Midnight Blade and Soul Siphon
A Soul Stone's Story
T. L. Branson
Self-Pub, Dec & Sep 2017
Kindle, 72, 23Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Fantasy
Source Author

Other books in this series 

Kingsbane (short), Soul Render (novel) neither is available yet

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Midnight Blade is the story of Davion Callum's mission to Sunbury as an assassin for King Rommel and how he became the sworn follower of his target, Prince Alexander Drygo.  

Soul Siphon is the story King Rommel of Havan's attack on Sunbury and King Alexander's defense using his army and his magic. This happens just as his wife has been sick and to save her he has transferred her soul into a black diamond. Now he needs the Soul Render to save her.

I understand that Kingsbane actually occurs between these two. Soul Render the novel follows after all of these.
Technical Tidbits...  
The cover of Midnight Blade looked very contemporary and just not right to go with the story.

The cover of Soul Siphon was actually perfect for that book since it was all about the attack by the Havan army.

The storyline in each was okay. I thought the one in Soul Siphon felt a bit like an introduction to a series, like a prequel. Midnight Blade felt like it should be part of a novel. Yes, it does stand alone, but it really could be part of a novel easily. And yet, Midnight Blade is the earlier one.


The characters are relatively shallow. Even Davion Callum, the primary character in Midnight Blade, is fairly shallow. We know what he did and said, but we really don't know much about him, what he feels, until the end when he swears his loyalty to the prince.


The pace was fast in both books. There was no time for sitting around flirting with pretty girls, though they tried.


The tension was right there from the beginning and stayed with you all the way to the end. It didn't taper off either. It kept you on your toes to the point that you were ready for the next book right away.


The writing quality is very good. I think the author should stop writing short stories about the novel and just get on with the novel.


And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


Enough short stories, sit down and write the book already. There comes a time when you just have to do it. Now might be a good time to do it with a third prequel due out shortly. You just might run out of story before you get to the novel.

I like to have juicy, three-dimensional characters. These characters are short of juice and dimension. We just don't know enough about them, about their lives. They need personalities, quirks. So far they are all sort of flat, a little like paper dolls. The search for his parents had been going on his whole life, and yet Callum really didn't react much when his suspicions about Rommel as his father were confirmed by the Prince. At least when the black diamond was taken from King Alexander, he reacted with a frantic response. They really need to show more emotion, more response to things that happen or are said. Princess Chelsea seems to be the only one free with her emotions whether it's rebelling against her father or weeping on Davion's shoulder.

I understand that Kingsbane will explain a bit more of the magic system that the King uses in Soul Siphon. I had thought at first that it seemed random. The King used it to drain a soul from one person. Another time he used it to bolster the courage of his personal guard by pouring his magic into them. Another time he helped one of the guard shoot further in the same way. I understand that it is a kind of tether between the magic user and the other person that acts as a conduit and that the magic can make the soul or life force go either way, to or from the magic user. So, I guess, explained in that way, it isn't random. The magic user determines who he interacts with and which way the magic flows. I'm curious about the origin of the magic and how Alexander ended up with it. And if anyone else has it.

Did Davion and Chelsea end up together? Is the wife Alexander is so worried about in the black diamond Evangeline? Does he get her out and does he save her? Why did Sunbury think that King Rommel was dead? Prove to me that you haven't run out of story and that this is just the beginning.

Recommended.

849 wc
Demon's Fever
Hell Unleashed, #1
T.F. Walsh
Self-Pub, Jun 2017
Kindle, 181 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Paranormal Romance
Source Author's newsletter

Other books in this series 

Demon's Mark #2

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Cary Stone's father disappeared a couple of years ago. She's out of a job and now she's out of an apartment. She's a half-breed demon, but she's a great demon hunter.

Levi Walker is a kick-ass demon hunter trying to catch the demon who killed a friend. He offers Cary a place to stay and tries to help her get a job.


Will the attraction between them mess up their demon hunt and leave them both jobless?  


Technical Tidbits...  

The cover is certainly eye-catching and Levi is definitely a part of the story so we can say it relates. 

The storyline is good. Damsel in distress helped out by tough guy. Tough guy and gal come together. One of them messes up and they split.


The characters are done pretty well. We know a lot about Cary. We know most of Levi's stuff, too, I think. The secondary characters aren't in focus too much, like Brent Moore, Tasha, and Jack. They may stay peripherals or they may become more important. 


The pace was pretty fast. Things just kept happening.


The tension just kept building up. This gal didn't get much of a break from the beginning. It all starts with her father disappearing. Did he leave for her protection or was he taken? She's not sure.


