Hearts of Destiny (Chevalier #4) by Kay Doherty

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.
Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.
As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Finally! I suppose that there was no better couple to end the Chevalier series with, but readers were tortured almost as much as Ean with Matthias’ denial. Almost everyone else in the pack knew it, which only made it worse.

Matthias wasn’t my favorite, but he redeemed himself in Hearts of Destiny. It wasn’t a surprise that he was keeping secrets, but once they were revealed, things became a lot clearer. If Ean hadn’t resorted to tricking Matthias, I’m sure he would have come around eventually. Ean’s ridiculous plan just made him come around a little faster – which was probably a good thing.

There were a lot of twists, turns and surprises in Hearts of Destiny. The author did an amazing job of wrapping things up and making the final book worth the wait and giving ALL the characters, not just Ean and Matthias, the HEA they deserved. Even though each book centered around a different couple in the Chevalier pack, nothing for any of them was resolved until this final story.

This series was my introduction to Kay Doherty, but I’ll be keeping my eye out for more from this author. The Chevalier series put a unique twist on shifter romance and I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for readers next. 😉

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole

Her breathless kiss haunts him…
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.
His slow, hot touch is irresistible…
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.
No deed is too wicked for her seduction…
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

So, ironically, I started my last review of a book in this series with: “I really need to stop putting so much time between books in a series.” That was for No Rest for the Wicked, which I read in… 2013. *sigh* One of these days, I’ll start taking my own advice. In my defense, I just recently started picking up my long neglected physical books, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down, while constantly wanting to punch some sense into the thick-headed hero. Not that I didn’t sympathize with him at times, I really did. He had been through a lot. On the flip side of that sympathy, it seemed like every time he was getting his act together, he’d royally screw things up all over again. I couldn’t see how this was going to work. Granted, Mari had her own set of screw-ups, but I found myself thinking more than once that she could do so much better. Which really isn’t the way you’re supposed to feel with two people trying to reach their HEA.

I guess my point is that if you find yourself feeling this way through most of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, don’t give up on them. Their HEA is totally worth the frustration. Hopefully there won’t be a 7 year stretch between my finishing this one and picking up Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, but with me you never know 😉

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.

A Touch of Danger (Surviving Vihaan #1) by Elaine White

Drew’s life sucks. Saving money to escape his homophobic family is one thing, but his only paying gig at the moment is playing his father’s “only gay in the village” plus-one to every LGBT friendly business event.
Then his brother comes up with a plan. Sheffield needs someone to go undercover for his police investigation. Drew has all the qualifications: he’s gay, he has experience with exotic animals, and he’s college-aged. And he’s easily bought.
Going undercover to solve the mystery of a college campus smuggling ring was never in his plans. Neither was hot, perfect, house captain Rylee. The inside jokes about cats, animal prints, and talk of a place called Vihaan that forbids same-sex relationships, are just the tip of the suspicious iceberg.
Little does Drew know that he’s about to expose more than an illegal smuggling operation. The truth could be more lethal than he could imagine. And, despite it all, it might be his own secret past that kills him before the truth can be unveiled.

So, this one had promise, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters. Could be a “it’s not the book, it’s me” thing? I think that the main problem I had with A Touch of Danger was the world building. It’s not that it wasn’t great… it was just a little confusing. It got better the farther into the story that I got, so patience is a necessity with this one. *sigh*

As for the characters, they grew on me too. I liked Drew from the start, mainly because of his circumstances. He was in a no win situation when it came to his family, which is why he jumped on Sheffield’s offer. Even though he was basically using him and putting him in potential danger.

There’s more than meets the eye in A Touch of Danger. The residents of the house are just as much of a misfit in their world as Drew seems to be in his. Which is one of the many reasons that Drew seems to connect with them as quickly as he does. Rylee fights that connection as long as he can, but some things… well, you’ll just have to read this one to figure that one out.

As I said in my initial review when I finished A Touch of Danger, regardless of how I felt about this first book, I’m more than willing to give the rest of the series a try. I have a feeling that as the series continues, things will become clearer.

Heartsong (Green Creek #3) by T.J. Klune

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine.
Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home.
But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed?
More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.
The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.

Oh Robbie *sigh*, oh Kelly *sigh*… oh T.J. *glares* If you’ve read any books by T.J. Klune, no explanation is necessary.

