A Bargain of Blood & Gold (Midnight Guardians #1) by Kristin Jacques

A novice hunter with a mission. A five-hundred-year-old vampire with a strong sense of irony. A town plagued by creatures in need of saving.
When Johnathan Newman arrives in Cress Haven, the last thing he expects is for his life to be irrevocably changed. Sent by a clandestine league of vampire hunters to investigate a string of murders, signs point to a vampire lurking amid the townsfolk. Johnathan’s attempt to enlist the locals leads him to an unlikely partnership with Vic, the town’s most eligible, enigmatic bachelor.
As the pair work to solve the mystery, Vic’s secrets come back to bite him. Revealed, the vampire fights his attraction to a man trained to destroy him, while Johnathan’s emotions land him in the middle of forbidden desires. Even if Vic isn’t the murderer, how can Johnathan yearn for his natural enemy?
As Vic leads Johnathan into encounters with terrifying beings straight from children’s nightmares, Johnathan learns that not only is the world stranger than he knew, but that those he once trusted have far darker intentions that will place hunter and vampire at the center of a conflict between realms.
Cress Haven holds more sinister secrets than its resident vampire, a secret so great, it could unleash Hell itself.

So, historical fiction is not my go-to (hmm… for an eclectic reader, it seems I have a LOT of “non-go-to” genres, but that’s a conundrum for another day.) That being said, something has to pique my curiosity to make me pick one up, especially from a new to me author. In this case, it was the vampire vs. vampire hunter. With that combination, how could I resist. A Bargain of Blood and Gold turned out to be so much more than I expected. I love it when that happens 😉

Nothing about Johnathan’s first solo mission turned out to be what he expected. From the time he set foot in Cress Haven it seemed that the mission, as well as Johnathan, was doomed. The only bright spot in his arrival was Vic, but nothing that’s going on in the isolated town was exactly as it seemed and the experience was destined to turn Johnathan’s orderly life upside down.

There was plenty of action, mystery, danger and more to keep the pages turning. Add to that a strictly forbidden romance and the fact that it was hard to tell exactly where loyalties should lie, A Bargain of Blood and Gold was a hard book to put down. The adventure was far from over at the end, so it goes without saying that I can’t wait for the Midnight Guardians series to continue.

The Elven King’s Promise (Fated Elves #3) by Devon Vesper

A carefully forged peace is threatened by unforeseen danger.
The prospect of going to college terrifies Dustin, and he balks at using Casersis’s money to do it. Along with his normal, human insecurities, Dustin is beside himself between going to therapy to deal with changing species and worrying about his omega’s upcoming heat. But Dustin is unprepared for the new twist when he accidentally soulbonds with an enemy. Erastus is crazed to get Dustin away from Casersis and will stop at nothing to get his way. 
Casersis is trying his hardest to put Dustin’s mind at ease, despite not understanding the very human hang-ups getting between them. But when his public relations officer attacks him, Casersis’s worries shift from Dustin to those trying to hurt him and his alpha. 
With his mate distracted, Dustin’s new soulbond could cost his relationship with Casersis. Or—even worse—his life. 

I know that I mentioned in my review of The Elven King’s Love that I missed the first book in the Fated Elves series, The Elven King’s Captive. At the time I also mentioned that I felt like I was missing integral parts of the story (Duh!) but it wasn’t too bad and I caught on quickly. Unfortunately, I felt those “missing pieces” even more in The Elven King’s Promise. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the continuation of Cas and Dustin’s story, it was just enough to let me know that there was more to the story. So, if this review is your first introduction to the Fated Elves series and it piques your interest, do yourself a favor and start from the beginning. You can thank me later 😉

Even though Dustin and Cas have come a long in their relationship, they still have some challenges ahead of them. Trust has grown, but there are still those niggling moments of doubt. Not so much about each other, but mostly about themselves and how they stack up to their mate. Cas worries that Dustin will get bored with him and eternity and Dustin worries that he will never be enough. Plus, Dustin is still transitioning, which just adds another layer to everything else that’s going on. As if all that weren’t enough, Erastus is a force that isn’t going to go away. He cares about Dustin and despises Cas. Cas doesn’t trust Erastus either, but neither one of them know the full story about the day that changed the course of both their lives. Throw in someone within Cas’s own ranks trying to cause him harm and it’s no wonder this was a hard one to put down.

