Howling on Hold by E.J. Russell

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.
That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.
Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.
It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”
Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

The books in this universe created by E.J. Russell are so much fun! Of course, it’s not all fun, because there’s always a hint of danger.

The guys at the Howling residence are there to get a handle on their “wolves” and prepare them to take their place in each of their individual packs. Not all of them are happy about leaving though. Times have changed and a lot of the packs are still living in the past. Tanner is one of those who have no desire to go back, especially since he never really felt like he fit in there to begin with. And then there’s Chase, another big reason why he doesn’t want to leave.

Chase knows he’s not supposed to give into his feelings for Tanner, but the closer Tanner gets to the time when it won’t matter anymore, the harder it is for Chase to hold back.

There were a lot of twists and turns in Howling on Hold that definitely helped keep the pages turning. And that “hint of danger” came from a totally unexpected place.

As much as I loved meeting all the new guys, the cameos from a lot of my favorite characters in the previous series were a real treat. Which brings me to another point – Howling on Hold is probably not the place to introduce yourself to this world. Fae Out of Water is the introduction to this world and Cutie and the Beast is still one of my favorites by this author. 😉

 

Hearts of Magic (Chevalier #3) by Kay Doherty

A moment of quiet was all Theran was looking for. He was not looking to be nearly decimated when he stumbled across a sorcerer near the pack’s hunting grounds. He’s certainly not looking for his mate when the pack congregates at Elysium for a meeting, but that’s exactly what Theran finds when he runs into the sorcerer a second time.
Colby has been the bartender at Elysium for a year, and he’s been relatively happy. He hides his paranormal identity well, flirting for tips while using sarcasm to keep others away. When he first saw the wolf in the forest, he was stunned. Learning the wolf he’s been dreaming about is real is only compounded by learning the wolf is his mate.
With the Sorcerer’s Enclave now interested in the Chevalier Pack, Colby attempts to protect Theran by kidnapping him, which only results in a deeper involvement with the pack. Despite managing the Enclave, dealing with increasing threats from the McBane Pack, and forging new alliances, Theran and Colby are determined to find their happy ever after.

This is one of those series that I get more emotionally invested in with each book. It also seems like each fated mated pair gets just a little bit more complicated. There was absolutely no way that having Theran and Colby be destined made sense. Colby was on a mission to find out more about the Chevalier Pack, he had no idea that he would find out more about them than he bargained for.

Theran was more than ready to find his true mate, but even so, he was kind of shocked to find out who it was. Regardless, once they figured it out there was no denying it and no turning back. Because of the threat to the Chevalier Pack, Colby’s main concern was protecting Theran, which didn’t go over too well with the rest of the pack.

There are still a few pack members who need to find their mate, along with at least one mated pair that is complicated? I can’t wait to see how Kay Doherty finds a way to finally get them together. Danger, mystery and plenty of heat… everything I love in a shifter series.

I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.
The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.
Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…
Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

Funny story… this is my second read of I Buried a Witch. I read it at the end of last year, but it showed up on my TBR list on GoodReads. Now, I know that I could have backdated the read, because I definitely did read it, but I thought what the heck? It definitely wasn’t a hardship on my part to read the book again, so here we are. (This time I double checked to make SURE it was marked correctly on GR.)

You probably already guessed that I considered I Buried a Witch a great addition to Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks series. I have to admit that I went into this one a little leery after reading Mainly by Moonlight. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because John and Cosmo’s relationship was sorta doomed from the start and this book’s description is kinda ominous. I wasn’t wrong to be hesitant, but I’m glad I decided to dive in (twice). 😉

The mystery from the Mainly by Moonlight continues in I Buried a Witch, in a round about way. Much to John’s dismay, Cosmo finds himself playing amateur detective. John started growing on me by the end of the last book, but he lost some major points in I Buried a Witch. He had some definite old fashioned ways of thinking how marriage worked. Cosmo took it for the most part, mainly because he felt guilty for the secrets he was keeping from John. Eventually enough was enough and the inevitable blow-up happened.