And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰⭒


There was definitely a feeling that Brent Moore was testing Cary harder than she tested the guys and yet Levi was remembering his own testing and how tough it was. It seemed like his was just as tough in relation to him. So I don't understand the slant on the testing ahead of time. Though having your second testing the day after you get your bandages off following eye surgery is a bit much. It's amazing she still had eyes after that.


Levi is quite the character. First, he's the helpful guy who's giving her a place to stay and really trying to keep his hands off her. Not take advantage of her. Then he's the super lover once she gives the go-ahead. Thoughtful, too. The whole time he was chasing down that Corvette, he was thinking about Cary still sitting in that restaurant. Thinking she would be okay. He thought over and over about her. Just before he took another turn after the Corvette. Then, when she needs a demon stone to get the job she's been testing for, he takes the stone for his own needs.


So, why does Brent Moore still give Cary the job when she doesn't have the stone? He's a really shady character. He seems to be waffling on what she has to do to get a job with him from the beginning. He changes the terms of his bargain with Levi, too. I just don't trust him. I'm interested in seeing if he gets worse in the next book. To see if he becomes a problem or not.


Recommended.


589 wc
Soul Survivor
Spirit Shield Saga, #0 Prequel
Susan Faw
Self-Pub, Aug 2016
Kindle, 102 Pages
Also available in paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Fantasy/Mythology
Source Author's newsletter

Other books in this series 

Seer of Souls #1, Soul Sanctuary #2, Soul Sacrifice #3

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

While King Caerwyn has been worried about the Primordials outside his castle gates, it's really his siblings he should have been keeping a close eye on.

Alfreda would do anything to support Caerwyn. And the people love their queen. Artio has chosen a human to share her immortal life with. The ritual will require they use the full power of the moon tonight. Helga has been making plans to send them all into eternity and have all the rewards for herself. She's tired of always getting the dead people.

Hud is just the King's body servant. His son, Mordecai, holds the Box of Balance. Can they carry out the King's orders?

How long does an Immortal live?    

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is both eye-catching and relevant to the story. Yay!

The storyline is pretty simple for all the twisting of the characters.


The characters are all quite shallow, but we don't need to get to know them for this plot. This would be a better play than a book.


The pace was choppy.


The tension was pretty good. You just kept yourself braced for whatever these nasty little godlings might come up with next.


And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


Initially, the King seems like a pretty grand personage, but then his sister Alfreda shows up and is so small, graceful, and glamorous that Caerwyn looks like a clod beside her. He feels like one, too. Then he takes off to deal with the little godling siblings and you're supposed to think of him as a great warrior again? No. That whole business with comparing the two older siblings sort of wore the shine off Caerwyn and I didn't have the same sort of confidence in him as I did in the beginning. I think that was a mistake. The comparison should have been to make him seem bigger and stronger rather than a clod. In spite of that comparison, I did like the relationship between the two. I would have liked to see more of their interactions, but the characters were so shallow that there wasn't much of that sort of thing.

There wasn't much interplay between Caerwyn and Hud, either. And Hud is the one he hands it all to later on. You'd think that their relationship would have been shown to be a bit warmer or closer. Were we supposed to assume a closer relationship because the King knew about his son? All of a sudden, the silent servant is full of gab and sharing his life story with the King? I felt their relationship really needed more support for what happens later. Not any long conversation, but sort of a few words here and there tossed between them like an ongoing communication between two people on the same wavelength. Then what happened later would have made more sense. Some indication that they were close in some way other than Hud gets Caerwyn into his clothes and armor each day and takes him out of them each night. A distant servant relationship.

I still can't figure out what Calleigh, Genii's mother was up to. First, she's helping Artio and Genii to cast the spells and such for their ritual to bind his soul to Artio's and make him as close to an Immortal as possible. Second, she's helping Helga do her nasty stuff. Whose side is Calleigh on? Then she tells Caerwyn what's happening, basically. They all rush nicely into Helga's traps. And they all have to stand there and listen while Helga cackles about how smart and superior she was than they were. How now she's going to have her piece of the world.

I would have loved to have seen the scene on a movie screen of Caerwyn bestowing his powers on Hud and then the responsibility on Mordecai. Then their leave-taking. I think that is well-done. All the way to the end. The ending is what hooks you into wanting to read the series. Mordecai is such an enchanting little character that he draws you in and it's almost as if he's motioning you to follow him for the next adventure.

I don't like short books. I don't like prequels. This is only 102 pages. But I recommend it and suggest you try the next book based on what I read here. I will probably read the next one, too. Mordecai thinks I should.

