Surrender the Dark (Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong

Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.
After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.

I honestly can’t believe that Surrender the Dark is the first book by Tibby Armstrong that I’ve read. I’ve been following her for a while now and I really did think that I’d read at least one of her books, but I was wrong. There’s obviously nothing I can do about that now, but after finishing the first book in her newest series, I’m hooked and anxiously waiting the next book in the Dark series.

Not surprisingly, it was really easy to sympathize with Benjamin. I’ve got to admit that I was wondering exactly how the author was going to bring these two characters together after all the pain that they caused each other. Tzadkiel was the enemy. He was a monster that had tricked Benjamin, caused him to lose his sight and killed his family. Things aren’t always exactly as they seem though and there were a lot of interesting twists in Surrender the Dark.

Once I started to understand Tzadkiel’s history and how things really played out I wasn’t sure who to sympathize with because I found my heart breaking for both of them. So much so, that I wasn’t disappointed at all to find that the real enemy in Surrender the Dark wasn’t who I expected.

Beyond the story, the writing in Surrender the Dark drew me in. The descriptions were almost poetic, but not over the top. The characters were well developed and there was even humor laced within all the pain, anger and danger. Just a few of the reasons why I’ll most definitely not only be following the rest of this series but I’ll also be searching out more books by this author.

The conflict was over between Tzadkiel and Benjamin by the end of Surrender the Dark, but there’s still more to come. More than one character’s fate was undecided. Even though the next book, Taste the Dark, centers around at least one of those characters, I’m pretty sure readers haven’t seen the last of the King and his mate. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it. 😉

Forest of Thorns and Claws by J.T. Hall – Bout of Books 19 Review

Donovan McGinnis, a veterinarian and conservationist at a research center in Sumatra, is fighting to save the rainforest from poachers and politicians alike. One day he discovers a tigress trapped by a snare, and while treating her injuries, she bites him. He becomes ill with strange symptoms that leave him feverish and dreaming of the jungle and blood.
Kersen and his family are part of the Harimau jadian, a clan of tiger shifters hidden away in a secret village near the rainforest. When Kersen’s sister is caught, he knows he must free her before she infects someone with their magic and reveals their secret.
But Donovan has already been turned, and only time will tell if he can control the tiger within. Kersen must help him, but will the fierce attraction between the pair bring ruin to them all? With the rainforest under threat from outside forces, they may be doomed anyway, unless Kersen and Donovan can find a way to defeat the danger from inside and out.

I love books that convey an important message without being ‘preachy’ about it. You know what I mean, right? Forest of Thorns and Claws was one of those books. The message was about conservation and the affects that both legal and illegal actions can have. The story was centered around two very special characters. One who fought for the wildlife and its habitat even before he knew its magical secrets and the other who lived in that magical world with his family. That would have been enough to draw me in, but there were tigers, one of my favorite big cats, so I probably would have picked this one up regardless.

Kersen belonged to a clan of tiger shifters who had kept themselves hidden from humans for centuries. It was important to keep their secret, but it was even more important to rescue his sister. Once he found out that Donovan had been infected, he had more than one issue to handle. The doctor could be an ally, but what if he wasn’t. He had to get him away from the other humans before things got worse. Once he started spending time with Donovan, the attraction between them added another element.

Having Donovan turn into a shifter was kind of poetic in a way. His devotion and respect for the tigers was apparent in everything he did. It didn’t take him long to feel a part of the clan, which took his protection instincts to a whole new level. Thrown into the mix were untrusting villagers, a political and bureaucratic nightmare and a meddlesome friend. Needless to say, there wasn’t much down time in Forest of Thorns and Claws.

The romance was heated and intense, the suspense was gripping and the message was clear. If you read Forest of Thorns and Claws, don’t skip the author’s notes at the end. Her personal message to readers is worth the read. Enjoy!

