Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z. Martin

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, a store with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. 
When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to the abandoned old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city. 
It’s time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

I suppose I introduced myself to this world created by Gail Z. Martin/Morgan Brice a little backwards. (For the record, that’s not an usual thing for me…) Although this is the first book in the Deadly Curiosities series, it was not my first introduction to Teag, Sorren or Cassidy. Aside from the fact that I listened to the audio version of this book a few months ago and have read several books/series written under Morgan Brice, I also read Trifles & Folly 1 and Trifles & Folly 2, which are collections of short stories that fit between the full length books in the series. About time I officially start from the beginning, don’t you think?

The mystery builds in Deadly Curiosities as it becomes obvious that there’s a connection between seemingly unrelated items. It’s up to Teag, Sorren and Cassidy to figure out what that connection is before whatever or whoever’s behind it gets even more dangerous. They end up calling in reinforcements with the own set of unique talents.

I love the premise of this series. Each of the characters brings something unique to their “side” business and Charleston is the perfect setting. The relationship between the characters is much more than a business one, it’s more like family. There’s action, danger, demons, ghosts, magic and a vampire – what’s not to love?

Although my precarious relationship with audio books is getting better, after reading the ebook version of Deadly Curiosities, I realized that there was a lot that I missed or maybe didn’t retained when I listened. *sigh* That’s not a reflection on the audio version at all, because I actually liked the narration. So please don’t hesitate to pick it up if audio is your preference 😉

Capture the Crown (Gargoyle Queen #1) by Jennifer Estep

Gemma Ripley has a reputation for being a pampered princess who is more interested in pretty gowns, sparkling jewelry, and other frivolous things than learning how to rule the kingdom of Andvari. But her carefully crafted persona is just an act to hide the fact that Gemma is a powerful mind magier—and a spy. 
Gemma is undercover, trying to figure out who is stealing large amounts of tearstone from one of the Ripley royal mines when she encounters Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta—her mortal enemy. Gemma tries to steer clear of the handsome prince, but when she finds herself behind enemy lines, she reluctantly joins forces with Leo. Also coming to Gemma’s aid is Grimley, her beloved gargoyle.
Despite the fact that Andvari and Morta are old, bitter enemies, a dangerous attraction sparks between Gemma and Leo. Further complicating matters is Leo’s murderous family, especially Queen Maeven Morricone, the mastermind behind the infamous Seven Spire massacre.
The closer Gemma gets to the stolen tearstone, the more deadly plots she uncovers. Everyone is trying to capture the crown, but only one queen can sit on the throne… 

I have been a fan of Jennifer Estep since I first picked up Spider’s Bite way back in 2012. Since then I’ve read pretty much all of the Elemental Assassin books, including many of the short stories in between and a treasured autographed copy of Poison Promise. Yet, even though she’s written several other series, I haven’t strayed far from my favorite assassin. I’m pretty sure that’s about to change though because this first glimpse of Gemma and her world have definitely left me wanting more. 😉

Capture the Crown is the first book in the Gargoyle Queen series, but it’s set in the same world as the author’s Crown of Shards series. I’m speaking from experience when I say that you don’t have to read the previous series to enjoy Capture the Crown. Although the references to the Crown of Shards series have definitely piqued my interest.

Gemma wasn’t your average princess, at least not to those closest to her. She hid behind the “spoiled royal” facade well. Another secret that she’s kept well is how powerful she is, which should work to her advantage. The fact that she can’t really control that power is a frustration as well as a source of guilt. She’s never really recovered from the thought that if she had used it years before, she might have been able to save a lot of people that she cared about. She’s the only one that feels that she should carry that guilt though. She’s slowly coming to realize that the perspective of a very young girl may have been slightly skewed, especially when it comes to a certain young prince.

There were times during Capture the Crown that I wish readers could have gotten just a small glimpse of what was going on in Leo’s head. I also know that only getting Gemma’s POV made the story more intriguing and suspenseful. Still, there were times that I know that Leo was showing a side of himself that even Gemma didn’t pick up on. I really liked him, even when I was almost sure that I shouldn’t.

Beyond the danger and tense relationship between the two royals, what really drew me into Capture the Crown was the relationship between the characters. Their loyalty to each other was fierce and it went both ways. Gemma was just as dedicated to them as they were to her. And then there was Grimley. ❤ I’ve read a couple of stories that included gargoyles from other authors, but I’m pretty sure that this lovable creature is now one of my favorites.

