The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by E.J. Russell

Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?
Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree-hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.
All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.
Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.
Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.

The relationship between Mal and Bryce most definitely did not begin with love at first sight. Mal’s lack of trust, respect, etc., of druid’s didn’t improve when he became magically attached to Bryce. The feeling was pretty much mutual since Bryce had absolutely no knowledge of the supernatural world he was suddenly thrust in head first with an uncooperative tutor. Then the real fun began. 😉

I have to admit, I didn’t like The Druid Next Door near as much as I liked the first book in the Fae Out of Water series, Cutie and the Beast. However, I did end up liking Mal more in The Druid Next Door than when readers were first introduced to him as Alun’s playboy brother, eventually.

When the book opened, Mal was pretty much a shell of the characters that readers first met. When he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, he was trying desperately to figure out how to reverse the curse that had been placed on him. He thought he knew exactly what he had to do until a mysterious stranger gave him another option. It’s true that nothing is quite what it seems and I honestly didn’t see any of what that drunken alliance led to. In the mean time, Bryce and Mal started seeing things in each other that they didn’t expect either.

I ended up really liking The Druid Next Door. It wasn’t quite as light and ‘cute’ as Cutie and the Beast, but there was nothing light or cute about Mal or Bryce. There were a couple of fun moments though and David did make quite a few appearances, which was fun.

At the time I wrote this review, I’d already read the next book in the series, Bad Boy’s Bard. You’ll have to wait a little while to see if Gareth won me over. Honestly, after the first two books I thought that E.J. Russell probably had her work cut out for her. Stay tuned. 😉 

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Cutie and the Beast (Fae Out of Water #1) by E.J. Russell

Temp worker David Evans has been dreaming of Dr. Alun Kendrick ever since that one transcription job for him, because holy cats, that voice. Swoon. So when his agency offers him a position as Dr. Kendrick’s temporary office manager, David neglects to mention that he’s been permanently banished from offices. Because, forgiveness? Way easier than permission.
Alun Kendrick, former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court, takes his job as a psychologist for Portland’s supernatural population extremely seriously. Secrecy is paramount: no non-supe can know of their existence. So when a gods-bedamned human shows up to replace his office manager, he intends to send the man packing. It shouldn’t be difficult—in the two hundred years since he was cursed, no human has ever failed to run screaming from his hideous face.
But cheeky David isn’t intimidated, and despite himself, Alun is drawn to David in a way that can only spell disaster: when fae consort with humans, it never ends well. And if the human has secrets of his own? The disaster might be greater than either of them could ever imagine.

This was a fun one. 🙂 David was a mess. He was also quirky, adorably and totally devoted to his unconventional family. He screwed up every job he had and trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. When he lands a temp job in Alun’s office he is determined to make it work – even though it’s a job that he had no business taking.

Alun was cursed and he knew it was totally deserved. The fact that David was determined to stick around regardless of how hard Alun tried to push him away was just one of the reasons why he was inexplicably attracted to David. None of it made any sense at all to Alun. But then, nothing is ever what it seems. By the time both David and Alun figured out what was really going on, it was almost too late.

This was a great start to the Fae Out of Water series. The fact that readers were introduced to both of Alun’s brothers just made me want to get to know them better ASAP. Good thing I don’t have long to wait for Mal (The Druid Next Door) or Gareth’s (Bad Boy’s Bard) books. I’m not sure if they will be quite as entertaining as Cutie & the Beast. Mal pushed all of Alun’s buttons and was a shameless flirt, but Gareth has a fair amount of baggage and a pretty hefty chip on his shoulder. Regardless, I’m pretty sure that this series is going to be extremely interesting.

Spellbinder (Moonshadow #2) by Thea Harrison

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.
When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.
One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.
Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.
But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…

The Moonshadow series is getting more and more intriguing with each couple that’s introduced. I loved the first book, Moonshadow, and readers met Morgan as he was doing his best to inflict pain on Nikolas, his brotherhood and Sophie. I was kind of surprised when Spellbinder was Morgan’s book, but I should have trusted Thea Harrison to prove that nothing is quite as it seems.

Unlike Sophie, Sidonie was totally human with no power whatsoever. What she did have was her music, an unwillingness to give up and a strategic mind that saved her more than once. Even with all of that, she never would have had a chance if it weren’t for Morgan.

After reading Moonshadow, I never expected to like Morgan, much less sympathize with him. He didn’t win me over immediately, but it didn’t take long. Because of Sidonie’s intuitiveness, he finally had a little bit of hope and an ally he never expected.

There were a few twists and turns and things didn’t turn out exactly like either Sidonie and Morgan planned, but the path to a HEA isn’t always easy.