841 wc  


The Story of Arthur Trulov
Elizabeth Berg
Random House, 

Release date Nov 21, 2017
Kindle, 240 Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Women's Lit
Source NetGalley

Other books by this author 

Open House, Talk Before Sleep, The Year of Pleasures, Durable Goods, Joy School

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Nora has been dead for six months and is buried in the town cemetery. Arthur Moses travels across town to the cemetery every day to have lunch with her.

Maddy Harris is a girl who is about to become a young woman without having had a childhood. Her mother died shortly after she was born. Her father shut himself off from her. 

Lucille is Arthur's next-door neighbor. She loves to cook and bake and talk. She has just gotten a letter from the love of her life who married another woman back then.

This is the story of what happens when these three people meet and life does what life does.

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is absolutely wonderful! Not only is it appealing and what made me want to read the book, but it totally relates to the story and is a great metaphor for Arthur himself.

The storyline is simple and sweet.

The characters are the whole story.

The pace is the pace of life itself.

The tension is the same as waking up each morning and not knowing what will happen that day.

The quality of the writing is magical. Ms. Berg creates a slice of everyday life and invites us to share it. This little corner of Americana. This is happening on a daily basis somewhere in our world, it just may not be playing out quite this way. Three people collide and life happens. In this case, magic happens because of the love of one of them.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰✰


O...M...G! This is really magic! The reason I called the cover art a metaphor for Arthur is because Arthur has so much love inside him that he tries to take care of everyone. He tries to shelter Maddie and Lucille. He tries to shelter Gordon, the cat. His talking with the spirits in the cemetery is his way of sheltering them, too. He has so much to give that he does it without thinking about it. It's his automatic response. So that little scene where he shares his umbrella with Maddie at the bus stop is a perfect metaphor for Arthur Moses.

It's amazing the amount of life in these 240 pages. We have a young woman sneaking out to give her sleazebag older boyfriend a blowjob just to get his attention. The same young woman running away from home now pregnant with the sleazebag's child. She, of course, has had a lousy childhood due to a dead mother and a distant father. Then we have a fluffy old lady who cooks, bakes, and gossips. Then she takes up with the guy who got away until he dies. Then she grieves so hard so can't take care of herself. And that's without Arthur!

If we add in Arthur, we have so much more. Do we say Arthur is senile because he speaks with the spirits of dead people in the cemetery? Or is he a medium? How do we explain the fact that he can see into the past lives of those spirits and know how they lived before they died or how they died? Or exactly what they looked like and what they wore when they were buried? And whether or not they were happy with that? 

Who or what is Arthur Moses? Is he a special spirit sent to spread love in this world and into the afterlife? He certainly seems to do that. The only person he seems to not care for is Maddie's sleazebag, but he threatens him in defense of Maddie. When Maddie is prepared to move out because Lucille is going to move in, Arthur convinces her that having Lucille there will be a good thing so that Maddie will stay. When Lucille isn't too sure about continuing her cooking school because her students might disrupt Arthur's home, he tells her he'll be thrilled to have them in his home. He tries to take care of everyone so that they are happy.

And in turn, everyone wants to take care of Arthur. And Arthur needs caring for because he is getting older and doesn't really pay any attention to taking care of himself. So when it came his time to die, he had people around him to take care of him who loved him.

Highly Recommended.

837 wc
Gathering Storm
Order of the Anakim, #1
Cecily Magnon
12 Angels Publishing, May 2014
Kindle, 286 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Paranormal Fantasy & Romance
Source Purchased at Current Price

Other books in this series 

Prelude to a Storm Prequel, Dark Skies #2, Tempest Dawn #3

My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am
not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Sarah, Elysa's mother, has disappeared. Elysa is slowly learning the secrets Sarah kept to protect her. She connects with the Guardians and Jarron becomes her trainer. And more.

Elysa must figure out all the secrets about herself now as spirit guides are teaching her new skills and there are demons coming at them fast and furious.

Can Elysa make the decision that will kill a part of herself? 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is attractive, but not terribly inviting. It's very harsh and doesn't relate to the story at all. All of the books have that symbol, but I don't see any relation to the books.

The storyline is really good. The author has created a wonderful story, almost a coming-of-age tale, of a young woman who must now do it on her own against incredible odds. 


The characters were not introduced to us in this book very well. The only character we really had much background on was Elysa, Ellie. I would have like a whole lot more on Jarron, the High Guardian and her trainer and lover. Also, I think we could have used more information on Anya the Oracle, Sirius the computer geek, Caleb and Gina, Isabel, Maya, and Markus. They were all part of the Guardian organization. They were the people she was working with and we really didn't know them very well. I would have to figure they will be better introduced as needed in future books OR that some of them were introduced in the prequel. Though, probably not. I'm going on the assumption that the prequel is about Elysa's life before her mother disappeared and then right afterward.  


