Tour’s Books Blog

February 14, 2011

Three New Release Paranormals

Sorry for disappearing for awhile, but I had a project in trouble.  Hate when real life interferes with my virtual one!!!!!!!  We have really good and indifferent here, so read on.

  • Title: Halfway Hexed (Southern Witch, Bk 3)
  • Author:  Kimberly Frost
  • Type:  Paranormal/Paranormal Romance
  • Genre:  Star-crossed lovers and a magical takeover attempt
  • Sub-genre:  Tammy Jo and Bryn Lyon find out how far they’ll go for each other and Duvall, TX
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 90,000 words trade paperback for $10.00-11.00 on sale; list $14.00
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

The witches of the McKenna family have lived and practiced in Duvall, TX for years with no incidence, but Tammy Jo Trask, the first McKenna whose magic just won’t work right has earned the enmity of vindictive local, Jenna Reitgarten.  Now 4 ladies are convinced she’s a witch and are doing their best to destroy her.  Well, she is a witch, but Tammy Jo is Texan to her boots and isn’t about to allow any locals to do her harm.  First she hired to do a fancy chocolate display for the Fish and Wildlife fundraiser.  Instead, 4 ladies gang up on the surprised Tammy and kidnap her.  But Tammy’s been in worse spots – at least recently – and has more assurance in her kind of strange magic thanks to her mixed blood.  Tammy just learned she was half fae, so gets loose and gets back to the bakery – just in time to be kidnapped AGAIN!  Only this time she gets knocked out and taken away by a man she dubs Scarface.

Getting back into town the second time, Tammy reports the 4 Fish and Wildlife Ladies to a disbelieving deputy, and still manages to make it to the Fish and Wildlife fundraiser, much to the dismay of the 4 kidnappers.  As if that’s not bad enough, she and Bryn will be dealing with Conclave investigators looking into the recent events in Duvall when the fae tried to break through and two Conclave representatives tried to kill Tammy.  This time, no less the head of WAM (World Association of Magic), John Barrett, will be coming – and he’s bringing the formidable Winterhawk – and Bryn’s ex-girlfriend, who wants to start up where they left off, despite his complete lack of interest.

But WAM is interested in more than Tammy and Bryn.  Gwen wants Bryn, Barrett and Mrs Throckmorton want Duvall and Tammy in England, Tammy’s family want her to get away from Bryn, and Bryn wants Tammy, the DEA-Daw group of self-appointed witch hunters want Tammy gone, but all that really matters is what Tammy wants and what risks she’ll take for love of Bryn and Duvall, despite a prophecy that warns her away from the handsome wizard and the local crazies trying to harm her.

This fast moving and well told tale weaves the various story lines and the love interest between Bryn and Tammy together in an engaging and clever story that’s an excellent addition to the series.  I found the first book, Would-be Witch, a bit slow to catch my interest, but it was good enough that I bought and read Barely Bewitched and really enjoyed it.  With Halfway Hexed, Ms Frost hit all the right buttons for me.  Told in the first person, Tammy becomes a wonderful, complex character.  Her family remains annoying, but thankfully they are also largely absent.  The only problem here is you really need to read at LEAST Barely Bewitched before Halfway Hexed because the storylines are rather intertwined and the timelines are so close.  Without having read Barely Bewitched, much of Halfway Hexed will be confusing and/or boring.

Is Halfway Hexed worth $10-11?  Yes if you follow the series, questionable if you don’t.  It was a fairly fast read, but but it had a lot of substance, so it isn’t all fluff, as so many of the paranormal romance genre are.  Recommended series for paranormal romance fans who enjoy lots of action with their slow building romance.  Series titles not available in mass market format.

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  • Title: Nightshade
  • Author:  Michelle Rowen
  • Type:  Paranormal – Semi-Urban Fantasy
  • Genre:  Ordinary woman gets dragged into a vampire hunter underground
  • Sub-genre:  Unwilling subject of a scientific experiment finds herself trapped in a web of deceit
  • My Grade: C- (2.9*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 90,000 words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

Coffee runs can be dangerous. Nightshade gets off with a bang as Jillian Conrad, a temp for an investment firm, finds herself held hostage in an elevator by a crazy scientist who is arguing with a heavily armed one-eyed man.  All she wanted was a cup of coffee from Starbucks, now some nutcase has injected her with an experimental drug and the one-eyed man, Declan Reyes, has kidnapped her and is taking her to some remote research station.

Dragged finds herself middle of nowhere and attacked by 3 blood servants of the vampire king, leaving her Declan wounded and one of the attackers dead.  Torn between disbelief and fear, she gives the vampire king’s servants Declan’s serum that supposedly suppresses his vampiric half claiming it’s the experimental drug they’re looking for.  To bad the only sample of that is now running in her veins, possibly killing her.

