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In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood by [Jones, Janice]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult
Edit: Its priced at over £10, $13 for an unknown author…Seriously?? I’m all about supporting writers but that price is way to much. I think twice about paying that for one of my favourite, well established authors.

Well, its termed Romance so I expected there to be some in the book, but apart from some heated action between Jason and Alex towards the end, that’s it for Romance.
Even that feels more like scratching an itch, sex for the sake of it, there’s no real closeness, nothing other than lust between them though there are hints Jason might be feeling more.

I felt there were too many people, too many plots, and there I’m saying that when I hate the simplified, one plot book that pervades the best seller list.
This though feels like Janice has taken every supernatural concept she ever could come up with, every possible connection and thrown it all together. the Blunderbuss effect, throw it all and hope some sticks. It makes for a messy novel though IMO.

I didn’t really like Alex, didn’t dislike her, but there’s nothing special that I can say I like about her personality. I felt for her, but I didn’t understand how she went from A, working as the Dagger for her “father” to B, famous successful business owner. That just doesn’t happen without an awful lot of clout.
Then there’s all her very useful contacts and people owing her favours. how did that happen, so many powerful people knowing her, owing her?
She spent from 13 to 21 as far as I can see locked away underground unless out on a mission with the rest of the team. After that she’s building a base in the human world for her clothing line I assume, so how did she become so close to all these powerful supernaturals. What did she use for funding to build her business?
There’s too many unanswered questions for me to believe this could happen that way.

Jason seemed intriguing when I read the synopsis but I’ve a horrible feeling he’s going to be one of those soft in love types, that become almost emasculated vampires when it comes to their lover ( Think JC from Anita Blake…)
I do wonder how these centuries old vampires survive when a pretty face can make them lose all sense.

There are irritations too, at one point Jason and Coop are talking and “Jason sat back with a grin and took Amy’s water…” Who’s Amy? Its only the two of them meeting.
Then later we’re told Jason was born 115 years ago. OK – so how come later he’s talking to himself “after three centuries of being what I am” – is he 115 or over 300.
The bit about Someone – won’t mention a name ( though if you’re as confused as me it probably wouldn’t matter!) who’s recovering and needs…how shall i put it…a certain type of blood, was a step too far for me, really made me feel uncomfortable.
I just don’t like reading things like that and it wasn’t necessary. shock value writing and not good IMO.

I’ve got all the way through and I’m still confused, so many double deals, blackmails, bait and switch, so many hidden agendas, and those playing both sides that I really aren’t any wiser now I’ve finished.
I really, really wanted to like this book but for me its a fail.

Stars: Two, sorry one that I won’t be continuing with. I tried, I did finish it but am still lost as to whats actually going on.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter (City of Crows Book 3) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, sci-fi and Fantasy

This is turning out to be a cracking series, seems to be full of drama, action, puzzles, danger and each day seems to bring Cal and the crew into more of it. It’s not quite like that though, when this story opens its some months after that action of the last book, the gang have taken time to heal from the incredible injuries they incurred back then and that’s as it should be.
When a book is day after day of non stop action it makes me think” who dealt with all this before?” and “who will do xyz when this gang are gone?”
Spaced out over time feels much more fluid and natural than the one-drama-on-top-of-another story lines too many books have.

 

The last two books have proved to be openers for more action, and I love that the vampire who was the catalyst for Cal joining the DSI is in this book, and of course wonder about him and his actions. Are they as cut and dried as they seemed? Or is he just as much a victim of circumstance. Or maybe its just his job, that’s going to make him p iss off a lot of people, maybe it is all about the money for him. Who knows? He’s an intriguing character and I want to read more of him.

I love Cal, he’s a great lead, talented and yet flawed too, he knows he doesn’t have all the answers, knows his limitations but throws himself in wholeheartedly when he believes its needed regardless of the cost to himself.
Erica, oh I hated that bit, what she needed to do, and why she felt she had no alternative. fingers crossed that all works out well.
Cooper – a surprise there? Or not, maybe its another red herring – though book one made me wonder if that might happen. I love storylines that make me wonder what if, and how come, and maybe this will….you know the sort, where you get so involved with characters you think of them as real.
The rest of the gang are there, with a few new guys ( and ladies) joining in and it was great seeing them all again. Like meeting old friends, and making new ones.

