01/23/13

Review: My Wolf’s Bane by Veronica Blade

My Wolf's BaneMy Wolf’s Bane by Veronica Blade

Paperback: 365 pages
Expected publication: February 1st 2013 by Crush Publishing, Inc
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series:  Book 1 in the ‘Shapes of Autumn Series’

NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: As with any Veronica Blade book, this is a ROMANCE NOVEL, meaning it’s romance FIRST and everything else is secondary. Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and mild profanity.

Different species. Mortal enemies. It’ll never work, but they’ll die trying.

Autumn Rossi thought she was a normal teenager. Suddenly, she can outrun every critter in the forest, making her wonder if she’s even human.

When the new guy at school, Zack de Luca, witnesses a questionable scene, he unfairly pins her as stuck-up. He acts like he hates her, yet he keeps bailing her out of trouble. Not only is Zack both insufferable and irresistible, he seems to sniff her anytime he gets close.

As passion flares between them, Autumn isn’t sure which is more dangerous: her psycho ex-boyfriend, or falling for Zack — who’s risking his life just by being near her.

 

My Review:

Un-freakin-believable!!  That is the first word that pops in my mind to sum up My Wolf’s Bane by Veronica Blade.  I will be honest, I absolutely loved her debut novel Something Witchy This Way Comes and have been dying for the follow-up to that one.  Well, My Wolf’s Bane – a completely new series – has completely blown that one out of the wooded forest.  This is truly one of the best YA Paranormal novels that I have ever read, and I have read several.

What makes My Wolf’s Bane stand out to others that I have read?  The story line is a fairly unique one – a young werewolf (yes, there are tons of werewolf stories out there, but not like this one) and a young girl who is discovering insane changes to her body, mind and life, come together in a flurry of dislike and distaste.  At least that is what they try so hard for – to dislike one another.  Zack is 18 and a senior.  He is a werewolf who is cherishing his final days with his dying mother.  Autumn is 18 and has always been sheltered to the point of being smothered by her parents.  When a sudden change in attitude occurs with her parents, Autumn finds herself trusted to be alone for a few weeks while her mother and father are off traveling for her father’s job.  This is nothing but a huge relief and shock for Autumn.  This also leaves the perfect opening for Autumn to try out the special abilities that she has recently obtained.

As antagonism turns to a truce of sorts between Zack and Autumn, they find themselves becoming what resembles friends.  This, however, is kicked up a few notches when Autumn’s ex becomes insanely jealous and threatening to Autumn.  Zack takes it upon himself to protect Autumn, as well as help her in her new-found discoveries and talents.  The chemistry between the two doesn’t take long to sizzle and the tension between several of the characters to go from steamy to boiling.  The story explodes into one that will not soon be forgotten and will long live in the hearts and minds of the reader.

From the very beginning I was hooked on Zack.  He is all male, but sensitive and caring – you know the type that every female yearns for – alpha male mixed with bad boy mixed with sensitivity – yep, that is Zack to a “T”.  I questioned my liking for Autumn in the very beginning, unsure if she was going to be the snobbish type or not.  That, opinion, however, was quickly rectified and I found myself adoring her.  She is sassy, intelligent, brave, stubborn and takes no guff from Zach – well, with the exception of the “does he, doesn’t he” conflict that she constantly goes through with him.  Their chemistry is pure fun laced with that yummy underlying steam that teases rather than pours itself out on the pages.

Veronica Blade has such an amazing ability to transform worlds, sucking the reader into the story, making them yearn and crave, fly through pages and take all the world’s troubles away.  Her characters are incredibly well developed and so true to life that the reader cannot help but feel as though they are right there in the story.  My Wolf’s Bane is the perfect mixture of paranormal, suspense, romance and just pure fun.  From scenes of “sniffing” to scenes of flying through the air with speed, there is never a dull moment in this story.  I absolutely loved Zack and Autumn and cannot wait for the next in the series to read more about them – yes, I am begging for a quick release, lol.  The ending was perfect – bringing contentment, yet leaving an ocean of questions rolling on the waves of uncertainty.  I cannot recommend this one enough and have added it to my favorite reads of 2013, hands down!

