Tigress by the Tail: Maxey Wizard #1

Tigress by the Tail
Teresa D'Amario
ebook, 190 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Tease Publishing
ISBN 9781934678343

Lance is a Wizard. He’s not a great wizard, but he’s all right. Descended from a long line of wizards, his brothers taunt him for being slow to learn. And as the youngest, it’s his due course to accept such teasing. Life is good, and normal. For a wizard that is.

Cassie is a Shifter. A tigress to be exact. Raised by her father after her mother’s death she’s as well adjusted as any shifter can be, and still live in the human world, hiding who and what she is.

Bliss comes to a screeching halt the night Satanists kidnap Cassie and her best friend to use as sacrifices to bring forth their Dark Lord. When Cassie literally collides into Lance, she begs him to help them escape their captors, despite the dangers. The couple work together to save the life of Cassie’s friend, only to discover a shocking passion driving them closer together at a time when both should be devastated. But when Lance overhears Cassie’s father threaten his life, he heads for the hills. Cassie follows, determined to clear up the confusion. But evil is still afoot and Cassie is taken by a secret government organization dedicated to the eradication of all things magick. Is Lance willing to put his life on the line for a woman he believes is out to kill him? Especially when he realizes the organization that’s taken her, is the one he works for?

It was the cover that gravitated me to this one, but upon reading I felt like I hit a wall straight off with this one. The structure of the writing, with it's quick, simple phrases completing full sentences, was likened to the sound of nails on a chalkboard in my head. Took me right back to the days of 'See Spot. See Spot run.' Me, I love some commas and my sentences broken so it was a struggle to just simply *read* this story. Go ahead, writers, you're not in middle school anymore, just let those sentences run.

Getting past that, the tale itself is quite good. First, shifter Cassie gets herself abducted by Satanists, then scientists, then finally gets herself shot with silver. Concurrently, wizard Lance gets his first under cover mission for the GSA, discovers the company he works for employs a number of sick bastards who are responsible for countless murders (including his own mother's), and falls for Cassie, who ends up being his True Mate.

Quite unexpected, and the thing that endeared me most to the story, was the promise Lance made to his mother on her deathbed. He swore he wouldn't sleep with the woman he intended to marry until he had bonded with her. So if the woman didn't mean enough to him to keep, what was the point in being with her at all? WHY the hell can't all men figure that out???? 3 out of 5 stars.


Mind Games: Guardian #2

Mind Games
Taylor Keating
Guardian, book two
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Tor Books
ISBN 9780765365484

River Weston thinks her problems are over. She managed to escape the virtual world of her video game—and the clutches of the Dark Lord who attempted to enslave her—with body and mind intact. But her return to the real world is anything but easy. Framed for monstrous crimes she didn’t commit, and hunted by members of a dark government agency, it is all she can do to stay one step ahead of her pursuers.

Guardian Chase Hawkins gained his freedom from the Dark Lord’s prison, but it came with a heavy price. Trapped in another man’s body, his soul slowly deteriorating, Hawk knows he must return to his world—and his body—before the damage is irreparable.

Racing against time, River and Hawk know that in order to have a future together, they must work to reveal the secrets hidden in River’s past.

Mind Games is the sequel to Game Over, my 366th read of 2010, and it picks up right where we left off. With River and Hawk's escape from the video game where a Dark Lord had taken over control, they now find themselves back in River's world and on the run from the authorities hunting River for murder. Hawk, meanwhile, has his own battles to fight. Stuck in Nick's body with a very much alive Nick (whose soul dwells in yet another body) fighting to take back what is his, Hawk must endure his dreams being hijacked and hallucinations during his conscious hours. Reliving River's relationship with the much hated Nick is wearing Hawk down and without sleep and his own body locked in stasis in his own world, Hawk's strength and sanity are fading fast.

River is still on task to free the trapped souls of her parents and by the end of the book she finds some sense of victory in that. And yet, time had run out and Hawk gets pulled back to his own body. Now, River is targeted by an entirely different enemy. One that now includes Hawk. Ooo, can't wait for book three! 3 out of 5 stars.

Previously in the series:

Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors

Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors
Robyn Bachar
ebook, 218 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 9781605049977

Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian-until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe...and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.

Years ago, Catherine broke a magic law. Despite the act being in self defense, her by-the-book guardian boyfriend, Lex, turned her in to the Council. Neither expected the harsh punishment of exile that was inflicted and their relationship ended there.

Now Lex is back, with news that the reigning Titania is dead and he wants Cat to take her place. There's only one other person contending for the job and that's Cat's father, Dorian.

Unpredictably is at the heart of this story. It really isn't possibly to even guess what's about to come next. With her own necromancer father as her mortal enemy, and faeries for cousins, former witch Cat has a very colorful life. When she decides to take on the challenge for Titania, it's battle after battle. And loved ones begin to die.

Getting Cat the title of Titania is only half the story. From there, things get even more complicated with a magic induced love triangle and it *so* made me long for the next Sagara book. Two men, both with good qualities and more than their fair share of faults. She and Lex share a past, and he's undeniably her soulmate despite his screw ups. Zach Harrison has ulterior motives but is well capable of promising and delivering on a multitude of dreams. *growls* And just like Nightshade, Zach steals way too many kisses. 4 out of 5 stars.


