Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Born of Stone

Author: Missy Jane
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-023-2
Genre: {M/F} Urban Fantasy Series Recommended Read
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx
Release Date: 05-27-2014

Orestes and his twelve gargoyle brothers were magically created by the King’s wizards to protect the realm and its people and for seventy years, he has served them well. He has little contact with the human inhabitants of the kingdom, but that changes the night a petite serving woman catches Orestes’s eye. It’s obvious Astrid’s frightened but Orestes doesn’t know why. When he learns the castle overseer has beaten her, he and his brothers are furious. He takes Astrid to his room to care for her injuries and then makes love to her.

Despite her attachment, Astrid believes her new liaison with Orestes is temporary.  When he’s called away for a few days, evil enters the castle and she’s kidnapped by a traitor. Their bond is much stronger than either realizes. Can Orestes find Astrid before it’s too late?

Born of Stone is the first release in the new series by Missy Jane, Gargoyle Masters.

Wow. I’m always cautious with an unfamiliar author but when I discovered gargoyles were the paranormal shifters featured here, I knew I had to read it. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect from Ms. Jane’s writing when I started, but I’m happy to report she exceeded my expectations. The premise is intriguing, the pace steady, and the plot complicated which kept my interest until the end. It’s also filled with interesting secondary characters and the world building is, in my opinion, top-notch. The descriptions are vivid, pulling you into the story immediately, and the details of the life and culture of the time period really brought Born of Stone alive. Even the villain of the story is interesting. And yes, the problem with him is resolved a little abruptly but you can tell by the ending that this guy isn’t finished causing trouble, and I can’t wait to see what he does in the next release. So yes, look for an ongoing story line in this series. 

Now to Orestes. What we’ve learned about him, his brothers, and their creation is an interestingly different slant on how gargoyles are usually handled in paranormal romances. It’s a definite creative flair I really enjoyed and all the little surprises really added to the overall reading enjoyment. Orestes’s also just an intriguing guy in his own right—and I like him. Add in downtrodden Astrid, and their new and growing relationship and you have a story I couldn’t stop reading. I for one can’t wait for the next release in this well written and entertaining series. Watch for it. I will be.

Love of the Wild

Author: Susan Laine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press 
ISBN:  978-1-62798-508-6
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Jim Faulkner never dreamed his werewolf research would lead him into discovering a mate.  Nevertheless, Jim’s true mate Dakotah is determined to maintain a solitary life in the wild. 

Love of the Wild is the fifth book in the Lifting the Veil series. The central theme of the series is two parallel worlds co-existing for centuries until the barriers were torn away, revealing a paranormal world to humans. Each book in the series can be read as a stand alone manuscript.

Love of the Wild features an intriguing plot of a different type of werewolves.  Progenitors are the powerful immortal rulers in the werewolf hierarchy.  The characters are out of the ordinary. Jim is an intelligent man in his forties who enjoys adventures. He has a congenial personality with an unassuming self esteem. Jim writes travel books and nature articles for magazines. However, Jim’s thrill seeking days have slowed down over the years. Jim took the werewolf assignment in an attempt to contend with the younger men in his career field.

Dak first appears to have a hostile personality but he uses solitude as a defense to avoid heartbreak. He is however, the compassionate strong silent type. Dak knows immediately that Jim is his mate although only the possibility of permanently losing Jim to another spurs Dak into making amends with his mate.

Susan Laine has created an amazing romance that I enjoyed immensely. I especially enjoyed the amusing character interaction in Love of the Wild.

Reaper’s Dark Kiss

Author:  Ryssa Edwards
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Publisher URL:  www.loose-id.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-62300-647-1
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal
Rating:  5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Because of Sky’s blood, which is type A sub D or red gold, she ends up living in the wrong place.  Julian realizes she is his mate, and will do anything to protect her.  Protecting her by making her his mate could cause a war among the different vampire factions.

