The Tell Tale Cat (The Psychic Cat Mysteries #2) by S.M. Reine

The multiverse’s greatest detective returns! When left for a weekend trip, Mr. Poe finds himself searching for a missing clock containing the infernal soul of Ronald Hickenbotham, a not-so-remarkable warlock and beloved husband. The clock needs to be wound every three days to preserve Ronald’s soul. It’s already been gone for over twenty-four hours. Mr. Poe can hear the clock’s tell tale ticking throughout Haven, but can a werehuman kitten psychic detective solve the mystery before Ronald is lost forever?

I adore Mr. Poe, but then, who doesn’t? He’s the perfect feline and such a good boy, but when his owners leave him behind he seeks out a way to find some company. Who better to keep him busy than Sheriff Gwyn, especially when there’s a mystery to solve. It works out even better because she’s the only one who knows Mr. Poe’s secret – he can change into a human, even though he prefers his much more attractive and graceful feline form.

The Tell Tale Cat is a short, sweet romp in SM Reine’s Descentverse. The Psychic Cat Mysteries is much lighter than the rest of the books in this world, but no less entertaining. It’s fun to see familiar characters through different eyes. I can even forgive him for his opinion of Cèsar (who happens to be one of my favorites) 😉

The next book in the series is The Masque of the Red Cat (don’t you just love the play on the titles from another famous Mr. Poe?) and I just so happen to have it ready and waiting to be read.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spellslinger (A Fistful of Daggers #4) by S.M. Reine

Lincoln Marshall has failed. The Godslayer is trapped in her worst nightmares. His only chance of repairing the timeline is dead. He’s stuck a decade in the past with Sophie Keyes, and the world is falling apart.
Held captive by the Union, Lincoln and Sophie must fight to repair a timeline rapidly unraveling.
James Faulkner has survived, but he’s not whole. He’s divided into angel and demon–his ambition and obsession severed from his power and passion. His angel side wants to rescue Elise. His demon side wants to rescue the world, at any cost–even if it means letting Elise die. Between their brilliant minds, they’ve conceived a plan that can repair the timeline. The only price is their lives.

My initial reaction when I finished Spellslinger? “OMG or gods? Doesn’t really matter in the long run I suppose. The old adage, “be careful what you ask for” still applies. I need the next book sooner rather than later…” I also promised that I would soon be writing my usual rambling, incoherent review, so here it goes…

That “be careful what you ask for” comment? Yeah, that’s real – fans were given a choice in a poll a while ago. The choices included a list of characters that readers would be interested in reading more about in their own series. Lincoln was one of those characters and he was my choice. To be fair, it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters, it’s just that he was featured in at least two other series and his character peaked my curiosity. If you know anything at all about S.M. Reine’s Decentverse, you know that her characters go through a lot AND their development from series to series sometimes takes a strange turn. Lincoln was one of those characters. A major transformation had obviously taken place and I wanted to know what happened to turn him into the character he had become in Dana McIntyre Must Die.

So much happened in Spellslinger… so much! There were a lot of characters pulling strings, a lot to love and just as much to hate. There were also a lot of twists and turns. Fair warning, it’s not an easy book to put down and it’s also one that demands your full attention. Although all of the books in the Fistful of Daggers series have been intense, I’ve got to say that Spellslinger has been the most emotionally intense one so far. I was not expecting tears and they fell more than once. I think who those tears were shed for at times was what shocked me most.

Spellslinger also proved to me that time travel is not for the faint of heart. Things that happened in the past escalated and shifted and the things that happened because of those shifts were devastating. Many things need to be “fixed”, many, many things. Beyond that craziness, Lincoln has a little farther to go before he gets to where he needs to be in the future and I can’t wait to see how he gets there.

If you haven’t started the Descentverse, you really need to. You can start with the Fistful of Daggers series, but since there is so much character and world building that takes place before this series starts, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can find the order of series and books on S.M. Reine’s website. A lot of the early books in the Descentverse are free, so there’s really no excuse to not start from the beginning 😉

The Second Coming (Ascension #8) by SM Reine

Elise Kavanagh was once known as the Godslayer – a woman born to kill Adam, a man become God. But she defeated him and stepped into his role, taking her lifelong partner into the pantheon with her. Now she must navigate her mortal goals with her divine life, beginning with substantiating into an avatar to have James Faulkner’s baby, and ending with vengeance.

