Burning Dawn (Angels of the Dark #3, Lords of the Underworld #10.5) by Gena Showalter

A tormented past has left Thane with an insatiable need for violence, making him the most dangerous assassin in the skies.
He lives by a single code: no mercy. And as he unleashes his fury on his most recent captor, he learns no battle could have prepared him for the slave he rescues from his enemy’s clutches—a beauty who stokes the fires of his darkest desires.
Elin Vale has her own deep-rooted scars, and her attraction to the exquisite warrior who freed her challenges her every boundary.
But Thane’s unwavering determination to protect her means she must face her greatest fears—and enter a world in which passion is power, and victory means breathtaking surrender.

I’ve neglected this world way too long, but I’m slowly making up for it. 😉

Both Thane and Elin are more than just a little bit broken. It’s pretty safe to say that normal beings would have been crushed by just a fraction of what each of these characters had been through. Through strength and more than a little stubbornness, they’ve survived but the cost was high. So high that it was hard for them to trust and left them with a few emotional and physical scars.

They were an unlikely pair for a lot of reasons. They both had their secrets and some of those secrets made them an even more unlikely pair. Things aren’t always what they seem though and some prejudices – regardless of how personal they are – are worth letting go of…

One of my favorite parts of an ongoing series are the supporting characters and Burning Dawn was no exception. Since I’m way behind, I know that I’m not going to get more from a few characters that I really want, at least not for now, but there’s still hope. Since I’m reading these in order and Burning Dawn seems to be the last of the Angels of the Dark series available, next up is The Darkest Touch, Torin’s book in the Lords of the Underworld series.

The Demon’s Possession (Shadow Quest #1) by Kiersten Fay

As captain of the merchant ship Marada, Sebastian has only one goal: keep his family and his crew safe while they deliver a curious parcel to a ruthless pirate. But when a bewitching young woman mysteriously appears on his ship, he finds it impossible to focus on the job…and to keep his hands off her.
Analia has known only one life: enslavement. In a bid for freedom, she escapes onto a craft led by a fearsome demon captain. If she is to maintain her freedom, she must gain Sebastian’s trust while concealing her true nature.
Together they contend with the hazards of open space, but what no one knows is her secrets are more dangerous than anything they have encountered before.

This is another book/series/author that I “stumbled” upon in my search for something new to read. I liked the premise, who doesn’t like a good demon hero? Especially one who has no intention of finding his one true mate? Those are my favorite. It’s so much fun watching them fight the inevitable. 😉

Analia had been through so much and she was more than a little broken. She had lost her will to survive more than once, but she always found a way to fight back. When the opportunity came to finally escape, she took it. She had no idea what she was escaping to, but it had to be better than the captivity she had lived in so far. What she found when she ended up on Sebastian’s ship was a family. Of course, it didn’t happen immediately, they weren’t an easily trusting bunch. There attraction was powerful, but they fought it as long as they could. Everyone around them knew they were destined to be together long before they did.

Another thing that I’m a sucker for is strong supporting characters and The Demon’s Possession had plenty. There was also plenty of action, suspense and a bad guy who everyone was ready to defend Analia against. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the demons find their HEA. Net up is The Demon Slave and it features Marik, who was one of my favorite support characters in The Demon’s Possession.

Beauty Awakened (Angels of the Dark #2 & Lords of the Underworld #9.5) by Gena Showalter

His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary-and he lives only for vengeance, determined to punish the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be kicked from the heavens, eternally damned.
She is his last hope. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo’s deliverance…and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola’s life-even if he has to sacrifice his own…

It’s been a while since I stepped into this world. Technically, Beauty Awakened is a spinoff series of the Lords of the Underworld, but since they are part of the same world and the events take place during the same time frame, I figured I might as well read them in order. Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to continue – with both series. 😉

I’m not sure which one of these characters was the most broken. Both Nicola and Koldo’s backgrounds were full of heart break. Nicola and her twin’s childhood was filled with issues centered around their health issues. Because of that and overly protective parents, they missed out on a lot of the “normal” things kids experience. Koldo’s childhood was brutal and what made it worse was that that brutality came from people who he should have been able to trust. These were two people who needed to find each other, regardless of how much they fought it.

