Review: Blade to the Keep by Lauren Dane

Blade to the Keep by Lauren DaneFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: Rowan Summerwaite #2
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: December 9, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. She’s smart and strong and with the power of an ancient goddess in her belly, she’s the perfect candidate to re-negotiate the fragile Treaty keeping the peace between the Vampire Nation and the last line of defense for humanity, The Hunter Corporation. A meeting of the Joint Tribunal, and Rowan’s new status as Liaison sends her straight to the last place on earth she wants to be—The Keep.

Raised at the knee of The First, honed into a weapon by the Hunter Corporation, wielding ancient knowledge from the Goddess within, Rowan must navigate around bloodthirsty opposition among Vampires and Hunters alike to avoid an all out war that puts humanity in the crosshairs.

And she’s got to do it as she attempts to manage a politically awkward romantic relationship with Scion Clive Stewart during a trip back to a place she escaped nearly fifteen years before. No pressure.

Walking the path between her two lives has already made Rowan a pariah. If she leaves it to become something even more Other, she may lose even the shreds of home she has left.

My Review:

goddess with a blade by lauren daneGoddess With a Blade was one of the first books I reviewed for NetGalley, but that’s not the only reason I remember it so well.

It is an absolutely awesome urban fantasy with truly amazing world building, and an utterly kick-ass heroine who manages to be down-to-earth human in her emotions while being more-than-human in actuality.

Rowan Summerwaite is a mass of contradictions. She was raised by the leader of the Vampire Nation, using methods that were totally beyond abusive–and she has the physical and emotional scars to prove it.

And yet, he did the best he knew how to prepare her for the role that she would have to play; she is the vessel of the goddess Brighid, and she is a licensed vampire slayer of the Hunter Corporation.

Her job is to enforce the treaty between the Vampire Nation and the Hunters, a treaty that keeps us regular humans from discovering that the things that go bump in the night have always walked beside us, and have generally preyed on us.

Goddess With a Blade was our introduction to Rowan and her world, and it is awesome. She has to investigate a vampire serial killer, while dealing with a tension fraught reunion with her foster father and an incredibly hot frenemy she’s not sure whether she wants to stake or mate.

Blade to the Keep is a direct sequel to Goddess With a Blade. If you love urban fantasy with a romantic subplot, and you haven’t read Goddess, start.

Blade takes us back to where Rowan grew up. She goes home to The First’s castle/palace/headquarters, but this isn’t a family visit. She is the official Liaison between the Vampire Nation and Hunter Corporation, and her job is to get an amendment to the peace accords passed the inevitable nasty politicking that will hopefully prevent some of the damage done by the serial killer to occur again.

There’s a story here of political infighting at its nasty best (or worst) with both sides having an “Old Guard” that wants to return to the good old days. Of course, each side’s version of what those good old days really were is rather different. And all the people on both sides who want to go back to war are not the ones who would fight said war.

The commentary on how willing the button pushers always are to send other people out to fight is particularly pointed. Possibly also fanged.

Rowan is uniquely qualified to get the accords passed. She just has to survive everything that is being sliced at her from both sides of the negotiating table.

Escape Rating A+: Goddess With a Blade was on my best ebook romances of 2011 list because it was just so fantastic. Blade to the Keep is a more-than-worthy successor.

The worldbuilding just keeps getting better. By taking the story back to Rowan’s childhood home, we learn much more about the people and forces that shaped her in the heroine we see.

There’s not a question that Rowan has a version of Stockholm Syndrome, in that she loves the father who certainly abused her, there’s also a recognition that he loves her as much as she can’t stop herself from loving him.

He knew what her future was going to be and made her strong enough to bear it.

But he’s still “The First”, the oldest and strongest Vampire in the Vampire Nation, and he is the leader of his people in the treaty negotiations. Even when they don’t want to be led, and even when they challenge his leadership by threatening Rowan.

While Rowan’s past comes back to both haunt and enfold her during this visit to her former home, The First’s past literally comes back to bite him. And through that conflict we learn even more about the early history of vampires in this alternate universe and the Vampire Nation.

Rowan’s relationship with the Vampire Scion of Las Vegas, Clive Stewart, continues to gain depth. Even though they are on opposite sides of the negotiating table, and even though their relationship is considered unwise in some quarters and anathema in others, they both maintain their roles as opposing negotiators and assist each other in rooting out malefactors. All while coming closer to figuring out what they can be to each other.