Gemma and Leo’s story is far from over by the end of Capture the Crown. She’s still not sure exactly where his loyalty lies or exactly how she feels about him. Hopefully readers won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next. In the mean time, I might have to check out Kill the Queen to experience this world from the beginning. Stay tuned!

Finding the Wolf (The Dragon’s Hoard #1) by Mell Eight

When Prince Leon disappears, his people turn to the dragons for help. Nyle is the unlucky dragon tasked with finding Leon, a duty he dreads as it forces him into the confounding human world and far away from his collection of pretties.
Locating a missing prince should be a simple matter, but if Nyle has learned anything about humans since being forced among them, it’s that they needlessly complicate everything. When he finally locates the errant prince, however, what Nyle finds is a treasure worth all the complications—and worth protecting at any cost.

This isn’t my first book featuring dragons that I’ve read by Mell Eight. Just for the record, same author, totally different take on dragons. I adore the dragons in the Supernatural Consultant series. Its more contemporary setting is a modern take on young dragons and is a very family centered series. The Dragon’s Hoard has a more “old-world” feel and although Nyle is young by dragon standards, he’s been around for quite some time. The sense of family is totally different in Finding the Wolf as well. There’s a disconnect between the dragons which keeps them pretty much emotionally isolated. Which is one of the reasons why Leon becomes so important to Nyle. His hoard is full of his most treasured possessions and Leon quickly becomes the most treasured of all.

As in most of Mell Eight’s supernatural stories, there’s a mystery to be solved and evil to be conquered. I found myself getting wrapped up in the suspense even more than the growing romance between Leon and Nyle. Things are far from over by the end of Finding the Wolf. Leon and Nyle found their HEA, but readers are still left with questions about discoveries that were made. Since this is a series that’s been republished, we shouldn’t have to wait long for the next book in The Dragon’s Hoard series, Breaking the Shackles.

Unholy (Witchbane #5) by Morgan Brice

A cycle of ritual murders. A coven of dark warlocks, drawing their immortality from the magic of their dead master. Two men sworn to stop the deaths, destroy the warlocks, and avenge the victims. Except this time, the killer flips the script. 
Seth Tanner swore vengeance on the dark witches who killed his brother, Jesse. He rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is still new, tested at every turn by danger and magic. 
Seth and Evan head to Charleston to stop the next warlock and save his intended victim. But this time, they’re too late. The warlock has already powered up, and he’s determined to destroy the two hunters one way or another. A deadly curse on Seth and Evan means time is running out. Can they find a way to turn the tables, or is Charleston their final destination? 

Seth started out his battle against the dark warlocks on his own, but that changed once he rescued Evan. Even though the hunt to destroy the warlocks and save the sacrifices put them both in danger, it was easier than doing it alone. They both found out along the way that there is strength in numbers. This time, they needed all the strength they could get from allies both new and familiar. The next warlock was one step ahead of them. Not only did he beat them to his sacrifice, he found their greatest weakness – keeping them apart.

There was little or no down time in Unholy, which made it a pretty quick read. I think that this may have been my favorite book in the series so far. Honestly, that may have been because of all the crossover characters that were included in this story. Their trip to Charleston brought them to Cassidy, Teag and Sorren (Deadly Curiosities). Seth and Evan had called on them for help before, but this was the first time they had met in person. It also brought them face to face with “people” they were used to fighting instead of trusting. Needless to say, the new experiences, wrapping their heads around a new reality and the constant danger kept the pages turning.

I adore this world that Morgan Brice/Gail Z. Martin has created. It’s especially fun when the series characters cross over and their was obviously quite a bit of that in Unholy. If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy you can pretty much start anywhere in any of the series in this intertwined world.

All Fired Up (Ashes & Dust #1) by Jenn Burke

Once bitten. Twice burned. Forever bonded.
Paranormals are dying. All over the city, with no explanation and only one thing in common: their magic is missing.
Vampire and private investigator Evan Fournier isn’t supposed to be taking on paranormal cases, but when the murderer hits close to home, he agrees to look into it. The last thing he expects is to become a target himself—and then to become irrevocably bonded to the man who just tried to kill him.