I have a feeling things are about to get really interesting. The Elven King’s Forever is next and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

If A Butterfly Don’t Fly (Out of Underhill #2) by Mell Eight

Merridy has always loved music but can’t sing. The only job in the music business he can get is as a security guard for the Bard and Sons, a premier record label. He keeps their secrets and patrols their hallways, always wishing for a big break he knows will never come.
Changeling’s Court is a brand new band struggling to record their first single. Merridy chances upon a scrap of their lyrics without accompanying music notes and can’t help composing a simple melody for them. If he’s found out, he’ll probably get fired.
Instead, he finds himself in a strange new world of magic and faeries—and danger.

I can say with confidence that If A Butterfly Don’t Fly can be read as a standalone. The only thing that you’ll miss (other than a great story) is some world building that takes place in Kelpie Blue. Although I was kind of disappointed that readers weren’t given more of Rin and Blue’s story, I have to admit that I think I may have enjoyed getting to know Merridy and his introduction to the world of magic and faeries even more. 😉

Although their is a romantic element between Merridy and Fion (one of the band members) the main focus in If A Butterfly Don’t Fly is Merridy finding his place in a world that he always wanted to be a part of, but was always out of reach. He also discovered much more than he bargained for – including a world he had no idea even existed.

Merridy’s story was sweet, but it was also full of dangers he didn’t know existed. Not knowing about them didn’t keep him safe though. Changling’s Court was much more than an up and coming band and they needed Merridy as much as he needed them.

Once again, Mell Eight has woven a beautiful fantasy and I can’t wait to read whatever she offers readers next.

The Elven King’s Love (Fated Elves #2) by Devon Vesper

Casersis has been keeping a secret. And the longer he avoids Dustin’s attempts to pry it out of him, the harder Dustin chisels away at Casersis’s resolve. Throughout this push and pull, Dustin is so bored he’s all but climbing the walls. To battle this, Casersis takes Dustin on a series of long-overdue dates, bringing them closer both emotionally and spiritually.
When Casersis finally admits his secret—that he yearns for a fabled soulbond—he’s surprised that Dustin is completely fine with the idea of eventually trying for one. But when it happens by accident, neither are prepared for the fallout. Dustin still has enough human blood that the soulbond causes excruciating, debilitating flares of agony. And if the fits don’t calm down soon, the soulbond may just kill him.

Sometimes you can get away with not starting a series with the first book, sometimes… not so much. I’d like to say “live and learn” but I’ve done it too often to think that “knowing better” will change old habits. 😉

It didn’t take me long into reading The Elven King’s Love to tell that I was missing something. Evidently The Elven King’s Captive had a lot of back story that would have been helpful in understanding how Dustin and Casersis had gotten to where they were in this book. (Duh!) It wasn’t only the relationship between the two main characters that was important, but the relationship between supporting characters and their history that would have been helpful. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the continuing story, it just means that those missing pieces were, well… missed. *sigh*

So… other than those missing details (that I will go back and discover shortly), Cas and Dustin were an intriguing couple. Since I always find Fae stories interesting, I enjoyed the little twists added by Fated Mates. That’s basically what this story was about – Caserisis’s longing in battle with his protectiveness over Dustin and his fear that it wasn’t really something that Dustin would want forever.

There’s more to come in the Fated Elves series and I’m determined to keep up now that I’ve started. I’m not sure if the next book in the series will win out over backtracking to the first, so stay tuned!

Dawn’s Light (Duskblade #1) by Shannon Blair

Moranthus is an elf who has lost everything. With his lover dead and his career stagnating, he jumps at a chance to redeem himself by rescuing a human prince from the goblins hunting him—even if failure means death or eternal exile from his homeland.
Gerrick, a human soldier who bears an uncanny resemblance to his prince, has always chosen duty over desire. As the sole parent of his young daughter, he needs the extra coin that working as the prince’s body double provides—even if it may one day cost him his life.
When a case of mistaken identity puts the prince in the hands of a goblin raiding party, Moranthus’s and Gerrick’s paths collide. With winter closing in and miles of hostile goblin lands ahead, they must set aside their differences and work together to bring the prince home safely.
Their deepening connection comes with a growing certainty that rescuing the prince may be fatal. Moranthus and Gerrick must each find a way to reconcile his heart’s desires with his homeland’s needs—or die trying.

