You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen (A Malveaux Curse Mystery #2) by G.A. Chase

Things get complicated when you don’t know what you’re voodooing.
Kendell Summer just can’t catch a break. All she wants is one good passionate kiss from her paranormal partner, Myles, but in the midst of their embrace, she hears a distress message coming from a passing paddle wheeler. Her band, Polly Urethane and the Strippers, is in trouble. Once again, she must drop everything and rush to the rescue while relying on Myles to have her back.
Unfortunately, the events that unfold while she’s saving her friends only plunge her deeper into the dreaded Malveaux curse and threaten Myles with a fate worse than death. Kendell will need everyone she trusts, including her loyal dog, Cheesecake, to help her save his soul.

Not sure why, but this one started out kind of slow for me, well, maybe not started out slow? It hit a point where it kind of dragged along, but trust me, that didn’t last long. You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen picked up pretty much where Dog Days of Voodoo left off. Kendell and Myles are still in the “getting to know you” stage of their relationship, but both of them are ready to move on to the next phase. The only problem is, trouble seems to follow – and sometimes even beckon them at every turn.

Myles wants to protect Kendell, Kendell wants to protect Myles and Cheesecake wants to protect them all… Yeah, things get kind of crazy… uh… crazier? in You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen. They end up putting their trust in someone Myles doesn’t trust at all and he hates what he sees it doing to Kendell. Before  they realize what’s happening… well, it’s all par for the course when it comes to Myles and Kendell. They even reach out to some very unlikely allies while trying to… well, you’ll have to read You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen to see who exactly is being saved from what.

I loved the twists, turns and even the bad guys – well, at least some of them. I’m also loving this trip into the background characters from The Devil’s Daughter. One of the best parts is getting to know the characters that play such and important role in Serephine’s life and seeing exactly how they got there. I can’t wait to see where each series goes from here. 😉

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Sons of Darkness (Night Vigil #1) by Gail Z. Martin

We are the Night Vigil.
The run-down convenience store, the all-night diner, the last-ditch shelter, or seedy motel, the redneck bar and the emergency room, and all the other places open on the graveyard shift—they’re Hell’s hunting grounds, full of easy marks and desperate souls, prey for evil things out there in the dark.
We keep the Vigil, looking for the ones who can still be saved, the ones who aren’t too far gone. We’re the misfits and the muck-ups, unwanted by Heaven or Hell, given one last chance to atone for all the mistakes and missed chances, the pain we’ve caused others and ourselves, the good things we were afraid to do, and the bad things we embraced with open arms. We work the night shift because that’s when evil walks. We’re the clerk in the all-night liquor store, the server in the 24-hour diner, the long-haul trucker who only drives at night, the counter person in the convenience store, the dog shift nurse. We recognize the evil when we see it, and we use the skills we honed with blood and fire to stop it, whatever it takes.
Unfinished business ties us to the mortal world, to make atonement, find absolution, satisfy retribution, get things right. You won’t find a sorrier group of halfway house heroes. No illusions left—about ourselves, humanity, or what’s really out there in the darkness. Just a purpose, to go down fighting the good fight. Because this is our last chance.
One final chance to make it right, the thin red line of humanity against the evil that goes bump in the night, your best hope to make it through the hour of the wolf
When a series of disappearances, suicides, and vengeful spirits cause havoc and death along a remote interstate highway, demon-hunting ex-priest Travis Dominick teams up with former special ops soldier and monster-hunter Brent Lawson to end the problem with extreme prejudice.

So, I mentioned when I finished Sons of Darkness that it was a pleasant surprise. What I didn’t mention is that when I started this book I suffered from a serious case of Déjà Vu. You see, I went into this book totally in the dark (no pun intended.) I had just finished Dark Rivers and within the first few chapters I realized that a lot of these characters and places sounded awfully familiar. So familiar that I couldn’t ignore it so I did a little bit of research. Turns out I wasn’t going nuts. I knew that there was a connection between Morgan Brice’s Witchbane and Badlands series. What I didn’t know was that Morgan Brice and Gail Z. Martin are one in the same and Travis and Brent make an appearance in Dark Rivers. What is even better is that Gail Z. Martin and her husband, Larry N. Martin have another series that ties into all these series, Spells, Salt, & Steel – which BTW, I’m currently reading. Lots and lots of books! I’m one happy reader 😉

As for Sons of Darkness? Wow… a lot happened in this story. At first glance it seemed like a lot of random coincidences, but the scary part was that they were all tied together. Travis and Brent didn’t meet under the best of circumstances. It was actually pretty lucky that Travis found Brent when he did, although Brent didn’t appreciate it at the time. They were both a little “prickly” but I loved getting to know them. They both had their trusted contacts and the longer they worked together, the more they realized that they might actually need each other. They also both had pasts with groups that were trying to reel them back in. Groups that neither one of them wanted to have anything to do with, for good reason.

