Tour’s Books Blog

March 7, 2009

The Witches Knot Series by Lauren Dane

TriadMy Grade: B+ to A- (ménage)

A Touch of Fae – My Grade: B+ to A-

Vengeance Due – My Grade: C+ to B-

Thrice United – My Grade: B+ to A- (ménage)

Celebration for the Dead – C+ to B-

Lauren Dane is a really good writer that has two series out there. The Witches Knot series is exclusively at Ellora’s Cave, but her Cascadia Wolves are partly on Ellora’s Cave and partly on My Book Store and More, the store for Samhain Publishing. (My Book Store and More has a very sensitive search feature and it won’t pop titles or authors without punctuation and correct spelling.  It’s kind of irritating.)  Both series are considered ‘erotic romance’, but Witches Knot more so that Cascadia Wolves.

Triad introduces the Charvez witches of New Orleans. Heir to the ‘witch dreamer’ gift, Lee Charvez never bothered with her heritage, but now she’s training with the women of her family. She dreams of a blond haired man and then meets Aidan Bell, an artist that lives in her building and she even bought a painting of his. He’s also a vampire, not a problem for a witch. Just as they begin their affair, dark magic attacks. Because there seems to be an element of wizard magic, Aidan calls on his friend Alex Carter, a powerful wizard in a prominent Chicago family, for help. Vampires don’t share their mates and Aidan yields reluctantly to the need for a triad with Alex to defeat the dark magic being fed by a demon seeking to break the power of the Charvez witches.

Dane creates a very believable group of characters in the extended Charvez family, Aidan Bell and the snooty Carters. The magical ties blend in well enough that the paranormal world is credibly woven with the real world and New Orleans is the perfect setting. The Compact – an agreement between the old gods and the dark world of demons – is the source of the Charvez power and what protects the city and ultimately, the world. It is this thread that ties together the Witch’s Knot series. Dane packs a lot into what is just a short novel. It could easily be expanded to a longer work.

A Touch of Fae is the story of Lee’s younger sister, Emily, or Em as everyone calls her. Quite and underestimated by her more powerful family, Em is a researcher. She tired of being smothered by their protectiveness. Her search for a book takes her to Britain and the private library of a fellow witch. Her rich brother-in-law Aidan puts her up at his hotel in London in his own apartment. She doesn’t know it, but her search is being watched by Conchobar MacNessa, Captain of the Queens Guard – that’s Queen Aine of the Fea. Con is about 10,000 years old and shocked to realize he’s found his mate.

In this book, Dane takes us to Faerie where much of the action happens and that ties into what’s been going on in New Orleans regarding the Compact. It also gets a tie in with the Dark Fae that are allies with the demons if getting the Compact broken. Em comes into her own and ends up being far more powerful than anyone expected, including Em herself.

Em and Con are two very likable characters. The Charvez family plays a smaller role here, but the complex tale moves along at a good pace and Dane scores another winner. My one complaint is the books does not take full advantage of the story possibilities in its all too brief 130 pages.

In Vengeance Due, the story digresses down a side road with Vampire Hunters entering the scene. Simone Charvez owns an upscale dress shop and might be a shade on the ‘high maintenance’ side, but she’s enjoying her life. The big problem is, she’s an empath and can tell what her dates are thinking – like how they plan to seduce her. It gets old. She has a new neighbor across the street is a bad boy – tattooed, pierced and looking hot as hell. Yum!

Kael Gardener hunts vampires because he his family slaughtered by them. He and his partners, Jagger and Minx, have formed a kind of family of their own now. The need down time after a particularly long and brutal hunt for a nest of killer vampires, so they’re in New Orleans for a little R&R.

A rogue vampire, an Oathbreaker, has come to New Orleans. He’s the one that Kael has been chasing for so long. His interest in the witch Simone brings him into contact with her vampire relations – Lee’s husband Adrian. If Kael and Simone have a chance, Kael must learn there are ‘good’ vampires and ‘bad’ vampires, just like anyone else.

