The Rain (Pendragon Chronicles #1) by Amos Cassidy

RainCoverUpdateWhat do you do when you lose what you love the most? What do you do when every breath is agony?
Jake has lost the love of his life. Desperate for a fresh start, he moves to Longbrooke – a small British coastal town. The people are friendly, the town is quaint and Jake finally feels as if he could start anew. Then The Rain falls – an ancient weapon that only Jake can manipulate – and Jake is thrust into a world where Myth and Legend are reality and his bloodline the only possible saviour of mankind.
The rebirth of The Rain is a beacon to all that is sinister and as Jake meets his first challenge, he must quickly learn to master the weapon inside him or risk losing his new found friends. Will he succeed before it’s too late or will the deadly threat accomplish its lethal goal?
What do you do when your actions determine the fate of those nearest and dearest? What do you do when there is nothing on the horizon but uncertainty?
You lift up your chin and you fight back with everything you’ve got and hope – no, pray – for the best. If all else fails, sic your dragon on the bad guys.

Destinies aren’t written, they’re forged, and Jake Winters is about to get a 101 in forging.
A quaint British coastal town hiding ancient secrets, a heavenly weapon that claims a host, a dragon’s egg that has a tale to tell – Jake Winters is the line that connects all the dots.
But Jake has much to learn, and very little time, because a serial killer is on the loose, a monster with the face of a fashion model, and it’ll take Jake’s special brand of intervention to stop him…

I can’t believe how many ‘that didn’t just happen’ moments were packed into this book.

For the record, this is the third time I’ve read The Rain and that statement above still holds true. Not that I needed a reason to reread the book, but I needed to refresh my memory (it’s been over a year since my last reading) before the next book in the series (Lost Souls) was released and there were a few updates made since its original release, not the least of which was a brand new cover. As a side note, I love both covers and there are things about each version that I like… no major changes to the plot or characters, so the rest of my review pretty much stands as is…

Confession time… (I do that a lot, don’t I?) I got my hands on The Rain about a month before its release. I had been meaning to read a book by Amos Cassidy for a while and when I saw this book I couldn’t resist signing up for the tour. Reading the book wasn’t part of my stop on the tour, but being the conscientious reader/review that I am I had to know if what I was promoting was good, right? And honestly, after reading that synopsis and looking at the awesome and unique cover, how could I NOT want to read it? So, how did I like The Rain? Let’s put it this way. Even though I received an ARC – with no strings attached – I still purchased the book as soon as it was released. I rarely do that folks…. this book was that good. Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the review….

Just a little warning… the first chapter is… well… it hurts. I know, that seems a little dramatic, but there’s no easy or better way to put it. Reading it the second time wasn’t any less painful than the first. It’s necessary though. Readers aren’t left with any doubt of what Jake lost and where he was emotionally when he moved to Longbrooke. It was a rough way to get to know him as a character, but it definitely made me sympathize with him in a very real way. *sigh*

Longbrooke and its residents were a huge reason why I loved The Rain – and I loved them all – well at least the ones that weren’t evil. Greg was the first person that Jake really interacted with and he was one of my favorites. His sense of humor and loyalty were  exactly what Jake needed. Ivy was almost a force of nature and I loved the way Jake reacted to her. They all added an extra layer to the story and they each played a very important role. They were well developed and had their own brand of wit and humor. (It doesn’t matter how many times I read a certain chapter *cough* 18 *cough*… I will always laugh out loud. I’ll also never look at a claw machine again and not grin as I look for a particular toy. 😉  ) Yeah, this is definitely a book that left an impression. I love it when that happens.

The characters were just one aspect of The Rain. The formatting was unique and told from several points of view – readers sometimes didn’t even know whose POV the story was coming from, but instead of being confusing, it just added to the mystery. Even the way that Jake was clued into what was really going on and the part he played in this new world he’d been thrust into was done in a unique way. (Nope, I’m not giving that away either… it’s just too good to spoil.) Jake’s flash backs were even an important part of the story. They were more than just filler. It was a great way to get to know him better and to understand exactly what it was that he lost. *sigh*

One of the other things that drew me into this story is that I have a weak spot for the legend that this The Rain centers around. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what legend that is without giving things away. I can tell you that Amos Cassidy took an age old and familiar tale and gave it a unique spin. One that I didn’t expect but thoroughly enjoyed.