Its a fabulous read once more, things to puzzle out, drama and action, dangers, and speaking of which, those elevating zombies – what fun they were. The sly humour that had them dressed up in long coats and carrying scythes.
Its little touches like that which lift this novel up, give some levity to the dark dramas surrounding some of the main plots. There are other little touches worked in too, moments of humour, things that make these characters feel real. We all crack jokes at inappropriate times, that’s the kind of human way of dealing with stress and fright and it works so well here. Thats what separate a good book from the crowd, the little extras that keep us reading.

The plots in this part wrap up well, but open up the wider one that’s been building, and I really want to read more right now!!

Stars: five, another rivetting instalment, whetting my appitite for more. I know when this series is ended its going to be one I reread right through, in a back-to-back reading fest. I love to read series like that, get fully immersed in another world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice (Alice Worth Book 1) by [Edmonds, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

What a cracking read this is, and it seems to be Lisa’s debut book!
I love when I find an author who can write books like this, with so many multi layers of plots, with interesting and varied characters that it keeps me gripped to the end.

There are so many paranormal reads out right now, and it seems 90% are one plot romances; those where its a meets b, and there’s just one plot making – or preventing – that happening. Clearly that’s what many readers want, they sell really well, but some of us want that bit more. A story where it isn’t obvious which way its going from the first chapter, and Heart of Malice delivers that.

There’s a clear and solid story-line in this first book that wraps up, but there is so much more going on in tandem with that, that its easy to see its going to make a fabulous and gripping series.
My favourite Fantasy authors are Patricia Briggs, Jeanine Frost, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Rachelle Mead, Debbie Reynolds and of course Sookie’s creator Charmaine Harris. Those reads are what I love, ones where the world settings are clear, the plots multi layered and always imaginative, and there’s so much more going on underneath the main plot in each book.
I read and reread them finding more each time I devour the content. They kind of build up an over-arcing story-line, while delivering individual ones, and the Alice Worth series feels that way.

Clearly Alice has a gruesome and terrifying history, she’s escaped for now but the dangers are ever present. We get glimpses of her past from her memories and nightmares.
Then there’s the world as it is, where supernaturals are open and out, mixing with humans, but as ever there are some vigilant, at times over vigilant, official organisations policing them.
We’ve ghosts, shifters, vampires, mages, in the supernatural types, SPEMA and SPERA gov orgs and I’m sure more will come out in future reads.

Alice is a Mage PI, working alone, always trying to keep her head down, avoid any hint of her past being exposed. That means she tends to be very self contained, doesn’t have freinds, and when Malcolm the ghost comes into her life he’s kind of the first person I feel she really talks to.
She’s careful with him too though, but his help in this current investigation is invaluable as it gets ever more complex and brings her into real danger.
Natalie, her client was a great girl, and I felt a real rapport between her and Malcolm. Will anything come of that in later books? Who knows…
Then Alpha wolf shifter Sean comes in. Alice meets him in a bar, and he tries to persuade her they can be more than just a one night stand. The chemistry they have is incredible, but is he really trustworthy? Its far too soon for Alice to let down her defences, however beguiling and persuasive he seems, and she keeps him at arms length. Except for those scorching times when he’s not 😉
And what about Vampire Charles, over 200 years old, suave, good looking, perfect charm and manners, very well respected by the Vampire Alliance, and full of his own vampire intrigues…what’s his interest in Alice?
He’s held back so far, keeping her in a kind of loose acquaintance field which suits her. She trusts him, just a little bit, a very, very little bit, but she isn’t letting her defences down for a pretty face and a few vampire wiles. She’s wary as to what his end game is, vampires aren’t known for altruism…He’s never yet hinted at wanting more from her but it feels like there’s an unspoken text whenever they meet.
Of course we can’t forget Agent Lake either, comes into the book early and turns up again at the end. I get the feeling he’s got an interest in Alice, but why? What sort? What does he want from her?