Simone is a secure female lead and I like her a lot. Not as powerful or flashy as he cousins, but a woman who can stand on her own. The story itself is somewhat less compelling than the two earlier ones, but is largely due to the fact this is really Kael’s story, not a real part of the whole underlying ‘Compact’ thing.

Thrice United gets Dane back on track with a tale that starts in Seattle with Holly Daniels, a shy, lonely, young woman that’s working her way through college as a waitress in a local bar/restaurant. Having moved every few years, Holly never really had friends, just her mother – and now cancer has taken her. Alone and rather adrift in the world, a complete stranger gives her a tarot deck and tells her it will help ‘free her magic’.

In New Orleans, Lee Charvez ‘dreams’ of a Charvez in trouble, but all her family is accounted for. Or so she thought. It would seem there is a stray Charvez witch out there and they have to race to find her before the dark forces hunting her do.

A dreadlocked, macho, drool-worthy, sin-on-a-stick hunk comes into the tavern and asks if his friend is there. He waits at the bar for Mr. GQ, suave, classy hunk and Holly is in hormone overload. She leaves after her shift and the vamps have this overriding fear that something is wrong. Rhett had followed her and knows where she lives – not a good part of town. They arrive to find her under attack. Badly injured, they use the healing properties on vampire blood to help her. The thugs suddenly die when Rhett questions them, but they do learn she is a Charvez witch – a shock to her. Witches, wizards, vamps and broken ribs are not a good combination.

Circumstances force Nate, Rhett and Holly to deal with a lot of stuff very fast – including the fact they’re vampires – and apparently they are fated to share a mate – and Holly has not one but TWO gorgeous hunks lusting after her pudgy self. The threat to Holly and a need for answers take the three to New Orleans where Holly, with some reluctance, meets her Charvez family.

The story goes deeper, into why her mother fled New Orleans and who forced it. The Compact is a minor player here, but the demon lord isn’t done trying to break it.

At just under 150 pages of text, it’s a bit longer than the previous books, but still, it felt like it could easily have been longer.

Celebration for the Dead goes back to the vampire hunters and takes place in Mexico during the celebrations that surround the Day of the Dead. Melanie Rodriguez – AKA Minx – is Mexico, going home to Las Brisas for the celebration that means so much to her – and hunting vamps again – looking for Anton Perdue, the Oathbreaker and master vamp that eluded the hunters in Vengence Due. But she shouldn’t hunt alone and is almost caught.

Conner Bell, brother to Lee Charvez’s husband Aidan and rogue vampire hunter for the Council, is also hunting Perdue – and more importantly Minx, with whom he started a relationship in Vengeance Due. Conner’s not too happy about how he can’t get Minx out of his mind. Melanie isn’t sure she can go thru the hurt of having Conner run off again.

Now Conner must win back Minx and together they have to put an end to the killing spree of Perdue and his followers.

This story is a more straight forward romance than the others in the series. At just under 90 pages of actual text, it’s also the shortest. It does not add to the whole Compact tale.

Lauren Dane is a heck of a storyteller, but occasionally her series lose their punch as they move on. Certainly it was true with Cascadia Wolves, where Enforcer was easily the strongest entry followed by the second book, Tri-Mates and in my opinion went downhill there after. Overall, this is a very worthwhile series. It is available in printed form from Amazon or as ebooks from Ellora’s Cave. Given the relatively short format of each story, I think the ebooks are a smart buy.

A word of advice: When authors change publishers, the ebooks can disappear from the listings. At the moment, Enforcer and Tri-Mates are still in the Ellora’s Cave listings, but if it’s like Christine Warren, they could disappear,

All the books in this series would score NC-17 to XX, but unlike most ‘erotic romance’ the story is more important than the sex.

All the books I read were ebooks, not print books, though the text sould be the same in this case.


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