TheRainThe Rain was full of surprises. It was an epic fantasy set in a quaint British town with some quirky characters. There was a touch of bitter sweet romance, plenty of action, more than a few surprises, mythological creatures, some coffee spewing laugh-out-loud moments and some jaw dropping, heart breaking, tear inducing, cringe worthy moments. (I still can’t believe some of it happened.) And then there was the ending… gah! This is one book that kept you guessing until the very end and then sucker punched you. (I’m not complaining…. just still can’t believe it.) This may have been the first book I’ve read by the Amos Cassidy writing duo, but it most certainly won’t be the last.

DragonFlyRating5

 

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House of Whispers (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5) by J.L. Bryan

HouseOfWhispersThe luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel is a Savannah institution that has entertained guests for more than a century and a half, offering some of the finest accommodations in the city. Famously haunted, the hotel draws tourists from around the world eager to encounter its numerous ghosts. The hotel is also known for being honeycombed with hidden doors and secret passages, enabling staff to appear and disappear quickly as they attend to the hotel’s guests.
Now some of the spirits in the Lathrop Grand have turned violent, even murderous. Ellie and Stacey must determine which ghost has become dangerous and remove it from the hotel before it can claim any more lives. They soon learn the hotel has secrets even darker than the notorious string of nineteenth-century murders that made it famous, and the powerful entities inhabiting it don’t intend to leave without a fight.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1If I was asked to make a list of authors/books that I would recommend to readers who wanted a good October (aka scary) read, J.L. Bryan would definitely be in my top ten recs. I honestly have no idea how he comes up with this stuff. Having said that, House of Whispers was definitely scary, but it wasn’t the scariest in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series so far. I’m not complaining, honest. The series gets better with each installment. I guess after the craziness that Ellie experienced in Terminal, a hotel full of civil war era, weapon wielding, bloody ghosts (among others) seemed kind of tame. (Sounds kind of ridiculous when I put it that way, doesn’t it?)

I think what I liked most about House of Whispers was what went on other than the ghost hunting. The future of their investigation firm is still up in the air, which has Ellie more than a little worried. Some relationships are unexpectedly strained, which added a little twist to the story line. And as I’ve come to expect, the characters continue to evolve and grow. Speaking of which, I love these characters. They’re witty, smart, loyal to each other and believe in what they do. I’m basically falling in love with them more with each book.

There were also a lot of sneaky twists in House of Whispers that I didn’t see coming. Those twists also left room for Ellie to take control. In the previous books she’s taken some unnecessary risks. I’m not saying she was being stupid, but she took those risks to protect others. In House of Whispers she was smart and proved herself capable more than once. I liked that side of her… especially given the circumstances – but those you’ll have to figure out for yourself when you read them 😉

The best part as far as I’m concerned is that J.L. Bryan has promised that there’s more to come. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for Ellie and friends. Given the way things ended (not a cliff hanger BTW) things could prove to be even more interesting… as if trapping ghosts for a living wasn’t enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

The Secrets of Neverwood by G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland & Libby Drew

SecretsOfNeverwoodThree foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother—that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.

But going home is never easy. 

Cal struggles to recover from past heartbreak, while Danny fears his mistakes are too big to overcome. Devon believes he may never break down the barriers that separate him from honest emotion. 

On the path to brotherhood, they discover the old mansion holds more than dusty furniture and secret passageways. Audrey’s spirit still walks its halls, intent on guiding “her boys” toward true love, and an old mystery stirs up a new danger—one that could cost the men far more than just the house.

Secrets of Neverwood includes:
One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey
The Growing Season by Diana Copland
The Lost Year by Libby Drew

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The Secrets of Neverwood was a unique read. Three stories by three different authors based on characters with one common thread. The house that they spent time in and the woman who loved each of them unconditionally. She saw something in each one of them that they didn’t see in themselves. She may be gone, in a sense, but she’s a huge part of their past, present and more than likely their future.