Its a cracking read, ages since I read a new fantasy story that’s gripped me like this, that I so enjoyed.
Its up there with my favourite reads and I hope Lisa is hard at work with the next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous read, fast paced, solid plots great characters, and will join my favourites.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark by [Armstrong, Tibby]

Genre: Romance

Vampires and Romance, check and request. sadly though its a fail for me.
I didn’t like the characters, didn’t follow all the odd terms though most could be guessed at. I couldn’t get a feel for Benjamin or Tzadkiel as people, didn’t feel I knew them, and they certainly have a real hate going on.
I know its said there’s a thin line between love and hate but here I just didn’t feel the lust between them was genuine, they were both so mired in hatred.
Its that old bearing a grudge for history, we can’t change it, both sets of ancestors did things that were wrong, but which they felt justified. someone has to make it stop sometime.

There were things too that just didn’t feel right for me, the times something weird, different, new comes up that gets them out of a tight spot, the way Benjamin’s freinds take off when he gives them some patently untrue lies, I didn’t feel they’d have believed him or abandon him like that.

I gave up about halfway through, just couldn’t bring myself to read more.
Shame as it sounded perfect for me, and maybe sometime in the future I’ll give it another go?
I can see others love it so perhaps I’m missing something, need to be in a different mindset to appreciate it? Who knows…it happens. Everyone likes different stories so some will love this, others like me won’t connect.

Stars: Two, just not the right story for me, but perfect for others. You choose.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series) by [Charish, Kristi]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first two novels but this one was, to be honest, a bit of a slog 😦
I’ve loved Owl, her kind of skewed world views, and yet underneath you know she cares deeply for her friends, that she’s moral, will always do the right thing, for people anyway even if artifacts are a bit of a grey area….but in this book she came over as a bit self centred, kind of blowing off issues that her best friend Nadya was dealing with, acting pretty cold towards Rynn at times.

I love Rynn, but in this book they felt more like two people working together who didn’t really like or respect each other, and though its clear Rynn cares deeply for Owl, would do almost anything to keep her safe she really wasn’t looking out for what was going on in his life, seeing his POV, seeing what he was worried about, didn’t really take Nadya’s issues seriously, only as far as they affected her.
This book seemed to be Only Worry About What Concerns Owl…and I didn’t like that, that wasn’t the person I knew from book one.
Then too there’s the whole Electric Samurai…its not Owl V the ES, its Owl searches for the ES. The Electric Samurai itself doesn’t really come into play til the end.

I had issues with Owl and Rynn jumping form one hot-spot to another, escaping by the skin of their teeth, jumping from country to country, and the non stop action that was hit, done and over just in time for the next issue got dull.
I wanted more in depth detail, to know exactly how they did things, how they escaped, not toss in a few whiz bangs and they’re out, but that’s how each drama began to feel to me. Just more of the same, another place where everyone wants a piece of Owl and she escape barely to fall into the next drama.
I’d have liked a bit more day to day details, more conversations that didn’t just involve “how are we getting out of this mess” type of thing. Less skin of teeth and bombs, less Carpe doing some amazing tech stuff, characters suddenly dropping in unexpectedly and a little more reality.
Back to one of my bugbears, the This just couldn’t happen problem. There’s an IT Acronym IFTTT (If this then that) where if one thing happens its the trigger for another action, and when I’m reading I want to believe that if this one thing/action/event is real it could trigger a defined reaction, but too often in this story I didn’t feel the first issue could be real, it lacked that believability factor, which meant that the action that followed felt wrong to me.

There were parts I enjoyed, and the whole story is so unique that it was really refreshing to read when the series started, but now its seems to have moved away from that and I just need a little less action a little more conversation….A bit more reality even though its fantasy.
How does Owl get from country to country without getting stopped at usual channels ect, without ever having any luggage? She never seems to eat or drink, need to shower, sleep, feed Captain, you know, all the everyday dross that makes a story feel real.
I don’t need loads, just a little to ground her, make things feel real.
She just flips from one country at the end of a chapter and on first page of next chapter she’s where she needs to be, and I’m thinking “but how??” Especially given Captain is with her. Travelling with a huge cat isn’t easy…and where does she keep getting cat carriers?
It is a very complex world blending real world with the fantasy game playing base Shangri-La, but it felt increasing detached to me from the characters and settings we started out with in book one.

