Paranormal

Love in Panels Review: Thrown to the Wolves by Charlie Adhara (and series review)

ThrowntothewolvesI was late to pick up Charlie Adhara’s first two Big Bad Wolf books and I was rewarded with that lateness by being able to read all three in short-succession. The books are a cross between police procedural mysteries and paranormal romance. They are suspenseful and character-driven stories with slowly unfurling worldbuilding that builds on itself with each book. I loved seeing Cooper and Oliver’s story unfold, and getting caught up each mystery.

Read the my review at Love in Panels


Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

Saltmagic

Lord Thornby’s debauched and provocative London life came to an abrupt end when his father seemingly incensed at his latest outrageous stunt drags him back to the family estate. Once there Soren discovers he can’t leave, not because he would be disowned or cut off but because he literally can’t, his father able to mysteriously compel him to stay in the ever-shrinking debt ridden estate.  He is close to despair when his step-mother returns from home with an unexpected and mysterious guest.

John Blake is a materials magician, working magic through inanimate objects, listening to the whispering of the walls and  the chattering of chairs. He feels decidedly out of his element in the rural ramshackle manor, but a good friend has asked him to investigate who is magically harassing, his sister, the new Lady Dalton. At first he is convinced the eccentrically dressed and oddly-behaved Lord Thornby is responsible, until he sees through Soren’s cutting and dismissive words and witnesses his torment.  Together they must uncover what kind of magic is at work, and secrets are key to Lord’s Dalton’s hold over Soren.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. I loved the twisty Gothic/paranormal elements on what at first seems like traditional historical romance premise. Thornby’s shock & horror at realizing he is trapped and his suspicion that he can’t simply free himself by agreeing to marry an heiress like his father demands, unless he can figure out why his father, a previously cruel but non-magical person has managed it. I am also a sucker for bad first impressions and John and Soren start out  as suspicious of each other as they are attracted. The tension over whether they can trust or believe each other is delicious, because they each have very good reasons to distrust each other.

Welch did a fabulous job teasing out the mystery and complicating the picture for everyone involved. She also created some fantastically engaging secondary characters to populate the curse household, including the adventurous and sharp-witted Lady Amelia. I particularly enjoyed seeing Lady Dalton’s opinion about what is happening, and of her husband change throughout the novel. Her desire to retain her dignity and regain some power in their relationship felt very real. Of all the characters in the book, I would l really love to read some more about her as she needs a HEA of her own.

The worldbuilding was fascinating, especially because it incorporated class differences and prejudice into its development. Set in the rapidly industrializing Victorian era, John’s material’s based magic is in its ascendancy, but he is hampered by the disdain of his demon-wielding theogist teachers, whose center of power, Politics and religion are losing ground to Industry but whose wrong-headed opinions still hold sway in academic settings. I loved that Blake comes to realize that his fellow magicians have lost a great deal of knowledge about more rural folk magics that leave him unprepared to deal with what he experiences at the estate.

I listened to ending in one fell swoop because I need to know how the story would be resolved and while I was fully satisfied with John and Soren’s HEA, I wish we could have had some sort of epilogue that gave some sense who everyone else on the estate, responded, recovered and moved on.

I had not previously listened to any books narrated by Joel Leslie but he did a wonderful job differentiating the voices of the characters, capably capturing desperation, desire, urgency, archness and tenderness.

Content Warnings: Homophobia, incarceration, kidnapping/abduction, mention/description of past trauma (physical, emotional and sexual abuse).

I received a review copy of Salt Magic, Skin Magic from the author, Lee Welch.


Love in Panels Review: Bite Me by Robyn Bachar #backlist

Bitemecover
My full review of Robyn Bachar's Bite Me is up at Love in Panels today.

But here is a taste:

I loved what Bachar did in this book. From its sarcastic, funny and decidedly off-kilter Lizzie, desperately trying to figure out how to hold everything together, while falling desperately in love at the wrongest moment possible, to solid and unflappable Angie, who refuses to let Lizzie face things alone and who listens and asks questions,especially when they face unexpected complications to their relationships.  

 

 

 

 


And the Winners are... The 2018 #readRchat Awards

The #readRchat team is hugely grateful to all who voted and boosted the #readRchatawards this month. Thank you for the fantastic nominations and for selecting such fabulously diverse group of books to honor.


9

The 2018#readRchat Award Winners:

 

1
Contemporary:

  1. A Girl Like Her (Ravenswood Book #1) by Talia Hibbert  (13.3 % - 81/610 votes
  2. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (10.7% -- 65/610 votes)
  3. A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1)  by Alyssa Cole (10.2% -- 62/610 votes)

Talia Hibbert is a young black British author who burst unto the scene in 2017 and has put out an outstanding number of books in the last two years. She mostly writes contemporary romance but has ventured out to the fantasy and paranormal genres in the past year.  Her PNR novella, Mating the Huntress, also won the PNR category, so it is fair to say that she is very popular with #readRchatawards voters. 

Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient, the  1st runner up in contemporary, won the Debut category. The Kiss Quotient made a huge splash, and has consistently appeared in best of lists is many mainstream publications. I just bought the audiobook and I am very much looking forward to listening to it before, Hoang's follow up, The Bride Test, comes out in 2019.

Alyssa Cole had the first two books in her Reluctant Royals series nominated and recently announced that the series had been optioned for by the Frolic team for development.  I loved the heroines and the complicated friendships in this series, and I hope more people keep discovering how fabulous Cole's writing is whether she is writing, contemporary, historical or science-fiction.