Even though they are brothers, they barely know each other. They spent time at Neverwood, but barely crossed paths. The Secrets of Neverwood is about them finding themselves, finding each other and learning to trust and love. Something that each of them desperately need to discover. G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland and Libby Drew do an amazing job of giving each character their own voice, but keeping everything cohesive and true to each other’s story. You can purchase the stories individually, but reading them as one is definitely my suggestion.

Below you’ll find my reviews of each individual story. Each story begins with a personal note from Aubrey to her son. You might also notice that I’ve tagged this one both Contemporary and Paranormal. Even though the romances themselves aren’t paranormal, there’s definitely a paranormal aspect to The Secrets of Neverwood. Once you read it, you’ll understand. 😉

OneDoorClosesOne Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey

Years ago, Calvin Ware found a refuge in Neverwood, a home for wayward boys. Now, following the death of his foster mother Audrey, he’s returned to fulfill her request to restore the decrepit Victorian mansion to its former purpose.

Under the threat of repossession, Cal clashes with his foster brothers over restoration plans while fending off the unscrupulous developer who is breathing down his neck. Audrey’s well-meaning presence in his dreams does more harm than good as he struggles to cope with it all. What’s more, the contractor he hires to get the building up to code turns out to be Will Cabot, his high school flame.

As they begin working together, Cal finds he still has feelings for his first love. But his mistakes of years ago threaten their future, just as they ruined their past, and Cal knows he can’t withstand the heartbreak a second time.

This is my first G.B. Lindsey read. She got to start the story off, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Regardless, I think it was appropriate to start things off with Cal. He wasn’t the oldest, but he was the only one of the brothers who had kept in contact with Aubrey. He came and visited and helped out when he was needed, but even his visits were sporadic and he had no clue how sick she was. He saw himself as the most logical person to take charge, even though he didn’t want to. He needed his brothers’ help, but he didn’t know how to ask and he didn’t think they were either willing or able. He had a lot to learn.

Will was his first love and readers didn’t know until near the end exactly what pulled them apart. We knew that something had happened and that Cal blamed himself for it, but it was only hinted at, never fully revealed. I kind of liked that approach. I also liked the fact that Will and Cal weren’t immediately thrown together. The connection and attraction was there, but it wasn’t acted on until the time was right. They both had a lot to come to terms with and the time span worked.

I also liked the way things developed between Cal, Devon and Danny. They also had a lot to work through and Aubrey’s influence brought them together in more ways than one. Their story is just the beginning, but it is far from over. The foundation is laid for what comes next for both the brothers and Neverwood. One Door Closes did an excellent job of starting things off and set the stage for Danny and Devon’s stories.

DragonFlyRating4

GrowingSeasonThe Growing Season by Diana Copland

The four years since Danny Redmond left Neverwood have been heartbreaking, and past mistakes continue to haunt him, even after he returns home.Together with two foster brothers he barely knows, they plan to turn the house into a welcoming place for runaways once again—the dying wish of their foster mother, Audrey. 

Danny has nothing to contribute to the restoration of the decrepit mansion, save for a gift for growing things. His efforts to bring Audrey’s beloved gardens back to their former glory are complicated by handsome landscaper Sam Ignatius…and the feelings developing between them, despite their fiery differences of opinion. But one voice gives him hope, the only one he’s always trusted—Audrey’s. 

Danny comes to care deeply for Sam, but things look bleak when Sam’s city councilman father threatens to have Neverwood torn down. Danny isn’t surprised. Why would he expect the future to be different from his past? All his relationships end in disaster.

The first book that I read by Diana Copland was A Reason to Believe. As a matter of fact, that book marks my very first M/M Romance. It made me fall in love with the genre and want to read more. Needless to say I wasn’t surprised when Danny’s story pulled me even further into the Neverwood story.

Danny was the bratty younger brother. He kept his distance from his older brothers. Readers didn’t get to know him very well in One Door Closes, but from the time his POV started in The Growing Season I fell in love with him. He has secrets buried deep and just like Cal’s story, the reader isn’t immediately clued into what they are, even though his story starts with a pretty vivid nightmare.

