Kill Game (Dana McIntyre Must Die #2) by S.M. Reine

Someone’s importing illegal metals into Las Vegas. Iron, to be specific: the only substance that can instantly kill one of the deadly sidhe. But there are no sidhe in Las Vegas. Not anymore. Dana McIntyre killed the last of them two weeks earlier.
Importing the iron seems to be a matter of life and death, though. Mostly death. People are being slaughtered over these imports, and Dana can’t figure out why. It’s a puzzle that must be solved quickly and quietly. If the Office of Preternatural Affairs realizes how destabilized Las Vegas has become, they’ll shut down vampire hunters like Dana.
She has no choice but to partner with Nissa Royal, the right hand of the city’s master vampire, to hunt down the iron’s buyer. Nissa’s interested in a lot more than a functional partnership from Dana, though. She won’t settle for anything less than Dana’s soul…

Did that just happen? Well, of course it did… this is a SM Reine book after all – so why am I so surprised???

If you’ve been following my reviews of Dana McIntyer Must Die, you know that I wasn’t originally a fan of Dana. This isn’t the first character that SM Reine has made me like who I originally didn’t, but I can honestly say that it’s the most surprising. She’s obviously growing on me. That’s just one of the things in this series that I didn’t see coming.

For the record, I also had no intention, after reading Drawing Dead, to have any sympathetic feelings at all toward Nissa. I have to admit, I came close, but for the most part, I was internally screaming at Dana not to let her guard down. Just like Anthony and Lincoln and Brianna. There are times that I wish I could jump into a book and prevent the inevitable – even if I have no clue exactly what the inevitable is.

So, a lot happened in Kill Game. More layers of Nissa were revealed. The schemes of the Las Vegas Vampires became even more complicated. Dana and Penny… so yeah, there was heartbreak, danger, mystery and… there’s not much more I can say without giving too much away.

One of the things I’ve always loved about any of the series in this crazy world created by SM Reine is the interaction between the characters. They’re witty, smart and have a LOT of personality. That’s not lacking in Dana McIntyer Must Die. I’m kinda falling in love with the banter between Dana, Brianna and Anthony. I also totally didn’t see that coming either. When Lincoln and Penny are thrown into the mix, it gets even better. (FYI – Lincoln is one of the only characters in this mix that I actually liked going into the series. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want MORE of Lincoln’s story since Genesis. 😉 )

Again, even though this series can be read as a standalone, I still don’t recommend it. Since I’ve been reading this series since Seasons of the Moon was relatively new, I guess you could consider me just a little partial. It also means that I know what you’ll be missing if you skip the background that the rest of the series is built on.

The next book in the series is Cashing Out and after the finale of Kill Game, trust me, it can’t come soon enough.

Drawing Dead (Dana McIntyre Must Die #1) by S.M. Reine

The vampire slayer is turning into a vampire? Over her dead body.
Dana McIntyre has been bitten by a master vampire. She’s infected with the venom. And after killing hundreds of vampires to keep Las Vegas safe, she’d rather die than turn.
There might be a cure. But the only way to get it is through Nissa Royal, a vampire with close ties to the masters of Las Vegas. Nissa is dangerous — too dangerous to be allowed to live, much less work alongside.
But if Dana dies, vampires win Vegas. If she doesn’t die, she becomes one of the bloodless. The cure’s her only chance. In this deadly game of hold ’em, Dana’s drawing dead, and whatever happens next, there’s no changing her losing hand. Dana only knows one thing: If she’s going down, she’s taking as many vampires as possible on her way out…

I’ve got to admit that I haven’t been a fan of Dana since Genesis. Which brings up the point that even though each series in S.M. Reine’s crazy, creative world can be read as a stand alone, I still don’t recommend it. That’s probably because I’ve read pretty much all the books in all the series (I still have a couple in the Descent series that I need to read.) I’m honestly not obsessed, I just love these books and will continue to strongly suggest to anyone who will listen… READ THEM ALL… but, I digress. Readers met Dana when she was just a little girl. She’s come a long way since then and she’s not so little and in many ways, not so nice. I wasn’t really excited about an entire series devoted to Dana. There was another character that I really wanted to get to know better, but that’s another story, for hopefully another time. *sigh* Anyway, I should have known better. I should have trusted this author to give me a whole new perspective once she let us in Dana’s head. Not only did she semi-change my negative opinion toward Dana, she gave me a totally different feeling toward at least two other characters in the process.