The supporting characters were strong and some of them were going through their own drama, which I’m sure is going to continue in both series. (Which BTW is what I love most about series books.) Both Koldo and Nicola found allies that they didn’t expect. They also realized that they had family that they could depend on in ways that they never even allowed themselves to hope for.

It took them a while, but they eventually reached their HEA, but I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of them. The next book chronologically is The Darkest Craving from the LOTU series and it features Kane. Stay tuned because it won’t be long before this one ends up on my reading list. 😉

 

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole

Her breathless kiss haunts him…
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.
His slow, hot touch is irresistible…
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.
No deed is too wicked for her seduction…
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

So, ironically, I started my last review of a book in this series with: “I really need to stop putting so much time between books in a series.” That was for No Rest for the Wicked, which I read in… 2013. *sigh* One of these days, I’ll start taking my own advice. In my defense, I just recently started picking up my long neglected physical books, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down, while constantly wanting to punch some sense into the thick-headed hero. Not that I didn’t sympathize with him at times, I really did. He had been through a lot. On the flip side of that sympathy, it seemed like every time he was getting his act together, he’d royally screw things up all over again. I couldn’t see how this was going to work. Granted, Mari had her own set of screw-ups, but I found myself thinking more than once that she could do so much better. Which really isn’t the way you’re supposed to feel with two people trying to reach their HEA.

I guess my point is that if you find yourself feeling this way through most of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, don’t give up on them. Their HEA is totally worth the frustration. Hopefully there won’t be a 7 year stretch between my finishing this one and picking up Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, but with me you never know 😉

Reign of Monsters (Artifact Hunters #2) by S.M. Reine

Shatter Cage has everything he wants. He’s convinced his billionaire boss that he’s a phoenix shifter—not a were-squirrel—and he’s working his dream job as a professional thief. But just when everything is going to plan, his home falls apart. Literally. The barriers protecting his lower-class neighborhood from toxic fog have fallen.
Luckily, his new boss is powerful. Less luckily, his new boss doesn’t care to help.
Cage can help his hometown if he doesn’t mind stealing from his boss, risking his dream job…and if he can survive the resentful ex-girlfriend on his heels, hellbent on murdering him.

My first response when I finished Reign of Monsters was – REALLY?!? Was that absolutely necessary?!? There were tears readers! Honest to Gods tears! THAT I was not expecting from Shatter Cage. Let’s just say that SM Reine’s #EvilAuthor status is in good standing. *Glares at said author*

Well, now that you know how I really feel… There were a lot of surprises in this one – well, except for the bad guy. It was blatantly obvious to everyone EXCEPT for Cage who the real bad guy was, but that’s part of his charm. He is passionate about everything, which gets him into more than one tight spot and exasperates those who love him, but it’s also what keeps him surrounded, supported and protected by those same people.

As for the rest of the surprises? My feelings about a few key characters changed in Reign of Monsters. I thought I had Brigid figured out in Race of Thieves and my feelings weren’t flattering. She really started growing on me in this book, which was mainly because of her true feelings about Cage trying to sneak through. The other character that took me by surprise was Marion – my feelings toward her fluctuate depending on the book or series she shows up in the Descentverse. I actually kind of almost liked her in Reign of Monsters. 😉

One of the hardest parts about reviewing any book in this world is not giving anything away. Trust me, Reign of Monsters is no exception. I kept hoping that things would end differently, but… *sigh* I haven’t given up hope though, because there is definitely more to come and I can’t wait.

Hell and Back (The Devil’s Daughter #6) by G.A. Chase

Closing the hellmouth after the devil and his demons escaped on dragonback might not have been the best idea. With an enemy in possession of her body, Sere Mal-Laurette will have to cast her soul back to hell if she hopes to put both dimensions back in order.
Time is quickly running out for Sere to save the world. Marjory Laroque has all that she needs to create her immortal army. Even worse, Aloysius is now in full devil form and ready for Marjory to possess.
Sere’s plan to thwart the powerful woman goes horribly off course when Marjory takes possession of Sere’s body instead of that of the hapless devil she created. With Sere’s soul forced back into the computer that spawned her, the devil’s daughter finds no other option but to follow the link back to hell. If she can cut Marjory’s army off at the source of its power, she might still have a chance of saving the world.
Marjory’s army of goblins and half-baked dragons do their best to intercept Sere in hell, but the badass doppelgänger girl has a few tricks up her sleeve for battling them. Getting back out of hell, however, proves far more complex than Sere imagined, requiring the help of not only those she loves but also those she mistrusts. The price for their help will test the limits of Sere’s humanity.

