The Spell (Big Bad Wolf #3) by Heather Killough-Walden – DejaVu Review

Dannai, who is also known as the Healer, has begun dreaming of werewolves. She’d always been able to hide the fact that she was a dormant, using her magic to shield the sweet, promising scent from the alphas she’s been forced to work around. But now that they’ve invaded her dreams, her world has really been turned upside down. For, though every dormant dreams of her intended mate, Dannai is dreaming of two wolves, not one. And neither one of them is good news. One is a notorious killer. The other is Lucas Caige. Lucas Caige is a man with a haunting past. A warlock took his brother from him fifty years ago and he’s spent his life outrunning that dark magic. But fate has a way of throwing sand in your gears-and just when Caige thought he could forever leave behind the magic that brought pain to his life, his path crosses that of the Healer. Dannai unwittingly casts her spell over him the moment he lays eyes on her. She’s stunning, she’s kind, and everything about her wreaks havoc on his senses. She’s also magic incarnate. But if Dannai thinks that’s going to stop him from doing everything in his power to make her his mate, the little witch has another thing coming.

You may have heard me mention that I am a fan of Heather Killough-Walden’s Big Bad Wolf Series. Actually, I think they may have been the first true paranormal romances involving shape shifters that I read. So I wonder if that means I can blame her for my addiction? Probably not, but it was worth a try. *sigh*

I can honestly say that I think The Spell was one of my favorites in this series. I’m not exactly sure why, but it may have been that Danny was the first of the female dormants that new what she was. Looking back, it may have also been because a lot of key characters were brought to the forefront in this one. Regardless, The Spell is a book that I have read more than once and I’m sure that this won’t be the last time. There are some characters that you just can’t say goodbye to. Even though Danny and Lucas are brought back in other books and we’ve met them before in previous BBW stories, this one is special.

Lucas is a true alpha male in every sense of the word. He’s damaged though, and his salvation is someone who he should view as his enemy. The twist here is that Danny knows it. She’s been dreaming of him and another alpha. One is beyond evil and the other is someone who hates everything she stands for. The circumstances and draw that bring these two together is amazing and it’s what makes this story so full of – well, magic.

There are a few mysteries in this book solved. A lot of drama and heart break. Some very hot and steamy scenes, old enemies resurfaced and a few new mysteries thrown into the mix. Throughout the book the story is woven seamlessly and… well, you just need to read it to understand.

This book marks a turning point in the series. I didn’t realize it when I first read the book, but it is the next to the last in the Big Bad Wolf Series. At first I was really upset when I found out that the series would soon be over. Then I realized that Heather Killough-Walden had bigger plans. Her Kings Series ties both series together in a way that I never could have imagined. The lives of these characters come full circle and although the alpha wolves we have grown to love are no longer front and center, they are still an integral part of the new world that Heather has created. You can read both series independently, but you really get so much more out of it if you read them together.

If you need more convincing, check out my reviews of The Heat, The Strip, and The Hunt from the Big Bad Wolf Series and The Vampire King and The Phantom King from Heather’s new Vampire King Series.

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kate Daniels has to be one of the strongest female heroines in a series that I have read in a very long time. I went into this series not knowing much about it except that I had seen some chatter about it on Twitter and a few trusted reading buddies were impressed. That was enough reason to pick it up. For that reason, beyond having a new, entertaining series to read, I’m not sure what I expected. It certainly wasn’t what I walked away with.

The world that Ilona Andrews has created in Magic Bites is dark. It is a world ruled by magic and beings that are beyond the vampires and shape shifters that readers are used to. This book opens with the murder of Kate’s guardian and the action, mystery and chaos doesn’t slow down from there. I honestly found myself wondering how anyone could survive in this world and keep their sanity. It is an intense read, to say the least.

Kate is a character that bucks the system and breaks the rules, but is intensely loyal to those she respects. She’s not exactly reckless but she never puts herself before others and she proves that more than once in this first installment. I loved her strength and determination. She is definitely a character that I want to get to know.

I’m not sure why, but this book took me a while to get through. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It may have been because of the darkness. Mentally, I may have needed a break. It’s also a very ‘smart’ read. There isn’t a lot of ‘fluff.’ If that even makes any sense.

Even with all the darkness and intensity, there is humor and even a little romance. You could probably read Magic Bites and walk away from the series. This chapter of Kate’s life concludes, but there is definitely more to come. I, for one, will be picking up the rest of the books in the series. It’s a nice diversion from some of the lighter reads that I’ve read and the world that is created by Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife writing team) is really interesting and worth delving into. A new slant on a world that a lot of paranormal readers have grown accustomed to.

Salem Moon by Scarlet Black

When Gabriel Blackstone, a young man living in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 is sentenced to death for the crime of witchcraft, a mysterious man appears to him, just before death comes to claim him; promising to change his fate if he will only agree to take his hand and go where he leads.