Favorite Quote:

As I moved forward to close the space between me and the person in front of me, I felt him move up as well.  He was so close, I could feel the warmth radiating from him.

I spun when he leaned into me and inhaled.  ”Did you just sniff my hair?”

His brows rose in innocence.  ”Why would I do that?”

Rating 5

Excerpt:

I tossed the makeup bag into my backpack, slung it over my shoulder and whipped open the door. Barreling out of the bathroom, I slammed into what felt like a walking boulder. I ricocheted off the human rock and my backpack hit the wall behind me, throwing me off balance and pitching me forward into the hard, linoleum tile.

My palms cushioned my fall, but I winced as pain spiked up my wrists. On all fours, I lifted my chin and peeked through my curtain of dark hair. He wore a black tee that molded to his wide, muscular shoulders and jeans that fit over powerful legs.

Wow. I’d thought my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend was cute, but this guy…

“You okay?”  The hottie asked in a sexy, gravelly voice, stretching a hand toward me. His hand wrapped around mine and effortlessly pulled me up, as if I weighed no more than my calculus book. Maybe it was the throbbing in my limbs or the warmth of his hands on my elbows. Or maybe it was his earthy scent invading my senses, but a wave of dizziness hit me and I tipped forward.

His hands shot to my hips to steady me. “Easy there.”

My palms rested on his hard biceps for support as I stared into his deep, green eyes. Lord, he smelled good, like the forest after rain.

My breath hitched.

About Veronica Blade:

Veronica Blade lives in Southern California with her husband and children. By day she runs the family business, but each night she slips away to spin her tales. She writes stories about young adults to relive her own childhood and to live vicariously through her characters. Except her heroes and heroines lead far more interesting lives — and they are always way hotter.

07/10/12

If Demons Ran Our World by Leia Shaw, author of Destiny Bewitched

If Demons Ran Our World by Leia Shaw, author of Destiny Bewitched

Samantha, a witch and heroine of Destiny Bewitched, is going to give you a little run-down of what demons are in my world.

According to the legends, demons were a botched experiment by Merlin, an infamous sorcerer from Wales back in the tenth century. He tried to create the ultimate weapon – an indestructible creature that could control people’s minds. Most sorcerers didn’t like to admit it, but Merlin had been bat-shit crazy. The daimonas were obsessed with chaos and destruction. They didn’t take orders. They lacked organization and self-discipline. Hard to make an army with vicious little boogars that could decimate a city but acted like five-year-olds on crack. Merlin ended up with a big problem that ran the risk of giving sorcerers a bad name, something they’d never allow – the self-righteous pricks. Gethin, the Red Dragon of Wales and guardian of the Underworld helped sweep it under the rug. He owed Merlin a favor after he freed him from a trap and gave dragons the ability to take human form. So into the Underworld went the screwy little miscreants.

If those screwy little miscreants ran our world, we wouldn’t have a world for very long. But Geo, the hero in the story, is a temporary demon. He was banished from his home (no, I won’t tell where or why, you’ll just have to read it) and sentenced to live in the Underworld for a spell. He was given the same abilities as a demon, but he kept his conscience and freakin’ smoking hot…um, well, I’ll let Samantha tell you about Geo in her own words.

The man stepped into the light of the fire and she finally got a good look at who held her captive. She blanched.

His powerful legs were wrapped in brown leather. Small pouches and odd looking things dangled from a thick belt at his waist. Was that an animal foot? Olive skin with a strong jaw and prominent, slightly crooked nose gave him a flawed yet handsome appearance. Not at all what she expected.

He withdrew the cowboy hat from his head. She gasped. A pair of impressive rust-colored horns rose up from his skull and extended backward like a ram. His hair fell around them, almost masking them.

Her captor was a, “Demon,” she whispered breathlessly. Not for the first time in her short mortal life, Samantha was in deep shit.

This type of demon could lure you in with sex appeal alone. But besides that, he has another unique gift.

“What do you have to offer me for protection?” Samantha asked. “Can you do any cool tricks?”

He smirked once then sobered. With a compelling voice, he ordered, “Step out of the circle.”