2
Best Short Story or Novella:

  1. Unfit to Print by KJ Charles (23.7% -- 137/578 votes)
  2. Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder (16.1% -- 93/578 votes)
  3. Diamond Fire: A Hidden Legacy Novella by Ilona Andrews (11.2% -- 65/578 votes)

KJ Charles is another favorite of #readRchat participants, with two of her books winning categories. Her Queer historical romances are known for their rich historical detail, diverse casts and delicious conflicts. 
Unfit to Print, about old friends unexpectedly reunited, one a proper lawyer and the other pornography-selling bookstore owner, captured nearly a quarter of all the votes

Suleikha Snyder's Tikka Chance on Me was perfection in 74 pages! Sexy and sweet and full of contrasts and complications, #readRchat voters recommend you take a chance on Tikka Chance on Me.

Ilona Andrews series are notoriously hard to categorize and they received multiple nominations in multiple categories. Diamond Fire is a bridge novella, introducing Catalina as the new lead in their Hidden Legacy series. There is no romance in this paranormal mystery short but it was fantastic.

3
Best Historical:

  1. Band Sinister by KJ Charles (14.7 -- 87/590 votes)
  2. The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2) by Tessa Dare (14.1 -- 83/590 votes)
  3. Tempest (Old West #3) by Beverly Jenkins (12.4 -- 73/590 votes)

The top three books in this category were on my personal best of list and I am thrilled that the #readRchataward voters agreed with me. The category's lead kept flipping between Charles and Dare throughout the voting, and in the end only 4 votes separated them!

Band Sinister is an unusually fluffy romance for KJ Charles. This Heyer inspired m/m romance had a fantastic ensemble cast and a wonderfully sweet romance that celebrates affirmative consent.

In Tessa Dare's Governess Game, she blend heavy topics like grief, abandonment and PTSD with at times farcical humor, that celebrate found families and the restorative power of undeserved love.

Tempest in the final book in Beverly Jenkins's fabulous Old West series. Jenkins's blend of historical detail, complex heroines and emotional romances are always winners for me and if you haven't started reading her, what are you waiting for?

4
Best Romantic Suspense:

  1. The Hollow of Fear (The Lady Sherlock Series #3) by Sherry Thomas (37.2 % -- 155/417 votes).
  2. The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara (19.4%  -- 81/417 votes)
  3. Criminal Intentions: The Cardigans by Cole McCade (15.8 % -- 66/417 votes).

Sherry Thomas's 3rd book in her fabulous Historical Mystery series with romantic elements dominated this category.  I was surprised by the nomination but voters loved it!  This series is full of intense action and repressed emotional angst and I am certainly eager to see how Thomas will continue to surprise readers with Charlotte Holmes's twisty adventures.

The first two books in Adhara's Paranormal RS series were nominated and along with the enthusiastic recommendations for friends made this jump to the top of my TBR. I finished the first book last night and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Cole McCade's  Criminal Intentions is also the start of a new series with 6 volumes already published this year and one more scheduled for 2019.  It is gritty contemporary crime romance the #readrchat voters find addictive.  

 

5
Best Paranormal Romance:

  1. Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert (21.9% -- 111/507 votes)
  2. Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch (13.8 % -- 70/507 votes)
  3. Balefire (Whyborne & Griffin #10) by Jordan Hawk (10.1 %-- 51/507 votes)

These magical finalists showcase the wide variety of stories within the Paranormal Romance umbrella, whether you love modern-day shifters with a fiercely feminist viewpoint, want to explore dark fairytales  or dive deep into a long-running series set in a magical Victorian-era America.

Although I read lots of books in this genre, I haven't read all of these and will have to check them out.

6
Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Romance:

  1. Ivan (Gideon’s Riders #3) by Kit Rocha (32.7 -- 129/395 votes)
  2. Something Human by AJ Demas (15.9 -- 63/395 votes)
  3. A Treason of Truths by Ada Harper (15.2 -- 60/395 votes
  1. Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1) by Grace Draven (15.2 -- 60/395 votes)

The vividly imaginative world-building in these novel are more than simply fantastic backdrops, but deepen the stakes in romances whose conflicts at points seem impossible to resolve.

Ivan is royal romance/house-party murder mystery masquerading as a post-apocalyptic romance that explores consent, power dynamics and devotion deeply.

Demas's Something Human is set in mythic past when enemy survivors from warring groups, work together to stay alive and must overcome seemingly insurmountable cultural and emotional conflicts to be together.

In A Treason of Truths, a spy's long past comes back to haunt her and she has to step out of the shadows to prove her love and loyalty for the only person that has ever mattered to her.

An oppressive empire burns when the MCs of Grace Draven's fantasy novel start fighting back.

7
Best Erotic Romance:

  1. Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo (36 -- 132/367 votes)
  1. My Lord, Lady and Gentleman (Surry SFS #3) by Nicola Davidson (36 -- 132 -- 367 votes)
  1. Captivated by Tessa Bailey & Eve Dangerfield  (28.1 -- 103/367 votes)

This category had a large number of submissions but only three had mutliple nominations, and voters seemed to love them almost equally, with Anna Zabo's Counterpoint and Davidson's My Lord, Lady & Gentleman edging Captivated by Bailey and Dangerfield for a shared 1st place.

8
Best Debut Romance:

  1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (32.5 --  181/557 votes)
  2. Behind These Doors (Radical Proposals #1 by Jude Lucens (14.9 -- 83/557 votes)
  3. The Duke I Tempted (Secrets of Charlotte Street #1) by Scarlett Peckham (11.3 % -- 63/557 votes)
  1. The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara (11.3  -- 63/557 votes)

 #readRchatawards can't wait to read a lot more from these fantastic new authors.
I love that the finalists in this category all come from different sub-genres, so no matter what kind of romance you read you are likely to find some fresh and new voices to try. 