 

Half by Eli Lang

halfLiving between worlds has never been comfortable, but it’s where I’ve always fit: between human and fey, illness and health, magic and reality.
I’ve spent the last six years looking for a cure for the nameless sickness eating me up. If I believed there was one out there, I would keep searching. But there isn’t, so I’ve come back home, where my past and present tangle. Come home to live . . . and to die.
But my father insists I meet Kin. He’s a healer, and determined to help, even though I’m not so hopeful anymore. But Kin isn’t what I expected, in any way. He sees me, not my illness. He reminds me of what it’s like to be alive. And I can’t help falling for him, even though I know it isn’t fair to either of us.
Kin thinks he has the cure I’ve been looking for, but it’s a cure that will change everything: me, my life, my heart. If I refuse, I could lose Kin. But if I take it, I might lose myself.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Half is one of those books that sticks with you long after you read it. I’m pretty sure not everyone will be affected by Kin and Luca’s story the same way. That’s the beauty of books that aren’t easy to read from an emotional stand point. They make you think and feel and the best ones make you ask what if?

There were a lot of layers to Half and quite a few perspectives to consider. What would you do to save someone you loved? What would you do if you were offered a cure that may or may not work? What if that cure changed you? How do you come to terms with the guilt you feel for not always being the person someone needed and the frustration of knowing that it may be too late to make up for it? There’s no right or wrong answer… unless you’re the person living with the decision you make.

That’s about all I’ve got… Read Half with an open mind and heart and a box of tissues probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. Also, it’s probably worth mentioning that even though this book is about fairies, that’s about the only paranormal aspect.

DragonFlyRating4

Rogue Magic by Kit Brisby

roguemagicWhile trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron’s hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion—with outlawed magic.
When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he’s ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn’t pull it off, Levi will be put to death.
Byron discovers that he isn’t the only one questioning America’s stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that’s forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1On the surface, Rogue Magic is a paranormal romance between two very different people. You don’t have to get very far into the story to figure out that it’s so much more.

The story is told by both Levi and Byron’s POV, which is good. In the beginning, Byron’s POV is frustrating, only because his mindset is jaded. He’s not a bad person, but he has to change his total way of thinking, everything he knows and has been told is wrong. It doesn’t take him long to turn his thinking around, but it takes long enough. Levi’s POV is heartbreaking. He’s labeled, condemned and alone when all he did was try to save people. Byron and Levi live in a world where there is a very definite line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. All of it’s based on how you were born. Something that individuals have absolutely no control over. Sound familiar?

I have to admit, there were parts of Rogue Magic that were hard to read. There’s really no hope for Levi. He’s condemned… trapped… destined to be used, abused and tortured, when he really should have been hailed as a hero. It was beyond scary for him and those who cared about him. Nothing was quite what it seemed, but change couldn’t happen without sacrifice.

This book reminds me of another M/M Paranormal series, but I’m not going to name it. Mainly because I don’t want readers to think that I’m accusing one author of copying the other. The real connection is that there are underlying ‘lessons’ to be learned and I honestly hope that people reading pay attention.

DragonFlyRating4

Wolf’s Clothing (Legend Tripping #2) by E.J. Russell

wolfsclothingWhat do you do when you finally prove the existence of the otherworld, but the ghosts kick your ass?
For Trent Pielmeyer, the answer is run like hell—away from his hostile family, away from the disbelieving cops, and far, far, far away from anything that smacks of the supernatural. After seven years’ captivity in a whacked-out alternate dimension, he is so over legend tripping.
When Christophe Clavret spots Trent in a Portland bar, he detects a kindred spirit—another man attempting to outrun the darkness of his own soul. But despite their sizzling chemistry, Trent’s hatred of the uncanny makes Christophe hesitant to confide the truth: he’s a werewolf, one of a dwindling line, the victim of a genetic curse extending back to feudal Europe.
But dark forces are at work, threatening more than their growing love. If Christophe can’t win Trent’s trust, and if Trent can’t overcome his fear of the paranormal, the cost could be Trent’s freedom and Christophe’s humanity. Or it might be both their lives.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Oh, I really liked this one. I really wish that I would have picked up Stumptown Spirits first, but the good news is that other than introducing some characters, I don’t think I missed too much.

