Review: Forbidden Bond by Lee Colgin

I would rate this 3.25 stars

Historically enemies, there is now a peace treaty between vampires and shifters. As vampires push to announce their existence to humans in the face of technological advances in order to control the PR, many shifters disagree, threatening the peace. The real problem is that it’s just an armistice: there is no integration or friendship. Sinclair, a living vampire, has been accepted at a shifter college for graduate study, which is an historic opportunity. His father, who presides over the Vampire Council, is worried about his safety. He might be right as Sinclair is met with hostility and suspicion. The POV then switches to Mitchel, the Alpha on campus, whose uncle Marcus runs the Werewolf Council. Mitchel’s parents where killed by vampires, so he has no love of their kind. As Sinclair and Mitchel actually get to know each other, they become friends while they try to help maintain peace between their species. Others struggle to accept a world where vampire and werewolf date and humans know of their existence.

Each chapter is started by a news report updating the reader about the issues and fears in the supernatural community. I thought it was a little gimmicky. This is firmly in the new adult genre even though Mitchel is older. It has an enemies to lovers, slow burn vibe–fun, flirty, a little juvenile–at the beginning. Then, all of the sudden, their relationship is serious with sexy times and a violent, action packed plotline. The vampires are ruthless and bloodthirsty when threatened, while the wolves come off as more squeamish and less prepared for violence. Other supernatural species are mentioned in passing, but not focused on so they have no face. It was great to see Erika as a strong female Alpha wolf who takes charge in the crisis, yet none of the secondary characters are very detailed. This story is enjoyable even though it doesn’t break any new ground in this subgenre.

The cover art by Natasha Snow works well with the titles to convey much of the story.

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Forbidden Bond by Lee Colgin — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gideon and Jesse work together as private investigators and after years of friendship, become an established couple in book one. This isn’t difficult to follow if you haven’t read the first book, but your understanding of the characters will be very different. The case investigated here revolves around a missing young woman found killed after an exclusive party. Right after leaving a hideous crime scene where Jesse is emotionally devastated, Jesse and Gideon go to the vampire club Sangre where they participate in a gang bang that involves other vampires and a lot of blood. Why this isn’t traumatic for Jesse after the way the woman was killed, is a mystery to me. While there they rescue an empath named Emma who can sense and transmit the feelings of others.

The world building never had a hint of anything else paranormal except vampires, so it felt abrupt to have an empath thrown in to this world. The vampires must know Gideon works with the police. Why would they do anything illegal like sell him a human slave? They were able to rescue Emma because no one already “owned” her, so if she had already been bought, they wouldn’t have helped her? The author seems to skirt the line, maybe not wanting to go into non consensual territory, but that’s too little too late with these characters. Clearly there are limits and rules as to when they are the good guys. In book one, Gideon is not always shown in the best light so it felt like here, Emma was used to reassure the audience (and Michelle and Jesse) that he really is a good guy. I’m not sure why this is actually necessary since the audience can have more of Gideon’s POV any time the author chooses to write more of it. Both main characters seem pansexual so adding Emma into their mix wouldn’t be too unexpected if it were just sex, but laying the groundwork to add her to their relationship was unexpected. In this book, she is just used for titillation–a will they, won’t they–that could be expanded upon in later books.

Emma is also utilized to give them a lead on the case; she was taken while trying to find her sister, who went missing after dating a vampire. I didn’t like when a scene suddenly switched to Emma’s point of view for a very short time. The usual POV is Jesse’s. However, once Gideon and Jesse go undercover, Emma goes to help Michelle and there needed to be another point of view as action happens in different places. As the only other established character, I am unclear why this couldn’t have been Michelle’s POV. My concern is that because she’s a lesbian, and therefore will not be having sex with Jesse or Gideon, her POV is considered unimportant. For me, this seemed like a lost opportunity.

