The Iron Crown (The Darkest Court #3) by M.A. Grant

After the last Faerie Civil War, the leaders of the magickal pantheons stripped the shining Seelie Court of its power and tasked the dark Unseelie Court with maintaining the natural balance of the world.
Ages later, a twisted intrigue throws the balance of all Faerie into ruin and ignites a new civil war.

Discounted by his family and haunted in the Unseelie sidhe, Queen Mab’s youngest son, Lugh, leads the Wild Hunt on quests across the dangerous Wylds. At his side is his best friend, Keiran, a Viking rescued from death centuries earlier. Between Lugh’s uncanny gift for being in the right place at the right time and Keiran’s power of persuasion, they’re revered across the Wylds—as long as Lugh keeps his true identity hidden from the people of the Sluagh.
Keiran and Lugh have loved each other for centuries—as friends and brothers in arms. Lugh has long since put aside his romantic love for Keiran to protect their friendship. But with the looming war in Faerie and the ghosts of the dead dogging Lugh’s every move, Keiran realizes there may be room for romance between them after all, if only they can survive.
Rallying the Sluagh to fight in the looming war between the Seelie and Unseelie seems an impossible task. To achieve it, these childhood best friends will have to free Lugh from the restless souls haunting him and turn the tides threatening not only their growing love, but the balance of life and death itself.

This is a book that requires your undivided attention because a lot happens. This is also not a book that you can read as a standalone because a lot of what happens is tied to the previous books in the series. For that reason alone, I see a reread of both The Prince of Air and Darkness and the Marked Prince followed closely by The Iron Crown in my future reading schedule. 😉

This book is the conclusion to an epic tale of Queen Mab and her three sons and it does an amazing job of tying all the threads together. Lugh and Keiran have been together for centuries and a sense of duty to the Queen and gratitude for being saved aren’t the only reasons that Keiran has sworn to protect the prince. Although they think it’s well hidden, even from each other, their love story began a long time ago, they just never acted on it physically. They also don’t act on it throughout most of this book, yet their love for each other is obvious.

There are a lot of twists, turns, betrayal and heartbreaking loss in this epic finale. There is also a fair amount of hope and redemption.

Dragon Consultant (Supernatural Consultant #1) by Mell Eight

Dane, a supernatural consultant, is hired by the FAA to look into a series of reported dragon attacks on their planes. What Dane finds in the wooded area where the attacks took place is not quite the problem he expected: a group of dragon kits and their sick father hiding from the authorities.
When he learns the real reason the family was in the woods, his case grows more dangerous, and though Dane is experienced at both crime solving and watching his own back, taking care of baby dragons and their ill father makes everything else look easy.

Since there seems to be some confusion… yes, I did tag this book as a M/M Romance. No, it has no explicit content at all, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a romance. There’s no better way to categorize it than that though. I considered Dragon Consultant a sweet romance because two people found each other and fell in love. Sometimes less is more when it comes to the written word – the important part in Dragon Consultant is that love is love, it takes all forms and sometimes a found family is the very best kind. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Dragon Consultant was adorable. The dragon kits, from the youngest to the oldest, were witty, cute, smart and not easily won over. They had experienced a lot in their short lives and they didn’t trust easily. Dane was determined to find out what happened to them though and then he was willing to fight to make sure it never happened to them, or any other dragon, again. He was a pretty great hero.

It didn’t take long to figure out that Dane and Mercury were made for each other. They were cautious though and neither one of them had a lot of self confidence in the romance department. In some ways, they were as adorable as the kits.

Dragon Consultant wasn’t a long story, but it wasn’t lacking. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t want more and since it’s part of a series, I’m in luck. The re-release of Dragon Deception is coming soon!

Hearts of Destiny (Chevalier #4) by Kay Doherty

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.
Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.
As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Finally! I suppose that there was no better couple to end the Chevalier series with, but readers were tortured almost as much as Ean with Matthias’ denial. Almost everyone else in the pack knew it, which only made it worse.

Matthias wasn’t my favorite, but he redeemed himself in Hearts of Destiny. It wasn’t a surprise that he was keeping secrets, but once they were revealed, things became a lot clearer. If Ean hadn’t resorted to tricking Matthias, I’m sure he would have come around eventually. Ean’s ridiculous plan just made him come around a little faster – which was probably a good thing.

There were a lot of twists, turns and surprises in Hearts of Destiny. The author did an amazing job of wrapping things up and making the final book worth the wait and giving ALL the characters, not just Ean and Matthias, the HEA they deserved. Even though each book centered around a different couple in the Chevalier pack, nothing for any of them was resolved until this final story.

