The Curse Merchant, J.P. Sloan
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal
Dorian, he has this kind of careworn, cynical front going on, but as we get to know the man behind the facade we see he’s really a genuinely nice guy, he’s ready to help people – not just because it’s his job and they’re paying him, but because he really wants to make their lives better. He stays on the side of “clean” magic, that which depends on the goodness or otherwise of the user of his charms, and he’s very anti the Dark side, the type which carries great power but at the cost of his soul. I loved the description of his charms and hexes, and the way he explained how they were tailored to the user.
He seems to have been letting things slide though in both his business and personal life over the last couple of years, and it comes to a head when he’s threatened at gunpoint by an angry lady. It proves a catalyst for change, and he starts to look at how he’s living his life, and begin picking up his work again. That brings him to the attention of a local Netherworker. Dorian knows he’s far more skilled that Osterhaus but is shocked by how much of his work the man has picked up. Never the less he’s back now, and not stepping down. Then some things happen that lead him into danger and the temptations of Netherwork – his old girlfriend Carmen needs his help, and he still feels bad about their acrimonious breakup.
Its a fun read, full of interesting snippets of the history of magic interwoven with descriptions of the spells used. Its not a fast paced novel, and takes the time to thoroughly embed in the scene the various characters that we’ll meet in later books. I’d rather it be that way than a series start with a fast pace that leaves reader wondering “what? who? how?” A solid foundation works well, and the roots for a great series are here IMO. I love the whole idea of magic being attainable by study and not just a few select people with talent. Dorian makes for a great lead, and the side characters of Abe his tenant, Ben from the club, Osterhaus his business rival, Julian from the Mayor’s office are all people I hope will be in future reads. I’ll be looking for more from Dorian and JP Sloan.
Stars: I’m hovering between four and five…Four and a half it is.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Desert Bound (Cambio Springs 2) Elizabeth Hunter
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: Paranormal/fantasy romance. I love Elizabeth’s Elemental Mysteries, and the Elemental World spin offs, and have just finished re reading the series right through. She’s one of my all time favourite authors so when I got the chance to review this novel I jumped at it.
Curiously I’d missed there was a new series out, so Cambio Springs is new to me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book, though I did at times have trouble recalling who was married to/family of whom. Its another great paranormal read, shape-shifters instead of vampires, and is in Elizabeth’s easy to read writing style. Its a much lighter feel to it than the Elemental books though. The plots and characters are realistic, but not as dense and complex as the other series. That’s fine though – sometimes I want a book to get deeply involved and lost for a few hours, and others I just want a good story that’s not too heavy that I can relax and enjoy.
I loved the way Alex and Ted spark together. They’re both strong characters and there’s lots of head to head arguments before they can finally get together – they agree the sex has always been good, its just the rest they need to work on!! When they do get together its explosive, and that’s one difference in this series, its much more sexual than the Elemental one. There sex is seductive, sensual but kept subtle – here its very open. Lots of shifter series are like that, but though some have people swapping partners Ted and Alex stay together and I like that best. I understood why Ted was so hurt by Alex’ past actions – it did feel pretty callous, but then we see Alex insight and motives and I understood him too – made me a fence sitter rooting for them both. Their families aren’t though – Cat and Wolves, each want them to find partners in their own clan. They are two strong people luckily, and able to stand up to them.
When a shifter is found murdered Alex and Ted need to work together to protect their community, and keep it’s secrets hidden from prying eyes. There are humans among them that know the secret, relatives and partners of shifters mostly, and they are happy to help it stay hidden. Caleb is the local sheriff ( I think that’s the term – the lead police guy anyway) and as a human he wants to see the culprit face human justice, but if its a shifter that’s not going to be possible, and it brings some strained relations between him and Alex and Ted. He doesn’t want Alex involved, agrees Ted can have limited involvement as she’s the local doc, but of course those two aren’t going to be held back from what they see as their duty.
Its a great story, fabulous setting, a range of shifters from birds to wolves and cats to snakes…and each have their own part to play. I really enjoyed this as a lighter read, and one to keep, and at some point I’ll catch up on the early stories.
Stars: Four and a half. – maybe if I’d read the earlier ones I’d have gone five.
ARC supplied by publishers
Can you turn the clock back on your first love? Would you even want to try?
Alex McCann and Teodora “Ted” Vasquez left Cambio Springs together. Ted came back. Alex didn’t.
Now, years later, the future alpha of the McCann wolves has returned with plans to bring new life to the dying desert community. Plans that could change everything for the isolated enclave of shapeshifters in the California desert. Some love the plan. Others hate it.
As the town’s doctor and one of the strongest daughters in the cat clan, Ted has her own concerns about exposing her community to outsiders. The two former lovers are at each other’s throats. And everyone is watching to see what happens.
But when murder once again strikes Cambio Springs, can they overcome their past to help the community they both call home? And can the love they shared once burn again when so many stand against it?
