The Spellslinger (A Fistful of Daggers #4) by S.M. Reine

Lincoln Marshall has failed. The Godslayer is trapped in her worst nightmares. His only chance of repairing the timeline is dead. He’s stuck a decade in the past with Sophie Keyes, and the world is falling apart.
Held captive by the Union, Lincoln and Sophie must fight to repair a timeline rapidly unraveling.
James Faulkner has survived, but he’s not whole. He’s divided into angel and demon–his ambition and obsession severed from his power and passion. His angel side wants to rescue Elise. His demon side wants to rescue the world, at any cost–even if it means letting Elise die. Between their brilliant minds, they’ve conceived a plan that can repair the timeline. The only price is their lives.

My initial reaction when I finished Spellslinger? “OMG or gods? Doesn’t really matter in the long run I suppose. The old adage, “be careful what you ask for” still applies. I need the next book sooner rather than later…” I also promised that I would soon be writing my usual rambling, incoherent review, so here it goes…

That “be careful what you ask for” comment? Yeah, that’s real – fans were given a choice in a poll a while ago. The choices included a list of characters that readers would be interested in reading more about in their own series. Lincoln was one of those characters and he was my choice. To be fair, it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters, it’s just that he was featured in at least two other series and his character peaked my curiosity. If you know anything at all about S.M. Reine’s Decentverse, you know that her characters go through a lot AND their development from series to series sometimes takes a strange turn. Lincoln was one of those characters. A major transformation had obviously taken place and I wanted to know what happened to turn him into the character he had become in Dana McIntyre Must Die.

So much happened in Spellslinger… so much! There were a lot of characters pulling strings, a lot to love and just as much to hate. There were also a lot of twists and turns. Fair warning, it’s not an easy book to put down and it’s also one that demands your full attention. Although all of the books in the Fistful of Daggers series have been intense, I’ve got to say that Spellslinger has been the most emotionally intense one so far. I was not expecting tears and they fell more than once. I think who those tears were shed for at times was what shocked me most.

Spellslinger also proved to me that time travel is not for the faint of heart. Things that happened in the past escalated and shifted and the things that happened because of those shifts were devastating. Many things need to be “fixed”, many, many things. Beyond that craziness, Lincoln has a little farther to go before he gets to where he needs to be in the future and I can’t wait to see how he gets there.

If you haven’t started the Descentverse, you really need to. You can start with the Fistful of Daggers series, but since there is so much character and world building that takes place before this series starts, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can find the order of series and books on S.M. Reine’s website. A lot of the early books in the Descentverse are free, so there’s really no excuse to not start from the beginning 😉

The Second Coming (Ascension #8) by SM Reine

Elise Kavanagh was once known as the Godslayer – a woman born to kill Adam, a man become God. But she defeated him and stepped into his role, taking her lifelong partner into the pantheon with her. Now she must navigate her mortal goals with her divine life, beginning with substantiating into an avatar to have James Faulkner’s baby, and ending with vengeance.

Confession time… Although I have sworn to myself to read everything from this author and urge everyone who will listen to do the same, the premise of Second Coming didn’t really appeal to me. There were a lot of readers who were anxious to read a story about Elise and James having a baby. I was not one of them. Not that I didn’t like James and Elise or thought that they more than deserved a HEA, I just couldn’t picture Elise as a loving, caring, nurturing mother figure. Turns out, neither could she, but she would pretty much do anything for James.

Because of my indifference, I wasn’t really curious enough to read a chapter at a time, so I skipped this one when it was offered to readers on Reine’s website. When it was released as a full book however, it was harder to ignore. I was pleasantly surprised that Elise and I were both wrong about that mother thing. Unsurprisingly, motherhood didn’t come naturally to Elise, at least not at first. It also didn’t take long for all H*ll broke loose – in true “Descentverse” fashion. James was gone, demons were trying to kill her and she was saddled with a helpless infant that she had no idea what to do with. To add insult to injury, the world that she and James re-created after Genesis was not at all what she expected it to be.