When Goddess came out in 2011, it looked like a one-off, but I so wanted more. This time, there is an announcement that book 3, Blade to the Hunt, will be released in November 2014. I can hardly wait.

*Reviewer’s note: To my utter delight, there are ads for Goddess with a Blade and Blade to the Keep on Seattle Metro Buses. Seeing “Reading Reality” on the ad as the source for the quote was beyond awesome.

blade to the keep bus ad

***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: Love At Stake by Victoria Davies + Giveaway

love at stake by victoria daviesFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Fated Match #1
Length: 225 pages
Publisher: Entangled Covet
Date Released: January 27, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Abbey is the lone human working for Fated Match, a company that pairs members of the supernatural community with their eternal mates.

To snag a young vampire socialite as their next client, Abbey journeys to the home of Lucian Redgrave, the oldest vampire on the East Coast. But he’s not willing to allow his vampire daughter to use the agency… unless Abbey can first find his perfect match in a month.

As Abbey coaches Lucian through his dates, she can’t deny the chemistry between them. But humans are toys for vampires, and risking her heart isn’t a part of the plan.

My Review:

This was the perfect antidote, or make that the perfect reading change of pace, after a series of very big books with earth shattering themes.

Not that I didn’t enjoy those, but it’s a different kind of enjoy.

Love at Stake was frothy, refreshing and just plain fun. And I really needed a fun book, so it was fantastic.

Also fangtastic, since the hero is a vampire.

Love at Stake is a contemporary/paranormal romance about two people who move in totally different worlds, discovering that they are just right for each other, even though “conventional” wisdom would say they have nothing in common.

So it’s a kind of opposites attract romance. Not just opposite because Lucien Redgrave is a vampire, but also that he is a major player in vampire politics and big business. Without the fangs, Lucien could easily be the hero of a “billionaire” love story.

Abbey is a human who got into the supernatural world by accident. Her mother got bit by a were-badger. (Badger!?!) And its not just that Abbey is human, but that she works for a living in a supernatural matchmaking business.

Of course, the matchmaking business brings them together, but not as a match. Lucien’s daughter wants to use Fated Match to find herself a true mate. Lucien is certain that no computer program can find anyone their mate. He won’t let his daughter sign up until he vets the service first.

Lucien challenges (or let’s call it a bit) that Fated Match can’t find his mate within 30 days. If the company wins, his daughter can sign up. If the company loses…there will be a lot of disappointment all around.

Except that Lucien can’t make himself concentrate on any of the women that might be his match. He’s become fascinated with Abbey. Even though vampire-human matches are not supposed to be possible.

From the beginning, Abbey’s job is at stake. She has to find Lucien’s mate or she’ll lose her job. But long before the time is up, Abbey realizes that what is really on the line is her heart.

Because Lucien claims that he doesn’t have one.

Escape Rating A-: Love at Stake is a paranormal romance where the paranormal elements take a back seat to the romance. But it’s a very plush, leather upholstered back seat in the back of an expensive limo.

The story is about two people who shouldn’t find each other, but do. And because they both know that a relationship between them is not supposed to work, they resist their attraction as long as possible, and with enough suppressed steam to heat my iPad’s circuits.

Abbey is certain that Lucien is out of her league, not just species-wise, but also socially, economically, and she’s certain he’s way too gorgeous for her average self.

Lucien sees a woman who brings life to everything she touches. Her humanity makes every experience fresh and new, something he hasn’t felt for over 900 years. She makes him feel alive.

But they both believe it can’t work. So they pretend it isn’t. The number of times they hurt each other, and themselves, is a little heartbreaking. And it completely sucked me in.

Discovering that Love at Stake is the first book in the Fated Match series is excellent news! I want more!

And if Love at Stake turns out to be your cup of tea, (or glass of red wine), take a look at Jessica Sims’ Beauty Dates the Beast for more supernatural matchmaking fun.



Victoria is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Woohoo! To enter the giveaway, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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.

Stacking the Shelves (68)

Stacking the Shelves

For two weeks’ worth of stack, this is not too bad. Or so I keep telling myself.

goddess with a blade by lauren daneTwo notes about this stack. Blade to the Keep is the sequel to Lauren Dane’s fantastic Goddess With a Blade. Now that was part of the first batch of books that Carina Press approved me for on NetGalley when I first started blogging, back in 2011, so I’d have fond memories of it anyway, but it was marvelous. Vampire politics, sex, and a serial killer to catch. I’ve always hoped for more, and finally, it’s here!