Confession time… Although I have sworn to myself to read everything from this author and urge everyone who will listen to do the same, the premise of Second Coming didn’t really appeal to me. There were a lot of readers who were anxious to read a story about Elise and James having a baby. I was not one of them. Not that I didn’t like James and Elise or thought that they more than deserved a HEA, I just couldn’t picture Elise as a loving, caring, nurturing mother figure. Turns out, neither could she, but she would pretty much do anything for James.

Because of my indifference, I wasn’t really curious enough to read a chapter at a time, so I skipped this one when it was offered to readers on Reine’s website. When it was released as a full book however, it was harder to ignore. I was pleasantly surprised that Elise and I were both wrong about that mother thing. Unsurprisingly, motherhood didn’t come naturally to Elise, at least not at first. It also didn’t take long for all H*ll broke loose – in true “Descentverse” fashion. James was gone, demons were trying to kill her and she was saddled with a helpless infant that she had no idea what to do with. To add insult to injury, the world that she and James re-created after Genesis was not at all what she expected it to be.

I had no idea what to expect when I first picked up Second Coming, but I ended up getting a lot more. There were terrifying moments, totally unexpected tender moments, heart stopping as well as heartbreaking moments (honestly – who expects to be reduced to tears by Elise Kavanagh?) Basically, Second Coming had everything that I’ve come to expect from any of the books in SM Reine’s “Decentverse” and then some. There are also a couple of huge hints that there’s more to come… and I can’t wait. 😉

Priest of Skulls (Tarot Witches: The Raven Knights Saga #2) by S.M. Reine

Allene Whelan is trapped in the True Kingdom, held captive by their cruel leader Macsen. It’s her job as the newest Raven Knight to assassinate him by any means necessary. As a sylph whose greatest weapon is her body, that means seducing him…all the way to the grave.
But the closer Allene gets to Macsen, the more she realizes he’s being played by a crueler enemy: Morgause, the manipulative sidhe he regards as mother. And Macsen doesn’t seem interested in hurting Allene. The closer they grow, the less she wants to kill him.
Trapped by passion in a shadowy labyrinth of lies, Allene forces Macsen to make a choice. Does the Priest of Skulls want to rule through death, or through love?

My initial reaction when I finished Priest of Skulls was – GAH! I suppose now I need to take the time to write a semi-coherent review without giving anything away. #EvilAuthor #CanYouSayCliffHanger

I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t started this series, so if that’s you – STOP here. Also, this is not a great place to start The Raven Knight Saga. If you’ve already read (and survived) Knave of Blades, you’ll totally understand. Just an FYI – this book does not end with our characters in any better circumstances than they were at the end of the first book. In fact, things are even more bleak – hence the GAH!

Allene should be terrified to be in the clutches of the enemy. She had planned on facing them – especially Macsen – but on her terms. The thing is, she feels safe with Macsen and eventually strangely protective of her captor. To make things even more complicated, another tarot card shows up and the Priest of Skulls has a striking resemblance to Macsen.

As crazy as it sounds, I found myself sympathizing with Macsen. He’s torn between his loyalty to Morgaues and his growing feelings toward both Allene and Leander.

Unsurprisingly, things get a little crazy, which is putting it mildly. Leander has no idea what’s going on and how much danger Allene is in and Keane spends a lot of his time talking him down. They have no idea that she not only considers herself safe, she’s not ready to leave Macsen’s side. That doesn’t mean that her feelings for Leander have changed, if anything, they’ve grown. Obviously, there’s a lot more going on than just a simple kidnapping and when the true plan is revealed… GAH!

So… as usual with any of this author’s books, I’ll be waiting not so patiently for the next book in this saga. There are more questions need answering, more smexiness to be had, more characters to get to know better, and a prophecy that needs to be broken… GAH!