Miraculously, Gabriel is transported to 21st century Salem where, he not only escapes his fate, but meets his destiny! He falls in love with Lily Snow, a descendant of the very family that falsely accused him of witchcraft! They both know theirs is a forbidden love, but they cannot deny it!

Gabriel is shocked to learn that the man who saved his life is, in reality, an evil Fallen Angel, named Lucien, who wreaks havoc on the city of Salem with his unbridled lust and violence. He wants Gabriel’s very soul and will do whatever it takes to get it, including going after Lily!

Gabriel and Lily’s story is one of love that defies all boundaries, as they come together in a steamy passion neither of them has ever known and a love that transcends time, brutal injustice and evil itself!

Have you ever finished a book and really liked it, but there was just something about it that kept you from loving it? That’s where I was at the end of Salem Moon.

I think Scarlet Black did an amazing job of bringing the reader back to 1692 Salem. The history of the witch trials through first hand experience was gripping and horrific. The irony of the world that Lucien transports Gabriel to made for a fantastic story. It really was a wonderful concept and parts of it flowed quite well. I didn’t feel like the relationship between Gabriel and Lilly was forced. I actually liked their connection. It was magical, as it should be. I also didn’t have a problem with the evilness that surrounded Lucien. Yes his actions were awful and what he did throughout the book was unforgivable, but he was evil incarnate. He acted pretty much how I expected him to. That doesn’t mean I accepted his actions, it just means that I know evil exists and sometimes it appears in the books that I read.

So, what didn’t I like about Salem Moon? What exactly kept me from loving it? I guess if I had to put my finger on it, I’d have to say that some of the situations and solutions were just too convenient and lose ends that I didn’t feel were tied up enough by the end had a lot to do with it. I know that this is the beginning of a series and some of this will probably be resolved in the next book, but I would have liked to have felt just a little less ‘lost’ at times.

Having said all that, I still really did like Salem Moon. I will probably pick up the next book in the series and not just because it ended in a huge cliff hanger. I honestly want to know what happens to Gabriel and Lilly.

I received Salem Moon as a free download from Amazon on April 29, 2012.

The Ghost Hunter (The Hunter #1) by Lori Brighton

When Ashley Hunter inherits the Inn where her father mysteriously vanished years ago, she jumps at the chance to finally uncover the truth about his disappearance. But soon after taking ownership of the decrepit building, Ashley realizes she’s in for far more than she bargained. Not only has she inherited answers to many sought-after questions, she’s also inherited spirits, demons and even fallen angels! Then Cristian arrives, a gorgeous man who insists he merely needs a room to rent. She believes him, until one by one her ghosts start disappearing…

As a fallen angel destined for a life of servitude, Cristian Lucius is relegated to protecting earth from unwanted spirits. But he can’t accomplish this daunting task alone. He requires assistance from the very woman who frustrates him as much as she intrigues him. Cristian is determined to ignore his intense attraction for Ashley, and focus on his mission. If they don’t work together, they won’t have a chance in hell of defeating the demon threatening their lives. The problem is getting Ashley to trust him. No easy task, considering Cristian is the very man responsible for her father’s disappearance.

Don’t you just love it when you pick up a free read and it turns out so much better than you expected it to? That’s the category that Ghost Hunter falls into, definitely.

It’s going to be a little hard to do this review and keep it spoiler free. A lot happens in this book. There are a lot of paranormal aspects that are looked at in a totally different way. There is a lot of action and the characters have depth. There is a lot of mystery behind each and every one of them too. At first glance, nothing or no one is exactly what or who they seem. I love it when the good and bad guys keep switching places. Keeps things interesting.

Ashley comes into this story blind. She seems to be the only one who doesn’t know what or who she really is. Thanks to her mom, she spent most of her life thinking she was insane. Christian’s draw to her is overwhelming and forbidden. That, along with her hatred and distrust of him makes a HEA seem nearly impossible. Throw in a few unruly ghosts and some magic with unexpected results and you have an intriguing and fun read.

Ghost Hunter doesn’t end in a cliff hanger exactly, but there is definitely more to the story. The second book in The Hunter Series is Demon Hunter. It’s not another freebie, but I’m afraid that Lori Brighton now has me hooked. (Sneaky authors!) ;)

I received Ghost Hunter as a free download from Amazon on May 17, 2012.

Stone Cold Lover by Mel Teshco

Heiress Loretta Shaw is notorious for her loose morals and sexual needs. Trouble is, it’s taken her one too many one-night stands to realize that no man can extinguish the sexual fire she feels toward her guardian, Cray Diamond. A long-ago curse made Cray immortal-a gargoyle, a guardian, who is impelled to protect a human chosen by the curse. He is imprisoned in stone during daylight hours but dusk returns him to flesh and bone to carry out his immortal duty.That Cray can shift between human and living gargoyle at night bothers Loretta not one bit. She’s seen him naked many times and her desire for him-in any shape or form-knows no bounds. She’s tired of his resistance. He’s her gargoyle…and she wants him in her bed.