Favorite SFR, PNR & Fantasy of 2018

Pnrsfrufsf   This is the corner of Romancelandia is where I feel the coziest. I came in to romance after spending years reading Fantasy and Science Fiction for the relationships. The first romance novels I read were by Nalini Singh and Meljean Brooks, so it no surprise that I turn to PNR, SFR & Fantasy romances when I need the comfort of immersive worldbuilding.

    This year was full of great PNR releases including Nalini Singh's Ocean's Light, which finally gave us a peek at the secretive world of the BlackSea Changeling pack. Patricia Briggs's Burn Bright was a powerful book about grief whose controversial revelations about the Marrok long time readers reevaluating everything they thought they knew.  I read a lot of great backlist PNR this year too. The intersection of witchcraft and shifters was were I was happiest this year, inhaling TJ Klune's super-angsty and somewhat problematic Wolfsong and Ravensong novels. I also had the  opportunity to read Lauren Dane's Diablo Lake series about a small town split between covens and wolf packs, with great cross-clan romances. (Carina has also been reissuing a lot Dane’s earlier PNR, which I’m thrilled is available again). I also started reading Holley Trent's interconnected PNR series with the Norsetown Wolves and the Masters of Maria. I am currently being charmed by her F/F novel, The Coyote's Comfort

    My favorite PNR romance of the year was from the always delightfully off-kilter Shelly Laurenston, Hot & Badgered/ (Honey Badger Chronicles 1).  This zany action-comedy is about three part-Honey Badger sisters, who will burn down the world for each other and who find a community for the first time in their lives when Charlie the oldest, meets Berg, a total teddy bear, who refuses to pushed aside, persisting on being by Charlie's side.  Like most Laurenston novels, there are thousands of named recurring characters that waltz in and out of the books and tons of frantic action scenes but the heart of the novel is the  sisterly acceptance and exasperation that ground the wild trio.

     In Science Fiction/Dystopian romance my favorite books were  Ivan by Kit Rocha and A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper. Both feature cross-class romances and delightfully queer worldbuilding.

    In Ivan,  suitors are oppressively circling Maricela, grand-daughter of the Prophet and instead of falling for any of them,  she finds herself dangerously drawn to the one man she shouldn't have. Ivan is at her mercy, he swore an oath to protect her family with his life, & it risks them both because what he wants most is to live by her side. I loved that this book was packed with dynastic machinations and was essentially a house party romance complete with a murder.

A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper was a enemies to lovers romance with a complex tangle of loyalties to unravel along with great Queer found family. I loved how hard and fast Galen falls for Olivia and how desperately the heroine tries to deny her feelings for him. The book was thought-provoking, fast-paced and fun. 

A lot of the fantasy and urban fantasy I read this year were backlist titles. I binged my way through Ilona Andrews's the Edge series, and caught up on their Kate Daniels books ahead of the Magic Triumphs. While inhaled the latter on the day it came out, I didn't love it. I liked a lot of things that happened in the book but I ended up resenting too many story choices to love it.

I did love Iron and Magic much to my surprise and chagrin. I hated Hugh in the Kate Daniels books and was truly boggled when the Andrews announced that they were turning their April fool's joke into an actual book. However the Andrews were able to  make Roland's cruel warlord into a fascinating and sympathetic character.  I am very interested in learning more about Elara and her band of followers and can't wait to see where the story goes.

Another of my favorite fantasy books of the year was Lake Silence by Anne Bishop (fantasy/mystery with the slightest of romantic elements). A domestic violence survivor fights to hold on to the unusual property she was awarded by her ex in their divorce. The property is a small resort, Sproing, a small human community covertly managed by shapeshifters.  An unlikely trio of allies, a vampire lawyer,  a human cop & intuit shopkeeper work to help Vicky keep her new home and life. As in the previous series, the Crows are my favorite characters,  as brave Aggie Crowguard steals the show. I'm looking forward to Wild Country, the second book in the World of the Others series to be out next Spring.

 

What SFR, PNR, Urban Fantasy & Fantasy romances did you read this year? What did you love and why?


Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews (Iron Covenant Book 1)

Iron and Magic cover by Ilona Andrews A woman with long white hair dressed in white and dark haired man dressed in black stand in front of a castleWhen I heard that Ilona Andrews was writing a book for Hugh, I was mystified. In the Kate Daniels novels Hugh was the brutal, remorseless Warlord for Roland, who cut a brutal path through Atlanta, killing many of Kate's near and dear friends and allies. He is not a  heroic figure. He was a capital V-villain. But if we know a character's eye-color you know someone out there in Romancelandia is hoping for their book. I didn't think I was one of those people, and then I read the excerpt and I reconsidered.

Hugh is reframed in this book. He continues to be the fully-committed brutal warrior in the ridiculous over-sized horse.  Having been exiled and cast aside by Roland, he has been un-moored and has spent nearly a year drowning himself in alcohol, until the surviving members of his Iron Dogs come find him.  They are being killed off by Roland's men and they need to regroup for safety.  Starving and down to their last coins, Hugh chooses to accept an unlikely alliance. 

Elara has a castle full of followers and mysterious folks very determined to push her out of it. She needs Hugh and his troops as protection. She offers him a bargain. A marriage of convenience, where she will provide them income and a secure location and he provides protection.  Both are desperate enough to make the bargain without looking to closely at each other's past.

