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From afar by Ava March

From AfarFrom Afar by Ava March
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was thoroughly disappointed with this.

The opening scene turned me off. I knew there was some m/f and voyeurism involved, but the picture of Raphael sitting in a tree wanking away was something I could have done without. Where did this obsession with Aleric come from? He has never even talked to the guy; just from seeing him, he got so obsessed with him? I find that rather unhealthy, it makes me uncomfortable with the character.

Then, within a few pages, Aleric was turned and was perfectly ok with his new lifestyle. It seems due to some chemical reaction which was triggered by the turning (no other explanation was given) he all of a sudden was just as needy with Raphael as the other vampire was with him. It’s not that they had spent ANY time together that did not involve frantic sex. Is that supposed to be romance? Not in my book. In fact this is not even porn, because even porn needs some sort of normality in order for the sex to stand out (I am paraphrasing Umberto Eco here).

The story possibilities were all wasted. Katerina (of course, a Russian vampire queen) and her clan sounded quite interesting – apart from the obession with sex again -, but those characters fizzled out and were not followed up at all. Btw, anyone else found the names Katerina and Aleric reminiscent of the Vampire Diaries?

Because there was no emotional bond to speak of (at least I didn’t see any) between Aleric and Raphael, I found myself skimming the sex scenes, i.e. large parts of the book. Finally a conflict was in the offing, i.e. Aleric’s understandable anger and distress over the stalkerish behavior of Raphael, but even that ended with sex almost immediately. Instead of running away from that weirdo who observed him in secret for years, Aleric forgives Raphael within minutes.This couple did not get me involved or attracted me in any way.

Abrupt does not even begin to describe the ending. We go from sex to a half baked plan to leave and that’s it. I had 17% to go with the story and thought there was something more substantial still coming up, and then – wham – the end within a paragraph. The remaining 17% of the book were excerpts and ads for other books, which annoyed me a lot.

I am not saying that this story couldn’t have been good on a mere 85 pages, but given the fact that most of those pages were about sex, it just didn’t work. No explanations, no development, a lacklustre “romance” at best, this wasn’t satisfying. At all.

View all my reviews

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Movie: Let the right one in

lettherightonein_movie

After reading the book I had to watch the movie. They say it is fantastic, a masterpiece, the best vampire movie ever and what not. My expectation were high.

The cast is good, the girl who plays Eli is perfect, she has this look about her that makes her 200 year long existence totally believable. The boy who plays Oskar I am not so sure about. Actually, the boy who played Micke (at least I assume that he is Micke) would have been better suited as far as looks are concerned. Chubbier, not as cute.

If I had not read the book beforehand I don’t think I would have enjoyed the film. I want things explained and this film didn’t explain anything. It left some characters out and got rid of a few storylines in order to concentrate on the relationship between Eli and Oskar, which was a bit disappointing. A lot of questions were left unanswered and I didn’t like it. How did Eli become a vampire? How did Hakan come to be her helper?

In the book we experience the story from a lot of point of views, but here we don’t get any. The long process of Virgina reaching the point where she wants to die. The way Lacke found Eli. Why are Conny (i.e. Johnny) and his brother so pissed off at Oskar that they want to kill him? All these things are not explained properly. The bullies are what bothered me most. They are depicted bad, but not THAT bad. In the book I hated them from the start, in the movie they are mean, but not to the point where you are looking forward to their punishment. In the book it is made perfectly clear why they want to kill Oskar, here they go from hiding his trousers to killing him without any reasoning behind it. The scene comes unexpected and we have no time to get into the mood where we want them to get their just deserts.

The movie is worth watching, but I strongly recommend you read the book beforehand.

Let the right one in on imdb.  

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Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Cover Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Not your ordinary vampire romance

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis: Oskar meets a strange girl in his apartment complex. At the same time strange murders take place in his suburb of Stockholm.

Language I read the book in: English. Translated from Swedish by Ebba Segerberg

Did I like it? Yes. A lot.

For people who: love vampires, but not the schmaltzy smooching, don’t mind a little gore.  


My thoughts: 

When I started reading I vaguely knew what was coming as John has read the book and watched the two movies and had told me a little about it. But I was not prepared for this wonderful coming of age story, combined with gore, vampires, great side characters and an overall great atmosphere. Every person in this book has a distinctive personality and the writer took his time to develop each of them. We get to know the story from various points of view and this worked very well – even though I normally don’t enjoy character jumping too much. Apart from a few people, everybody was really likeable – which is quite an achievement considering the atmosphere in this book is dark, dreary, violent and not a happy one. Everybody has problems, everybody is fighting, and it still is an uplifting story!

What I particularly liked was that a lot of the side characters had facets that you normally don’t find in books. A glue sniffing boy with a problematic background has a great sense of humour (I really felt for Tommy in many ways. Not only does he have to spend the night with Hakan in a dark cellar, he also has to put up with insufferable Staffan, which is only slightly less unsettling). Drunken bums are very well educated, literate people (how many people you know can tell that the corresponding cat to Thisbe should be named Pyramus?). I loved them all.

The vampire angle was done really well, gave vampires a bit of a new spin and was quite exciting to read about, even though I found a few situations quite disconcerting and not for the faint of heart. But not the nightmare inducing kind either, at least not for me.

I do have a couple of complaints though. The end was disappointing. The conclusion of the book was done way too quickly. After writing five hundred odd pages and after developing the relationship between Oskar and Eli slowly and in depth, the author creates an end of one page That is unacceptable. It is cut off from the previous chapter, like a time lapse where some important things were forgotten to be told. I prefer stories to fade out slowly instead of coming to an unexpected halt.

