A Fated Bond by T.L. West

Joseph Roth, a young member of the Rockfort Paranormal Department which is in charge of keeping vampires, shifters, fairies, and all kind of supernatural creatures in check, finds himself facing more than he bargained for when he is assigned to investigate a mysterious murder. Not only is Joseph stuck between his department and a prestigious vampire family, he’s unaware of the target on his back. With the department keeping secrets from him, Joseph decides to uncover the truth on his own, unaware that dark forces are on the rise. Will Joseph be able to find the truth in time or is his search allowing the enemy to come close enough for a kill?

My initial reaction when I finished A Fated Bond…. “3.5 – 4… maybe? I’m still not sure how I feel about this one.” And that’s still how I feel. The premise was great and the world created by T.L. West was intriguing, but this book was all over the place.

The story centered around Joseph, but there are so many players in this world that have ties to each other in sometimes very obscure ways that it got pretty hard to keep track. I did like what I could follow though and I’m definitely not giving up on this potential series… it has to be a series because there were WAY too many loose ends left at the end. 

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Love at the Lupine Bakery (Trillium Creek #0.5) by Silvia Violet

Finn is focused on continuing the success of his family’s bakery. Eventually, he’ll settle down with an alpha and start a family, but for now, he’s content to satisfy his needs with casual hook-ups. Then a gorgeous stranger walks into the bakery, and Finn’s whole world shifts.
Levi’s father was a wolf shifter, but he was raised by his human mother and—like most hybrids—has never shown any wolf characteristics. That all changes when he enters Lupine Bakery and every instinct tells him the omega behind the counter is his.
Both Finn and Levi try to ignore what their hearts and bodies are telling them, but an unexpected pregnancy may force them to face what fate has in store.

If you’ve spent any time at all perusing this blog you may have noticed (if you didn’t guess by the tag-line) that I’m an eclectic reader. I have my favorite genres and authors, but I’m not afraid to take a step outside my comfort zone. That’s exactly how I stumbled into the M/M genre to begin with. I started with a book that had a paranormal/fantasy aspect because it’s one of my favorites and the rest, as they say, is history. So, why the segue into this review? I know that I’ve read at least one other MPreg story, but I can’t remember which one. It’s obviously not one of those genres I seek out. But, when an author I follow that has written both contemporary and paranormal books that I love, I’m willing to give something I might otherwise shy away from at least a shot. Silvia Violet is one of those authors. I loved her Wild R Farm series, so when I found out that she was starting another Shifter series, I was intrigued. Since Love at Lupine Bakery was a free short offered during a Halloween Giveaway, I thought, why not? Turns out I think I may have found a new favorite Silvia Violet series 😉

Finn was adorable and so was Levi – in an Alpha sort of way. They were the perfect couple to start this series with since all the world building was naturally explained to readers by way of filling Levi in on a world he knew little or nothing about. The supporting characters were just as interesting as Finn and Levi and I can’t wait to get to know them better as the series continues. I really hope that readers get more of Finn and Levi though because as much as I loved Love at the Lupine Bakery, I wanted more. *sigh*

Oh, and if you picked up Love at the Lupine Bakery during the Halloween Giveaway, you may have noticed a cover change. As the series continues, this book will be available for purchase and the cover’s been updated to match the rest of the Trillium Creek series. FYI – the new cover’s as adorable as Finn and Levi’s story ❤

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

Blood & Thunder (THIRDS #2) by Charlie Cochet

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.
Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

I’m so late to the THIRDS fan train that it’s almost embarrassing to add my review to the mix. I’m still not sure why it’s taken me so long to pick up this series, but I’m hooked now, so I’m having fun playing catch up 😉

Blood & Thunder was a roller coaster. Dex and Sloane were growing closer, but there was still some emotional distance between them. Sloane’s past was a big obstacle. He thought that his secrets would destroy everything, including his relationship with Dex. Distancing himself wasn’t working. He still had no idea exactly how tenacious, stubborn and loyal Dex really was. He understood a lot more than Sloane gave him credit for.

As intense as what was going on between Sloane and Dex, the side characters in Blood & Thunder had a lot going on themselves. I loved getting glimpses into the other members of Team Destructive Delta.

Sloane and Dex still have a lot to work through and it looks like Rack & Ruin will continue their story… and the drama…

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

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

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

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

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

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

Lonesome Paladin (A Fistful of Daggers #1) by SM Reine

Ever since the gods died, lapsed Catholic Lincoln Marshall has been drowning at the bottom of a tequila bottle and picking fights with non-believers. One of those fights ends in a man dead and Lincoln arrested. Nobody’ll give a bail bond to a flight risk like Lincoln, and he hasn’t a penny to his name, so he can’t pay his own bail. But Dullahan Daith can. He’s willing to buy the freedom of anyone who’ll skip town with him to the Middle Worlds, where a high price has been placed on the heads of trolls…and where rumor says God is reborn.
Lincoln and a mysterious prisoner named Sophie Keyes are the only ones crazy enough to sell themselves on this suicide mission. Sophie doesn’t talk much, but she’s got something that Lincoln no longer has: faith. And between the two of them, they might be able to bring God back to a godless world.