The pace is almost flat out. There were some areas I reread just to make sure that I wasn't missing anything because things happened so fast at times. These folks didn't get a break. Well, yes, they did get a break to take a shower in Jarron's bathroom. His shower has 5 shower heads and 2 columns of listings for shower settings. The author didn't actually say, but it is big enough for two. Use your imagination.


The tension was one tightly pulled string from start to finish with an occasional extra pull just to be sure you were still up on those toes.


And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...
The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


There is a really great story here. Ellie is looking for her mother, who has disappeared and is looking for more information on herself as well. The Guardians are helping her learn more about herself, but they really want to use her. Her spirit guardians are trying to make sure that she gets what she needs out of this all before she gets hurt so that she can do what she needs to do for them.

There was so much more I wanted from this book! Especially now that I'm looking back and trying to write this review from my notes. I see more and more what I want to know. Not knowing if any of it was in the Prelude or will be in Dark Skies, I can only say I want it and it wasn't in Gathering Storm.

I want to know more about Ellie's family before the disappearance, which has to be in Prelude so I won't belabor that too much. Her grandparents are fascinating. I would really like to hear their story. And her father? Where has he gone?

Of the Guardian group, Isabel is in charge so I think knowing more about her would be nice. Josh, Caleb, and Gina seem to be more than wallflowers. Knowing a little about them might be helpful, too. Sirius is the computer geek. That's the extent of his dossier. A bit slim, I think. But Anya the Oracle is fun, she has a sense of humor and is very open with Ellie. She is a major character in the organization and in the book in a way. She really needs a background story, but we know nothing about her. Most of these people we don't even know what they look like from head to toe. Or any idiosyncracies about them to distinguish them.

And then we really could use some more personal information about the man who is both trainer and lover. Jarron is only a two-dimensional character really. Yes, he's pretty three dimensional as he makes love to her. But we don't really have much of a background on him. The man with the luxurious bathroom in his cabin and we don't know much about him. Hmmm.

And I just have to say something about the most horrifying, gripping scene in the book. I felt so badly for Ellie. Nothing could make me feel better. Nothing could compensate me for having to do that. I think I would probably turn the gun on myself next if I ever had to make a decision like she did. Even with her mother's voice begging her to do it. The writing quality of that scene was superb. It held me there feeling as if I were watching it in real life. I had tears running down my face and I was so involved with what was happening I couldn't even reach for a tissue to dry them.

Recommended.

990 wc



Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters
Offbeat Crimes, #1
Angel Martinez
Pride Publishing, Aug 2016
Kindle, 112 Pages
Only in Digital format
Genre(s) Cozy Mystery, LBGT Romance
Source purchased at current price

Other books in this series 

The Pill Bugs of Time #2, Skim Blood and Savage Verse #3, Feral Dust Bunnies #4, Jackalopes and Woofen-Poofs #5

My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

This is an introduction to the 77th Precinct. All the other police areas are called Districts, but the 77th is a precinct. That's not the only difference. The 77th is made up of officers and detectives who all have misfunctioning magical powers. And they're all just a little bit touchy about it at times, especially Vance Virago the firestarter. If the coffee pot is empty, don't say a word. Larry takes care of it and his feelings really get hurt if anyone else interferes. Larry's the ghost of a cop. The LT in charge of the precinct is usually pretty cool about things. She's the anti-priestess of an elder god. It's only a problem if you need her when she's making an offering to the god.

Kyle Monroe is just starting to feel a part of the precinct since his transfer following a run-in with a gelatinous cloud that changed his magical make-up. Now to throw him off balance is new boy-on-the-block, Vikash Soren. Tall, physically perfect and reserved. And his new partner.

Can they find the chance to build a relationship and still catch the monsters?  


Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is pretty at first glance with that lovely silver surrounding that fabulous male figure. Then you look into that silvery cloud and you see the monsters!

The storyline is simple with a lot of embellishments along the way.

The characters are introduced to give us a baseline for the precinct in this book, the first of the series. Kyle Monroe and Vikash Soren are much more developed due to the fact that they are the two individuals involved in the relationship and with the crime. They are the main characters in this book.

The pace was pretty good. Everything seemed to move right along.

The tension dropped in on you in the first few pages and held on until the end.