Stone-Cold Lover is one of those books that was short, sweet and to the point. It’s the kind of book (novella, actually) that you don’t expect to get wrapped up in because you know you won’t have a lot of time invested in it. I was pleasantly surprised because for such a short read, it was packed with action and emotion. Lots of raw emotion. These two characters suffered a lot and that prior suffering came through loud and clear. Of course, by the end, I still wanted more. Since this novella is part of Mel Teshco’s Winged and Dangerous Series, maybe I’ll just have to check into the rest.

I received Stone-Cold Lover as a free download from Amazon on May 21, 2012.

Samson’s Lovely Mortal (Scansguards Vampires #1) by Tina Folsom

Vampire bachelor Samson can’t get it up anymore. Not even his shrink can help him. That changes when the lovely mortal auditor Delilah tumbles into his arms after a seemingly random attack. Suddenly there’s nothing wrong with his hydraulics – that is, as long as Delilah is the woman in his arms.

His scruples about taking Delilah to bed vanish when his shrink suggests it’s the only way to cure his problem. Thinking all he needs is one night with her, Samson indulges in a night of pleasure and passion.

However, another attack on Delilah and a dead body later, and Samson has his hands full: not only with trying to hide the fact he’s a vampire, but also with finding out what secrets Delilah harbors for somebody to want her harm.

Okay, there were a lot of things about this book that could have made me put it down and walk away. The opening sentence of the book, for instance. For some reason though, I decided to keep going and give it a chance. By the end, I was pleasantly surprised and glad I didn’t give up.

Samson’s Lovely Mortal had a pretty good story behind all the humor once you got into it. The Scansguard Vampires are a loyal group of long time friends who respect each other. They also know how to have fun and there is a strong sense of family between them.

As far as the love story goes, if not for my love of paranormal romance and the fact that I’m used to the way an alpha pairing usually works, I may have had a hard time connecting to Delilah and Samson. Their attraction was intense. They were both fairly broken and had really bad trust issue. Perfect set up for tension in any romance.

There was a fair amount of action and mystery mixed in with the romance and humor. No one was certain who the real bad guys were till almost the end. That always keeps things interesting too.

So where did the humor come from? I don’t want to give too much away, but – the alpha male is a vampire suffering from erectile dysfunction; the psychiatrist uses a coffin instead of a couch for his patients; and finally, the reasoning behind the vampire taking his girlfriend to couples’ counseling. Yeah, there were just a couple of slightly corny, comical moments.

All in all, Samson’s Lovely Mortal turned out to be a pretty enjoyable read and a pleasant surprise. I’m glad I gave it a chance. The next vampire featured is Amaury. After being introduced to him in the first book, his book should be quite a treat. ;)

I received Samson’s Lovely Mortal as a free download from Amazon on May 17, 2012.

Fairystruck by J.L. Bryan: Bout-of-Books 4.0 Review

With their first single shooting up the Billboard charts, the Zebras hit the road as the opening band for an epic stadium tour across America. The future looks bright for the band, if they can survive the rioting fans, Queen Mab of Faerie, the dullahan, and the evil teddy bears.

Aoide the Lutist and Liadan the banshee wolf cross into man-world on the trail of the stolen fairy instruments. Aoide is shocked at the strangeness of life among the humans, but she also learns about a thrilling new kind of music never heard in Faerie…rock and roll.

Okay, things are getting interesting now. Not that they weren’t before, but more and more characters are added with each book and the reader is learning more and more about each of the existing characters all the time. J.L. Bryan definitely has our attention now.

Jason, Dred, Erin and Mitch/Mick are finding out life on the road isn’t always fun. Aoide and Liandan learn all sorts of things about the mortal world that they didn’t know before. Queen Mab is pulling out every evil member of Fae that she can to get the instruments back and we are finding out exactly how low some of these bad guys will go to get exactly what they want. Regardless of who stands in their way.

I really like the direction that J.L. Bryan is taking this series. Of course it can be silly at times (assassin Teddy bears, for instance?) but somehow it all works and just keeps things interesting…. really, really interesting. There are also a couple of characters that are still getting on my nerves (mainly Mitch, Zach and Jason’s parents) but every series has to have a couple of those, right?

Fairystruck ends with the fate of a lot of characters hanging in the balance, so it’s no surprise that I will be among other loyal readers begging for the next installment. ;)

Bout of Books 4.0 Wrap-Up

Guess what? Guess what? Guess what? Did you guess? I actually broke my Bout-of-Books 5 book slump! That’s right. I finished 6 books and part of the 7th! I’m slightly amazed, overwhelmed and a tad bit excited. Can you tell? I even went over my page count from last time!