Reaper’s Dark Kiss has a different take on vampires, and how they came to be, that is so different from anything I have read. This includes the Furies and Angels. Though the book started a little slow, it kept getting more interesting and I ended up reading this book in one day as I could not put it down.

Sky is trying to report on a serial killer as part of her job, but gets sidetracked by Julian.  They have chemistry, but Julian wants to make sure she gets to know him before she has to make a decision about staying with him.  Julian, who is a Reaper, is also constrained by laws among his people and can’t fully claim her as his mate, yet.

Brothers forged by war and banishment, several are at odds, including one that wants Sky as a blood-slave.  Other characters try to help and hinder both parties, and lots of maneuvering on everyone’s part brings conflict among the brothers.  I loved Marek, though he caused just as many problems, because he went out on a limb for Julian and Sky.

While this book is not a series yet, I do hope this author decides to do stories about these characters as I fell in love with most of them. This is also the first book I have read by Ms. Edwards, but I will be looking for others to read by her. 

Vampire Prince

Author: S.J. Frost
Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing
Publisher URL: www.ellorascave.com
ISBN: 9781419948602
Genre: {M/M} Vampire 
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Every night, blood slave Sebastian Beaumont along with the other slaves must endure the same ritual. Line up on display to be selected as a vampire’s evening meal. Until one night, vampire prince Valentin Wyndham chooses Sebastian. Suddenly Sebastian’s desire for freedom turns into a wish to be Valentin’s exclusive captive.

Vampire Prince is a captivating story of expressive compassionate characters as well as a poignant plot. The setting is Savannah, Georgia.

Sebastian has a strong-willed personality, which has assisted him in staying alive regardless of the physical and emotional abuse bestowed on him for years. Sebastian’s superior logic tells him that escape from the blood house is impossible, only death at the hands of his captors is to be expected. Nevertheless, Sebastian still yearns for a glimpse of sunshine before his demise.

Valentin has a volatile personality similar to Sebastian’s. The difference is Valentin has the power to bend his combatants to his will. Valentin has a strong aversion to bullies, pretenders along with deceitfulness. All of which can be found at the blood house. Born into nobility, Valentin continues to exhibit a sense of upper class traits in his style of apparel. However, Valentin is slowly becoming open to Sebastian’s fashion advice.

S.J. Frost has created a superb thoroughly enjoyable saga. All the elements of a captivating plot are illustrated. The storyline features villainous exploits, bigotry, humorous interactions between characters, sensual intimacy scenes as well as heart stirring dialog. 

Lovers of Her Dreams

Author:  Julia Talbot 
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN: 9781419949593
Genre:  {M/M/F}, Paranormal
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Tim and Ryder try to take things slow with Savannah so she can get the chance to know them.  The men pull Savannah into a dream and end up marking her as theirs, which brings things to a head.  Savannah is denying she is a feline shifter as well.

Lovers of Her Dreams brings two different shifters together with a dream walker.  While Tim and Ryder are lovers, they have been looking forward to making Savannah theirs.  Ryder realizes that Savannah also has to overcome her aversion to being a shifter due to her upbringing. 

The chemistry and scenes between the three are very intense, however, one scene between the three gets a little confusing as it is unclear who is actually saying or doing what.   It is also sometimes unclear whether the scene between them is a dream or not, so the reader needs to read carefully. 

I was laughing at a few of the antics that Ryder did, especially when he involved Tim and later Savannah.  It reminded me of a big kid sometimes.  The love between the men was so joyful, I almost wondered if Savannah wouldn’t feel sort of like a third wheel, but the way the author wrote the story; it was never awkward between the three.  That seemed a little unrealistic, except for the one time she was forced to confront herself about being a shifter. 

Lovers of Her Dreams is a fast paced romance showcasing the love between three people.