And damn her body for wanting to obey. Quickly, she locked down on her muscles to keep from moving. But it didn’t matter. She groaned with the effort to remain still. Only a moment later, both feet were out of the circle – her only protection, gone.

“Come,” he commanded from across the room.

She couldn’t resist gliding toward his silky voice no matter how hard she tried. Standing before him, she kept her gaze on the ground, silently wishing for the strength to pull away.

“Kneel.”

She dropped to the ground, wincing at the hardness under her knees. Damn him. She was vulnerable – at his mercy in every way.

“Look at me.” His voice was a tender whisper.

She raised her head. Warm copper eyes stared down at her. There was no pride or arrogance there. Intelligence. Compassion. Could she truly have found a…good demon?

He lifted his hand toward her face and she flinched. But to her surprise, he stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. She almost purred.

“Such a pretty girl.” His husky rasp slid through her like a shiver. “Do I meet your approval?”

I think if demons like Geo ran the world, we’d all be in big trouble. But that’s the kind of trouble I don’t mind being in.

About Destiny Bewitched:

Deemed “trailer trash” by humans and the daughter of the most disgraceful family of witches and warlocks since the Puritan age, Samantha is used to fighting her own battles. When her younger sister is taken to the Underworld, Sam doesn’t hesitate to rescue her. To survive the harsh land, she makes a deal with a demon — the most dangerous of creatures in the realm. Even with those lustrous horns, Geo is as hot as the hell she’s stuck in. Fighting nasty beasts in a supernatural version of the gladiator games is easy compared to falling in love with a man who has no future to offer.

Excerpt:

She struggled beneath him, her cheeks flushed and chest heaving. Several necklaces – silver chains with various charms and a piece of leather tied around a feather – drew his gaze to her pale, slender neck. A neck he could sink his teeth into. He liked the look of her underneath him far too much. Two hundred years without a woman…why couldn’t Ares just have had him flogged?

“Let me up,” she yelled. “You’re squishing me.”

Reluctantly, he did. “You’d be more than squished had I been someone else. Your stance is too narrow. That’s why you fell over so easily.”

She scowled at him and straightened her clothing. “Don’t tell me how to fight.”

“Then stay behind me and I’ll do it for you.”

“Never.”

“Stubborn.”

“Bossy.”

Gods, she was a saucy thing. Repressing a smile, he picked her sword up off the ground. “Spitfire and ambition will only get you so far, Samantha.” He held out her sword. “Knowledge and patience are the foundation for success.”

“My sister doesn’t have time for me to be patient.” She started to put the sword back into its sheath.

“No.” He grabbed her wrist and, under her icy glare, he positioned her sword arm out in front of her. “Widen your stance.”

She tossed him a dirty look but did as he said.

He walked a circle around her. “Good. Now scan.”

She looked left then right. “Clear.” She took a step forward but he grabbed the back of her shirt and tugged her against his chest.

“Never forget the sky,” he rasped against her ear.

Her breath quickened and he could hear her heart pound wildly. She looked up then whispered, “Clear.”

“Good. I can’t use a dead witch so try to keep yourself alive, yes?”

“I suppose I can try,” she answered drily.

About Leia Shaw:

I began my writing journey while I was stranded at the airport waiting for my delayed flight. I browsed the Border’s kiosk and grew frustrated that I couldn’t find the “it factor” — the perfect combination of alpha male-ness, ass-kickery, strong females, magic, and sex.

So I spent the next four hours on an airplane writing my first book on scraps of paper and an airsick bag (which thankfully I didn’t need to use).

Now I spend too much time in my head, plotting evil villains and the hot men (and women) who ruthlessly kill them. I think far too much about fae politics, dragon power games, and how fast werewolves can change forms. But writing my paranormal romance series has given me a productive place to express those dark places in my mind.

I live in New England with my husband and two kids. Though I will go to my grave denying it, my husband insists I would be thrilled if he suddenly sprouted fangs.

Website: www.leiashaw.com
Blog: www.leiashaw.blogspot.com
Twitter: @LeiaShaw
Facebook: www.facebook.com/leiashaw
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/leiashaw

Giveaway!