The story moves well till we hit the research compound.  Then the characters go all B movie stock, the plot stalls, and things get muddy.  Told in the first person, Jillian seems at first justifiable confused and disbelieving, but despite her quick realization that Declan’s serum mostly just killed off his ability to think and feel for himself,  she has blind trust in the very people who turned him into a drugged robot.  I had a real problem buying that bit and it wasn’t improved by painfully obvious lies the scientists spun Jill, nor her lack of suspicion as to their true intent.  Declan too had ‘blind faith’, and frankly, the actions of the scientists were so obvious that you have to question how he went so many years in unquestioning obedience.

The story picks up again when Declan and Jill escape the compound when a scientific assistant warns them about what’s really happening.  They fall victim to the blood servants of the vampire king and become his captives.  Once again, Jill buys the story she’s spun, though this time it is true.  But there’s a vampire uprising against Matthias, the king.  Now the vampire, Declan – who must somehow contain his hate of Matthias, and Jill must run again, but this time to save the female child of Matthias and human blood servant that went to the vampire hunters and was betrayed by them once she gave birth.

Despite the mostly glowing reviews on Amazon, Nightshade was just an average read with a really good beginning, a boring middle, OK ending and two lead characters that could have been so much more and one character, Matthias, who deserved a bigger role.  I didn’t care for whole ‘depression’ part, or the use of attempted suicide the way it was done here.  The chemical castration bit annoyed the crap out of me.  To be honest, neither lead character was especially likable, interesting, or original and I found the wasted potential frustrating.  Parts of the plot were more annoying than interesting and the supposed twists at the end were no surprise.  While a quick easy read, I found it only moderately interesting.  I know this book was a departure from her usual style, but is simply no match for quality UF.

Is Nightshade worth $7.99.  Not to me.  Try to find a used copy or borrow it.

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  • Title: The Iron Duke (A Novel of the Iron Seas)
  • Author:  Meljean Brooks
  • Type:  Steampunk Paranormal
  • Genre:  Romantic suspense; Murder and revolution plots mixed with romance and clever technology
  • Sub-genre:  Anti-hero attracted to ‘unsuitable’ heroine while chasing bad guys trying to bring down the king
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 90,000 words for $8.50-10.50 on sale; list $15.00
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

This Steampunk novel was a surprising read.  The Iron Duke read like a quirky romantic suspense book in its blending of romance, suspense, and action.  Mina Wentworth is the product of an aristocratic mother and a ‘horde’ father conceived during mandatory attendance at a horde party where they induced a frenzy.  Many half breed children exist in recently horde free England.  But those who didn’t flee in the invaders still have the ‘bugs’ in their blood – nanos that can be used to free or freeze them so the hordes could control their conquered lands.  A broadcast signal can freeze a whole army of ‘buggars’ – the term for those infected with nanos.

Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is at a social event when she’s called out over a reported death.  The death is on the estate of none other than Rhys Thrahaern, the Iron Duke himself, England’s hero and the man who drove the hordes (Mongol army) from the country.  Mina is knee deep in a political and social nightmare, but she’s up to the task and investigates the death using the most modern police methods.  Rhys Thrahaern didn’t get where he is without being damn tough.  He didn’t call the police, a servant did, so her welcome is less than gracious.  Mina is made of stern stuff and proceeds with her investigation – with the meddling, or ‘assistance’ of the duke.  The conclusion about how the man died is almost as shocking as who the man is.  Suddenly, Mina finds she and the duke have their feet set on the same path to find out what happened.  When a second murder of a very high level friend of the duke and the father of the murdered man occurs while Mina and the other ‘buggars’ are frozen, Rhys is enraged.  He also wasn’t paralyzed by the signal.

Rhy Trahaern is a mysterious figure in England.  A pirate turned national hero, he has a title and great wealth, but isn’t fully accepted in society.  With the aristocracy and ordinary people that fled England returning and demanding the turn of their titles and lands, the country is far from harmonious.  The impoverished aristocracy, like Mina’s family, stayed and are now looked down on as ‘buggars’.  Too soon those who return learn that staying in smoke clogged London means getting the nanos, otherwise they get sick breathing the smog laden air.  To them, Rhys is little better than a criminal.  In this complex social setting combined with a fascinating society that uses a lot of technology makes for an often mind-bending story.  The the treachery and romance that form the two core elements at the heart of the story play out in a kaleidoscope of intertwined characters and events.

Though the steampunk elements occasional were more distracting than interesting, overall, this book was just a really good read.  The zombies were really creepy, but I would have been happy without that.  The writing smooth and both Rhys and Mina were well developed, three dimensional characters.  The complexity of the ‘world building’ was a bit overwhelming at times, threatening to distract from the story line as Ms Brooks elaborates on technology.  The past of both lead characters was another drawback for me.  Yes, it adds some elements to the story, but I remain ambivalent about certain issues and how they are resolved or not.

Is The Iron Duke worth $10+ price?  Yes.  You certainly get your money’s worth.  A long trade sized paperback with a solid, complex tale.  I can’t quite see it as ‘romance’ but could settle for ‘romantic suspense’ and a secondary category.  Worthy read.

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