A few characters from previous books made some unexpected appearances and at least one of them made me want to go back and re-read one book in the Elder Races series (if not more.) Those appearances also proved that things are bound to get even more interesting as the Moonshadow series progresses. I can’t wait 😉

Moonshadow (Moonshadow #1) by Thea Harrison

Her past is a blank, her future uncertain….
Recovering from a shooting, LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross leaves her job and travels to the U.K. to search for answers about her childhood. When she encounters a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, she becomes entangled in an ancient hatred between two arcane forces.
He has given his body and soul to fight for his people….
Barred from his homeland along with his surviving brother knights, Nikolas Sevigny is embroiled in a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear. Only by uniting his people’s resources can they hope to prevail against Isabeau, the deadly Queen of the Light Court. He will do anything and use anyone to return home to Lyonesse.
When Nikolas encounters Sophie, he sees a tool to be used. The insouciant witch might be the key to unlocking every passageway that has been barred to the knights of the Dark Court, even as a fascination for her takes root in what’s left of his soul.
Sophie has no intention of becoming anyone’s pawn, yet the fierce Nikolas is so compelling, she can’t deny the temptation that endangers her guarded heart.
As magic threatens Lyonesse, Queen Isabeau unleashes her merciless Hounds, and Nikolas and Sophie become embroiled in a race for survival. Meanwhile, the passion that ignites between them burns too hot to be denied and quickly turns into obsession.
Thank goodness they both know better than to fall in love…

Strangely enough, I missed Moonshadow when it was first released, but once I noticed Spellbinder, the second book in the Moonshadow series, was available for review, it definitely got my attention. Why’s that so strange, you may be asking? Because it’s not only the first book in a brand new Thea Harrison series, it also introduces readers to some new members of the Elder Races. Enough said…

Sophie was amazing. I fell in love with her from the very beginning. She was slightly broken because of the shooting she barely survived, but she was brave, loyal and alone. When she was approached by someone offering her a way to acquire a mysterious property. She figured she has nothing to lose. She ended up getting a lot more than she bargained for – including maybe some insight into her past.

Nikolas was a little harder to read, but the more I got to know him, the more I liked him. He wasn’t used to someone as kind and genuinely caring as Sophie and her willingness to help kind of threw him. Just another reason to fall in love with her… that’s if he had the ability to fall in love. His one and only priority was to keep what’s left of his brotherhood safe and find a way home.

Action, magic, mystery and more… I’m thinking I’m going to like this Elder Races spin off series. Not surprising at all. As I mentioned, Spellbinder is next and it’s already way up on my TBR list. Stay tuned!

Branded by Flames (Dragon Soul#1) by Sean Michael

brandedbyflamesMeet the Beteferoce brothers. Five dragon shifters, each with a strong elemental power. And each with a fierce desire to find his soul mate…
For years, dragon-shifter-slash-firefighter Jake has been searching for his mate, but he’s beginning to tire of the search. Maybe soul mates are only for the lucky few.
Then he meets Shae.
A former navy welder, Shae is handsome, talented, into power play and rough sex, and covered in dragon tattoos. All of this suits the shape-shifting dragon just fine—until he finds out that Shae literally has Jake’s family crest already tattooed on him. A coincidence? Or something more…
Jake must convince Shae to trust him as a man and as a Dom before the heat between them burns out of control. Becoming a dragon’s mate is not without danger, and Shae will need Jake’s guidance—and love—if he’s going to make it through alive.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’m kinda on the fence with this one. I loved the characters, I liked the story, I really think I’m going to like the series, but there was just something…

The thing is, I think the same thing that bothered Shae about the ‘secrets’ Jake kept from him bothered me. I honestly understand why Jake thought he had to do what he did and it all worked out in the end, but it still kind of bothered me. Other than that, I liked the connection between Shae and Jake and Branded by Flames turned out to be a pretty good start to a new series. I love dragons and this group of brothers is going to be a fun bunch to get to know better. 😉

DragonFlyGreen3-5

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

 

 

 

Bound by Faerie (Stolen Magic #1) by W.B. McKay

boundbyfaeriecoverSophie Morrigan inherited many magical gifts from her death goddess mother. Most of them inflict torture, except the most beautiful. That one kills.
As an agent for the Faerie Affairs Bureau, Sophie loves retrieving dangerous magical objects. The job lets her indulge her covetous nature, and most importantly, it pays the bills. But when a routine job goes south, she finds herself struggling to keep her deadly magic in check while fleeing the wrath of an enraged dragon.
In a desperate search for answers, Sophie stumbles across Owen, a fae nightclub owner who’s as sexy as he is irritating, but just happens to hold the key to her problems.
Sophie wants nothing more than to get her magic under control and return to her normal life, but first she’ll have to face off with all the dangers Faerie can throw at her. Can she fight her way back home? Or will both she and Owen fall prey to a crazed death cult?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Bound by Faerie is the first book written by a husband and wife writing duo in their Stolen Magic series. I don’t always accept review requests, but the premise of this one was intriguing. I’m really glad I took a chance on it, because now I can’t wait for more from this series.