Second I feel cheated. I battled my way through a lot of unsavoury scenes all the while hoping for Johnny and his mates to get their comeuppance and then when they finally do I don’t get to savour every detail, but have to read it in a witness report the length of a couple of paragraphs! Sorry, but this just does not do it! I was deprived of my satisfaction and I did not like that.

Other than that, this was a pleasure to read. Now I must get the short story “Let the old dreams die” to find out what happened next. I am glad the author wrote it because during reading I got this nagging thought that maybe Eli is just having Oskar around as the new caretaker, and I need to know that this is not so. 


Product info and buy link :

Title Let the right one in
Author John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher Quercus Publishing
ISBN 9781847248480
I got this book from we already had it lying around
Buy link Buy Let the right one in

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Book beginnings on Friday

Boog beginnings on Friday

Cover Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I started “Let the right one in” by John Ajvide Lindqvist a few days ago and really like it. If you think this is a vampire story like Twilight, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here is its beginning.

“And what do you think this might be?”

Gunnar Holmberg, police commissioner from Vällingby, held up a little plastic bag of white powder.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to Rose City Reader!

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Fantasy cast for the BDB brothers

Through a twitter post by Suzanne Johnson I came across a fantasy cast for the Black Dagger Brotherhood brothers at Heroes & Heartbreakers. I haven’t talked about the BDB series for quite a long while, since I lost interest after book six as it was a big disappointment. The Insiders Guide was not meeting my expectations either, so I gave up reading it altogether.

Now some girls (I assume) have put together a list of possible actors for the various parts. Definitely nice to look at, however, once more I need to comment on V. That poor guy always seems to pull the short straw.

What on Earth did they think picking Owain Yeoman for V? Inside qualities are nice and good, but the image of him is a turn-off. Besides, doesn’t V have a goatee? I can’t imagine that guy having one, sorry. Unfortunately I have no alternative suggestion either. But I do know what he looks like when I see him. Owain Yeoman is not it.

Of the other guys the choices for Rhage and Butch make sense, but who does stand out of the crowd is Wentworth Miller. This is not the first time I have heard talk about him as a potential cast for Z and it is obvious that he should when you look at this picture of him in the German GQ. Perfect, or what?

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Soulless by Gail Carriger

imageBlurb:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My thoughts: 

This is the first book I read for my Steampunk challenge. Everybody talks about the Parasol Protectorate series, of which this is the first book with Changeless and Blameless to follow. Two more sequels, Heartless and Timeless, will be released in the next two years.

Since this is the first steampunk book I have ever read (except a m/m novella which I don’t count here) I have no idea how to rate it as far as the steampunk factor is concerned. It is set in an alternative Victorian London; werewolves, vampires, ghosts and other supernatural beings have come out years before and are now an official, if not 100% popular, part of society. The plot revolves around mysterious appearances and disappearances of supernatural beings and it is up to Alexia and Lord Maccon to detect what is going on (if only by accident and with the help of a few delectable dandies).

Alexia is a preternatural, the only one known in fact, who can neutralize supernatural powers merely through touch. I found this an interesting twist. In no paranormal story I have read so far did I come across anybody who could negate the supernatural at all, let alone this easily. Her interactions with her paramour-to-be were delightful. Both thoroughly dislike each other – or so they think – and that made for some very agreeable banter.

The other main characters are all fleshed out and, if not likeable, at least believable. The typical werewolf – vampire differences are in place. The vampires are refined to foppish, the werewolves down-to-earth to rough and boisterous. I absolutely loved Lord Akeldama and his drones. I hope I will see more of them in the future.

One thing I could have done without were the descriptions of the experiments in the club. I hate that sort of thing and I would have known that those scientists were rather crazy, fanatical and dangerous without reading all that. So I skipped some of it, even though I am sure I missed out on some great machinery ideas that way.

The idea to lock Alexia into the cell with the biggest werewolf gave a chance to throw in a lovely scene between her and Lord Maccon. Strange how people in love are inclined to kiss and pet even in the worst circumstances. But then, I suppose they were locked in and could only wait. So what better pastime than to make out?

I very much enjoyed reading Soulless and will definitely continue with that series. If you like the paranormal, romance (not too explicit), an element of humour and a lot of entertainment, get it!

On Gail Carriger’s website you will find a page about Alexia’s London, along with sketches of characters and outfits, deleted scenes and more. A nice addition to the reading experience.

Title Soulless
Author Gail Carriger
Publisher Orbit Books
ISBN 978-0316056632
Buy link Buy Soulless

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK? HAVE A LOOK AT:

Heather at Books and Quilts 

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Perilous Partnership by Ariel Tachna

Blurb:

A year after the end of the war that brought them together, Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche have found a balance in their relationship: Jean drinks only Raymond’s blood; Raymond sleeps only in Jean’s bed. The demands of their public roles as president of l’Association Nationale de Sorcellerie and chef de la Cour of the Parisian vampires keep them busy dealing with fallout from the war and the alliance, particularly the not-always-successful partnerships between vampires and wizards.

The foundation of an institute to research and educate wizards and vampires about the implications of the partnership bonds only adds to those responsibilities. When political factions, both vampire and mortal, oppose their leaders’ decisions, the stress begins to affect Raymond and Jean’s deepening relationship. And when political opposition turns to vandalism and then to violence, they’ll have to find a way to reconcile their personal and professional lives before external and internal forces pull them apart.

My thoughts: 

If you liked the Partnership in Blood series as much as I did you will enjoy this spin-off. However, it is much different from the previous four books. Why?

It mainly concentrates on one couple, Jean and Raymond, instead of telling the stories of various couples. We meet Orlando and Alain, Sebastien and Thierry and others, but the main focus is on one couple. All the others are only side characters about whose lives we learn only very little if anything.

