RhiReading News

Dear readers,

Hi Rhireaders! Check out the latest events in the sidebar! Thanks for visiting, be sure and follow me on social media for MORE awesome content.

Did you drop by to request a review or tour stop? I am currently OPEN for review requests for review requests. I have promotional openings for July through November open so please reach out. Just please drop me an email with a polite request and if I'm interested I will reply.

-- Rhi


12.02.2009

Review: Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

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Hearts at Stake (The Drake Chronicles #1) by Alyxandra Harvey
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Vampires
Trade Paperback (WALKER BOOKS, 256 pages, $9.99)
ISBN# 0802720749
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.
Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.
Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters—vampire or otherwise.

Author Site:
www.alyxandraharvey.com


Hours at Stake: Don't Waste Yours! (2 stars)

On her sixteenth birthday, Solange Drake will become a vampire. If everything goes right. Forget being a normal teenage girl, having cake and a party on her sweet sixteenth birthday. As the first Drake born female is over seven centuries she's a rare commodity. The Helios-Ra want to kill her because she's a Drake family member, Lady Natasha wants to kill her because Solange is the central figure in a prophecy that dethrones the would-be vampire queen. If the change itself doesn't kill her one of the others will gladly do it themselves. Unless of course one of her seven older brothers or her best friend Lucy have a say in the matter.

Everything I had heard about this book suggested it was going to be really enjoyable. Unfortunately I found the writing to be of poor quality and the lack of well-thought-out world building for this vampire mythos was a total disappointment.

The book's chapters are divided between those narrated by Solange and those told from Lucy's perspective. This might have been a good move if there were any distinct difference in their "voices". If each chapter had not been clearly labeled with their names it would have taken me reading several paragraphs to catch for sure who was telling the story in each section. At times the "timestamp" for each jumped back and forth as well causing more confusion as to the actual order of events from one chapter to the next.

Jumping directly into the plot without any decent build up to it left little time for a well explained mythology. Even after reading the entire book I was left trying to figure out how there were different kinds of vampires and how they related to one another. At times things like Lucy and Solange's friendship itself seemed a little unlikely considering one attends public school and the other is homeschooled. The way it is all explained away (as happens frequently when these roadblocks pop up in this book) is transparent and feels false. I, as a reader, struggled to get past these moments.

I am sure this book will be suggested to tweens and teens looking for vampire romances. There are indeed two quickly obvious romances that form. One of them makes obvious sense, the other seems a bit forced. I'll let you be the judge should you choose to read it. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book to any reader looking for vampire books or vampire romances above the age of thirteen. There are far better books in this genre out there and I wish I could get the hours I spent reading this one back!

12.01.2009

Review: Prey by Rachel Vincent

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Prey (Werecats #4) by Rachel Vincent
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (MIRA, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0778326810
Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game…
Play? Right. My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father's authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven't laid eyes on Marc's gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother and an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don't exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.
Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Author Site:
rachelvincent.com


This one will be hard to top! (5 stars)

Picking up the threads of chaos where Pride left off, Prey continues the fast-paced story-telling fans of this series love. The pride cats are divided. The alpha of each North American territory has a choice to make. Whether to back Faythe's father as the head of the council or not. Meanwhile Manx is to go on trial for her crimes, Marc has been exiled and Kaci refuses to shift back to her cat form.

While taking Manx to her trial might be unpleasant in and of itself, getting to see Marc is a plus. Until the pride cats are attacked by a groups of strays. Strays working together in such large numbers is unprecidented and Faythe is about to face her most grueling adventure to date.

Oh how I want to give away soooo much plot in my little summary. But I behaved. I'm a huge fan of this series, have been since the first book was an impulse buy based on cover art, and was nervous as to where the series would go from the end of Pride. Fortunately for myself and fellow fans Vincent hasn't lost her touch. I might even go so far as to say she's starting to hit her stride!

You already know and love the characters, (if you don't I suggest getting the first three read before bothering with this one) now you're going to see them put in harm's way to the point it hurts. Maybe other readers don't like Jace better than Marc but I do and he really gets a lot of development in this book for better or for worse. Vincent will have you sweating bullets over many of the places she takes Marc, Faythe and even Jace, I've always seen it as a semi-love triangle so if you didn't sorry if it's a little spoilerish to say I think that's where this is going.

The story never gets slow and just when you think there can't be anything more packed into it we're left with an awesome, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping cliff-hanger ending that has me rabid for Shift's release! I'm not sure I could gush any more about how great this book was so if you read this series and haven't had time for it yet clear your calendar, you won't regret it.

11.20.2009

RhiReading Feature: Weekend Reading [11/20-11/22]

Guess who is NOT going to be seeing New Moon this weekend? lol Yeah, that'd be me and my husband. Alas he is the Twilighter and not I so I'm not heartbroken but it would be nice to go out to the movies anyway.

Still really busy but managed to finish Intertwined and get the review up for both Vine and over here. Wasn't sure whether I liked it or if it was really just okay. When in doubt go with the lower star rating. That way no one gets mad when they think you loved it and they think it wasn't that good. :P

Working on Magic in the Shadows this weekend. I love this series soooo much! But not much time for it since the new one came out. Bah! Hopefully I can master the art of nursing a baby and holding a book open because so far mass market paperbacks are just too hard to do it with.

Hope everyone has a great weekend... and O M G has anyone seen the coverart for the newest Wicked Lovely series book? So pretty. Let me know what you thought of New Moon!
-- Rhi

Review: Intertwined by Gena Showalter

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Intertwined by Gena Showalter
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Hardcover (HARLEQUIN TEEN, 448 pages, $15.99)
ISBN# 0373210027
Most sixteen-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him:
One can time-travel.
One can raise the dead.
One can tell the future.
And one can possess another human.
With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's a younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die.
He's so over it. All he wants is peace.
And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a loner; she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, he should stay away. But it's too late....
Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist.
Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger but not everyone will come out alive...

Author Site:
genashowalter.com


Unravel the newest paranormal world with Intertwined. (3 stars)

When he first saw Mary Ann he knew his life was about to change. Since birth he has carried four souls inside him. Souls with unique abilities. Souls that can't help but distract him with their constant chatter. Bouncing from foster home to mental hospital to boy's home, his life has been anything but pretty. His latest home isn't perfect but thanks to the abilities of one of his trapped soul companions he's pretty sure it might be his last. Only time will tell if he can free the souls trapped within him and what role Mary Ann is meant to play in their release. Yet meeting Mary Ann is only the beginning as his eyes are opened to a world of vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts and faeries. Drawn to him like moths to flame these races will play a role in his future whether he's ready for them to know who he is or not. The fates of all may be intertwined in the destiny of one young man... Aden Stone.

One of the first releases from Harlequin's new Harlequin Teen imprint, Intertwined has been very much anticipated by adult fans of Gena Showalter's writing.

While definitely on par with her adult titles in the writing, Intertwined lacks solidarity in its plot. The switching perspectives of Mary Ann and Aden do not do the story justice. It's my opinion that Mary Ann is a square peg trying to be forced into a round hole, a secondary character being forced to be a key protagonist in a plot that should have been left to Aden alone. That said there is great potential here. Showalter's characters are all interesting, likable and real enough to be relatable. Sorting out which ones are most important to the plot may be the only real issue readers find with them.

On the whole, the plot of Intertwined has a great hook. A boy with four souls trapped in him wants to find them bodies of their own so he can live a semi-normal life. He meets a girl who makes the voices in his head quiet so she must be able to help him somehow. This plot thread works well. It is very enjoyable and the resolution of this plot thread had me tearing up which doesn't happen often with young adult books. What really screws with the story is the sudden random addition of all the other races and the plot they bring with them to prepare for the second book. I hate saying it, but it kind of feels like the author was pressured to cater to the sudden obsession with vampires by adding them to the story. While I love vampire and shapeshifter stories they somewhat muddle this book up and yet couldn't suddenly be introduced in a later installment in this series either.

If you're looking for something paranormal to read and don't mind the above mentioned flaws cropping up in a book this is one worth checking out. Showalter is an engaging writer and fans of her work should probably pick this one up because in spite of the issues I had with this one, a plot has been established for the rest of the series that should be much better now that the world building has been done. Enjoy!