Sam is introduced pretty early and the initial meeting between he and Danny didn’t go well. Mostly because Danny hasn’t quite gotten over trust issues with his brothers. He’s the youngest and he feels like he is constantly trying to prove himself. Throw a landscaping expert into the mix when Danny has been told he has free reign over the gardens and you can probably figure out where things go. The chip on Danny’s shoulder turns into a boulder. Lucky for him that Sam knows exactly how to get things under control… kind of.

Diana Copland does an amazing job of weaving the past into the present and giving readers a very clear picture of the demons that are haunting Danny. Nothing is revealed too quickly and the romance between Danny and Sam smolders along the way. Nothing is rushed, which in Danny’s case is important. I love and respect Sam’s patience as well as his firmness in encouraging Danny to share his secret with his brothers.

More secrets were revealed, some mysteries were solved and the brothers become even closer than they were before. Aubrey’s influence is far from over. The Growing Season did an excellent job of weaving the story even tighter and opening the way for Devon.

DragonFlyGreen4-5LostYearThe Lost Year by Libby Drew

Devon McCade is no stranger to adversity. As a photojournalist, he’s seen all manner of human struggle. And as a kid, it’s what brought him to Neverwood, to his foster mother Audrey. It’s what he’s facing now, as he and his foster brothers work to restore the once-stately mansion amidst surprising signs from Audrey herself.

But when another anguished soul arrives at Neverwood, Devon can’t hide behind his camera. Nicholas Hardy is certain he saw his runaway son, Robbie, in a photo Devon took of homeless children. Devon knows all too well that a young teenager on the streets doesn’t have many options—and Robbie has been missing for a full year.

Searching for Robbie with Nicholas stirs memories and passions Devon had thought long lost, yet knowing that Nicholas will leave as soon as Robbie is found keeps him from opening himself up to something permanent. Devon must learn to fight for what he wants to keep—his love, and his home.

Ironically, Libby Drew’s 40 Souls to Keep was the second M/M Romance that I picked up. The first few that I chose had a paranormal aspect. Since PNR is my favorite romance genre, it made perfect sense to start there. Since then I’ve definitely broadened my scope and added a lot of M/M Romance authors to my ‘auto read’ list. The Lost Year has put this author back on my reading radar.

I honestly looked forward to Devon’s story from the beginning and The Lost Year was definitely worth the wait. I loved this guy. He was a huge support to his brothers, even though he didn’t see himself that way. I loved his interactions with Danny and the quiet way that he was just ‘there’ whenever he needed to be. It was no surprise to me at all when he offered to help Nicholas. That’s just who Devon was.

The connection between Devon and Nicholas was intense. Nicholas had given up everything for his son and he needed something to hold on to. Devon had kept everyone at a distance, but he couldn’t keep himself from opening up to Nicholas.

Even though Nicholas and Devon were at the center of The Lost Year, at lot more went on in this story. I think what I liked most about this entire boxed set was the way previous characters developed with each story. Each author kept the characters true to themselves, but another dimension was added with each story. Cal became more sure of himself and his connection to his brothers, Danny realized how much he had to offer (I loved the way he handled Robbie) and he actually became the lovable little brother. Devon opened up a little bit more with each story as well. I also loved the way that Aubrey ‘communicated’ with each of the brothers differently.

The Lost Year ended this compilation well, but things were left kind of open ended at the end. I can only hope that means that the collaboration between these three authors isn’t over. I definitely want more from Cal, Will, Danny, Sam, Devon, Nicholas, Robbie, Aubrey and Neverwood. 😉

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Wake to Darkness (Brown & De Luca #2) by Maggie Shayne

WakeToDarknessStranded with a murderer…

Rachel de Luca’s uncanny sense of perception is the key to her success as a self-help celebrity. Even before she regained her sight, she had a gift for seeing people’s most carefully hidden secrets. But the secret she shares with Detective Mason Brown is one she has promised to keep. As for Mason, he sees Rachel more clearly than she’d like to admit…

After a single night of adrenaline-fueled passion, they have agreed to keep their distance—until a string of murders brings them together again. Mason thinks that he can protect everyone he loves, including Rachel, by taking them to a winter hideaway, but danger follows them up the mountain.