Just so you know, it’s not unusual for this author to reduce me to using one syllable words or writing rambling reviews. If you haven’t checked out any of S.M. Reine’s books yet, you need to delve into the Decentverse for yourself. I personally started with Seasons of the Moon, but you can start anywhere… as long as you start. Visit SM Reine’s website to check them all out. You can thank me later 😉

Knave of Blades (Tarot Witches: The Raven Knights Saga #1) by S.M. Reine & Rory Hume (Bout-of-Books 25 Review)

They are destined to find each other…
Allene Whelan is scavenging through the ruins of post-apocalypse Oregon when she finds a strange tarot card, the Knave of Blades. Touching it awakens her magic—the power of the sylph, a rare and deadly seelie sidhe who can defeat any other of her kind. Her pollen is intoxicating. Her magic is irresistible. And she’s suddenly at the center of the Autumn Court’s war against the rebellious True Kingdom.
She’s the only person who might be able to defeat Macsen, the prophesied Fenrir who will one day grow big enough to devour the world. But first she needs to make herself strong enough to face him, and that means collecting power as only a sylph can. Joining the Raven Knights means committing more than her life to defeating the True Kingdom. She’s committing her soul…and her body.

There’s a cute little intro for Knave of Blades that gives readers a time frame reference. This book starts not long after Genesis – an apocalyptic event in the Decentverse that changed everything. As with all series in this immense world created by S.M. Reine, Tarot Witches: The Raven Knights Saga can be read as a stand alone series, but I’m pretty sure, once you start, you’re going to want more. Trust me, I’ve been delving into this world for years and I still get excited when I find out there’s going to be a new release. Each series in this world is just a little bit different and gives you a totally different perspective. Not all of them are quite as full of “smexiness” as any of the books that deal with the Tarot Witches, but what do you expect from Sidhe? 😉

Allene’s life changed, just like everyone else who survived, after Genesis. That was nothing compared to how it changed after finding the tarot card, the Knave of Blades. Once she finds Leander and Keane, things get even crazier… or sexier… and a little dangerous and… Well, let’s just say a lot happens in a lot of really interesting ways.

Readers learned a lot in Knave of Blades, but there’s still a lot of questions, especially after that ending… Cliff hanger isn’t a strong enough term for how things were left on that final page… especially after… well, you’ll just have to read Knave of Blades to find out.

There was so much to love about Knave of Blades. The supporting characters were what I’ve come to expect from this author… witty, strong, well developed and with just enough mystery surrounding them to keep things interesting. I loved the little connections that were woven into this one – those are the things that make me itch to re-read previous books in this series to see what I missed or other little hints I can pick up.

So… start here or visit S.M. Reine’s website to see if anything else catches your fancy, but please do yourself a favor and give one of this author’s books a try. You’re welcome 😉

Hell’s Hinges (A Fistful of Daggers #3) by SM Reine

Sophie Keyes has made a mistake that might destroy the universe. The Traveler has an offer: go back in time, fix your mistake, and save the world. Easy. Except that fixing Sophie’s mistake means destroying her life, and Lincoln Marshall won’t stand to see that happen. Not if he can time travel with them to find another way.
Their attempt to jump into the past goes awry and dumps them into Reno 2006, where Elise Kavanagh is in hiding with James Faulkner. It’s a delicate moment in the timeline, and if Lincoln takes a single wrong step, he’ll change everything. He can’t go to Elise for help. He can’t speak to the woman he’s loved for years, touch her again, kiss her… Not unless he’s willing to bring the universe that much closer to destruction.
For the Godslayer, Lincoln might be willing to lose it all. For the Traveler, it might be a step too far.
War is breaking out in Reno 2006, and the consequences threaten to ripple through time–assuming that they don’t make the entire world fall apart first.

So… I may have mentioned once or twice that I love this author. I think I’ve also mentioned that when a survey was posted a while ago by this same author that I chose Lincoln as a character that I wanted to learn more about. This, dear readers, is a lesson in…be careful what you ask for… Just kidding, kinda…

Really, I’m loving the Fistful of Daggers series, but it is not even close to what I expected. It’s way more. It’s been interesting to see what’s happened in the Descentverse since Genesis from another perspective – and Lincoln’s perspective is most definitely “different”. I know I said that I wanted to learn more about Lincoln, but it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters. It’s not that I disliked him, I just wanted to know how he got to be the Lincoln he became when readers saw him again in some of the post-Genesis series and even more so in Dana McIntyre Must Die. Let’s just say that if my first introduction to Lincoln would have been in Lonesome Paladin, I might not be quite so curious. He comes off as an arrogant, grumpy, bigoted… you get the picture. But, since I know who he becomes, that side of him just intrigued me more. Which brings up another point. You can probably start with A Fistful of Daggers, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Lincoln’s been around for quite some time in the Descentverse and there’s a LOT of history between him and another key character that you’ll miss out on if you start here.