I have absolutely no idea where to start with this review – other than my normal SM Reine disclaimer… if you have yet to pick up a book by this author, do it now! Seriously, sooner rather than later. I don’t recommend that you start with Lonesome Paladin though. The world that this book and future books in the series belong to is way too vast to jump into with Lincoln Marshall. Trust me… you’re going to want to get at least a little bit of background before you meet him in all his crotchety, grouchy, self loathing glory. The Lincoln that readers are introduced to in A Fistful of Daggers is the product of EVERYTHING that came before this point. Fair warning, the volume of books in this world created by SM Reine may seem daunting at first, but I can pretty much promise that once you’re hooked, there will be no turning back. Here’s a link to help you navigate through the “Descentverse” . I’ve jumped around a little, but I did start with Seasons of the Moon – AND if you need even more incentive, you can pick up the entire series FREE from Amazon (Six Moon Summer, All Hallows’ Moon, Long Night Moon & Gray Moon Rising). Now that I’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way…

I’m obviously a fan of this author and I’ve read pretty much all the books in this universe, but I do have my favorite characters, which naturally means that I like some more than others. A while ago, readers were given a chance to vote on which character SM Reine should base her next series on and Lincoln was one of those characters. I was, unfortunately, in the minority and Dana McIntyre won that round. I was NOT a Dana McIntyre fan… until Dana McIntyre Must Die kinda blew me away. I was one of the few that wanted to get a series wrapped around Lincoln and I wanted it even more after reading Dana’s series. I’m not exactly sure what drew me to him, but I knew I wanted more, so I was obviously excited when I found out that he was indeed getting his story. After reading Lonesome Paladin I can honestly say it was totally worth the wait and as a bonus, I’m getting a lot more than I bargained for… so much more.

So, now comes the time that you have to promise me not to shoot me for being vague. You’ll thank me in the long run, honest. This book was SO much more than I expected. There were new characters and others that readers know pretty well, or at least they think they do… (here’s where that vagueness REALLY comes into play.) If you’ve followed my reviews you know that I have a couple of characters in the “Decentverse” that I love more than others. Well, one of my absolute favorites had a LOT of face time in Lonesome Paladin and I think I may have done an actual happy dance when they made their first appearance. Little did I know…

A lot happened in Lonesome Paladin… way more than I expected. Sophie Keyes was an interesting addition, but shrouded in her own mystery. She’s chipping away at Lincoln and I haven’t really decided if that’s a good or bad thing. Even if you’ve read all the books in the “Decentverse” up until this point and you know where Lincoln ultimately ends up, the how and why are still a mystery and Lonesome Paladin is only the beginning of the journey.

Oh, and I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that Chapter 22 was PERFECTION! I can’t say why and I can’t mention any names, but when you get there, you’ll know. If I could give this book more than 5 stars on most platforms I would and the extras would go to that moment ❤

The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories by Charlaine Harris

For the first time together in one volume, here is the complete short story collection starring Louisiana’s favorite telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse—from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Charlaine Harris. New fans can fill in the gaps in their Sookie lore while old friends can revisit some of their favorite moments and characters. From investigating the murder of a local fairy to learning that her cousin was a vampire, from remodeling her best friend’s house to attending a wedding with her shapeshifting boss, Sam, Sookie navigates the perils and pitfalls of the paranormal world.
Belly up to the bar at Bon Temps’s favorite watering hole and hear stories that will make you wish Sookie never left.
This definitive collection is the perfect binge read for people who like their stories with bite!

I know a lot of readers read the short stories and novellas as they were released, but I wasn’t one of them. If there was any in this collection that I happened to read, it’s been so long I forgot. Having them all in one place was a definite advantage for me and it was fun catching up with some of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters. Since the stories were short, my reviews on each one will be too. 😉

“Fairy Dust” – those fairies… I forgot how much ‘fun’ they could be. In Fairy Dust, Sookie helps the triplets (who knew?) figure out who killed their sibling, then leaves them to their own brand of justice.

“One Word Answer”

“Dracula Night” – Eric flustered doesn’t happen very often. I kinda enjoyed seeing him ‘off.’ The Great Pumpkin reference made me chuckle, but somehow I doubt the vamps would have found it quite as Humorous. 🙂

“Lucky” – I forgot how much fun (at time) Amelia and Sookie were together. Amelia didn’t always do things the way that Sookie would have liked, but in this case, she helped get the job done 😉

“Gift Wrap” – Once again Niall proves that he doesn’t always show his love of his granddaughter in the most conventional of ways.

“Two Blondes” – Pam and Sookie’s friendship was always… strange? In Two Blondes they took a little road trip, had some fun, almost got themselves killed… a typical night on the town where Sookie was concerned.