Promises in the Dark: Shadow Force #2

Promises in the Dark
Stephanie Tyler
Shadow Force, book two
ebook, 368 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Random House Publishing Group
ISBN 9780440339724

On the run, in each other’s arms, with one last chance to survive.

A rugged Navy SEAL, Zane Scott was part of a failed mission to rescue Dr. Olivia Strohm from abduction by the terrorist group Dead Man’s Hand—and her anguished screams have haunted him ever since. So when he gets word that the beautiful physician has escaped from her captors in Africa, he’s got personal reasons to storm the continent and save her.

Like her would-be liberator, Olivia carries the burden of a dark secret from her past. Ruthless and relentless, the DMH has threatened to hunt her down—and to systematically hurt anyone she’s close to. The last thing she wants is to be rescued—even by someone as shockingly handsome as Zane. Yet the hotheaded special ops hero has come for her, and together she and Zane just might have a shot at not only stopping DMH’s reign of terror, but also saving what’s left of their souls.

Admittedly, I don't recall much from book one, save for that I enjoyed the hell out of it. Certainly have no memory of Zane or Cael but because this story seems to pick right in the middle of an epic mission, I'll wager we've dabbled a little into their lives once before. Or so I hope.

Olivia's screams as she was taken prisoner by DMH have haunted Zane for months. Determined to rescue the lady doctor, he's returned to the country where he spent his youth on the streets, stealing to survive. He finds her and completes his task, only to discover she's not really up to being saved at all. She knows things, and going home to family and friends would just put them all in danger.

Meanwhile, we have Cael who is Dylan and Zane's brother (Zane's adopted) as he and his fellow Army pals abduct a woman who may or may not have acted as a traitor to her country. That whole plot revolved around Vivienna trying to hack her father's computer program and I was bored out of my mind during every snippet.

What gives? How does something as lackluster as this follow something as amazing as Lie With Me? The action in this book is so downplayed that there really isn't any action at all. The sex is abrupt. The emotions are rushed. And I spent the entire time waiting for something to happen. That 'something' ended up being that it ended. 2 out of 5 stars.

Previous books in the series:
Lie with Me (Shadow Force Series, Book 1)

Thief of Hearts

Thief of Hearts
MaryJanice Davidson
Paperback, 196 pages
Published August 28th 2003 by Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc
First published 2001
ISBN 9781843605737

Never a dull night in the ER for Dr. Jared Dean, especially when he sees the woman of his fantasies beating the crap out of the largest man he has ever seen, only to have her escape before he even gets to ask her name.

Kara realizes the gorgeous doc is now in danger of retribution from the Godfather wannabe, so she immediately assigns herself the arduous task of guarding the hard body of Dr. Dean until she can figure a way out of the mess.

Jared is only too happy to accommodate the woman of his dreams, even if he doesn't take her seriously. Anything to have her close at hand... and in his bed.

Jared must be one hell of a stressed man for his erotic dreams to be filled with armadillo suits and Vlassic pickle juice.

Our girl Kara has a Robin Hood thing going on. She's doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Still doesn't change the fact that it's wrong, mind you, and for that she's convinced herself she's a bad person, deserving of absolutely nothing good in life. Including the gentle and sweet Dr Dean.

I didn't love this one. And it's all Jared's fault. I can't stand guys like this in real life let alone in my fantasy filled romance books. Humor is one thing, but when you can't carry a simple conversation without cracking a joke, I begin to question one's maturity level. Seriousness is a hell of a lot sexier than comedy. DNF. 1 star.


Tempt Me With Darkness:
Doomsday Brethren #1

Tempt Me With Darkness
Shayla Black
Doomsday Brethren, book one
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing
ISBN 9781416558590

He's an immortal knight hungering for satisfaction.

As soon as Marrok sees Olivia Gray's dark windswept hair and burning violet eyes, he's sure they've met in eons past. He's felt her soft gentle curves writhing in pleasure beneath his own hard powerful body...Morganna! For centuries, towering Marrok, once the mightiest of King Arthur's warriors, has endured a terrible curse cast upon him when he spurned the witch.

She's a modern woman about to discover ancient magic.

Olivia shares a mystical - and irresistible - connection with brooding Marrok. Soon after the sexy warrior appears in her erotic dreams, he abducts her, demanding she uncurse him. Their intense passion is more powerful - and intimate - than either of them has ever known. Olivia may be the key to unlocking the diary that will break Morganna's hold on his life. But in the wrong hands, the book also holds the power to destroy all magickind. As they search for answers, a ruthless wizard returned from exile is building an army of evil. When he discovers Marrok and Olivia have the diary, only their love-with the help of a powerful group of magical Brethren-can save them.

These Doomsday Brethren books play out like movies. And for someone who attends the cinema *maybe* twice in a year to actually watch a movie, saying I'd be there opening night for this one should actually mean something.

