Tag: Urban Fantasy

Guest Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Posted September 21, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Tracy
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 391
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart.

Catalina Baylor is wrapping up an investigation for House Baylor Investigative Agency, her family’s PI firm, when she’s attacked by beasts she’s never seen before.  She discovers that they are a blend of mechanical and biological constructs that are controlled by magic, which aren’t supposed to be able to exist together.  Since she is the Deputy Warden of the State of Texas, she calls the Warden, Linus Duncan, and tells him.  He immediately instructs her to go to Montgomery Investigations, Inc. and take over a case.

The case involves the death of Prime Felix Morton from House Morton.  He was one of five Primes from different Houses that were working on a reclamation project. They were trying to reclaim The Pit, which is a flooded, swampy area in the middle of Houston.  Catalina must now interview the other four Primes to try to discover who killed Felix.  She certainly doesn’t expect to run into Alessandro Sagredo when she gets to MII, as she hasn’t seen him in six months, but that’s what happens.  Alessandro was hired by Lander Morton to kill whoever murdered his son, Felix, once the killer is exposed.

Catalina is determined to keep her distance from Alessandro, despite the fact that he’s resumed his bodyguard-of-the-Deputy-Warden duties.  Alessandro has discovered that a man that he has been after for years is now looking to kill Catalina, if not her whole family.  He’s going to keep Catalina safe if it kills him.

Catalina has to deal with her feelings for Alessandro, keeping herself and her family safe, dealing with her grandmother Tremaine who is a wolf in wolf’s clothing, and balancing her House duties as well as her Deputy duties.  It’s a lot, especially with finding out that there is something in the Pit that is sentient, and it plans on taking over Houston completely.

I love Ilona Andrews books.  Seriously, I’ve never read an IA that I didn’t like.  The world building alone rocks my world, then they add in some romance and boom, I’m hooked.  This book was another amazing addition to the Hidden Legacy series.

I really didn’t like Catalina the first time I read Sapphire Flames.  Amazing book, but I was on the fence about her.  The “I love you” when it came to Alessandro was out of nowhere and based on nothing, and I wasn’t feeling it.  I recently reread SF and Catalina grew on me.  I still didn’t like the “love” part of the story, and actually disliked Alessandro somewhat during the second read, but the book was still crazy good.

In Emerald Blaze all of that dislike went away.  Though it’s only been six months since the last story ended, I felt Catalina had grown.  Becoming Deputy Warden of the State of Texas, and working with Linus, did her a hell of a lot of good and I could see the changes in her.  Alessandro, as well, was a different person.  His snarky personality wasn’t completely gone, but he seemed to take life more seriously and he was actually open and communicative with Catalina.  Loved it!

The rest of the story, besides the romantic parts, was super great.  Not that they weren’t, but they weren’t the focus.  I love the creatures that IA comes up with and it blows my mind that their minds work like that! The fact that the Baylor family, as well as Alessandro, have to work out these puzzling details and use their wits and intelligence to solve whatever issues arise makes me like them and the book even more.

I can’t tell you much about it as that will completely ruin the story for you, but I highly recommend this book.  If you haven’t read this series yet you are definitely missing out!  Start with Burn for Me and don’t stop until you’re done with Emerald Blaze.  You can thank me later.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Sin and Surrender by K.F. Breene

Posted August 18, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sin and Surrender by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Sin & Surrender by K.F. Breene
Series: Demigods of San Francisco #6
Also in this series: Sin & Chocolate , Sin & Magic , Sin & Salvation, Sin & Spirit
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 302
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The sixth and final book in the #1 internationally bestselling Demigods of San Francisco series!

It's the moment Kieran and Lexi have been preparing for. The Magical Summit.

Ready or not, they will take their assembled team into the belly of the beast. The stakes couldn't be higher. If the powers that be don't approve of Kieran, he will not earn the official title of the Demigod of San Francisco.

The real danger concerns Lexi, however. With Kieran away in meetings, she must brave the treacherous halls of the Summit with just her crew and her wards, fighting for social placement and status, open to attack from all angles.

She could've never expected what comes at her. No one could've.