11.13.2009

RhiReading Feature: Weekend Reading [11/12-11/14]

Howdy y'all! Long time not much blogness. :(

What have you all been reading? I haven't had a lot of free time between moving from one home to another, unpacking and taking care of the new baby but I've been trying to find time to read.

I'm slowly making progress on Intertwined by Gena Showalter but so far I have to agree with a lot of the reviews I read before I got a copy. It's missing something. Can't figure out what but I'm frustrated with it. We'll see if I can figure it out when it gets finished. I also picked up Devon Monk's latest Allie Beckstrom book. I've had only enough time to read one chapter in a week! Very frustrating.

My weekend plans involve more unpacking, getting a pedicure with my mother-in-law and hopefully at least a couple of hours of reading. Wish me luck! And tell me what you're working on this weekend... I'd love to know what everyone is enjoying these days. :)

11.12.2009

Review: Sex and the Psychic Witch by Annette Blair

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Sex and the Psychic Witch (Triplet Witch trilogy #1) by Annette Blair
Paranormal Romance, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY SENSATION, 304 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425216632
Introducing the Cartwright sisters-Harmony, Destiny and Storm-triplets and unstoppable seductresses.
Harmony, the buyer for her sisters' vintage curio shop, can read objects and learn of their former owners. Now, a Celtic ring leads her to a castle on the coast of Massachusetts. King Paxton's money-pit is cursed, and he hopes that this leggy blonde can help him find peace with an angry ghost, a disgruntled renovation crew-and his own heart.

Author Site:
www.annetteblair.com


Sex and the Nymphomaniacal Witch...? (3 stars)

Harmony Cartwright has a gift. As one of a triplet trio of witches she has the ability to touch an object and learn things about previous owners. Since she and her sisters run a vintage curio shop this ability certainly comes in handy in finding some of most authentic and valuable items. But when a garage sale dress calls out to her in more ways than one she finds herself with a psychic mandate which leads her to Paxton Castle on the coast of Salem, Massachusetts.

Visiting the castle might not be a big deal if it wasn't under renovation and haunted by one very unhappy witch's spirit. Maybe it might be simple if the castle's owner—the aptly named King Paxton—weren't struggling to get the renovations done so he can sell it. If only the ghost of a disgruntled witch weren't making chaos with her wailing and moaning surely Paxton and his crew would be finished. Enter Harmony Cartwright and the ghostly presence seems tamed. But can Paxton tame Harmony and finish the renovations without getting killed by his ghostly haunter?

This was definitely a tough book for me as a reader. Blair isn't a bad writer but after reading a couple of her stories now I've found that I really don't care for the emphasis being so heavily on the sexual side of the relationship. Sure, this book's title does point in that direction but sexual chemistry can't be the only thing driving a romance... right?

The plot was a bit formulaic with some decent twists thrown in. I do love that Blair finds a way to make family important to her characters and finds ways to weave that element into her stories. What I felt was missing here though was a thread of realism to counter-balance the paranormal (in this case witches, ghosts and magic). The quickness with which Paxton and his friends accept the paranormal explanations and the quirky Cartwright sisters didn't give me enough conflict to sell the story well.

If you're looking for a quick, slightly fluffy read with lots of sex (and Blair does write good sex) and cutesey bits I think you'd probably like this book a lot. Unfortunately it just wasn't solid enough for me to love.

10.21.2009

Rhi vs. Life: Updates

Got a couple of reviews up this evening! Both are from books I reviewed for Amazon.com's Vine program but definite reads I think my audience will like. Hopefully will have more reviewing caught up by the end of the weekend but I don't know because...

After last week's little update on the state of things around here I had my baby. I blame it on finally purchasing a baby book and shaving my legs on Thursday night. Friday we welcomed the newest addition to our family. :) For the record let me just say that 'natural' childbirth (pain-med free) really is as scary as the movies seemingly over-exaggerate it to be. At some point I thought 'who the hell is screaming like a banshee?' and then the nurse reminded me I needed to be holding my breath to bear-down and push... not going all primal battle-cry and screaming bloody murder. Oops. ;D

I took Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men to the hospital with me and did get a little time to read but not much. The idea was to sleep and relax after all that but getting used to baby noises again isn't easy to sleep with.

More good news to add... we'll be closing on our new house next week which is awesome but does mean more quietness on my end as we attempt to move with a newborn. And don't get me started on the "Rhi's writer's nook" versus "Hubby's man-cave" room debate. :P We've been doing a little packing over the last week and he seems to think I have too many books. Blasphemy!

Well all, I am off. Lots to do but I had to check in and let ya know I'll be busy for a bit longer. Well wishes to all!
-- Rhi

Review: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

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Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire
Urban Fantasy, Fae
Mass Market Paperback (DAW, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0756405718
October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.

Author Site:
www.seananmcguire.com


Fresh Fare for Fae Fans (5 stars)

October Daye, better known to her friends and enemies as "Toby", has seen better times. Having recently recovered from a spell that left her trapped in the form of a fish for fourteen years she's lost everything she valued. A Changeling--half-human, half-fae--by birth she doesn't truly belong in either world. She may owe some allegience to her fae leige but having lost the human she loved and the now teenaged daughter she adored have left a mark on her.

With her old frenemy, Evening Winterrose, murdered it falls on Toby to find her killer or face the possibility of her own death. Dragged back into the world of Fae politics and secrets Toby must renew old ties and seek out the very persons she has been trying to avoid. There's no telling who she can trust amongst the Fae fiefdoms when enemies can be more straight-forward than one's own friends.

October's series is off to a good start with Rosemary and Rue. These are the fae most faeriephiles are familiar with but with some twists. McGuire gives readers just enough detail and hints to keep them reading but leaves a lot open for disclosure in future installments. I found her Cait Sidhe particularly interesting because I'm a cat lover. The variety of changelings make for an curious lot as there are many different types of fae in this particular world building. Where the author will go with this is anyone's guess.

As a heroine Toby is a little iffy. I liked her but felt like she wasn't telling us everything and some of her motivations seemed a little contrived. At times I felt like I had to guess at her motives and the lack of explanation of her relationships with her friends and enemies could have gone much deeper. There is a certain quality to her character that does make it hard not to want to continue getting to know her and wishing she was more forthcoming as the narrator of her story that will keep most readers entertained though. The wide variety of secondary characters were well done, strengthening the story even if (like Toby) I felt the surface was barely scratched with most of them. One issue I had here is that I frequently felt like I was told instead of shown how Toby related to the others.

Overall the story wasn't flawless but I found it hard to put down. After a while certain mythologies can feel redundant and Rosemary and Rue does its best to steer clear of that. Anyone who likes urban fantasy with Fae should pick this one up and check it out. The heavy sexual overtones of some other faerie series aren't present in this first book but may pop up in future ones. I recommend this one for urban fantasy fans looking for something fresh and original.

Review: The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter

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The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld #4) by Gena Showalter
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (HQN BOOKS, 416 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0373773927
Bound by the demon of Doubt, Sabin unintentionally destroys even the most confident of lovers. So the immortal warrior spends his time on the battlefield instead of the bedroom, victory his only concern until he meets Gwendolyn the Timid. One taste of the beautiful redhead, and he craves more.
Gwen, an immortal herself, always thought she'd fall for a kind human who wouldn't rouse her darker side. But when Sabin frees her from prison, battling their enemies for the claim to Pandora's box turns out to be nothing compared to the battle Sabin and Gwen will wage against love.

Author Site:
members.cox.net/genashowalter


Turning up the heat on the Lords... (4 stars)

When you're cursed to carry the demon of Doubt around with you it's hard not to question your own decisions some of the time. Sabin has tried and unsuccessfully had relationships with women who were confident and strong. But Doubt has always found his way into their hearts and minds slowly destroying them. The best way to protect them is never to allow himself to have relationships with them. Which could be easy to do with the war between the Hunters, lead by the demon-disguised-as-angel known as Galen, and the Lords of the Underworld catching flame and burning faster than ever.