My first love, when it comes to romance, is definitely paranormal, so I’ve read my fair share of werewolf books. I love it when any paranormal book introduces a new twist on familiar mythology and Wolf’s Clothing does just that.

Beyond E.J. Russell’s “twist”, I loved Christophe and Trent together. The bond that formed between them was even more special given Trent’s previous experience with the supernatural world. Danger, mystery, humor and some crazy mixed up family drama was thrown into the mix that kept the pages turning right up until the end. I’m hoping that there’s more to come in this series, but regardless, I’m going back to the beginning of the Legend Tripping series to play catch up eventually.

DragonFlyRating4

Wolfsong (Wolfsong #1) by T.J. Klune

WolfsongOx was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

This author… He gives readers no choice but to fall in love with the characters he creates. Then he slowly tortures them both physically and emotionally until he eventually and just as slowly, puts the pieces of their lives back together again. I both love and hate him for that…

Wolfsong was written in mostly double-titled chapters, so depending on how you look at it, Ox didn’t even meet Joe (the boy) until the 3rd (or 5th) chapter. That’s okay though, because the quality time that readers spent with Ox was necessary. Klune used those introductory chapters wisely. One of the things that I love most about this author is his ability to make his characters ‘real’. As much as I was impatiently waiting for Ox and Joe to finally meet, I really appreciated that one-on-one time I got to spend with Ox. Being in Ox’s head was a unique experience even from the beginning. He never had a high opinion of himself (I’m still mad at his father), just one of the many reasons that I couldn’t help but love him from the very beginning. It’s really hard to explain, but basically, readers were given the opportunity to experience Ox’s growth from a awkward boy into a somewhat less awkward young man.

And then there was Joe… I’m not surprised that the most quoted line out of this book was “candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome” because that’s pretty much what Wolfsong was… but it was so much more than that. I promise not to give anything away, but the moment that Joe and Ox finally meet is too amazing not to share…

There was a boy standing in the dirt road, watching me. His nose was twitching and his eyes were wide. They were blue and bright. Short blond hair. Tanned skin, almost as much as mine. He was young and small and I wondered if I was dreaming again.
“Hello.” I said.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Ox.”
“Ox? Ox! Do you smell that?”
I sniffed the air. I didn’t smell anything other than the woods. “I smell trees,” I said.
He shook his head. “No, no, no. It’s something bigger.”
He walked toward me, his eye going wider. Then he was running.
He wasn’t big. He couldn’t have been more than nine or ten. He collided with my legs, and I barely took a step back. He started climbing me, hooking his legs around my thighs and pulling himself up until his arms were around my neck and we were face to face. “It’s you!”
He was in my arms now. I didn’t want him to fall. He took my face in his hands and squished my cheeks together. “Why do you smell like that?” he demanded. “Where did you come from? Do you live in the woods? What are you? We just got here. Finally. Where is your house?” He put his forehead agains mine and inhaled deeply. “I don’t get it!” he exclaimed. “What is it?” And then he was crawling up and over my shoulders, feet pressed against my chest and neck until he clambered onto my back, arms around my neck, chin hooked on my shoulder. “We have to go see my mom and dad,” he said. “They’ll know what this is. They know everything.”
He was a tornado of fingers and feet and words. I was caught in the storm.

And then it gets better….

He started spinning his storm again, voice rising up and down, words forcefully punctuated without pattern. “Mom! Mom, you have to smell him! It’s like…like…I don’t even know what it’s like! I was walking in the woods to scope out our territory so I could be like Dad and then it was like…whoa. And then he was all standing there and he didn’t see me at first because I’m getting so good at hunting. I was all like rawr and grr but then I smelled it again and it was him and it was all kaboom! I don’t even know! I don’t even know! You gotta smell him and then tell me why it’s all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”
They all stared at him as if they’d come across something unexpected. Mark had a secret smile on his face, hidden by his hand.
“Is that so?” the woman finally said. Her voice wavered like it was a fragile thing. “Rawr and grr and kaboom?”
“And the smells!” he cried.
“Can’t forget about those,” the man next to her said faintly. “Candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”
“Didn’t I tell you ?” Mark said to them, “Ox is…different.”

