Escaping Solitude (Escape Trilogy #2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Ancient vampire Andrew escaped his tropical island exile with his beloved human sailor, Edmund. They’ve now returned to Andrew’s home in nineteenth-century New Orleans and must navigate not only their developing relationship—and equally haunted pasts—but also a hungry coven of vampires Andrew used to call friends.
Desperate to stay by Andrew’s side forever, Edmund examines the impressive coven library in search of an Elder, the only creature capable of turning Edmund. Although missing for centuries, Andrew believes an Elder must still survive somewhere; they just have to find him.
The search is put on hold when Edmund receives word that his mother is ill in London, and the lovers set off on an oceanic journey surrounded by new friends and old enemies. When things go terribly wrong, Edmund’s fragile human life hangs in the balance, and an Elder must be found or Andrew will be alone forever.

Escaping Solitude starts pretty much where Escaping Exile left off. Escaping Solitude is also just a little bit longer, but not by much. Regardless of it’s length, the story isn’t lacking… The jury’s still out though on whether or not I’d rather just have one long book than these fairly short stories though… can you say cliff hanger?!?

The setting was a lot different in Escaping Solitude, which should mean that Edmund is safe, but Andrew still considers him vulnerable – and will until he’s turned. Having Edmund spend time with other vampires isn’t ideal, but the coven holds important resources that they need to find an Elder.

Readers learn more about Andrew and his “family” in Escaping Solitude. We also learn about Edmund’s family and even though Andrew doesn’t understand Edmund’s loyalty to his mother, he finds a way to get him to his mother when she falls ill.

The book description pretty much covers the rest… Did I mention that this book ends in a cliff hanger? Trust me, it’s worth mentioning again. I should probably suggest that you just wait until all three books are released before starting the Escape Trilogy, but if you’re like me and just can’t wait… consider yourself warned…

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Single White Incubus (Supernatural Selection #1) by E.J. Russel

Does a bear shift in the woods?
Well, partially. That was what got grizzly shifter Ted Farnsworth into trouble. He wasn’t trying to break the Secrecy Pact. He just wants people to see the real him. So he signs up with the mate-matching service Supernatural Selection — which guarantees marriage to a perfect partner. Not only will Ted never be lonely again, but once his new beaver shifter husband arrives, they’ll build Ted’s dream wilderness retreat together. Win-win.
Quentin Bertrand-Harrington, scion of an incubus dynasty, has abstained from sex since nearly killing his last lover. When his family declares it’s time for him to marry, Quentin decides the only way not to murder his partner is to pick someone who’s already dead. Supernatural Selection finds him the ideal vampire, and Quentin signs the marriage agreement sight unseen.
But a mix-up at Supernatural Selection contracts Quentin with Ted. What’s Ted supposed to do with an art historian who knows more about salad forks than screwdrivers? And how can Quentin resist Ted’s mouthwatering life force? Yet as they work together to untangle their inconvenient union, they begin to wonder if their unexpected match might be perfect after all.

First, the Supernatural Selection is a spin-off series of E.J. Russel’s Fae Out of Water series. You don’t have to read one series before the other, but you’ll be missing out just a little bit if you don’t. Actually, the main characters in Cutie and the Beast, the first book in Fae Out of Water make a couple of appearances in Single White Incubus. To be honest, I may be just a little bit partial, but Cutie and the Beast was my favorite book in the Fae Out of Water series – mainly because of its lightness and Single White Incubus reminded me of that book… a lot.

So… Ted was adorable. I loved him from the moment he was introduced. He was honest, sweet, adorable and lonely. He wanted someone to share his life with, which is why he went to Supernatural Selection. He honestly thought it was his only chance at happiness. Then Quentin came into his life and threatened everything he hoped for – along with an apparent slip-up at Supernatural Selection.

As adorable as Ted was, Quentin was… well… prickly. He had his reasons though. He’d tried love once and it was disastrous. He came close to destroying someone he loved and he had no intention of taking a chance again. That’s why he decided to allow Supernatural Selection find him a perfect undead match.