With his memory gone and his soul bonded to a stranger, former firefighter Colin Zhang wants to be anywhere else. He doesn’t have a damn clue why he just tried to kill Evan, and he didn’t even know about magic until just now. The sooner he can get back to his real life, the better.
But every time either of them tries to leave, pure agony stops them short. Forced to work with Evan or suffer the consequences, Colin must excavate the secrets buried in his missing memories while battling two rising threats: the conspiracy behind the murder, and his mutual attraction to the bond mate he never wanted.

I was one of those readers that was not at all happy with the fact that Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet series had come to an end. I may have even voiced that opinion in my review of Graveyard Shift. Although I felt that Wes and Hudson’s story came to a satisfying, yet bittersweet end, there were still things that needed to be resolved. Namely, the way things were left for Evan. For that reason alone, you can imagine how happy I was to find out that not only were things not quite over, Evan was getting his own story. 🙂

You can read All Fired Up without reading the Not Dead Yet series first, but there’s a lot of back story in the previous series that Ashes & Dust builds off. Wes and Hudson make a few well timed appearances and so do other familiar characters. This is most definitely Evan and Colin’s story though and it was a great start to their series.

Both Evan and Colin are broken characters. Evan suffered a devastating loss and still battles with emotional scars he suffered in his past. Colin has to come to terms with the fact that the life he thought he had is over. He “woke up” to a world he had no idea existed – one that he’s now a part of whether he likes it or not.

The tenuous relationship between Colin and Evan is only part of the story. There’s a new threat to paranormals the evil behind it needs to be stopped. Colin may not understand what’s going on, but he’s at the center of the conspiracy and once Evan gets him away, they both end up with targets on their back. Needless to say, I can’t wait for this series to continue. House on Fire is next and it can’t come soon enough. 😉

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.

Burn (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse. 
Seth uncovers a cycle of ritual murders that feed the witch-disciples’ power, and he saves Evan Malone, one of the warlock’s potential victims. Neither Seth nor Evan expected to fall in love, but when the dust settles, they find themselves on the run and on the road together, heading toward Pittsburgh, on the trail of the next killer. 
Seth wonders whether Evan will come to regret his choice to stay together, now that he’s living the reality of Seth’s nomadic life and the risks that come with it. He wants Evan to stay, but he’s afraid that Evan would be better off without him, living a normal life. Evan’s whole world has been upended, but there’s one thing he’s sure of, his love for Seth. Evan worries that he’s a liability, not yet able to hold his own in Seth’s rough-and-tumble world, but determined to do whatever necessary to have Seth’s back. On the way to face the next warlock, supernatural threats abound, forcing them to learn to fight as a team. 
Fate and danger threw them together. But once the adrenaline fades, will love last? 

In true “Creative Deeds Reads” fashion, I somehow missed this book. By the time I realized my mistake I had already read both Dark Rivers and Flame and Ash. Yikes! Burn was a nice reminder of how new things really were between Evan and Seth, so I guess it wasn’t too much of a blunder on my part. 😉

Burn takes place right after the events in Witchbane. Even though Evan was thrown head first into the supernatural world in Richmond, he had no idea exactly how extensive that world was. Burn was kind of like an initiation. A lot happened in this story and the events tested both Evan and Seth and their new relationship. Evan spent time proving himself and Seth spent time hoping the reality of dealing with everything didn’t scare Evan away. They both had something to prove and they didn’t always handle things perfectly.

Burn was the perfect transition story for the Witchbane series. Both men learned a lot about themselves and each other. It also built on the world that this series is centered around – and touched on characters from other series the are a part of the same world. Next up for me is Unholy, the 4th book in the Witchbane series (if you consider Burn 1.5).

Seduced by the Dragon Lord (Dragon Lords #2) by Kiersten Fay

Trapped in an alien spacecraft through no fault of her own, Jessie Knight is jettisoned into space and intercepted by a mysterious group of soldiers who call themselves dragon shifters. Thrust into a world of myth, legend, and danger, she discovers she may not be entirely human as she begins to develop latent powers that both captivate and mystify her. Placed under the protection of a gorgeous dragon shifter named Orik, she quickly realizes she must conceal her new abilities or be declared his enemy.
No one knows better than Orik Theroux of the King’s Guard that witches are heartless and ruthless killers who must be stamped out of existence. Orphaned by a group of them at a young age, he has vowed to destroy every last witch who crosses his path…until he begins to fall for an exquisite human female who turns out to be more than she seems. When the palace is besieged by witches, he must decide if he can trust Jessie with his life…and his heart.