This series was my introduction to Kay Doherty, but I’ll be keeping my eye out for more from this author. The Chevalier series put a unique twist on shifter romance and I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for readers next. 😉

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.
Magic – it can get a guy killed.

Like others, I started with the Dresden Files TV series – WAY after it originally aired – BEFORE I realized it was that Dresden Files (because of course I had heard of it, I just didn’t connect them because sometimes I am totally oblivious). Once I devoured the TV series and realized it was based on the book series, the next logical step was to pick up the first book, so here I am. On a side note, I started watching the series before I realized that there was only one season. *sigh* And I also realized that if I had watched the Dresden Files first I may have liked Paul Blackthorne’s character in the Arrow a little bit more, but maybe not.

There are times when I can definitely say that I like the book version better than the movie, or in this case, the TV version. There are other times when I can separate the two and admit that they both have their merits. This is one of those times. There were things that I enjoyed in the series, that wasn’t included in the book and there were things in the book that I really liked that wasn’t included in the TV series. I really wish that there were more episodes in the TV series, but now I have countless books that I need to catch up on. (20 years worth, evidently – YIKES!)

To be honest, The Dresden Files seems to include everything I love about a good Urban Fantasy. A snarky hero who has enough of a hard edge to keep things interesting, enough danger and suspense to keep the pages turning, a unique magical world and good supporting characters.

As I said, I have a lot of catching up to do and Storm Front is just the beginning. Fool Moon is next and I can’t wait to follow Harry Dresden on his next case.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole

Her breathless kiss haunts him…
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.
His slow, hot touch is irresistible…
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.
No deed is too wicked for her seduction…
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

So, ironically, I started my last review of a book in this series with: “I really need to stop putting so much time between books in a series.” That was for No Rest for the Wicked, which I read in… 2013. *sigh* One of these days, I’ll start taking my own advice. In my defense, I just recently started picking up my long neglected physical books, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down, while constantly wanting to punch some sense into the thick-headed hero. Not that I didn’t sympathize with him at times, I really did. He had been through a lot. On the flip side of that sympathy, it seemed like every time he was getting his act together, he’d royally screw things up all over again. I couldn’t see how this was going to work. Granted, Mari had her own set of screw-ups, but I found myself thinking more than once that she could do so much better. Which really isn’t the way you’re supposed to feel with two people trying to reach their HEA.

I guess my point is that if you find yourself feeling this way through most of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, don’t give up on them. Their HEA is totally worth the frustration. Hopefully there won’t be a 7 year stretch between my finishing this one and picking up Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, but with me you never know 😉

Reign of Monsters (Artifact Hunters #2) by S.M. Reine

Shatter Cage has everything he wants. He’s convinced his billionaire boss that he’s a phoenix shifter—not a were-squirrel—and he’s working his dream job as a professional thief. But just when everything is going to plan, his home falls apart. Literally. The barriers protecting his lower-class neighborhood from toxic fog have fallen.
Luckily, his new boss is powerful. Less luckily, his new boss doesn’t care to help.
Cage can help his hometown if he doesn’t mind stealing from his boss, risking his dream job…and if he can survive the resentful ex-girlfriend on his heels, hellbent on murdering him.

My first response when I finished Reign of Monsters was – REALLY?!? Was that absolutely necessary?!? There were tears readers! Honest to Gods tears! THAT I was not expecting from Shatter Cage. Let’s just say that SM Reine’s #EvilAuthor status is in good standing. *Glares at said author*

Well, now that you know how I really feel… There were a lot of surprises in this one – well, except for the bad guy. It was blatantly obvious to everyone EXCEPT for Cage who the real bad guy was, but that’s part of his charm. He is passionate about everything, which gets him into more than one tight spot and exasperates those who love him, but it’s also what keeps him surrounded, supported and protected by those same people.

As for the rest of the surprises? My feelings about a few key characters changed in Reign of Monsters. I thought I had Brigid figured out in Race of Thieves and my feelings weren’t flattering. She really started growing on me in this book, which was mainly because of her true feelings about Cage trying to sneak through. The other character that took me by surprise was Marion – my feelings toward her fluctuate depending on the book or series she shows up in the Descentverse. I actually kind of almost liked her in Reign of Monsters. 😉

One of the hardest parts about reviewing any book in this world is not giving anything away. Trust me, Reign of Monsters is no exception. I kept hoping that things would end differently, but… *sigh* I haven’t given up hope though, because there is definitely more to come and I can’t wait.

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 😉