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 ❤

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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.

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Julie Kagawa. I practically devoured The Iron Fey series and I loved Blood of Eden. When I saw Shadow of the Fox, I didn’t hesitate. Once I started reading, it didn’t take me long to remember why I love this author’s world building so much.

My first love in the Fantasy genre is mythology, mainly because I loved it as a child. It’s familiar, but every author has the ability to put their own spin on it, so the stories are also fresh. Shadow of the Fox was centered around Japanese mythology, a first for me. I have to admit that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this unfamiliar world, but not too long.

There was a lot to take in, but I loved all the twists and turns. The POV switched between not only Tatsumi and Yumeko, but some unexpected characters were given a voice. I loved the magic and legends that were woven into the story. There was danger everywhere and both Tatsumi and Yumeko kept secrets from one another – which didn’t make things easier for either one of them.

I also loved the twists and turns and the unlikely alliances that were formed along their journey. Yumeko’s perspective on pretty much everything was the polar opposite of Tatsumi’s, which was both confusing and frustrating for the warrior.

There are a lot of reasons why I can’t wait until the next book in Shadow of the Fox is released. First and foremost is that, things take a major turn near the end and then… yeah, you’ll just have to read Shadow of the Fox to find out and then join me in waiting not so patiently for Soul of the Sword. *sigh*

The Monster Museum (Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper #10) by JL Bryan

Just outside the small but colorful mountain resort town of Foxboro, Tennessee lies Dr. Weirdman’s Mountain Museum of Monsters, Curiosities, and Ancient Mysteries. Once a major tourist attraction, it offers travelers the amusement of touring unusual underground caves and pseudo-scientific exhibits ranging from strange creatures to the supposed artifacts of lost civilizations.
Now the museum is a crumbling relic of an older age, fallen into disrepair. Its longtime owner has died, leaving it in the hands of a younger distant relative who knows nothing of how to run a failing tourist trap of a museum, but who is desperate to make a living and provide for his own children.
The museum has a serious ghost problem, though, and Ellie Jordan is called in from Savannah to help. An unexpected old friend joins Ellie at the last moment so that they can spend a snow-filled Christmas together in the mountains…if the ghosts of the restless dead don’t turn the holidays into a horrific tragedy.

Have you ever read a book and had the urge to jump in and warn the characters because you figured something out before they did? A life or death something? Something that they really, really needed to know? Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt at least halfway through The Monster Museum and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. That realization was almost as terrifying as the monsters Ellie was attempting to protect her clients agains. *sigh*

Running head long into danger is nothing new to Ellie Jordan. She pretty much does it all the time, but this time was different. This time she had no back-up. At least no back-up that she felt comfortable taking advantage of. That “old friend” that is hinted at in the description is Michael. And before you get upset about me “spoiling” anything, it’s revealed in the first chapter. Those of you who have followed the series know that Michael and Ellie aren’t exactly on the best of terms, at least they haven’t been. I know that when things were good between them, he was good for Ellie. I’m still not sure how I feel about him though. He was pretty hard on Ellie, but there’s also no one who’s harder on her than Ellie herself.

There was a lot going on even beyond the ghost trapping in The Monster Museum. We get a lot of Ellie’s personal feelings in this story that readers don’t normally get. Ellie would be the first to tell anyone that she doesn’t do relationships. Her job is too dangerous and it’s not the kind of thing she can leave at the office. Her emotions are jumbled and she doesn’t even trust them most of the time. She spends a lot of time in this story doing some self analysis and readers got to see a whole different side to her.

Heart stopping danger and an atmosphere that was more than a little spooky kept the pages turning and then… well, you’ll just have to read The Monster Museum to find out. This series is not for the faint of heart, so consider yourself warned. And even though you can’t really call the ending of The Monster Museum a cliff hanger, the danger is far from over and there’s a lot more in store for Ellie and company. Although I liked the one on one time spent with her, I’m hoping that the rest of the cast of characters returns for the next installment. FYI, if you haven’t started this series yet, the first book, Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper is currently FREE at Amazon. 😉

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 ❤

Possessed (When Worlds Collide #1) by Kelly Apple

When she bought her new house, Char James didn’t plan to also take on a ghost. It’s rude, creepy, and a downright terrible roommate. Despite that, she’s determined to show it they can live in harmony. Hopefully.
But Char’s entire perspective changes when a surprise encounter rocks her world. She learns that sometimes pranks can be helpful, sometimes a ghost isn’t really a ghost…
And sometimes the scariest creature of all is the most protective.