Beyond the break-up, there was a mystery to solve and the danger was coming way too close to home. There were also some revelations about John’s family that threw and extra twist or two in the story. Things were looking a little bit better by the end of I Buried a Witch, so I’m not as worried about starting Bell, Book and Scandal. Even so, I’m also pretty sure that John and Cosmo haven’t gotten past all of their relationship hurdles. *sigh*

The Spellslinger (A Fistful of Daggers #4) by S.M. Reine

Lincoln Marshall has failed. The Godslayer is trapped in her worst nightmares. His only chance of repairing the timeline is dead. He’s stuck a decade in the past with Sophie Keyes, and the world is falling apart.
Held captive by the Union, Lincoln and Sophie must fight to repair a timeline rapidly unraveling.
James Faulkner has survived, but he’s not whole. He’s divided into angel and demon–his ambition and obsession severed from his power and passion. His angel side wants to rescue Elise. His demon side wants to rescue the world, at any cost–even if it means letting Elise die. Between their brilliant minds, they’ve conceived a plan that can repair the timeline. The only price is their lives.

My initial reaction when I finished Spellslinger? “OMG or gods? Doesn’t really matter in the long run I suppose. The old adage, “be careful what you ask for” still applies. I need the next book sooner rather than later…” I also promised that I would soon be writing my usual rambling, incoherent review, so here it goes…

That “be careful what you ask for” comment? Yeah, that’s real – fans were given a choice in a poll a while ago. The choices included a list of characters that readers would be interested in reading more about in their own series. Lincoln was one of those characters and he was my choice. To be fair, it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters, it’s just that he was featured in at least two other series and his character peaked my curiosity. If you know anything at all about S.M. Reine’s Decentverse, you know that her characters go through a lot AND their development from series to series sometimes takes a strange turn. Lincoln was one of those characters. A major transformation had obviously taken place and I wanted to know what happened to turn him into the character he had become in Dana McIntyre Must Die.

So much happened in Spellslinger… so much! There were a lot of characters pulling strings, a lot to love and just as much to hate. There were also a lot of twists and turns. Fair warning, it’s not an easy book to put down and it’s also one that demands your full attention. Although all of the books in the Fistful of Daggers series have been intense, I’ve got to say that Spellslinger has been the most emotionally intense one so far. I was not expecting tears and they fell more than once. I think who those tears were shed for at times was what shocked me most.

Spellslinger also proved to me that time travel is not for the faint of heart. Things that happened in the past escalated and shifted and the things that happened because of those shifts were devastating. Many things need to be “fixed”, many, many things. Beyond that craziness, Lincoln has a little farther to go before he gets to where he needs to be in the future and I can’t wait to see how he gets there.

If you haven’t started the Descentverse, you really need to. You can start with the Fistful of Daggers series, but since there is so much character and world building that takes place before this series starts, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can find the order of series and books on S.M. Reine’s website. A lot of the early books in the Descentverse are free, so there’s really no excuse to not start from the beginning 😉

A Blind Date for Christmas by Jo-Ann Carson

This is a story about two star-crossed lovers: Oscar Andersson a cursed barista who cannot find love, and Annabelle Gibson, the witch who intends to fix him.
In Mystic Keep, a small Pacific Northwest town where everything goes bump in the night, there is an enchanted coffee house called The Perfect Brew. Oscar and Annabelle lace every cup of coffee with magic to heal the hearts of their customers and help them make their dreams come true. But their lives are far from perfect.
Oscar Andersson has the Nordic good looks of a movie star. Not only is he a fifteen on a ten-point man-scale of hot; he’s also kind, thoughtful and generous. Oscar is the kind of man every mother dreams her daughter would marry, and every woman dreams of bedding. But he’s not available. It’s not that Oscar doesn’t want to find love, and it’s not that he hasn’t tried. He’s dated blondes, redheads, brunettes, witches, humans, and even gargoyles, but his attraction never turns into love. He’s a serial one-night stand.
Annabelle Gibson is a feisty, red-headed beauty, with a reputation for breaking hearts. While all sorts of men drool at her feet, she’s never found the right one. Oscar’s lukewarm response to her charms shocks her. She falls helplessly in love, and that’s when the trouble really starts. No matter what she does, she can’t get him to see her as anything but a friend.
Belle hatches a plan that can’t go wrong, or so she thinks. She gives a Christmas present he can’t refuse: three blind-dates. The third date will be with her. What could go wrong? By the time it’s her turn, she figures she’ll know what the hex is wrong with him. She’ll fix him, and he’ll be free to love her.
Meanwhile, Venomilia, the dark sorceress who cursed Oscar, watches them in her crystal ball, ready to step in if Belle comes close to breaking her spell.
This is a clean, sweet romance with a side of magic and mistletoe.

