I am a little behind on the Jaz Parks series, which made the first few chapters of THE DEADLIEST BITE that much more satisfying. While there may be a little too much exposition and explanation for up to date fans, I found the amount of back story just right to keep me in the loop with this latest book. And oh, what a book. Witty and touching and funny, it’s amazing how much emotion Rardin evokes without ever sacrificing a moment of comedy or action.
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I’m wary of mixing too much religion with the paranormal (Nalini Singh’s fierce, pagan angels are just about my speed), but DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE takes things into the realm of myth and magic without treading on too many dogmatic toes. This paranormal romance surprised me quite a few times, most particularly in the way that the main character/supporting character dynamic was reversed. While it’s unusual for me to be interested in world building over romance, I enjoyed the glimpses of this particular devil’s world so much he quite stole the show.
Jumping into an established series with book 15 can risky, but THE RELUCTANT VAMPIRE amply rewarded my daring. Sands interweaves details about the Argeneau vampires and this story’s main love interests without ever sacrificing the forward momentum of the narrative, and I was caught up in the story from page one. Drina and Harper’s romance was very effective as a stand alone (hot, hot, hot!), and while there were some details about the plot that went over my head, that just further motivates me to go back and enjoy the previous books in the series.
If TWICE BITTEN was about the flash and bang of giving into attraction for the first time, HARD BITTEN is about the chemistry and conflict of evaluating a long term relationship. Half way through this book, I was struck by how much I’ve grown to love series. Not just for the characters and the action within, but also for the decisions Chloe Neill has made as an author. Neill takes the long view, just as her immortal heroine Merit is learning to do, and never is that so apparent as in HARD BITTEN. Neill doesn’t pick the spikes and crashes of sugar-high romance, but rather writes the worries and growth of complex, interesting characters.
As I would have hoped at the close of VENOM, the Elemental Assassin series really hits it’s stride with TANGLED THREADS. Containing the best of the action sequences, bad-assery and romance from previous books, it also sets the stage for what promises to be the ultimate life-or-death confrontation of Gin’s career.
Sometimes an author can do their work all too well when creating a villain for protagonists to overcome. As in the Jane True series (where I felt I would never be truly satisfied until Jarl was dead), my dislike for the rogue djinn Pearl has now reached fever pitch. Her cult-like followers, cultivated through a combination of magical manipulation and murder, are heartbreaking enough on their own. Add an army of children being trained as holy warriors and cannon fodder, and I’m out for blood.
From the first book, ROSEMARY AND RUE, it has felt like I jumped into the October Daye series “in media res.” Quickly swept away by action and character development, I had for the most part forgotten Toby’s mysterious past. LATE ECLIPSES not only brings it all back, but also explodes Toby’s own preconceived ideas about herself and her heritage. While not a cliff hanger, this book ends poised at the top of an arc, and I can’t wait to read where all of this forward momentum is going to take the series.
DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR is a fast paced, violent, smoking hot thrill-ride of a book, and I loved every minute of it. From the moment twelve-year-old Reginleit the Radiant walks into a mead hall filled with wenching berserkers (yeah, I did a double take at the number “twelve”, too), this story breaks the humdrum expectations of a “soul mate” driven paranormal romance.
When considering the Allie Beckstrom series as a whole, MAGIC AT THE GATE was my slow point, as so much of the book revolved around the relationship between Allie and her father. While, by design, we don’t get much Zayvion (and more Daniel Beckstrom than I’d like), Shaymus and Allie and Stone have more than enough gravitas to carry a story on their own, enough so that I eagerly await MAGIC ON THE HUNT in April.
I have always been a sucker for magic mixed with realism, for me, mundane details about a fantastical premise make everything that much more enjoyable and plausible. Laura Anne Gilman is a master at this style of storytelling, and easily juggles realistic mystery, racial and political infighting, and a rich magical tradition. All of these elements were a slam dunk in her Retrievers series and continue to delight in the spin off Paranormal Scene Investigations books.