Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Two Nocturne Falls Shorts – Kristen Painter

February 21, 2017 - 11:20 pm No Comments

The Vampire’s Valentine Surprise
A Nocturne Falls Short
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Kristen Painter
Page count: 44p
Release date: 20th March 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs, fur, and all. When Delaney Ellingham enters the Nocturne Falls Valentine’s Day Bake-Off, she has no idea that an old rival will create such havoc. Her husband, Hugh, and her friends all come to her aid, but even they can’t guess the surprise that lays in store…
Preparing for the competition, Delaney is baking, baking and well, baking. And poor old Hugh is worried about becoming the world’s first diabetic vampire through all of the taste-testing he’s been doing. And it’s the same for Hugh’s rook/butler Stanhill (think Jeaves but immortal) so the on,y option is to go out for dinner; real food, before they all explode in a puff of sugar-induced death.
Such is Delaney’s determination to win the Bake-Off. The contest was key to the success of her business; Delaney’s Delectables. And her stress levels are through the roof.
Amidst the usual fun, progressing storyline and character changes, we get our first glimpse of Roxy, who shows up as female lead in ‘The Shifter Romances the Writer’ one of my favourite in the Nocturne Falls universe. We also find out about some more of the characters and it does de
Over the expected HEA. Great Valentine’s fun

 

The Vampire’s True Love Trials
A Nocturne Falls Short
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Kristen Painter
Page Count: 55pp
Release date: 4th Jan 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

So, I’ve read and reviewed six if the Nocturne Falls books so far and love every one of them. But as it’s February: Valentine’s month, I decided to try the Valentine themed short.
But first, some background. Nocturne Falls is a town where it’s Halloween 365 days a year. From the cake shop, to the restaurants to the bars, to the streets, this town is Horror and Supernatural themed and the tourists love it. They love the fake gargoyle statue in the centre, they love the ‘vampires’ who walk around, and they love everything about it. They’d love the town even more if they realised it was – real.
Run by the Ellingham’s, centuries old vampire brothers, the town offers a way to ‘hide in plain sight.’
In this short, we pick up after Sebastian’s and Tessa’s fake wedding was cut short, and in this story, vampire Sebastian is about to meet Valkyrie Tessa’s parents. They have just endured interrogation from the vampire council following the events in ‘The Vampire’s Fake Fiancé’ book five. Sebastian suggests they stay over a little while longer and play tourist in Amsterdam, though he would love to be back to see Delaney’s child being born (his sister in law, and a momentous occasion for this vampire family).
However, Tessa’s parents however have other things in mind, and a new husband all picked out for Tessa, it doesn’t matter what she wants. So, deter,ones to win his love forever, Sebastian must face a series of trials.
This is another fun Short in the Nocturne Falls series, just enough to whet the appetite and fill the gaps between books. Humorous, sexy and great characters. Another hit.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kristen-Painter/e/B002OETF74/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Allegiance of Honour Psy-Changeling 15

February 1, 2017 - 1:49 pm No Comments

Allegiance of Honour
Psy-Changeling Book 15
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: Hardback ARC 478pp
Release date: 16th June 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