So, back to Dana. She’s pretty much larger than life… and I’m not just referring to her physical appearance. Everything about her is over the top, unapologetic and most of the time, inappropriate. Still, there’s something about her. Something that makes those few she’s close to care enough to want to protect her, mainly from herself. Dana’s her own worst enemy and that trait becomes even worse when she gets bitten. It may even cause one of the people she cares about most to pull away. The thing about Dana is that she loves as hard as she fights and when one of her family suffers, she takes it personally. Her safety and well-being don’t matter as long as the people she’s trying to protect are safe from harm. She takes unnecessary risks that drive her crew nuts, but they stand behind her regardless. I kinda love that about all of them now… yeah, I didn’t see that one coming.

Then there were the bad guys. Some were worse than others and that designation switched back and forth. Sometimes it’s the most unassuming character that you need to watch out for and Nissa was one of them. Being in her head, even for a little while, was a very scary place to be.

Just a couple more things worth mentioning. First, in true S.M. Reine form, holds nothing back – the good, the bad and the gore… her descriptions are notorious, but I gotta say, the “expulsion” description was a bit over the top, even for her. *shivers* Then there’s the cover. I’m not someone who judges a book by its cover. I hardly ever mention covers when I review a book, but this one… it’s so perfect. Too often covers don’t even come close to depicting the character within the book. This cover doesn’t just come close, it is totally Dana. I kinda love that.

I didn’t go into Drawing Dead expecting to want to get to know Dana better, but I shouldn’t be surprised that’s exactly what happened.

Surrender the Dark (Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Venetian Vampire by Michele Hauf

venetianvampireSome games are better without rules…especially when it comes to seduction.
Vampire Dante D’Arcangelo enjoys diversions. Especially those that involve seducing beautiful women, like newly made vampiress Kyler Cole. The curvaceous ingenue stirs Dante’s deepest desires. But they share more than blistering chemistry. Dante and Kyler each seek possession of a priceless Fabergé egg containing a spell that would annihilate thousands of vampires while granting only one eternal life.

Caught up in a wickedly sexy game of cat and mouse, Dante and Kyler try to outmaneuver each other as thieves and as lovers. But when a rival steals the egg, they form a wary alliance to recover it…knowing that their delicate bond must eventually end in betrayal.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I have to admit, it took me a while to really connect with either Dante or Kyler. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the intrigue of this story though. I’m happy to say that after a while, both of them won me over. Once that happened, things moved along even faster.

Kyler was a new vampire, versus Dante, who had been around for a very long time. Kyler held a certain allegiance to her maker and that was her driving force. Dante knew that whoever had sent Kyler after the egg wasn’t telling her the whole truth. Neither one of them expected the connection between them to get in the way of the prize that they thought they were after.

There were some twists and turns and unexpected betrayal on both sides that kept the pages turning. I’ve read several books from Michelle Hauf as well as several under the Nocturne brand. I’ll admit that I’ve found them to be both hits and misses. I have no problem tossing this one into the hit category.

