Monday, September 30, 2013

Predator's Serenade by Rosanna Leo

There are three things that make bear shifter Soren Snow’s skin crawl: mothers, their children, and the great outdoors. Soren is a famed musician and playboy, and he would rather spend his days pressing the flesh with the women in his fan club than developing meaningful relationships. When his brother calls in a favor, forcing Soren to revisit the Ursa Fishing Lodge in Northern Ontario, he couldn’t be more displeased. However, he owes his brother big time.

Gioia Clementine would rather not meet Soren, her drummer son’s rock idol. But when tragedy strikes her home, it seems the only one the boy might respond to is Soren. Gioia begrudgingly agrees to let her son meet him, hoping the rock star won’t turn her tween into a musical misogynist.

When Gioia and Soren meet, the sexual chemistry threatens to set the Ontario woodland ablaze. Can these two opposites find a common ground? And can they manage to resolve their unwanted feelings, even when a mysterious stranger arrives at the lodge, threatening everything?

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An absolutely wonderful story and a perfect sequel to Leo's Predator's Kiss. After reading the first book it was hard to see how the notorious playboy Soren would fall for a woman, but when it happens here it seems perfectly natural. Never once did I doubt the sincerity of his feelings for Gioia, and it's wonderful to see how he takes to her son Gunnar as well, discovering a paternal side to his character that even he never knew existed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wildfire by Mina Khan

Lynn Hana Alexander is a 25-year-old Japanese American shape-shifter haunted by guilt. She’s been questioning herself and her dragon abilities ever since she failed to save her grandmother.

When her best friend is threatened by mysterious fires burning up acres of West Texas, Lynn rushes to the rescue determined not to fail again. However, with a tempting firefighter, a flirty city developer and dragon pheromones distracting her, how is she going to find the arsonist?

And worse: is her primary suspect a malicious rogue dragon or the love of her life?

*** Author's Note: Wildfire is a paranormal mystery with romantic elements. It is not a traditional romance. I hope y'all enjoy the read!***

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A refreshing new approach to shapeshifters. Drawing upon traditional mythologies, but adding her own spin to things as well, Ms. Khan gives us a very unique sort of dragon shifter in the form of Lynn Alexander and others who are seen or mentioned within the story. While there are strong romantic elements here, this is primarily a mystery: who is setting the fires in a small West Texas town that claim at least one life and leave many homeless.

Lynn is a typical young woman in her early 20s. She has known about her abilities for most of her life, and learned from her grandmother how to use them. Circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death have left her doubting her own judgment and more than a little afraid of what she might do when in dragon form. Still, for all her self-doubts, she isn’t lacking in courage, and when her best friend is in imminent danger she doesn’t hesitate to answer the call. Arriving just in time to avert a catastrophe for her friend, she ends up staying with her and getting involved in investigating the recent string of arsons in the area. In the course of her investigations she discovers a new career in journalism, and two possible love interests in Henry and Jack. Despite her dragon’s raging hormones, however, Lynn remains focused on her main priorities and sticks to doing her job instead of indulging her desires or fantasies.

Henry is an enigma from the start. He’s working for a local development company that has an interest in buying the land currently occupied by several different landowners to create a new upscale housing development. This fact alone makes him a suspect in the arsons, for clearly his employer will benefit greatly if the landowners are more willing to sell because their home has burned down; but is he being paid to set them? Or is he really the charming and sincere man that he seems to be who sympathizes with those who have been affected and is something of a victim of circumstance?

Jack is likewise something of a puzzle, for while on some levels he seems to be well-respected in the community, he’s also something of an outcast simply because of his family name. He’s a Callaghan, and distrust and dislike of the Callaghans runs deep in this small community due to wrongs done to others in the area by one of his ancestors. While he seems to be an upstanding and honest rancher and volunteer firefighter, he still seems to have something of a dark side –as well as a few unaccounted for absences -- that make him a suspect as well.

The pacing here is excellent, with the author feeding us just enough clues along the way to hold our interest but not enough to be able to tell what the real answers are. You’ll think you’ve got it figured out, then something will happen that changes your mind – then a little while later something else happens that changes it back. Ms. Khan manages to keep us guessing right up until nearly the end and manages to throw in a twist or two along the way that you probably won’t see coming.

Overall, an excellent read and one I’d definitely recommend to fans of mysteries, particularly ones with a paranormal element to them. Paranormal romance readers will like this one as well I think, for there’s enough romance happening to keep things interesting on that front as well (though don’t look for any steamy bedroom scenes here, because there aren’t any). It probably goes without saying that dragon fans will love this and will likely be squeezing over the unique world building regarding them. 4.5 stars to an excellent and highly recommended book.

Note: I read this in a beta version, and my review is based upon that. There may or may not have been changes to the text or story that are unaccounted for in the review.