Through a crazy set of circumstances, things got a tad bit mixed up at Supernatural Selection, but did they? Things definitely got interesting and I’m pretty sure that it’s going to get even crazier by the end. I can’t wait to see what E.J. Russel has in store for the rest of the couples who decide to use Supernatural Selection

The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.
When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.
The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

The Wolf at the Door was a great start to Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series and The Wolf at Bay was an even better continuation. Even though readers still only had Cooper’s POV, we still got to know Park a lot better in The Wolf at Bay. I’m a huge fan of multiple POVs in a book or series, but not being in Park’s head really works in Big Bad Wolf – mainly because it keeps him just a little bit more mysterious.

There was a lot more going on in The Wolf at Bay than the heat between Park and Cooper. Family drama, crazy revelations, a decades old murder mystery and more. Lots of action to keep the pages turning.

It may not have been clear to Cooper how Park felt about him, but he had a lot going on so I can forgive him for missing the obvious. There’s still a lot for readers to learn about the shifter world that Charlie Adhara’s created in Big Bad Wolf, but I like what we’ve discovered so far.

As for the mystery? I have to say, I was surprised at both the who and the why… mainly because there were a lot of possible suspects that would have been just as believable. Then there was the family drama… let’s just say, I wasn’t a fan, although Cooper’s brother and future sister-in-law kind of grew on me. Like I mentioned… Cooper went through a lot in The Wolf at Bay, but through it all, Park was there for him – whether Cooper knew it or not. Thrown to the Wolves is next and I can’t wait to see how the series continues.

 

Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by TJ Klune

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.
It should have been enough.
And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.
Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.
But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.
Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

Ravensong didn’t affect me nearly as much as Wolfsong, but it was still powerful in its own way. Going in, readers that paid attention were warned by the author that this was Gordo’s story and being in his head wasn’t going to be anything like it was with Ox. I paid attention and I knew that, but I still wasn’t prepared for Gordo’s darkness. That’s not a bad thing because Gordo had been through so much, it would have been weird if he didn’t have a harder edge.

Mark and Gordo were broken and in a lot of ways they had broken each other. They still loved each other though and the kind of bond they had wasn’t an easy one to break. Gordo thought he had though. He thought that he could keep Mark at a distance and ignore his feelings. He thought he hid them well, but it’s hard to hide things from a pack, especially when one of them is destined to be your mate.

So much happened in Ravensong. There was a lot of overlap with events that took place in Wolfsong, but they were seen from Gordo’s POV, so it wasn’t redundant. It actually added to both stories.

Richard Collins may be dead, but what he started is far from over. I don’t want to spoil anything, but TJ Klune’s concept of an Omega wolf plays a very big role in Ravensong. I can’t say much more except that I spent a lot of time in this book holding my breath. Mainly because I had no idea exactly how much of his #EvilAuthor side was going to come into play. Yeah, that love/hate relationship is still going strong.

Regardless of the tension – there was so much to love about Ravensong… The sense of family (pack!pack!pack!) continued to be strong. The characters were amazing. The twists and turns and craziness kept the pages turning and I loved every single minute of it.

 

The Consumption of Magic (Tales from Verania #3) by T.J. Klune

Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.
It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.
Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.
With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits—the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin—must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.
A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

So, what was my first response when I finished reading The Consumption of Magic? …and the love/hate relationship with TJ Klune continues…. Yep, that about covers it.

Okay, so I’m not really mad at TJ Klune. Readers knew going in that there would be loss, it was all part of the prophecy after all. That doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t heart breaking, even though it was expected, I just never expected… Just in case you’re wondering – there were tears… pretty much a chapter and a half worth. You’ve been warned…

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that I haven’t already said in my previous reviews of The Lightning Struck Heart and A Destiny of Dragons. These books are so much more than stories of a young wizard and his Merry Band of Misfits would suggest. They’re about love, loyalty, trust, challenge, fear, heartbreak and choice… there’s always a choice.

There’s just enough lightheartedness woven within the pages of The Tales from Verania to balance every thing these characters endure while battling forces of both good and evil. Just one of the many things I love about this series.

At the time of writing this review I had just finished the last book in the series, A Wish Upon the Stars. I don’t usually do that, but when I finished The Consumption of Magic, I had to know how things turned out. Stay tuned… 😉

Art Medium: The Complete Collection (#1 -2) by E.J. Russell

Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.
But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?
If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.