I really don’t know how to explain Heartsong without giving anything away. Rest assured, it was full of the usual angst, wit and inevitable heartbreak that readers have come to expect from the Green Creek series, but the approach was slightly different. And that is all I’m going to say, except stick with it and be patient. Sorry?

If you’ve read the other books in the Green Creek series, which you should before you pick up Heartsong, you know that the Bennet Pack has a few battles left to fight before things settle down for them. (If it’s been a while since you’ve read Ravensong, you might want to consider a quick reread to get yourself up to speed – just a suggestion.)

The first part of the book focuses on Robbie and… well, you’ll have to keep reading Heartsong to understand, but it’s worth it. A lot’s happened since the end of Ravensong. Betrayal from unexpected sources, love found… and lost, heartbreak, danger, suspense and more. I can’t honestly say I loved every minute of it because there was a lot of pain involved in Heartsong, but there was still a lot to love.

The bonds of the pack were stretched to the limit and there were trust issues where there never were before, but pack is pack, family is family and nothing was more important to the Bennets. That’s one of the things I love about this series. Loyalty, family and most importantly love flow strong between the wolves, humans and even the omegas.

And then there was the ending *glares at the evil author one more time*. Nothing will ever be the same for some members of the pack. The next book is Brothersong and it’s going to be bittersweet, mainly because it marks the end of the Green Creek series. If, like me, you’re craving just a little bit more once you finish Heartsong, you can visit T.J. Klune’s website and read or even listen to Feralsong, a free short story he wrote for his faithful fans. Given how things ended, I don’t think I can hold off reading Brothersong once it’s released. I can’t wait to continue the Green Creek series – especially since it features Gavin and “stupid” Carter. 😉

Howling on Hold by E.J. Russell

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.
That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.
Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.
It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”
Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

The books in this universe created by E.J. Russell are so much fun! Of course, it’s not all fun, because there’s always a hint of danger.

The guys at the Howling residence are there to get a handle on their “wolves” and prepare them to take their place in each of their individual packs. Not all of them are happy about leaving though. Times have changed and a lot of the packs are still living in the past. Tanner is one of those who have no desire to go back, especially since he never really felt like he fit in there to begin with. And then there’s Chase, another big reason why he doesn’t want to leave.

Chase knows he’s not supposed to give into his feelings for Tanner, but the closer Tanner gets to the time when it won’t matter anymore, the harder it is for Chase to hold back.

There were a lot of twists and turns in Howling on Hold that definitely helped keep the pages turning. And that “hint of danger” came from a totally unexpected place.

As much as I loved meeting all the new guys, the cameos from a lot of my favorite characters in the previous series were a real treat. Which brings me to another point – Howling on Hold is probably not the place to introduce yourself to this world. Fae Out of Water is the introduction to this world and Cutie and the Beast is still one of my favorites by this author. 😉

 

Hearts of Magic (Chevalier #3) by Kay Doherty

A moment of quiet was all Theran was looking for. He was not looking to be nearly decimated when he stumbled across a sorcerer near the pack’s hunting grounds. He’s certainly not looking for his mate when the pack congregates at Elysium for a meeting, but that’s exactly what Theran finds when he runs into the sorcerer a second time.
Colby has been the bartender at Elysium for a year, and he’s been relatively happy. He hides his paranormal identity well, flirting for tips while using sarcasm to keep others away. When he first saw the wolf in the forest, he was stunned. Learning the wolf he’s been dreaming about is real is only compounded by learning the wolf is his mate.
With the Sorcerer’s Enclave now interested in the Chevalier Pack, Colby attempts to protect Theran by kidnapping him, which only results in a deeper involvement with the pack. Despite managing the Enclave, dealing with increasing threats from the McBane Pack, and forging new alliances, Theran and Colby are determined to find their happy ever after.

This is one of those series that I get more emotionally invested in with each book. It also seems like each fated mated pair gets just a little bit more complicated. There was absolutely no way that having Theran and Colby be destined made sense. Colby was on a mission to find out more about the Chevalier Pack, he had no idea that he would find out more about them than he bargained for.

Theran was more than ready to find his true mate, but even so, he was kind of shocked to find out who it was. Regardless, once they figured it out there was no denying it and no turning back. Because of the threat to the Chevalier Pack, Colby’s main concern was protecting Theran, which didn’t go over too well with the rest of the pack.

