Tour’s Books Blog

September 30, 2010

New Releases – Paranormal UF and 2 Siren Erotic Romance

We all know I do love my paranormal, especially shifter and UF and there have been some good and blah releases lately, plus a couple of erotic romances.  Here we go.  First is a favorite series of mine, the Elemental Assassin.

  • Title: Venom
  • Author:  Jennifer Estep
  • Type:  Paranormal Urban Fantasy
  • Genre:  #3 of the Gin Blanco Elemental Assassin series; murder and mayhem as Gin finds her youngest sister
  • Sub-genre:  Former assassin goes after the elemental who murdered her family
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller

I do like the Elemental Assassin series, even if the single best part was the open chapters of Spider’s Bite – which were outstanding.  OK, maybe the rest of it hasn’t quite met that same standard, but it is a very good, if rather predictable, read.  Web of Lies (book #2) ends with Gin confirming that Mab Malone, the most powerful Elemental born in 500 years, was the person responsible for the deaths of her mother and older sister.  She manages to confirm her younger sister, Bria, is still alive and decides it’s time to look for her and work out a way to get back at Mab for killing her family and torturing her to get her to reveal her sister’s whereabouts.

In Web of Lies, Gin asks vampire club owner Roslyn Phillips for help in getting access to Mab Malone’s so she can assassinate one of her top men, and very hard to hunt dwarf mine owner Tobias Dawson, who trying to drive friends of her late mentor, Fletcher Lane, also a victim of Mab Malone, off their land.  In arriving at Mab’s party with one of the invitations sent to Roslyn’s ‘girls’ – prostitute vamps – Roslyn becomes the unfortunate target of Elliott Slater, a giant and sadistic chief enforcer for Mab.  She also called unwanted attention to herself by killing the son of Mab’s lawyer, another fire elemental, Jonah MacAllister.  Venom opens with MacAllister and Slater along with two other giants nearly beating Gin to death in retaliation for the death of Jake MacAllister.  Mab stops them, but Gin hears a threat to someone else.  She knows who when she sees the police detective called to the scene of her beating, Caine’s replacement on the police force, her sister Bria.

At Roslyn’s club, Gin sees what the vamp is going thru.  Elliott, a sociopath, follows a pattern of behavior of obsession, dominance and eventual killing of the women he claims.  She knows why Finn made her go there that night, so she could see and would help Roslyn.  She also sees the handsome Owen Grayson, a rich businessman whose sister she helped – setting off all the events in Web of Lies, and who is very interested in Gin.  Still hurting from Caine’s rejection, she doesn’t feel ready for another relationship, but can’t deny her attraction.  But killing a giant is no easy thing and Gin needs all the help she can get from Finn, Owen and her dwarven friends, Sophia and Jo-Jo.

Twining the stories of Slater, Mab, Bria, Roslyn, Finn, Owen, and Gin together, tossing in a new romance with Owen – who had the only real surprise reveal in the book – creates a very fast moving story and Ms Estep keeps revelations coming.  No, there are no shockers here, but it is interesting to see Gin changing and growing until she actually feels she can issue a public challenge to Mab by exploding one of Mab’s properties where she disposes of those she killed and leaving a huge rune glowing in the night – a spider.  Bits of the ongoing story arc are delivered at the end, as is the pattern in earlier books, and it’s obvious that Gin has to get stronger before the final confrontation with Mab, allowing for more books in the series, but story is evolving nicely and the cast appears set.

The writing is fast paced, but there are no knock ’em dead scenes or surprising twists.  I’d say most of us know where this is going and just enjoying the ride – though it feels like we’ve made it before.  Very enjoyable despite its predictability, or perhaps because of it.  The trope and arc are both well used, but Ms Estep manages her characters and scenes with verve and the first person narrative holds the reader’s interest.  Gin is a likable character, a classic tough guy/girl with a conscience. No, it isn’t ground breaking, one of a kind, or unique.  More like a new version of a tried and true favorite that’s well done.

Is Venom worth $7.99?  You bet.  It might not be Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but it is a solid entertainment that delivers your money’s worth.  Buy and enjoy!


  • Title: Range War Bride
  • Author:  Lara Santiago
  • Type:  Futuristic Erotic Romance
  • Genre:  Future Earth where women have multiple husbands; Woman in jeopardy finds cowboy saviors;
  • Sub-genre:  Woman runs from a sadistic fiance to two brothers in need of a wife
  • My Grade: C+ (3.1*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Novella about 30,000+ words for $4.99
  • Where Available:  ebook available at online Siren book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher online

I like how Lara Santiago writes.  He prose, her plots and her characters are almost always a cut above average.  With Range War Bride, she manages one of three very well and the rest in a competent, workman like fashion.  The plot is average, the characters are retreads and the prose is good.  Overall, it was readable, predictable, and just barely managed to not be boring.

We have a determined but slightly helpless woman being victimized by a murderous sadist who wants her to agree to a change in an old marriage contract or her young half brother will suffer thanks to her apparently sadistic step-father.  Sound familiar?  Well it should. Aside from the two husband thing, this could be a Regency novel from Avon, and it has a very Regency feel to it.

