Wake to Darkness (Brown & De Luca #2) by Maggie Shayne

WakeToDarknessStranded with a murderer…

Rachel de Luca’s uncanny sense of perception is the key to her success as a self-help celebrity. Even before she regained her sight, she had a gift for seeing people’s most carefully hidden secrets. But the secret she shares with Detective Mason Brown is one she has promised to keep. As for Mason, he sees Rachel more clearly than she’d like to admit…

After a single night of adrenaline-fueled passion, they have agreed to keep their distance—until a string of murders brings them together again. Mason thinks that he can protect everyone he loves, including Rachel, by taking them to a winter hideaway, but danger follows them up the mountain.

As guests disappear from the snowbound resort, the race to find the murderer intensifies. Rachel knows she’s a target. Will acknowledging her feelings for Mason destroy her…or save them both and stop a killer?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This series has been amazing. I fell in love with Mason and Rachel in Sleep With The Lights On. I loved the short, but packed full of action and emotion, Dream of Danger. Both were suspenseful, witty, heartbreaking and scary. Even though I really liked both of those installments in the Brown and De Luca series, nothing prepared me for Wake to Darkness. This one scared the crap out of me. Not because it was horror filled but because I’ve grown to really like these characters and Maggie Shayne pulled no punches and kept them on the edge of certain danger pretty much from start to finish.

I knew before I ever started this review that I wouldn’t be able to explain exactly what it is I like so much about Rachel. I think it’s because she’s so ‘real.’ Honestly, how can you not like a character that makes statements like this:

If the bullshit I wrote was true, I wouldn’t have been standing with my back to the man I’d most love to bone, saying ‘No.’ Because if the bullshit I wrote was true, the question he’d just asked me would have been an entirely different one, instead of the one he asked, which had been, ‘Will you help me investigate another creeping ‘fucking’ case that might get us both killed?’
Okay, those weren’t his exact words, but they might as well have been.

Yeah, I kinda love Rachel. The thing is, she hides behind the stuff she writes. At least she thinks she does. The thing I love about Rachel and Mason together is that he sees the honesty behind what she calls ‘crap’ because she really does believe it. She just doesn’t know it. She thinks she’s self centered and cynical. She obviously doesn’t see herself clearly. She’s loyal, generous and loves those who have earned her devotion fiercely.

Wake to Darkness was not a light and fluffy romance. It wasn’t really paranormal, but it had a definite paranormal aspect. The premise was totally not real, but it still made you think ‘what if?’ and shiver at the possibility. There was plenty of action, a touch of humor, suspense, mystery and more than enough gore that opened in the prologue. Nothing was exactly what it seemed and even though I figured out the ‘who’ behind the violence this time it didn’t take away from the suspense.

This was an action driven story, but the characters are what made it for me. Yes, I loved Rachel. Mason was great too and Maggie Shayne got the teenage drama dead on with both the boys and Rachel’s niece. It wasn’t over done and it wasn’t glossed over. Just like Rachel, the characters were real and the conversations and actions were totally believable.

So yes, I have officially fallen in love with another Maggie Shayne series. I really wasn’t surprised. When you get to spend time with characters like this, what’s not to love?

It was my body that had a syringe full of that shit sticking into it. One push of the plunger and we’d be having this conversation over an Ouija board.

I was reminded that she was still in the heartbreak phase. Nowhere near the anger and vengeance phase, which was really the fun part of any breakup, in my humble opinion. 

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Dream of Danger (Brown & De Luca #1.5) by Maggie Shayne

DreamOfDangerShe didn’t want to need him.

Murder brought self-help guru Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown together. Their shared secrets drove them apart. But now they’re together again in this riveting novella that begins where New York Timesbestselling author Maggie Shayne’s Sleep with the Lights On ended.

She may have been blind for twenty years, but Rachel’s always had an uncanny gift for seeing through people—and she distrusts her assistant’s new boyfriend at first sight. Amy isn’t interested in Rachel’s misgivings, though. She’s too eager to celebrate Thanksgiving by introducing her family to the new man in her life.

