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


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. 😉

Cast in Balefire (Mage Craft #4) by S.M. Reine

castinbalefireHalf-angel mage Marion Garin has become Queen of the Unseelie, but she can’t hold the faerie courts without convincing everyone she’s in love with her cheating, abusive husband—the beloved King ErlKonig. Rumor says Marion’s in love with the God of Death. The unseelie are revolting. And it wouldn’t be so hard to fix if the rumors weren’t true…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Wow… we’re almost there. One more book to go… All I’ve gotta say is it’s a good thing that Ms. Reine writes fast and how in the heck am I supposed to review this without giving something away? The answer is that I shall ramble… as usual.

A lot happens in Cast in Balefire. That’s not an exaggeration. There is also a lot of deception. No one is being totally honest and that trend continues right up until the very end. As for the end… we’ll get to that later.

Cast in Balefire takes up pretty much where Cast in Faefire left off. Marion is married to Konig with some very defined stipulations. The Unseelie are still reeling after the death of Konig’s mother. They are totally loyal and devoted to Konig and they expect their new queen to feel the same… only Fae magic proves to them that that may not be the case. It doesn’t take much to set the Fae off and because of their lack of trust where Marion is concerned, she ends up on more than one hit list. To make things even worse, Konig proves once again what a pompous… well, you get the picture. There’s definitely no love lost between this reader and the current King of the Unseelie.

As if Marion doesn’t have enough to contend with, her mother proves once again that she has a single minded agenda and caring for Marion’s welfare isn’t anywhere near the top of her list of priorities. There was a lot revealed in Cast in Balefire, but there are still a lot of things that need to be cleared up… Marion and Seth aren’t the only people whose future hangs in the balance by the end of this book… but I can’t really talk about that in this review, because, you know… the #evilauthor threw so many twists, turns and craziness into Cast in Balefire that I don’t want to risk giving anything away. Let’s just say that my jaw dropped more than once and leave it at that.

I know that S.M. Reine has said that you can read any of her series as stand alone, but I personally don’t recommend it. There’s a lot of back story that goes into these books. I’m not saying that you have to read all of the books prior to the Mage Craft series, but I’d recommend having at least read the Ascension series first. You won’t be lost if you don’t, but it will give you the background that you need for quite a few of the characters that you’ll meet in this series. Of course if you want the full affect, especially when it comes to Seth and Rylie’s history, you need to start at the beginning with Six Moon Summer. I’m a little biased though and if you’ve read any of my other S.M. Reine reviews you’ve probably heard this before so…

As for the ending? Yeah… did I mention that S.M. Reine is evil? Well, she is. In a brilliant sort of way, but evil none the less. I never saw it coming and I still have no idea how she’s planning on turning things around, but I trust her… sort of. *sigh* Needless to say, Cast in Godfire can’t come soon enough.





Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews

MagicSlaysPlagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price.

I have a couple of authors who are my favorites when it comes to Urban Fantasy. Ilona Andrews is pretty close to the top of that list. I can’t pinpoint it to anything specific. The world building, the mythology behind the different ‘species’, the hierarchy and politics, along with the witty, well developed characters combine to make this series one of my favorites. I may be taking my time reading it, but consider it savoring, not ignoring 😉

A lot happened in Magic Slays. Some things about Kate’s heritage were revealed. Old friends were reunited. Some very strange alliances were made and some new enemies came into play. Needless to say, there was very little down time. Along with the danger, there was a lot of emotion. Kate had to make some very tough decisions and she also found herself dealing with just a little bit of self doubt. Just another one of those things that makes me love this series. Those moments make the characters ‘real’. Speaking of characters, I love the witty banter between them. That’s not just limited to Kate and Curran, because there’s lots of back and forth between the two of them… not to mention the sexiness… Even though a lot of serious, dangerous craziness happens in Magic Slays, the true family aspect between the characters is there and it’s laced with a lot of humor and more of that ‘realness’ that I love about them.

The events that take place in Magic Slays change things for a lot of characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next and I’m still not sure if I’m going to try to slip in the some of the novellas (Magic Tests, Magic Gifts – Curran POV shorts) and Andrea’s story (Gunmetal Magic) before I pick up Magic Rises.