The story is less energetic. The war is over and there is no immediate danger to fight against. Therefore the pace is slightly slower until some occurrences force everybody to get out of their happy living routine and try to find out what is going on. There are some obstacles to overcome in regards to their plans with the institute, but they are not that big an issue.

The main couple is an established one. Jean and Raymond have been living together for some time and now they have to deal with how to shape their future together. There is no new love interest to pursue, no discovering the personality of someone new. Some anxiety, yes, but not the usual “I’m falling in love, does he love me back” kind.

Once I got my mind wrapped around all this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this “sequel”. And it is a sequel as well as a spin-off. It picks up after the war with Raymond being the president of l’ANS and a new institute to be opened to research the partnerships in more depth. At the same time it is supposed to educate wizards and vampires on how partnerships work and help them to  find partners if they wish.

I had a problem with that education. It is a good idea to tell people beforehand what they are getting into, however, the instructors are not as open as I would have wished them to be. L’ANS is accused at some point of pandering, which is, of course, ridiculous. However, after those accusations Thierry points out that all partnerships (maybe with the exception of Marcel and M. Lombard, but they are a different league) turned sexual at one point, regardless of the previous preferences of the persons involved. Wouldn’t that be a very important aspect that needs addressing in those educational classes? It seems that all they tell the “students”, though, is that people can decide if they want to form a partnership before an actual blood exchange by checking if they are compatible in other ways. They say that they are in control over how the partnership develops. Nobody ever mentions that once blood is exchanged chances are you will have a sexual relationship. Even Jude and Adele who were NOT compatible in any way and hated each other’s guts had a sexual relationship, if you want to call it that.

At one point Raymond came over as the old prejudiced guy I thought he had shed. When Jean offers the Aveu de Sang his reaction was way over the top. He could have said, he will have to think about it instead of answering in such a dismissive way. Did Orlando treat Alain like cattle? I found this comparison with the branding quite unfair and harsh. It would have befitted a researcher of Raymond’s calibre to stop and think and maybe get an opinion of someone who knows before declining in such a rude manner. Jean must have considerable thick skin to not walk out the door for good after such a rejection.

Apart from those minor things it was a great continuation of the series which I liked a lot. I don’t know whether there is anything more planned, but the ending does not immediately suggest another spin-off or sequel. I really would have liked to see Adele and Jude come together. But that would have probably been a task to difficult even for Ariel herself :).

For readers who liked the Partnership in blood series, this is a must read. To all newcomers I recommend to read the previous four books first, otherwise you won’t get much fun out of this one.

Title Perilous Partnership
Author Ariel Tachna
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN

978-1-61581-634-7

Buy link Buy Perilous Partnership
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Upcoming Partnership in Blood spin-off

I have to admit that I never have a look at upcoming releases in any shop, so I totally missed the fact that Ariel Tachna is going to release a spin-off of the Partnership in Blood series in October. How exciting!

The book is called “Perilous Partnership” and continues the story of Jean and Raymond. When I started reading the series I didn’t think I would ever say that, but Raymond has really grown on me and now I love him to pieces.

I am so looking forward to reading that. The blurb promises some serious trouble, so I expect an exciting read once more.

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Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren

Blurb: Sullivan Quinn didn’t travel 3,000 miles from his native Ireland and his wolf pack just to chase rabidly after the most delectable quarry he’s ever seen. Quinn is in America on a mission—to warn his Other brethren of a shadowy group willing to use murder and mayhem to bring them down. But one whiff of this Foxwoman’s delicious honeysuckle fragrance and he knows that she is more than a colleague or a conquest…she is his mate.

Anthropologist Cassidy Poe is a world-renowned authority on social interaction, but the overpowering desire she feels around Quinn defies every ounce of her expertise. Working by his side to uncover The Others’ enemies poses risks she never expected—to her own safety, to those she loves, and to her heart, as every encounter with Quinn proves more blissfully erotic than the last…
Now, with no one to trust but each other, Quinn and Cassidy face a foe that’s edging closer every day, threatening to destroy the life they’ve always known, and the passion they’ve just discovered…

My thoughts: Somehow I must have overlooked that this book is by the same author as “Fantasy Fix”. Had I known this I probably wouldn’t have gotten this book, since Fantasy fix really got on my nerves. However, I liked “Wolf at the door” quite a bit. According to amazon both books belong to the Other series and Fantasy Fix (now called One bite with a stranger) is book six, while Wolf at the door is book 1. Fantasy Fix was written much earlier and as far as I can remember had no references to the Others at all, but maybe the re-release is quite different from the first one.

Anyway. I liked the point of departure in the story. The Others are not only weres and vampires but practically everything you can think of. Faeries, brownies, selkies, animi, gargoyles, you name it, the Others got it. They are now threatened to be exposed to the humans and have to take action in order to prevent this, possibly by anticipating the opponents’ move and “unveil” themselves.

That plot was not a very complicated one, still didn’t get resolved completely by the end of the book. The Others did find out who was pulling the strings, but the direct enemy never got exposed and the way it looks they won’t be in the next book either. Doesn’t matter, I still enjoyed reading this story, mostly for the humour in it. Cassidy’s wisecracking towards the end was a bit over the top for me, but still nice to read.

As far as the romance goes, it took up a fair amount of the book and there wasn’t much doubting, angst or anything. The chemistry was immediate, Quinn (why he was always referred to as Quinn I didn’t get, his first name is Sullivan) had made up his mind about Cassidy from the start and she didn’t take long to come around to the fact that there is something more meaningful between them than just a fling.

A nice and entertaining story. I checked the following books for a sequel about Richard, the selkie, but it seems no such luck. Richard is the character I’d have like to read more about. Oh, well, I think there are more Others books to come.