Then the ending…no………How could Kristi leave us like that? I’d almost decided this was it for me, wondering whether I really wanted to continue with the series but I can’t stop at this point, I’ll have to see how it plays out and hope a return to the styles of books one and two are forthcoming.

Stars: Three, a bit hard going this installment. Hopefully book four will bring a return to the style of the first two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Distance Home, Orly Konig. Dating the Undead, Juliet Lyons

The Distance Home, Orly Konig

The Distance Home: A Novel by [Konig, Orly]

Genre:  Women’s fiction,

What a terrific debut book, absorbing story, well told and one I enjoyed reading.

Emma is the consummate career woman, successful, polished, and never really switches off from working. Her boss wasn’t keen to let her have the week off to attend to affairs after her fathers death, and she almost agrees with him, that could wait, work is more pressing. HR insists though so Emma makes the journey home ( great title , fits perfectly BTW), somewhere she’s not been for 16 years.  She’s no other realtives now so its a lonely journey.

The story is told from Emma’s POV, and in present/past flashbacks. That works well to slowly let the reader see what happened, how she grew up, why she is the person she is now. We think we know who she is and what happened, but it’s a very slow reveal to the full truth, and along the way Emma learns that her view of events is just that – her view, and things weren’t necessarily as simple as a child sees them. There were reasons she either didn’t understand or simply didn’t see.
As her stay gets extended she gets more drawn into the reactions of people around her about that one catastrophic event, the things that were a catalyst for it, with her recall set against why things happened.

I loved Emma, she was such a lonely child I felt for her. The horses had become her world and being a horse mad child and adult I could see how she got strength from them. My last horse died this year, 25 years of horse-owning, a childhood dream that took much effort and sacrifice but horse lovers will understand it was all worthwhile.

Of course while she’s being slowly drawn back, increasingly entrenched in that past life her current one is blowing up the internet. Frantic emails pass back and forth, demands to know how soon she can go back etc.
I did find it hard to see why she accepted there was something huge going on and yet happy to wait til she was back on the following Monday, some days away, to find out what. I wasn’t a quarter the workaholic Emma is and yet I couldn’t have waited, would have to have answers now, and that bit didn’t sit right with me.
Its a small crit though in a fabulous book I really enjoyed. Not sure its one I’d re-read now I know the story, favourite romances and some other books I love to read over and over but I don’t think this will join them.

Stars: four, great characters, including the animals, and a terrific debut read

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

** Pricing. £16.82/$20.98 for a debut read!! Wow, not sure I’d risk that – in fact I know I wouldn’t when there are top authors and best sellers in the £5-10 range

Dating the Undead,  Juliet Lyons

Dating the Undead (Undead Dating Service) by [Lyons, Juliet]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

First book in a new series and writing this I’m still undecided exactly how I feel. I didn’t Not like it but I wasn’t grabbed by it either…
The premise is good, sounded fun, a vampire dating site. No risk of relationships there you’d think, not with the potential age differences 😉 That’s just what Silver is looking for, sex and spice without the other guy wanting a HEA for them.

Well, I liked Silver – and then there were parts of her I didn’t. When it comes to her mum and how she died she feels a bit shallow almost, especially at the end when she learns more. “Oh, that’s how she died. OK then, what shall we do now?” that’s sort of how her reaction feels to me. Given all her former questions it just felt underwhelming somehow.
She gets on with her dad but isn’t really very nice to her step-mum, and I didn’t know why except that she’s acting like a teen and she’s not, she’s an adult. I think this shallowness about her is what I didn’t like.
I did like her independence and confidence, but she was just that bit too unfeeling. She has a great kiss with Logan, so joins V Date in search of more, and she’s happy to let a total stranger, one who could kill her easily, bite her.
The police interaction was just weird, that’s all I can say about that!

Logan, a great guy, loyal to his vampire lord/boss and yet the whole Anastasia saga make him look weak and feeble to me.
Somehow after all those years vampires have been around, most of them hidden from humans, you’d think they’d come up with a way round these rules that constrain them, even when keeping them risks so much.
Then that ending, rounds off the story neatly but too slick for me, a bit too convenient…I’m not a quick fix girl, I like solutions to come from things we know, to be worked hard for.