DragonFlyRating4

 

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward – Bout-of-Books 18 Review

thebeastNothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself 
For Rhage the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart life was supposed to be perfect. Or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. But he can’t understand or control the panic and insecurity that plague him. Terrified, he must reassess his priorities after suffering a mortal injury. And the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his and his beloved Mary’s world… 

Gotta tell ya, Rhage scared me in this one. To be honest, he scared pretty much everyone who cared about him, including himself. He wasn’t quite sure where his head was or his heart, which was totally not like him since his Mary came into his life. So yeah, he scared me. Mary scared me and then they both totally broke me. *sigh*

It’s kind of hard not to know where things are going from pretty early on, but the journey is so totally worth it, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. Just know that a LOT happens in The Beast and not just to Mary and Rhage.

One of the things I like most about this series is something that some readers complain about, which is the multiple POVs. I love spending page time with familiar characters and the introduction of new characters. To me it gives this series a ‘family’ feel, which is exactly what the Brotherhood is. More than once in The Beast, the entire family was there physically for whoever was in need of their support.

There were tears – both happy and sad, life or death situations, more than a few nail biting moments, some jaw dropping revelations and alliances that were unexpected. Pretty much what faithful readers have come to expect from the BDB and more.

Needless to say I can’t wait until the next book in the series is released. I’ve been patiently waiting on the paperback versions for the last couple of books, but but I don’t think I can put off The Chosen (Layla & Xcor) that long. Plus, there are so many other loose ends left hanging at the end of The Beast. Waiting until April will be long enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

DragonFlyRating4

Cast in Faefire (The Mage Craft #3) by S.M. Reine

CastInFaefireMarion has agreed to something personally painful to further her political goals. But her sacrifice isn’t enough to make it go smoothly. Between Konig’s betrayal and a gaean revolt, Marion will be lucky to escape with her life intact, much less save the ethereal species from extermination.

I feel like this review should be prefaced by a warning. Something like “Read at Your Own Risk” or “Be Prepared to Walk Away Totally Confused.” Not by the book. The book was amazing. I’m referring to my lack of ability to convey how amazing books that I love are and how crazy talented the authors who pen them are.  I guess if you’ve been here before, you already know that so consider yourself warned.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, here’s a contradiction for you. As much as I love S.M. Reine’s books, she’s driving me nuts with these newer series in her ‘Descentverse’. That uneasiness first happened for me with War of the Alphas. My history with Reine’s books started with the Seasons of the Moon series. Seth and Rylie were the foundation of my love for this crazy, intricate world. Sure, there were moments where they both aggravated me just a little. Neither one of them were angels (not a great comparison given the true nature of angels in Reine’s world – but you get the picture.) The point is that I was right there with them through all the good and the bad and I respected who they became. Deirdre Tombs blew into this world in War of the Alphas with an entirely different perspective. A perspective that had me at odds with the heroine in the series because of her hate for Rylie.

So, what does my little vent about War of the Alphas and my love for Seth and Rylie have to do with the Mage Craft series and more importantly, Cast in Faefire? I’m getting there, just remember that warning I gave you. 😉 S.M. Reine found a whole new way to gain an alternate perspective in Mage Craft. She took a character that was familiar (at least to most readers) and took away her memories. That made her free to not see Rylie as the mother figure she grew up with, but as the woman who broke Seth. Not only that, but Marion stumbled on some revelations that added fuel to her growing distrust of Rylie in Cast in Faefire. Granted, those revelations were most likely taken totally out of context, but Rylie still has some serious explaining to do. This series is also stirring up those initial pangs that occurred when Rylie first left Seth for Abel. To say that Cast in Faefire was an emotional roller coaster would be a huge understatement.

Beyond the fact that I wanted to defend Rylie, sympathize with Seth and help Marion make sense of everything, there was a lot more going on in Cast in Faefire. Seems that everyone had something to hide and some were better at it than others. Sacrifices were made by more than one character. New enemies were discovered and more than one strange alliance was made. You know, just a normal day in the life of Reine’s characters.