I had no idea what to expect when I first picked up Second Coming, but I ended up getting a lot more. There were terrifying moments, totally unexpected tender moments, heart stopping as well as heartbreaking moments (honestly – who expects to be reduced to tears by Elise Kavanagh?) Basically, Second Coming had everything that I’ve come to expect from any of the books in SM Reine’s “Decentverse” and then some. There are also a couple of huge hints that there’s more to come… and I can’t wait. 😉

Damned if You Do by Marie Sexton

The path to temptation is paved with a hellish amount of paperwork.
Soul acquisition is a drag, but if Abaddon doesn’t catch up on his quota, he could be demoted to scooping poop for the Hounds of Hell. With a deadline hanging over him, he heads for the Bible Belt, looking for the perfect combination of sweetness and challenge.
Seth is a blind musician, part of a traveling tent revival. He’s cute, mystically talented, and quotes the Bible at every turn. His soul is pure enough to fill Abaddon’s quota for months to come, and Abaddon is determined to claim it.
The problem? There’s the revival foreman who watches Abaddon’s every move. Then there’s the mystery of Seth’s many unusual talents. Lastly, there’s Abaddon himself. He’s beginning to like Seth a bit too much. Maybe Seth deserves something better than damnation.
But Hell’s agenda isn’t negotiable, and time is running out. If Abaddon doesn’t play his cards right, he could condemn both of them to the worst fate of all—an eternity apart.
Warning: Contains a Bible-quoting twink and an irreverent devil. Also, snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

What a sweet little devilish tale 😉

There was so much more to Seth than was on the surface and there was more to Abaddon too.

Abaddon did just enough at his job to squeak by, but that lazy work ethic was catching up to him. He was giving a deadline and of course he decided to try to find a soul that would fill his quota for as long as possible. Seth was the perfect choice.

Seth’s soul seemed as pure as they come and Abaddon knew if he managed to get him to give it up, he’d be set for a very long time. The problem was, Seth was so devote that Abaddon couldn’t find a way to tempt him. The longer amount of time he spent with Seth, he wasn’t sure he wanted to – which surprised no one more than Abaddon himself.

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Marie Sexton, but this little story reminded me that I need to check out more of her books.

Demon on the Down-Low (Supernatural Selection #3) by E.J. Russell

After decades of unrequited love, this kangaroo will jump at the chance for a date. Any date.
Lovelorn kangaroo shifter Hamish Mulherne, drummer for the mega-hit rock band Hunter’s Moon, waited years for the band’s jaguar shifter bassist to notice him. Instead, she’s just gotten married and is in a thriving poly relationship. How is Hamish supposed to compete with that? But with everyone else in the band mated and revoltingly happy, he needs somebody. Since he can’t expect true love to strike twice, he signs up with Supernatural Selection. Because what the hell.
When Zeke Oz was placed at Supernatural Selection through the Sheol work-release program, he thought he was the luckiest demon alive. But when he seems responsible for several massive matchmaking errors, he’s put on notice: find the perfect match for Hamish, or get booted back to Sheol for good. The only catch? He has to do it without the agency’s matchmaking spells, and Hamish simply will not engage.
But Zeke starts to believe that the reason all of Hamish’s dates fizzle is because nobody in the database is good enough for him. And Hamish realizes that his perfect match might be the cute demon who’s trying so hard to make him happy.

I’ve lost count of how many series finales I’ve read in the past few months. *sigh* It’s always sad to say good-bye, but I’ve loved the Supernatural Selection series and I’ve also loved Zeke since he was first introduced in Single White Incubus. If the series had to end, Demon on the Down-Low was the perfect way to wrap it up… even though I wasn’t really ready.

I’ve said before that I’m a huge fan of E.J. Russell, but my absolute favorite characters are her quirky ones. The characters that make me giggle and fall in love with them, just for being who they are. This series was full of them and Zeke was one of my favorites. Hamish and Zeke together were adorable. The other thing I loved about this series was getting to see characters from the Fae Out of Water series. They jumped in to help “save the day” on more than one occasion.