Calming a Demon Heart

Author: Charlie Richards
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-882-8
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Gargoyles aren’t real. That’s what Matthew Beakman always believed until he learns his brother Marty’s life has been saved by one and he’s romantically involved with another.  He’s thrilled Marty’s alive and wants to thank the gargoyle responsible but learns that the huge red gargoyle—Vane—doesn’t like humans.  Undaunted by the warning, Matthew follows Vane, determined to accomplish his self-appointed task. He’s attracted to the heavily-muscled male and is excited with the idea of meeting him. And when Vane presses him against the wall and growls, it makes his body tingle.

Calming a Demon Heart is the newest release in Charlie Richards’ A Paranormal’s Love series. Due to the recurring characters and ongoing storyline, the books should be read in order.

Gargoyles aren’t written about often, which is why I enjoy this series. They give a slightly different slant to what could be considered usual in the shifter genre and the variety is a nice change. There’s also the shock factor—gargoyles—something out myth, even more so than werewolves and vampires. It certainly makes the mating interesting. At least in this release Matthew’s a little ahead because he already knows they exist, which increases the pace of the storyline immediately.

I don’t know what to make of the Vane we meet in Calming a Demon Heart. Previously he’s all bad-ass, someone you don’t want to mess with. Here he’s so different—an uncertain, wounded individual, haunted by his past. It didn’t mesh with the Vane I already had in my head. It’s not that the descriptions here of what happened in his past aren’t well done, it’s putting the *two* Vane’s together I have trouble with. Matthew I thoroughly enjoyed. He’s experienced in life—in ways that Vane isn’t, so he can help his new mate move out into the world, making him comfortable.

Overall the pacing is good, I enjoyed the inclusion of numerous previous characters, there’s action, danger, and plenty of sizzling hot sex. The ending is in two parts and while pretty satisfying I wish we’d been able to see both portions. It’s here several new shifters species are added to the series and hopefully they’ll be possible mates in future books. Maybe we’ll see a little variety in who is mated.

An Endowed Valentine

Author:   Tianna Xander
Publisher:  eXtasy Books
Publisher URL:  www.extasybooks.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-77-000-883-5
Genre:  {M/F/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Mia thinks she has been stood up for her wedding on Valentine’s Day, unaware there are circumstances that prevent Vincent and Pierce from returning.

An Endowed Valentine is a fast paced story in The Endowed series.  Readers learn about part of the bonding among mates, including the fact that new mates can’t be apart for several months after mating.  I had to laugh at the reason and even the two days they were originally supposed to be gone would have been too long.

Mia is assigned to cover a mass wedding being held in the town where she works.  Mia runs into Pierce and Vincent while there.  She is surprised and not sure she wants to hear any explanations about why they did not show for their wedding.

More information could have been given about those reasons and more about who was behind it.  I would like to see more about this in future stories. 

Each story in this series can be read alone, though readers will enjoy them more if they read the entire series.

One Good Deed

Title: One Good Deed
Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 9781627985499
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

After suffering a tragic loss, Luka hopes to start his life over in America.  Once his plane lands, however, Luka finds out those things are not going to be as easy has he hoped.  Thankfully, one of the first people he met was Peter, who plans to help Luka any way he can. 

One Good Deed is a very good story by author Andrew Grey.  I found myself pulled into the story from the first page.  It is easy to understand Luka’s nervousness as he gets off the plane.  When he is picked up, not by his cousin but by a family friend, the news he receives almost sends him into a tailspin.  I felt bad for Luka and could understand the uncertainty he was feeling being in a strange place without the lifeline he was expecting. 

Like Luka, Peter also draws the reader’s attention.  From the beginning, the reader knows that something has happened in the man’s past.  When the events unfold, I was shocked, and unlike Peter and Luka, I would not have been as forgiving of his mother. 

Fans of the author know that he likes to make a connection between the main characters right from the start, so the chemistry between these two is strong.  I liked that Luka acknowledges that Peter must be handled gently and takes his time with the man.  When they do come together the heat between them is intense.  