This is the sort of story that requires an author with superior writing skills.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


As usual, I came across this series at #4. So, I immediately bought and read book one so I would know the back story. Book one does an excellent job of being an introductory book. It explains the precinct and its weird characters so that you have the basis to go forward with the other stories and understand what's going on. You've got a vampire that can't drink blood from a human. He has to have some stuff from a bag. Vance can't control his fire-starting when he gets angry. When anyone gets near Kyle he absorbs their magic and makes it enhanced in some way. With Vance's fire-starting, he creates huge fires, and Vance always gets blamed for not being careful around Kyle!

As for the actual story, there wasn't much to the crime part of it. There was an ugly monster-like giant turtle killing people along the river walk. Who knows why, we never got into that. Mr. Jacket (the leather jacket without a body) helped them track it down initially. Vikash was trying to save Kyle from the monster and he used his magic. Kyle enhanced it and made the monster explode. Mr. Jacket seems to be missing after everyone is released from the hospital.

The relationship was more than half the story, I think. The two men, Kyle and Vikash, do a lot of talking and teasing and then they have sex. The next time Kyle wants to get together he says he's got beer and a movie at his place. Vikash says his cat is expecting him, bring the beer and movie to his place. Hooray for him! A man who understands you have to take care of your cat or you can't take care of a relationship with another person. And finally, the cat doesn't run and hide when Kyle walks in.

Overall, this looks like a quirky, fun series if you're into or okay with sex that's anything but vanilla. In fact, it looks like it may all be LGBT in this series. You may have to overlook a little vamp mixed in with human, or other things that go bump in the night.

Recommended.

Feral Dust Bunnies
Offbeat Crimes, #4
Angel Martinez
Pride Publishing, Jun 2017
Kindle, 169 Pages
Only in Digital format

Genre(s) Cozy Mystery, LBGT Romance
Source purchased at current price

My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

It started with some rats that looked like mummies. Then it was a mother cat, whose one surviving kitten gets to live with Wolf. And that's where ACO Jason Shen comes in. Jason is helping Wolf get all the things he needs for the kitten and teaching him how to take care of her. Wolf has trouble paying attention because he thinks Jason smells so good. He smells lickable, and Jason's okay with that.   

Finding the source of the evil that is attacking animals and people takes almost the whole squad this time after Vikash's Mom is attacked at a party. Erasmus is injured by the Dust Bunny entity and Carrington is almost done in by concern for his librarian. Jeff, Amanda, Greg, Wolf, Shira, and the rest of the crew are busy beating on gray appendages until Krisk appears with his unusual solution and then asks Vance to step in to finish it up.

Now can they locate the creator's base and destroy it before more any more dust bunnies are monsterized?

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is that beautiful light purple color surrounding another gorgeous male figure. This time in the color cloud we have the rats that end up mummified and Audacity, the kitten that gets saved.

The storyline again is two-part. The mystery is simple enough with an entity that needs to be found and destroyed. And the romance is straight-forward as well for an LGBT pairing. 

The characters are fleshed out well as they take the stage in the book. The ones we already know are left as is. It's the main characters in this story that are explained. There were a lot of the characters involved this time, too!

The pace was a bit crazy in this book. It seemed like the characters really didn't get a chance to rest between events.

The tension stayed pretty even from beginning to end with the pitch over the scene at the party and then again when Vikash explodes the circle.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


I loved the way Wolf's "mother" helped him so matter-of-factly understand things like human relationships and wedding invitations. Having been a wolf then cursed into a human didn't give him any chance to understand any of those things. She also gives him time and space to safely experience such things. He has no siblings, and it's so nice that Jason is willing to share his with him. He remembers wolf siblings and he's sad. But it's a bit different having human siblings. And Krisk, his partner is very patient with the gaps in his understanding and helps him when he can.

I find this whole group of misfits rather endearing. I've now read book one and book four. I'm going to go back and read books two and three and probably five. I may or may not review them. I'm reading them for myself and I don't always review my own reading. I just want to catch up on the rest of the group.

Recommended.

1426 wc



Tharaen
Immortal Highlander, #2
Hazel Hunter
Self-Pub, Oct 2017
Kindle, 364 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Time-Travel Romance
Source Author

Other books in this series 

Lachlan #1, Evander #3, Tormod #4

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Tharaen is the right-hand man and bodyguard of the chieftain of his immortal clan. Right now he's got his hands full with what the undead are planning.

LT Diana Burke has a cold-case to solve but she's fallen through a hole to find herself in medieval Scotland. She applies all her skills, but she's still caught snooping around the castle by the big man in charge of security, Tharaen.

They shoot sparks off each other, quite literally. Can they set aside their own feelings long enough to figure out what to do about the undead Romans? Will Tharaen survive Diana's solution?

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is absolutely yummy! Where does she get these lovely men? But this series is more than that. There is that larger than life font with the wonderful caps and serifs in gold. The use of the plaid, Celtic symbols, and the old buildings in the background with the stormy sky.