There was a bit more intrigue in Demon on the Down-Low, mainly because readers (and the characters) finally discovered who the “bad guy” was in Supernatural Selection. It wasn’t exactly who I expected, but I wasn’t surprised either. The wrap-up actually involved the characters from the previous books in this series, as well as the characters from Fae Out of Water, so it was like a big homecoming 😉 I loved every minute of it. Since Hamish was first introduced in the Fae Out of Water series, it’s the perfect excuse to start a re-read from the beginning with Cutie and the Beast (one of my favorites from that series.) Actually, it doesn’t take much to convince me to re-read a series I loved the first time around. 😉

Wretched Wicked (Preternatural Affairs #9.5) by S.M. Reine

Cesar Hawke works for the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He’s an agent in the Magic Violations Department, hunting down witches who break the law, saving lives, and getting caught up in a lot more trouble than he’s paid to deal with.
Fritz Friederling is his boss. The director. The heir of the Friederling fortune, earned by mining in Hell with human slaves. A man who puts away witches for life without trial. Inheritor of his father’s legacy, and his grandfather’s, and all the ruthless men who came before.
But they didn’t always work together. Not before, and not after. Once they were strangers, and now they’re something else. More fatal than family, more permanent than marriage, closer than the oldest friends, until death do they part…
This novella tells the story of the early years of their partnership from Fritz Friederling’s perspective. It contains spoilers and should be read after the rest of the Preternatural Affairs series. It also includes a new, exclusive afterword from the author!

Ah Cesar *sigh* Have I mentioned that he’s at the top of my favorite Decentiverse male character list? Fritz, not so much and since Wretched Wicked is told from his POV I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to like it. Honestly, getting to know Fritz just a little bit better wasn’t so bad. Those of us who have read through the Preternatural Affairs books already know what happens. Getting the same story from Fritz’s POV wasn’t really surprising but it was enlightening enough to make me want to go back and reread Preternatural Affairs from the beginning. (I’ll use any excuse for a reread 😉 )

There was more to Wretched Wicked though. It wasn’t a total retelling. We learned more about Fritz’s personal life before he met Cesar. I might have even ended up liking him a little bit more by the end. To be honest, Fritz is a much more likable person when he’s with Cesar and for some reason, these two really care about each other. Their relationship works – even with the rest of their motley crew.

This may have been a short read (less than 100 pages), but it didn’t lack any of the usual punch connected with S.M. Reine’s stories. And then there was the Epilogue… don’t skip the Epilogue, whatever you do. I may not be a huge fan of Fritz on his own, but paired with Cesar?… those moments are priceless ❤

SpellSmoke (A Fistfull of Daggers #2) by SM Reine

It’s not much of a life, taking bounty hunts on vampires. But as a disgraced former deputy, Lincoln Marshall’s not exactly knee-deep in job offers, and airplane tickets are expensive after the apocalypse. His dying father is all the way across the country in Northgate. It’s Lincoln’s last chance to see him, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there – even though the werewolf pack in Northgate is still out for his blood.
Sophie Keyes, the one and only Historian, needs Lincoln’s help. She fears the gods may be out to kill her. So Lincoln drags her back home despite his better instincts – only to learn that home’s not exactly safer than Reno. Some preternatural monster is killing hospice patients in Northgate.
Sheriff Noah Adair is convinced the killers are werewolves. The werewolves are convinced Lincoln Marshall is the killer. And Lincoln thought surviving the post-apocalypse had been bad enough before all this crap.