Elara and Hugh's flirtation through mutual antagonism is one of my favorite tropes. Their tit-for-tat battles while putting on a nice face for bystanders just made me gleeful. I love particularly how their hyper-awareness of each other due to their suspicious natures, means they see each other in a way no one else does.  They see past the bluster, and facade of control, to see when they are fearful or hurt.  They are both under incredible pressure as leaders. Although they both have trusted friends on their sides, in the end they are both alone in making the hard choices for their communities. They have a lot of unvoiced feelings and secrets yet to unpack and I am eager to see where things go next for this couple.

I can't wait to learn more about Elara, her past with the Remaining and the reason she left with her Departed and just how Hugh will come to terms with what she truly is. I expect Ilona and Gordon Andrews to continue to unpack the dangers of religious devotion and where the lines are drawn between adoration, love and loyalty.

If you are a Kate Daniels fan already, I hope you pick up Iron and Magic.

 

 

 


Ocean Light by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling Trinity #2)

Yellow backlight cover of NaliniSingh's Ocean Light a man and a woman in profile  superimposed on the skyline of venice_Ocean Light is the second book in Nalini Singh's second Pys-Changeling series, Psy-Changeling Trinity.  While Silver Silence was successful in becoming an accessible new entry point for readers intimidated by the expansive original Psy-Changeling series, Ocean Light is a much more demanding book.  This book deepens the new series central mystery, expanding the players, establishing new relationships and continuing to grow the world, while at same time having to find way to catch new readers up on Bowen Knight's backstory. I am curious to see how successful this was for new readers. As an established reader, I was well acquainted with Bowen Knight, who has been a long-running secondary  POV characters in the Psy-Changeling series. I felt we got to see a whole new side of him as he falls in love with Kaia, especially learning new information about what has driven him to be so passionate about seeking a way to protect Humans from unscrupulous and predatory Psy via technological interventions.

As a romance, I loved how play played a huge part of Kaia and Bowen's courtship. While Kaia starts out deeply suspicious and wary of Bowen, just like the rest of BlackSea, she gets to know him better challenging and teasing him. His natural curiosity pushes him to try to figure out Kaia and make sense of her relationships with other BlackSea packmates.

I loved meeting the BlackSea changelings, and comparing and contrasting their way of behaving as pack and how it differs from the SnowDancer and DarkRiver (both more communal and more individualistic) and exploring the ways the Human Alliance has grown into its own kind of pack under Bowen's leadership.

Once aspect of the story that I am going to have to sit with a bit longer and tease out my feelings about was the way Kaia's long-term anxiety issues was used narratively. While I loved that her anxiety issues were not easy to resolve and were not simply something she could will or power away for the sake of love, I wasn't entirely comfortable about how contained and specific it was.  I wish her struggles with Anxiety had been introduced less obliquely earlier in the novel rather than packed into an already frenetic second-half as an unexpected obstacle to their HEA.

As a long-time fan of Nalini Singh's Psy-changeling series -- I've been reading her books for as long as I have been reading romance -- I love that we are exploring parts of the Psy-Changeling world that had not been previously explored, and that she continues to correct the erasure of queer identities in her previous books by making little mentions here and there.  I really liked the casual way Kaia's mom explicitly acknowledges and accepts that Kaia could fall for a boy or a girl, as she whispers a loving warning to her baby about her family's predisposition for falling hard and fast in love. These little mentions are small steps, but they make feel more welcomed in the world that I've read for so long and it affirms that the changes she made in Silver Silence were not one offs.

 

 

I received a ARC for review consideration from the Publisher via NetGalley.


Day 18 #Rombklove: Paranormal Romance

Day 18: Paranormal #Rombklove

Joy and Meka are some of my favorite people to follow on twitter, they both have such a exuberant love for romance and their recommendations are always aces. I was thrilled when they chose to work together on a post about Paranormal romance. I love PNR, as it was one of my entry point into the romance genre.  I hope you find some amazing books on Meka and Joy's list.

Meka and Joy are so thrilled to be talking about paranormal romance (PNR) for today’s #RomBkLove, but it is so hard to know just where to start. There are so many tropes within this subgenre.

 

Meka: I began reading paranormal romances back when I was fairly new to reading romance regularly. I knew that I probably would like it because I enjoyed non-scary movies about paranormal things that go bump in the night…if it wasn’t too scary, of course! What is it about this genre that appeals so much?

 

Joy: I started reading LoveSpells which were time traveling romances and those books got me hooked on the paranormal genre.  I discovered Rebecca Paisley and Laura Kinsdale. Happy me. Read many a PNR and then I picked up Christine Feehan's Dark Prince, Book One of the Dark series and went down a rabbit hole of incredible vampire stories and MC's that I totally fell in love with. The rest is history and a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge book collection.

 

 

The World Building

 

Meka: Paranormal romance allows authors to have free reign, allowing them to make up fun and fantastic rules that they can either stick to or break with enough good reason. They have the distinct ability to wander within all other romance subgenres. I don’t read a lot of historicals, but if you put some paranormal elements within that genre, I will sprain my one-click finger. Hard. They can be in modern day where people either know all about the supernatural or have to hide their identity. They can be steampunk novels with airships and frightening creatures, and the brave people having to fight them. They can be set in the distant, or not so distant future. Paranormal romance novels get to be malleable in scope and setting, and the rules for one world will not be the rules for others.

 

Joy: Why paranormals? In mind, to be able to create an entirely new world that doesn't exist and make me believe the story that I'm reading means you have a gift. I love the romance genre with all my heart, been a reader of romance since I was 13, about 10 years ago (LMAO). But something extra special clicked with me when it came to Vampires. Authors can make up any type of creature, being, shapeshifter (my personal favorite) and wisk the reader to anywhere in this universe and beyond. I read for escapism and being able to lose myself into a world like no other gives me joy and happiness. Honestly, that is all that matters, what makes me happy is why I continue to support the romance genre. 