“If I Had a Hammer” – Spending time with JB and Tara would have been more of a treat if it weren’t for the fact that they unearthed something even more sinister than the undead.

“Small-Town Wedding” – I know I’m one of very few readers who was actually okay with how the series ended. This weekend with Sam kind of cemented that for me.

“Playing Possum” – Sookie used her powers for good this time, with a little bit of help.

“In the Blue Hereafter” – I haven’t read any Charlaine Harris’ other series, but In the Blue Hereafter made me want to pick up one or two (Harper Connelly & Midnight Texas) . It was the only short story that wasn’t told from Sookie’s POV, but she was most definitely front and center.

White Collared (Wicked Pride #3) by Kelly Apple – Bout of Books 20 Review

Kane Mayhew, Alpha of the cat shifters and all around surly guy, has never been one to walk away from a challenge. So when a full-human walks into his business and asks for help, he gives it to her. He never expected to find himself in the middle of a possible inter-species war. Or trying to figure out how to keep the pretty human with him once he’d done as he said.
He was a cat, after all, and cats looked after themselves.
But Carrie Sato is intriguing. She calls to his beast and she’s fierce enough to stand up to him when he’s at his worst. When the help she asked for leads them into the territory of one of the meanest shifter breeds around, Kane knows he’s going to have to be as quick and deadly as his kind are known for.
Not only when it comes to keeping her safe, but also so he can stake a claim on her heart.
Because when a lion finds his mate, nobody better get between them.

It’s always fun when a big bad alpha gets unexpectedly tamed. It’s even more fun when the person doing the taming is a timid human, who isn’t quite as timid as they seem.

Kane’s most definitely got his hands full with Carrie, but he’s up to the challenge. Then there’s the tiny little matter of some disgruntled (and growly) bear shifters. Needless to say, things got interesting by the end of White Collared.

So yeah, it was a lot of fun, a lot of heat and plenty of smexiness… of course it was a Kelly Apple read, so I would expect no less. Needless to say, Laid Bear just moved way up on my TBR pile. 😉

Cashing Out (Dana McIntyre Must Die #3) by S.M. Reine – Bout of Books 20 Review

With the previous master vampire out of the way, and Dana McIntyre presumed dead, there’s nothing standing between Nissa Royal and her vision for Las Vegas: a city of vampires where humans serve as no more than cattle.
Except that someone keeps killing the vampires who are sweeping the streets for victims. A mysterious killer that nobody can seem to find. Someone bent on stopping Nissa…
Police Chief Charmaine Villanueva is losing control of her city to the Office of Preternatural Affairs. She hopes to appease them with a preliminary cure for vampirism–her last shot at reassuring them that she can keep her citizens safe. Except someone has broken into Holy Nights Cathedral to steal the Garlic Shot, even though the church should be impossible to burgle. She can only think of one person with the ability to steal from the cathedral. But Dana McIntyre’s been dead for hours. Hasn’t she?
Torn between OPA control and vampire control, Las Vegas is a city on the brink of war missing its guardian angel. It’s a high stakes game with no limit. But the house isn’t letting any of its players cash out yet…not when the game is just getting hot.

I can’t even… I really should deduct at least half a star for the gut wrenching events near the end… Oh, and I thought the last book ended with a crazy twist? o.O Trust me when I say that S.M. Reine is most definitely holding onto her #EvilAuthor title.

Things took a strange and unexpected turn at the end of Kill Game. So strange and unexpected that everyone (except readers) in the beginning of Cashing Out knew that Dana was dead. There were a few that held out a little bit of hope, but it was a long shot. There were too many things that she would have had to overcome to actually survive, but this is Dana we’re talking about and she obviously wasn’t finished yet.

Needless to say, a lot happened in Cashing Out and not all of it was great. Dana was kinda awesome (I told you, she’s growing on me) and her friends/family were great, whether they actually liked her or not. A key mystery was solved (I can’t say that I was surprised). On the flip side, the OPA showed up (which wasn’t all bad…). Nissa became even stronger when she became a full fledged vamp and the absolute worst was that there were losses… on both sides. *tear*

So, this is turning out to be another vague review, and I’m sorry about that, but I just don’t want to give anything away. I will say that I have a sudden urge to go back and read Bitter Thirst, because seeing one of my favorite OPA agents appear in Vegas was one of my favorite parts of Cashing Out 😉 Well, maybe not my favorite, because this is Dana’s book after all, but Cèsar is just… well, he’s Cèsar, enough said.

So, I’m going to end this review (before I give anything away) with my usual disclaimer. If you haven’t read a S.M. Reine book yet, pick one sooner rather than later. Start wherever you want, but I suggest either with Six Moon Summer or Descent. The world building is phenomenal and so interwoven between the series it’s a wild ride. I’ve got my favorites, so now it’s time for you to choose yours… you’re welcome! 😉