The author will award a backlist eBook, and $25 Amazon or BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments.  Click here to follow along with the tour!

06/14/12

Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Hemlock

Hemlock
By:  Kathleen Peacock

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 8, 2012)
Genre:  YA Paranormal

Blurb:

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:

A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome–also known as the werewolf virus–is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.

The World of Hemlock

My Review:

I am in love with a new author and her name is Kathleen Peacock!  She has captivated me with her tale of werewolves, trust issues, loyalty, hauntings and never-ending twists and turns – oh, yes, and a tantalizing bit of romance!

Hemlock is the first in a new trilogy and I can honestly say that I am biting my nails with anxiety to get my hands on the next in the series.  The characters of Mac, Kyle and Jason are incredibly brought to life.  One moment I am wanting to slap Jason and the next I am wanting to hug him.  These 3 have been friends for several years and when the fourth friend in their group, Amy, is brutally murdered, everything spirals out of control and no one is as they seem.  Secrets fill the void of where Amy once existed.

An outbreak of Lupine disease leaves people infected from a simple scratch – not to mention a bite.  However, once someone is known to be infected, they are harshly obtained and sent to a facility that is more like a prison than a rehabilitation camp.  They give an entirely new meaning to “cruelty to animals”.  However, are the werewolves the ones people should truly be afraid of or is it the Trackers, who hunt the werewolves that should be feared?

Written smoothly and in a way that makes it nearly impossible to put down, Hemlock is a YA Paranormal story that will leave the reader glued to their chair, flying through pages, and aching when the final word is read.  This is going on my “Favorite of 2012″ reading list and is one that I highly recommend to anyone who is a lover of an excellent story.  Even if you are not into werewolves, this is a story about friendship, loyalties and the search for truth.  There is a perfect mixture of suspense, paranormal, drama and love to make it an incredibly well-balanced story that quickly captivates.  I loved the storyline, the plot, the writing voice, the characters – everything.  Though I kind of had the murderer figured out, it was not to the extent of how everything played out – several surprises!!  Again, if you are looking for a great read (by the way – I am so in love with the gorgeous cover!!), Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock will leave you totally satisfied, but aching for the next in the trilogy!!

Quote:  Kyle reached out and gently tilted my chin up, forcing me to meet his eyes.  The expression in them was sad and a little broken.

He swallowed. “Don’t cry for me, Mac.  Please don’t.”  He leaned forward and rested his forehead against mine.  ”I’m not worth it.”

My heart skipped several beats and then raced to catch up.  I had stepped off a cliff and was plunging forty thousand feet.  ”Kyle, I -”

I was still fumbling for the right words when he pressed his lips to mine.

About Kathleen Peacock:

The Official Stuff

Kathleen Peacock spent her teen years crushing on authors and writing short stories about vampires. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college, but tripped over them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles. Her debut, HEMLOCK, is coming May 8th, 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, and will be published in the UK under the title DEADLY HEMLOCK from Simon and Schuster Children’s Books.

The Other (less official) Stuff

I’m obsessed with Chuck Taylors.
I make Bella Swan look graceful and coordinated.
I have a diploma in graphic design and have had illustrations published in Applied Arts, the premiere magazine for Canadian design and visual communications.
I used to think moleskin notebooks were made out of actual mole skin.
Never engage me in a debate about Star Wars unless you have plenty of time on your hands.
I like sentence fragments. And watermelon. Both are tasty.
Mood boosting songs: “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” by Scissor Sisters, “Via con me” by Paolo Conte, “When You Were Young” by The Killers.
I believe the Goonies really ‘r’ good enough.

Please be sure to visit Kathleen Peacock’s website for tons of cool stuff – including “meet the characters”, “explore the city”, deleted scenes, etc!

04/29/12

Review: Wanted: Undead or Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks

WANTED: UNDEAD OR ALIVE!
Wanted:  Undead or Alive
By:  Kerrelyn Sparks

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Original edition (March 27, 2012)
Genre:  Paranormal Romance

About: 

He’s a vampire from the big city . . .