 

There are so many subgenes.

 

Meka: Whether you are wanting to read psychics using their gifts to solve crimes, lonely creatures struggling to not give in to their inner beast before their fated mates can appear, a knight getting rescued by a group of orphans who are fighting vampires and trying to survive, faeries coming in and taking names, werewolves dealing with tough pack dynamics, vegetarian vampires, people learning to deal with burgeoning psychic abilities and those attempting to squash them, angels and vampires trying to work together, angels falling from Heaven and coming to shake up the Earth, Demons struggling to let their passions rule without harm and dealing with all of this while falling in love? Paranormal romance has you covered! 

 

Joy: I want it all, too. Meka pretty much summed it up. And what do we all want at the end of the day. To go on that journey with the MC's, no matter where they are from and see them have their HEA or HFN.

 

Meka's Recommendations

 

A few months ago, there was this amazingly long roving thread on Twitter all about paranormal romance novels. I’m not entirely sure of what else happened in the world, but people were on point with recommendations. I heard that thread reached over 900 Tweets! For my part of the recs, I want to highlight both the books that got me in to PNR and the ones that keep me here, squeeing forever. Fair warning: lots of PNR are meant to be read in order but blurbs make me super weak and I will often gravitate toward the book whose blurb speaks to me the most, as opposed to reading order. Also, some of this is considered urban fantasy, but I put them under PNR due to the Happily-ever-After rule, and really, because I loved them!

 

Dark Melody by Christine Feehan: https://amzn.to/2KxBbal 

Christine Feehan has so many books in her Carpathian series, but this was the first that I read. Watching Dayan and Corinne navigate their lives and come to love each other was a fulfilling journey. She is his life mate and Carpathians cannot see color until they meet their fated mate. If they don’t meet them, they turn in to vampires unless they seek the sun first. It’s a hard knock life!

 

The Missing by Shiloh Walker: https://amzn.to/2wOPmFV

Often times, I want to read about more subtle hints of paranormal in a contemporary setting and Shiloh Walker knows right where to gut punch me the most. In my feelings. I loved the couple in this book and were so glad to see them navigate through so much to get to their HEA.

 

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston: https://amzn.to/2IN8bOt

Shelly Laurenston writes the world! Seriously! Viking clans, women kicking ass and taking names after being called in to protect the artifacts of a death god, female friendships, Viking heroes, female friendships, lots of fighting, and female friendships! Did I mention female friendships?

 

Goddess with a Blade by Lauren Dane: https://amzn.to/2k1sb1S

Lauren Dane is an author introduced to me when I was very, very new to PNR. While I cannot highlight the first book of hers I read due to it currently being out of print, let me tell you about my BFF, Rowan Summerwaite. She is a vessel to a Celtic goddess, beats down rogue vampires, and knows who she is and why she is. She and Clive are both fantastic as individuals, but they are amazing together! This book takes place in Vegas and it is one of my favorites! 

 

steam and sorcery by CIndy Spencer Pape: https://amzn.to/2IKx4dH 

Mix a knight of an order that hunts monsters, a group of plucky street children who save his ass, and a governess who doesn’t realize she is more than what she has been taught, and what do you get? Meka’s first introduction to steampunk and the beginning of a really fantastic series.

 

Blood of the Maple by Dana Marie Bell https://amzn.to/2k5viGc

Dana Marie Bell writes some of my favorite books and I couldn’t go through this post without at least mentioning Bunny. You should read all about him. However, this book deals with Parker, a vegetarian vampire and Amara, a dryad. It takes everything I love about small-town romance and brings it in to a deliciously awesome PNR package which is both humorous and dark.

 

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh https://amzn.to/2KybFSf 

Nalini Singh writes it all! I struggled between recommending this books and her other PNR series. Slave to Sensation introduced me to a world of psychically-repressed people like Sascha, and the shifters who are fighting back against the cold Psy, in the year of 2079. While my absolute favorite is a book further in to the series, we get to learn so much that will serve as developments later on in the series. But seriously. Who can resist a woman forced to not show emotion, and the alpha wereleopard who loves her? 

 

Prince in Leather by Holley Trent https://amzn.to/2KA3sgx

Holley Trent is amazing. I could seriously squee about her all day long. This book is the beginning of a series which somehow fits in to the other series that she writes and there are faeries! On motorcycles!! I am here for all of this. Simone and Heath are awesome and have to figure out so many things together! Both are capable, competent people and you need this in your life!

 

Cold Iron by D.L. Mcdermott  https://amzn.to/2wOmEoA 

D.L. Mcdermott’s Cold Iron series is wonderful, and in my opinion, underrated. It takes place in Boston and deals with the fae and their enemies, the druids. I loved book 1, but the rest of the series just picks up speed and hurls you through some epic plots! The world-building is layered and complex, and every character adds so much more to the series as it progresses.

 

Angelborn by L. Penelope  https://amzn.to/2wO4pQ

I was just introduced to L. Penelope’s writing through this book and my goodness did it pack a wallop! There are angels who are half-human, half-angel, and are on the lower end of the angelic totem ple. This story has angelborn doing forbidden things, getting a second chance, and tossing the fated mate trope on its head. It is so lush and lovely. You need this!

 

 

***********************************************

Joy's Recommendations: 

 

The following Authors are what I catalogue as, I would jump in front of an oncoming car for you kinda reads / autobuys / anxiously await their next book. So much so that for one author mentioned below, I was so excited to see her again, I actually bit her (I WOULDN'T SUGGEST THIS TO ANYONE), when I saw her at RT in Houston one year. Not her book, but her. Yes, her. Lets just say that I say my life flash before my very eyes. Thank god we were friends by that point. HAAAAAA.

