Saturday, April 18, 2015

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

There's always one more grave to dig.

Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband, Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war....

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death...because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives - and those of everyone they hold dear - will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

Where to Buy

I am very conflicted about this book. The writing is Frost's usual stellar quality and the story progression from what has happened before now is understandable and makes sense. In many ways I suppose it could be argued that we should have seen this coming. Still, I can't say I particularly like where she went with the story or how she wrapped up the long, tumultuous saga of Cat and Bones' love story. Despite the fact that much of this had been building for longer than anyone realized, I still think there are other paths that could have been taken with it so that things didn't have to end they way they do here.

Up in Flames by Rosanna Leo

Juliet Baker is not looking forward to coming home after six months. Yes, the fiery brunette wants to make a go of turning her parents' farmhouse into a B&B. She’s just not looking forward to seeing the place where they died. To make things worse, she knows she'll finally have to face her cheating, firefighter ex-boyfriend.

Luckily, her sister has found Jules a boarder. Easy money, right? Not when she realizes the boarder is Captain Shane Gaskill. Not only is Shane a firefighter, he’s the town's hot new fire captain.

Jules is determined to hate all firefighters. After all, the men of that precious brotherhood protected her cheating ex. Shane, however, proves he’s different from the start. He's protective and kind, and she can't stop looking at his smoking, Viking-hot body. She learns, though, that Shane isn't so willing to love again either. He's been hurt, too. They both fight the sexual chemistry, and resulting tenderness, between them. But when a stalker begins to target Jules, they realize they can't fight their desire forever.

As the threats escalate, Shane and Jules are thrown together. The resulting passion overwhelms them. But are they willing to trust each other and surrender to the flames of love?
Where to Buy

Rosanna Leo is much better known for her paranormal romances, but this contemporary from her backlist contains most of her signature style elements that make all of her books so enjoyable. Since this is one of her earliest books, it's perhaps not quite as polished as some of the later ones, but it still shows off her innate skill quite well. The pacing is a touch on the slow side perhaps, but the story develops steadily and in a way that seems quite natural. If you're looking for romantic suspense, this isn't it, because the identity of the stalker is revealed pretty early on (at least to the reader, not to the characters), and there aren't really any true nail-biting moments. Still, it's quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges...
Leila's psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn't sure what the future holds. If that weren't enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she's also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won't admit that he loves her.

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity...

Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.

Where to Buy

This book sees Vlad and Leila's relationship tested as well as solidified. Also tested are the loyalties of several of Vlad's top men and closest friends. Some pass the test, some don't, but what's clear almost from the beginning that things will never quite be the same again in Vlad's household. For many, the changes they go through make them stronger, and this newfound strength is at times to be seen in unexpected places. Others, however, seem to diminish in character, and rarely is it easy to tell who can and cannot be trusted. By the end, answers to some questions that lingered at the end of the first book have been found, but those answers mostly just give rise to new questions.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

She's a mortal with dark powers...

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

Where to Buy

Vlad Tepesh is already well known to readers of the Night Huntress series, but the heroine for his spin-off series is someone we haven't met before. And she's human. She's far from being an ordinary human, however, for as the description tells us, she has some pretty formidable powers of her own. She also has a personality that's capable of standing up to Vlad's formidable ego and presence and is in many ways the perfect complement to his. Watching them butt heads throughout the story is just as entertaining as the story itself, which is as full of action and suspense as one would expect from a book set in this universe.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Home for the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost

Originally appeared in the print anthology The Bite Before Christmas.

'Tis the season to join Cat and Bones for some holiday cheer in this Night Huntress novella by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost.

They were looking forward to a normal holiday—at least as "normal" as it gets for vampires Cat and Bones and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer … and lives.

Where to Buy

Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to be cursed holidays for Cat and Bones. I don't think they've managed to have a quiet, completely normal holiday season yet because their enemies always seem to pick that time to start crap. This time is no different, with the stuff starting to hit the fan even before all of their guests have arrived. What follows is a fun, action-packed story that's fully in the spirit of the earlier Night Huntress novels. Cat is shown at her butt-kicking best, and in a somewhat surprising and interesting turn of events, Ian gets to play the hero helping to pull his friends' fat out of the proverbial fire instead of being the irritating and self-serving jerk we're more used to with him.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Selkie's Revenge by Rosanna Leo

On the beaches of Orkney, Scotland, an evil entity stalks mortal women. Machar “Mack” Kirk is a selkie man with a haunted past, one that has prompted him to become a hunter. He prowls the beaches at night, his arrows aiming for the finman who took his first love.

Beth Pedersen also watches the sea. The haunted widow has suffered losses of her own, ones that have crippled her into a state of stony grief. Beth can no longer feel, can no longer see color and life. Until the day Mack Kirk saves her from a mysterious foe, flooding her world with brightness and foreign temptation.

As Mack and Beth fight their inundating passion, the finman escalates his attacks. Before long, Mack realizes he’s not just playing Good Samaritan. He wants Beth, too, and will do anything to ensure his lover isn’t taken by the finman. But can he protect his mate from a monster with no soul?

Where to Buy

Warning: This review contains possible mild spoilers, though I have endeavored to keep my comments with the realm of outcomes that can be reasonably expected given the genre.

This second installment in the Orkney Selkies series has many of Rosanna Leo's signature elements. There's a strong heroine who isn't terribly inclined to sit back and wait to be rescued or to let someone else fight her battles, but who also has issues. Also included is a gorgeous, alpha hero who's loving and protective, but isn't an ass about it--at least for the most part. Their story is told with a good deal of sexual tension that leads to some steamy sexy times, but also with a large dose humor that will often have you laughing out loud. There's a bad guy to fight, and he gives rise to some worrying moments, but ultimately is handled with moderate ease and the happy couple swim off into the sunset at the end. All in all a rather satisfying book.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Road Leads Back by Marci Boudreaux

Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.

Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.

Can Harry convince her to forgive the people who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome?

Where to Buy

This is a rather sweet, yet realistic story about a couple that gets a second chance at love. While there is a certain amount of starry-eyed romance and some situations work out just a little too easily perhaps, for the most part the story deals with the uglier, more difficult side of coming home again. For while some people might be happy to have you in their life again, and you're happy to see them again as well, it's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows when the past has been full of betrayals. Forgiveness might come, but probably not easily, and when events in the past have so strongly shaped your life they can never be forgotten. All that can be done is to try to find a way through the pain so it can be left behind and you can move forward. The story of how Kara and Harry figure out how to do just that is told here with compassion, acknowledgement of the fact that there aren't going to be any easy answers or fixes in this situation, healing won't come overnight, and some wrongs can never be entirely forgiven -- or can they?