The storyline is the almost same as the first one, but with a different intent and it's told with different twists.

The characters from the first aren't embellished on, but the new characters are explained very nicely.

The pace is great. You just have a chance to catch your breath between crazy events before you're on to the next one. Sometimes it's a bigger breath than others.

The tension starts as soon as you realize she's looking for Kinley at the canyon and it stays with you until she agrees to marry him.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰✰


I really liked this new character, Diana Burke. For the longest time, I didn't realize she was so sick. I just figured she was a loner and a hard worker. She was cleaning up cold cases and Kinley's was today's cold case. Then like Alice, she was down the rabbit hole! And when she got to Scotland, she really fit right in, even better than Kinley did early on. She dressed like the guys, except on Sundays for Margaret, and was willing to learn things to fit in with their play and their work. She was already a large woman standing over 6', so she really did fit in well. Being a fit, athletic woman worked well for her, too. She wouldn't have fit into this role as well had she been a fashionista in heels and pencil skirts or a librarian in twin sets and cute flats or shy and retiring. She was just the type Tharaen needed to stand up to him and be his mate.

I started out not liking the druid, Bhaltair. Of course, that's how it was supposed to be. It seemed like he meant to hurt her somehow. It took the whole book to understand that he was more afraid of how she could hurt him that he wanted her to go. Bhaltair didn't want to think that Yana could have lied to him and hidden his own child from him. But finally, they both had family. Two lonely people who had never had any family now had this one other person to claim as their own. This was a big thing for both of them. And I think Diana is just the person to melt through the armor that Bhaltair keeps around him with her honest and open personality. That will bring a closer relationship between the clan and the druids as well.

This was a good follow-up to the first book, but I'm hoping that the third book, Evander, is a bit different. The synopsis I've read seems like it might be. Then the fourth book, Tormod, looks like it's a lot different when two people come through and one makes it to the clan and the other one goes elsewhere. I wonder how many of these Ms. Hunter plans to write. It's a really good series, but I think it would have its limitations after a certain point.

Recommended.

754 wc
Updrift
The Mer Chronicles, #1
Errin Stevens
Self-Pub, Oct 2015
Kindle, 286 Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Fantasy, Mermaids/Sirens
Source Author

Other books in this series 

Breakwater #2 This book will be reviewed here on Dec. 15, 2017






My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Kate Sweeting and her mother, Cara have moved to Griffins Bay to start a new life. To try to leave behind the grief of losing Cara's husband. Cara runs the library and plants gardens and charms people. 

Kate becomes best friends with Gabriel Blake and his whole family by the sea. His is a family with lots of secrets. And as Kate and Gabe grow up their feelings mature. Finally, they get to spend enough time together in the water to find out what all the secrets mean for them.

But there is one who wants what they have and is not afraid to reach for it.  


Technical Tidbits...  
The cover has a bit of that dark and sinister feel to it that refers to what happens in the second half of the book. But it also has that great siren tail to tell us just what Gabe's family is in case we don't get it right away ourselves. And I love that fabulous script used for the title!

The storyline is really good. The whole first half introduces the families and sets up the HEA, then the second half is the crisis with the Prince.

The characters are well done with all the introduction in the beginning. Even the Prince, Peter and his mother, Kenna get good intros.

The pace is pretty good until you get to the part while Kate is held in the castle. It's so choppy there with Peter not seeming to know what he wants to do or what he should do.

The tension raises bit by bit in the first half each time Kate makes a fuss about not seeing Gabe and you realize how much time has passed. Then when you get into the second half of the book, the tension rises in leaps and bounds with the actions of the characters.

The writing quality is very good throughout the book. It is actually done in three parts, not two as I have been referring to it as. The middle part is the abduction itself.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰⭒


The author has a little trick that I'm not sure I like, but she uses it several times. She has something happen and then doesn't completely explain it until much, much later on. For instance, when Gabe gets Kate to slip off the boat at the very beginning and go swim with him, it's not until the epilogue that you get the full story of what happened to her during that swim and how she turned out to be exactly what Gabe needed her to be. The situation with Soley, Gabe's dog was the same way, just not as long a time. We got the story about his delivering the letter to his folks and a bit later we got the story of how Gabe got Soley. Even later we heard from Xanthe why he really needed Soley.