Then Amy doesn’t show up for the holiday….

Desperate to find her missing friend, Rachel has no choice but to turn to Mason. Their investigation into Amy’s disappearance takes them ever deeper into danger—and reignites the attraction that they’ve both sworn to resist. Now it’s a race against time as these reluctant partners fight to stave off passion and save a life.

I’m really liking this series. I think what I like most is Rachel’s personality. She is just real. I’m not sure if it’s her sharp, opinionated tongue. Her love of color – everywhere. The way she dotes over her dog or the way she doesn’t think she just acts, especially when it comes to loving and protecting her friends. The combination that makes Rachel who she is definitely works. I love her relationship with the other characters too and not just the heat that is palpable every time her and Mason are in the same room together. The banter between her and Amy is great. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that the characters make this series.

This little novella was a great holiday treat and a perfect taste to keep readers happy until the next book in the Brown & De Luca book is released later this month. Just because this one was short doesn’t mean it was lacking though. A lot happened in Dream of Danger. There was humor, danger, mystery and a fair amount of ignored heat between Mason and Rachel. I can’t wait to see how they handle being around each other in Wake to Darkness. Things are bound to get interesting. 😉

DragonFlyGreen4-5I received Dream of Danger as a free download from Amazon on November 1, 2013.

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Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne

SleepWithTheLightsOnThrough the eyes of a killer.
Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull.
Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders crimes she soon learns are all too real.
Detective Mason Brown’s own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother’s organs, though he’s kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.

This was a book that I knew had me pulled in from the time I started reading the Prologue. I really couldn’t put this one down… for a lot of reasons.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1One of the things that kept me reading was the characters themselves. Rachel was such a vivid, ‘in your face’ kind of character. Blind or not, she couldn’t be ignored. I loved her from the beginning. She was strong, smart and took nothing from anyone. She was also extremely loyal and fiercely protective of those she loved.  I loved Mason too. He was put in an impossible situation and he dealt with it the only way he knew how. He could have crumbled, but he didn’t. He stayed strong because he had too and regardless of how wrong the decision was that he inevitably made, it was for all the right reasons. It was easy to admire him for that.

The supporting characters were just as important to this story as Mason and Rachel. This was definitely a character driven story and they drove it well. Even the characters that seemed to be minor played important roles. No face time was wasted in this one – even when that time was spent with Rachel’s pet dog Myrtle. There was also plenty of humor, romance and witty dialogue. It all added to the drama and intrigue and at least kept this reader on her toes. At one point I was a little disappointed because I thought the outcome was going to be obvious… I should have known better.

Maggie Shayne took twists and turns to the extreme. Nothing was sugar coated, especially the imagery used to describe the violence. The premise was unique and nothing was even close to what it seemed. I loved every minute of it. For the record, I could have read this one at night, but I’m kind of glad that I read it during the day. (Let’s just say the book is aptly titled.) I’m also really glad that this is going to be a series. It doesn’t end in a cliff hanger but it’s obvious at the close of the Epilogue that things are far from over between Mason and Rachel. I can’t wait to see what is in store for them next.

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Daughter of the Spellcaster (The Portal #2) by Maggie Shayne

Has a spell been cast?

Lena Dunkirk is a practicing witch, Ryan McNally a wealthy playboy. Logic says mismatch, yet from the first they share a passion that defies reason, as if they know each other from another place, another time. Then Lena gets pregnant and runs for the safety of home.

Months later, when Ryan appears at her door looking to help raise their child, Lena doesn’t know whom to trust–particularly now that “guru to the stars” Bahru has taken an interest in her baby, offering gifts forged of magic.

Soon she and Ryan are sharing eerie dreams of ancient lands, while a vengeful demon plots to take possession of their child. As the moment of birth approaches, the demon’s power rises, forcing the hand of love to wield the blade that will decide the fate of a child’s soul–and the future of the world.