Oh, and did I mention the cliff hanger and events that happened just before said cliff hanger? And the fact that I didn’t think I could loathe Konig more than I did at the end of Cast in Hellfire, but that happened too? I kind of liked catching up with characters from previous series, but they, more often than not, added to the drama. Oh, that reminds me of the conspicuous absence of some key characters who really need to make an appearance. There are at least two more books in this series and after all that’s happened and needs to happen I’m not sure that it can all be ‘fixed’ in Cast in Balefire and Cast in Godfire. I’m not going to complain if it takes more books though… there can never be too many books in the Descentverse. Okay, I’ll stop before I have to remind you of that warning again.

Once again, I’m going to urge you to pick up at least one of S.M. Reine’s series. Notice I didn’t say ‘books’ – because I honestly believe that if you pick up one, you’re going to want to read more. Also, the author will tell you, as well as a few devoted readers, that you can read any of the series as stand alones. Which, I suppose, is true. Just in case you find yourself wanting to embrace yourself in all aspects of Reine’s Descentverse, you can find the suggested reading order at smreine.com.

DragonFlyRating5

Blood Curse (Dragon Heat #5) by Ella J. Phoenix

BloodCurseDescendant of a Cherokee shaman, Dyam is one of the vampire king’s personal guards and closest advisers. He has seen the worst of mankind and has vouched to stay away from personal entanglements and focus on serving his king. His resolve is shaken when Naiah, the water witch, finds her way into the busy vampire castle’s life and straight into his heart. But before he can nurture his feelings for her, she is killed in battle, causing Dyam to return to his self-imposed seclusion for good.
Little does he know that Naiah has been brought back to life by his kind’s most infamous enemies. She is their ultimate weapon in a final battle that will rupture not only the balance of the supernatural world, but Dyam’s loyalty to his race.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I finished Blood Curse about a week ago… would you believe me if I told you I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened?

To say that a lot happened in Blood Curse would be an understatement. The story opened with the birth of Zoe, the daughter of Tardieh and Zoricha. As happy as that moment is for the king, his queen and their friends, it also casts a shadow over them all because of the curse that is predicted from her birth. Through a crazy turn of events it all connects back to Naiah and Dyam.

Zoricha’s return should have been a time to rejoice and some people do, but it also brings about fear and a danger that no one expected. Not to mention the tension that it causes between all the characters.

This installment of the Dragon Heat series was packed with emotion. Some expected and some not so much. There were more than a few secrets revealed. Some really heated moments and… yeah, I really can’t say a lot more because I don’t want to give too much away.

As happy as I was for Naiah and Dyam, I was heartbroken for other characters. Yes, tears were shed and I’m not entirely sure I’ve actually forgiven the author for how things ended. *glares at evil author* – especially since this is not just a cliff hanger at the end of a book, but the end of the Dragon Heat series. Since there’s a possibility that she may redeem herself with the next series, I’ll cut her a little bit of slack. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Night’s Honor (Elder Races #7) by Thea Harrison

NightsHOnorOn the run from her former employer, Tess knows that she’s vulnerable on her own amongst the Elder Races. That’s why she decides to audition to become the human attendant of a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind demesne. But while her position affords her the safety she seeks, her protector turns out to be more than she bargained for.
The right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Xavier del Torro is both terrifying and alluring. While his true nature frightens Tess, she can’t ignore the appeal of his innate sense of integrity and self-restraint. Thrown into Xavier’s world, Tess must quickly learn to navigate the dangers—both to her life and to her heart. But the biggest threat comes from her own past….

I’m a huge fan of the Elder Races, but this is the first book that I’ve read that didn’t include the Wyrs and to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about it. The more I got into the politics and dynamics of the Vampyre community though, I stopped worrying. It’s not that I didn’t miss the Wyrs and the characters that drew me into this series. It was more because I found a whole other group of characters that I wanted to get to know better.

Speaking of getting to know someone better, Xavier wasn’t an easy guy to get close to… not that Tess had any intention of trying. She was there keep herself hidden and hopefully protected. Plus, she was totally repulsed by vampyres in general. Not exactly a normal start for a romance, but it was also kind of an interesting twist in the genre, for me anyway.