I don’t like to compare authors and series, so I’m not going to. What I will say is that if you like Urban Fantasy or PNR on the lighter side, this is a series that you are going to want to give a try. Bound by Faerie is light, but not silly. The characters are fun and they had a personality that made me want to get to know them better. There was also plenty of action, danger and mystery to keep the pages turning. I also enjoyed the authors’ twist on some familiar mythology. They did a great job at not straying too far, but making the characters unique enough to call their own.

I’m not sure when the next book is due to be released, but I’ll most definitely be watching for it. 🙂

DragonFlyRating4

Cast in Faefire (The Mage Craft #3) by S.M. Reine

CastInFaefireMarion has agreed to something personally painful to further her political goals. But her sacrifice isn’t enough to make it go smoothly. Between Konig’s betrayal and a gaean revolt, Marion will be lucky to escape with her life intact, much less save the ethereal species from extermination.

I feel like this review should be prefaced by a warning. Something like “Read at Your Own Risk” or “Be Prepared to Walk Away Totally Confused.” Not by the book. The book was amazing. I’m referring to my lack of ability to convey how amazing books that I love are and how crazy talented the authors who pen them are.  I guess if you’ve been here before, you already know that so consider yourself warned.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, here’s a contradiction for you. As much as I love S.M. Reine’s books, she’s driving me nuts with these newer series in her ‘Descentverse’. That uneasiness first happened for me with War of the Alphas. My history with Reine’s books started with the Seasons of the Moon series. Seth and Rylie were the foundation of my love for this crazy, intricate world. Sure, there were moments where they both aggravated me just a little. Neither one of them were angels (not a great comparison given the true nature of angels in Reine’s world – but you get the picture.) The point is that I was right there with them through all the good and the bad and I respected who they became. Deirdre Tombs blew into this world in War of the Alphas with an entirely different perspective. A perspective that had me at odds with the heroine in the series because of her hate for Rylie.

So, what does my little vent about War of the Alphas and my love for Seth and Rylie have to do with the Mage Craft series and more importantly, Cast in Faefire? I’m getting there, just remember that warning I gave you. 😉 S.M. Reine found a whole new way to gain an alternate perspective in Mage Craft. She took a character that was familiar (at least to most readers) and took away her memories. That made her free to not see Rylie as the mother figure she grew up with, but as the woman who broke Seth. Not only that, but Marion stumbled on some revelations that added fuel to her growing distrust of Rylie in Cast in Faefire. Granted, those revelations were most likely taken totally out of context, but Rylie still has some serious explaining to do. This series is also stirring up those initial pangs that occurred when Rylie first left Seth for Abel. To say that Cast in Faefire was an emotional roller coaster would be a huge understatement.

Beyond the fact that I wanted to defend Rylie, sympathize with Seth and help Marion make sense of everything, there was a lot more going on in Cast in Faefire. Seems that everyone had something to hide and some were better at it than others. Sacrifices were made by more than one character. New enemies were discovered and more than one strange alliance was made. You know, just a normal day in the life of Reine’s characters.

Oh, and did I mention the cliff hanger and events that happened just before said cliff hanger? And the fact that I didn’t think I could loathe Konig more than I did at the end of Cast in Hellfire, but that happened too? I kind of liked catching up with characters from previous series, but they, more often than not, added to the drama. Oh, that reminds me of the conspicuous absence of some key characters who really need to make an appearance. There are at least two more books in this series and after all that’s happened and needs to happen I’m not sure that it can all be ‘fixed’ in Cast in Balefire and Cast in Godfire. I’m not going to complain if it takes more books though… there can never be too many books in the Descentverse. Okay, I’ll stop before I have to remind you of that warning again.

Once again, I’m going to urge you to pick up at least one of S.M. Reine’s series. Notice I didn’t say ‘books’ – because I honestly believe that if you pick up one, you’re going to want to read more. Also, the author will tell you, as well as a few devoted readers, that you can read any of the series as stand alones. Which, I suppose, is true. Just in case you find yourself wanting to embrace yourself in all aspects of Reine’s Descentverse, you can find the suggested reading order at smreine.com.