When Sabin finds Gwendolyn the Timid locked away in an Egyptian prison at the mercy of Hunters he is immediately drawn to the sad, beautiful woman. Tormented and abused at the hands of the Hunters Gwen and the women with her are just the surface of their latest evil scheme. An immortal in her own right, Gwen should be fierce and capable of protecting herself. Yet doing so means giving in to her dark side, a side she is afraid to accept lest it make a monster of her. To Sabin she represents a chance to truly strike a blow to his enemies if he can persuade her to claim that half of herself but with Doubt fighting him and a multitude of threads to unravel only time will tell if he can get Gwen to trust herself and his growing feelings for her.

It's no secret this isn't my favorite series out there that follows a band of brothers. Sometimes the Lords of the Underworld can really feel like a generic version of this concept. The Darkest Whisper, however, seems to be the book that has begun to break the mold a bit. Sabin and Gwen aren't particularly memorable as hero and heroine but there is a definite stronger chemistry between them than previous H/H in the series. Gwen is a timid immortal with an interesting past/family life and Sabin (while probably one of the Lords I could care least about) is an strangely good match for her. The demon of Doubt is well used in this story, trying to make both Sabin and Gwen question one another's feelings and motives. As a romance I think most readers will be pretty satified.

The overall plot of the book does incorporate bits of what is going on with other Lords. The trouble with Paris takes a dark turn, Gideon's role gets a lot of attention preparing for his book (the next in the series) and previous H/Hs have roles that aren't just silly cameos. Readers who like this sort of book will probably still want a little more but I think this is a step in a strong direction for the LOTU on the whole. I'm also really thrilled to add that the plot for this book, while trying to bring a few too many different angles together, did something that rarely happens to me as a reader--it surprised me! It isn't often an author can pull a great plot twist without me seeing it coming. I loved that Showalter managed to do that this time around.

If you're a LOTU fan I think you will love this fourth book in the series. If you haven't read any of them yet this would be a really confusing story plot wise but is definitely a great example of both Showalter's best writing and the potential this series has if you want to give it a try. Enjoy!

10.15.2009

Rhi vs. Life: The Battle Continues

Just popping in my dear readers to let y'all know I am indeed still alive. If barely. :P

Things are going okay around here. We're moving forward on our home purchase and it randomly occurred to me last night what a great writer's office one room of the new house would make. The soon-to-be former-owner was an avid hunter so he kept a room just for his guns and such... not a huge room but it's bigger than either bathroom and is somewhat secluded under the stairs which makes it a kinda neat place for a writer to hide away. Now how to break the news to my hubby that it's MINE!?!?! Hopefully by Halloween we'll be moving our things into the new house. I haven't actually lived in a house (only apartments and townhouses/duplexes) since I was a tween so the idea of not sharing walls with neighbors is reeeeally starting to excite me.

On the baby front no real news to report. We honestly thought the little pumpkin would be here already. Our first born was born a few weeks early and I have a family history of it but this one can't make up 'her' mind. Lots of contractions and laying awake at night trying to decide if it's time yet but so far no baby. With the actual due date less than two weeks away we know it will be any minute but sheesh! I can just imagine my Evil Fetus (as we've taken to jokingly calling 'her') humming "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash while these contractions come and go.

And the not so awesome news has been saved for last. I know it's everywhere right now but our town has been hit very hard with the H1N1 virus. We're waiting very impatiently for our chance to get vaccinated because of the baby but it's just not here yet! Very frustrating. Especially since our son was diagnosed with it last week. :( Since I am high risk (pregnant, asthmatic) I've been a little stressed and taking care of him and my husband (who caught something else from the doctor's office) has lead to me now being down with a cold or some such nasty. No fever yet so the docs won't treat me for anything or bother testing for H1N1. Wish me luck keeping this crud from getting me sick. For my sake and our baby.

So that is where I'm at. Been trying to get some reading caught up since I've had a lot of late nights thanks to coughing family members, a lot of afternoons spent lying in bed with contractions and a plain old fashioned lack of energy! I managed to finish Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter and Prey by Rachel Vincent. A really good bunch if you were interested. I hope to get them reviewed when I have more time and brain power. Last night I got started on Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper and so far it is fabulous!!!

Hope you're all enjoying some great autumnal weather and reading some great books. Has anyone read Covet yet? Is it any good? Will hopefully be a new home-owner and a new mommy again when I check in next! Take care and if I happen to miss it have a very Happy Halloween!
-- Rhi

9.28.2009

Review: Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky

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Girl's Guide to Witchcraft (Jane Madison #1) by Mindy Klasky
Urban Fantasy, Chick-lit Witches
Trade (RED DRESS INK, 432 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0373896077
Which is more unlikely?
Meeting a single, straight, reasonably attractive, willing-to-commit man?
Or discovering a secret cache of magic books?
For good-girl Jane Madison, neither has a shot in hell of coming true -- until the day she finds a hidden room...
Now she's done a bit of experimenting and found a spell that makes her irresistible to men -- even those who have previously ignored her. And another that turns a cat into her witch's familiar (a snarky, critical, self-absorbed man -- pretty much a typical male). Though her impulsive acts of magic have brought a warder (sexy, grouchy, elusive and determined to stop her from using magic) down on her, Jane's not willing to let go of this fantastic new life.
Though she wonders about having things that aren't "real," she's having too much fun to stop. After all, no one ever said being a witch was easy...

Author Site:
www.mindyklasky.com


Witchy Good Chick-lit (5 stars)

What would you do if you discovered a secret room full of dusty, ancient books filled with "magic spells" in your new apartment? Certainly not read one of them out loud. Unless you're Jane Madison, librarian at the Peabridge Free Library in Georgetown. Afterall, Jane specializes in colonial tomes and these certainly look old enough to be an old collection worth learning more about. Until the spell turns that funky cat statue into a walking, talking man with designs on making a snack of Stupid Fish, the neon tetra her ex-fiance gave her. If that isn't the way to make her regret her careless reading the visit from her new Warder, David Montrose, certainly is.

Jane has to choose whether to learn the magic she's unleashed or give up not only the stash of spell books and magical paraphenalia littering her basement but her newly awakened familiar too. Could being a librarian and a witch be such a bad thing? Surely a little charm casting to improve her luck with the man she's been lusting after wouldn't be wrong. Now if only there were a way to keep using her magic without getting herself into trouble!

Now this is one that just hit the spot. I'm not a real big chick-lit reader but it blends so well with witch stories that this one was a real treat. Jane definitely has some moments where she seems too-stupid-to-live when it comes to men but haven't we all had those moments? Her commitment to her librarian job and her love of it are cute, if a little boring at times. Still, she manages, through her strongly written voice, to make a reader care about what happens both to the library and her romantic life. Though a bit cliched, her overtly gay familiar makes for lots of funny moments. Meanwhile her love interests bring a lot of conflict that isn't fully resolved by the end of the book but will definitely lure readers into the next book.

If you're in the market for something different from the dark or erotic urban fantasy and paranormal romances out there this one is worth a read. It's light without being too fluffy and paranormal without being gloom and doomy. Jane isn't a blank slate could-be-any-girl character, yet she manages to be highly likable and genuine. Enjoy!

9.24.2009

Might be slow on the blog scene for a bit.

Argh! I was hoping it wouldn't come down to this but as they say, every pregnancy is different. My first was very much a breeze in comparison to all I've gone through this time around. That said I really have been trying to at least keep up with my reading. Reviewing and such has fallen by the wayside a bit. My apologies!

As it happens I am not due until late October but I've had some recent complications that've left me stuck in bed most of the time. When I'm not lying down reading, napping or salivating over my guilty pleasure (Food Network) I'm trying to get everything ready for the little one we're hoping to welcome soon... but not too soon!

I hope all you readers out there are enjoying your reading and visiting lots of other terrific book blogs. In fact, it'd be awesome if you commented to share some of your favorites with me for when I have some more time down the road to blog and read other blogs. :)

I finished two interesting young adult books this week. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, a werewolf romance, and Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) by Kimberly Pauley, a really lovable, humorous vampire story. I put their reviews up over on Amazon.com as they were Vine program reads so feel free to check out my profile there to see what I thought of them. I have a huge stack of paranormals from Vine to get read including Gena Showalter's The Darkest Whisper and Intertwined so wish me luck getting caught up with all my reading for both blog and Amazon. ;)

And, of course, all the positive vibes you can send my way are much appreciated while I wait out this pseudo-bedrest situation I am in. Will hopefully be doing better by month's end and can get some reviewing of these witch stories done! TTFN!
-- Rhi

9.15.2009

Review: Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

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Secondhand Spirits (Witchcraft Mysteries #1) by Juliet Blackwell
Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Witches
Hardcover (CLARION BOOKS, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 045122745X
Love the vintage- not the ghosts
Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her "witchiness" in San Francisco. It's there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically.
Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?