Okay, enough history… except that’s kind of what Hell’s Hinges is driven on… FYI – get used the vagueness because even as I’m writing this, I have no idea where I’m going with this review. That’s common when I review a book I loved, but this time it’s more than that. A LOT happened in this book. A LOT! That book description gives you just a tidbit of the craziness that surrounds Sophie and Lincoln when they travel back in time. I was totally unprepared for what Sophie faced in her past. Lincoln was totally unprepared to face a past that included Elise and no one was prepared for the consequences of the drastic changes made to the timeline. Readers saw sides of ALL these characters, plus a few others, in a way they’ve never seen before. To say that this was an intense read would be an understatement. It was epic!

Then there was the end… let’s just say that The Spellslinger can’t come soon enough. Cliffhanger doesn’t come close to where characters were left at the end of Hell’s Hinges.

I’ve wrapped up a lot of my reviews in the Descentverse trying to convince readers to pick up at least one of these books. There are many places to start, but I honestly don’t think that this series is one of them – at least if you want to get the full effect. Especially because of the fact that Hell’s Hinges spends so much time in a past that becomes so altered – without knowing how things initially happened, you won’t really understand how crazy… um crazier? they become. You can visit SM Reine’s website for a complete list of books in this world. Just go to her FAQ page on the website and click on What order should I read the Descentverse series in? I started with Seasons of the Moon and haven’t looked back since. 😉

Wretched Wicked (Preternatural Affairs #9.5) by S.M. Reine

Cesar Hawke works for the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He’s an agent in the Magic Violations Department, hunting down witches who break the law, saving lives, and getting caught up in a lot more trouble than he’s paid to deal with.
Fritz Friederling is his boss. The director. The heir of the Friederling fortune, earned by mining in Hell with human slaves. A man who puts away witches for life without trial. Inheritor of his father’s legacy, and his grandfather’s, and all the ruthless men who came before.
But they didn’t always work together. Not before, and not after. Once they were strangers, and now they’re something else. More fatal than family, more permanent than marriage, closer than the oldest friends, until death do they part…
This novella tells the story of the early years of their partnership from Fritz Friederling’s perspective. It contains spoilers and should be read after the rest of the Preternatural Affairs series. It also includes a new, exclusive afterword from the author!

Ah Cesar *sigh* Have I mentioned that he’s at the top of my favorite Decentiverse male character list? Fritz, not so much and since Wretched Wicked is told from his POV I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to like it. Honestly, getting to know Fritz just a little bit better wasn’t so bad. Those of us who have read through the Preternatural Affairs books already know what happens. Getting the same story from Fritz’s POV wasn’t really surprising but it was enlightening enough to make me want to go back and reread Preternatural Affairs from the beginning. (I’ll use any excuse for a reread 😉 )

There was more to Wretched Wicked though. It wasn’t a total retelling. We learned more about Fritz’s personal life before he met Cesar. I might have even ended up liking him a little bit more by the end. To be honest, Fritz is a much more likable person when he’s with Cesar and for some reason, these two really care about each other. Their relationship works – even with the rest of their motley crew.

This may have been a short read (less than 100 pages), but it didn’t lack any of the usual punch connected with S.M. Reine’s stories. And then there was the Epilogue… don’t skip the Epilogue, whatever you do. I may not be a huge fan of Fritz on his own, but paired with Cesar?… those moments are priceless ❤

Race of Thieves (Artifact Hunters #1) by S.M. Reine

You’d never know that Shatter Cage is a were-squirrel by looking at him. Between fake fire charms and his impenetrable confidence, everyone believes he’s the phoenix he claims to be.
The lie is a necessary part of his branding. He’s determined to become a Hero, blessed by the Oracles and venerated by legions of followers. For now, he’s just one more thief slinging magical artifacts on the black market, hoping for infamy to strike like lightning. But he’s never going to become canonized if Gutterman, demon and loan shark, gets his pound of flesh from Cage first.
A job offer from the biggest Hero cult in America lights a path to fame—and enough money to repay Gutterman. Unfortunately, Cage’s ex-girlfriend, Brigid Byrne, wants the job as bad as he does. Whoever steals an artifact named Nábrók will be hired. And Brigid doesn’t mind kidnapping, poisoning, and back-stabbing Cage to win…
The race of thieves is on. And Cage is bent on scoring Nábrók before all his bad decisions catch up with him.