*sigh* Another great series has come to an end. I had no idea what to expect from The Devil’s Daughter when I first picked up Hell in a Head Gasket, but once I started, it was obvious I was destined to be hooked.

The description gives readers a pretty good idea of what Sere’s up against in this final battle, but the emotions that come into play in Hell and Back caught me totally off guard. Totally. Sere gained some interesting allies and there were times that she wasn’t quite sure who she could and couldn’t trust. Through it all, there was one constant – Bart. There were some pretty close calls, but he always had her back.

This series is full of interesting characters and they all play a major roll. None of them are perfect. Most of them have been together for a very long time. Some I may never really like, but they all add another layer to the story.

I’m always just a little sad when a series I love comes to an end. Although that’s the case with The Devil’s Daughter, I can’t complain about the way G.A. Chase wrapped things up – but kinda left things open? I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this group of characters. For now, I still have plenty of catching up to do with the Malveaux Curse Mystery series 😉

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. 😉

Hell Away from Home (The Devil’s Daughter #5) by G.A. Chase

A sixteen-year-old doppelgänger girl in hell faces off against devils, demons, and dragons to save a world she barely knows.
All Doodlebug wanted was to get out of hell unscathed. Having paid the price for killing Sere’s mentor by beheading countless harvesters, demons, and all manner of monsters, she really thought she’d earned passage through the hellmouth. But that was before her savior went missing.
With a contingent of demon-riding dragons, a new devil on the rise, and her primary adversary on the sidelines, Marjory Laroque is no longer content with simply conducting mischief in life. In hell, there are far fewer forces to overcome.
With nowhere else to turn, Doodlebug must take on what she’d always thought to be impossible: saving the hell’s angel that raised her mentor and heroine. To achieve her mission, Doodlebug will need to face her deepest fears—and hell’s most powerful forces—while accepting help from those she fundamentally mistrusts.

Sere’s still present in Hell Away from Home, but readers spend a LOT of time in Doodlebug’s head. That’s not a bad thing, just worth mentioning and a little different than what we’ve gotten used to.

Hell Away from Home didn’t necessarily make me like Doodlebug any more than I did before. I still can’t quite get past what she took away from Sere and her family. I understand her usefulness to Sere, but she’s got a long way to go to redeem herself. Sere doesn’t quite trust her either, which keeps things interesting. Especially with all that’s at stake.

Although there’s no true cliff hanger at the end of Hell Away from Home, things are definitely up in the air. Sere’s left with not knowing exactly who she can and can’t trust – including people she’s never questioned. Hell and Back is next and I can’t wait to see where things go from here. In the mean time, I’ll spend some time catching up with Sere’s back story in the Malveaux Curse Mystery series. 😉

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.
Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.
Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

The Shadow of the Fox ended with Yumeko and her companions in an unexpected and dangerous position. In other words, it ended with one heck of a cliff hanger. Soul of the Sword continued their journey to deliver the piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers that Yumeko had been entrusted with to the Steel Feather temple. That’s no longer their only mission though. Yumeko can’t bring herself to give up on Tatsumi. She wants to save him and his soul from possession.

Soul of the Sword was an amazing followup to Shadow of the Fox. The POV switched between Hakaimono and Yumeko and a couple of other “voices” throughout the story. Connections were made with some of the side characters that were slightly vague in Shadow of the Fox. Yumeko learned a lot about herself and what she was capable of as well Tatsumi’s past during her travels. There weren’t quite as many “light” moments in Soul of the Sword, but there were just enough to break through a little bit of the darkness – which there was plenty.

I loved the way Soul of the Sword continued to weave the past and present and give even more dimension to all the characters. There was even an unexpected bit of romance that made me smile. Things are far from over for Yumeko and her companions. Decisions and unlikely alliances were made that changed the course of their mission and left them in even more danger. Needless to say, I can’t wait until the next book in the Shadow of the Fox is released.

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.