www.nalinisingh.com

www.gollancz.co.uk

@nalinisingh

I’ve been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series now for quite a few years, and have been engaged with it from the start, but if you’re picking this up for the first time, as a starting point, you will manage, but this brief pointer will help.
It’s the future; 2080s, and there are three races on earth; changelings (or humans who shift into various types of animals such as wolf, tiger, panther).
Psy (pretty much short for psychic, this race also has sub-strands (E – Empaths) for example and Tks, who have telekinetic power. And humans.
Back in the good old 1970s, some of the Psy were prone to madness and there were Psy serial killers. To control the insanity the Psy-Net was established- creating Silence. A cold existence in which Psy are punished for having or demonstrating any kind of emotions. They can be reconditioned for such a crime.
So, that’s the stage set for the adventures to come over the first twelve to thirteen books. But Silence was never foolproof and by book 13 it has fallen, and Psy are trying to cope living with emotion. This would be impossible if not for the mating bonds already created between Psy, Changelings and humans, which started with panther Lucas Hunter of the DarkRiver pack and Psy Sascha Duncan in book one. And the ‘Honeycomb’ a new Psy-net link maintained by the E designations (Empaths) linking Es to various psy and changelings to prevent psychic collapse.
In book fourteen, society is somewhat unstable following the fall of Silence, but the Ruling Coalition are attempting to work with the Psy-force – The Arrows, to police the world. At the end of book 14 Shards of Hope, Arrow leader Aden, recently bonded to Zaira Neve, now, they are trying to start a new life of ‘family’ not just for themselves but for the entire Arrow race; play and school and family units for children, relationships for the adults, bonds, socialising. What was once anathema to them and previous pseudo-ruler Ming LeBon. Aden is the real power behind the Arrows. He is also intent on building strong relationships across the races, so with his instigation, The Trinity Accord is born; humans, Psy Inc Arrow, and changeling working together for a better future.
There are issues along the way; someone or something, an entity known as The Consortium ruled by a hidden identity is causing trouble, kidnapping BlackSea pack members and attempting to kidnap Lucas’ and Sascha’s young toddler Naya. Terrorist attacks are commonplace with the Architect who is part of the Consortium but the Trinity Accord are determined to work together and defeat them.
This sprawling novel brings an end to an era, and the start to another linked series, the first of which novel comes out June 2017. And I for one cannot wait and see what it brings. This novel ends on hope, optimism and at the same time trepidation, with a clan gathering that will ferment the future. And throughout the book we have been reacquainted with characters old and new; Zach and Annie from a novella, seen in both ‘Magical Christmas Cats I believe) and Wild Invitation. Mercy and Riley, Judd and Brenna, Hawke and Sienna (who were mated in my favourite book of the series ‘Kiss of Snow’)
This is a real, satisfying trip down memory lane, which also combines long awaited events that will satisfy long term fans and new readers alike.
A brilliant, riveting, emotional rollercoaster of a ride that ends with a brand new family.
5/5

Shards of Hope: Psy-Changeling 14

January 25, 2017 - 9:13 pm No Comments

Shards of Hope
Psy-Changeling Book 14
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 483pp
Release date: 4th June 2015
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