The danger was real in Sons of Darkness and although Travis and Brent were used to relying on their friends, neither one of them were really anxious to work with each other. That changed quickly with a little supernatural shove from Brent’s past. To end the terror that was threatening the area they had to rely on more than each other and risk more than they expected.

There were a lot of interesting twists and turns and the supporting characters, some that readers had met before, were just another thing to love about Sons of Darkness. I personally love it when one series run parallel to another series – in this case, more than one series. The connections are fun and the possibilities are endless, which is great. Through my “research” I found out that there’s lots more to come for Brent and Travis. I’ve quite literally found a literary gold mine and I can’t wait to see what Gail Z. Martin, Larry Martin and Larry N. Martin have in store for readers next. 😉

 

Hell or High Water (The Devil’s Daughter #4) by G.A. Chase

A light conversation over coffee tosses the devil’s daughter out of the frying pan of life’s problems and into the fiery depths of hell.
Sere Mal-Laurette was warned against meeting Jennifer, the real woman behind her doppelgänger body. However, she didn’t mention that instruction to Jennifer during their numerous psychically bonded moments. So when Jennifer shows up in front of Sere’s apartment, the doppelgänger doesn’t see much choice other than to invite the housewife in for a cup of coffee.
Before the day is out, Myles’s sweet little dog has turned into a hellhound, Sere’s friend and sidekick Fisher has succumbed to his demonic possession, and supersized crawfish have emerged from the swamp. Sere is forced to wonder if she should have heeded the warnings about Jennifer. But is the widening of the hell mouth a result of one morning’s coffee conversation, or is something more sinister at work?
Sere has plenty of other explanations to choose from. There are the lost souls of the damned that Marjory Laroque cast into hell in her attempt to raise a new devil. There’s the fact that Sere’s sweet angel and mother figure, Sanguine, has been imprisoned. Worst of all, Sere’s very presence among the living could be the cause of the impending apocalypse. Once again she needs help curbing the chaos, but this time, she’ll call on her support system in hell.

The last couple of books I’ve picked up have been… intense. The type of intense that has the main characters either fighting for their own life or desperately trying to save someone else. When I turned the last page in Hell or High Water, I knew I needed a break. I loved this book. Honestly, The Devil’s Daughter gets better with each installment, but wow…

Sere has opened herself up – in more ways than one. She has inadvertently become closer to Jennifer, which is loaded with all kinds of ways to mess things up. Even the most innocent of encounters seems to bring about life-altering consequences… and not just for Sere and Jennifer. That’s not all that’s going on though. It seems that every time Sere makes a move, there’s a new threat lurking around a dark corner… or under dark water. Secrets are revealed – most of them kept from Sere from those closest to her. New allies come into play and trust is tested more than once. The one constant and grounding force for Sere through everything is Bart. To say that Hell or High Water was a page turner would be a HUGE understatement.

A lot of ground was covered and I’m not ashamed to say that some of it was a blur – which means I’ll probably have to pay closer attention when I read this one again, because I definitely will be reading it again – along with the rest of the series. It also piqued my curiosity about Sere’s life and her makeshift family’s before The Devil’s Daughter, which is just one of the reasons why I started the Malveaux Curse Mystery Series. The first book, Dog Days of Voodoo was a fun read and I can’t wait to start You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen. You don’t have to start with that series to follow or understand The Devil’s Daughter, but I found myself wanting the background into this world created by G.A. Chase. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. 😉

Speaking of not being able to wait… after the final chapter in Hell or High Water, the wait for Hell Away from Home is going to be torturous. It wasn’t so much of a cliff hanger as a surprising revelation that could go either way for the fate of a lot of people.