Which books and/or how many pages did I read?

  1. Phantom King by Heather Killough-Walden (194 Pages)
  2. Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready (399 Pages)
  3. Mating Call by Felicity Heaton (176 Pages)
  4. The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine (223 Pages)
  5. Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon (271 Pages)
  6. Fairystruck by J. L. Bryan (203 Pages)
  7. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (37 Pages Read)

That makes my grand total for Bout-of-Books 4.0: 6+ Books & 1503 Pages Read!

So what about my other goals? Well, the only other personal goal that I had was to keep up with my reviews. Other than the book that I finished yesterday, I posted reviews on all the books that I read. Whew! All in all it was a full week.

So how about you? Did you have a great week? Did you reach your goals, or at least have a blast trying to reach them? Hop on over to the Wrap Up post Linky on the Bout-of-Books site and share. We’d all love to help you celebrate!

On a side note, I’ll be in touch with the winner of the Grand Prize as soon as I can after they are announced. I can’t wait to find out who won and start creating! Once the winner receives their prize, I’ll do another post with their artwork from their bookmarks or business cards. The winner’s final design will also show up in my portfolio on both my Deeds Graphic Services facebook page and blog (all with their permission – of course.) I honestly can’t wait, so stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone who made Bout-of-Books 4.0 such a great event this time. Especially the fearless dynamic duo of, Amanda and Kelly. They worked their tails off this week and deserve a huge round of applause. There will be an opportunity for everyone to give the Bout-of-Books team feed back on your Bout-of-Books experience and to vote on when Bout-of-Books 5.0 will take place. Please take that opportunity and tell us what you thought and watch the Bout-of-Books page for important updates. In the mean time, Happy Reading! ;)

By creativedeeds

Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon: Bout-of-Books 4.0 Review

When the impoverished Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, hits rock bottom, he makes an agreement that will end his eight year poverty streak once and for all. In order to gain his fortune he must do but one simple thing: ruin an innocent girl’s reputation enough to make her flee to America.

Brooke Banks isn’t interested in marriage, or so she thinks. She came to London to have a good time, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. Widely known for her tendency to flout the rules, she suspects nothing when a handsome stranger appears on her doorstep.

Thirteen days, a handful of kisses and one scandalous situation later, Andrew and Brooke will have to choose to stick to their original plans, or decide if a life together is worth the risk.

Ever start reading a book that you didn’t really intend to? I know, unless you are a true reading addict, with a serious problem, in need of a 12-step program, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. However, I bet that at least some of the readers who stop by here know exactly what I mean. That’s how I stumbled upon Intentions of the Earl. I was flipping through my free reads on my Kindle, hunting for something quick to read before I went to sleep. What I thought was probably another short, sweet novella, turned into this full length novel. Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t stop. *sigh*

Intentions of the Earl is one of those books that is just fun to read. Every once in a while you need a book like that. No lessons learned, no heavy drama, just light, witty reading. It wasn’t quite as risque as the title might suggest, although there were some steamy kisses and the potential for a picnic tryst, if not for the bout of laughter that stopped it. As mentioned, the main entertainment in this one came from the wit and comical moments. The characters were just funny. You knew how it was going to end probably from the beginning, but the book kept you reading to see exactly how these characters were going to get out of the situations that they put themselves in.

There are at least 2 more books in the series which I’m not sure if I will pick up or not. Regardless, there are two more Scandalous Sisters that the Banks family needs to get married off. ;)

I received Intentions of the Earl as a free download from Amazon on April 22, 2012.

Bout-of-Books 4.0 Day 6 Challenge: Book Spine Poetry

Okay Bout-of-Book participants. This is the last challenge of the read-a-thon and Ashley at Smash Attack Reads has outdone herself. Even though I had convinced myself that I was a brain dead zombie from reading myself into oblivion, I decided that I needed to participate in this one. Honestly, I couldn’t resist and the more I looked at all the fun that everyone else was having…. well, you get the idea. So, without further ado… here’s my humble attempt at creating poetry with some of my available books. ;)

I literally looked over all of my shelves down stairs. (Trust me, you don’t want to know exactly how many of them there are if you include the second floor of my house because then we would have to include my daughter’s stash *shudders*.) Anyway, once I actually took a look at the books, it was really, really easy. Here’s what I came up with:

Yes, I know. It’s not terribly inspiring or heart felt, but it serves the purpose ;) So have you participated in today’s challenge? Don’t let it scare you. It’s really fun and I’ve been hopping around everyone’s posts today to see exactly how creative you guys all are. Wow! That’s all… you guys rock! Enjoy the last day of the read-a-thon. Can’t wait to see everyone’s Bout-of-Books wrap up posts.

By creativedeeds