Author Site:
www.julietblackwell.net


Witchcraft + Vintage Clothes = A Ghostly Good Mystery (4 stars)

Opening a vintage clothing shop—Aunt Cora's Closet—in San Francisco was supposed to be a way to be settled and make a new life for Lily Ivory. The shop has drawn a good clientele and even gets featured in the paper when she gets drawn into a tangled mystery. A little girl has been kidnapped and a woman that Lily was trying to protect winds up dead leading the police to suspect she may be involved. She has to not only prove her own innocence but rescue the little girl from a heinous evil even if it means risking her own life in the process.

Backing Lily up in her quest are unlikely allies from Aiden Rhodes, a male witch of considerable power, and Max Carmichael, a handsome debunker of the paranormal, to Bronwyn, who sells herbs from Lily's shop, and her coven.

Can't give too much away without spoiling the mystery but this was a very satisfying book. Lily is an unusual character and very little of her history is revealed. For a reader looking for a character they can get to know through-out a series Lily makes a great one to follow. What hints we're given certainly made me hungry to find out what lead her to where she is and why she has some of the attitudes she has. Though a little frustrating at first her lack of friends and people she lets close changes through the story and those she begins to let in are for the most part pretty interesting.

There is also the contrast of a more magical (paranormally gifted) witchcraft system and Wicca I think many readers will be drawn to this book and series. I was looking for non-Wiccan witchcraft myself but I think both were treated very well by the author. The mystery itself was a little predictable but not to the point it wasn't entertaining. I had never heard of the evil spirit the plot focuses on by the name given here but she is a very familiar one in many cultures and makes for a really creepy villain.

On the whole Secondhand Spirits didn't cast a love spell over me but I liked it a lot. This is definitely the first book of a series with potential to entertain mystery readers and paranormal fans alike. A terrific read for a rainy October afternoon! Don't forget to check out the second Witchcraft Mystery book, Cast-off Coven, due out summer 2010.

9.14.2009

Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

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Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
Young Adult, Time Travel, Witches
Hardcover (CLARION BOOKS, 304 pages, $16.00)
ISBN# 0547223994
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.
Author Site:
www.carolynmaccullough.com


Likable but something's just missing... (4 stars)

Living up to a family legacy of magic isn't easy for Tamsin Greene. Upon her birth her grandmother claimed she would be one of the most Talented witches the family had yet seen. Until her eighth birthday came and went without her Talent manifesting itself. She sees herself as an outsider among the very gifted witches in her family, particularly her elder sister Rowena who has the ability to control others with her voice. Attending a boarding school in New York City is a welcome escape from the constant reminder that she is the family pariah except for her summer vacation where she returns home to help out at the family bookshop. When a strange but compelling man comes to the Greene family's bookshop hoping to hire one of them to find a missing family heirloom Tamsin decides not to reveal that she has no Talent. If she can somehow find this object maybe she can prove useful to the family.

Getting her childhood friend, Gabriel, whom she hasn't seen in several years, to help sends the two back through time to retrieve the missing item. But when their plans go awry and the heirloom proves to be more than just a beloved trinket Tamsin puts herself and those she loves at risk. She will learn family secrets and unravel deceptions that could be a blessing or a curse depending on how she uses this knowledge and ultimately comes into her own.

If you love witch stories like I do, Once a Witch isn't one to easily pass up. Though certainly not in any way truly comparable to the much beloved Harry Potter series there is a certain flavor about this one that I found reminded me of them. Like the Weasley family of Potter fame, Tamsin's large, eccentric family of gifted magic weilders is easy to fall in love with. Tamsin's kooky Aunt Beatrice in particular provided comic relief and charm. Seeing them through Tamsin's eyes, however, and her feeling of being rejected for her lack of Talent will have most readers wondering just what went wrong.

I did anticipate that time traveling would play a slightly larger role in this plot based on the premise. These scenes are well written but not as involved as I would have liked to have seen. This is one area where the book fails to deliver to my satisfaction. Where this is made up for in my opinion is in the fact that on the whole the plot isn't completely predictable. I often catch on to the twists before they happen and with this one I was able to get surprised which was really refreshing.

Overall, I didn't love this book. It had some flaws that detracted from the storyline in ways that frustrated me and left me feeling as if there should have been much more to the book. But it was generally enjoyable and if MacCullough continues to write about Tamsin or her family I would be happy to dive into their world for another!

9.11.2009

RhiReading Feature: Weekend Reading [09/11-09/13]

Is it Friday yet? It is? Woohoo!

Maybe it's just me but even with the holiday it has been one long and busy week. But you can feel autumn creeping up around here. There was frost on the grass Thursday morning! Got to enjoy the not-too-hot, not-too-cold weekend the Weather Channel insists we're going to have. Which means getting in some grocery shopping and housework. My desk looks like a bomb went off on it, perhaps it's due for another sorting and cleaning? ;)

What's everyone out there in blogland got planned?

I'm almost finished with Secondhand Spirits which has been pretty good so far. I'm hoping I can get it complete and finish that stalled review for Once a Witch over the weekend. I'm also reading an ARC I got from the Vine program over at Amazon.com called Girl in the Arena. The premise just really blew me away and though the narrative is a little odd I really am enjoying the book, it's smart but still entertaining which not all YA fic manages to do. Since next week is Vine week I will probably focus mostly on GITA until it's done so I can review it before Thursday. Then it'll be back to Witches! But which book to read next? The other four I have sitting here are more romance than urban fantasy so it's a hard choice. I may have to let random.org help me pick if I get stumped. :P I want to read them all NOW! As I often say "too many books, not enough time".

Whatever your plans and reading is this weekend hope it is a terrific one!
-- Rhi

9.06.2009

Spotlight: Linda Wisdom's "Hex" Series

Choosing a series to spotlight this month was EASY! Linda Wisdom's Hex series was a no-brainer.

Back when I first started this blog I had a chance to review an advanced copy of the second book in this series but since I'd never read the first I passed it up. Now there are four—soon to be six—in the series and I'm kicking myself! Why? Because when I went to sit down and choose which books to read and review this month Linda's Hex series was the first to come to mind but the first couple were out of print! Fortunately they've just gone for another round at the printers so you can get your hot little hands on them now. :D Yay!

I'll be honest, I don't know a lot about the plot of the series overall. But what I do know is that these books blend romance, humor and mystery well enough that they're well loved. It is definitely one series I will get around to as soon as I can! So check them out and if you like them let me know. :) And don't forget, you can find out more about the author, her series and the next two unprinted titles by visiting her website: www.lindawisdom.com.
-- Rhi



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50 Ways to Hex Your Lover (Hex #1) by Linda Wisdom
Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 374 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 140221085X
Jazz can't decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him.
Jasmine Tremaine, a witch who can't stay out of trouble.
Nikolai Gregorivich, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer.
The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been off-again, on-again-for about 300 years. Mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz's help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their ever-increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters, including Irma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz's sports car, Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss, and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!


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Hex Appeal (Hex #2) by Linda Wisdom
Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 368 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402214006
The second book in the Hex series features feisty witch Jazz and her drop-dead gorgeous vampire cop boyfriend in a new installment. On again, off again for over 300 years, Jazz and Nick are finally back together, but then Jazz thinks Nick has bitten her. Separated again, upset and angry, the two of them start having violent, recurring dreams in which each one figures in disturbing and menacing ways. They can't sleep, they can't eat, and they finally figure out they'd better get together and discover who's poisoning their dreams-and their relationship.
Full of the fantastic secondary characters that Linda Wisdom's fans know and love, including Jazz's sister witches and a cast of delectable supernatural male characters, Hex Appeal is fun and funny paranormal romance at its best.