The interaction between law enforcement and the private investigators is really lacking. The world is built with humans knowing about vampires, but this is another situation where the author seems to hedge and not commit to that. Why are the police not asking Gideon for help on vampire cases? Why do the police only raid the party when Gideon says so? This is written as Gideon being the only vampire who actually cares about humans, but then the author has Rina, who was friends with the murdered woman, and promptly dismisses her of being capable of being a complex person.

While the use of humans, alive or dead, to entertain the wealthy is not an original idea, the “art” created by Jesse and Gideon with Emma’s help sounded interesting. Sadly, it wasn’t described in a way that came alive as scenery, it was used as a means to an end. The other artists and their creations weren’t shown, even though the story was Gideon’s POV at that point. Then, the final confrontation with the killer(s) fizzled out. In the end, I felt like I was left with many sex scenes, some more successful than others, without an intriguing enough plot or emotional connection to the characters to hold them all together.

The cover design is by Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It shows Jesse and elements of the art exhibits mentioned in the book.

Sales Link:  JMS Books LLC |   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages, JMS Books LLC
Published: (first published August 1st 2007)
Original Title: Unveiled (Book II of The Master Chronicles)
ASINB001JMFBPW

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

This is a dark erotic romance, with urban fantasy elements, set in Chicago. Jesse is a human who works for a vampire named Gideon doing private investigations. They’ve been hired to solve a murder that may tie to a dangerous new demon drug. This shows alternating points of view, but I still feel like I got to know Jesse better than Gideon, which may be a good thing.

One issue is the plot is obviously just to move them from one sex scene to another, which is a shame because there could have been something more interesting done with what is here. For instance, seeing more of their actual relationship before being thrown into their sexual relationship would have given this a more solid basis. More UST before they got together as well as any indication at all that Jesse was into pain before they have sex, would have made it less jarring. Seeing Jesse’s fantasies and revelling in Gideon’s angst to control himself would have added more depth. For me, the distressing part was no aftercare, even when Jesse had open wounds. Gideon doesn’t really treat Jesse with the care, the respect, the reader is told he has for him; not just in their personal interactions, but with the case they are working, where he doesn’t give Jesse vital information. At least that is acknowledged after the fact, it’s just that so much of this really should have been talked about before all the events that happen.

Between sex scenes, most of the information is told to the reader as a statement right before they need it, rather than being seen in flashbacks. I’m going to mention something that is not related to the plot, so it’s not a spoiler, but would turn many people off: I want readers to be aware there is a scene where Jesse gets off to Gideon’s snuff porn. This caused an issue for me: why is Jesse expecting better behavior from John, the blackest of mages, but then turns around and has no issue with Gideon’s past? I guess for those raised on a TV show with Angel and Spike, maybe this isn’t a big deal? But the reader doesn’t get to know enough of this supposedly good Gideon that is trying to save humans before being introduced to who he used to be. Then, there is the torture scene which really points out the problems with the world-building. One assumes, if the suspect were human, they would have involved the police, but since the suspect is a vampire (demon), they can do whatever they want to her? Obviously humans, mages, and vampires know about each other and coexist, but that is all the reader really knows about this world. In the end, I was left with a few steamy sex scenes and characters that are a bit twisted and not necessarily likeable. Even Jesse seemed more dangerously obsessed with Gideon rather than in love with him, enough to blur ethical lines and basically do whatever he wants as long as Jesse gets what he wants from Gideon.

I think for maximum enjoyment, this should be read as a series of sexual fantasies without a lot of expectations. Since it’s about vampires, expect a lot a blood. Also be aware this has a m/m/f scene, violence, torture, and Gideon sharing Jesse, so they are not monogamous in the traditional sense.