Before I started writing this review, I went back and read my review of Lonesome Paladin. I do that from time to time, just to refresh my memory. I didn’t really need to this time, it hasn’t been that long since I read the first book in A Fistful of Daggers. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating my self too much… 😉

Needless to say, I’m loving this series so far. There were a couple of surprising appearances in Lonesome Paladin. The additional characters in A Fistful of Daggers were expected, but that doesn’t mean that the way readers saw them in SpellSmoke was. Abel and Rylie are adjusting to being new parents while still being the Alpha mates. Abel is trying to take on most of the Alpha duties while Rylie recovers and adjusts. The fact that he needs his mate just as much as Rylie needs him isn’t making things any easier on anyone. Adding Lincoln to the mix isn’t helping. I loved spending time with Rylie, Abel and even Summer again. I may be a bit partial because Seasons of the Moon was my first introduction to this crazy, amazing world created by SM Reine. So you may want to take my infatuation with the pack with a grain of salt.

Aside from Lincoln’s unintentional involvement with the pack, there was a lot more going on in SpellSmoke. I may or may not have mentioned in my review of Lonesome Paladin that I wasn’t sure about my feelings about Sophie. That’s changed… I fell in love with her in SpellSmoke -awkward nerdiness and all. Her sincerity, her unique view on the world, pretty much everything about her… even the way she continually put Lincoln in his place… I loved it all.

Then there were the unexplained hospice deaths. Lincoln’s family, (that, incidentally, explained so much about the man he was). The mysterious assassin who was after Sophie. And a brand new group of shapshifters (kind of)…  SpellSmoke was pretty much non-stop action and craziness and I loved every minute of it.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of cliff hangers, consider yourself forewarned. Just one more reason why I can’t wait for the next book in A Fistful of Daggers

Lonesome Paladin (A Fistful of Daggers #1) by SM Reine

Ever since the gods died, lapsed Catholic Lincoln Marshall has been drowning at the bottom of a tequila bottle and picking fights with non-believers. One of those fights ends in a man dead and Lincoln arrested. Nobody’ll give a bail bond to a flight risk like Lincoln, and he hasn’t a penny to his name, so he can’t pay his own bail. But Dullahan Daith can. He’s willing to buy the freedom of anyone who’ll skip town with him to the Middle Worlds, where a high price has been placed on the heads of trolls…and where rumor says God is reborn.
Lincoln and a mysterious prisoner named Sophie Keyes are the only ones crazy enough to sell themselves on this suicide mission. Sophie doesn’t talk much, but she’s got something that Lincoln no longer has: faith. And between the two of them, they might be able to bring God back to a godless world.

I have absolutely no idea where to start with this review – other than my normal SM Reine disclaimer… if you have yet to pick up a book by this author, do it now! Seriously, sooner rather than later. I don’t recommend that you start with Lonesome Paladin though. The world that this book and future books in the series belong to is way too vast to jump into with Lincoln Marshall. Trust me… you’re going to want to get at least a little bit of background before you meet him in all his crotchety, grouchy, self loathing glory. The Lincoln that readers are introduced to in A Fistful of Daggers is the product of EVERYTHING that came before this point. Fair warning, the volume of books in this world created by SM Reine may seem daunting at first, but I can pretty much promise that once you’re hooked, there will be no turning back. Here’s a link to help you navigate through the “Descentverse” . I’ve jumped around a little, but I did start with Seasons of the Moon – AND if you need even more incentive, you can pick up the entire series FREE from Amazon (Six Moon Summer, All Hallows’ Moon, Long Night Moon & Gray Moon Rising). Now that I’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way…

I’m obviously a fan of this author and I’ve read pretty much all the books in this universe, but I do have my favorite characters, which naturally means that I like some more than others. A while ago, readers were given a chance to vote on which character SM Reine should base her next series on and Lincoln was one of those characters. I was, unfortunately, in the minority and Dana McIntyre won that round. I was NOT a Dana McIntyre fan… until Dana McIntyre Must Die kinda blew me away. I was one of the few that wanted to get a series wrapped around Lincoln and I wanted it even more after reading Dana’s series. I’m not exactly sure what drew me to him, but I knew I wanted more, so I was obviously excited when I found out that he was indeed getting his story. After reading Lonesome Paladin I can honestly say it was totally worth the wait and as a bonus, I’m getting a lot more than I bargained for… so much more.