There are still a few pack members who need to find their mate, along with at least one mated pair that is complicated? I can’t wait to see how Kay Doherty finds a way to finally get them together. Danger, mystery and plenty of heat… everything I love in a shifter series.

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 😉

His Unexpected Mate (His Unexpected Mate #1) by T.L. West

Living in a small wooden cabin at the edge of a forest and working to solve the mystery of recent murders, young Eli Bright learns the locals believe a man-beast is responsible.
As an outsider, he is watched very closely as he works with the young local sheriff, Stanley Blake. But Eli knows there has to be a proper explanation. Paranormal creatures don’t exist, right?

I’ve read one other book by T.L. West and unfortunately, I came away from His Unexpected Mate feeling much the same way as I did when I finished reading A Fated Bond. *sigh*

I think a lot of my issue with His Unexpected Mate was that it was too short to give readers a chance to wrap their heads around what was happening between Eli and Stanley. Never mind all the supernatural danger, family drama and world building that was just as much a part of the story. If more pages were devoted to all the elements of the story, I might have enjoyed it more, because the premise was great and the writing flowed nicely. As with many, many short stories/novellas, I just needed more.

 

Spells, Salt, & Steel – Season One by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin

“When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.”
Your new favorite monster hunter has arrived! Bubba the Monster Hunter has some competition in this horror comedy collection from best-selling author duo Gail Z. & Larry N. Martin!
By day, Mark Wojcik can be found elbow-deep in engine grease, making cars and trucks safe for the highway. By night, he can be found traipsing through the wilds of Pennsylvania, making the world safe for humans. He’s more than just a mechanic, he’s a New Templar Knight. He travels the backroads and byways fighting weresquonks, ningen, selkies, ghosts, and…gnomes? Is that gnome…naked? (sigh).
Season One collects the first four novellas in the Spells, Salt, & Steel series –
Spells, Salt, & Steel • Open Season  • Deep Trouble • Close Encounters

Some of you may have noticed that I’m moving right along with the books in this crazy world created by Gail Z. Martin (AKA – Morgan Brice) and Larry N. Martin. You also may have noticed that I’m not exactly reading them in order. If you’ve read more than a couple of my reviews, you have probably noticed that’s not anything new. I have a little bit more back tracking to do because I’ve only scratched the surface – so stay tuned. 😉

Spells, Salt, & Steel
When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.
No, that didn’t come from the lips of Bubba the Monster Hunter, but it sure could have! That sentence right there kinda encapsulates the life of Mark Wojcik, Monster Hunter. A blue-collar mechanic from the wilds of PA, Mark likes his beer cold, his poker games private, and his monsters…well, he doesn’t like them at all. So when he finds himself dueling a Japanese mythical monster in the Linesville Spillway in the wee hours of the night, he has to use every available weapon to survive and vanquish the ningen.
Even if it means beating the damn thing to death with a carp.
If interloping Japanese fish-monsters weren’t bad enough, there’s a Nazi ghost terrorizing the community. Somebody needs to gank the ghostie, and Mark is the man for the job.
He hopes.
They are the first line of defense against the things that go bump in the night.
They are the keepers of a centuries-old legacy of The Church defending the world against the forces of darkness.
They are a bunch of highly armed rednecks, internet video celebrities, soccer moms, and assorted broken nutjobs.
They are the new Templars, and things are about to get weird.

That reading order thing? Yeah, this particular book in the Spells, Salt, & Steel series came out before the previous books I’ve read (Badlands, Witchbane, Sons of Darkness & Dark Rivers.) Which only means that I feel like I already knew Mark before I started, even though pretty much all of his interactions with the other books were by phone. It didn’t take me long to totally fall in love with Mark Wojcik. ❤

He shares a lot in common with his fellow hunters, mainly, most of them fell into this business by loosing someone they cared about to the monsters that most people don’t even know exist. One thing that I’ve noticed already is that these authors are great at writing monsters – in all their gory detail. *shivers* And for the record – I love every minute of it. This story, just like the others, has some really great supporting characters from all walks of life. What I really loved about Mark so far, was his sense of humor. There were some pretty gruesome moments in Spells, Salt, & Steel that were made a lot lighter by Mark’s quips and inner dialogue.