The Good, the Bad and the Vampire (Dead in the City #4) by Sara Humphreys – Bout of Books 15 Review

GoodBadVampireHe wants eternity?
Dakota Shelton is a vampire cowboy with a penchant for cinnamon lollipops and Johnny Cash. Though highly skilled and deadly dangerous to his enemies, he’s still a Texas good ol’ boy at heart. And he has that heart set on wooing Trixie LaRoux-the most badass punk rock chick in town-the old-fashioned way.

Over her undead body…
Trixie is tough as nails and sharp as a silver stake-the last thing she wants is a man to sit on a porch and not grow old with. So it’ll take going to hell and back fighting a new threat to vampires before she admits Dakota’s courtship makes her blood hum. Turns out chivalry’s not dead after all.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I probably say this after every new installment to a series, but I think this one was my favorite book so far in the Dead in the City series. Of course, I also have to mention that I still have to read the 2nd book, Vampire Trouble, but that’s not anything that any of you haven’t heard me say either.

As much as I loved this one, I can’t say a whole lot about it. There were more than a couple of revelations made in The Good, the Bad and the Vampire and since I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone else. Just know that both Trixie and Dakota got what they deserved in the end. 😉

Just because there was a lot revealed doesn’t mean that things are over for this crazy mismatched family of vamps. There’s a couple more members of New York’s unconventional coven that need to find their bloodmate. I can’t wait to see who’s next.


Once Darkness Falls (Preternatural Affairs #7) by S.M. Reine

OnceDarknessFallsThe worst case scenario has happened: Reno NV has fallen to demons.
Someone at the Office of Preternatural Affairs fucked up.
As the lead of a secret internal investigations team, Agent Cesar Hawke needs to discover who is responsible.
And then he needs to kill them.

There isn’t a book in this world created by S.M. Reine – regardless of which series I’m reading – that I haven’t absolutely loved. I’ve also, unsurprisingly, fallen in love with a lot of the characters that inhabit said world. If I’m honest though, I have to admit that I’ve fallen out of love with them just as often, but that’s another topic entirely. The point I’m trying to make, in my usual round-about rambling way, is that I love them all for very different reason. I have to say though that Cesar falls right behind Rylie in my rank of favorites. Once Darkness Falls hasn’t changed my opinion one bit. If anything, I fell more in love with him in this latest addition to the Preternatural Affairs series.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The cards were pretty much stacked against Cesar from the beginning, but he had a couple of pretty firm objectives. Keep the people he cared about safe and come out of it alive. As usual, nothing is easy and more importantly, nothing is quite what it seems. The lines between good and evil can blur in a heartbeat. It makes it really hard to tell the good guys from the bad from a reader’s standpoint. It’s almost impossible for the characters. But that’s what makes these books so much fun to read.

One of the things that I love about these intertwining series is the chance to look at familiar characters from a different character’s POV. Seeing Rylie through Deirdre’s eyes was interesting in War of the Alphas, and not always in a good way. But seeing Elise from Cesar’s POV was… well, I’m not exactly sure. Elise crossed a lot of lines in her life… she came closer to obliterating them than blurring them… but Cesar’s opinion of her still made me want to jump in and defend her. Which wasn’t really fair because he didn’t have the whole story. Speaking of which, I still have more books to read in the Descent series…

As for the rest of Once Darkness Falls? This book is a huge turning point for Cesar. Fritz made some startling revelations, more than a few characters made some cameos from previous series, Cesar makes new enemies and some shaky allies, and more than a couple lives hang in the balance. Just a normal day at the office, right?



Crimson Chaos (Crimson #4) by Amos Cassidy

CrimsonChaosAn ancient prophecy.
An entity older than the beginning of time.
Surely the survivors of bloody battles on fey beaches deserve a timeout, a chill period, a chance to reflect? Yeah, right!
When the gang are faced with an ancient threat, it’s just another day at the office until they realise that this time their efforts may not be enough. This time maybe fate won’t be thwarted, because this time their foe is more powerful than anything they could ever have imagined. It’s a race against time, a race against the unpredictable, and, for the first time, the odds are stacked against them. It’s anyone’s game. No guarantees. No returns.
When Khaos strikes, who will be left standing?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1For those of you who haven’t started reading the Crimson series yet, you need to. Now. For those of you who have already started and have waited patiently for the last book in the series to be released… be careful for what you ask for. And since you are already familiar with the evil duo that is Amos Cassidy, that statement probably needs no further explanation.