It sounds like there’s a lot I didn’t like here and that’s not true, it was a fun read, some good humour, and its a well written story, with potential for more. I did like the sound of Cop Vincent, subject of the next book.

Maybe its just first-book-in-series syndrome, where it has such a lot to achieve, setting out story for this book and future ones and introducing different characters. Its a hard ask for any book, and maybe for ones like this that also have a humorous side its more difficult.

Its was an ok read for me, I didn’t not like it, and bits made me smile, but its not one I’d read again. If you want a fun and light supernatural read with a gentle HEA this is for you. I just need a bit more depth and angst.

Stars: Three, an ok read, fun in parts but a bit light for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill. Eternal Reign, Melody Johnson

Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill

Blade Bound: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel (Chicagoland Vampires Series) by [Neill, Chloe]

Genre:  Romance,

It seems aaages since i read the first in this series, pre-kindle when I could still read text. I loved it and reread it and the other very early ones several times. Then That happened, the Ethan Disaster which spoiled it for me, I didn’t think I’d continue but saw from reviews of a later book that he was back! So I picked it up once more and continued.

I’ve always had an issue though with this and similar books where the main character is a new supernatural of some sort and yet manages to do all the things that the old, hundreds of years old, others can’t. How? Why are they so different? How come they never have all the stumbling blocks new vampires, werewolves, dragons et al do?
And that’s what got me a bit irritated, that it seemed like each story was Merit Saves The Day Yet Again * Sigh * and I stopped. Then saw this on netgalley, wondered how the series would end, got approved and needed to play catch up and buy the previous four books I’d not read #slappedwrist

Reading the last five back to back it felt very much as if I was reading the same story, just tinkered with…and that brought back memories of Sookie S when I felt the same 😦 that perhaps the series would have been better cut back a few books. There’s only so many new discoveries two new supernaturals like Merit and Mallory can make. I guess its down to two sides, group A wants more about Ethan Merit and the crew whatever the issues, they just want to read more and don’t care about the feeling of repetition. That’s lots of readers, I know from other series some just don’t want to let go of a group and will read anything connected to them. then there’s group B, where I fall, that wants stories that are believable and different, even though its fantasy it has to feel that if a happened B could result. the early books were exactly that for me, and maybe f there’d been a longer story timeline rather than the just over a year between book one and the last things may have felt that way for me.

So here we are, full circle in a way with Gabriel’s prophecy still hanging in Ethan and Merit’s minds. Actually the way that got explained/came about was well done IMO, something that made sense in the way that magic and fantasy can make a kind of sense. That bit of fantasy-reality that has you thinking “oh yes, so that happened, and therefore this was able to come about”.

We start this book with pre wedding celebrations, and from there its yet again another magical puzzle to solve, Chicago under threat, calls for supernaturals to take all the blame, humans decrying it’s Not Their Fault, let the supes take the blame. They’ve short memories when it comes to recalling that many of the past problems came about through human greed, and the supernaturals risked much to save human lives.
So much felt like I’d read it all before in those last few books. It was well written, tightly plotted and made sense in the way it played out but….it didn’t feel fresh, unique, the way those first ones did.

There’s lots of drama once more, some of Mallory’s on-the-fly magic combined with lots of theory and Catcher’s voice of reason – I love his character.
We haven’t seen much of Gabriel these last few books, he’s here but in very minor position, and I’d really have liked all the supernaturals to have pulled together for the Big Battle.
Finally the RG get more involved but once more looking back to the beginning I always thought they’d play a greater part.
I guess I’d just have a better chance of believing things will work in the future for everyone if they’d all been working on the solution, rather than Cadogan house, Mallory, Catcher and the Ombuddies.
A year of manic mayhem, scary deaths, tragedies, violence, disaster and suddenly everyone will live peacefully? What happens when the next issue arises? Will Ethan and Merit pick up their Katanas once more and wade in or claim other responsibilities, let someone else sort it?
If all forces had joined in this last book and been part of the solution I’d have believed they’d have a better chance of peace. Still, its fiction, the series has ended and it’ll be perfect for many readers 🙂

Overall the series starts off a five for me, with later books dropping drastically and I guess comes out a 3 to 4. This final book assessed alone though is a four for me, maybe a four and a half, pretty good but could have been better.