This is a short and sweet Holiday romance set in a magical town called Mystic Keep. Annabelle and Oscar are both hopelessly attracted to each other, but Oscar has closed himself off – with good reason. Belle is determined to win him over though and her plan might just work. All she has to do is break the curse that was placed on him by a jealous witch. What could go wrong?

Blind Date for Christmas is the perfect read if you’re in the mood for something short, sweet and full of magic. 😉

Graveyard Shift (Not Dead Yet #3) by Jenn Burke

Shifting Into High Fear
Ghost/god Wes Cooper and his not-life partner, vampire Hudson Rojas, have settled into cohabitation in an upscale part of Toronto. So what if their hoity-toity new neighbors haven’t exactly rolled out the welcome mat for the paranormal pair? Their PI business is booming, and when a suspect they’ve been tailing winds up in the morgue, it’s alongside a rash of other shifters in apparent drug-related fatalities.
Now Wes and Hudson must connect the dots between the shifter deaths and an uptick in brutal vampire attacks across the city. Throw in a surprise visit from Hudson’s niece—who may or may not be on the run from European paranormal police (who may or may not exist)—and guardianship of a teen shifter who might be the key to solving the whole mystery (if only she could recover her memory), and Wes and Hudson have never been busier…or happier.
But when a nightmare from Hudson’s past comes back to haunt him, their weird, little found family is pushed to the brink. Mucking this up would mean Hudson and Wes missing their second chance at happily-forever-afterlife…

First and most importantly… this cannot be the end of this series. However, if this truly was the end of the Not Dead Yet series, then I seriously hope that there is a spin-off series in the works because some things were not totally okay at the end of Graveyard Shift.

To say that there was little down time in Graveyard Shift would be a HUGE understatement. The description of this book is accurate when it says that Wes and Hudson’s “family” was pushed to the brink. There was danger around every corner. At times it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad. And… there were tears, at least for this reader.

There were so many twists and turns that I don’t want to take a chance on giving anything away. The only thing that you really need to know is that if you’ve already read Not Dead Yet and Give Up the Ghost, you’re really going to want to read Graveyard Shift. Be prepared though, because nothing these guys go through is easy and their HEA is bittersweet, but well earned. ❤

 

Into the Fire (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.
A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Although Vlad and Leila aren’t my favorite couple in the Night Huntress Universe (I blame Cat and Bones) I still enjoyed getting to know them. I also think that Jeaniene Frost did a great job of wrapping up their story line. She also did an amazing job of setting the stage for Ian’s, but that’s another story. 😀

One of the things I liked best about Into the Fire was the supporting characters. The good and the bad – and there were plenty of both. There little or no down time in this installment of the Night Prince. Emotions were all over the place and yes, there were tears – more than once – and not always from where you would expect.

Although Vlad and Leila’s story is over, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of them. And yes, Ian is next and I can’t wait to pick up Shades of Wicked. From the way things were left for him in Into the Fire, it’s sure to be interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trifles and Folly 2 (More Deadly Curiosities Novellas & Short Stories) by Gail Z. Martin

Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and together with Teag (a hacker and weaver witch) and Sorren, a 600 year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.
An extension of the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy novel series, this collection contains three full novellas and four short stories: The Final Death, Predator, Fair Game, Fatal Invitation, Redcap, Bloodlines, plus three bonus stories: Among the Shoals Forever, The Low Road, and Steer a Pale Course.

If I ever had any doubts about whether or not I should start the Deadly Curiosities series, they were squelched after reading Trifles and Folly 1 and obliterated by the time I finished this collection.

You know that you’re hooked when you can’t even pick a favorite character between the cast of friends. Even the supporting characters are amazing. From one story to the next, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. This series seems to have everything I love about a good urban fantasy. Strong main characters whose abilities grow as the series progresses. Lots of suspense, a hint of romance, danger, great supporting characters who add to the story and so much more. I say “seem” because I have yet to pick up a full length book from this series, but I need to remedy that soon. The shorts have been great, but it’s obvious that a lot happened in between each story. Plus, I haven’t spent nearly enough quality time with Sorren, Cassie and Teag. 😉

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years – which means that I’m way late to the All Souls Trilogy party. I have no idea what took me so long to pick this one up, but now that I have, there’s no turning back.

This wasn’t one of those books that took a while to get into. From the opening chapter I was hooked. A Discovery of Witches had an interesting twist on vampires, witches and other paranormals. It also had danger, suspense, a slow burn romance and more than a touch of mystery. I loved delving into this world and I can’t wait until I get my hands on Shadow of Night so I can continue the All Souls Trilogy. 😉