Phineas McKinney thought New York City was tough, until he was attacked by Malcontents—evil vampires who consider mortals to be snacks. Saved by the good vampires, Phin swore to devote his now undead life to stopping the Malcontents. He’s got his job cut out for him when word comes that their enemy may be hiding in Wyoming. What does a city boy like him know about horses and campfires? Good thing he’s got Brynley Jones with him . . . if only she didn’t hate every vampire on earth.

She’s a werewolf princess . . .

Bryn believes vampires are seductive and charming, and that makes them dangerous. So she’s more than a little annoyed about teaming up with Phin, even if he is the only bloodsucker able to make her inner wolf purr. But as they hunt down the new leader of the Malcontents, danger threatens . . . and Phineas and Brynley discover a passion that will rock the foundation of their supernatural world.

My Review:

Sensationally sensual, humorous and explosive, Wanted:  Undead or Alive is paranormal romance at its best!

Kerrelyn Sparks has a wondrous way of combining paranormal romance, humor, sensuousness, tenderness and heat all in one delicious and intoxicating package.  This is the twelfth book in the “Love at Stake” series and though I have only read one other one (Eat, Prey, Love) I had absolutely no trouble following along with the story or the characters.  Each book, I believe, is crafted so that they can be read in order or as a standalone.  I truly hope to one day be able to read each and every book in the series.

In Wanted:  Undead or Alive, we are treated to Phineas McKinney’s story.  Phin previously had been turned into a vampire, against his will and by the vicious and malicious order of vampires, the Malcontents.  It is now Phin’s desire to stop the Malcontents at whatever price it takes.  Or so he thinks.

Brynley Jones escaped the clutches of her brutal father, a dominant leader of one of the most powerful wolf clans around.  She now has a satisfying life, living with caring people, among them her brother who was banished from their home in Wyoming for taking a stand against their father.  Bryn has a great dislike for bloodsucking vampires and when she is asked to help Phin pursue the self-named Queen of the Malcontents, she is anything but pleased.

The chemistry between Phin and Bryn fairly smolders from the pages.  Their witty and snide comments that they battle back and forth is entertaining to say the least.  The desire that they feel for one another is a heady fight they try to resist.  Together, they make the perfect couple.  Both are intelligent, slightly self-conscious, and have inner demons that they are forced to confront day in and day out.  With taunts like “snout face” and “bloodsucker”, Phin and Bryn a delightful couple – whether they like it or not.

Ms. Sparks has a wonderful talent to entertain and draw the reader into the worlds that she creates.  Her stories are very quick reads that feel almost like guilty pleasures.  With the perfect mix of sizzle, suspense, humor and love, her books never cease to delight me.  I greatly look forward to reading more by Ms. Sparks and highly recommend her books to any lovers of excellent paranormal romances!

Favorite Quote:

As Phineas relaxed into the swaying movement of the horse, he congratulated himself.  This cowboy stuff wasn’t so hard after all.  Brynley would have to stop calling him a city boy.  Unfortunately, at that moment his horse decided to leave the path and turn right into the forest.

“What the hell?”  He sat up.  ”Horse!  What are you doing?”

Brynley glanced back over her shoulder.  ”Where are you going?”

“I don’t know.”

Brynley pulled to a stop.  ”Steer her back onto the path.”

“There’s no steering wheel!”  He looked frantically about as his horse continued to walk into the forest.  ”How do I put this thing into reverse?”

About Kerrelyn Sparks:

Kerrelyn Sparks’ first paranormal romance, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, zoomed out of the bat cave so fast it became Borders bestselling debut romance of 2005. Each book in the Love at Stake series has become a USAToday bestseller. When the fourth book, The Undead Next Door, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, even the Undead sat up and took notice, which made Kerrelyn a bit nervous. She lives in the Greater Houston area with her husband, children, and a house full of garlic. So far, there are no vampires in her family. Werewolves are another matter entirely.

You may write to Kerrelyn at P.O. Box 5512, Katy, TX 77491-5512. If you are requesting signed bookplates or bookmarks, please include a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope). If you wish to chat with Kerrelyn and other readers, please join the Forum in the Vampire World. If you’d like to receive news and updates, please subscribe to Kerrelyn’s newsletter at KerrelynSparksNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

You can also find Kerrelyn on Facebook!