So, now comes the time that you have to promise me not to shoot me for being vague. You’ll thank me in the long run, honest. This book was SO much more than I expected. There were new characters and others that readers know pretty well, or at least they think they do… (here’s where that vagueness REALLY comes into play.) If you’ve followed my reviews you know that I have a couple of characters in the “Decentverse” that I love more than others. Well, one of my absolute favorites had a LOT of face time in Lonesome Paladin and I think I may have done an actual happy dance when they made their first appearance. Little did I know…

A lot happened in Lonesome Paladin… way more than I expected. Sophie Keyes was an interesting addition, but shrouded in her own mystery. She’s chipping away at Lincoln and I haven’t really decided if that’s a good or bad thing. Even if you’ve read all the books in the “Decentverse” up until this point and you know where Lincoln ultimately ends up, the how and why are still a mystery and Lonesome Paladin is only the beginning of the journey.

Oh, and I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that Chapter 22 was PERFECTION! I can’t say why and I can’t mention any names, but when you get there, you’ll know. If I could give this book more than 5 stars on most platforms I would and the extras would go to that moment ❤

Bitter Thirst (Preternatural Affairs #8) by S.M. Reine

Things are changing in the secret government organization known as the Office of Preternatural Affairs. There are whispers of plans to go public. Special Agent Cèsar Hawke fears a thread of poison in the OPA–a poison seeded by a cult called the Apple. They’ve already hurt friends, blown cases that should have gone smoothly, and even destroyed cities. If Cèsar can’t excise the corruption before the OPA blows itself open, then the poison may spread to all of the government–and maybe the entire world.

Well… I never saw that one coming. Another ‘how in the heck am I gonna review this’ masterpiece. *sigh*

Things got crazy… people who have been absent suddenly showed up… the good guys and the bad guys switched places regularly… something that I’ve been waiting to happen since this series began finally did and then… You get the picture, right? Just another crazy tour through the multi-level/series world created by S.M. Reine.

I’ve always known how interwoven this world is, but for some reason it hit me hard in Bitter Thirst. The timeline between all these series goes back and forth so much, I’m amazed that Reine can keep it straight. As it is, I know I’ll have to do a re-read to get the full scope of what’s happening when, and to who not to mention by who… I know, it sounds confusing, but it’s really not. There are just a lot of ‘oh yeah’ and déjà vu moments thrown into the mix. Those are the moments that you feel the need to back track to the point that other characters experienced the same moments in time.

The thing is, I have my favorite characters in this world and somehow their perspective is always going to win out. Cèsar just happens to be one of those characters. What I didn’t expect was where he ended up and the alliances he chose by the end of Bitter Thirst. I gotta trust him though because he’s Cèsar, right? I should have learned by now that when it comes to this author, it’s best to expect the unexpected… 😉

 

Cast in Godfire (The Mage Craft #5) by S.M. Reine

castingodfireThe gods are rallying to take down Marion, their ally and voice in the mortal worlds. She’s gotten her memories back to disastrous results. She’s destroying the faerie courts, and the rest of the universe is next. The other deities want Seth—also known as the God of Death—to stop Marion before she breaks something that can’t be fixed.
Unfortunately, when Marion looks at Seth with those eyes and insists that she’s not doing anything wrong, he wants to believe her. Marion claims she isn’t trying to rewrite history. She’s protecting it.
Seth wants to trust Marion. It’s only the universe that’s at stake, after all. And some women are worth shattering worlds over…

Reading the last book in a series is always bittersweet. The Mage Craft series is no exception, not by a long shot. I couldn’t be happier with the way things worked out FINALLY for Seth, but as they say, it’s not always the destination, but the journey and S.M. Reine didn’t skimp on Seth and Marion’s journey at all…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Okay, so if you’ve read all the other books in this series and you’re getting ready to start Cast in Godfire, you need to know something going in… pay attention! It’s true that a lot has happened so far, but you’ve got no idea… trust me.