Okay, so how can you take a book centered around a were-squirrel competing with his crazy ex girlfriend after a pair of demon underpants seriously? I’ll admit that Race of Thieves isn’t what you might expect from a book in S.M. Reine’s Decentiverse, but it’s not what it may seem at first glance. Except for the silliness – there’s definitely a lot of silliness in Race of Thieves, but there’s also a lot more.

Cage is pretty full of himself, but in a fun way. He has more self confidence than I’ve seen in a character in a long time. Sometimes that works for him, but sometimes it comes back to bite him. He was a pretty good thief, but he was also a pretty lucky one…

He’s also taken deception to a whole new level. Very few people know his true were form. He’s got a surprisingly amount of people convinced that he’s actually a phoenix. That should give you a pretty good idea of his over the top confidence level.

I may have also gained a couple of new favorite characters in this world. Of course I loved Cage. It was kinda hard not to. The jury’s still out on how I feel about Brigid… but Vex? I absolutely adored him. He is the perfect best friend.

This is just the beginning. There’s more to come in the Artifact Hunters series and by the end of Race of Thieves, Cage is already chasing after his next treasure.

SpellSmoke (A Fistfull of Daggers #2) by SM Reine

It’s not much of a life, taking bounty hunts on vampires. But as a disgraced former deputy, Lincoln Marshall’s not exactly knee-deep in job offers, and airplane tickets are expensive after the apocalypse. His dying father is all the way across the country in Northgate. It’s Lincoln’s last chance to see him, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there – even though the werewolf pack in Northgate is still out for his blood.
Sophie Keyes, the one and only Historian, needs Lincoln’s help. She fears the gods may be out to kill her. So Lincoln drags her back home despite his better instincts – only to learn that home’s not exactly safer than Reno. Some preternatural monster is killing hospice patients in Northgate.
Sheriff Noah Adair is convinced the killers are werewolves. The werewolves are convinced Lincoln Marshall is the killer. And Lincoln thought surviving the post-apocalypse had been bad enough before all this crap.

Before I started writing this review, I went back and read my review of Lonesome Paladin. I do that from time to time, just to refresh my memory. I didn’t really need to this time, it hasn’t been that long since I read the first book in A Fistful of Daggers. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating my self too much… 😉

Needless to say, I’m loving this series so far. There were a couple of surprising appearances in Lonesome Paladin. The additional characters in A Fistful of Daggers were expected, but that doesn’t mean that the way readers saw them in SpellSmoke was. Abel and Rylie are adjusting to being new parents while still being the Alpha mates. Abel is trying to take on most of the Alpha duties while Rylie recovers and adjusts. The fact that he needs his mate just as much as Rylie needs him isn’t making things any easier on anyone. Adding Lincoln to the mix isn’t helping. I loved spending time with Rylie, Abel and even Summer again. I may be a bit partial because Seasons of the Moon was my first introduction to this crazy, amazing world created by SM Reine. So you may want to take my infatuation with the pack with a grain of salt.

Aside from Lincoln’s unintentional involvement with the pack, there was a lot more going on in SpellSmoke. I may or may not have mentioned in my review of Lonesome Paladin that I wasn’t sure about my feelings about Sophie. That’s changed… I fell in love with her in SpellSmoke -awkward nerdiness and all. Her sincerity, her unique view on the world, pretty much everything about her… even the way she continually put Lincoln in his place… I loved it all.

Then there were the unexplained hospice deaths. Lincoln’s family, (that, incidentally, explained so much about the man he was). The mysterious assassin who was after Sophie. And a brand new group of shapshifters (kind of)…  SpellSmoke was pretty much non-stop action and craziness and I loved every minute of it.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of cliff hangers, consider yourself forewarned. Just one more reason why I can’t wait for the next book in A Fistful of Daggers