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. 😉

Hell’s Highway (The Devil’s Daughter #3) by G.A. Chase

For an immortal, learning what it means to be human can be an emotional wild ride.
Having put down the latest batch of escaped doppelgängers, Sere Mal-Laurette felt she’d earned a little time off from demon hunting. She was wrong.
Her inattention has allowed a new batch of hellions to rise from the swamp and abduct Rampart Thibodaux. With the hot ex-Navy SEAL’s blood and soul infecting her, Sere has no choice but to jump back on her motorcycle to rescue him. Her quest will cost her dearly but also bring her closer to being human than she could have imagined.
Sere’s emotional roller-coaster ride of human experiences, however, is overshadowed by the rise of a new devil—one who isn’t satisfied with simply claiming hell as his only domain.

This series gets better with each book. Of course, that may just be because I’m getting to know the characters better, but for now I’ll chalk it up to more layers being revealed. Speaking of which, Hell’s Highway requires your complete attention. There is a lot of information to take in and even though I’m giving readers a heads up, I’m still not sure I got it all. In other words, I see a re-read in my future. 😉

Sere’s come a long way since Hell in a Head Gasket, the first book in The Devil’s Daughter series. She still wants to protect the people she cares about, but she’s learned to lean on them just a little bit.

So, saying that a lot happened in Hell’s Highway would be an understatement. The connection between Sere and “Bart” grows a lot stronger. The goals and true purpose of the doppelgängers leaving Hell becomes clearer. And yes, there was heartbreak that took me totally by surprise, so prepare yourself… *sigh*

Hell’s Highway didn’t necessarily end in a cliff hanger, but things are far from over for Sere and her rag tag family. I can’t wait to see what G.A. Chase has in store for them next in Hell or High Water. Oh, and for those of you who (like me) weren’t introduced to Sere in The Malveaux Mysteries series, the full book bundle is now available on Amazon. You’re welcome 😉

Fire Devil (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #11) by J.L. Bryan (Bout-of-Books 24 Review)

Ellie’s pursuit of a possessed friend and her own worst enemy takes her across the United States into forgotten corners of the countryside through haunted hotels, ghost towns, and strange highways, and toward the site of a horrific fire haunted by hundreds of spirits.
Together with her team, plus help from an eccentric exorcist from Texas, prepares for the fight of her life, a fight destined since her own childhood.
Ellie’s past and present collide in a final confrontation that will change the course of her life, giving her a chance to finally be rid of her most dangerous personal demon—if he doesn’t kill Ellie first, along with the people she cares about the most.

Eleven books in and I’m no where close to being tired of Ellie Jordan, her crew or their escapades. Fire Devil may be one of my favorites in this series so far.

Throughout the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series, readers have known about Clay. He’s only been front and center in a few books, but he’s always there. He’s the reason why she started hunting and trapping ghosts in the first place. In Fire Devil, things finally come to a head and she risks losing everything to take Clay down. Even her own life.

The action and danger didn’t slow down in this one at all. The whole crew was together, with a few additions. Their main goal was to release Michael’s sister from Clay’s clutches and destroy Clay in the process. Hopefully without anyone else getting hurt… or worse… in the process. Along the way they encounter even more restless spirits and solve a few mysteries, while opening up even more. Clay has a sinister plan, which they have to figure out and fast.

Ellie learns more than she expected and gains something that she thought was forever lost. Just one of the many reasons why I loved this one so much. I can’t wait to see what J.L. Bryan has in store next for Ellie Jordan. 😉

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 ❤

Hell Bent for Demons (The Devil’s Daughter #2) by G.A. Chase

After ridding the swamp of a serial-killing demon, badass Sere Mal-Laurette has moved to New Orleans to put some distance between the interdimensional beacon of her soul and the hellmouth. Hell, however, has other plans for her when a new horde of beasts is unleashed.Sere will have to knock the rust off her fighting skills if she hopes to save herself and humanity from a fate worse than death. But she soon learns she can’t do it alone, and she’s going to need more than the help of a bartending former Navy SEAL who makes her weak in the knees. The bikers and gator hunters she’s been using for sport during her bar brawls are going to take some serious convincing to join her cause—even if they are the ones most at risk. By relying on those closest to her to repair her doppelgänger body, hunt down the demons that are out to get her, and protect her soul from the loas of the dead, Sere just might learn something about what it means to be human.

I love it when the second book in a series lives up to the first, which is exactly how Hell Bent for Demons stacked up to Hell in a Head Gasket. In some ways, I liked the sequel even more.

Sere doesn’t “play” well with others, so when she realizes she needs help, she has no idea how to go about asking. It doesn’t help that she’s made quite an impression on most of those people – and definitely not the positive kind.