Prepare yourself for this epic conclusion to the Demigods of San Francisco series!

I really enjoy K.F. Breene’s novels. Her characters are always engaging and I tend to love her heroines and the misfit families they create. This was no exception. I loved Lexi and Keiran, their wards and the friends they collected and turned into family. It was a bit predicable, though. I figured out what was going to happen two books ago, and I’m a little sad it went the way I thought it would. Still, it was a satisfying end to the series, and I’m sad to see them go.

For as much as I enjoyed it, I have to say I was frustrated with Daisy in this book.

Daisy and Mordecai are Lexi’s wards. She adopted them off the street and gave them a safe place to live when they were teenagers. The three of them have come through a lot together. As the only non-magical person in their group, Daisy has been training with Zorn, the leader of Keiran’s Six, and Amber, his spymaster, to learn to defend herself and their family. She dealt with a lot growing up and her and Mordecai were my favorite part of the earlier books. The way they stuck together and did what they could to help Lexi was very heartwarming. As the series has progressed, I’ve come to like Daisy less and less. She’s become mouthy and cocky, which isn’t unexpected from a teenage girl, but the more endearing aspects of her character have been missing of late. It seems like Breene may be setting up to give us more books in this world from Daisy’s point of view, and I’m not super excited about the prospect. Though I may change my mind later.

I was hoping for a bit more from both Keiran and Lexi, and I really didn’t like Daisy very much in these last few books, but the series is still wonderfully done, and I’m going to miss all of them.

3.75 out of 5

Demigods of San Francisco

four-stars


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Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Posted August 12, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana DoidgeReviewer: Holly
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
Series: The Dowser #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 266
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept — was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful. Just the way I liked it.

That’s what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality. Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That’s a universal truth.

I asked for recommendations for Paranormal/UF Romances on Twitter and this was one of the titles I received. Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic is the first book in the Dowser series by Meghan Ciana Doidge.

Jade is a witch with very little power, who owns/runs a bakery and makes trinkets that her sister sells. Her life is quiet and that’s just how she likes it. Until a vampire turns up in town, followed shortly by a Shifter Pack, thinking Jade is responsible for the murder of one of their own. Between an inconvenient crush on one of the Shifters, issues with her sister and her MIA grandma, things go from quiet to crazy in no time at all.

I really enjoyed the world Doidge created. It was easy to fall into, and the mystery of why the vampire was in town and what was up with the Shifters kept me reading. But I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of Jade or her family. Jade’s “head in the sand” mentality grated on me. She was happy to just skip through life without thinking too much about things, and that was fine. Until her life was in danger and things started going crazy. Then her refusal to face things or look into what was going on around her frustrated me. I figured out who the baddie was right from the beginning, but I hoped I’d be proven wrong. I wasn’t. I really wanted some layers there, or for something better to come of it.

There is no romance in this novel, but I liked the interpersonal relationships and I look forward to learning more about the Shifters and Vampires.

This was an interesting start to a new series. Parts of it were predictable, I figured out the villain very early on and I didn’t love the main character, but the bones of the novel were good and I’m curious enough to continue on. Plus, Lillie recommended the series and I trust her judgment.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Dowser

three-stars


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Review: Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Posted July 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Spellbinder by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Holly
Spellbinder by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #2, Elder Races
Also in this series: Spellbinder, Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3), Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3), Spellbinder, Dragon Bound (Elder Races, #1), Storm's Heart (Elder Races, #2), Serpent's Kiss (Elder Races, #3), Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4), Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4), True Colors (Elder Races, #3.5), Lord's Fall (Elder Races, #5), Kinked, Lord's Fall, Kinked (Elder Races, #6), Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School, Dragos Takes a Holiday, Night's Honor, Night's Honor, Dragon Bound, Midnight's Kiss, Midnight's Kiss, Dragos Goes to Washington, Shadow's End, Pia Does Hollywood, Liam Takes Manhattan, Pia Does Hollywood, The Chosen: A Novella of the Elder Races, Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8), Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 512
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars

From author Thea Harrison comes the latest story in the New York Times bestselling Moonshadow trilogy....