Stars: Four, pretty good but at times felt a little repetitive, and the final solution could have been better IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Eternal Reign,  Melody Johnson

Eternal Reign (The Night Blood Series) by [Johnson, Melody]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Cassidy has come such a long way since the first book, yet its only been a few weeks. From knowing nothing about Vampires, she’s now gained so much first hand knowledge and yet still I get the sense she’s far more to learn.
Dominic is facing his levelling, a vulnerable time when usually his second would be there for him but Gillian isn’t, she betrayed him recently and she’s looking set to take over from him.
She’s amassing an army of Damned vampires, fierce, blood thirsty creatures that have little reasoning, just an instinct to kill and feed.
People are dying each night, the police have no idea what they are facing, Cassidy can’t reveal all through her reporter job, much though she’d love to, and if it continues the city will face an onslaught of deaths that makes the current ones look like nothing.
Dominic is losing his powers fast, but having to hide it from the coven, vampires gravitate to the strongest and he needs as much support as he can against Gillian, Cassidy isn’t a night blood anymore after her last injuries, and the battle is looming up.

Its another fast paced story, death, blood and gore, but with enough strength in the characters to lift it for me from a horror to something I enjoyed. I can’t take blood and gore if there’s not some way of lightening the story, some romance to balance all the hate.
Dominic clearly has feelings for Cassidy but she’s not admitting hers to him, or even to herself.
Now in this novel she needs to make some hard choices, about her job, her friends, her feelings for Dominic. I love the way Dominic treats her with respect even when he must find her incredibly frustrating – I know I would, with her insistence on “the people’s right to know”….knowing what faces his people if knowledge comes out.
Historically humans have sought to destroy any one, any group they feel aren’t human, looking at what we’ve done to witches in the past, and of course even those of a different religious persuasion and yet she seems to think that nothing bad will happen if vampires are exposed. I can’t decide if she’s deluded, naive or just plain stupid 🙂

Dominic has a typical vampire regard for humans, they’re just not important compared to his coven, he’s out to protect them at any cost even if it means killing people.
He doesn’t kill indiscriminately, doesn’t kill to feed for example, but thinks nothing of killing to protect his people if he feels there’s no other option.

There’s so much going on here, the story of the Levelling, the quest for Master of the city, the Damned vampires and now the Daywalker involvement, and among all that there’s the romance that’s slowly developing between Cassidy and Dominic.
Its another story I was glued to, really enjoyed and damn it, that ending…arrgghh…I hate when authors do that. #nocliffhangers

Stars: Five, another terrific read and c’mon, after that ending, I really hope the next book is soon!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Black Lily, Juliette Cross

The Black Lily,  Juliette Cross

The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily) by [Cross, Juliette]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve read a few of Juliette’s stories, and liked the sound of this. Vampires? Romance? yep, two of my tick boxes 😉
What did make me hesitate was the Cinderella connection. I’m not a fan of fairy-tale rewrites generally, I’ve read too many that mirror the original so closely there’s nothing fresh in the story, but this one is fine.
The storyline is only very loosely followed, in fact most of the story is pure Juliette original, maybe 5-10% follows Cinderella and that’s fine by me!

We meet Arabelle, AKA the Black Lily, with her friend Deek, the blacksmith,  planning an audacious assassination of the vampire Prince Marius at a ball later that evening.
She and her band of followers have been planning this carefully, she has the gown, the jewels, the mask, a fairy-tale carriage, albeit borrowed as are the gown and jewels, and most important, a gold edged knife to kill him. Vampires in this series are killed by gold, though royals have to be stabbed in the heart for it to be fatal. No pressure there then Arabelle.
Why are they out to kill him? Well, seems vampires aren’t sticking to the laws, and the peasants arte being drained, first an odd few but more and more recently. Arabelle’s mother died this way and she’s determined to stop the slaughter.

I love the way the planning was explained, there wasn’t a magic wand ( well unless you call a certain part of Deek’s anatomy that, he uses it well to “persuade” people to lend things for the cause…. There’s lots of planning, they’ve spent months on this, even down to Arabelle swapping her outdoor chores for one of the staff’s indoor ones, so her skin gets a chance to lighten, helped also by her own cosmetic preparations. She doesn’t just dress up and hope for the best, but plans, works to make it a success.
I need that in a story, need to understand the how and the why, when something just falls into place at the right time without any effort it just doesn’t work for me.