The entire time I was reading Crimson Chaos I kept thinking ‘there’s not enough time left in this book for everything to be resolved.’ Honestly, I had this feeling more than once. I’m not saying that pages were wasted on irrelevant stuff. That doesn’t happen in this series. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but all of them serve a purpose. Trust me, when you read any of these books, pay close attention. The past comes back to bite everyone sooner or later and even the most minute detail shouldn’t be overlooked. This is definitely a series that begs to be re-read.

This series finale was full of action, drama, danger, romance, tears and even more twists and turns. And then… well, part of the evil persona that makes up Amos Cassidy is their ability to make a book impossible to review. Honestly, so much happens and so many people are affected by all that happens and then… I’m trying here. I’m trying really, really hard, but… well, you’re just going to have to read this one to understand. Then you can yell at the author yourself. 😉 (I may have done this once or twice, they can handle it, honest.)

Beyond the frustration, this was an amazing series and Crimson Chaos tied everything up quite nicely… kind of. The POVs switched between all the characters we have grown to love and most of their story lines came to a satisfying close… kind of.  In case you haven’t already surmised, the Crimson series may ended with Crimson Chaos, but Amos Cassidy isn’t quite done with these beloved characters yet. Thank goodness because I might have to chase them down if this book was really the end. 😉


Beta (War of the Alphas #2) by S.M. Reine

BetaDeirdre Tombs has lived most her life as the weakest of shapeshifters—an Omega who can’t turn into any animal. Now the terrorist known as Everton Stark has made her his Beta. He wants her by his side when he defeats the Office of Preternatural Affairs, kills Rylie Gresham, and becomes Alpha of all shifters.
The faeries from the Winter Court have an offer to make Stark’s domination easier. They know where to find a cursed sword that can kill anything, and they’ll give it to him…for a price.
Deirdre’s the only one who can keep Stark from getting this powerful weapon—if she wants to. But as brutal as Stark may be, he’s also the only one who can give Deirdre what she wants.
And Deirdre doesn’t know where her loyalties lie anymore.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that made me hate, admire and sympathize with characters as much as the War of Alphas series has. Let me clarify that for you. I’m not talking about different characters here, it’s fairly common to love one character as much as you hate another. I’m talking about the SAME character. Sure, an author has made me change my opinion about a character more than once, but it usually takes at least a healthy portion of a book to make my opinion of those characters pull a complete about face. S.M. Reine has managed to make me have a love/hate relationship with at least two characters in this series pretty much from the beginning. My loyalties flip sometimes from chapter to chapter. The crazy part is that one of them is the heroine, Deirdre.

Really, I understand where Deirdre’s coming from and I never really hated her. She’s basically a semi-reluctant double agent. It’s no wonder she’s confused. She’s spent her entire life after Genesis feeling betrayed by Rylie. To make things even more complicated, it was Abel who made the final decision about keeping her out of the sanctuary. I know in my mind that all those things make it impossible for her to put her total trust in Rylie or anyone else connected with the sanctuary. I know what happened prior to the Genesis. In my heart, every time Deirdre listens to Stark and doubts Rylie’s intentions I want to reach into the book and shake her and tell her everything… but I can’t. Honestly, it’s beyond frustrating.

Then there was Stark. I really thought it was impossible to feel anything for this man other than hate. I’d be lying if I said that I now like him. Not even close. It’s more a matter of me understanding him just a little bit more. That realization didn’t come until near the end of Beta, but it was a powerful moment.

There wasn’t much down time in Beta. Things happened fast and the players (and sometimes their loyalties) changed just as quickly. Speaking of which, there are a lot more characters to contend with. The battle isn’t just between the Alphas anymore. There’s a lot more at stake and more preternatural beings than ever before. Readers are also getting closer to finding out exactly what Deirdre is and I have a feeling it’s going to bring things to a whole new level for everyone.

Alpha is next, and it was supposed to be the end of the trilogy. Evidently it’s taken on a life of its own because S.M. Reine has hinted that there will probably be another book added to the series. After reading Beta, I totally understand. As awesome as this author is, I have no idea how just one book can wrap up all the crazy developments in this book.


Ashes & Arsenic (Preternatural Affairs #6) by S.M. Reine

AshesAndArsenicAgent Cèsar Hawke is in his element when he’s investigating magical crime. And with his boss out of town, Cèsar gets to pick which cases he works on. He’s bent on doing nothing involving demons, zombies, or fallen angels this time. Instead, he’s going to find the witch who used magic to rob a bank.