Rhys Ford’s Fish and Ghosts is the other one I’m really looking forward to. Her Black Dog Blues ended up on my 2013 Best Ebook Romances list at Library Journal, so when I saw a new paranormal series from her get offered at The Book Pushers I jumped at it. Ghostly serial killers and romance–sounds like fun!

For Review:
Blade to the Keep (Rowan Summerwaite #2) by Lauren Dane
Carousel Sun (Carousel #2) by Sharon Lee
Cold Iron (Cold Iron #1) by D.L. McDermott
Deeper (Caroline and West #1) by Robin York
The End (New World #1) by G. Michael Hopf
Fish and Ghosts (Hellsinger #1) by Rhys Ford
A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor
The Long Road (New World #2) by G. Michael Hopf
Love a Little Sideways (Kowalski Family #7) by Shannon Stacey
Sail Away With Me by Kate Deveaux
Training Season by Leta Blake
Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion…So Far by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
Wicked After Midnight (Blud #3) by Delilah S. Dawson
Wrede on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede

After the Golden Age (Golden Age #1) by Carrie Vaughn
Gossamer Wing (Steam and Seduction #1) by Delphine Dryden
Heating Up the Holidays by Lisa Renee Jones, Serena Bell and Mary Ann Rivers
The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1) by Jennifer Probst

Borrowed from the Library:
Cursed (Fallen Siren #1) by S. J. Harper

Stacking the Shelves (62)

Stacking the Shelves

We found a new way of putting together the “rogue’s gallery” of new books. It’s the gallery function of WordPress. And YAY! Hopefully it looks awesome, because it’s way easier than playing with GIMP. Which wasn’t half bad but occasionally had its own special moments.

The gallery is randomized, so it should be differently cool every time you refresh the page.

For Review:

Alien Admirer (Alien Next Door #2) by Jessica E. Subject
Big Sky Secrets (Parable Montana #6) by Linda Lael Miller
Faking It (Losing It #2) by Cora Carmack
Hunter’s Moon (Moon #2) by Lisa Kessler
In Love with a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle
Let Me Be the One (Sullivans #6) by Belle Andre
Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson
Sing for the Dead (London Undead #2) by PJ Schnyder
Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail
Take Me Home (Country Roads #1) by Inez Kelley
Trancehack (Magic Born #1) by Sonya Clark
Vampire Games (From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency #4) by Tiffany Allee

Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5) by Cora Carmack

Borrowed from the Library:
Spy’s Honor (Hearts and Thrones #2) by Amy Raby

Review: Hell’s Belle by Karen Greco

hells belle by karen grecoFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Hell’s Belle, #1
Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Self-published
Date Released: June 14, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Half vampire, half human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents that quietly take down rogue monsters, the human world none the wiser. She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt.

Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city’s community of witches.

But Nina’s investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.

My Review:

Booker at the 2011 Time 100 Gala
Booker at the 2011 Time 100 Gala

The story starts with the main character fangirling over the real-life mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, as he kicks vampire ass into the afterlife. And it just rocks.

After Booker books out of the story, we move up the coast to a dive bar in Providence RI, which is every bit as seedy as Newark, and I didn’t know that was even possible. Our heroine thought she was taking a timeout from her work in Blood Ops, the special branch of the Department of Defense dedicated to permanently dealing with supernatural bad actors, but a vamp stalks into her bar with the not so hidden agenda to stake Nina, and suddenly it’s all hands (and fangs) on deck.

In the process of figuring out why this one rogue vampire is determined to get Nina, she discovers that there is a lot more to her half-vamp/half-human heritage than anyone in her life has ever bothered to tell her, starting with the tiny detail that she isn’t half-vamp/half-human after all.

While the secrets and hidden truths keep boiling up out of the past, and the rogue keeps culling the supernatural population as a way of building up power, Nina has to deal with all her new-found powers going out of whack; a ghost who wants to possess her in order to get revenge on the rogue, and an FBI agent who isn’t sure whether she’ a possible suspect or a possible sex partner or possibly both. Nina’s sure he can’t handle the truth he keeps claiming to want.

The demon running for mayor of Providence may be the most normal part of the case!

Escape Rating B: This first book is one hell of a journey of discovery, both for the heroine and the reader; Nina discovers she only knew half (maybe) of her own story, and the reader discovers Nina’s world. There’s quite a lot of urban fantasy worldbuilding going on in this story.