I’ve been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series now for quite a few years, and have been engaged with it from the start, but if you’re picking this up for the first time, as a starting point, you will manage, but this brief pointer will help.
It’s the future; 2080s, and there are three races on earth; changelings (or humans who shift into various types of animals such as wolf, tiger, panther).
Psy (pretty much short for psychic, this race also has sub-strands (E – Empaths) for example and Tks, who have telekinetic power. And humans.
Back in the good old 1970s, some of the Psy were prone to madness and there were Psy serial killers. To control the insanity the Psy-Net was established- creating Silence. A cold existence in which Psy are punished for having or demonstrating any kind of emotions. They can be reconditioned for such a crime.
So, that’s the stage set for the adventures to come over the first twelve to thirteen books. But Silence was never foolproof and by book 13 it has fallen, and Psy are trying to cope living with emotion. This would be impossible if not for the mating bonds already created between Psy, Changelings and humans, which started with Lucas of the DarkRiver pack and Psy Sacha Duncan in book one.
In book fourteen, society is somewhat unstable following the fall of Silence, but the Ruling Coalition are attempting to work with the Psy-force The Arrows, to police the world.
No one really knows why Aden became leader of the Arrows who bit by bit escaped the cruel control of former councillor Ming Le Bon, after all, he only registers mid-range on the Psy-plane, and is a medic, despite being a formidable physical opponent. But best friend Vasic, recently mated to Ivy, knows the truth about him. He has indescribable powers not yet seen, though the Arrows truly follow him, because of his loyalty to them. He will fight for every single one of them. The same way he fought for the broken, beat child, Zaira, he met twenty years ago, as a boy.
When Aden and Zaira wake up in a room, both battered and bloody unable to use their Psy powers to call for help, they know they have to escape. So they fight their way out in true Arrow style and find themselves near to death, collapsed in a hostile environment; on the land of a changeling leopard pack ran by Remi. And they must convince Remi to help them survive and return home, because their abduction is just the beginning of a plot to overthrow the Arrows.
Amidst the action, and the sub-plots, is the budding, yet fractured romance between Aden and Zaira, which is the heart of the book. Like many romance heroines, Zaira is damaged, having been tortured by her parents as a child before becoming an Arrow, but where the heroine falls back, Zaira steps forward and fights, but it is this anger, this rage, which she is afraid of. This burning fire is a barrier between her and Aden, so it will take some perseverance to battle through.
The romance, as always with Nalini Singh is believable and passionate, growing in the right way.
But in this book, a whole new world opens up to the reader.
The conspiracy behind the abductions is explored, other races are introduced, new ventures, new relationships, new plot-strands, new futures. And it’s bloody exciting!
Fast-paced, full of action, erotically charged love scenes and humour, this book takes the rule book and throws it out.
It ends on a brand new high, and a new story arc, which I’m sure will continue to grow.
I particularly want to see how Beatrice Gault develops, how the children of all races grow, how romance blossoms between the various factions and I want to sea more if the BlackSea pack.
There is so much more to enjoy here, but in this instance, for the nature of nostalgia (netting old characters again) and the exciting future it foretells, and the sensitive handling of child abuse Shards of Hope scores 5/5.

The Shifter Romances the Writer by Kristen Painter

January 18, 2017 - 2:51 pm No Comments

The Shifter Romances the Writer
Nocturne Falls Book 6
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Independent
Page count: 364pp
Release date: 24th May 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Realtor Pandora Williams returns in this book as supporting cast member, helping writer Roxy St James (currently going through a divorce) to find the right new home. She has moved to Nocturne Falls, a town where every day is Halloween and Supernaturals roam free. Hidden in plain sight, as it were. Though hiding is something Roxy can relate to. She is desperate to shake off her ex; her “awful, controlling soul-crushing ex.”
Roxy is friends with Delaney Ellingham, now pregnant with Sebastian’s baby. And she is delighted love is working out for them, though can’t help noting the irony that she, a romance writer, has somehow got it wrong. So, better to say she was done with men. She would remain single and get a cat, or a fish.
Of course the house is perfect, especially with its added bonus of a spacious shed/tree house at the back that she can use as a writing room. So, decision made, she takes it.
Elsewhere in the town, deputy and shifter Alex Cruz is being lectured in Spanish by his Mom on the same subject as always! When will he find a good woman and give her grandbabies? For Alex, there’s plenty of time. After all he’s only 59 and shifters live a long time. But Carmen (aka Mom) doesn’t think so. She’s addicted to romance novels and can’t help it that romances dance in her vision. And she just happens to be a fan of Roxy. It’s a pity that for Alex, romance means a soul mate and unless he finds that, he’ll stay alone. It had to be better than little brother Diego though, who’d turned up again looking for somewhere to stay after another relationship breakdown. Three weeks later and little bro still has no job and is getting on Alex’s last nerve.
There are some great characters here and relationship dynamics. Roxy is struggling to escape her ex and set up her new life. But amidst the drama, and the budding romance, is the usual comedy. Painter loves a good pun (Undrea Seely who I’m betting is some sort of mer-creature) runs a fish pet shop called Tanks A Lot. Baddum. Ching.  For me, I found the irony aimed at PNR writers, which Painter partly is, very humorous, but as a writer myself, I got Roxy’s frustrations as well as her joy. And her fears. Deadlines loom, but life gets in the way. Yet writing this stuff is extremely satisfying as well.
This series never gets old. I’m on my sixth book and I find something new in every one.
My only bug bear in this one is the baddie. It came out of the blue and wasn’t the one I’d expected from hints in Howlers. Of course I can’t say any more without spoiling the ending. One other thing, was Alex’s issue with a human as a potential partner. Whatever way you want to look at it, it’s a form of racism or xenophobia, despite Alex’s rationale behind it. Whilst his Mom does pull him to task on this, I don’t feel it was given enough attention. Otherwise, it was a fun read, with a solid character line up and emotional punch. What I particularly like about this series is the multitude of other supporting characters within the Nocturne Falls universe. It bodes well for future books. Great fun.
4/5