Epic and awesome indeed… So ‘epic and awesome’ that I’m ashamed of how long it’s taken me to sit down and write my review. The thing is, I always have a hard time writing reviews of books that I love. I know that there’s no way that I can come close to putting into words what makes a book like Wolfsong one that shouldn’t be ignored. There was just so much to love about it. Ox and Joe of course, but the rest of Joe’s family and Ox’s mom. Their friends and the ‘pack’ in general. *sigh*

Then there was the trademark TJ Klune moments that made me simultaneously love and hate the author. You guessed it, there were tears. Tears of joy, tears of laughter and gut wrenching, heart breaking tears. Lots and lots of ‘wookie cry face’ tears. As much as I hate to admit it, they were all worth it.

Beyond that, the world building and the author’s unique take on werewolves was awesome… I loved the way the wolves viewed certain aspects of life the way that more humans should. I loved Ox’s mother’s acceptance of who Ox was for no other reason than she loved him as a mother should. There’s really not much more that I can say other than I’m super excited that this is just the beginning of a new series. Now I need to go over my TBR list, I have some catching up to do with the rest of this author’s books. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

 

Wet Heat by R.D. Hero

WetHeat_600x900Most omega werewolves want a mate and pups, but Lee Aung prefers an unconventional party-boy lifestyle. Yet at forty-two, he’s stopped going into heat, which means he’s expired goods—no longer a fertile, young omega that alpha wolves drool over. So Lee uses Wet Heat, a synthetic pheromone, to reel in the alpha hookups.
After losing his job at the bank, Lee can’t afford to keep up his Wet Heat habit. His solution: scam free samples by pretending to be a happily mated test subject at Wet Heat headquarters. There, Lee spends two years being interviewed by the reserved alpha scientist, Cain, who at thirty-two is unmated and—up until this point—content with that.
Cain never really felt his alpha instincts, nor took part in the usual alpha/beta/omega social dynamics. But after discovering that Lee has been lying about his unmated status for two years, Cain finally admits that for the first time, he wants to court an omega. Unfortunately, he’s picked the one omega who doesn’t want to be courted.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1From the description, it should come as no surprise that Wet Heat was a fun read. What surprised me was that it was a really sweet read too.

This is the first book by R.D. Hero that I’ve read, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got were smart, witty characters that kept me totally entertained. I also loved the unique take on werewolves that the author created in Wet Heat was intriguing.

I loved the characters (Lee’s nephew was one of my favorites), I loved the twists and I loved the story enough to seek out more of R.D. Hero’s books to add to my reading list. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Fangs & Lullabies (The Demons Age #1) by Kallysten

FangsAndLullabiesA child’s birth. His first teeth and first steps. School friends and bullies, recess, school plays and science projects. A girl, a crush and a broken heart. These childhood experiences are shared by countless little boys from different horizons.
And yet… Jacob is anything but average. For as long as he has been able to understand, a secret has shaped his life, kept even from his closest friends: his father, Andrew, is a vampire. And so is his other father, Nicholas.
In a strange era when demons are beginning to appear all over the world and threaten humans and vampires alike, the three of them form quite an extraordinary family. And yet, at the same time, they could hardly be more normal.
Two fathers raising a son neither of them ever thought he would have. A Sire and Childe resuming their relationship after years of estrangement. Through snapshots covering Jacob’s life from birth to adulthood, discover this unusual family, and how, in the end, all it takes is love.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Fangs & Lullabies is only the second book that I’ve read by Kallysten. The first was Baby Steps and I can honestly say that I loved them both.

This story began with heartbreak. In the world that Kallysten has created for her vampires, they can’t conceive a child. Jacob’s mother found a way through science and magic, but she didn’t survive his birth long enough to even hold her son. And yes, that’s where the story opens. Andrew is obviously devastated, but he’s determined to love and protect his son from that moment forward.