Wolf at the Door is available at amazon

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Sucks and Blows by Storm Grant

Blurb: Dr. Cary Drewel is a dentist in trouble. The loan shark who financed his equipment is threatening to break both his arms if he doesn’t make a payment. Hoping to attract the orthodontia-ready Twilight crowd, Cary distributes a flyer advertising his new practice: Vampires Our Speciality!
Then sexy Pierce Sharpe walks into the clinic holding one of the flyers. Pierce is starving, unable to eat due to his impacted teeth. But even pale and shaky, Pierce makes Cary’s pulse race and his smock tent. Imagine Cary’s surprise when he asks the man to, “Open, please,” and discovers Pierce just might be the real thing!

My thoughts: Vampires with tooth problem: that alone is already hinting at a not too serious sort of story, and this very short one is no exception. A fun read. Cary excels at corny puns and when I thought I’d read enough of those I couldn’t believe that even Pierce, the cool vampire, comes up with a name like “Vlad, the Inhaler”, :-). The problems of Cary were swiftly dealt with and both guys can go home looking forward to a fun night. Quick and entertaining.

Available at Torquere Books

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Upcoming Twilight novel

A lot of people will be pleased to hear that a Twilight novella will be coming out in June. “The short second life of Bree Tanner” will be released in hardcover for 13.99$ on June 5. However, her dedicated fans can read an online edition for free at http://www.breetanner.com/  between June 7 and July 5. They say you won’t be able to print it from there.

The story is about Bree Tanner, a vampire in Victoria’s newly raised vampire army against the Cullens. I can’t say I remember the character, but I’m sure hardcore Twilight fans will know all there is to know about her so far.

Here you can find Stephenie Meyer’s press release.

German readers can find some info at Spiegel online. The German version will be released on the same date as the original version, its title will be "Bis(s) zum ersten Sonnenstrahl – Das kurze zweite Leben der Bree Tanner".

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Reparation in blood by Ariel Tachna

The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire’s heart and mind may be far too broken to save.
Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain’s lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando’s capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?

Finally I read the long awaited last instalment of the Partnership in Blood series by Ariel Tachna, “Reparation in blood”.

It is quite some time ago that I read “Conflict in blood” and even longer that I read the two previous books (I reviewed Conflict in blood in May 09). I know now that I should have re-read it before reading this. Some situations that were mentioned I had totally forgotten and they left me wondering what people were talking about. I strongly recommend that you re-read at least the third book in the series before you start with this one. Not because you won’t be able to enjoy Reparation in blood but simply in order to get the most out of it.

I’m not going to go into how much I like the series or Ariel’s writing. I already said enough about that in my previous reviews. I’d rather comment on some things that happened in the book instead.

Right on the first page it is clear that Alain is beside himself. Like in the last book I found the difference in how Alain and Orlando kept themselves up astonishing. I would have thought it would be just the other way around. As it happened Alain was a complete wreck, snarking at people, using language I’d never have expected from him and generally acting irrationally and unreasonably (even if all this was understandable). Orlando, however, was strong, withstood Serrier and kept cool and calm.

The main pairings again play important roles and develop their relationships into something more or, like in the case of the love/hate couple Jude and Adele, into a strictly business partnership. Those two might have found their match, but how that match will ever turn out positively I don’t know.

David and Angelique finally overcome their misgivings and find each other. This was done in such a sweet way that those two quickly became one of my favourites of this book.

Monique and Antonio didn’t play a big part in this book at all. Monique was mentioned a few times, but only by people on the other side as the prime example of a successful defector, and a bit later on when we hear about her sentence after she was tried.

What I liked was the fact that the war was not dragged out ad infinitum, but ended somewhere in the second half of the book. A lot of time was spent on describing how things were wrapped up and how people dealt with loose ends. In fact I found that the war ended rather abruptly. I didn’t mind that, but I would have expected a longer battle. Once the milice finally found Serrier’s hiding hole, however, they made short work of him (with some help admittedly).

After the war we hear more about the aveu de sang together with Thierry who learns something about it he doesn’t like too much. All the time I was hoping along with him, only to see my hopes crushed in one sentence.

Lots of things get wrapped up nicely. Eric’s friendship with Alain and Thierry gets, well, re-established might be too strong a word, but at least they get over the animosities and maybe will find back to how it used to be.

The extorris Couthon is dealt with swiftly, something, I’m sure, every reader wanted to see. One of the most interesting points was a short flashback into Orlando’s past that told us more about his first days as a free vampire after Thurloe was executed.

Vincent’s trial takes place as well, so we see a glimpse of what the future will bring to him and Eric.

There is an epilogue which I liked a lot. It finishes Alain’s and Orlando’s story off, so we won’t have to deal with them again. I loved the couple from page one, but in the second half of “Reparation in blood” they became too sweet for me. I didn’t think that was possible, but, yes, it was.

Ariel is writing a sequel about one of the couples, set about a year after the war, she said. So what couple could that possibly be? As far as I am concerned I’d like to know more about either David and Angelique, but even those two seem to be in sync now and don’t need any further exploration. So I’d settle for the couple I love to hate, Jude and Adele. Their situation is not clear at all, we have no idea what their future as a couple (if they ARE a couple at all) will be like and there is enough tension and potential for conflict to keep the story going.

So, as the last book in a series, it brought everything to a satisfying end, but leaves enough room for more. I’m looking forward to it.