Alex and Rafe Drakestone are riding the fences for their property and discussing, once again, contracting for a wife.  Women are in short supply and fertile women are usually contracted for.  All property is inherited, so unless they want the largest ranch in Wyoming to be sold after their death, they need a child – and for that, they need a wife.  Typically, marriage contracts have terms of months to a few years associated with them for the female to prove she’s fertile.  She needs two husbands too, so Rafe and Alex must agree on the wife they will share.  But Alex is less than thrilled about the idea of getting married while Rafe is more than ready for a wife and children.  In their mid-30’s, it’s time to have heirs and Rafe wants kids to care for before he’s too old, though he doesn’t want giggly teenager, but a mature woman, a much more difficult task – until a beautiful redhead rides hell bent toward the electrified fence between their ranch and the adjoining property.  It’s Alex who opens the fence so she can ride through to their land.

Brianna had to escape Cody Welter and his evil cousin who had been blackmailing and threatening her into signing a marriage contract with a change in grooms.  She had originally contracted with Cody’s cousin, a dear friend of Brianna’s, who die suddenly and unexpectedly.  Cody took over the land and now wants Brianna and he can’t get her without a contract change.  So enter the tried and true blackmail threat to her 13 year old half brother.  But not even that can overcome the fear and need to escape Cody.  Once on Drakestone (Sorry, but I kept thinking Earl of Drakestone heheheheheheheh) land she asks for sanctuary and offers a contract in exchange.  Naturally, both brothers dive dick first into an agreement with only limited thought.

What follows are the predictable threats from Cody, trumped up warrants, police raids, etc – but Rafe and Alex aren’t fools and beat Cody to the punch.  If you feel a burning sense of deja vu, you’re entitled.  Oh, yes, no titles, but the same kind of power structure in Regencies.  Stick these guys in breeches and Hessians, throw in a ball gown or two, and your have a new novella.  Despite all these shortcomings, it was a decent read thanks to Ms Santiago’s skill as a writer.  Trite, yes, but not insultingly so.  The sex, as it often is with Lara Santiago, is more PG-17 than XXX.  Unlike Lora Leigh, anal sex does reach a woman’s soul, and on behalf of those of us tired of that, I’m grateful.  I was also grateful for the emotional issues the brothers confront over sharing, brief though they are.  While they might be reconciled, it’s not what either really wants.

Was Range War Bride worth $4.99?  Hard to say, but I’d lean toward no because for a novella, it’s overpriced.  Ms Santiago is easily one of the best writers in the Siren stable, and she does very good novellas with a well defined story arc and better than usual character development.  Well written but unoriginal with no surprises at all.


  • Title: One Four All
  • Author:  Julia Rachel Barrett
  • Type:  Futuristic Alternate World Erotic Romance
  • Genre:  Three top soldiers must guard a politician’s wife; Woman in jeopardy finds solider saviors
  • Sub-genre:  Woman runs from a sadistic captor to three soldiers
  • My Grade:  C (3.0*)
  • Rating:  NC-17 to X
  • Length and price:  Novella about 30,000+ words for $4.99
  • Where Available:  ebook available at online Siren book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher online

WARNING: If you buy books from Siren in pdf format, this novella has serious issues in typesetting and spacing making reading difficult and very, very annoying.  I do not know if other file formats have the same problem.

OK, so One Four All started with a serious strike against it with the blasted spacing issues that drove me insane.  Words were split and it forced the readers eyes into unnatural and confusing movements and made the story seem choppy – or choppier.  Like Range War Bride, One Four All suffers believability issues thanks to limited character development in the short novella format.  The plot here could have been fleshed out to short novel and it would have been a better read.

Lira is the heir to the throne of Zhinshu, currently being held captive by Secretary of Banking and Commerce Tuth Regnen, of the Central States of Khubak.  Told her younger sister is being held by Khubak General Battarq and he will not rape her if she marries Regnan and produces an heir to the Zhinshu throne.  But Lira will not yield and Regnan has her beaten by his captain of the guards.  Now he’s gone and Lira is plotting her escape with F’yit, her maid.  Then three soldiers show up to guard her and take no nonsense from the sadistic guard captain Speth.

Tanner Kepp, Redda Till, and Cer Watso are not too happy to be assigned as bodyguards to a spoiled politician’s wife.  In a remote spot, Regnen’s fortress like home is guarded by a surly, demanding security man, Speth who obviously wants the three soldiers gone as much as they’d like to be gone.  When the three men invade Lira’s bath and Kepp knocks down Speth, she makes a decision.  The Heir must take 3 consorts, one to guard the left, one the right, and one to cover her back and these three men will be her consorts!

One look at the bruises and the three men are furious.  They also realize that Lira needs protection from the head of security and probably her ‘husband’ more than some outsider.   Kepp, Red, and Wat find themselves sexually involved with Lira and then learn she’s taken them as her consorts.  None of the men are too happy about sharing, but they are all more concerned about getting her away.  There’s a surprising twist on who the informer is, and a good escape scene.

The plot is pretty good, but Lira is two dimensional and the the three males leads are all stock characters, but the story is still a decent read with just enough meat to make it interesting.

Is One Four All worth $4.99?  Not in the pdf format.  The technical glitches are just too severe.  Novella’s at $4.99 each is just too much money is a rather personal decision, but I find it insanely high, especially for a largely average effort.


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