As guests disappear from the snowbound resort, the race to find the murderer intensifies. Rachel knows she’s a target. Will acknowledging her feelings for Mason destroy her…or save them both and stop a killer?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This series has been amazing. I fell in love with Mason and Rachel in Sleep With The Lights On. I loved the short, but packed full of action and emotion, Dream of Danger. Both were suspenseful, witty, heartbreaking and scary. Even though I really liked both of those installments in the Brown and De Luca series, nothing prepared me for Wake to Darkness. This one scared the crap out of me. Not because it was horror filled but because I’ve grown to really like these characters and Maggie Shayne pulled no punches and kept them on the edge of certain danger pretty much from start to finish.

I knew before I ever started this review that I wouldn’t be able to explain exactly what it is I like so much about Rachel. I think it’s because she’s so ‘real.’ Honestly, how can you not like a character that makes statements like this:

If the bullshit I wrote was true, I wouldn’t have been standing with my back to the man I’d most love to bone, saying ‘No.’ Because if the bullshit I wrote was true, the question he’d just asked me would have been an entirely different one, instead of the one he asked, which had been, ‘Will you help me investigate another creeping ‘fucking’ case that might get us both killed?’
Okay, those weren’t his exact words, but they might as well have been.

Yeah, I kinda love Rachel. The thing is, she hides behind the stuff she writes. At least she thinks she does. The thing I love about Rachel and Mason together is that he sees the honesty behind what she calls ‘crap’ because she really does believe it. She just doesn’t know it. She thinks she’s self centered and cynical. She obviously doesn’t see herself clearly. She’s loyal, generous and loves those who have earned her devotion fiercely.

Wake to Darkness was not a light and fluffy romance. It wasn’t really paranormal, but it had a definite paranormal aspect. The premise was totally not real, but it still made you think ‘what if?’ and shiver at the possibility. There was plenty of action, a touch of humor, suspense, mystery and more than enough gore that opened in the prologue. Nothing was exactly what it seemed and even though I figured out the ‘who’ behind the violence this time it didn’t take away from the suspense.

This was an action driven story, but the characters are what made it for me. Yes, I loved Rachel. Mason was great too and Maggie Shayne got the teenage drama dead on with both the boys and Rachel’s niece. It wasn’t over done and it wasn’t glossed over. Just like Rachel, the characters were real and the conversations and actions were totally believable.

So yes, I have officially fallen in love with another Maggie Shayne series. I really wasn’t surprised. When you get to spend time with characters like this, what’s not to love?

It was my body that had a syringe full of that shit sticking into it. One push of the plunger and we’d be having this conversation over an Ouija board.

I was reminded that she was still in the heartbreak phase. Nowhere near the anger and vengeance phase, which was really the fun part of any breakup, in my humble opinion. 

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Suddenly Sam (October Trilogy #3) by Heather Killough-Walden

SuddenlySamSamhain is running out of time. When the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, the door to his realm will close forever, and any precious hope he possessed of winning the heart of the woman he would choose as queen will vanish along with October. A desperate lack of time calls for desperate measures, and Sam finds himself pushing boundaries and breaking rules to claim the heart he loves. But there is more at stake here than even the Death God realized, and as the long hand climbs toward October’s final moments, what is truly to be gained and truly to be lost becomes all too terrifyingly clear.

Logan Wright’s world spins out of control as she is dragged unwillingly into the realm bordering Samhain’s kingdom. But what begins as a struggle to free herself from Sam’s clutches and leave the new yet achingly familiar land she has entered becomes a journey of dawning understanding and self discovery – as October Land, in all of its amber-hued splendor and Autumn magic not only captures her body and soul, but the very heart she is trying so desperately to protect.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Somewhere between the mortal realm and the Realm of the Dead, in the fantastical world of apple orchards and pumpkin patches, cinnamon spice, and midnight masquerades, ten friends quest for power, freedom, and salvation – and one must make the ultimate choice. And the ultimate sacrifice.

Suddenly Sam is the anxiously awaited third and final heart-pounding novel in the award winning young adult paranormal romance trilogy The October Trilogy, by New York Times and USA Today best selling author, Heather Killough-Walden.