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

“Get real, Phineas! You can’t expect me to believe this crap!”

Phineas McKinney frowned at his younger brother, who was clutching the steering wheel with white-knuckled desperation. Obviously, last night’s confession had not gone as well as he had thought. “Freemont, you gotta know I would never lie to you–”

“I know that!” Freemont shot him a frantic look, then turned the windshield wipers up to a higher speed to combat the rain that pelted his thirteen-year-old, dented Chevy Impala. “But that doesn’t leave me with a lot of options, you know? First I thought you’d gone crazy. Then I thought you must be doing drugs. Then when I tried to talk to you this afternoon, I thought you were dead! I mean, seriously, start-the-damned-funeral dead!”

“I’m not crazy,” Phineas muttered. “And I don’t do drugs.”

The atmosphere in the car sizzled with tension, interrupted only by the noise of the wipers swishing back and forth. A wet, slushy sound, followed by a high-pitched, prolonged screech reminiscent of fingernails on a blackboard.
Phineas winced. There were times when having supersensitive hearing was not an advantage.

Freemont gave him a wary look. “What—what about that last part? The…dead part?”

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

Freemont gulped audibly. “You weren’t really dead, were you?”

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

“I’m alive now,” Phineas said quietly, then gave his brother a reassuring smile. “Don’t I look alive to you?”

Freemont didn’t look reassured. His eyes had grown so wide, the whites gleamed as his gaze darted back and forth from his brother to the busy street in the Bronx. “You’re alive now? What the hell does that mean?”

“It means my heart is beating. I’m breathing—”

“You weren’t breathing this afternoon! You scared the shit out of me! I almost called Aunt Ruth–”

“I told you not to.” Phineas didn’t want his aunt and sister to know the truth. Aunt Ruth would probably drag him into church and insist the Reverend Washington perform an exorcism on him. Luckily, the female members of his family were out of town this weekend, singing with the choir at some event in Buffalo.

“I didn’t know what to do! I thought about calling an ambulance, but–” Freemont stomped on the brakes, tires spinning on the wet cement before the Impala halted with a lurch. He slammed a fist on the horn, and the blaring noise made Phineas grit his teeth.

“What the hell are you stopping for, asshole?” Freemont hollered at the car in front of them.

“People usually stop for red lights. You should try it sometime.” Phineas’s attempt at a joke fell flat. His brother was still looking at him like he’d grown a second head. “I have excellent night vision, you know. You want me to drive?”

“No!” Freemont leaned forward, a possessive glint in his eyes as he squeezed the steering wheel with fisted hands. “I need to drive. It keeps me calm.”

This was calm? Phineas hadn’t expected a full-fledged panic attack this evening. Last night his brother had remained quiet during the confession, just nodding his head as if he accepted it all. But Phineas had to admit now that it was highly unusual for his brother to remain quiet for more than sixty seconds. Freemont had been stunned speechless.

“I did warn you,” Phineas reminded his brother. “I told you not to go down into the basement.”

“I thought you were quoting a line from a bad movie.”

“Why would I do that?”

“How the hell would I know?” Freemont yelled. “I told you, I thought you’d gone crazy!”

“I explained it all last night, how I ended up a vampire, and how I needed to do my death-sleep all day in the basement with the window boarded up.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t really catch that last part, you know what I’m saying? The minute you said ‘vampire,’ I thought you’d gone bat-shit on me. I didn’t hear nothin’ after that. I was too busy trying to figure out how we could afford to send you to a nut hut so you could get your head screwed back on.”

“I’m perfectly fine, Freemont. I was just…dead for a few hours.”

“That’s not normal, bro!”

“It is for a vampire.”

Freemont flinched, then turned to glare at the stoplight.

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

The light turned green, and Freemont accelerated slowly. “You really believe this stuff, don’t you?”

“I’m not shittin’ you, Freemont. Didn’t you see me drink a bottle of blood?”