Just a FYI – I think that reading The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire together made a difference in how I felt about both books.

The Artist’s Touch
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.

Stefan lost everything when his partner died, including the very thing that defined himself. Without his artistic inspiration, he was lost. The very last person he expected to see when he was at his lowest, was the man he walked away from.

Luke doesn’t want to believe that Stefan is the forger he’s after, but the evidence against him is so strong, it’s hard to deny. The closer he gets to Stefan again though, the more he realizes that there’s something else going on. Something that’s not going to be easy to explain. Something that’s going to be even harder to escape from.

Even though I liked the story and loved the mysterious ghost connection, I have to agree with other readers who expressed a need for more… The Artist’s Touch was less than 150 pages, which was way too short to cover all the threads weaved through this story. I really would have liked to have gotten to know both Stefan and Luke a little better. *sigh*

Tested In Fire
Six months ago, Stefan Cobbe was at rock bottom: grief-stricken, guilt-ridden, debt-laden, and oh yeah—possessed by a homicidal dead painter. But after reconciling with his first love, Luke, and moving to Sarasota with him, Stefan is ghost-free and preparing for his first major show. Yes, he still has debts, and no, Luke doesn’t understand Stefan’s desire for independence. But compared to last year? No contest.
Luke Morganstern ought to be happy. After all, his art-investigation business has recovered and he’s got his boyfriend back. But Stefan stubbornly refuses to move in with him or accept Luke’s financial help, and it’s really starting to bug him. Who knew that the biggest test of their relationship wouldn’t be time or distance, but his own insecurities? After Luke’s next job—a trip to Italy to retrieve a mysterious artifact—he plans to convince Stefan that it’s time to totally commit.
But when Luke returns, he changes, and Stefan begins to suspect that the person in Luke’s skin isn’t Luke at all. He can hardly go to the police and claim his lover is the victim of a supernatural hijacking though. He needs alternative help to find Luke and get him back, because he refuses to let anyone—or anything—come between them again.

I think I might have enjoyed Tested in Fire more than The Artist’s Touch because I already knew Luke and Stefan. Their back story wasn’t quite as important. They were both in a better place than they were in the previous book, plus the unique twists in Tested in Fire kept the pages turning.

I don’t want to give a lot away, so I’m going to keep this review vague and brief. I will say that as much as I love a good ghost story, like the one in The Artist’s Touch, the unique “magic” in Tested in Fire was what made this story my favorite between the two. It also reinforced the bond between Stefan and Luke that the first book was kind of lacking.

A Touch of Magic (Fae-Touched #1) by Isabelle Adler

After returning to the straight and narrow, Cary Westfield hopes to rebuild his life as a stage magician. Only thing is, the success of his new show is entirely dependent on a strange medallion inherited from his late grandfather—an amulet that holds a rare and inexplicable power to captivate the wearer’s audience.
Ty prides himself on his ability to obtain any item of magical significance—for the right price. When a mysterious client hires him to steal a magical amulet from a neophyte illusionist, he’s sure it will be a quick and easy job, earning him a nice chunk of cash.
As it turns out, nothing is sure when greed and powerful magic are at play. When a mob boss with far-reaching aspirations beats Ty to the snatch, Cary and Ty form an unlikely partnership to get the amulet back. The unexpected spark of attraction between them is a welcome perk, but each man has his own plan for the prize.
All bets are off, however, when it is revealed the magical amulet holds a darker secret than either of them had bargained for.

I love it when a book takes me by surprise and that’s exactly what happened with A Touch of Magic. This is the first book I’ve read by Isabelle Adler, but since I’m now intrigued by the Fae-Touched series, it most definitely won’t be my last.

Cary knew his grandfather’s medallion was powerful, but he had no idea what the magic it contained was capable of. When Ty steals it from him he never would have guessed that he would eventually be joining forces with him to get it back from yet another thief. Their alliance was tenuous, but their mutual attraction was too hard to ignore.

There were quite a few twists and turns in A Touch of Magic and a few unexpected connections that kept things interesting. There was just enough mystery, magic and romance to keep the pages turning. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Fae-Touched series.

Born of Air (Dragon Soul #4) by Sean Michael

He said he was flying on a silver dragon. He called me “Markus-meine.” Who would know all that? Who? And how?
SWAT cop and dragon shifter Mark Beteferoce had—and lost—a soul mate. He’s finally at the point where he can get through the days without thinking about what used to be…until he tastes Quincy O’Brien’s doughnuts and takes him home to play.
Quincy O’Brien is a gifted baker, but at night he dreams of soaring through the sky on dragonback and being topped by the perfect Dom. Mark satisfies the kinky urges Quincy has only explored in his subconscious, pushing his limits and caring for him afterward.
From the start, their connection was more than sexual. It’s known; it’s familiar somehow. And it’s slowly driving Mark insane. What shouldn’t be possible most certainly is, and the bond between himself and Quincy runs deeper than either of them could ever have realized.

First and foremost, if you’re not a fan of stories that are heavy on sex and light on story, Dragon Soul is not a series you should consider picking up. All of the books in the series have included BDSM, but Born of Air had even more. Just another friendly warning. I am most definitely not complaining. I’m a patient reader and if I’ve had enough, I just skip over the parts that I’ve had enough of… but I know it isn’t something every reader enjoys, so again, it was worth mentioning.

Born of Air was one book in this series that I wouldn’t have skipped regardless. Readers have known since the beginning of the Dragon Soul series how important and rare a dragon’s soul mate is. We’ve also known that there is only one soul destined for each dragon and Mark Beteferoce had lost his years ago. He had come to terms with the loss, but it just about broke him. He was definitely not ready to open himself up to that type of heartache again. Besides the fact that it was impossible for Quincy to be his soul mate… or so he thought.

One of my issues with the first book in this series was the level of deception in Branded by Flames. That wasn’t a problem in Born of Air. Mark didn’t keep his secret from Quincy any longer than he absolutely had to and because of his dreams, it didn’t take much to convince Quincy. The biggest problem for Quincy was he didn’t want to be a substitute. He was his own person and he wanted to be loved for who he was, not the memory of who Mark had lost.

There were a couple of other stumbling blocks in the way of a HEA for Mark and Quincy, but Sean Michael from some creative ways to get around them. Owned by Fate is next and I can’t wait to see where this series goes from here.

Blood & Thunder (THIRDS #2) by Charlie Cochet

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.
Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

I’m so late to the THIRDS fan train that it’s almost embarrassing to add my review to the mix. I’m still not sure why it’s taken me so long to pick up this series, but I’m hooked now, so I’m having fun playing catch up 😉

Blood & Thunder was a roller coaster. Dex and Sloane were growing closer, but there was still some emotional distance between them. Sloane’s past was a big obstacle. He thought that his secrets would destroy everything, including his relationship with Dex. Distancing himself wasn’t working. He still had no idea exactly how tenacious, stubborn and loyal Dex really was. He understood a lot more than Sloane gave him credit for.

As intense as what was going on between Sloane and Dex, the side characters in Blood & Thunder had a lot going on themselves. I loved getting glimpses into the other members of Team Destructive Delta.

Sloane and Dex still have a lot to work through and it looks like Rack & Ruin will continue their story… and the drama…

Bones and Bourbon (Deadly Drink #1) by Dorian Graves

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.
Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?
This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

First, I’m not a “book cover” reader, but honestly, the cover on this book definitely got my attention. Enough that I took a chance on a new author. (The synopsis was a pretty good draw for me too 😉 ) I’m happy to say that this is one time that a cover definitely lived up to the book.

I had no idea what to expect from Bones and Bourbon, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the very first chapter, the mystery and action didn’t stop. Not only that, the world building was as much a part of the story as the characters involved.

Part of the reason why I’m drawn to PNR is my love of mythology and it seems that the Deadly Drink series will be full of mythological creatures and legends. The twists that Dorian Graves has added to her take on some familiar creatures was more than interesting. Blood thirsty unicorns for example.

Family is a strong force in Bones and Bourbon as well and there were times that it was hard to tell if the brothers were working for or against each other. There were twists and turns that had my head spinning, danger, mystery and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix – all of it thrown together to keep the pages turning.

It wasn’t clear from the end of Bones and Bourbon, but I was more than a little excited that this book was just the beginning of series. A series that I can’t wait to continue. I can’t wait to see what the Gallows brothers – and company – get into next.