Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Rogue Hunter

April 12, 2017 - 3:24 pm No Comments

The Rogue Hunter
(Argeneau Vampires book 10)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 361pp
Release date: 10th May 2012
Online: @Gollancz, @Lynsay_sands, @StevieFinegan
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin


Falling for a man is acceptable, expected even, but falling literally head over heels stumbling all over the place? Well, that’s taking it just a bit too far.
In the tenth instalment of the Argeneau Vampire series, we’ve entered a new story arc following Vampire Interrupted, and Bricker, Decker and Mortimer are on the hunt for a rogue vampire, himself hunting in a lakeside cottage area near Toronto.
Decker has had his cottage home in the area for years and thankfully, has managed to avoid any nosey neighbours. At least until the Willian sisters come to stay for a vacation.
Sam Willan is a workaholic lawyer, lately single from her high school sweetheart, but currently plagued by a recurring ear infection (suspected) that has her dizzy, losing her balance and toppling all over the place. She has reluctantly agreed to see a specialist on her return home, egged on by chef sister Alex and bar manager/university attendee sister Jo.
Of course she would start falling over in front of Mortimer, who’s staying with Bricker at Decker’s cottage, as they hunt for the rogue, who is bleeding humans dry. He at first suspects her falling about is drunkenness and isn’t suitably impressed, particularly as he can’t hear her thoughts, a sign she may be his true life mate. And she’s really not his type; too skinny, too pale. Needs a good meal.
His two Hunter friends watch as Mortimer begrudgingly finds himself feeling protective towards her as they use the trio of sisters to attend a popular lakeside night spot to find the rogue. Whilst on the hunt for the rogue, Mortimer finds himself falling heavily for Sam, whilst she is drawn to him, but harassed by her boss as the daughter of of one of their clients is missing and Sam is tasked with forcing the local sheriff into action.
It’s no surprise that the pair end up getting closer, but fate seems to get in their way in the most awkward of ways when it comes to getting intimate; cue insects, rashes, bumbling about and other disasters I won’t spoil for you.
It’s everything you expect from Sands; romance, action, great characters, witty humour and either a HEA or HFN.
In this case it’s HFN, but with the proviso that we will meet Sam and Mortimer again and see their story complete.

The Dragon Finds Forever: Nocturne Falls 7

March 22, 2017 - 1:41 pm No Comments

The Dragon Finds Forever
Nocturne Falls Book 7
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Sugar Skull Books
Page count: 240pp
Release Date: 21st February 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin


It’s back to Nocturne Falls again. Where supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, Valkyrie, gargoyles – the list goes on) hide in plain sight in the town which celebrates Halloween 24/7. This time, we have a dragon.
It starts with Monalisa (don’t sing please!) Devlin, watching her father play with the gold coin that’s supposed to be hers; her birthright given to her at eighteen. But Padraig Devlin, father and king of the Leprechauns could be crafty, sneaky and greedy.
She should’ve got her coin twelve years ago as she turned eighteen, but no, no matter that she’d done what he asked, there was still that ‘loose end’.
As soon as she got her coin she’d be able to leave, which is why the king held onto it tight, as blackmail – there was something he wanted her to do.
Her parents were known worldwide for the casino, The Shamrock, and the fights held beneath the venue. Monalisa’s manipulative father wanted her to persuade a certain dragon to fight in their arena. Urging her to use her ‘will-o-the-wisp’ skills to get the Dragon in her thrall.
Van, Dragon in metaphorical hiding, is determined to leave fighting behind and settle down in Nocturne Falls. Close friends with Pandora, she helps him choose a dog as a new companion as he heals on crutches; a dog he hopes to bond with. His life in the fighting arena over. He just wants to mope, recover and read and pet his new timid Doberman Grom. He’s in no place for female relationships.
Too bad the ‘rehabilitation therapist’ ‘Lisa’ (Monalisa’s cover to lure back Ivan the Hammer) is easy on the eyes, he is not interested in women – at all! But he also doesn’t want her getting in Trouble and getting sacked for not doing her job, after all, she seems desperate. So reluctantly he agrees to the therapy.
With the therapy comes an interesting aspect of the book. Van has been severely injured by a manticore’s poison and is suffering a form of sports PTSD or injury-related trauma as a result.
Painter seems to have really grasped what trauma feels like and through the therapy sessions between her two protagonists, leads the reader through the recovery process, exploring the emotions involved. As Monalisa helps Van deal with the physical and emotional scars from his fight, the two, inevitably, become closer.
Painter also deals with perceptions in the novel; how Van is seen by the tourists as something or someone to be feared because of his size and shaved head, juxtaposed with his sweet nature, his sense of humour, and how the locals and Lisa see past his exterior.
Overall, this is another fun, romantic romp from a Painter in the Nocturbe Falls series, with a cameo of Jayne Frost. The more I read of this Halloween town, the more I’d love to move there!