“You said it was blood, but what the hell, you could have had a V8. If you were really a vampire, wouldn’t you be chomping down on people’s necks? Not that I’m offering mine, you understand–”

“I hang with the good Vamps. We don’t bite people.” Phineas sighed. He’d explained all this last night, how some bad vampires had transformed him and held him prisoner until he’d been able to join the good Vamps and help them fight the bad vampires they called Malcontents. He’d even shown Freemont his fangs, although he hadn’t extended them. He’d tried his best not to freak his brother out. “You saw my fangs, remember?”

Freemont waved a hand in dismissal. “You could have had them filed into points. It’s totally wack, but there are crazy people who do weird shit to themselves. Hell, I saw a guy on TV who had his tongue split so he’d look like a snake.”

“I’m not crazy.”

“You think you’re a vampire. If that’s not seriously crazy, I don’t know what is.” Freemont took a deep breath. “We’ll get you better, Phin. I’ll get a full-time job, drop out of school–”

“No! You just finished your freshman year, and you’re doing great. I’m not letting you drop out.”

Freemont stiffened with an indignant look. “You can’t tell me what to do. You’ve been taking care of us, paying all the bills, for eight years. It’s my turn now. I can do this.”

“You’re finishing college,” Phineas said sharply, then noticed the stubborn clench of Freemont’s jaw. Sheesh. His little brother was becoming a man.

Five years ago, when Phineas had been transformed at the age of twenty-three, his brother had been a skinny fourteen-year-old, all bony elbows and knobby knees. The aging process had screeched to a halt for Phineas, so he tended to forget that his younger brother and sister kept growing. He and Freemont looked close to the same age now.
Phineas softened his voice. “I need your help, bro.”

“Anything, man. Whatever medical attention you need. I’ll get it for you. You can count on me.”

Phineas’s chest expanded with warmth. His brother had grown into a good man. Now if he could just convince him of the truth. “Turn right at this next street.”

“Why? I thought you wanted to go to Brooklyn.”

“I do, but we need to make a stop first.”

“Okay.” Freemont turned onto a street lined with narrow wooden-framed houses with sagging front porches.

“Pull in there.” Phineas pointed at an empty space between two parked cars.

“I’ll be blocking a driveway.”

“We won’t be here long.” While his brother stopped and shifted into park, Phineas surveyed the neighborhood. Because of the rain, the sidewalks were empty. The house was dark, no lights glowing in the windows.

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

“I don’t think anyone’s home,” Freemont said.

“That’s for the best.”

“Huh? Then why are we here?”

“A demonstration.” Phineas unlatched his seat belt. “Don’t go anywhere. Keep your eyes on the porch.”

“There’s nothin’ on the porch.”

“There will be.”

“What are you–” Freemont’s words cut off when Phineas teleported to the dark porch. He waved at the car, then teleported back to the front seat.

Freemont was a few shades paler, and his mouth was hanging open.

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

Phineas couldn’t help but smirk. “Now do you believe me?”

Freemont gulped, then his jaw dropped open again.

Slush-screech. Slush-screech.

Phineas snapped his seat belt on. “Told you I wasn’t crazy.”

“Then I must be crazy,” Freemont whispered. “I’m trippin’.”

“You’re not crazy.”

Freemont shook himself. “I didn’t see you get out of the car. You’re not even wet, bro. How did you get to the porch?”

“Teleportation.”

“Tele-what? Isn’t that some sort of spaceman shit?” Freemont stiffened. “Were you abducted by aliens? Did they stick a probe up your ass?”

“No! Freemont, I’m a vampire!” Phineas grabbed the rearview mirror and twisted it toward himself. “Can you see me?”

Freemont leaned over to peer into the mirror. He gasped, looked at Phineas, then back at the mirror. “What the hell?”

Phineas shoved the mirror back in place. “Do you believe me now?”

“You-you’re really a vampire?” Freemont whispered.

“Yes.”

“Damn, Phineas.” Freemont sat back with a horrified look. “Are you sure? I mean, this is some weird-assed, spooky shit.”

“I know, but it’s true, bro. I’m a vampire.”

“That sucks!”

“I don’t suck. I drink from bottles.” Phineas motioned toward the gearshift. “Let’s get going.”

