced in the first book, and the story directly follows the last one. Or it appears to.

In Don’t Bite the Bridesmaid, Alice asks her hunky neighbor to be her pity date at her sister’s wedding. He’s taking pity on her because her sister is marrying her ex’ brother, and said ex is a slimy arse who she caught cheating on her with her ex-best friend.

Her neighbor Noah is the vampire in this equation, and the pity date turns out to be true love after all.

But all is not well; someone is threatening Alice by phone and email, and with specific knowledge of vampires. Everyone suspects her ex, because he’s just that slimy.

And that’s where this story comes in, because someone needs to get to the bottom of the death-threats, and Noah’s brother Charles elects himself as the charmer to charm the slime. But Charles isn’t the only one who wants to nail Brant for his sliminess, so he joins forces with Rachel, the sister of Brant’s new girlfriend, who just so happens to be that ex-best friend of Alice’s that he cheated with.

Everything follows from the first story. Except for Charles and Rachel. Rachel knows Brant is sleazy and slimy, but can’t convince her sister. So she “coerces” Charles to help her, by threatening to reveal his vampiric nature. Actually, threatening to reveal his plans to out Brant would have been more of a threat.

Charles goes along because Rachel is the first truly “interesting” woman he’s met in decades. He’s met beautiful, but really interesting and fun to be with have been in much shorter supply. She’s refreshing as well as beautiful.

Rachel, of course, thinks he’s too gorgeous to be remotely in her league, but she needs his help.

And it turns out that he needs hers, more than he thought possible.

Escape Rating B+: This series is tremendously fun. It’s an absolute blast because the people involved are not just easy to empathize with, but also people you’d like to sit down and have a drink with, or be friends with, in real life. (At least the good ones, Brant is definitely a slime ball).

Charles is not your typical dark and brooding vampire. He was a charming people person before he was “turned” and being a vampire has not changed his basic nature. He’s in this initially because he truly wants to help his brother and desperately wants to save his almost-sister-in-law.

So naturally he gets caught up in wanting to help Rachel too.

There’s a bit of the “fake relationship” story in here as well, and it works because it’s turned on it’s head and upside down. Rachel and Charles fake a relationship and then fake him being a selfish ass so that Rachel’s sister can see the same thing happening to her. But the fake relationship turns real, and the fake breakup only proves it to both Charles and Rachel, even though they both think they don’t have a chance long-term.

As Charles reveals more and more vampire secrets, he discovers that they do belong together, and that he needs her to solve the mystery he started with. Rachel just needs to trust in her feelings, and that’s damn hard for her to do. When she finally figures it out, it’s an ending that makes you smile.


Pump Up Your Book
Tiffany is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on the tour. To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter.

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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.