I think I might have liked this one even more than Tempting the Dragon King, the first book in the Dragon Lords series. That always bodes well when you’re starting a new to you series. 😉

Orik was such a broken, stubborn dragon. He had good reasons to be leery of Jessie. Reasons that went beyond his responsibility to the protect the King. It seemed way to coincidental to him that two travelers from Earth would end up in their kingdom under much the same circumstances. Plus, there was something not quite right about Jessie that made him want to keep his distance, but his attraction to her made that almost impossible.

I loved Jessie from the beginning. She was such a strong character. Most people wouldn’t have handled the situation that she was thrown into nearly as well. Not that things weren’t difficult. She understood Orik’s hesitance to trust her initially, but she also sensed that the attraction he felt was just as strong as hers was toward him.

Besides the inevitable relationship between Orik and Jessie, there was a lot more going on in Seduced by the Dragon Lord. There was a traitor in the Kingdom and would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. So, danger, betrayal, romance, suspense, humor… this story had plenty to keep the pages turning.

Dragon Lords is a spin-off series of Shadow Quest. I’ve only read The Demon’s Possession, but since characters from Shadow Quest show up in the Dragon Lords from time to time, it probably won’t be long before I pick up The Demon Slave so I can get acquainted with them all 😉

Haven (Magic Emporium) by Morgan Brice

Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium.
Jamie Miller is new in town, temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve Austin’s mystery.
Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it that way.

Haven is part of the multi-author Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes and a guaranteed HEA.

I have to admit, Haven is the only book that I’ve read in the Magic Emporium series. Since it’s a multi-author series with only one element of connection, it can definitely can be read as a stand alone. That one element was intriguing though and after taking a glance at the rest of the authors included in the mix, I have a feeling I’ll be checking out at least some of the rest of the offerings included in Magic Emporium. 😉

Jamie and Austin were both characters who were easy to like. They both had secrets that they were hesitant to reveal to each other, but those secrets made more alike than they realized. They also made them the perfect team to solve the more dangerous secrets that the town was hiding.

There was plenty of action, danger, spookiness and romance to keep the pages turning in Haven. There were also some familiar characters for those readers who have read the Fox Hollow series and other Morgan Brice books. Just enough to give new readers a taste or what they’ve been missing and give long time readers a chance to re-visit familiar locations and characters. Which kind of makes me think that readers haven’t seen the last of Jamie and Austin 😉

This is Not a Horror Movie by Sara Dobie Bauer

Emory Jones loves two things: horror movies and Connor Nichols.
For the past four years, Emory, Connor, and their families have vacationed side by side on Longboat Key, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Emory has pined for his neighbor from behind the covers of Stephen King books, but college boy Connor has never noticed him. Probably because Emory looks like Jack Skellington with good hair.
Emory anticipates another predictable summer of sunburn and disappointment. Instead, he ends up with a mystery on his hands when a beloved beach bum goes missing, and Connor volunteers to help with the search. Turns out it’s not just scary movie cops who are worthless, so the boys start an investigation of their own—leading them straight to an abandoned beach resort.
Despite the danger, Emory and Connor grow closer, but as Emory’s gay dreams start coming true, so do the horror movie tropes he so loves. Even though he knows that sex equals death in slasher flicks, Emory can’t keep his hands off the guy of his teenage dreams.
This is Not a Horror Movie is a 78,000-word new adult gay rom-com… with a monster.

There was so much to love about This is Not a Horror Movie. It was a grand mix of a sweet young romance, laced with humor and a touch of B-Movie campiness.

Emory was adorable. He was a little geeky and totally clueless about his growth-spurt turning into someone both girls and guys were staring at for reasons he didn’t quite understand. He had admired Connor from somewhat of a distance for years. His family knew all about his attraction to their yearly vacation neighbor, but since Connor was way out of his league, most likely straight and too reminiscent of the jocks at his school – Emory kept his feelings to himself. This was destined to be a summer of change though.

Both Emory and Connor were the kind of teenage boys that were refreshing to read about. They were far from perfect, but they were good, thoughtful, caring kids. The kind of kids who walked an older woman’s dog, or went in search of a homeless Vet – and put themselves on the line when they could have just turned away.

I also loved the family connections in This is Not a Horror Movie. They had their moments, like all families do, but both Connor and Emory’s families were super supportive. I also adored the twin connection between Liz and Emory.

Basically, This is Not a Horror Movie is the perfect vacation read, especially if you’re headed to the beach. 😉