To me, Dawn’s Light was more an epic fantasy than a romance, but that’s not a bad thing.

Gerrick was a devoted father and loyal to his prince and kingdom. He took his position seriously and was more than willing to sacrifice himself to protect the prince. He had no idea what he was in for when he let himself take the prince’s place.

Moranthus had lost everything when he lost his lover – including his identity. When given the chance to win some of what was lost to him back, he jumped at the opportunity. Even though he knew it was too good to be true. It was an offer from someone he knew better than to trust.

These two warriors were an unlikely pair that found themselves thrown together through a case of mistaken identity. They fought against each other until they realized that working together was easier. It still took them a while to realize that they were both on the same side. It didn’t help that they denied what they were feeling for each other – well, at least Gerrick did – for most of their story. If nothing else, it definitely kept things interesting.

This is my first read by Shannon Blair, but since Dawn’s Light is the first book in the Duskblade series, I’m fairly certain that it won’t be my last.

The Transylvania Twist (Monster M*A*S*H #2) by Angie Fox

A shaky truce. A pregnant Medusa. And a dedicated doctor who keeps legends alive.
Even during a truce, I have my hands full as a MASH surgeon to an army of warring gods—especially when Medusa herself turns up pregnant. I frankly have no idea what to expect when a Gorgon’s expecting, but I have an even bigger problem when my presumed-dead former-fiancé sneaks into my tent with enough emotional baggage to fill a tank.
He’s been fighting for the other side, which technically makes him my enemy, and now he needs me and the power I’ve kept secret for so long: I can see the dead. It’s a blessing and a curse. Literally. Because the gods will smite me in a second if they suspect.
But the other side is developing a terrible new weapon, and the only person who can stop the carnage was just murdered in a covert lab behind enemy lines. So I have no choice but to pull on my combat boots and go AWOL with my ex and a moody berserker to confront a ghost with a terrible secret.
Too bad uncovering the truth could make me enemy #1…

This is one of those books that I really liked, but I’m still not sure about the direction that it took. *sigh* I don’t like giving things away, but since it was mentioned in the description… I was not happy about Mark’s return…. for a lot of reasons.

The rest of the story was just as good as Monster M*A*S*H, the first book in the series. I just really liked Galen and Petra’s relationship in the first book. He brought out the best in her or at least made her feel that things that she doubted were totally possible. I didn’t get that same feeling from Mark. It felt like he was using her most of the time and I just really didn’t like him. Petty, I know… *sigh*

As for the rest of the story, it was just as full of action, mystery, loyal friends and humor as readers have come to expect – not just from this series, but from Angie Fox books in general. Werewolves in London is next and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Kelpie Blue (Out of Underhill #1) by Mell Eight

When a beautiful blue horse asks Rin to go for a swim, Rin doesn’t realize how much his life is about to change. Blue is unlike anyone else Rin has ever met, and the magic of the fae, and of this particular kelpie, is wondrous, but deadly. Rin learns too late he might be in for a swim he won’t survive.

Kelpie Blue is so much more than its description might lead readers to believe. I’ve been a fan of Mell Eight’s since I discovered the re-release of her Supernatural Consultant series. When I found this one, I knew I had to read it. Although it doesn’t have the same “feel” as the stories about the young dragons I’ve come to adore, that’s not a bad thing – and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

I really liked the relationship between Rin and Blue. I also liked the relationship between Rin and his mom. They gave Blue a family – something he hadn’t had in a long time.