 

Shelly Laurenston: I had the luck and priviledge to beta read a book ohhh so many years ago. We had a mutual friend who contacted me and asked if I would read a book by an unknown author friend of hers. I said sure! That book was Pack Challenge and that Author was, Shelly Laurenston aka G.A. Aiken. That's right folks, that is how Shelly and I "met". I had no contact with her until AFTER I read one of the most hilarious books I had ever read. Not only was Pack Challenge an awesome story with a mewl worthy Hero but the Heroine was a woman of color. Holy cow, I said, wowza! At that point in time, the only woc in paranormal that I had read was the Heroine of Stephanie Burke's, Keeper of The Flame. I contacted said friend and said, where are the rest of her books. I couldn't find a website, nothing! I was stunned to learn that Pack Challenge was her first book and it was unpublished to boot.  I was astonished, not only was PC unique, it had an unrepentant, true to herself, can fight for herself, Heroine, said Heroine had a group of ride or die friends and the Hero loved all that she was. No tryng to change each other but learning to love the person they met, how refreshing. 

 

Shelly's shifters are of all races and creeds and that's the beauty of a Laurenston or Aiken book. The characters and world building flows. Nothing feels forced. Her Heroines are tough yet love with everything they have and will protect family and friends to the ends of the earth. Her Heroes are Alpha yet they love and respect their Heroines and all the nuttiness that comes with being with a non conformational woman. Her Heroines go by the beat of their own drum. Shelly also writes fierce Dragons under the name of G.A. Aiken. Whether it be under Shelly Laurenston, writing witches, lions, tigers, bears, honey badgers and so much more or her dragons, as G.A. Aiken, you will not only get extraordinary worldbuilding but characters that will have you howling, rotflyao for days after. The following are all of her books as I love them all!

 

Series: Long Island Coven https://bit.ly/2kaLRkh

Series: Pride https://amzn.to/2wM4OCK

Series: Magnus Pack https://amzn.to/2wT0wJW 

Series: Call of Crows https://amzn.to/2wQDV0D 

Series: The Gathering https://amzn.to/2KBDidn

Series: Honey Badger Chronicles https://amzn.to/2Kzkj2X

 

G.A. Aiken

Series: Dragon Kin https://amzn.to/2wPLAMx 

 

***********************************************

 

Stephanie Burke is the author who started my journey into ebooks. In 2005' I was bored of what I was reading from NY publishers. I went searching on the web, happened upon a cover with a black woman on it. Whaaaaat? NoI had to know what this book was about. What was an e-book? I'd never heard of such a thing. Well. Keeper of The Flame's Heroine was a nurse, who had a spacecraft land in her backyard. Turns out it is the Hero, and he is in labor!!! Yes, you read that correctly. I purchased that book with no way of knowing how to read it. I didn't know what an e-reader was. I eventually had my sister print it out and I read it that way. HOLY SMOKES, what a cover to cover read!!! Stephanie writes (MF / MM / MMM / MMF / MGFMMM) and per her bio, sex shifting shape-shifting dragons to under sea worlds, up to sexually confused elemental fey and homo erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel challenged urban sprites. There is literally something for everyone in Ms. Burke's catalogue of books.  My favorites are the following: 

 

Series: Testrios https://bit.ly/2x05SmT

Series: Pride Talon  https://bit.ly/2x05SmT

Series: Hot Not To Date https://bit.ly/2x05SmT

 

Melissa Schroeder is one of the few Romance Authors that I follow from genre to genre. Not only has she always written Multicultural MC's but her stories have a different feel across each of sub genre. I was a friend of Melissa's from the old Yahoo groups back in the day and have been a fan of her work since she started publishing. Her PNR's are extra special to me but in the case of the By Blood series, she combines my love of historical romance with my love of vampires! 

 

Series: By Blood https://amzn.to/2rP1Ok8 

Series: Telepathic Cravings https://amzn.to/2KzzRUt 

Series: The Cursed Clan  https://amzn.to/2k6F7DF

Series: Lonestar Wolf Pack: https://bit.ly/2KvDVVy

 

L.A. Banks books have kick ass heroines of color, combined with some awesome world-building. Damali, the Heroine, a Black Woman drives most of the series and when these books were being released, it wasn't the norm. L.A. was a trailblazer, talk about a roller coaster ride of well written suspense and romance along the way.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Banks on only three occasions before she passed away but let me tell you, a nicer woman, you would ever meet. Her vampire world will keep you enthralled.

 

Series: Vampire Huntress Legend  https://amzn.to/2rO2qGW 

 

Rhyannon Byrd  was my second email fan letter. I read her contemporary, Waiting For It and told her that she made my womb throb with her hot sex scenes. MEOW!!!!! Yeah I said it, I had never had that happen to me before. Ms. Byrd is the author of some very dirty talking Alpha's, who looooove their women and they'll will move heaven and earth to please them. Her Harlequin PNR's are a little lower on the heat scale than her others ones BUT she more than delivers in terms of story. To continue a series for a length of time without it getting stale is a true testament to an author's talen and like Nalini Singh, Ms. Byrd  takes us on a journey that you never want to end. 