I’m really loving this series. It’s made me want to track down some of Maggie Shayne’s other books and series. Daughter of the Spellcaster takes readers one step closer to revealing what exactly lies behind The Portal waiting to be freed.

Daughter of the Spellcaster is the story of Lena and Ryan. Lena knew from the beginning that Ryan was her soul mate, but Ryan wasn’t ready for commitment and definitely not a child. At least Lena didn’t think so. That’s why she left him before he even knew he was going to be a father. Ryan finding out about Lena’s secret is just the beginning. Lena spends much of the book trying to figure out exactly who she can and can’t trust, including Ryan. Evil is lurking around them all and seems to have a hold on the people closest to Lena and her baby.

The danger that surrounded them and the fight against that unknown force made the romance between Lena and Ryan even more intense. Ryan had to prove himself to Lena and gain her trust. Watching the love grow between them and the power of that love was an amazing aspect of this book. There were impossible odds against these two and history had proven that love wasn’t always enough. Their fight to overcome those odds turned this into a real page turner.

The romance in this one was a little different than the previous books. Mainly because Lena was close to nine months pregnant throughout the story. That didn’t make the connection between Lena and Ryan any less intense or powerful. The attraction between them was strong and the pregnancy didn’t detract from it, if anything it made it stronger.

This series is full of action, mystery, romance and even humor. The way the past and present are woven together is just an added bonus. The next book in the series promises to be even more intense than the rest. Blood of the Sorceress finally brings Lilia and Demetrius together and I can’t wait to see what Maggie Shayne has in store for them.

Mark of the Witch (The Portal #1) by Maggie Shayne

She was born to save what he is sworn to destroy… 

A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she’s forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira’s sacred calling. Yet there’s something even Tomas doesn’t know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he’s come to love-and saving the world.

Hmm… funny how things work out. I read Legacy of the Witch, the prequel to The Portal Series, as a freebie in September. I really enjoyed it and considered it a great introduction novella to a series that had potential. Then, I forgot about it…. As I was perusing the shelves on NetGalley I noticed the 2nd book, Daughter of the Spellcaster, was available for review. It still didn’t jog my memory concerning Legacy of the Witch, but it did lead me to purchase Mark of the Witch, just in case (because of course, I requested it 😉 ) My point in this rambling nonsense? I am so glad I stumbled upon Maggie Shayne again. Even though I picked up Mark of the Witch just as a stepping stone to reach Daughter of the Spellcaster, I ended up totally in love with Indy and Tomas’ story. *sigh* Isn’t it amazing when that happens?

Mark of the Witch had great characters, surprise twists and a couple that was easy to sympathize with and hope for.  Indira was more powerful than even she knew and the reasons for her abandoning her magic turn into major irony as the story progresses. Tomas has his own reasons for not believing in magic or the supernatural and it’s all connected to his faultering faith.

There are so many twists, turns and moments when you aren’t sure who or even what you should trust. This is also a romance that is magical in more ways than one, it literally transcends time. And through it all, Maggie Shayne’s writing style and her charming (and sometimes scary) characters keep the story flowing and give you no choice but to keep turning pages.

There are also a few other aspects of this series that I am really enjoying and are worth mentioning. First, the connection between the books is subtle, but a very important element. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s worth paying attention to as you read through The Portal Series. I’ll probably touch on it more when I review Daughter of the Spellcaster, because the connection becomes even stronger then. Next is the actual romance between Tomas and Indy. It’s strong and passionate, but a lot is left to the imagination, which I didn’t mind a bit. Not that I have anything against hot and heavy descriptions in PNR books, it seems to be the norm – and I’ve been known to read a few of them *blush*. It was just a nice change of pace. The other thing that I’m enjoying is the way Maggie Shayne handles the Wiccan aspect of the series. It’s magical, respectful and treated not only as a belief, but a way of life. It gives the series a depth that added a lot to the story.

So yes, this is a series and a story that I am really glad that I stumbled upon. Enjoy!