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Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance writer. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College and a former English teacher. She once substitute taught a kindergarten class, but decided that middle school was far less frightening. Thankfully, people now pay her to write books and eighth-graders everywhere rejoice.
She currently lives in Central California with her son, two dogs, many plants, and a sadly dwindling fish tank. She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, the Irin Chronicles, and other works of fiction.
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Snap (Command Force Alpha) Katie Porter
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romantic Suspense.
Second book in the C.F.A. series and though each book is a stand alone you’ll enjoy it better if you’ve read book one. That mentions the capture and disappearance of Laurie, and introduces some of the characters we meet in this book. this novel is centred around Laurie who finally escaped after fourteen months of imprisonment and torture, and is undergoing Psych assessments by his colleague and good friend Gemma. He was taken by a Russian group called Firebird, and as he’s wearing their tattoo there’s a question of his loyalty to be answered. Is he back with C.F.A. or is he a double agent?
While he’s undergoing yet another session with Gemma he takes the chance to escape – he wants to clear his name and bring down Firebird, and he knows the movements of a key member but needs to move fast. He could involve C.F.A. but wants to go it alone, he thinks they’ll wait for more info and miss the narrow time window to get him.
Its another fast paced, intriguing and suspense packed novel. Add on to that the fact that he and Gemma have a tentative history of attraction that was never quite given in to, and the sensuality is clear right from the start. Thrown together in hiding from C.F.A. Gemma needs to make a decision – go with him, her friend Laurie, trust him that he’s not playing her, or do what she ought to do and turn him in? Trust – that’s where it comes in, and Laurie also needs to trust her, to believe she’s with him and not playing him, leading him back to capture. Its a steamy, carnal, erotic ride when the two finally give in to the lust between them. Is it just lust though or could there be more? do they trust each other and can anything come of their fledgling relationship.
I really enjoyed this read – I’m not a huge suspense reader but this is just the right amount for me. A group of people that I feel I know and like, suspense that’s easy for me to follow ( I hate it when it gets overcomplicated and I’m always two steps behind) and when there’s a solid romance with some risqué sensuality thrown in that makes a perfect read for me.
ARC supplied by publishers.
Captain Laurence Madigan is an anomaly—a levelheaded risk taker who learned the dark side of life in Manchester’s slums. He needed those skills to survive fourteen months as a prisoner of Firebird, a shadowy Russian cartel.
When rescued, he receives less than a hero’s welcome. He’s considered a wild card—or even a double agent. After enduring agony and degradation for Command Force Alpha, he’s determined to clear his name and bring Firebird down…even if it means escaping CFA’s London facility with a very personal hostage.
Oxford-educated psychologist Gemma Calloway should fight her abductor tooth and claw, but loyalty to her old friend wins out. Isolated in a rustic hideaway, she tends his wounds and can’t help staring at his scars and prison tattoos.
Their impromptu safe house becomes a haven of uneasy trust and potent, gathering desires. As they sort present dangers from past affection, Gemma realizes she’s in over her head…and up to her heart with longing for a good man whose last reason for living could be revenge.
“Come here,” Laurie said, crooking his finger toward Gemma.
She took one step, then cocked both a hip and an eyebrow. “Why?”
He draped his hands over the arms of the chair and lifted his chin in challenge. “Because I want you to. Because you want to.”
Her mouth parted so Laurie caught a peek of the damp and delicate inner rim of her ripe lower lip. Her feet moved toward him. Only one step at first, then another. She locked her gaze with his, so he felt as if he were reeling her in.
He was trying so hard to fool them with this sane act. They both knew monsters of the worst sort dwelled and gnawed in the dark recesses of his mind. Guilt was the hardest to bear, chewing on the few soft bits remaining of Laurie. Here, however, when they breathed too hard and when Laurie’s pulse rushed in his ears, he would claim what he could—even if it meant taking advantage of her lowered defenses. He knew compassion fueled her desire, but he couldn’t find it in him to give a damn.
She stood between his knees. He leaned forward and found the bottom button of her plaid shirt. When Laurie parted the placket, she tightened her sleek stomach muscles by sucking in a breath. He spread a hand across her flesh. Resilience beneath silken skin revealed her fitness. She was lean beauty, wrapped in agility and powered by a canny, too-hopeful mind.
He pressed his lips to the tender spot beneath her navel. She breathed faster now and rested her hands at the back of his neck. Sensation worked over his skin like the kiss of a disappointment yet to come. Nothing like this lasted.
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Katie Porter is the award-winning co-writing team of Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty, friends of nearly seven years. After wishing, scheming and planning, they finally share an office in the Chicago area.
Both are multi-published in several romance genres. Carrie holds an MA in history, loves movies, and has no fear of gross things like dissecting formaldehyde sharks. Her two daughters aren’t appreciative. Lorelie is a US Army veteran and true-crime devotee, whose three boys love when she screams like a little girl around spiders.
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