The Christmas Promise

January 4, 2017 - 5:11 pm No Comments

The Christmas Promise
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd)
Page count: 368pp
Release Date: 1st Dec 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Promise-Sue-Moorcroft/dp/0008175527/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483549314&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Christmas+promise

 

With sales a bit thin on the ground at her Camden West Yard casual stall, Ava is battling through the sleet with friend Izz to Blaggard’s Bar, most definitely not in the ‘Christmas Spirit’.

Ava is Izz’s ‘plus one’ at her new company ‘do’. She’d already heard loads about Izz and bestie Todd’s new big important boss, Sam, so was curious to meet him. As she starts to chat to the successful entrepreneur, albeit briefly, she is reminded of her difficult finances and struggling business as a hat milliner.
Things get off to a decidedly rocky start, despite Sam buying her a drink, when she overhears two of his colleagues insisting he had the right to hit on her because he bought her a drink. She’s not impressed, and even more so when she realises Izz has a crush on Sam and then men are acting embarrassed, causing Ava’s feelings of indignation on her friend’s behalf. Sam soon makes an apology for his friend’s behaviour and conversation begins to flow, until Izz mentions the elephant in the room; Ava doesn’t like Christmas. Gasp, horror! But there are reasons for her lack of Christmas cheer.
And of course, she comes into contact with Mr Obligatory Jerk, at this difficult time of year, which provokes Sam into attempting to protect her.
When it comes to the millinery aspects of the book; the creation of hats, materials used etc, Moorcroft has obviously done her research and it reads as expertise. And knowing her from a couple of conventions, it is evident where she uses her genre knowledge in respect of Burlesque and Steampunk.
And as the novel progresses, she shows her knowledge of comics, and carries it off believably, throwing in the ‘New 52s’ though that’s been recently overtaken by DC Rebirth (I doubt publishing schedules would allow for this addition).
At the heart of the book, Moorcroft also deals with a couple of emotional issues; cancer and the impact of chemo through a secondary character, and ‘revenge porn’ or blackmail and humiliation, attempted again by a secondary character. Moorcroft deals with these issues sensitively and adeptly, offering her advice through Ava’s thoughts. Nicely handled. As an aside, for those being threatened with ‘revenge porn’, please research #NoToRevengePorn on social media. As Ava and Wendy put it, ‘No blame, no shame.’
As the book progresses, we have the usual ups and downs in relationships; potential romances, existing romances and current friendships. Plenty to keep the tension going. I was particularly impressed with the depiction of a panic attack at one stage.
When the physical scenes happen, as they do in romance novels, they are also very real; intimate, sometimes funny, passionate and above all, written in a respectful, satisfying way, if you get my drift. Ahem.
As for the last quarter? Wow, what an emotional roller coaster. I could literally feel my heart in the pit if my stomach et times, a curdling knot of fear, turmoil, guilt, love, laughter, everything.
Moorcroft has spun a wonderful tale bursting with emotional warmth and tears as well as fun. A brilliant, brilliant book.
Having just moved home, and facing my own roller coasters, ones that always come at this time if the year, The Christmas Prkmise gave me moments of sheer joy and satisfaction. In fact, a perfect Christmas.
5/5