Even though Xavier was more than a little private and at times withdrawn, it was obvious that there was more to him than what he showed people on the surface. Tess slowly began to notice that he may not be as bad as she once thought, but she still wasn’t willing to give everything she asked for.

There were a lot of characters introduced in Night’s Honor. I loved the dynamic between Xavier and his attendants. Tess tried his patience, but he still respected her. How he treated those who served him and stood beside him was part of the reason why he gained my respect, and eventually Tess’s as well.

I’m kind of hoping that we see more of Xavier and Tess in the books that follow in the Elder Races. That’s entirely possible, since the next book in the series features a couple of my least favorite vampyres from Night’s Honor. I’ve already started reading Midnight’s Kiss and I’m kinda warming up to Julian, but Thea Harrison has her work cut out for her to get me to get me to really care about him. (I have no doubt she’s up to the task 😉 )

DragonFlyGreen4-5

 

Cast in Angelfire (The Mage Craft Series #1) by S.M. Reine

CastInAngelfireEighteen-year-old Marion can’t remember anything before waking up in the hospital. All she knows that a lot of people want to kill her. And her would-be assassins are not human…
Vampires are real. So are faeries and angels.
They all want Marion dead.
Surrounded by enemies, Marion turns to Lucas Flynn: a mysterious doctor who seems to know more than he’s letting on. He’s as good with a gun as he is with a scalpel. He fights like a demon but claims that he’s human. And he’s hellbent on protecting Marion.
Lucas claims that Marion is a mage: half-witch, half-angel with terrifying powers that could crack the world. But Marion can’t remember how to cast magic any more than she can remember where she comes from.
Marion must find her identity and her power…before the forgotten sins of her past catch up with her.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1If you are a frequent visitor to Creative Deeds Reads, you already know that I’m a fan of S.M. Reine. That’s probably an understatement and not earth shattering news by a long shot. You all pretty much know, if this author writes it, this reader will be reading it and in the process, trying to convince other readers to do the same. That’s what makes the next thing I’m going to tell you really hard. Don’t panic, this isn’t a lead in to tell you that this is the first book in this world I hated. It’s actually the opposite. I absolutely loved the introduction to The Mage Craft Series. What I need to tell you, even though the author herself has said that you can pick up any series in this world and not be lost regardless of where you start, just don’t. Well, I can’t exactly tell you that, because I actually wouldn’t (and haven’t) listen(ed) to that advice. What I’m trying to say, in my usual rambling, nonsensical way, is that this series would be much more enjoyable, and probably make a lot more sense, if you had, at the very least, read the Ascension series prior to picking up Cast in Angelfire. (It would be even more enjoyable if you started from the very beginning with Seasons of the Moon and Descent, but I’m not going to push it.)

So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I suppose I can get on with the review… yeah, about that. There’s a lot about Cast in Angelfire that I can’t really talk about. That is, not without giving anything away. What I can tell you is that just as much is revealed as there is hidden. Since Marion lost her memory, she has no idea who she was or is or who she should trust or know and Lucas is absolutely no help. He’s obviously hiding something and more clues are given to readers than to Marion. Yet, even though I knew from the beginning who he was and what he was hiding from Marion, there was still a lot that still needs to be revealed. I may have to go back and read Sins of Eden (the final book in the Ascension series) to see if I can figure out if there’s anything I missed, but I have a feeling that readers have been kept in the dark for a reason. *sigh*

Since this is just the beginning, there is obviously more to come. There are also more characters to return, which I’m looking forward to. A lot’s happened since Genesis and there are several people who readers are curious about. I’d name them, but what fun would that be? Just know that this is the beginning of another amazing series. As usual, my recommendation stands. If you haven’t delved into this world that S.M. Reine’s created, no more excuses. My only suggestion is that you don’t start here…but it’s only a suggestion. 😉

DragonFlyRating5