 

Series: Bloodrunners  

Series: Primal Instinct  

Series: Touch  

Series: Magick Men

https://amzn.to/2wNI9WU

 

 

***********************************************

 

These PNR books are ones that I think were ahead of their time

 

Lori Herter

Series: David de Morrissey https://amzn.to/2IpoEoN

 

Linda Lael Miller 

Series: Black Rose Chronicles https://amzn.to/2L5ZFbG

 

Sharie Kohler aka Sophie Jordan

Series: Moon Chasers https://amzn.to/2IM62mf 

 

***********************************************

 

The following is a list of my Autobuy PNR Authors. I don't even read the blurbs, I must have anything they release because these authors keep the storylines fresh and write great characters that stick with me. I'm also a sucker for secondary characters as well. Totally love reading a book and noticing who the next couple will be or catch up on couples from previous books, and these Authors deliver on that. Sequels and Series, I MUST HAVE THEM!!!! HA!

 

Lara Adrian https://amzn.to/2KxuchI 

Vivi Anna https://amzn.to/2KBi8fj

Amanda Ashley aka Allyson James https://amzn.to/2KBi9j

Jennifer Ashley https://amzn.to/2k8pCeL

Shara Azod https://amzn.to/2k83GAl

Anya Bast https://amzn.to/2IO4S9X 

Dana Marie Bell https://amzn.to/2KvXRb5

Jaci Burton https://amzn.to/2IN26BQ

Coreen Callahan https://amzn.to/2KzJRwY

Marly Chance https://amzn.to/2Kz8pq1 

Ashlyn Chase https://amzn.to/2IOQ5Mc

Kendra Leigh Castle https://amzn.to/2k7K13e

Kresley Cole https://amzn.to/2k579Q5

Alyssa Day https://amzn.to/2rQEK4J 

Sylvia Day https://amzn.to/2k5Xrgn

Delilah Devlin https://amzn.to/2IRaRL4

P.J. Schnyder aka Piper J. Drake: https://amzn.to/2k8ddrc 

Dianne Duvall https://amzn.to/2k7s05u 

Cynthia Eden https://amzn.to/2k9eFJM

Donna Grant https://amzn.to/2k5sCZa

Kym Grosso https://amzn.to/2k58BSo

Thea Harrison https://amzn.to/2k4n5Ce 

Michele Hauf https://amzn.to/2k82Y6d 

Yvette Hines https://amzn.to/2k57HFD 

Emma Holly https://amzn.to/2rS03Te

Larissa Ione https://amzn.to/2k82ZHj 

Alexandra Ivy https://amzn.to/2k6JrmD

Allyson James aka Jennifer Ashley https://amzn.to/2k6JrTF

Lisa Renee Jones https://amzn.to/2KyCyW7

Dara Joy https://amzn.to/2IPC6FK

Stacia Kane https://amzn.to/2IQjvJP

Heather Killough-Walden https://amzn.to/2k9fTom 

Sherri L. King https://amzn.to/2IMkTNx

Laurie London https://amzn.to/2ISvI0Q

Nana Malone https://amzn.to/2ILb1DY 

Judy Mays https://amzn.to/2IRu7bt

Cheyenne McCray https://amzn.to/2k7XM28

Patrice Michelle https://amzn.to/2k6v0ir

Elisabeth Naughton https://amzn.to/2rQsZLy 

Sharon Page https://amzn.to/2IMlKxJ

Kristen Painter https://amzn.to/2rPVrwR

Pamela Palmer https://amzn.to/2IJoV9F 

Kate Pearce https://amzn.to/2k7KMt6

Caridad Piniero https://amzn.to/2k6SSCj 

Lynsay Sands https://amzn.to/2k82g92

Eve Silver https://amzn.to/2k7pWdK

Nalini Singh https://amzn.to/2k58aaI 

Kathryn Smith https://amzn.to/2rR6IgC

Sydney Somers https://amzn.to/2kax9JH

Terry Spear https://amzn.to/2INkjiG

Juliana Stone https://amzn.to/2k6IaMn 

Jory Strong https://amzn.to/2k8urVp

Jordan Summers https://amzn.to/2IOrwz6 

J.D. Tyler https://amzn.to/2ILxAID 

Paige Tyler https://amzn.to/2IPvKXa 

Stephanie Tyler https://amzn.to/2rSUCDF

Shiloh Walker https://amzn.to/2k818lO 

N.J. Walters https://amzn.to/2k8rZOG

Christine Warren https://amzn.to/2rRYbKc 

Mary Wine https://amzn.to/2rRraOl 

Laura Wright https://amzn.to/2k8rqV4

Rebecca Zanetti  https://amzn.to/2IPvvve 

 

***********************************************

 

Below are more authors whose PNR's I enjoy and I think you should try :D

 

A.C. Arthur https://amzn.to/2IOsjQA

Jade Buchanan https://amzn.to/2kaXgAB

Jodi Lynn Copeland  https://amzn.to/2k5C92k

Taige Crenshaw https://amzn.to/2k689Dr

Kate Douglas https://amzn.to/2k5Wu7N 

Ava Gray https://amzn.to/2rPeMhY

Nathalie Gray https://amzn.to/2k5W0hZ

McKenna Jeffries  https://amzn.to/2rRt9lH 

Marteeka Karland https://amzn.to/2k7VW

Angela Knight https://amzn.to/2k6QYSb

Titania Ladley https://amzn.to/2rPdVOi 

Marilyn Lee https://amzn.to/2rPdsf0

Lora Leigh https://amzn.to/2rR6bv8 

Tressie Lockwood https://amzn.to/2rQmLLw

Kathy Love https://amzn.to/2INk6Mh

Reana Malori https://amzn.to/2k7pqwk

Mynx Malone https://amzn.to/2k4OpQD

Alexis Morgan https://amzn.to/2rSTnnZ

Tuesday Morrigan https://amzn.to/2rRq84V 

Cait Miller https://amzn.to/2k7IytK 

Theresa Meyers https://amzn.to/2rRqTLj

Michelle M Pillow https://amzn.to/2k9dmum 

Mandy Roth https://amzn.to/2k5juUl 

Milly Taiden https://amzn.to/2k6KW4f 

Tawny Taylor https://amzn.to/2k7VCj2 

Theodora Taylor https://amzn.to/2k5CGBm

Twyla Turner https://amzn.to/2rPixUs 

 

***********************************************

These are new to me PNR's Authors whos' books are in my TBR, eagerly awaiting me to dig into. They gave great blurb, LOL. 