The situation with Aunt Dana and Uncle Will was a bit far-fetched, I thought. First, Uncle Will decides to kill himself and he leaves a suicide list for Dana and goes off to Griffins Bay to jump off the cliff. The merfolk in the area recognize him as being connected to the Blakes and run interference to keep him alive once he jumps. Alive and unaware. The Blakes get Dana and take her to Shaddox Island to rendezvous with Will. Xanthe guides Dana through a total reanalysis of their life, then she and Will are left to have unprotected sex for the weekend until Dana ends up pregnant and they agree to change their lives. Carmen had previously tossed Dana's pills out the window during the drive to the beach. Would you let someone interfere with your life like that? Would you think of doing that to someone? Yet Carmen and Michael think nothing of doing this to Dana and Will simply because they are related to Cara, who is married to John, one of the merfolk. Yes, it's great that they saved Will's life. But tossing out her pills, influencing them to change their way of life, and leaving them sort of tranced until Dana gets pregnant?

I love it when Gabe is cloaking in the palace as a guard and he senses Kate. She senses him. But neither of them can see the other because she's disguised and he's cloaking. They both have to go on trust. She trusts him so much that it fills the hole that Peter's shenanigans have caused. When Peter comes back, he senses that she's healed and whole and that his chances with her are gone. That's what leads to the confrontation with Gabe that ends with Peter's dissolution. When Kenna rushes to feel that last of his dust, she finally understands what she has done to him by raising him apart from her. I didn't even feel sorry for either of them at that point. They were both so cold that I didn't have any sympathy left.

There are some editing issues in this book with tiny words that are missing. This is something that I hope can be addressed at least in digital editions.

I highly recommend this book for reading or gift giving. How often does a book about merfolk come along? I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in this series, Breakwater. I'll be posting that review on December 15th. Just in time for Christmas gift giving!

1018 wc

Thirsty for Payback
Sinful Business, #1
Marie Astor
Self-Pub, May 2014
Kindle, 225 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) contemporary romance, office romance
Source Author's rep

Other books in this series 

Baiting Trouble #2

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Allyson "Ally" Roberts has just lost everything - her father, her fortune, and her fiance. Someday she's going to get even with the guy who took it all from her. 

She's offered an interview with the DOE and is immediately hired. She's now going into three months of tough covert training.

Jake Morrissey was the agency's top field agent until a young woman died. Now he's teaching new recruits. Can he teach Ally well enough to catch the one who's responsible for taking everything from her? 

Together, can they make him pay?   


Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is so great. It's that awesome, eye-catching blue! the legs of the couple on the elevator are guaranteed to catch the eye as well. She certainly has great legs.

The storyline is an old one with a new twist. Good job!

The characters are pretty well done. We really get to know Ally. A name I was heartily sick of very quickly. We didn't get to know Jake quite as well, I don't think. I love Delilah! She was a lovely element.

The pace was a bit choppy, I felt. There were times I felt we were racing along, and then we were just strolling. Really without reason. We jumped from the midst of their testing angst to Ally was already working for the agency with no transition.

The tension was greatly affected by the pacing such as I mentioned above. I was expecting something more about the testing or some sort of closure for their training portion and suddenly I was thrown into an office with Ally typing away peacefully. I was caught completely off stride. It was confusing and took me some time to transition. I actually looked back a page or two to see if I had skipped some pages.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰


As I said, I got really sick of Ally's name early on. Actually, by about the second chapter I'd had enough of it. For some reason, it just grated on my nerves, that little nickname. I would have rather called her Allyson. That Ally, Ally, Ally drove me nuts! It stopped sounding like a name.

The whole first part of the book was rather predictable but enjoyable. Wealthy girl planning what to wear to her engagement party and all of a sudden her father's company crashes for some reason. Father goes to prison where he later dies. Fiance's family distances themselves and then he does, too. Young woman left to find her own way in the world.

What wasn't so predictable was the interview by the DOE for intelligence gathering and sort of espionage. Who would think that the department of energy would be recruiting for that? Not me. Then when they got into the training, it sort of sounded like boot camp for the military until it came to sex ed. We didn't have sex ed that taught us how to, it was more how not to. With the Delilah character added in, I thought it was a great twist. Actually, I felt it could have gone further along those lines. But that's when everything started building up for test angst and then training was over. It was just too abrupt and without any closure for the training portion.

I love her first assignment. And Jake tries to talk her out of it! Ouch! Such a complete turnabout. It felt wrong, his basically turning against his controller. That whole bit there didn't feel right. But the assignment was great. I know it's not real, but they did it so well. She makes her connection and they set a date for dinner and an art show. She shows up and he does all his bragging once she sees the chip on his keychain. They take down the mark. I loved the way she worked her way through the whole evening keeping her cool and keeping her eyes open. Waiting to see what he was going to do and waiting to see what he would show her. And he finally showed her exactly what she needed to see. That was really well done.



Recommended.