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Wicked By Any Other Name (Hex #3) by Linda Wisdom
Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 384 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402217730
Stasi Romanov uses just a little witch magic in her lingerie shop, running a brisk side business in love charms. A disgruntled customer threatening to sue over a failed love spell brings Trevor Barnes to town. Trevor's the best attorney around, and he just happens to be a wizard. Everyone knows that witches and wizards make a volatile combination—sure enough, the sparks fly and almost everyone's getting singed. Add to that Cupid playing a practical joke, a lunar eclipse that nearly precipitates a witch hunt, and some very mysterious goings on at the magical lake, and the feisty witch and gorgeous wizard have more than simply a possible lawsuit on their hands. Can they overcome their objections and settle out of court—and in the bedroom?

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Hex in High Heels (Hex #4) by Linda Wisdom (Releases October 2009)
Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 352 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402218192
In this sexy, funny paranormal romance by bestselling author Linda Wisdom, it's all beautiful witch Blair Fitzpatrick can do to keep a lid on her talent for revenge spells, but things are about to get a lot more complicated...
Blair loves running her vintage shop and hanging out with witchy friends Stasi and Jazz. She's forever had a crush on hunky carpenter Jake Harrison, whose Were nature (he's a Border collie) makes him loyal, lovable, and fierce when need be. Just as sparks are beginning to fly, Blair is served with a big surprise when Jake's mother shows up along with his pack leader, who threatens to make Jake heel! When the alpha does the unthinkable, Blair is pushed over the edge. No one messes with her boyfriend-to-be, even if he does shed on the furniture!

9.05.2009

How can I possibly compete with this?

Oh good gravy my dear readers! Just got in from a mile long walk in the dark—trying to combat the evil that is gestational diabetes—and thought I'd take a few minutes to scan the book blogging world. I really need to add to my list but it's so easy to enjoy the collective here on Blogger with ease.

As I scrolled through my dashboard I happened upon what I thought was intended as a straight-forward (if a little weird) incident that the clever Katiebabs was weighing in about. As I read along I thanked my lucky stars that none of my readers were sending me (or my blog's mascot... oh wait, I don't have one of those... hmmm, perhaps we need one!) advice queries. But, alas, I was drawn right into the hilarious trap and laughed so hard it hurt. It is to this gut busting laugh that I must encourage you all (of the 17 and older persuasion as the post contains mature-ish subject matter) to go read The Demon King Love Doctor Is In Da House.

So sorry if you get offended or cannot appreciate the humor but I personally love such irreverence and fun poking!
-- Rhi

9.04.2009

RhiReading Feature: Weekend Reading (& Giveaway Winner!)

TGIF! Alas I spent most of the day out of town and away from my computer. Thus I hadn't yet had time to sit down and announce our Guest Blog from Monday's prize winner.

Random.org has spoken and Wanda is our winner! Wanda if you would please drop me an email to always.and.never AT gmail DOT com with your shipping info I'll get your books out to you ASAP. :D

So what is everyone working on reading this weekend?

With the extended weekend and my husband stuck at work the entire time no camping trips or vacations for me so I fully intend to take advantage of laying in bed to finish up Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough which I was sooo close to finishing last night. Then I'm going to get started on Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell. It's been a long time since I read a mystery-mystery so it should be a fun change of pace.

Hope everyone who gets to enjoy a Labor Day rest has a good time and that everyone's weekend reading time is grand!
-- Rhi

8.31.2009

Guest Blog: Author Terry Spear

Happy Monday dear readers!

I have Terry Spear guest blogging today. She writes a series about a very unique type of wolf shapeshifter and it is this subject I asked her to talk to us about. With so many different takes on shapeshifters and how they become such it is (in my humble opinion) always interesting to find out why an author has chosen his or her mythology. Thank you so much Terry for taking the time to share yours!

To celebrate tomorrow's release of To Tempt the Wolf and Terry's visit I will be giving one reader one set of Terry’s three books so far: Heart of the Wolf, Destiny of the Wolf, and To Tempt the Wolf. I can only ship to US & Canadian addresses, sorry to those outside these regions. To qualify all I ask is that you comment to this post answering the following question: Why do wolf shapeshifters (werewolves) appeal to you as a reader? All comments must be made by 11:59 PST on Thursday, September 3rd. Winner will be chosen using random.org and be announced the following evening!
-- Rhi






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Why Werewolves?
By Terry Spear

Thanks, Rhi, for having me on your blog. It’s an honor being here! Rhi asked me why I write about werewolves. As you might imagine, I’ve been asked this a lot. So here’s my first really in depth reasoning to define why werewolves.

First, I’d watched a number of “horror” stories when I was younger about werewolves. A human who had no concept he was human when he turned into a wolf. And the wolf he became was not really a wolf, but a monstrous wolf-like creature. Second, I saw movies about funny werewolf characters, where the werewolf learned to live with what he was. Again, the werewolf in his wolf form was a half human/half wolf creation. In the first, the werewolves had to die. In the second, they became part of society.

But I’d also loved Jack London’s wolf tales, Call of the Wild and White Fang, the way he gave the point of view of humans and of wolves. It made me think if a man were to become a wolf, he would be a wolf. Not some hideous creature, but a real wolf, majestic, family-oriented, loyal to the end. And as a wolf he would still have his human conscience. But it’s tied in with his human and wolf instincts. When he was a man, he would still have his wolf’s heightened senses.
Why werewolves? I loved the concept of pack dynamics; that families, extended families, and friends stick together as a unit, being there for one another. When I lived in Oklahoma, we lived on a hilltop ridge where most of our neighbors were friends. We had neighborhood Halloween parties. The older kids would take all the little kids from house to house trick-or-treating where all the homes were spread out on lots of acreage up and down the hillside. I used to feel like we were a pack, even though back then I didn’t think of it in those terms. But we welcomed new members to the community with cakes and treats and watched each other’s homes or helped each other out when needed. We were our own little community with barbecues in the summer even and big garage sale extravaganzas.

And like in any “family,” outsiders would exist. These are the loner wolves or the omegas who don’t get along or who don’t quite fit in. Not because others didn’t accept them, but because they just were geared that way. :)

I love creating the werewolf world where the human characters are as unique as we are. Only there’s an added element. They have wolf sides to their personality, too.
So my love of wolves and alpha humans turned into hunky human-wolf shapeshifters. The best of both worlds.

Thanks so much for having me, Rhi! Hope everyone will check out To Tempt the Wolf and find out just for yourself how hunky an alpha werewolf can be.

Terry Spear
“Gives new meaning to the term alpha male.”

To Tempt the Wolf—In Stores September 1

In this third in the series, wildlife photographer Tessa Anderson must prove her brother innocent of murder charges. But when she discovers a gorgeous naked man barely alive on her beach, she's got a new world of troubles to deal with, not least of which is how he affects her with just a look, a touch, or a whispered word.
Hunter Greymore is a lupus garou, a grey werewolf. Hoping to keep a low profile at Tessa's cabin on the coast, he's drawn into her life—and into her bed. His animal instincts war with his human half, but in the end, the only thing he can do about this fascinating, adorable woman is to leave her forever —unless she becomes one of them.

About the Author

A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, award-winning author Terry Spear has an MBA from Monmouth College. An eclectic writer, she dabbles in the paranormal as well as writing historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas. Her 2008 Sourcebooks Casablanca release, Heart of the Wolf was named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Destiny of the Wolf and To Tempt the Wolf are in stores now, and more are on the way: The Legend of the White Wolf (February 2010) and Seduction of the Wolf (August 2010). For more information please visit www.terryspear.com




And don't forget to check out Terry's lastest release: To Tempt the Wolf

Review: To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear

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To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear
Paranormal Romance, Werewolves, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (SOUCREBOOKS CASABLANCA, 352 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402219040
In this third in the series, wildlife photographer Tessa Anderson must prove her brother innocent of murder charges. But when she discovers a gorgeous naked man barely alive on her beach, she's got a new world of troubles to deal with, not least of which is how he affects her with just a look, a touch, or a whispered word.
Hunter Greymore is a lupus garou, a grey werewolf. Hoping to keep a low profile at Tessa's cabin on the coast, he's drawn into her life—and into her bed. His animal instincts war with his human half, but in the end, the only thing he can do about this fascinating, adorable woman is to leave her forever —unless she becomes one of them.