I love smexy ghost stories… even though this isn’t exactly a ghost story. Hence the title, Possessed. Trust me when I say that When World’s Collide is off to a great start.

Char got more than she bargained for when she moved into her new home. Mal… At first he was an annoyance, then he turned into a lot more… way more… Did I mention that this was a smexy read? He also turned out to be really helpful in more ways than one. Turns out that sometimes the bad guys aren’t exactly who you might expect them to be.

Yeah, Kelly Apple is really good at creating really smexy times with paranormals. I’m kinda looking forward to see what she has planned for the next books in this series. 😉

The Road to Helltown (Preternatural Affairs #9) by SM Reine

My name’s Cèsar Hawke, and the people in my life are filled with good intentions.
We all know where that ends up.
A fissure to Hell has ripped from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and now half the City of Dis is in my hometown. Helltown’s hotter than ever. Demon dynasties are on the rise. Nightmares are out to get me.
Staying alive means forgiving people I’ve kicked out of my life, it means getting vicious with magic, and yeah, it means I’m dealing with dead bodies. Lots of them.
I’m Cèsar Hawke. I used to be an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. And this is how the world ends.

I was not a happy camper going into The Road to Helltown. Why you may ask? The answer is kinda petty, but simple. Out of all the male characters in this crazy world created by SM Reine, Cèsar Hawke is my absolute favorite. (Rylie’s my favorite female character, in case you’re curious.) I may be in the minority and that’s okay, but I suffered a little bit of heart break when I found out that this would be the last of Cèsar’s books. *sigh*

Regardless of my trepidation, I grudgingly put on my big girl pants and dove into the last Preternatural Affairs book knowing that SM Reine would give my beloved Cèsar the send off he deserved. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I trust this author because Cèsar went through a lot in this book. The Road to Helltown was not a fun trip for anyone involved – least of all Cèsar.

The Road to Helltown was told by several different POVs, which included Fritz, Suzume (never call her that), Isobel and of course, Cèsar. Readers learned a lot about each of them in this book. Some good and some not so good. The thing I love about Cèsar is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He knows his faults and admits them freely and he’s blatantly honest – mostly about himself. Being in his head is so entertaining. Readers got that in The Road to Helltown, but they also got things that they didn’t expect – like real glimpses of Fritz, Suzy and Isobel.

I gotta admit, as much as I’ve loved Cèsar, I have not been a real fan of Fritz. He’s always seemed so stuffy and prickly and grumpy… you get the picture. That’s not just from this series either, because he’s made appearances in more than one series in this world. In true SM Reine fashion, my opinions about him changed in The Road to Helltown. I’m still not in love with him, but I can honestly say that I like him now. That’s major progress. 😉

Being in Suzy’s head was fun too. It was great to find out how much she cared about (and lusted over) Cèsar. It shouldn’t have surprised me too much because she was always passionate about her magic. It was just good to know that Cèsar’s love and respect wasn’t one-sided.

I’m not sure why, but I always found the relationship between Fritz and Isobel a little… strange? By the end of The Road to Helltown, I was more comfortable with it. Isobel’s POV helped with that I think. Truth is, I really think that this foursome is much better together than apart – their quirkiness just works better together.

SM Reine took these characters on a unique journey and I liked the twist. It was scary, gruesome, and at times even fun. The Preternatural Affairs series was most definitely brought to a satisfying end, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not going  to miss them… especially Cèsar. There are still a few things I’d like to know, so hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Cèsar and company. Maybe not all together anymore, but a glimpse or cameo here and there would be nice. ❤