Of course she doesn’t manage to kill him, it’d be a short book if she did…but he gets close to her and is entranced, enamoured by her even though she wanted him dead.
As it happens she was surprised by her attraction to him, surprised by their conversation. He wasn’t what she expected.
Marius is determined to find her, find out why she tried to kill him, to just get to know her better. He wants her, and not as a prisoner for an attempt on his life. Of course his royal parents aren’t quite of the same mind.
There follows captures and escapes, plans and plots, deals and steals, barters and betrayals…its a fun read, especially when we meet the Hart Wolves, and Sienna.

I really liked Marius, he was a Vampire, but one of the good guys, they’re not all heartless, blood-thirsty killers and he has no idea what’s been going on. His one failing is assuming everyone is happy, what will he do now he knows otherwise?
I really wanted him and Arabelle to find a way together but when they’re on such opposing sides its a hard ask.

There’s some great characters here, some fun adventure and it adds up to an enjoyable read, when the final denouement is revealed I could have kicked myself ( metaphorically – its hard to do that when you’ve only one leg, I’d just fall over!)
Its so obvious and yet…like I suspect most readers, I simply didn’t see that coming, followed the trail led before me very obligingly.

Its not deep, dark, drama but light and fun, with some real excitement at times, some plots that were very realistic and no quick instant, unbelievable fixes, but ones where people worked for them.
Arabelle wasn’t a sweet, helpless female, not yet a kiss ar$e heroine, but someone who felt real, who was a natural leader and worked hard for what she wanted to achieve. There were some excellent support characters too, that fitted the storyline very well.
I love the descriptions of the gowns, the fabulous Glass Palace, and the minutiae of everyday life brought in that made things feel real.

Its ends on a good spot but leaving the way open for more and I’ll be happy to read the next story.

Stars: five, a great relaxing read, fun story, light drama and adventure.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Reawakened, Carrie Pulkinen

Reawakened, Carrie Pulkinen

Reawakened by [Pulkinen, Carrie]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

Vampires and romance….a good hook for me.
Trouble is there’s so many different styles of romance, whether paranormal or not and for me this was a style that doesn’t really work for me.
If you like Celia Kyle, T.S.Joyce, Bella Forest then this book may well appeal to you. they’re all popular authors whose write what I think of as light and fluffy paranormal reads, where the story is mainly the romance, but with a little back-plot  and excitement underlying it. For me though books need to have a little more substance, a bit extra to hold my interest.

Its a perfectly well written book, a story that adds up, some fun plots and the usual secrets that creep out.
Its just that for me its all a bit too simplistic, too easy to read with everything falling into place so easily, when I need something a little more edgy, angsty, problems that the characters have to work really hard to overcome.
I need to feel there’s a real chance the characters romance won’t survive the pressures put on it, that the problems they have, the dangers they face may all be just too much.

There’s nothing I really dislike about this book, just nothing that would want me to keep it, re-read it either.

Stars: Three, a fun read but I need a bit extra.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Sons of Devils, Arising1, Alex Beecroft

Sons of Devils, Arising1, Alex Beecroft

Sons of Devils (Arising Book 1) by [Beecroft, Alex]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Alex’ contemporary romances, and I’m a sucker for a vampire story so this caught my eye.
Its a good story, well written, brings in fresh ideas on the Vampire genre, but somehow it just didn’t work for me, didn’t really hold my interest.
I wanted to like it, there’s a second book to come, and it sounded just the kind of read I enjoy…but I didn’t.

I didn’t dislike it, I did read right through but I’m not interested enough to continue with book two.
What’s irritating is I just can’t quite explain why it didn’t work for me, what I didn’t like. I just don’t really know, other than I felt detached from the story and the people. Maybe that’s it, because usually in books I love I feel I’m there with characters, caught up in events as they happen, living the story as they go through it. Can’t see anything else other than that.
It’ll be perfect for other readers of course, thankfully there’s a variety of stories to go with the myriad of different novels readers want.

Stars: 2.5/3 a good story but simply not the type I enjoy

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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