DragonFlyRating5

Cast in Hellfire (Mage Craft #2) by S.M. Reine

CastInHellfireMarion Garin is the teenage daughter of Metaraon, the former Voice of God. Now she’s also the steward of the Winter Court, which has been in anarchy since a revolution five years earlier. 
Problem: Marion still doesn’t remember anything that happened before two weeks ago. 
Seth Wilder has a lead on her memories. Whoever stole them and sold Marion’s essence to a demon lord in Sheol. Marion wants to help steal them back, even though that means abandoning the Winter Court to war. And Seth can’t seem to tell Marion no. 
He wants Marion nearby. Very nearby. Possibly in his teeth. See, Seth has this little problem where he’s developing a killing urge, and it seems to be centered primarily on the half-angel girl who adores him. It conflicts with everything Seth believes himself to be: a moral man, a doctor who heals instead of hurts. Yet he’s obsessed with Marion. She wants her memories, and he wants her to have them as much as he wants her blood. 
They’ll work together to make Marion whole, come hell or high water. Even if it means war. Even if it means Seth might hurt Marion. And damned be the consequences…

Well… I didn’t see that coming. And no, I can’t tell you what I didn’t see coming for more than one reason. First, it would spoil it for you and second… there was more than one thing that I didn’t see coming. And that dear readers is the beauty of most books that S.M. Reine writes. 😉 (See how she turns me into a rambling mess?)

So technically, you could start this series as a stand alone. I still wouldn’t recommend it. Even though I’ve read almost all of S.M. Reine’s books up to this point, the more I read, the more I want to go back and see what I’ve missed. Plus, a lot of characters from the past are introduced. It’s not really necessary to know who they were in the past, but the connections are interesting and sometimes helpful, at least I think that they are. I guess the real point I’m trying to make is that if you haven’t yet introduced yourself to this world of S.M. Reine’s, please do. You can thank me later.

My personal emotions were all over the place in Cast in Hellfire. The main reason for that was that I wasn’t sure who I was going to be angry with next. There are a lot of people who have personal agendas, and not all of them were totally revealed. It was easy to tell who the really bad guys were. But since not everything is exactly as it seems, at least at first glance, it was easy to hate a character one minute and sympathize with them the next. And more than one person has at least one secret, and sometimes more. So yeah, those lines between good and evil got pretty blurry. Plus, Marion had some pretty strong negative reactions to people that I didn’t expect. To make matters even more complicated, the closer that she got to getting her memories back, the more I didn’t really want her to because I wasn’t sure I was going to like the person she discovered.

I can’t really say I’m surprised that Cast in Hellfire ended in a cliff hanger. It honestly wouldn’t have made sense for things to end any other way. On a side note, there are people that I really want to see in Cast in Faefire. Some of them have some serious explaining to do. Oh, and personally, Seth has been one of my favorite characters since he was introduced way back in Seasons of the Moon. He’s gotten kind of a raw deal for a while now and it would really make me happy if things turned around for him. Not that I’m begging or anything….

DragonFlyRating5

Night’s Honor (Elder Races #7) by Thea Harrison

NightsHOnorOn the run from her former employer, Tess knows that she’s vulnerable on her own amongst the Elder Races. That’s why she decides to audition to become the human attendant of a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind demesne. But while her position affords her the safety she seeks, her protector turns out to be more than she bargained for.
The right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Xavier del Torro is both terrifying and alluring. While his true nature frightens Tess, she can’t ignore the appeal of his innate sense of integrity and self-restraint. Thrown into Xavier’s world, Tess must quickly learn to navigate the dangers—both to her life and to her heart. But the biggest threat comes from her own past….

I’m a huge fan of the Elder Races, but this is the first book that I’ve read that didn’t include the Wyrs and to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about it. The more I got into the politics and dynamics of the Vampyre community though, I stopped worrying. It’s not that I didn’t miss the Wyrs and the characters that drew me into this series. It was more because I found a whole other group of characters that I wanted to get to know better.

Speaking of getting to know someone better, Xavier wasn’t an easy guy to get close to… not that Tess had any intention of trying. She was there keep herself hidden and hopefully protected. Plus, she was totally repulsed by vampyres in general. Not exactly a normal start for a romance, but it was also kind of an interesting twist in the genre, for me anyway.

Even though Xavier was more than a little private and at times withdrawn, it was obvious that there was more to him than what he showed people on the surface. Tess slowly began to notice that he may not be as bad as she once thought, but she still wasn’t willing to give everything she asked for.

There were a lot of characters introduced in Night’s Honor. I loved the dynamic between Xavier and his attendants. Tess tried his patience, but he still respected her. How he treated those who served him and stood beside him was part of the reason why he gained my respect, and eventually Tess’s as well.

I’m kind of hoping that we see more of Xavier and Tess in the books that follow in the Elder Races. That’s entirely possible, since the next book in the series features a couple of my least favorite vampyres from Night’s Honor. I’ve already started reading Midnight’s Kiss and I’m kinda warming up to Julian, but Thea Harrison has her work cut out for her to get me to get me to really care about him. (I have no doubt she’s up to the task 😉 )

DragonFlyGreen4-5