There was a bit of mystery, danger, magic, a sweet romance and more than a few surprises. Pretty much everything I enjoy in a fantasy. The next book in the series is If a Butterfly Don’t Fly. Even though I’d love to spend more time with Rin and Blue, I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

The Monster Mash (Monster M*A*S*H #1) by Angie Fox

The day I was drafted into the army of the gods, all I knew about being a MASH surgeon was what I’d learned from Hawkeye Pierce and Hot Lips Houlihan. Now here I am, Dr. Petra Robichaud, in the middle of an immortal war, assigned to a MASH camp with a nosy sphinx, a vegetarian werewolf, and an uptight vampire who really needs to get a life.
At least they’re all too busy with their own dramas to discover my secret: I can see the dead. It’s a forbidden gift, one that can get me killed, so I haven’t told a soul.
Until the arrestingly intense Galen arrives on my operating table, half-dead and totally to-die-for. When his spirit tries to slip out of his fatally wounded body, I impulsively slip it back in. Call it a rash resurrection. One I’ll live to regret.
Now Commander Galen of Delphi knows my secret, and he’s convinced I’m part of an ancient prophecy—one that can end the war for good. But taking a chance could cost me everything. And it would be easier to convince him to leave me alone, except now the prophecies are starting to come true…

Full disclosure, I may have been drawn to this book because I was and still am a huge fan of the popular TV show. Of course, I’m also a fan of Angie Fox, so I knew going in that picking up The Monster Mash was bound to be a win/win. I wasn’t disappointed.

The world building in The Monster Mash was unique and the story was fast paced. The characters were well developed and even though they were living in horrific circumstances, there was just enough lightness to break through it. Petra was a character that was easy to like and the supporting cast of characters added a lot to the story. They were fun, quirky and in the same inescapable situation as Petra.

There was more going on with Petra than being trapped in a never ending war. She had a secret that keeping was a matter of literal life and death. If that wasn’t enough, she was part of a prophecy that she wanted nothing to do with. It became more and more obvious that it wasn’t something that she could run away from, no matter how much she tried. Especially since one of the only other people who knew her secret wasn’t about to let her walk away from him or the prophecy.

I missed Monster M*A*S*H series the first time around, but I’m kind of glad because now I have a new to me Angie Fox series to catch up on with a fresh new look. Transylvania Twist is next and it’s already on my TBR pile. Stay tuned!

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4) by Patricia Briggs

By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.
Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan—and she’s out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won’t be Mercy’s blood Marsilia is after.
It’ll be her friends’

I have quite a few Urban Fantasy favorites on my “must read” list. The more I read in the Mercy Thompson world, the higher it moves on that list. ❤

There’s a lot going on in Bone Crossed. Mercy is still recovering from the events that nearly destroyed her in Iron Kissed. She wants to be back to normal, but it isn’t as easy as she wants it to be. Luckily, she’s surrounded by people who understand that even more than she does. They are there to love and support her in any way that she needs – especially Adam.

Mercy has gained herself some pretty powerful allies, but she has also more than a few powerful enemies. Some are obvious, while others seem to be hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce. Mercy’s a loyal friend though and she proves once again that she’ll do whatever she can to protect those she considers hers. Her trust in some of those people is put to the test in Bone Crossed.

Marsilia is at her worst in Bone Crossed, but there are even more dangers waiting for Mercy. Add to that the fact that not everyone in the Pack is happy about Adam mating with her and Mercy making some split minute decisions that she probably shouldn’t have… well, let’s just say that at times Bone Crossed was impossible to put down.

Next up for Mercy Thompson is Silver Borne. One good thing about getting hooked on an established series is that I don’t have to wait long to pick it up. 😉

White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels #1) by David R. Slayton

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.
Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead.
It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.
The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it.

Another first time author who took me by surprise…

First, the cover is amazing, but a tad bit deceiving. There is nothing “light” about White Trash Warlock. So I guess if you’re a “judge a book by its cover” kind of reader, you might walk away from this one disappointed. I admit that some covers draw me in, but that’s the artist in me. Once I flip the cover and start reading, the cover image is forgotten.

Oh Adam… he had so much against him, but nothing is quite what it seems. Especially when magic is involved. There was a lot more going on than Adam realized. All he wanted to do was help his sister in law and get as far away from his toxic family as possible. The revelations just kept coming though and didn’t stop until the very end of White Trash Warlock. Even then, readers as well as Adam were left with more questions than when they started.

There’s probably a lot more that I could say about this first book in The Adam Binder Novels series, but not without giving something away. Decisions were made and actions were taken that changed things for everyone. It was hard to tell who could be trusted and allies came from unexpected places. Everything (and everyone) that Adam thought he knew got twisted around more than once.

Things are far from over for Adam at the end of White Trash Warlock and I can’t wait to see what David R. Slayton has in store for him next. 😉