There is a bit of a twist that I did not see coming and liked the way the author wrapped everything up.  Fans of this author are sure to enjoy this newest story and if you have not yet given Mr. Grey a try, then One Good Deed is a great place to start.  

Wolf at the Door

Author: N.J. Walters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-039-3
Genre: {M/F} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx
Release Date 04-15-2014

Gwendolyn Jones thinks her luck’s changed when she inherits property in the hills of Tennessee and moves into the cabin to pursue her dream of writing romance novels. She’s working on a free-lance paranormal piece and agrees to meet a contact in a local cemetery for a flash drive with information on werewolves. Afterward, her world falls apart when ‘real’ werewolves arrive at her door intent on taking it.

Jacque LaForge knows about the flash drive and how it could endanger all werewolves. He needs to get it from Gwen before his crazy former alpha/father gets involved.  On meeting, Jacque’s shocked to discover she’s his mate. When Gwen wrecks her car trying to get away, Jacque has to find a way to explain the dangerous world in which he lives and convince her to stay with him.

Wolf at the Door is the first release in the new paranormal series Salvation Pack by NJ Walters. Romances featuring werewolves are some of my favorites, so with an appealing blurb and an author I’m familiar with, I had to give this one a try.  

Gwen’s an interesting woman and I love her fearlessness of moving into an area of the country where she didn’t know anyone. She’s also a little flawed in her inability to make good decisions—like meeting a stranger in a dark cemetery—never a good idea. And Jacque, he’s kind, dependable and a responsible leader. Both these characters have nicely developed personalities and I feel like I know them pretty well but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t things I can learn about them as the series progresses.

With the unorthodox way Gwen and Jacque met I wasn’t certain the author had any chance of getting them together convincingly.  I admit I struggled for a large portion of the story with this premise. It bothered me **spoiler alert** that after being kidnapped and her life taken over Gwen fell for Jacque so easily. Yes, I know it’s a paranormal romance but it was just so fast. Even so, once I got past this, they make a nice couple and the adversities they and the other pack member face are done well. There’s lots of action and danger when dealing with Jacque’s father’s pack, the pace is smooth and there are enough twists to keep things interesting. 

There are questions left unanswered at the end of the story, which I assume will be addressed in the future as part of an ongoing story line. I’m curious as to which Salvation Pack member will meet his mate next. All these guys are unique individuals and I’d like to learn more about them, so it should be interesting. Look for it.

Might’s Karma

Author: Stephanie Hecht
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-873-6
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Not only does Might have to overcome the abuse he suffered at the hands of his former master, but he also has to make peace with the mistakes he has made since becoming a member of the Wayne County Pack.  Adan is not thrilled about returning to his old pack but continuing as a lone wolf is no longer an option.  He knew returning to the Wayne County Pack would mean a lot of changes but he did not expect finding a mate to be one of them.

Might’s Karma is the latest book in the Wayne County Wolves series.  Fans of this series may remember the introduction of several half breed shifters a few books back.  This newest story tells the tale of one of those shifters.  Might is an eagle shifter half breed who uses sex to cope with the abuse issues he faces.  As you would expect, this leaves him with a bad reputation that he finds hard to overcome.  The story’s other main character is Adan.  Adan is a former pack member who left the pack when he was a young boy to keep his family from the backlash his actions would bring.   The fact that both men are, for one reason or the other, outcasts draws them to each other. 

Ms. Hecht likes to have her characters feel an instant attraction to the other and that does not change in Might’s Karma.  However, regardless of that instant attraction, the couples usually have to overcome obstacles in order to find their happily ever after’s.  I liked that Adan was willing to take the time to know Might, which in turn allowed the younger man to realize that not all situations had to lead straight to sex.  

Might’s Karma is a great mix of romance, angst and laughter.  Even though the first scene with the scorpions was intense, and I felt bad for Adan, I could not help laughing. There is a mixture of old and new characters stepping up to help the two men out.  The new characters also brings many possibilities for new pairings and I am curious who the author will put together next.