Author Site:
www.terryspear.com


Didn't quite work for me but... (3 stars)

Hunter Greymere has a lot of responsibility on his hands. As his pack's leader their protection is his duty. When a California wildfire displaces the pack he and his sister Meara head to the Oregon coast to mind their uncle's coastal rentals while the rest of the pack heads to Portland to try city life. Upon their arrival their uncle warns them about a local human photographer who needs to be 'taken care of' because she might catch a shift on film and that would be very dangerous to the lupus garou.

The last thing the siblings anticipate is that Meara's desire for a mate will lead her off getting her brother nearly killed and left memory-less on the frigid beach. Lucky for Hunter, Tessa Anderson, the photographer he is supposed to deal with finds him as she searches the beach for dry wood to keep warm during an ice storm. Injured, suffering from amnesia and intensely attracted to Tessa, Hunter agrees to help protect her from the stalker that has made a point of invading her home. With Tessa's brother convicted of murdering Bethany, his girlfriend, the last thing she needs is someone breaking into their home. If she and Hunter can unravel the mystery of who really murdered Bethany and who is stalking her, maybe they can overcome the sensual draw they have to one another before hearts get broken.

I really like the mythology of this series and how each book truly can stand alone. The romances are very traditional, if a little formulaic for my tastes and can easily appeal to romance readers who are not into paranormals. What made To Tempt the Wolf lose some of its potential "I liked it" mojo for me was that this was an amnesia plot. Done well this plot device can be entertaining but I personally don't care for them unless they are very well written. I felt that part of the story was a bit contrived and resolved far too easily for me to really love it. Overall there were an awful lot of plot threads coming from different directions and relating to secondary characters that at times made the progression feel frustratingly stop-start. Since I am a romance reader who does want a good story for the romance to fall in this was a tough read in that regard.

From a strictly romance point-of-view Tessa and Hunter make a good couple. Their chemistry is believable and they certainly can't resist one another forever! Spear also does something really interesting with the lupus garou and human pairing which I personally felt opens up a lot of possibilities for later installments in this series. Something I think a lot of romance readers may like about To Tempt the Wolf, and this series in general, is that the sexual scenes flow pretty naturally and realistically while still maintaining enough of the romance novel steam. They aren't so overly dramatic and wordy that they lose plausibility.

While not my favorite in this series so far based on personal tastes I do think most readers will find this one romantic, hard to predict and entertaining. Enjoy!

8.28.2009

RhiReading Feature: Weekend Reading

Yup... you read that right. I've decided to try a little something. I've done this on a couple of web communities but lately I just haven't had time for taking part in one. I thought it might help bring those of you who read and visit my blog together a little too! :)

Here's the jist of it... every Friday I'll try and remember to get a post up about what my reading plans are for the weekend. Weekends seem to be the time when most people have some free time for focusing on reading. Anyone is welcome to drop by and tell me (and other readers) what their plans are, just leave a comment. Any comments regarding what myself or others are reading are completely welcome as long as they are friendly.

So, what is everyone reading this weekend?

I've got a bunch of blechy domestic stuff to do but I'm hoping to get To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear finished by Saturday night so I have time to work on The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason on Sunday. Somehow I doubt I will get to TBD as I have a lot of non-reading things I want to get done.

And on a completely sidenote... totally looking forward to Sunday's new True Blood episode. *happy dance* Anyways, have a terrific weekend guys!
-- Rhi

8.27.2009

YA Fic & Witches & Giveaways, OH MY!

Phew! August has certainly flown by hasn't it? With just a couple days left in the month I'm scrambling to get a couple of books finished and reviewed. I don't know about you guys but as much as I enjoy the lovely weather and relaxation of summer I am quite ready for autumn to arrive.

School has already started back up for the munchkins here and with it I've basked in that special buzz of excitement that comes from fresh notebooks and sharp pencils. I'm sure it's rather freakish but aside from the first day jitters and the occasional woken on the wrong-side-of-the-bed day I always loved school. Obviously reading and writing were the two areas where I showed the most talent... or at least passion. I remember some of my earliest reads including The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where the Wild Things Are. It's still great to snag these from my son's shelf and visit the characters.

I was reading a comment in Amazon.com's Vine program forum earlier today where other reviewers were either trying to encourage others to read Juvenile Fiction (aka YA) or were complaining about the abundance of it offered to us through the program. I didn't comment but I was compelled to tell the naysayers that their complaints were really baseless. We have some really brilliant authors out there right now who are publishing fiction geared toward teens, tweens and children and are successful because adults are picking these up more and more.

I'm sure these authors would agree with me when I say it's a very healthy thing for an adult to read fiction intended for younger audiences. I say this for two reasons...

#1. I'm all for parents being aware of what their children are reading and being open to discuss themes/topics from them that they may not be ready for or need guidance in. Everyone has different views, morals and ideas about how to raise their kids and what they want them to know at what age. I had to discuss sex with my nine-year-old this past spring because I felt he was ready to know where babies come from (since we have one on the way). For some this may have been much more vague or scientific but my husband and I chose to also discuss the importance of waiting until you're ready (emotionally AND physically) and the scarier side of it too (disease, rape, etc). I feel the same way about certain subjects in books and try to read much of what he does so we can talk about it.

#2. Connecting with younger characters and issues can be very therapeutic, refreshing and just plain fun! I was a very imaginative tween and often find that I enjoy the focus being put on troubles and concerns that teens and children go through versus the woes of adults. Sometimes it is far more fun to read about getting the part in a play rather than a character's latest romantic misunderstanding.

Whatever a person's reason for choosing some young adult fiction I'm very glad it is available to me. I also got some good news about the YA fic I often get through the Vine program. I finally looked over the FAQ and realized I had misunderstood something. While I cannot repost my reviews there to another (read: competitive) retailer's site, I can repost them here on my blog. Yay! So expect me to share some of those at a later date. I have three of them to read in the next month or so as it is.

And speaking of future reading! I'm quite excited about September being my Witch month. :D This was only helped along by my October issue of RT Book Reviews magazine arriving in the mail this afternoon.

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There's a three page article focusing on witchy fiction that even includes special spells and charms from authors Yasmine Galenorn, Elissa Wilds, Marilyn Campbell, and Maggie Shayne. I haven't had time to read the article yet but if you're interested in this theme you should definitely check your local B&N (the only place in my town that carries it) and possibly Borders. I love this magazine as a reviewer anyway and the October issue is busting with good stuff.

Don't forget that this coming Monday I will be hosting author Terry Spear as a guest blogger! I asked her to give me some insight into why she chose to write the lupus garou her stories focus on versus a more man-beasty sort of werewolf. Can't wait to share with you what she had to say. Plus, I will be reviewing her newest release, To Tempt the Wolf ANNNNNND I'll be giving away one copy to a lucky reader so don't forget to visit!

I've got to get my schedule and some life stuff in order but I'm hoping to have another goodie to giveaway sometime next month. Keep checking back!

I think that's about it for now folks. I really need to get back to my reading if I want to finish these two books before September begins. ;)
-- Rhi

8.24.2009

For the love of books... and my husband...

I may have mentioned it here on the blog before but I believe I'm an undiagnosed dyslexic. I'm a bit of a slow reader because I often have to read the same paragraph a few times to understand what's been said. I have two diagnosed dyslexics in the family but I think my desire to read and enjoyment of it as a child kept it under the radar until it was too late. From what I have learned as an adult seeking an explanation for why I struggle with the absorption of the words I would read it seems to be a common problem with undiagnosed dyslexic children, that they train themselves whatever habits they have to get by not realizing they have a problem.

Because I read much more slowly than I would like my husband, who has a newly discovered love of reading, drives me nuts! He can finish a book in three days that would take me a week. Then, he'll spoil it for me if I haven't had time to get to it yet. The rat! But how can I really complain when we finally have a shared interest in the written word? When he finally gets why I sneak down the book aisle at Walmart when I do my grocery shopping to see if any of the week's newest releases is on the shelves. When he drove to two different bookstores over the weekend hoping to find a copy of the fourth Vampire Academy book, Blood Promise, that had maybe been shelved a bit early over the weekend. When he pulled a crumpled five dollar bill from his pocket as I scoped the shelves of the Goodwill at five-minutes-to-closing and gave it to me so I could pick up the six titles (three of which were in brand spankin' new and two of which released in the past month!) I'd plundered from amidst the out-dated pregnancy guides, dozens of copies of Dianetics and extremely worn copies of John Grisham novels. Sorry, big run-on sentence there.