I don’t want to give anything away, but things got a little crazy. It was made even more crazy by the fact that S.M. Reine has a knack of making you doubt your loyalty to some characters while making you fall in love with characters that you never expected to, depending on whose head she allows you in at the time. Of course, there are some characters that she’ll never make me turn my back on, no matter how hard she tries. Trust me, she’s tried really, really hard. I’m loyal like that 😉

She’s also really good at making you laugh and cry… One of my favorite lines in Cast in Godfire? “…you crazy colostomy bag of a half-angel!”  There were more, but this one was hard to forget.And of course, less than a page later she had me shedding tears. One of the many, many reasons the author has me ALWAYS coming back.

So, long story short, there’s a lot that happens in Cast in Godfire and Marion and Seth’s story comes to a satisfying end… kind of. However, this crazy world that S.M. Reine has drawn us into is far from over. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of Seth and Marion. They may not be front and center, but they’ll still be around. There were also just a few loose ends at the end of their story that I’m kind of anxious for her to resolve. (Mild understatement.)

Once again, if you haven’t introduced yourself to this crazy universe, you really need to fix that. You can pretty much start anywhere because all of her series are written to be stand alone. But… they’re all intertwined… check out her timeline. You’re welcome 😉

DragonFlyRating5

Cast in Balefire (Mage Craft #4) by S.M. Reine

castinbalefireHalf-angel mage Marion Garin has become Queen of the Unseelie, but she can’t hold the faerie courts without convincing everyone she’s in love with her cheating, abusive husband—the beloved King ErlKonig. Rumor says Marion’s in love with the God of Death. The unseelie are revolting. And it wouldn’t be so hard to fix if the rumors weren’t true…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Wow… we’re almost there. One more book to go… All I’ve gotta say is it’s a good thing that Ms. Reine writes fast and how in the heck am I supposed to review this without giving something away? The answer is that I shall ramble… as usual.

A lot happens in Cast in Balefire. That’s not an exaggeration. There is also a lot of deception. No one is being totally honest and that trend continues right up until the very end. As for the end… we’ll get to that later.

Cast in Balefire takes up pretty much where Cast in Faefire left off. Marion is married to Konig with some very defined stipulations. The Unseelie are still reeling after the death of Konig’s mother. They are totally loyal and devoted to Konig and they expect their new queen to feel the same… only Fae magic proves to them that that may not be the case. It doesn’t take much to set the Fae off and because of their lack of trust where Marion is concerned, she ends up on more than one hit list. To make things even worse, Konig proves once again what a pompous… well, you get the picture. There’s definitely no love lost between this reader and the current King of the Unseelie.

As if Marion doesn’t have enough to contend with, her mother proves once again that she has a single minded agenda and caring for Marion’s welfare isn’t anywhere near the top of her list of priorities. There was a lot revealed in Cast in Balefire, but there are still a lot of things that need to be cleared up… Marion and Seth aren’t the only people whose future hangs in the balance by the end of this book… but I can’t really talk about that in this review, because, you know… the #evilauthor threw so many twists, turns and craziness into Cast in Balefire that I don’t want to risk giving anything away. Let’s just say that my jaw dropped more than once and leave it at that.

I know that S.M. Reine has said that you can read any of her series as stand alone, but I personally don’t recommend it. There’s a lot of back story that goes into these books. I’m not saying that you have to read all of the books prior to the Mage Craft series, but I’d recommend having at least read the Ascension series first. You won’t be lost if you don’t, but it will give you the background that you need for quite a few of the characters that you’ll meet in this series. Of course if you want the full affect, especially when it comes to Seth and Rylie’s history, you need to start at the beginning with Six Moon Summer. I’m a little biased though and if you’ve read any of my other S.M. Reine reviews you’ve probably heard this before so…

As for the ending? Yeah… did I mention that S.M. Reine is evil? Well, she is. In a brilliant sort of way, but evil none the less. I never saw it coming and I still have no idea how she’s planning on turning things around, but I trust her… sort of. *sigh* Needless to say, Cast in Godfire can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyRating5