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… 😉

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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.

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I had no idea what to expect from Magic Runs Deep, but I was pleasantly surprised. One thing that you need to be aware of before you pick it up is that it’s labeled as PNR, but it’s not heavy on the romance. There is a romantic thread and a strong connection between Veier and Elrid, but the actual story is more focused on Veier and his journey.

I have to admit that Magic Runs Deep took me a little while to get into, but once I got to know Veier and Elrid, the more wrapped up in it I became. Veier did some things that he wasn’t proud of, but he did them to survive. By the time Elrid and his brother found him, he barely recognized himself. He had spent so much time under the King’s control that it was hard for him to tell right from wrong. He knew that if he wanted to gain his freedom he had to agree to the terms of the new power and most importantly to trust Elrid. Not an easy task when he had spent years controlled by magic and Elrid was a powerful mage.

Elrid kind, compassionate and patient. He saw beyond the monster that they found when they first overthrew the previous king. Veier hadn’t always been a beast who had to fight for his life and somehow Elrid recognized that.

I’ve only read one other book by Alex Whitehall and that was Second Skin, which I really liked, but it was also one of those books that was cut too short. Not only was Magic Runs Deep about twice as long, the characters were much more developed, which makes me really happy that I didn’t pass this one by.

A Destiny of Dragons (Tales of Verania #2) by T.J. Klune

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
The first book in the DESTINY FUCK YEAH! Trilogy (because sometimes, having a destiny is the stupidest thing ever).

First, if you haven’t read a book by T.J. Klune yet, you are truly missing out. Emotions run rampant in pretty much every book. Tears of laughter, tears of heartbreak, tears of joy – I don’t think I’ve read one of his books without shedding one or all of the above. And no, I’m not a gluten for punishment or a masochist. I just love books that make me feel and T.J. Klune is a pro at all the feels. ALL OF THEM! So, where does The Tales of Verania fall in that spectrum? Well, the “Merry Band of Misfits” are comprised of a gay hornless (sassy) unicorn; a dragon who is WAY too full of himself; a magician’s apprentice who has a knack for getting himself in crazy, mostly dangerous, sometimes deadly situations; a sometimes overly gallant, sword wielding  knight who would follow said magician’s assistant anywhere to attempt to keep him out of trouble; a sweet, lovable half giant who BEGS to punch anyone who poses a threat to his friends and family; and sometimes even a “jilted by the knight,” somewhat reluctant, grumbling prince. If you assumed that A Destiny of Dragons is on the silly side, you’d be half right. The thing about T.J. Klune is that even his silliest books have a depth that inevitably takes readers by surprise. Just one of the many things I love about his books, ❤

A Destiny of Dragons changes things for everyone. Secrets are revealed, connections are discovered that are a bit unsettling and some trust is torn to shreds. Sam has to come to terms with way more than he’s prepared for and spends a lot of time in denial. He avoids dealing with his “Destiny” in hopes that it will go away, but of course, that can’t happen. The only thing he does know is that he’ll do ANYTHING to keep those he loves safe but he’s afraid that isn’t possible. At least not in any way that keeps his heart intact. Then there’s the added bonus of strange alliances are made and more enemies are added to the mix. Saying that A Destiny of Dragons is a hard one to put down is an understatement.

It’s obvious from the list of characters that there is no blood involved in this make shift family, but there bond is stronger than any biological family could ever be. Even those among them who seem not to care, always come through when it counts. (Even the least likely among them.) I think that’s what I love most about this series so far – the sense of family. I have a feeling as the series continues that they’re going to need each other more than ever.

The Consumption of Magic is next, followed by the last book in The Tales of Verania, A Wish Upon the Stars. I have them both and as soon as I get up the nerve to pull on my “big girl pants” I’ll pick them up. Rumor has it that there will be more than a few tears shed. *sigh*

The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

My initial thought when I first finished this book: I love it when a new author blows me away with the first book in what promises to be an amazing series. ❤ That pretty much sums it up! So, yeah… you probably want more, right?

It’s already been established that this book blew me away – I hate to repeat myself, but this is a new author and Charlie Adhara’s first book. I find that simply amazing because this book was so much more than I expected. Especially since the plot took readers places that I never expected and the twists and turns were intricate, but never slipped. Not every revelation was a surprise, but some of them were. Even though the plot was at times complex, this author never lost me, not once.

I loved both Cooper and Park. Even though I’m a huge fan of getting both characters’ POV, this story wouldn’t have been nearly as good if readers would have been in Park’s head as well. Cooper had a lot of reasons not to trust Park. It was no surprise that Park gained my trust a lot sooner than he gained Coopers, but… well, you’ll have to read the book and experience it for yourself. Trust me, it is so worth it.

I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book was the PNR aspect – especially since it included werewolves. The Wolf at the Door was so much more than a PNR book though. There was intrigue, mystery, danger, suspense woven right along with the romantic tension between Park and Cooper.

One thing’s for certain, I’m extremely happy that this book is part of a series. I for one can’t wait for the Big Bad Wolf to continue. 😉

Hell & High Water (THIRDS #1) by Charlie Cochet

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.
Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Okay… wow… turns out that I’ve not only put off for an embarrassingly amount of time starting the THIRDS series, but this is also my very first Charlie Cochet read. *hangs head in shame* Never fear though, after reading Hell & High Water, I’m official hooked. I already have Blood & Thunder ready, waiting and practically cued and at least one other book on my TBR list by this author. My big question is… what in the heck took me so long?!?

Dex is… well, he’s nuts, but in a good way. He’s great at what he does and he keeps things serious when he needs to, but he definitely marches to his own personal crazy drummer. Sloane… doesn’t. The team that Dex is assigned to has been through a lot and they don’t want anyone new joining their team, especially not someone that is brought in to take their fallen team member’s place. Dex has huge combat boots to fill and he knows that he has his work cut out for him. He also has no intention of giving up, regardless of the odds against him.

Hell & High Water started this series with a bang and the tension between Dex and his partner and the rest of the team didn’t slow down. Add to that the action and mystery about what really happened to Sloane’s previous partner kept the pages turning. I can’t wait to see what happens next and luckily there are quite a few books in this series to keep me reading for a while. 😉