Now if only I had the time to devour these six and the few hundred other unread books I have on the two bookshelves in our room. Before he brings home some big boxes from work tonight so I can put some of them in storage until I have more time to work on them all. I guess my bookshelves are consuming too much space in the room where we're going to be setting up the crib for the new baby and the wee little pumpkin simply HAS to have a crib to sleep in. Apparently we can't put the baby in a dresser drawer (ala his parents with him) or a laundry basket (ala my parents with me) when it's bedtime. Hmm... I guess this would explain my childhood affinity for sitting in laundry baskets.

The good news is that I'm started on To Tempt the Wolf and Once a Witch, the next two books I will be reviewing.

I am very much looking forward to the witchy book reading and reviews for September! I know it's not very PC but I don't really care for a lot of the witch stories out there. The way I was raised has always made it seem that the Wiccan witch approach to magic in fictitious stories is a bit blasphemous. Kind of like some of the angel romances out there that take Christian angels and make them sex objects. It's simply a tough sell for me at times.

As a little girl I always had a thing for the "Halloween witch". The sort of silly stereotypes involving cauldrons, flying on brooms, black cat familiars and pointy hats. When I say I had a thing I really mean it. The only Halloween costume I wore twice was the witch one my mother sewed for me! And I used rubber bands to stick my black cat plushy to our broom and flew around my yard on a regular basis. Yup, while I very much respect and appreciate the Wiccan witch... to me that's more about a spiritual path than casting a spell on a rotten ex-boyfriend or keeping newt eyes in a jar next to the cinnamon in your spice cabinet. One of the other big draws to the Halloween witch stereotype is that they are often portrayed as part of close-knit families of strong, independent women.

Well, that's enough silly rambling from me this Monday morning. I'm off to run some errands and hopefully work on To Tempt the Wolf a bit more. Happy reading and have a terrific week!
-- Rhi

8.21.2009

Review: Rises The Night by Colleen Gleason

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Rises The Night (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #2) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 045122146X
In Italy, a powerful vampire is amassing the power to control the souls of the dead. Lady Victoria Gardella de Lacy-a vampire slayer for just over a year-races across Europe to stop what could be the most deadly army the Gardellas have ever faced. She is accompanied by Sebastian Vioget, a man as tempting as he is untrustworthy.
But when Victoria discovers that she has been betrayed by one of her most trusted allies, the truth will challenge all her powers as a Venator-and as a woman.

Author Site:
www.colleengleason.com


In Which Lady Rockley Grows Up (4 stars)

Unfortunately I can't offer a really proper synopsis of this second in the series without spoiling a big event from the first a little so suffice it to say you really should read The Rest Falls Away before you start looking into this book.

A year has passed since Victoria's life took a major turn, a turn which has left her quite emotionally conflicted and unable to carry out her duty as a vampire slayer without spending some time gathering her wits. But what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and with time and reflection Victoria knows she must re-don the mantle of Gardella slayer. Lilith may have fled London for the time being but the vampires won't remain in the shadows forever. Ready for a good fight she returns to the streets of London only to find that there is very little for her to do.

Through a chance encounter Victoria discovers a society of humans who protect vampires which leads her to Italy and a vampire with a scheme to command an army the Venators could not possibly defeat. But who can she trust when Max has gone missing, Sebastian's loyalties are ever wavering and a potential suitor from London may have ties to the very evil she is trying to defeat? Violence, betrayal and sensuality factor highly as Rises The Night.

I wasn't quite sure I liked how the book picked up after the events of the first but once I got into the story I don't think it could really have worked any other way. The Victoria we meet here isn't as innocent and fresh-faced as we've previously seen her. There's a much thicker skin developing as she continues to follow in the Legacy. She's certainly as stubborn as ever but the knocks are becoming harder and she very much grows both as a Venator and as a woman in this installment. The sacrifices she makes for the role she has chosen really make her a character you can back because nothing comes too easily.

As far as the story went this time around I was a bit disappointed that once again it revolved greatly around a vampire and a mystical object. I hope the rest of the series isn't this same thing again and again. What did work very well for me was that Max's role changed a lot. He's been missing for months when the story picks up and the part he plays in the events really kept me guessing. I didn't know when to trust him and when not to. Sebastian's role continued to be the saucy seducer but we begin to see hints at why he has the attitude he has about vampires. Things do get really steamy between he and Victoria which I think most readers kind of hoped for with the first book. You may want to have a tissue handy if you read the first book as this one is equally sad at parts... I don't know about other readers but I do like the reality Gleason writes here.

In general I didn't quite like it as well as the first but there's great potential for a strong follow-up. Great series so far!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week


I keep seeing little snippets and mentions from other bloggers/blogs who got nominated so I thought I'd mention this! I'm certainly in no class with those I'm seeing who've received noms but a couple of my favorite fellow book bloggers got noms and they totally deserve it so I wanted to show my support. :)

A big congrats to Doug of SciFiGuy.ca and Katiebabs of BABBLING ABOUT BOOKS, AND MORE! for their nominations. Very cool guys and very much deserved! I'll be waiting to see wins for both. :D
-- Rhi

8.20.2009

Trailer: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Don't have a lot of time to make postness today but I HAD to pop onto the blog to share the trailer for the book I read and reviewed last week. I'm not huge on book trailers because they have a tendency to betray how low budget they unfortunately are but this one really impressed me. Simple, spooky and with just enough intrigue to lure a reader to at least look the book up. What do you guys think of it? -- Rhi

8.19.2009

News: Upcoming Releases & More!

I don't know about other readers but there are few things in life more exciting than finding out when the next book in a beloved series is being released, what it is called and getting a glimpse at the cover art. I don't always have as much time as I'd like to sit down and go over every author I have an interest in's blog/site but I do try and keep abreast of as many as I can. In some ways that is where other reader/reviewer blogs are very helpful. I don't know how some of them manage to work full-time jobs AND run their fabulous blogs but I'm really glad there are others out there who can cover the bases I simply don't have the time for.

Sometimes I just have to make the time for a bit of it and today would be one of those days! I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and update the two lists I keep on Amazon.com for upcoming releases in the Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy genres but there have been so many new covers and titles popping up it was definitely time for some upkeep. I started these lists long before I had a blog because I was struggling to keep track of when new stuff was coming out and thought maybe others who read alot of the same might find them useful too. I still attempt to keep them fairly up to date (about once a month) but I often find if the release dates change I don't notice so if you find a mistake sorry!

Coming Soon: Paranormals & Urban Fantasy [July - Sept. 2009] & Coming Soon: Paranormals & Urban Fantasy [Oct. - Dec. 2009 & 2010]

Lots of great new books to look forward to over the next couple of months and into the new year. Feel free to bookmark those lists as they get updated and edited as the months slide by and new releases become old ones. ;)

I also wanted to make a note about what is quite possibly one of the coolest things I think an author has done in a while! I received an email this morning from author Beth Fantaskey who wrote Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. It's a young adult title I read for the Vine program last year that in spite of the title (which I thought didn't fit the book) was pretty good. Apparently Fantaskey has had a lot of fanmail wanting more of the two main characters! I'm sure any author can appreciate getting that kind of response from her/his readers.

So Beth sent out this rather brief and cryptic email: "For all the fantastic fans of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side who’ve asked for more of Jess and Lucius’s story, I have some news on the next chapters... Click here!"

As if I could resist clicking!?! I don't want to get too spoilerific since my readers may not have read the book yet but the link takes you to a special page on Fantaskey's website announcing the next step in the character's lives. As if that isn't enough she will be having her readers play a role in voting for how this next step is carried out. Each week from August 23rd to September 13th she will feature a new poll on her blog and what the fans want most is what she will give them! :D Then she will write new chapters to be posted on her blog using the chosen details and will be doing a special giveaway. Now, if you've read the book or don't mind being spoiled for it you may want to pop on over to the special page and check it out. Very cool eh?