Basically, this was a great beginning and I can’t wait to continue. 😉

Open Season
The carp-slapping, grenade-launching son of a gun Mark Wojcik is back, and this time he’s going hunting!
When there’s trouble in the Pennsylvania wilds, there’s only one person to call. It’s out of Bubba’s jurisdiction, so the monster mashing falls on part-time mechanic, part-time cryptic killer Mark Wojcik. He’s got a gun, a cast of supporting characters you won’t believe, and more ammunition than you can shake a stick at. This time, there’s something funky happening in the woods, and Mark is about to learn more about hunting, and The Hunt, than he ever wanted to!

I can’t remember the last time I started reading an Urban Fantasy and highlighted as many “LOL” moments as I have while reading the books in this series. Mark faces real danger with every case he takes. Some think he has a death wish and sometimes he thinks he might as well. Yet, he’s determined to rid the world of creatures like the ones who tore his family from him – and not just the ones who didn’t survive the attack that changed his life. Then there are lines like this that can’t help but make me want to get to know him better:

So here I was, loaded up with more weapons than Elmer Fudd in duck season, looking for a carnivorous cryptid in a bottomless swamp. What could possibly go wrong?
F*ck-all, that’s what.

I’m beginning to adore Mark Wojcik. 😉

As the title suggests, most of the “hunts” that Mark is hired for in Open Season have to do with “hunting” and not just the kind Mark does. People are disappearing, evil’s lurking in unexpected places and new and interesting allies are found while old enemies are still just as crazy as ever. Through it all, the “family” that really matters is right by his side when he needs them most. ❤

Deep Trouble
Mark Wojcik is back, and this time there are ghosts, gnomes, dragons, and way more than you ever wanted to know about a gnome’s fiddly bits!
When there’s trouble in the Pennsylvania wilds, there’s only one person to call. It’s out of Bubba’s jurisdiction, so the monster mashing falls on part-time mechanic, part-time cryptid killer Mark Wojcik. He’s got a gun, a cast of supporting characters you won’t believe, and more ammunition than you can shake a stick at. This time, Mark’s not sure what’s more dangerous, a haunted hotel, or the live guests at his girlfriend’s work soiree!

Another installment in the Spells, Salt, & Steel – Season 1 that makes me adore Mark Wojcik even more. He gains even more unlikely allies in Deep Trouble that add to the menagerie.

One of the things that make me like Mark so much (and there are many, many things) is the fact that he doesn’t just arbitrarily eliminate every “monster” he hunts down. If they’re not a danger to anyone around them, he finds a way to help them.

There’s only one more story left in Season 1 and with the promise of more to come, I can’t wait to get to know Mark and friends even better. 😉

Close Encounters
There’s a drunk werewolf passed out on his porch, a monster mistaken for a mammoth stalking the nearby woods, zombies at an abandoned sanitarium, and his niece has been kidnapped by a haunted hotel that makes the Overlook resemble the Waldorf Astoria.

For Mark Wojcik, it’s just another week in the wild backwoods of Pennsylvania.
That’s right, Mark Wojcik is back, with more monsters, more one-liners, more action, more mysteries, and now with added shady government conspiracies! This time old family ghosts come calling when his dead brother’s widow calls to tell him his niece has gone missing, Mark knows she’d rather cut off her arm than ever speak to him again, so if his sister-in-law is calling, it’s gotta be serious. Mark finds out just how serious when he realizes that his niece has vanished into a haunted hotel that only appears once every few decades, so if he’s going to get her home safe, he’d better haul some serious ass!
Can Mark save his niece when he couldn’t save his brother?

Things get a little personal in Close Encounters and then a little crazy… uh crazier? than normal.

This is the last book in Season 1 of Spells, Salt & Steel, and if I didn’t already know that the 5th installment was already in the works, I’d be a little miffed. As it is, I’m going to have a hard time waiting to see what happens next. It seems that Mark’s ghost hunting escapades have just leveled up a notch.

All the stories in this installment are even more connected than all the others and trust me when I say, they end with a bang… literally. I love how this series is also connected with characters from other series – even characters that don’t belong to just Gail Z. Martin, Larry N. Martin and Morgan Brice. As a matter of fact, I’m planning on delving into the characters created by other authors because this world is amazing.

Stay tuned! I can pretty much guarantee that there’s MUCH more to come!