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.

When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.

Sidonie's music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.

But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge...

Spellbinder is the second book in Thea Harrison‘s Moondshadow series, an Elder Races spinoff. To date, Dragon Bound remains one of my all time favorite books. The rest of the series is really good, too. I was excited when Harrison announced a spin-off. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Morgan after his actions in previous books, but he definitely won me over.

Morgan le Fae has been the captain of the Light Fae court’s hounds for centuries. He’s done despicable things on Isabeau’s (the Light Fae queen) orders. What no one knows is Morgan is under a geas and can’t refuse a direct order from her. He’s finally given a reprieve when he’s injured and Isabeau says she doesn’t want to see him until he heals, which allows him to technically avoid seeing her – and hearing any orders – until he’s completely healed. While he hides from her, he searches for a way to break the geas.

Sidonie Martel is a woman who has been blessed. She’s a very talented musician, which as gained her fame and fortune. She’s well loved and has faced very little strife in her life. So when she’s captured and given to Isabeau as tribute she doesn’t react well. And when she’s tortured for having an attitude about her situation, it nearly breaks her. Until a voice comes to her in the dark, promising to heal her and making sure she isn’t all alone. Through the darkest time in her life, Morgan is there. Together they bring light into the darkness as they find a way to break Sidonie free from captivity, and Morgan from the geas.

This was a pretty gritty book. The subject matter is dark and deals with torture and kidnapping. I really wanted to hate Morgan, but I never could. He was honorable in his own way, and suffered tremendously for his years under Isabeau’s thumb. I loved how he was Sidonie’s light in the darkness, and I really loved how their relationship progressed. It could have had the flavor of Stockholm Syndrome, but it never crossed that line for me.

I really enjoyed both Morgan and Sidonie. I even cried. I honestly can’t recommend this book enough.

This novel sparked a desire for Arthurian romances, so if you have any good recommendations, let me know.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Moonshadow

five-stars


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Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright

Posted July 8, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne WrightWhen He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Olympus Pride #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 334
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Cat shifter Bree Dwyer doesn't fear much. Ironically, what she fears most is the person who was put on the Earth just for her. Your true mate wasn't supposed to be cruel and twisted; wasn't supposed to be someone who’d never love or want to claim you. The rumors that her true mate is dead bring her only relief. Bree's intent on moving forward with her life and building a future with someone else. Sadly, the male she wants most is one she can never have—a hot-as-sin wolverine shifter who happens to be her boss … and the cousin of her predestined mate.

Aleksandr “Alex” Devereaux detests being bullshitted, but he’s been lying to himself for years—pretending he thinks of Bree as extended family; that he doesn't want her so bad he aches with it; that he can't feel himself weakening against her pull. The night they spend together changes everything. He's done fighting himself on what he wants. Someone isn't happy about that. Possibly the same 'someone' who's playing mind games with Bree, trying to scare her. They're succeeding, because too many leads point to the possibility that the culprit could be the one person that she's determined to believe is dead.

I was sad to see the end of the Phoenix Pack and Mercury Pack series, so I’m really glad Wright is doing this off-shoot. We were introduced to characters from the Olympus Pride in previous books, but this book stands alone well.

Bree is a pretty strong Omega, which means she can help others control their emotions. There are several Omegas in the Pride, but though she isn’t Primary, she is the strongest. She’s also the one least likely to put up with other people’s crap, or sugar coat things. As a result, she and the Primary Omega butt heads. Bree knows she’ll either have to take over as Primary or leave, so she’s planning to leave.

Alex Devereaux has other ideas. He’s wanted Bree for years, but he didn’t think she was ready for him. Now it doesn’t matter, he’s determined to make her his. When strange things begin to happen to Bree and she’s almost kidnapped, Alex knows he’s made the right choice. She needs him in all the ways.

I really liked Alex and Bree. They had a fun romance. I didn’t love the external plot. These are always pretty predicable for me and I had everything figured out early on. Still, I liked the romance and the characters enough that it didn’t bother me too much.

3.5 out of 5

Olympus Pride

three-half-stars


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