I didn’t start this trilogy until last year, so I did get to pick up Secretly Sam immediately after I read Sam I Am. That was fortunate because one book leads right into the other. What wasn’t so fortunate was that Secretly Sam ended in a huge cliff hanger and I had to wait a year to pick up Suddenly Sam to see how the story ended. Yikes! If you are just discovering the October Trilogy, you’re fortunate. And since this book picks up exactly where the last one left off, I suggest you pick up all three at the same time. You can thank me later. 😉

So, was Suddenly Sam worth the torturous wait? Absolutely! Heather’s writing is a constant. I’m just as drawn in and mesmerized by her young adult fiction as her adult PNR. Her descriptions are poetic and her world building in this series was amazing. Half way through I was wishing that I could visit October Land myself. It was as beautiful as it was scary and it fit the personality of the characters who lived there.

Speaking of characters, there was quite a variety in this trilogy. Young, old, wise, impulsive and everything in between. The supporting cast of characters played just as important a role as the main characters and the way the POV changed from chapter to chapter just reinforced that. There was so much to love about this book, but I can’t convey it in a review. It’s one of those things you have to experience it for yourself.

Mystery, magic, danger, romance and raw emotion. The October Trilogy had it all and Suddenly Sam wrapped it all up with a satisfactory end. In true Heather Killough-Walden fashion, readers were reminded that there is no such thing as pure good or pure evil and nothing is always as it seems. The story for these characters is far from over, but the rest is left to our imagination and that’s okay. We can end our time with Logan and company with a satisfied sigh – which is how all good fairy tales should end. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne

SleepWithTheLightsOnThrough the eyes of a killer.
Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull.
Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders crimes she soon learns are all too real.
Detective Mason Brown’s own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother’s organs, though he’s kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.

This was a book that I knew had me pulled in from the time I started reading the Prologue. I really couldn’t put this one down… for a lot of reasons.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1One of the things that kept me reading was the characters themselves. Rachel was such a vivid, ‘in your face’ kind of character. Blind or not, she couldn’t be ignored. I loved her from the beginning. She was strong, smart and took nothing from anyone. She was also extremely loyal and fiercely protective of those she loved.  I loved Mason too. He was put in an impossible situation and he dealt with it the only way he knew how. He could have crumbled, but he didn’t. He stayed strong because he had too and regardless of how wrong the decision was that he inevitably made, it was for all the right reasons. It was easy to admire him for that.

The supporting characters were just as important to this story as Mason and Rachel. This was definitely a character driven story and they drove it well. Even the characters that seemed to be minor played important roles. No face time was wasted in this one – even when that time was spent with Rachel’s pet dog Myrtle. There was also plenty of humor, romance and witty dialogue. It all added to the drama and intrigue and at least kept this reader on her toes. At one point I was a little disappointed because I thought the outcome was going to be obvious… I should have known better.

Maggie Shayne took twists and turns to the extreme. Nothing was sugar coated, especially the imagery used to describe the violence. The premise was unique and nothing was even close to what it seemed. I loved every minute of it. For the record, I could have read this one at night, but I’m kind of glad that I read it during the day. (Let’s just say the book is aptly titled.) I’m also really glad that this is going to be a series. It doesn’t end in a cliff hanger but it’s obvious at the close of the Epilogue that things are far from over between Mason and Rachel. I can’t wait to see what is in store for them next.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

40 Souls to Keep by Libby Drew

40SoulsToKeepSeven years ago, Jase awoke with the mystical power to heal people—and no memory of his past. The only clue to his identity is the number forty tattooed on his arm. Driven by a mission he doesn’t understand, Jase follows his visions to those he’s meant to save. He is convinced that the fortieth person he’s drawn to—a little girl named Macy Pearl—is the key to finally learning the truth…

Social worker Lucas Jacobson has made a promise to protect Macy, orphaned when her parents were brutally murdered. So when Jase shows up in Naples claiming he’s there to heal the child, Lucas is wary, despite his attraction to the enigmatic stranger.