The concept of a “Blood Ops” unit as an official arm of the DOD is both fun and scary. If there were supes, there would also be Men and Women in Black to take them out. Nina’s snark about the BO division of the DOD makes for great gallows humor.

There are a whole lot of supernatural types and tropes mixed into this soup. Vamps, weres, ghosts, banshees, witches, druids and even hell-hounds of both the good and bad persuasion and even demons. It’s going to take an entire series to straighten out who the good supes and bad supes are. Sounds like fun.

But the action follows Nina. Her heritage makes her strong, but the hijacking of her self-discovery has made her vulnerable, and it’s that vulnerability that makes her interesting as well as potentially dangerous. And definitely endangered. Neither Nina nor her team is quite sure yet whether she is bait or slayer or some of each. Only time will tell. Watching her come to terms with her new knowledge about herself and her place in the world makes her worth watching.

But I’m very much afraid that a demon politician strikes way too close to reality.

Hells Belle Banner 450 X 169

***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 8-11-13

Sunday Post

I’m surprised by how strong a reaction I’ve had to the death of Dr. Barbara Mertz, better known as author Elizabeth Peters (also Barbara Michaels). Probably because the character she created, Amelia Peabody, made such an indelible impression from the first book I Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peterslistened to, The Last Camel Died at Noon, undoubtedly helped by the marvelous interpretation of Barbara Rosenblat. The series is written from Amelia’s first-person perspective, and I doubt that anyone was ever neutral. Readers either loved Amelia’s “voice” or couldn’t stand her. She mostly skewered the haters with her steel-tipped parasol.

But in addition to a cracking good adventure, the Amelia Peabody stories always portrayed the long-term romance of a happily married couple who sometimes (often) argued ferociously. They also gave the reader an absolutely fantastic glimpse into the dawn of scientific archeology in Egypt, complete with scalawags, ne’er-do-wells, fortune hunters and thieves. And every season, another dead body to investigate. If you like strong, intelligent and extremely opinionated heroines, start with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

Current Giveaways:

Can’t Help Falling in Love by Bella Andre: one print copy (US only)
Mist by Susan Krinard: one print copy (US only)
Tourwide Giveaway from Lindsay Piper: Prizes include a $25 Amazon gift card and copies of the entire Dragon Kings series so far (ends soon, so hurry)

Blood Warrior by Lindsey PiperBlog Recap:

B+ Review: Blood Warrior by Lindsey Piper
Guest Post from Author Lindsey Piper on “So…Paranormal Romance?” + Giveaway
B Review: The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis
B Review: Mist by Susan Krinard + Giveaway
B+ Review: Can’t Help Falling In Love by Bella Andre + Giveaway
B Review: Omega by Susannah Sandlin
Stacking the Shelves (54)

Lovestruck Blog HopComing Next Week:

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig (review)
Baring It All by Megan Frampton (review)
Matchpoint by Elise Sax (blog tour review and guest post)
Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin (review)
Lovestruck Blog Hop

Stacking the Shelves (54)

Stacking the Shelves

StoryBundle logoIf you’ve never heard of StoryBundle, and you love Classic Doctor Who, you have 10 days to get in on a treat. StoryBundle is HumbleBundle for indie books. Their current bundle o’books is the six Doctor Who titles I purchased this week. The deal is that you pay what you think the books are worth, and you get to download the books, DRM free. Looking at previous bundles, I’m sorry I missed The Fantastic Women’s Fiction Bundle and The Indie Fantasy Bundle. I won’t miss the next one, I signed up for the newsletter.

Photo of Elizabeth Peters AKA Barbara MertzIn much sadder news, Dr. Barbara Mertz, better known to the mystery and romantic suspense worlds as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, passed away on August 8. As Elizabeth Peters, she was the creator of the indomitable Amelia Peabody Emerson, Victorian archaeologist and wielder of sharp parasols and even sharper wit. (I’ve always wondered if Amelia wasn’t one of the progenitors of Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti) Although I have read all of Peters’ Amelia Peabody series and her Vicky Bliss series (they connect, eventually) I never did read her Jacqueline Kirby series. I am now.