790 wc
Staying at Daisy's
Jill Mansell
Sourcebook Landmark, Mar 2011
Kindle, 471 Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback
Genre(s) Women's Lit, Contemporary Romance
Source purchased at current price

My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


What it's about... 

Daisy runs the hotel owned by her father, Hector MacLean. And it's a regular soap opera at Daisy's and around the village as chambermaids almost stop weddings, old friends come to visit, and washing machines break down.

Will everyone find their "happily ever after"?


Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is a classic Jill Mansell look. The pretty colored pencil hand-drawn designs that are so feminine. Usually, there's one element that relates to the story and this time it's the dog. In our story, we have Clarissa and Clive.

The storyline is really good. It's typical Mansell, toss-it-all-in-the-pot-and-stir type of story.  

The characters are a mixed bag. Some we get to know really well and others are sort of two dimensional, but that's all they need to be.

The pace is good. Mansell keeps you moving from one thing to the next. You don't have time to be bored.

The tension is changeable in this sort of story, but that's to be expected. It all depends on what's happening. Is it time for the two lovers to run for the summerhouse or is it time for the two old friends to talk about his vacation over a couple glasses of wine?

The superb quality of the writing is one thing you will always find in a Jill Mansell novel. She creates these works of art with words and as you work your way through them you can't help but be amazed. You and I can use those same words, but for some reason, they don't have the same effect. Ms. Mansell uses words as an artist uses paint or pastels. She creates a masterpiece that comes to life for our enjoyment.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰⭒


Daisy is eyeing Dev from the very beginning. So I really didn't think that Tara had a chance with him. But then, I didn't think she was seriously trying for him when they had their run in. The bra incident was purely accidental. The button popped with the towels she was carrying. So no surprise that Dev moves in on Daisy later on when he "needs" help choosing a dog. It was too funny that this oh-so-masculine guy, out to impress her lets her talk him into this little dog called Clarissa when what he thinks he wants is something large and masculine like a great dane or shepherd. And Clarissa has lots of personality, of course. Dev becomes enslaved by her, catering to her every whim. And Daisy comes to love the little dog so much that she ends up wanting one of her own. When Dev finally gets his information straight and comes back to knock on Daisy's door, she has Clive. So Dev and Daisy and Clarissa and Clive all get their HEA!

The relationship that came out of the blue for me was the one between Josh and Tara. He was trying to have a full-blown relationship with Daisy because he had always hoped it could happen but didn't think she really felt that way about him. So then he claims he's always had feelings for Tara as well. It seemed to come out of nowhere for Tara as well. She can fall in love in a heartbeat, so she's all set. But Daisy'll need to advertise for a new chambermaid since Josh and Tara are now off to Miami for his new job. But Josh and Tara got their HEA!

The funniest situation in the book was Maggie's washing machine. Sorry, Maggie. I know you did a lot of washing by hand while your machine was down. Let's back up here a bit and tell Maggie's story properly. Because she really has some grievances here. First of all, she's having sex-for-pay with Hector because they each think that's the only way the other will agree to it. But life keeps getting in the way of that secret arrangement. And while the extra money is nice, she'd just rather have the sex and Hector without the money or secrecy.

Lately, Hector's been busy with Paula Penhaligon, a guest at the hotel. Flaunting their relationship around town and London. And Maggie feels hurt and neglected. With her new washing machine broken, she's been busy doing a lot of hand wash. She's had several repairmen come and several wrong parts ordered. Now she has a repairman who seems to think that she's entitled to something more than what the company is doing, which is basically ignoring her. So they cook up a hostage scheme and call in the press to cover it! Maggie finally gets her new washing machine. In fact, she gets the top-of-the-line washing machine. Then Hector shows up and puts their relationship on a personal rather than professional basis. So Maggie and Hector get their HEA! And Paula Penhaligon gets dumped. 

Another couple that has to work on their relationship is Barney and Melanie. Barney has to wait for a kidney and live through the surgery. Melanie has to survive the car crash and have her child. Then she has to be brave enough to stand up for her new relationship in spite of her old one. Her old relationship just happened to be with Daisy's late husband, Steven, who died in the car crash. Melanie's son is Steven's child. So to have Steven's girlfriend and child living with the young man who has Steven's kidney in her village is awkward for Daisy and brings up bad feelings at first. But Daisy stretches her arms out to catch the baby when the cottage is on fire and Mel and Freddie are in danger. That becomes a turning point for Daisy and Mel that helps bring peace for them. So Barney, Mel, and Freddie get their HEA. 

A couple not getting an HEA? Well, that would have to be Jeannie and Dominic. But they deserve each other.

1074 wc