Nicholas comes back into Andrew’s life soon after Jacob’s birth. Together with Jacob they form a family like no other. I loved the snapshots from year to year as Jacob grows. For me they got even more interesting when Jacob’s POV came into play. The author did a great job of capturing Jacob’s personality even from a very young age, and anyone who has read any of my reviews knows how I love it when that happens.

As the description states, this is a book of ‘snapshots’ that give readers a glimpse into a unique, yet normal family. They have their secrets and things aren’t perfect, but together Andrew and Nicholas managed to raise an amazing young man. There’s a lot more to their story and I can’t wait to get to know them better in the next installment, Demons & Lullabies.

DragonFlyRating4

Second Skin by Alex Whitehall

SecondSkinWhen Jay heads to the university’s learning center for help with his math class, he doesn’t expect his tutor to be tall, dark, and handsome. But Roswell is all that and more, and their instant connection over cult movies, books, and TV shows quickly evolves into dating.
That’s when things get tricky.
Roswell might claim he doesn’t have issues with Jay being trans, but when he’s constantly insisting they “take it slow,” Jay’s not so sure. He’s been hurt before, and he’s not going to let it happen again.
But then Roswell reveals that he, too, has a few secrets under his skin.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Well, that was different… gotta love a twist that catches you totally off guard 😉

Okay, so there’s not a lot I can tell you about Second Skin without giving anything away. I can tell you that I liked both the characters, the supporting characters and the way that Jay being trans was handled. The only BIG problem I had with this story was that it is way too short. I know, you’ve heard me say that before, but sometimes you just need more to take a story from a sweet little romance to awesome. I have no problem with sweet little romances either, but this one had some much ‘awesome’ potential that it was a shame to cut it so short. *sigh*

DragonFlyGreen3-5

Rock N Soul (Soul Seekers #1) by Lauren Sattersby

RockNSoul_600x900I’m Tyler Lindsey, and until recently, I had an okay apartment, an okay girlfriend, and an okay job as a bellboy at a respectable Boston hotel. Then rock star Chris Raiden died right before I brought his room service—stiffing me on the tip, by the way—and my life went to hell. My fifteen minutes of fame was more like five seconds, and my girlfriend left me in disgust.
But even worse—Chris is haunting me. Not the room where he died, like a normal ghost. No, somehow he’s stuck to me and is insisting on taking care of a bunch of unfinished business in California. So now I have to traipse across the country with the world’s most narcissistic ghost.
But . . . I keep having these weird thoughts. Thoughts about how much I like the way he makes me laugh. Thoughts where I kind of want to kiss the emo-narcissist, even though he’s a ghost and an asshole and I can’t touch him anyway. And even if I could, what will happen when he finishes his business and nothing’s keeping him here anymore?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Alright, honestly? I spent the first half of this book (maybe not quite half…) wondering exactly where the romance was coming from. Tyler was a guy who settled for being verbally abused by his girl friend and settling for a job that was going nowhere because it was easy. Chris was a spoiled, entitled rock star who OD’d in his hotel room. The guys couldn’t stand each other from the moment they met. This was an impossible story from the very beginning… but then the walls started coming down. The masks that these two hid behind were off and once that happened I was a goner.

Typical of a ghost who didn’t seem to be able to move on, Chris had some unfinished business he needed to take care of. There were three people he needed to see for some very different reasons. That journey brought the two of them closer together and they both grew a lot in a very short time. Which was heartbreaking. I’m not gonna lie, I was reduced to tears more than once. Not just the tears that quietly leak down your cheek. No, these were the ones that blur your vision so bad that you have to put the book down and compose yourself before you can go on and once you do, it starts all over again. This was the kind of book that you didn’t want to finish because you knew how it was going to end and you didn’t want it to be over for these guys. I was so emotionally invested in them that it practically broke me…

To keep it simple, let’s just say that Lauren Sattersbury hit a home run with her debut. She is most definitely on my reading radar. She turned what was a heartbreaking scenario into a beautiful love story and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Needless to say, I was super excited to see that Rock N Soul is part of a series.

DragonFlyRating5