If you are interested to read my thoughts about the first three books in the series, you can find them below: 
Alliance in Blood
Covenant in Blood
Conflict in Blood

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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Release party for Reparation in blood

Finally “Reparation in blood”, the fourth and last part of Ariel Tachna’s “Partnership in blood” series will be released on Friday, Oct. 30 at Dreamspinner Press. Even though I can’t wait to read how the whole story will be wrapped up and who is going to survive the war I’m extremely sorry to see the series come to an end. Ariel promises us discussions, contests and other goodies, as well as exceprts from Reparation in blood and from her upcoming releases.

Come and visit her blog on Friday from 8am Pacific time on Friday.

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My heart is within you by Marguerite Labbe

Blurb: The power of heart and soul holds the key to the survival of the last of the ancient vampires. Kristair is running out of time. His race has faded away, prey to delusion and deterioration, and his only chance to live long enough to find a cure is to bind his psyche to a human vessel in a long forgotten ritual.
Kristair’s chosen vessel is Jacob Corvin, a man of passionate stubbornness and fierce loyalty; he has captured Kristair’s fantasies so completely that he is both the vampire’s greatest strength and most crippling weakness. Drawing upon Jacob’s spirit and Kristair’s resolve, they each bind a portion of their souls to one other. For as long as Jacob carries Kristair’s heart within him, the vampire can continue his quest.
Just when they have hope, their mission is threatened by The Syndicate, a group of younger vampires who attempt to force Kristair to teach them his secrets before he disappears like the rest of the ancients. Battling both The Syndicate’s attacks and his unexpected need and love for Jacob, Kristair’s strength begins to fade, forcing him to make a decision that will change his and Jacob’s lives forever.

Review: The story is told in alternating first person. One chapter it is Kristair’s, the next it is Jacob’s POV. Even though I’m not a fan of first person, I really liked it like that. Almost always the chapters start exactly where the last one ended. The excerpt should give you a good idea of what to expect.

I used to read a lot of paranormal romance, but usually when it comes to gay romance I prefer contemporary, non-paranormal settings. How come that it seems that my favourite series are paranormal nevertheless? I don’t know, but it’s true. Apart from Ariel Tachna’s “Partnership in blood” series, which is definitely my favourite, this one comes in a close second, even though only one book is out so far. It is the first volume in the Triquetra series.

I’m a total sucker for stories with couples having a mental or emotional connection. Thank God this has nothing of the sappiness that sometimes goes with it. Both men are self-assured, stubborn and don’t budge easily, yet their connection is very strong, they feel a lot for each other and will do anything to make sure the other is alright. I liked how the story developed, the problems they had with Jacob’s friends and the Syndicate. Jacob didn’t give in easily or quickly, but once he did, he was 100% committed.

SPOILER!

I absolutely loved the final confrontation with the syndicate, the fight, even though we only got glimpses of it, since Kristair and Jacob were otherwise engaged. The way Ussier rules his city is pretty impressive, he was a great supporting character. The ending left me totally stumped. I knew already from the blurb of the second book that this is what would happen, still I was speechless. I was very happy to see that Jacob killed Roland so ruthlessly without any qualms and that he was not forgiving towards Tony. I was afraid that he would go and accept what happened without taking some sort of revenge, which, I suppose, would have been the noble thing to do, but no, and thank God for that.

The last paragraph left me hoping for a happy ending some time later on. This was a great way to finish this first volume. Good thing that September is not too far away.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

There is a very long excerpt available that covers the first two chapters.

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Chosen by Sean Michael

This is the sequel to Need. There are a few situations where I thought, right, now the conflict is starting to break out but it never did – not really. Bast and Trick are having sex so often, it’s amazing they have time for anything else at all. Bast’s friends got on my nerves towards the end. The story is wrapped up nicely and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Available at Torquere Books

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Conflict in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Blurb: As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.
The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.
As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.


My thoughts:
“Conflict in blood” is the third book in the “Partnership in Blood” series and you shouldn’t read this as a stand alone. If you haven’t read the first two books you will be at a loss as to what is going on. I’ll just talk about my thoughts about events and various couples while reading the book.

This contains SPOILERS!

Couples:

Orlando & Alain: It’s time for Orlando to get over all his hang-ups. I know he and Alain met only three weeks ago, but to me the time felt much longer (and I think it also did to the characters). Thank God that towards the end of the book Orlando took some action and started to see this himself.

Sébastien & Thierry: What a great couple. When I started reading Alliance in blood I didn’t care too much for Thierry, but he’s really grown on me. Once he overcame his uneasiness and acknowledged his attraction he was great. Sébastien’s qualms were understandable, but since they were for other reasons than Orlando’s he was much quicker in letting them go. He’s a different calibre than Orlando and I like him a lot.

Luc & Magali: I’d like to see more of them, but am not at all sure this will come to pass, since they are tugged away in Amiens. I liked the little interaction that we got to see.

Jude & Adèle: I understand what’s driving them, and I can relate to a certain point, but the aggressiveness that is underlying every time those two are together is grating on me. They seem to be caught in a lust/hate relationship. The constant fight for supremacy between them is aggravating. When they had sex for the first time, before anybody knew what was going on, I disliked them even more. Once I found out the reason for their behaviour I sort of forgave them, only to find out later that they both had that petty “I need to get the upper hand” streak that I really hated. Adèle even more so than Jude. She is a intelligent, independent woman and shouldn’t let feelings like this get to her in that way. From Jude I didn’t expect anything better considering his background. The scene where he gets his revenge for her leaving him behind earlier was pretty bad. Yeah, she desired it (he tasted that) and enjoyed it (and this he didn’t anticipate; in fact he counted on that she wouldn’t, which makes the whole scene a bit dubious). Those two have found their match, I suppose, but I still don’t like them.

Eric & Vincent: Now here’s a surprise. A nice touch to work in a relationship which is not the common wizard/vampire connection. I suppose those two will play a big part in the last book.