Freemont continued to stare at him. “How did it happen?”

Phineas waved a dismissive hand. “I was attacked by some bad vampires. Can we go now?”

“Attacked?” Freemont grimaced. “What did they do to you, man?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. It was scary as hell and really nasty.”

Freemont’s eyes widened. “They stuck a probe up your ass?”

“No! They ripped my fuckin’ throat out, okay? So now that you know how grisly it was, will you shut up and take me to Brooklyn?”

“Okay, okay.” Freemont shifted into drive and pulled out into the street. “Sheesh. You act like you got a bug up your—”

“Don’t say it!”

While Freemont drove, he shook his head and muttered to himself, “A vampire? Damn. I thought he was a security guard for some old white dude.”

“The old white dude is a five-hundred-year-old vampire named Angus MacKay. He and his wife, Emma, run Mackay Security and Investigation.”

“Five hundred years old? Sheesh! Can he still get it up?”

“I would assume so, since they seem happily married, but I’ve never asked.” Phineas looked out the window at the rain pouring in sheets off storefront awnings and splattering on broken sidewalks. It was thanks to Angus and Emma that he’d discovered the good Vamps. He’d found more than employment with them. He’d found a new extended family, mostly guys. He’d laughed with them, fought with them, mourned with them. The guys had become his brothers.

It had started off like one big bachelor party, but in the last few years, the men had fallen like flies. Even Gregori, the famous playboy of the vampire world. He’d hooked up with the president’s daughter.

Phineas enjoyed teasing them that all their newfound marital bliss was due to his expertise as the Love Doctor, but the joke was on him. He was like the painter who owned the only house in the neighborhood that needed painting. Everybody could find love but the Love Doctor.

And it wasn’t for lack of trying. He’d dated some Vamp women he’d met at the vampire clubs. He’d thoroughly enjoyed playing the role of a popular ladies’ man until he realized they saw him as nothing more than a novelty act, something to try out of curiosity before they flitted away to the next distraction.

He wanted to be more than that. He wanted someone who would look past his outward appearance to connect with his soul. Someone who would see him as special. Worthy of a lifetime, not a single night.

04/14/12

Review: A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang

A Sliver of Shadow
By:  Allison Pang

File Size: 1591 KB
Print Length: 404 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star; Original edition (February 28, 2012)

About: WAR IS HELL. AND WAR WITH HELL IS NO FUN EITHER.

Just when her new life as a TouchStone—a mortal bound to help OtherFolk cross between Faery and human worlds—seems to be settling down, Abby Sinclair is left in charge when the Protectorate, Moira, leaves for the Faery Court. And when the Protectorate’s away . . . let’s just say things spiral out of control when a spell on Abby backfires and the Faery Queen declares the Doors between their worlds officially closed. The results are disastrous for both sides: OtherFolk trapped in the mortal world are beginning to fade, while Faery is on the brink of war with the daemons of Hell. Along with her brooding elven prince Talivar and sexy incubus Brystion, Abby ventures to the CrossRoads in an attempt to override the Queen’s magic. But nothing in this beautiful, dangerous realm will compare to the discoveries she’s making about her past, her destiny, and what she will sacrifice for those she loves.  (Click here to continue to read my review at Romancing the Book – Amazon is being a pain an not allowing full re-posts of reviews, this is why I have been doing teasers with the link to the full)

My Review: Amazing, extraordinary, out of this world! A Sliver of Shadow is an amazing follow-up to A Brush of Darkness, the first in the Abby Sinclair series!

I first fell in love with Abby and her friends in the A Brush of Darkness. I loved the spunkiness, uniqueness and sassiness of her, as well as the sexiness of her incubus lover, Brystion. When we begin this latest installment, Brystion has some competition of the very unexpected and elvish kind. This, however, is not the most dire of issues – the fact that the CrossRoads and the Doors which allow the OtherFolk to travel easily between different worlds, has been shut down by the Faery Queen who, as it happens, has gone completely mad.

Favorite Quote:  Something hot blurred my vision, scorching down the side of my face. Her gaze become curious as she captured it, turning her fingers to peer at the crystalline softness of my tears.