Well, I think it's about time I vacate the desk chair and get some reading and laundry done. Happy reading!
-- Rhi

8.18.2009

Spotlight: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

There's not a massive amount of historically set romantic paranormal fiction featuring shapeshifters and vampires. At least, not that I have been able to find. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with historical fiction in general because most eras and areas I find interesting simply do not get the attention my reading desires demand. But that made this month's theme a really challenging and enjoyable one to pick books for.

Unfortunately, I haven't had as much reading time as I usually do thanks to outside circumstances so the majority of it has been focused on this series alone. The Gardella Vampire Chronicles came to my attention around the release of the first book. Those who had already read it raved about the Buffy-like vampire slaying protagonist and historical fans loved the Regency setting. Since neither was really something I was interested in at that time I waited a while before picking them up. Then I found out there were only going to be five books in the series so I thought I ought to wait for the entire set to be out so I could read them close together and not be left hanging.

I've only gotten through the first two books but I'm well won over. Sure, the chosen slayer premise has been done before but not like this. These vampires are definitely the bad guys and the mythos set up to explain their existence and weaknesses really impressed me considering how many different and yet cliched takes on it there are. The idea of a young woman making her way into Society while trying to balance the role of a slayer in a time when women's lifestyles were highly restrictive is truly what makes this series worth reading.

For more info on this series and what Gleason has coming up next please visit her website at www.colleengleason.com.
-- Rhi



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The Rest Falls Away (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #1) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 368 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451220072
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

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Rises The Night (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #2) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 045122146X
In Italy, a powerful vampire is amassing the power to control the souls of the dead. Lady Victoria Gardella de Lacy-a vampire slayer for just over a year-races across Europe to stop what could be the most deadly army the Gardellas have ever faced. She is accompanied by Sebastian Vioget, a man as tempting as he is untrustworthy.
But when Victoria discovers that she has been betrayed by one of her most trusted allies, the truth will challenge all her powers as a Venator-and as a woman.


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The Bleeding Dusk (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #3) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0451223268
To gain access to the secrets of a legendary alchemist, Rome's vampires have allied themselves with creatures as evil and bloodthirsty as they are. The new leader of the city's vampire hunters-Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy-reluctantly turns to the enigmatic Sebastian Vioget for help, just as Maximilian Pesaro arrives to aid his fellow slayers, no matter what the sacrifice. Desire puts her at the mercy of Sebastian, while loyalty binds her to Max, but she does not know if she can trust either. Especially when a seductive vampire begins luring her into the shadows...

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When Twilight Burns (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #4) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0451224752
After narrowly escaping Rome with her mortality, vampire hunter Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacey returns to London—where not even sunrise can stop a vampire’s carnage. Not only is Victoria unable to detect the vampire with her heightened senses, but she’s being framed as the prime suspect behind the killings.
Meanwhile, the legacy of a vampire’s touch has left his blood boiling in her veins and forces her to fight evil on two fronts—against the new breed of undead threatening London and the darkness within herself.


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As Shadows Fade (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #5) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0451226321
Directly descended from the very first vampire hunter in the Gardella family, Victoria knows she must continue the lineage so humanity will have protectors against the undead.While Sebastian Vioget appears to be both the perfect warrior and lover to ensure the Gardella Legacy, Victoria cannot forget Max Pesaro - the former slayer still haunted by the vampire queen Lilith's obsession with him.But it is Lilith's obsession that may save all of humanity. Demons, enemies of both mortals and the undead, have found their way to earth. To defeat them, vampires and slayers must fight side by side. But Lilith wants Max in return for her cooperation; a small price for the world, but too high a price for Victoria.

8.07.2009

Review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

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Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
Regency Romance, Jane Austen, Vampires
Trade Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS LANDMARK, 320 pages, $14.99)
ISBN# 1402236972
Sourcebooks Landmark, the leading publisher of Jane Austen-related fiction, is excited to announce a major release: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by international bestselling author Amanda Grange.
Amanda Grange, bestselling author of Mr. Darcy's Diary, gives us something completely new—a delightfully thrilling, paranormal Pride and Prejudice sequel, full of danger, darkness and deep romantic love…
Amanda Grange's style and wit bring readers back to Jane Austen's timeless storytelling, but always from a very unique and unusual perspective, and now Grange is back with an exciting and completely new take on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre starts where Pride and Prejudice ends and introduces a dark family curse so perfectly that the result is a delightfully thrilling, spine-chilling, breathtaking read. A dark, poignant and visionary continuation of Austen's beloved story, this tale is full of danger, darkness and immortal love.

Author Site:
www.amandagrange.com


Vamp fans vs. Austen fans (4 stars)

Picking up the story up from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre seeks to explain in a rather fantastical way why Darcy is such a reserved and aloof character. Beginning with Elizabeth and Darcy's wedding the story quickly picks up and leads readers on a journey with Elizabeth as the new bride on her wedding tour. Instead of their planned visit to the Lake District an impromptu switch in plans takes the newlyweds to the continent to visit friends of Mr. Darcy. While visiting beautiful, fashionable France and artsy, passionate Italy are certainly not unwelcome diversions, Elizabeth begins to question her relationship with her new husband.

Subtle statements and unusual behavior bring Elizabeth to the conclusion that Darcy thinks he has made a mistake in marrying her. But the secret he is hiding from her is far greater and far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. The man she has married is much more than a gentleman of leisure, he is a vampyre. It will test their love and make them question whether they should remain man and wife.

Well written and following very well in the spirit of Austen's work, though I am a very poor judge there, Mr. Darcy, Vampire should really please fans of her work who love a sequel. That said, I do feel that this one will not appeal to vampire fans. The majority of the story his vampirism is so subtley hinted at that were it not for the title of the book one would almost expect a simple Gothic novel twist, not a vampyre plot. In a way I have to agree with a statement another reviewer of this book made... that the title giving away that he is a vampire does the reader a disservice. If it wasn't known the mystery would have been a lot of fun to unravel for a vampire story fan such as myself.

I've never read Pride and Prejudice myself and wanted to read this book from the perspective of the vampire fan instead of the Austen fan. Because of this I do feel that unless you're a reader who likes Austen or books of the same genre this one probably will not entertain you. Regency and Austen fans who can't imagine adding a dash of the paranormal may also find this one lacking. It does, however, really blend these two elements into an engrossing and epic sequel that even I found amusing and an interesting take on the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth.

Somehow I think this one will become a popular diversion among Austen fans and should not be missed if you are a Pride and Prejudice devotee. This is a terrific example of putting a new spin on a classic tale. Enjoy!

Review: The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

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The Rest Falls Away (Gardella Vampire Chronicles #1) by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (SIGNET, 368 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451220072
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.
Author Site:
www.colleengleason.com


And Buffy thought she had it hard... (4 stars)

For generations the Venators of the Gardella family have protected the world from the damned—vampires. Now, on the eve of her much delayed debut, Victoria Gardella Grantworth, has been called to arms. While the other beautiful young debutants of London fill their dance cards and worry about what colors best flatter their complexions, Victoria is slipping off to stake vampires in the shadows and trying to find the best way to hide stakes among her finery.

When one of the oldest vampires with a grudge against the Gardella family sends her minions after an item of great value Victoria—and fellow Venator Maximillian Pesaro—must stop her at all costs. But when Victoria becomes romantically entwined with the handsome Marquess of Rockley she may have to decide whether she can continue following the family Legacy or the man she loves.

I've waited forever to get this series started but with it being only five books long I wanted to wait for it to be complete. The Rest Falls Away is an excellent opener and the Buffy comparisons are not completely unfounded. There is definitely a dash of that 'verse in this one, for Victoria is indeed faced with a power and calling that will force her to constantly choose between a 'normal' life and her Legacy. As a heroine Victoria is young but not overly naive which is refreshing considering the Regency setting. While she has the social graces and manners she is also smart and capable. This makes for a very likable mix of classy romantic heroine and kick-butt urban fantasy chic.

Because this book sets the stage for a five part series the story itself is a little predictable. For me there wasn't anything that happened that was particularly surprising (maybe because I read a lot of this genre?) but there are a few little twists that whether predicted or not were really nicely done. The story closes up leaving just enough questions to make you want the next book quick but the lack of closure isn't a full on nasty cliff-hanger that will drive you nuts either. I am definitely looking forward to picking the next one up as soon as possible.

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