David & Angelique: Another pairing that still have to find a way to settle their disputes. I thought they finally got around to it, but then they regressed into their standard behaviour. Still, from the latest events I understand that maybe there is still hope.

Raymond & Jean: Until the end of book two I had misgivings about Raymond, but I must admit that now he and Jean are almost my favourite couple. The dynamics between them were very good, balanced and they seem to have come into their own. I loved them when they were together.

Antonio & Monique: Good set up. I liked that Antonio found his partner among the enemy and how that worked out later on.

Story:

A point I don’t understand is why no re-enforcements are being called in from other places. The war must concern everybody. It seems that the dark wizards are all in Paris gathering around Serrier, so I would think that getting in more wizards and vampires from other cities (e.g. Amiens) would help the cause. And it also would make more powerful pairings possible.

What was the scene with Christophe about? He wasn’t mentioned again afterwards and neither was his fear of what might happen in the future. Is this some foretelling, so we know to be prepared?

Slowly but surely the loyalty of Serrier’s supporters (which in a lot of cases must be based on that they don’t see a way out of what they’ve gotten themselves into) is faltering. That process was shown in a subtle way, which I appreciated. By now Eric & Vincent would probably leave the minute they see a chance for it. Not necessarily to defect to the militia, but rather just to leave the whole affair altogether. And the way Monique made the switch was more than believable after everything that had happened.

The way Orlando is keeping up is astonishing. I would have expected him to be far less unassailable than he turns out to be. Alain seems to be in a worse state than he. Amazing! But thank God for that. That way the book ended on a positive note – if you can say that considering the trouble Orlando is in and given the fact that the wizards and vampires seem to be at a loss at the moment as to how to proceed to free him.

What I like about the whole story the most is that it is a story that focuses on the people and their interaction. Yes, there is a war going on, and war events play a part, but we are not constantly witnesses of battles and strategy meetings and what not (there are some, of course, but they are not the main theme). What we see most is how the couples deal with what happens to them and with each other. Everybody is entwined with everybody else. What happens to one affects all the others in some way or other.

One thing that made me very happy was that FINALLY someone meeting a really old vampire considers doing more than just sleeping with him. Not once in all the vampire books I’ve read the vampire’s lover / partner/ companion ever mentioned that they would like to actually pick his brain about past events. Except for Raymond. From the first vampire story I read I was wondering why nobody ever asked them anything about historical events or situations that they witnessed. You would think that people would go crazy over the opportunity to get first hand information from someone who was around a thousand or more years ago. Obviously not! Except for Raymond. Because of this I find him even more endearing now.

This was another great read. If you have already read the first two books in the series, “Alliance in blood” and “Covenant in blood” you will certainly pick this one up. And if you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend to get those two first. This series is fantastic. Once more the only drawback is that we have to wait until November to get the fourth and last part of the story.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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Release party for Conflict in Blood

By now you probably know that I’m a big fan of the “Partnership in Blood” series by Ariel Tachna. Finally “Conflict in Blood”, the third book in the series of four, will be released at Dreamspinner Press on Monday. Ariel is having a virtual book signing and a release party on her blog all day tomorrow starting 8am EST. She promises excerpts, not only from “Reparation in blood” but also other work in progress, discussions, a contest and other goodies. Sounds like a good way to spend some time tomorrow.

Edit: Ariel provided the link to the whole thread of posts for the party. You’ll find everything you need to know there. 

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Free e-book from Lara Adrian

Lara Adrian is giving away the first story in her popular Midnight Breed series as an e-book for free. “Kiss of Midnight” is the first of so far five books with the sixth one “Ashes of Midnight” coming out later this month. If you like vampires, romance and  a story arc this might be a good series for you. Want to give it a try? Then go and download your free copy of Kiss of Midnight.

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Excerpt for “Conflict in blood” available now

If you have read my reviews of Alliance in blood and Covenant in blood you will know that I absolutely love the “Partnership in blood” series by Ariel Tachna. The third volume “Conflict in blood” will be released in May and an excerpt is now available on Dreamspinner. The excerpt is about Jean and Raymond, not one of my favourite  couples in the book, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless. If you are interested, I strongly recommend you read the first two books, otherwise the story won’t make much sense to you.

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Blood and Sex vol. 1: Michael by Angela Cameron

Blurb from Ravenous Romance: Detective Victoria Tyler is investigating Collins Bay’s new serial killer, one of the city’s vampires. Since they have marked her as a human to be killed or conquered, Tori knows that Michael is her only hope for survival. But she hasn’t spoken to him since the night she tried to kill him.
As the enforcer for the Italian vampiro cosca, Michael expects a certain amount of cooperation from his boss. That amount has been shrinking ever since their leader took a new sadist lover. So when the detective requests his help, it’s just the excuse he needs to take control of the city and the delicious human.
Risking it all, Tori agrees to let Michael take her neck and lead her on a journey through a world of bondage, domination and blood to stop the killer. But can she resist the dark lusts he sparks? Or will her weakness get someone else killed?

Reason I bought this book: I got it for a book discussion on Shelfari. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have. The title is too obvious even for me, :-).

Review: After about 10 pages it dawned on me that this is a re-telling of "Guilty Pleasures" with sex. There are so many similarities between these two stories, it is not funny.

Tori is a tough police detective in search of a serial killer. She is acquainted with Michael, a high ranking vampire who runs the nightclub "The Fallen". She once tried to kill him, she doesn’t trust him, he’s mad about her. Sound familiar? Tori is not quite as bitchy and aggravating as Anita Blake, but she’s almost there. She’s attracted to Michael – has been from the start, – in fact the real reason she tried to kill him was jealousy -, but guilt, qualms and self-denial have kept her at bay. This is one of my pet peeves, and more than half the book Tori oscillated between sleeping with Michael and loving it and rejecting him later, because "she can’t do this". So not for me. This "I love him, but I can’t let myself do this" device is a major plot key in a lot of romance books, and I hate it every time.