Marrok, once a knight of King Arthur, lost his damn mind many a century ago and went to bed with Morganna, the infamous half sister of Arthur and everyone's dreaded villain witch. When he left her, she cursed him to ever be alone and never find satisfaction in sex.

Present day, enter Bram-the only one of magickkind that Marrok can bring himself to tolerate. Mildly so, that is, as Bram has two motives for the visit. First, he seeks the book which contains not only Marrok's curse but some of Morganna's power and secondly, he has someone Marrok should meet. Olivia.

Despite the fact that he believes Olivia is Morganna in disguise, he beds her, mates her, and then proceeds to defend her. There's two sides to every argument in his head and he goes back and forth *constantly* throughout the book. Trust her. Don't trust her. Yada-yada-yada. Olivia, meanwhile, is a young woman aching to be loved. By Marrok. By her estranged father. The girl is dying to be wanted. Marrok? The man just wants to die.

The cast of characters, and there is quite a number of them, covers just about everything you could ask for. Bram is amazing, and reminds me quite well of Bryn from Kimberly Frost's Southern Witch books. Yes, it's the pretty boy wizard thing, and the fact that their names are closely matched certainly speeds along the connection. The wise cracks mingling with a dismantling charm and his ever endearing protectiveness toward his sister are all other little facets that bring him to the forefront of the stage. My favorite character though was-not Marrok or Bram-but Ice! Hot damn, fear him. 5 out of 5 stars.

Next book in this series:
Fated (A Doomsday Novella)
Fated - A Doomsday Brethren novella


Nightfall: Dark Age Dawning #1

Ellen Connor
Dark Age Dawning, book one
Paperback, 327 pages
Published June 6th 2011 by Berkley Trade
ISBN 9780425241691

First in a stunning new post-apocalyptic paranormal romance trilogy.

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought in her wildest nightmares that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her-one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna's father. Skilled and steadfast, he's ready for the prophesied Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and mutant dogs attack-vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion-a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.

Got as far as the prologue and already I knew this book was going to make me very happy. The prophetic message from Jenna's father alone had me tingling in anticipation and finding a well crafted wolf shifter inside-pure bonus!

It doesn't take long to get to know Mason, our main character, and we even get introductions to the leading men of books two and three: Dr. Chris Welsh who's holed up at a nature outpost, and Tru (aka Midnight) who's currently a 15 year old former gamer into the goth scene. Oh, and we also meet Penny. =)

Not everything is a lost cause after the cell towers go down, communications are lost, and rabid death dogs turn people into mutants- we still have magic. Mason and Jenna begin to discover a psychic bond they share and it's so worthwhile to experience Pen and Tru coming together so early in their lives. I was all kinds of 'awe' when that little girl climbed up into his lap.

Mason is truly a woman's dream. Jenna tells the guy what she needs from him and instantly he's processing that newly found information through his brain and trying to figure out a way to put it to action, albeit after an epic ton of drama back and forth between the two. Still, kudos for effort!

I loved this book, the world and the characters, and am beyond ready for book three. Chris (star of book two) really didn't do anything for me, though I felt the author(s) didn't intend him to anyway. A tad disappointing as well was the countless possibilities this world offered up weren't exactly explored to their full potential. Everything stayed according to a familiar formula which actually made me miss The Walking Dead tv show even more. Hopefully, the sequels will push further outside the box. 4 out of 5 stars.

He closed the blanket around her like a cocoon and swept loose tendrils of hair from her face. No fever now. Just cold. Holding out little hope, he leaned in and brushed a kiss against her mouth. His own Snow White- only Jenna didn't stir. Her lips didn't respond. He opened his thoughts, sending a desperate SOS. But even on that unseen highway where their minds once met he traveled alone.


Taking Instruction

Taking Instruction
Cheyenne McCray
ebook, 77 pages
Published March 14th 2007 by Ellora's Cave
ISBN 9781419909825

Jessica Grayson is a college freshman who's had the hots for her university professor all year long. He's sexy and unobtainable-and she's determined to get into his bed.

Dating one of his own students is taboo and Craig Bennett intends to never break that school rule... Until he finds an end of the semester present in his office- the gorgeous co-ed he hasn't been able to keep off his mind. And she's naked, sitting on his desk.

It isn't long before Jessica discovers she's gotten more than she bargained for. She finds out exactly who's in control as she learns how the professor likes to play. A whole new world of BDSM is opened up to her and being a bad girl never felt so good.

As fate would have it, I never had the luck of having an attractive professor in college, or that mythical sexy teacher in high school either, so mayhaps that be the reason I never did get all hot and bothered by these student/teacher fantasies.

Jessica is that girl that most others hate: She's gorgeous and she knows it. She's also found a man that she won't let refuse her, no matter what taboo dictates. Craig is a thirty year old English professor who can't seem to keep his eyes off the twenty something coed, or her low cut blouses.

Many things kept me at arm's length with this one but what truly ended up sealing the deal and forcing the file closed was the breakage of one of my rules of romance- No sharing!

But.. if you like your BDSM with a bit of college/student fantasy and brothers sharing lovers, then fine.. here you go, have your fun. 2 out of 5 stars.