Sere does have allies though – some very good ones. She hesitates to allow most of them to help though because she wants to keep them safe. A trait in a bad-a** heroine that always wins me over. Another thing I like about some of my favorite bad-a** characters is their tendency to have interesting side-kicks. Lefty and Sere’s constant saddlebag companions definitely fall into that category. 😉

I liked the interesting twists and turns in Hell Bent for Demons, especially when they caught Sere off guard. I really like getting to know Sere’s “family” better. She’s still not sure what to make of Bart, but I love the tension and playful banter between them. There are also a few other characters that Sere’s getting closer to. I’m guessing that things are about to get even more interesting as the series continues and I personally can’t wait. 😉

Race of Thieves (Artifact Hunters #1) by S.M. Reine

You’d never know that Shatter Cage is a were-squirrel by looking at him. Between fake fire charms and his impenetrable confidence, everyone believes he’s the phoenix he claims to be.
The lie is a necessary part of his branding. He’s determined to become a Hero, blessed by the Oracles and venerated by legions of followers. For now, he’s just one more thief slinging magical artifacts on the black market, hoping for infamy to strike like lightning. But he’s never going to become canonized if Gutterman, demon and loan shark, gets his pound of flesh from Cage first.
A job offer from the biggest Hero cult in America lights a path to fame—and enough money to repay Gutterman. Unfortunately, Cage’s ex-girlfriend, Brigid Byrne, wants the job as bad as he does. Whoever steals an artifact named Nábrók will be hired. And Brigid doesn’t mind kidnapping, poisoning, and back-stabbing Cage to win…
The race of thieves is on. And Cage is bent on scoring Nábrók before all his bad decisions catch up with him.

Okay, so how can you take a book centered around a were-squirrel competing with his crazy ex girlfriend after a pair of demon underpants seriously? I’ll admit that Race of Thieves isn’t what you might expect from a book in S.M. Reine’s Decentiverse, but it’s not what it may seem at first glance. Except for the silliness – there’s definitely a lot of silliness in Race of Thieves, but there’s also a lot more.

Cage is pretty full of himself, but in a fun way. He has more self confidence than I’ve seen in a character in a long time. Sometimes that works for him, but sometimes it comes back to bite him. He was a pretty good thief, but he was also a pretty lucky one…

He’s also taken deception to a whole new level. Very few people know his true were form. He’s got a surprisingly amount of people convinced that he’s actually a phoenix. That should give you a pretty good idea of his over the top confidence level.

I may have also gained a couple of new favorite characters in this world. Of course I loved Cage. It was kinda hard not to. The jury’s still out on how I feel about Brigid… but Vex? I absolutely adored him. He is the perfect best friend.

This is just the beginning. There’s more to come in the Artifact Hunters series and by the end of Race of Thieves, Cage is already chasing after his next treasure.

Hell in a Head Gasket (The Devil’s Daughter #1) by G.A. Chase

When Sere Mal-Laurette escaped hell, she thought she’d left her demons behind her. But now that one has found his way through hell’s gate, others are sure to follow. Then all hell will break loose.
If Sere fails to contain the little soulless bastards, the loas of the dead will likely figure out her true identity. Then they’ll be all over her soul, and she can kiss immortality goodbye. Moreover, someone needs to send the demons back to where they came from before they wreak havoc on the citizens of New Orleans. 

To prevent the demon doppelgängers from killing their human equivalents and taking over their lives, Sere will need the help of people she trusts–and some she doesn’t. It’s time for her to embrace the badass demon hunter she was always meant to be. To do so, however, she’ll have to quickly figure out the line between protector of humanity and murdering psychopath.

This is the first book in G.A. Chase’s The Devil’s Daughter series, but it’s not the first book in this world. The world building started in the Malveaux Curse Mysteries, which I haven’t read, but I fully intend to… soon. I wasn’t lost in Hell in a Head Gasket, but I think that I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read those books first.

Sere is an interesting character. She thought she was better off working alone, even though she had plenty of people more than willing to support and help her. She wasn’t comfortable with that though, especially when that help was offered from unexpected places.

You may have guessed that she’s not the only great character in this book. Hell in a Head Gasket is full of supporting characters that I can’t wait to get to know better. The premise was interesting, the characters were witty and the world building was unique. I can’t wait for the next book in The Devil’s Daughter series.