The evil vampire master of the city/clan/family is the next thing. It says "Nikolaos" all over. Michael later defeating him and becoming the new master/padrone? I’m not saying any more.

The bond between Tori and Michael, that he forced on her without her knowledge in order to save her life?  The master/servant thing? Been there, done that.

Once I got over those obvious similarities the story took off into a slightly different direction since there had to be some justification for the sex. Because of  Tori not owning up up to her attraction to Michael, there obviously couldn’t be a sex scene right at the start. How to solve this? Easy! Dreaming of sex with Michael, of course. Another thing I don’t like. Later on Tori did  comply and have sex with Michael and submitted to him (something she always wanted to do and Michael knew this from the get go), but, of course, this wasn’t the end of it. Right after, there was the inevitable rejection scene. This "I like you, I like you not" game went on for an eternity until all of a sudden Tori changed her tune and decided to love Michael after all. Huh?

All over the story Italian words were scattered about. I don’t really mind this, but at least they should be understandable. The Italian word for slave is not shiavo/shiava, but schiavo/schiava. The word "inamorato" is spelled "innamorato". Innamorato means "in love", and if it can be used to address a woman as "sweetheart" at all, which I doubt very much, it would be innamorata, since we are speaking about a woman. Just small details, but those just annoyed me.

If I hadn’t read "Guilty Pleasures" I probably would have liked the story a bit better than I have. As it is I didn’t like it at all, because even the concept wasn’t new to me. If you have never read Laurell K. Hamilton and enjoy reading about women who can’t make up their minds and won’t stick to their decisions, men who know exactly how submissive women are without even knowing them and with immediate sex scenes, you might enjoy this book.


Foot note: The customer service at Ravenous Romance is far from stellar. I got this book taking advantage of a "buy one gift certificate, get one free" deal. Three days after my purchase I inquired for the second time about when I’d get the second GC. Then I finally got an answer that consisted of exactly one sentence: "I will get to them tomorrow". Hello? No form of address, no "sorry about the delay", nothing. I’m the customer here and I’d expect a bit more than a snippy phrase. Anyway, the tomorrow turned out to be the day after tomorrow. Thanks a lot for it. After redeeming it, I won’t shop there again. There are plenty of shops out there who offer excellent customer service. In that respect I highly recommend Dreamspinner Press. They answer customer emails very fast and are extremely helpful.

[rating: 1.5] Because I did finish it for the discussion’s sake it gets a rating of 1.5. Otherwise it would have gotten a rating of 1

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Need by Sean Michael

Synopsis: Trick, a hustler, is being picked up by Bast. Bast looks like he is 16 at most, loaded and sexy. After a paid night, they meet by accident later again and hit it off big time. Trick more or less moves in with Bast and they have a fabulous time – until Bast decides it’s time to tell the truth and reveals to Trick that he’s a 749 year old vampire. Trick’s first reaction is to run away, but later realizes that he was hurt rather about being lied to, not because of Bast’s actual  "condition". So, off he goes to make up with Bast…

Review: It’s hard for me to write a synopsis. The book basically is about Bast and Trick getting together, separating and getting together again, this time for good. Really good. Bast and Trick are both loveable characters. Trick is street smart, trusts only in himself and has a hard time owning up to the fact that he fell for Bast. Bast looks like a boy, but has seen more than you’d want to know.

Together they are a hot couple. Bast has such a wild need for Trick, it’s not funny. Trick is getting addicted to Bast in the same way. It’s really weird and oddly pleasant. You wouldn’t want to be in their place and at the same time you would. Together they decide that Trick would be Bast’s only source of blood (apart from blood bank stuff), thus becoming his Chosen. This reminds me of the Aveu de Sang between Orlando and Alain in Alliance in blood and doesn’t bode well for the future. I noticed just now that there is a sequel to "Need" out, "Chosen" the blurb of which already hints at interfering, well-meaning friends (a pet peeve of mine) and dark clouds on the horizon. But, since we’re talking about erotica, the problems will be solved rather quickly and we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled program.

There are tons of love scenes, extremely hot, but I could have done without the multiple partner ones. Unless it is a menage book, I’d rather read about exclusive relationships. Mind you, the thing between Bast and Trick is as exclusive as it can get. They strictly differentiate between their relationship and playtime with others. Maybe Michael thought it was necessary to get that across, but even without those scenes the seriousness of Bast’s and Trick’s relationship came over pretty loud and clear.

Available at Torquere Books

[rating: 4]

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An unnatural worth by Mya

Synopsis: Lexis, a vampire, gets a little too conceited and confident and pisses his elders off. As a punishment his coven turns against him, blinds him and leaves him for dead. He gets captured by humans and, together with other supernatural beings, is being experimented upon in some institution. When some of his fellow inmates make it possible to escape he’d rather stay behind and just die. However, Bryce, a werewolf, has other plans and drags him along. Bryce wants to avenge Lexis – against Lexis’ will -, but as a result of this well-meaning action, his old coven captures Lexis to finish him off for good.

Review: OK, this was different. The whole story is being told in first person. I usually don’t like that I only get one person’s angle, but from an excerpt I knew already that the story was told from Lexis’ point of view. So no complaints here. What was strange for me was that Lexis also is blind, so we never receive any visual impressions, but only Lexis’ feelings and what he experiences by touch or from hearing.
Bryce is totally smitten with Lexis, a fact that Lexis doesn’t recognize. He is totally unaware of his own appeal. On the other hand he feels dependent on Bryce and is quite taken with him as well. The love scenes are hot (I wouldn’t expect anything else) and took some getting used to. The warning on the shop site that the story contained sex in shifted form made me wonder whether I’d like it at all (given my opinion about the Wolf Tales by Kate Douglas), but I went for it anyway. So once I got over the fact that Bryce turned at some point to a certain degree the scenes were quite good, but nothing I’d like to read repeatedly.