Easy stuff. Cèsar plans to catch the perp before his boss gets home.

But when he digs into the robbery, he finds much more than missing money. He also finds a deadly turf battle between two covens and a trail of bloody violence.

A trail that leads directly to his brother, Domingo Hawke.

Domingo wants Cèsar’s help taking down his enemies. Forget that Cèsar works for the Office of Preternatural Affairs, forget allegiances, forget pesky “contracts” and “conduct.” Domingo is calling in a favor and the Hawke family is too tight to refuse.

Blood is the most powerful ingredient in any witch’s spell, after all.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Out of all the characters that S.M. Reine has created (I still have a couple more to meet as I continue the Descent series) Cèsar is one of my favorites. I love his ‘voice.’ He has a strong sense of right and wrong and an even stronger sense of loyalty. In other words, he’s not afraid to bend the rules if someone he cares about is in danger. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he pretty much knows his limits. All of this combined is enough to love him as a character, but I think it’s his snarky, witty personality that I love most…

“I haven’t been this serious about anything since I thought Jennifer Henry gave me herpes in sophomore year of high school.” She hadn’t, for the record. I’d just gotten intimate with poison ivy on a comping trip. But that was a story for another time.

His inner dialogues are even better. 😉

Just because Cèsar’s character is on the ‘light’ side compared to S.M. Reine’s other characters doesn’t mean that he finds himself in less dangerous situations. He’s fighting the same battles, in the same world. He just handles things in a different way.

Ashes and Arsenic brought the danger to his doorstep in a very personal way. It also took a lot of twists and turns. I spent as much time as Cèsar both sympathizing with and not trusting Domingo. By the end I still wasn’t sure. I have a feeling that if S.M. Reine ever decides to put the entire Hawke family in one book, the results will be explosive… and I’m not just talking emotionally.

There was a lot going on in Ashes and Arsenic and there were as many questions raised as answered. It was kind of hard to keep track of who was on which ‘team.’ There are a few characters that I’m still not sure about. In this world, there’s definitely a fine line between good and evil. Regardless, it looks like things are going to get quite interesting for Cèsar. Ashes and Arsenic didn’t necessarily end in a cliff hanger, but it did end with this reader wanting answers. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters next.


Forbidden Witches (Tarot Witches #2) by S.M. Reine – Bout-of-Books 12.0 Review

ForbiddenWitchesPLEASE NOTE: Due to explicit sexual content, this book is intended for mature readers only. 

In a week, straight A student and total good girl Leah Todd is supposed to graduate with her bachelor’s degree. Then she receives a mysterious tarot card in the mail and everything changes. 

The tarot card seems to serve as a VIP ticket into a show by a metal band called The Forbidden. She’s never heard of them before, but the instant she lays eyes on the lead singer, Rage, she knows that she’s much more than a fan. She’s found where she needs to be. 

Weirder still, the band agrees. They’ve been waiting for a tarot witch like Leah to save Graham, a dying werewolf, by mating with him. The problem is that Leah’s not a witch, she doesn’t believe in magic, and she quickly falls for the wrong werewolf. But Donne doesn’t seem to return the feelings. In fact, he might kind of hate her. 

As high priest of his coven, Rage has solutions for Leah. All she needs to do is surrender her life to the coven, the werewolf pack…and to him. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1First, this is not your typical S.M. Reine werewolf/magic romance. Before you pick this one up, pay close attention to the disclaimer in the description. The Tarot Witches is definitely the most erotic of all the series that this author has written. For the record, I’m kinda lovin’ it. 😉

Leah knew nothing about magic, much less werewolves and witches. None of that existed in her world. That world changed drastically when she received her tarot card. She realized that there was a lot more out there than she could ever imagine and her ‘education’ took a whole new turn.

Readers also learned a little bit more about the Tarot Witches. There’s still a lot left to reveal, but one thing is a constant. There is a special link between the wolves and the witches and the bond between them is… well, intense is putting it mildly. I loved the dynamic between Donne, Leah, Graham and Rage. The rest of the witches in the coven added a whole new layer to the mix, not to mention the ‘other’ characters. As an extra bonus, previous characters make a special appearance which just added to the fun. I have to say though, one of my favorite characters in Forbidden Witches was Chad and I’m really hoping that we get to see more of him.

I’m not sure what’s next for the Tarot Witches. What I am sure of is that I can’t wait to find out.