The Grendel Affair SPI Files 1

March 7, 2017 - 10:32 am No Comments

The Grendel Affair
SPI Files Book 1
Author: Lisa Shearin
Publisher: Ace Fantasy (A Penguin Random House Company)
Page count: 292pp
Release date: 31st Dec 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

online:, @lisashearin

When Makenna (Mac) Fraser moved from her small home town of Weird Sisters, she intended to use her seer powers of identifying supernatural creatures, (which everyone else couldn’t see) into a brilliant journalistic career. Still, those rare skills came in handy working for a trashy New York tabloid. However, she never expected to be head-hunted (in a good way) by the SPI, a Supernatural equivalent of the FBI, a secret government agency set up to protect all species from dangerous cryptids and bring them to justice, whilst looking after the everyday supernatural inhabitants of NY.
Of course, not battle trained, she became their seer, the much needed eyes of the agents who would go out on combat missions.
The first in the series starts with Agent Mac Fraser doing a job off the books, for antiquity dealer Ollie, late at night at his shop. He’s being tormented by a nacht gnome, dangerous little buggers that can be contained by knocking them out with liquor. So, armed with bottles of Jack Daniels she is spotted by stuck-in-the-mud partner Ian Byrne. He catches her roaming the streets with tequila filled water pistol (she’d been banned from live ammunition after an ‘incident’) and insists on going with her. Which is a good job considering they find a mutilated body at the shop.
Between a hidden bunker full of monster body parts underneath a crypt, to mysterious letters addressed to the ‘Dragon Lady’ boss, Agent Mac and her partner Ian are going to have to put aside their differences to battle a nemesis threatening to let loose a myriad of monsters in Times Square NYE. The aim? To let the world know that Supernatural creatures exist, cause chaos, fear and death.
As the only seer in the NY office, with monsters on the loose, Mac is the only one who can see, identify and mark the danger. So, fighting his own fears, partner Ian has to accept that Mac needs to be trained as a field operative. And if anyone is going to train her, it’s him. What appears to be a gruff, slightly cold exterior on Ian Byrne, is a form of protective shielding he uses to keep his feelings for Mac locked in tight. And as they work together to combat evil that has a personal grudge against their boss, they become even closer.
There are some great characters in this novel, from Ollie, the human artifact dealer, ‘Dragon Lady’ boss who hides a tough exterior in her petite form, über Geek Kenji, Yasha the ‘cuddly’ Russian werewolf and the Scandinavian gang of agents, there are loads of relationships to enjoy here. But it’s Mac and Ian who take centre-stage; Mac with her honest, yet somehow naive opinions, and regular mishaps, which remind me slightly of Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond, though less accident prone, and Ian Byrne, with his ‘Agent’ exterior which really hides a heart of gold. Think Mulder and Scully but reversed.
Add in some brilliant one-liners, monster-mashing fun, blood and gore, high-octane action and a fast pace, and what you have is a series that starts on a high. I was addicted within a few pages – okay, let’s be honest, I was addicted by page four, and here’s why.
As Mac puts it, whilst talking about her previous work for seedy tabloid ‘The Informer’, “where only stories like ‘Donald Trump is a Werewolf Love Child’ had any hope of making it to the front page. … ‘That particular headline had been an obvious lie – at least it’d been obvious to me. No self-respecting werewolf would have hair like that.”
See, with snort-worthy narrative from Mac’s point-of-view such as that, you’re in for an hilarious ride. This is truly great first-person snark, as C E Murphy would have it. To add even more enjoyment, Shearin is adept at using relevant pop culture references. As for the combat and fight scenes plus military style masouvers, these are handled deftly, and it’s clear Shearin has done her homework, building up the tension at the right time.
If I could find anything more to say to recommend this I would, but it’s possibly just as easy to say, the end rounds off, but leaves teasers for the future. There are so many more creatures the SPI could explore, and we haven’t even nearly dealt with the complex dichotomy between Ian and Mac.
So, I suggest you stay on for the long haul. I know I will be.

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.


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


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.