What I liked was Bryce’s dedication to support Lexis and his determination to avenge him and help him restore his eyesight. Even though Lexis doesn’t recognize this himself and even fights it, it is just what he needs. Those two certainly make an interesting couple. All in all, this was a good read and the unique perspective made it quite extraordinary.

Available at Loose ID

[rating: 3]

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Souls Deep by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: While trying to escape a few killers hired by his family Griffin is shot and rescued by a stranger who saves his life. The stranger, Jarrah, turns out to be a vampire  to whom he feels extremely drawn.  Jarrah, in turn, develops feelings for Griffin and is determined to help him face and overcome his past.

Review: I chose this story for the erotica challenge and I didn’t go wrong here. My synopsis really doesn’t do this novella justice. Jarrah and Griffin are compelling characters who both have a need to find someone to love and who loves them. Both have been betrayed in their past and are very unhappy with their current lives. The way they find each other and after a short interlude find each other again is so heartwarming, you can’t help feeling warm and fuzzy yourself.

The love scenes are hot and sensual, yet at the same time loving. A word about the spanking scene. I usually hate them. To me they always feel stilted and forced, never fit into the context and seem as if just put in the book because the writer felt they had to have one. This is not so in this story. It fits right in and is fun to read. I never thought I’d say that about a spanking but I really enjoyed it, :-).

This won’t be the last story by M. L. Rhodes for me. If you enjoy novellas with a decent plot, hot scenes and deep emotions, "Souls Deep" is a good place to start.

Available at Amber Allure

[rating:5]

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Covenant in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: The war between the wizards is raging on affecting the natural balance. Meanwhile the wizards and vampires slowly realize that the connection between the couples entails more than just giving and receiving blood and the vampires’ immunity to the sun. Some couples are completely happy with each other, while others are struggling. Still they have to make it work so that the alliance will remain intact. Marcel and Jean, the leaders of the two groups, are preparing to announce their alliance publicly, to even get more support in their fight against the dark wizards around Serrier.

Review: Again the story kept me reading all night. More details are coming out about the bond between wizards and vampires that make the stories about the various couples even more interesting. The "aveu de sang" (blood vow) between Alain and Orlando is still strong, but due to Orlando’s past and all his hang-ups the relationship between the two becomes more difficult. Alain would like more than Orlando is able to give. I can’t wait to learn more about how those great guys will overcome their problems.

All the characters, who were already quite distinct in the first part, are getting even more fleshed out in the second one. The relationship between Thierry and Sebastien is getting more room in this book, and I’m already looking forward to reading even more about them in the next one. The same goes for Jean and Raymond and some other couples.

If you like vampire stories with a great story arc that stretches over more than one book, great love scenes and lovable characters, this is the series for you. It certainly is the series for me.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating:5]

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Alliance in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: For some time a conflict has been brewing in Paris. Dark wizards are trying to upset the natural order of things and take over. The milice wizards see a chance to gain a decisive advantage by persuading the vampires to join their forces.
In order to start negotiations Jean, the leader of the wizards sends his captain Alain to meet with an emissary of the vampires. As soon as Alain meets Orlando there is an instant attraction between the two.
It turns out that wizards and vampires can form a mutual bond that enables the vampires to face the sun, which makes them even more powerful allies than the wizards thought they would be. The bond depends on a certain chemistry, not every wizard is right for every vampire and vice versa. Thus there are some who struggle with their forced choice of partner, others are a perfect fit.
One of those latter couples are Alain and Orlando. They click from the first moment and decide to not only be partners in the alliance but much more than that.
Meanwhile the war with the dark wizards is raging on…

Review: Ariel Tachna says she has never read a vampire story in her life (haven’t I heard that before?), so I was expecting something  in the line of Twilight as far as the vampire culture was concerned. Was I wrong! She did a great job building a complex world with a lot of characters to keep track of. All the characters are fleshed out and have a distinct personality. Just the thought of all those wizards and vampires walking around in beautiful Paris is so exciting. From what I understand the whole story of the war was written as one book and then later divided into four parts. This first part has no conclusion and at the end I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second part.

The idea of wizards and vampires forming some blood bond is fascinating and really kept my interest up. Since Alain and Orlando are the first two to pair up (and not because they had to, but because they chose each other), this part mainly deals with them. However, a lot of  other characters are being introduced in a way that was neither forced nor seemed rushed in any way.

Now,  Alain and Orlando: wow, what a couple! I have hardly ever read a romance with such an (instant) attraction and such devotion to each other. From the word go they hit it off and don’t waste any time on beating around the bush. Some people might complain about this being totally unrealistic, and so on, but so what? Yeah, this might not reflect reality, but after reading this you wish it would. This is a true love story. The way Alain wants to help Orlando overcome his insecurities and the way they interact is just beautiful. Of course, there are a few love scenes, but this story also offers scenes in which the love and tenderness between Alain and Orlando shows without all the plain sex. I have read my share of vampire stories by now, but I have never read a scene describing a vampire bite as sensual and erotic as in this book. There are no idiotic misunderstandings, problems are being dealt with immediately. Those two guys are the epitome of a couple truly loving each other.

What a fantastic read! I’m now halfway into book two and know I’ll have to wait until May for the third part to be released. Bummer!

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating: 5]