Then Macy is abducted, and Lucas has no choice but to trust in Jase. Scouring the city from its glitzy resorts to its seedy underbelly only deepens the mystery—and draws the two men closer. But Jase is certain of one thing: if Macy dies, a dark fate awaits them all.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I honestly didn’t know what to expect from 40 Souls to Keep. Sure, it sounded interesting and there was enough of a paranormal aspect to catch my interest. The surprise came when I became totally emotionally invested in these characters.

This was an intense book. Much more intense than I originally expected. The emotion was raw, mainly because of the pain that all of these characters experienced. It may have had something to do with the fact that there was a child involved. Not just any child, but a child who was broken, yet seemed to find a way to survive. Lucas was the perfect protector of that child. He impressed me from the first page he was introduced. He was witty, yet totally serious and dedicated to his job. I admired the way he put the children he was there to help above and beyond everything else. Besides that, I just plain liked him as a person from the start. There was just something about him that drew me in. On the flip side, I have to admit that Jase didn’t make quite as good a first impression. Not that i didn’t like Jase. He grew on me. Which, given the way the story progressed was actually perfect. When readers were first introduced to Jase he wasn’t a whole person. The more I got to know him and see how he interacted with Lucas and Macy, the more I grew to like him. Of course, his back story didn’t hurt either. *sigh*

Speaking of the back story. I like the way Libby Drew handled the time lapse in 40 Souls to Keep. It wasn’t forced and it didn’t bounce back and forth. It was just a part of the story – readers learned about how Jase had spent the past seven years at the same time that Lucas did. It made perfect sense and it flowed really well. It could have been awkward, but it wasn’t. It just worked.

As I mentioned before, this book was intense. That intensity covered every aspect. The action, danger, emotion, mystery and even the romance. Speaking of which, there was nothing graphic about said romance at all. The attraction between Lucas and Jase was immediate, mostly due to the circumstances but it was also real and totally heart wrenching at moments. All of which just added to that intensity. I don’t want to say a lot more because a lot of Jase’s attraction to Lucas is something that readers need to discover on their own. It’s worth it, trust me.

There were moments in 40 Souls to Keep that I wondered why characters did what they did. There were also times that I thought that Macy didn’t act or speak exactly like a child her age probably would but those moments were minor compared to the actual story. And for the record, yes there were tears. The bad part was that I knew they were coming. There came a time during the story that I knew that there was no way that things weren’t going to end badly for someone. I kept reading though because I just had to know exactly how Libby Drew would fix it. All the while I was silently praying that she would. Just a warning – the climax and the final chapters just about did me in…. and that’s all I’m going to say. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland

Detective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core–and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees–but love offers a reason to believe…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Okay, I have to admit that this was a first for me and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It wasn’t that I was avoiding the M/M genre. I just never found one that peaked my interest. When I read the synopsis for A Reason to Believe I knew it would be a good book to start with. It had a paranormal aspect and the story just sounded good. What I didn’t expect was the impact that this book had on me as I read it. I can honestly say that A Reason to Believe is going on my list of favorite contemporary romances. (I realize that it is categorized as paranormal, but since both of the characters in the story are human I didn’t really think of it as a paranormal romance.)

From the first few chapters this book grabbed me. By the end of the second chapter I was emotionally invested in the book. Matt’s story of love and loss actually had me a little teary. He lost the love of his life in a tragic way, his fellow officers treated him differently once they discovered he was gay and he saw his first ghost at a child’s murder scene. When he finally meets Kiernan, he’s not only a skeptic where ghosts are concerned, he’s also a skeptic on love. He’s literally a broken man. *sigh*

I loved Kiernan from the moment he was introduced. Matt’s reaction to him was priceless. He didn’t want to give in to his attraction to him, but he couldn’t resist. There was just something about Kiernan that drew you in. He was honest and wore his heart on his sleeve, yet he was as damaged as Matt in a lot of ways. His story broke my heart almost as much as Matt’s.

The characters that supported these two men had as much to do with my love of the book as they did. Matt’s sister-in-law, Sheila, was so supportive and the love that they shared was evident. They had a connection before she married his brother and it showed in their relationship. Kiernan and his sister Aiden had a similar relationship. Both women loved these men fiercely and were just as protective of them. I loved the banter between all four of them. I also loved the interactions between Kiernan, Matt and Abby. Her affect on both men was profound. She touched them in a way that neither one of them expected.