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 10 2012

For Review:
Born Wild (Black Knights Inc. #5) by Julie Ann Walker
Forged in Dreams and Magick (Highland Legends #1) by Kat Bastion
Losing Control by Nina Croft
The Love of My (Other) Life by Traci L. Slatton
Naked Once More (Jacqueline Kirby #4) by Elizabeth Peters
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton

The Best of TARDIS Eruditorum by Philip Sandifer
Dalek I Loved You by Nick Griffiths
Dining With The Doctor by Chris-Rachael Oseland
Hellfire (Theirs Not to Reason Why #3) by Jean Johnson
The Spy Wore Blue (Lord and Lady Spy #1.5) by Shana Galen
TARDIS Eruditorum Vol. 2: Patrick Troughton by Philip Sandifer
A Taylor-Made Life by Kary Rader
VWORP by Earl Green
Who & Me by Barry Letts

Borrowed from the Library:
Elisha Barber (Dark Apostle #1) by E.C. Ambrose
Enthralled by Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook and Lucy Monroe
Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
The Seventh Sinner (Jacqueline Kirby #1) by Elizabeth Peters

Review: Omega by Susannah Sandlin

Omega by Susannah SandlinFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Penton Legacy, #3
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: February 5, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton’s humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal’s vicious leader, Will’s capture could doom the resistance. Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father—and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will’s polished charm—and Randa’s guarded heart—finally give way to the warrior within. Fans of Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

My Review:

I think I would call Omega the final volume of the first trilogy of the Penton Legacy. I say this having read that there will be more stories in this world, but Omega certainly lives up to its name; it feels like closure of the first arc.

There are two stories going on, one is the love story, and the other is the war between Aiden Murphy’s followers and the Vampire Tribunal, or at least Matthias Ludlam’s faction. The love story seemed to take a back seat to the war story this time out, and that was just fine.

If all is fair in love and war, both sides definitely played fast and loose with the rules. But Ludlam colored way further outside the lines than the Pentonites. Of course he did, not because he’s a vampire, but because he’s a sadistic asshat.

Matthias has finally managed to manipulate the political situation so that he has carte blanche to do anything necessary to bring Aiden Murphy and Mirren Kincaid back into the Tribunal fold. Matthias Ludlam also has an ulterior motive (I think the man was born with an ulterior motive) to bring his son Will to heel. But he has no clue that any sane person would rather die than be his slave.

None of Matthias’ helpers are exactly sane. They are either temporary hired help or sadists like himself. He’s never understood why Will left.

But he thinks Will is weak and stupid, when the opposite is true. In fact, Will is so strong that he is on the way to becoming a master vampire, a stronger master than his father is or will ever be.

To save their experiment in cooperation, the Pentonites have gone underground at a site they have codenamed Omega. The core group have found a way to take the fight to their enemy in a way that he will eventually understand, through infiltration and espionage.

They send in a spy that Matthias hasn’t met. Cage Reynolds was a psychiatrist. He’s able to figure out just what makes Matthias sickly tick. What he discovers is that someone they all thought was lost, is instead changed and chained. But he can only free her at the cost of his carefully constructed cover.

Have they found enough evidence to convince the Tribunal that it has been pursuing the wrong enemy all along?

Escape Rating B: This was supposed to be about the romance between Will Ludlam and Randa Thomas, and it is there, but it’s not compelling enough. There’s a lot of squabbling but not a lot of heat. I got a lot more sexual tension and romantic interest from Cage and the woman he rescues than from Will and Randa.

Also the way that Will and Randa casually agreed to become mates at the end cheapened the angst that both Aiden and Krys and Mirren and Glory went through over the same thing. In both of the previous books (Redemption and Absolution) there was supposed to be some chemistry involved as well as a blood exchange. I just didn’t feel it with Will and Randa.

But the end of the war between Matthias and Aiden, now that held my attention all the way. Every move and countermove had me riveted. Will’s revelations about his background definitely fed into my feelings about how badly Matthias needed to be taken out and how necessary it was that the good vamps win!

Will coming into his own made for a powerful story. It was the romance side of the equation that just didn’t generate enough heat. But I was very happy to see good triumph and evil mostly get its just desserts. There’s one opportunist on the Tribunal who worries me, so I’m very happy there will be more stories in this world!

***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.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-4-13

Sunday Post

Is it just me, or is summer slipping by amazingly fast? I just scheduled a blog tour for October 30! Who wants to think about Halloween when it’s still summer?

Seafair Logo 2013This is our first summer in Seattle, so we spent yesterday at one of Seattle’s summer traditions. This weekend is Seafair weekend. That’s Sea as in Seattle, not sea as in ocean. It is an air & water show, but the action is on Lake Washington, not the Pacific. It was loads of fun and we’ll probably do it again next year.

Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian StoneBlog Recap:

B Review: The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
B Review: Silent Warrior by Lindsey Piper
B Review: Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper
C+ Review: Troll-y Yours by Sheri Fredricks
B+ Review: Absolution by Susannah Sandlin
B+ Review: A Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian Stone
Stacking the Shelves (53)

Blood Warrior by Lindsey PiperComing Next Week:

Blood Warrior by Lindsey Piper (blog tour review)
Guest Post by Lindsey Piper + giveaway of Blood Warrior
The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis (review)
Mist by Susan Krinard (blog tour review + giveaway)
Can’t Help Falling in Love by Bella Andre (blog tour review + giveaway)
Omega by Susannah Sandlin (review)

What’s happening in your week?


Review: Absolution by Susannah Sandlin

Absolution by Susannah SandlinFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Penton Legacy, #2
Length: 327 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date Released: August 12, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

My Review:

Gallowglass. It’s not a word we hear much in the 21st century, and I had to look it up. But even without knowing exactly what it means, the sound of it still sends a chill up the spine.

Mirren Kincaid, the second-in-command to Aiden Murphy in vampire community of Penton, Alabama, was a gallowglass in 16th century Ireland. He sometimes still thinks of himself that way, no matter how much he tries to wall off the part of himself that trained to be an elite mercenary over 400 years ago.

No matter how many years he spent as the Vampire Tribunal’s cold-blooded Slayer. Aiden saved his soul, when all Mirren believed he wanted was to die for his many, many sins; but he just couldn’t make himself wait for the sun.

As part of the deadly political machinations between Aiden Murphy and the Vampire Tribunal, the power-hungry vamps on the Tribunal, especially sadist Matthias Ludlam, want Mirren’s services returned to their soul-sucking side.

Redemption by Susannah SandlinHe’s captured and starved while cleaning up the mess left behind from the first salvos in this war, the story told in Redemption (reviewed here).

Matthias, because he is a sadistic bastard (just how sadistic will get told in Omega) thinks to push Mirren beyond saving by forcing him into killing a relative innocent, or at least someone whose heart and soul Mirren doesn’t know is black, even if he believes the human woman Matthias throws in his prison cell is a drug-addicted whore.

Gloriana Cummings is none of those things. She’s a telekinetic that Matthias has kidnapped, forcibly addicted to heroin and abused through multiple bleedings for a month. And instead of killing her in a rage of blood lust, Mirren takes just enough blood to break them both out of hell, with the help of a timely rescue from Penton.

Mirren saves Glory, and Glory gives Mirren what he needs most; love and absolution. But saving her from Matthias with her memory intact also brings down the destruction of the place that has provided Mirren with home and healing for decades.

Can a person, who has spent his existence thinking that his only value is in his fighting skill finally admit that he is worthy of being loved and is able to love in return? And will he stand and fight for everything and everyone he believes in, and who believes in him, instead of running from the weakness of emotion?

Omega by Susannah SandlinEscape Rating B+: With all due apologies to Glory’s storyline, the Penton Legacy series is absolute vampire romance reading crack, and I mean that in the best way possible. Maybe potato chips are a better analogy. I don’t think you can read just one. Or I clearly can’t, I opened Omega the minute I finished Absolution.

Mirren’s backstory is complex, but in a different way from Aiden’s in Redemption.  He became a gallowglass in the 16th century not just because that’s what he was trained to do, but because it was an honorable profession 400 years ago. He was a warrior. He knows times have changed. Changing with them was hard.

He originally didn’t question the things the Tribunal asked him to do, which, admittedly meant to murder people. He was a mercenary in the 16th century, he became the Tribunal’s mercenary. When he finally got to a point where he had to stop, there was no way out except to fake his own death. So he did. The Tribunal doesn’t leave loose ends, after all; cleaning up their loose ends used to be Mirren’s job.

Glory is Mirren’s equal, not in physical strength, but in spirit. She does have powers. She’s been damaged but she comes back strong, and she fights back the best she can. It’s good for the overall story that she doesn’t get turned. It was important that she be a strong human and stay that way.

The worldbuilding and story arc continue to be well done. This is the middle book in a trilogy, and while it ends well for Mirren and Glory, the overall story does not end on an up-note, which is to be expected. However, I like the way things are building towards what I hope will be a satisfying conclusion.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne RiceOne last thing. The writer dedicates the book “To Lestat. You were my first.” I had to smile. My first literary vampire was Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Comte de Saint Germain in Hotel Transylvania, but I have very fond memories of sitting enthralled with Lestat poring through Interview with the Vampire one night in almost a single sitting. I only got up once.

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