 

Kate Baxter https://amzn.to/2k7HqX2

Alana Delacroix  https://amzn.to/2KxWJnp

Vivien Jackson  https://amzn.to/2wKlY3S 

Juliet Lyons https://amzn.to/2wWHSRB 

Maria Vale https://amzn.to/2KwNljM

 

 

Final Thoughts

No matter what books you enjoy, there is a PNR that is just right for you. What are some of your favorite paranormal books/authors and why? Please share your favorites with us on Twitter using the #RomBkLove.

 

Meka, a voracious Romance Reader and Reviewer, can be found on Twitter discussing her love of the Romance genre and life in general at @mektastic or you can find her Romance Reviews at The Bookpushers:  http://thebookpushers.com/reviewer-bios.

 

Joy is the co-owner of Joyfully Reviewed, a Romance Review site that will be celebrating  their 13th year come this August. Joy attends many Romance conventions and Book-signings in addition to sharing videos and pics of her cat, Bleu. She can be found at the following social media sites. 

 

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2fkuMU7

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2k5w2uY

Twitter: @JoyfullyReviewd

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2gvWWxh 

 

Instagram: https://bit.ly/2gvVKdl

 


Recent Reads: Mini-Reviews of my April Reading including books by Kristen Ashley, Holley Trent, Lauren Dane and Deanna Raybourn

This surprise novella gives an HEA to a longstanding supporting character in the Rock Chick series, Shirleen, the former poker-game running, black office manager at Lee Investigations, whose over-the-top meddling has incited many a romantic conflicts in the series.  She is now a devoted single foster mother to two teenage boys on the brink of manhood. As a character Shirleen has always been problematic, and this book is no exception.

When a handsome man tries to pick her up at the grocery store, she first runs from his attention and then soaks it in, saving his number despite being determined not to ever call him because she is sure her sketchy past, precludes her from deserving of the HEAs she has helped engineer for her girlfriends have all received.  So the Rock Chicks and the Hot Bunch intervene.

What I really enjoyed about this romance was the care Moses took in building up his relationship with Shirleen. He knows she is skittish with good reason, so he puts in the work. They have long phone-calls, romantic dinners and is there for her breaking down the barriers to her believing she deserves to be happy and that someone can love her despite her complicated history.

Like all anthologies there are some really great stories and some so-so ones and all of them are no longer than a handfuls of pages. My favorites were "Here" by Ronnie Garcia, "Stories from my father" by  Adam Lance Garcia and Heidi Black, "A Broken Promesa" by Rosa Colon and "Blame it on 'Rico" by  Alberto 'Tito' Serrano,  It will be a great document to use try to unpack all the cultural anxieties experienced by Puerto Ricans and the Boricuan Diaspora. I was also once again fascinated by the amount of projection we Puerto Ricans are able channel into Taino imagery as an expression of anti-colonial sentiment. I understand the impulse and desire to reclaim that lost heritage but I feel we run the danger of colonizing them once more with our narratives. Puerto Rico has a lot more wrestling to do in the present with its colonial reality and reading this anthology made me feel a lot less alone, as I recognize so much of the home I grew up in, the worries and hopes I have for it and the murkiness of its future in it.

An abused, low-ranking wolf female jumps at a chance to leave her wretched home back by answering a mating call.  Arriving to a new pack as modern-day mail-order bride of sorts, she has no idea what to expect, and only has the hope that these wolves will be better, less brutal and that her role as wife, rather than a single female will be more secure.  Only when she arrives her assigned mate doesn't want her.  Determined not to go back, she sets out to out-stubborn him.  I quite liked the heroine and her hope and determination. She is practical and clear-eyed about the society she has grown up in, and it was a treat to see her grown in confidence as she realizes her world need not be as small as it was before.  

However I didn't care for the hero or his self-hating about his new disability. His view of himself as lesser and unworthy as mate, and that didn't work for me.  I particularly didn't like how long it took him to realize that his determination to reject her was about overriding her choices. And I didn't like that in the end he was containing to insist in denying her the bite that would allow her to shift fully after reconciling himself to the blessing of having her as his wife. I did like the rest of the world, so I will eventually read the rest of these, but I think I will jump to the Viking Queen's Men book everyone else is raving about first.

I really loved the beginning of this book. I loved how the heroine's dating life was messy and how realistically she responded the attention and interest after her mini-makeover. She basks in the new-found male attention but doesn't lose sight of her boundaries. When one of her dates starts getting possessive, and clingy, she reacts in reasonable ways, mildly rebuking, trying to distance herself while also being aware of the potential danger.  

However I didn't like how much the story relied on portraying women outside the heroine's friendship circle, and in the hero's past as vain and bitchy and how often the heroine had to stake her claim through uncomfortable confrontations. I really hate the trope that the hero has only date terrible women in the past and finally find the one.

 

I continue to enjoy how matter-of-factly lecherous Veronica can be. She owns her sexual desire and has no shame in claiming her extensive sexual history. In this book I did love how she uses her flirtations with Stoker, to soothe or aggravate him depending on what he needs at the time and how she has come to realize that her feelings for him go well beyond wanting to shag him. The mystery however was quite dull and Veronica and Stoker spent too much spinning their wheels.