As far as the romance went between Kiernan and Matt, it was perfect. It wasn’t forced and it fit the story. The main aspect of this one to me was trust. Both of these characters had been through so much before they got to this point. Kiernan went after what he wanted and it was great seeing Matt’s barriers and wall finally crumble. The dialog and interactions between them flowed well and it became a book that was almost impossible to put down. Basically, I’m really glad that I stumbled upon this one and it won’t be my last book in this genre or by Diana Copland.

My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers #0.5) By Rachel Vincent

It was supposed to be a fun day, shopping at the mall with her best friend. Then the panic attack started and Kaylee Cavanaugh finds herself screaming, unable to stop. Her secret fears are exposed and it’s the worst day of her life.

Until she wakes up in the psychiatric unit.

She tries to convince everyone she’s fine–despite the shadows she sees forming around another patient and the urge to scream which comes burbling up again and again. Everyone thinks she’s crazy. Everyone except Lydia, that is. Another patient with some special abilities.

Well, this started the series off with a bang. There is no possible way to not continue reading once you get a taste of what Rachel Vincent inevitably has in store for readers in the Soul Screamers Series.

Kaylee is a character that you automatically sympathize with. The scenario is set and you have no choice but to keep reading. This is a really quick read and easy to finish in one sitting. You get to know just a couple of the characters, but that’s enough. The author leaves you with just the right amount of mystery and suspense to make you want to pick up My Soul to Take with absolutely no hesitation. (Which would explain why I’m already half way through the first book in the series as I write this review.) *sigh*

I’m not sure what took me so long to start this series, other than the fact that I have too many books to choose from at the moment. 😉 I read My Soul to Lose in my copy of Soul Screamers – Volume 1. I decided to review each one separately to make it easier. If you don’t have the first two books and prequel in Volume 1 like me, and you decide to read My Soul to Lose, make sure you have My Soul to Take handy. Trust me, you’re going to want to take this advice. I can already tell that it just gets better and better.

Reckless Magic (Star-Crossed #1) by Rachel Higginson

16 year old Eden Matthews has been in and out of private schools for the last two years. Kingsley is her last chance to finish high school and she is determined to simply do that. But when she meets Kiran Kendrick and her world opens to something she thought only existed in fairy tales, she’s unsure what her future will hold. Suddenly she is captivated by a boy who seems to be the source of all of her problems and struggling to rescue her best friend from a foreign prison. When attempts are made on Kiran’s life, Eden alone must save him. Thrust into a world that is more make-believe than reality, Eden has to find her own destiny without losing those she loves most. Reckless is an intricate story of mystery, adventure, magic and love. Eden Matthews is an unlikely heroine set on a path to save the world and her loved ones before its too late.

This book has been around for over a year. A year, and I’m just finding it. How it has stayed off my radar for that long, I’m not sure. I’m just grateful that I found it. Of course, since it’s part of a series, it has added to my already too large to handle TBR list, but I’m not complaining. *sigh*

Eden is a mystery. To all those around her as much as she is to herself. She knows she’s different, she doesn’t realize how different. She thinks she’s doing a great job of hiding it, but she couldn’t be further from the truth. Since what she is and how she comes to discover that is a big part of the mystery of the book, I won’t go any further. Just know, if you’re planning on reading Reckless Magic, be patient. The story will get you there no matter how ridiculous you think the circumstances and ultimate journey may be. Once you’re there, you’ll appreciate it and understand.

The story that Rachel Higginson weaves is full of mystery, magic and forbidden love. What better premise for a YA Paranormal book? I know I’ve said it before (probably too many times) but I was totally taken by surprise and blown away by this one. Once I picked it up and the story started to unravel, I couldn’t put it down. Yep, it’s one of those that I finished in the early morning hours and I was left wishing I had the next one to dive right into. It was that good.

Luckily, I won’t have to wait long to pick up the next one. It’s available and only a click away. Reckless Magic is the first book in The Star-Crossed Series and all four are currently available. Besides that, since this book is currently a free Kindle download, what do you have to lose?

I received Reckless Magic as a free download from Amazon on April 22, 2012.