The cover art for my version was done by Cover Design: Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It does communicate the BDSM elements, but not really the paranormal or investigative elements.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published September 25th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07XWNT85S

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

This story features Agent Luke Bennett, aka Took, a member of the BITERs unit of the Anakim (vampire) police known as VINE. The reader is thrown into the action two years after Luke was Taken and turned. He’s been in therapy and is acting as a P.I. His case throws him in the path of his old commander Madoc, who wants him back at work, and is in love with him. It seems obvious to say Took has PTSD; he can’t remember the night he was taken and his fear seems to be getting worse instead of better, until he becomes consumed by this case and takes back his agency, literally and figuratively. As a former Cardinal for the Anakim, Madoc has always been a type of enforcer. He has a strength that Took finds and matches during the book. It switches between Took’s and Madoc’s POV. These are complex, three dimensional charcters. They have their blindspots, insecurities, and make mistakes; yet, both of these men can be cold, arrogant and prickly. For as much as these characters are not pleasant people, I loved them so much. Yes, the romance relies on the longer, off-page relationship in order to work, but the love scenes are hot (and bloody) and I love their working dynamic and banter.

I liked this new take on vampires, werewolves, and hunters. There was something called a Goat, but there wasn’t much detail about this species. I believe there may be other shifters, but that’s not explored in this book. While the political landscape is painted enough for this story to be successful, I wanted more, even if I think this book wasn’t quite the right time without info dumps that I wouldn’t want. There is also a weird shadow realm that is intriguing and terrifying, but not explained at all. The sorcerers are also not explained very much, but they are not capitalized like everyone else so I guess they are not considered born as their own species. There are times where the chapter or scene starts abruptly and I felt like I missed something until I kept reading and everything was explained: while this is a valid stylistic choice, I found it jarring. Although the secondary characters are all effectively utilized and would be great to build upon in other stories, I would have liked them a bit more concrete. (I did appreciate there wasn’t a formulaic meet these characters that will be the couple in the next book type of setup.) These may be minor things, but they did keep me from giving this a 5 star rating. It was a near thing because I loved everything else about this, so let’s talk about that. This is a book I will reread and be will on my best of the year list.

For those not familiar with this author, she always describes the scenes in stark details–gross, grimy, gory–but effective. This is brutal, as with any police case involving violence. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for trigger warnings and tags you might want to keep these in mind: child abuse, brainwashing, murder, child trafficking, kidnapping, and torture. I found this urban fantasy/police investigation mashup really effective; both the world and the case are interesting and well thought out. The action scenes are really well done. The world-building here is fantastically layered in throughout the book. There is information the reader gleans from the thoughts and instincts of the characters, suppressed memories, flashbacks, dialogue, and the actions and their consequences. All of the events and discoveries lead to logical conclusions, but not always the ones that I thought they would from the beginning, yet I never felt blindsided with too many plot twists. I liked the intricacies of the story that require thought. Now that this world is built, I want so many new cases to be written, but I am also content if they are not. The last sentence of this book was perfect. Don’t cheat, you have to read the whole thing.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I didn’t love it, although it is striking and conveys violence and blood, which are main themes of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details: ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644053379
Edition Language English
Series: Blood and Bone #1

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Wounded Soul by Annabelle Jacobs

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ian has feelings for his best friend Blake, who doesn’t reciprocate. In a moment of impulsiveness, he takes home a stranger named Jesse. But Jesse isn’t who he seems to be and suddenly Ian and Jesse are thrown into circumstances that will change their lives. While the general population doesn’t know vampires exist, branches of the government and law enforcement do. Most vampires are in covens that follow the rules laid out by the Vampire Liaison and Crimes Division so they are no longer hunted and killed. But some vampires like to kill and are not happy about being monitored. The cast is rounded out by: the coven leader Raphael, Jesse’s sire and former lover Peter, Ian’s best friends Blake and Cate, and Jesse’s best friend Lys.

When Blake joins the VLCD, things get complicated. The circumstances put everyone in danger as one bad decision after another happens at a frantic pace. On the one hand, this helps pull the plot along without a lot of time to question or poke too many holes in it. On the other hand, I kept wondering why everyone just went along with the crazy parts. Although Blake’s POV happens occasionally, I wanted to know way more about his job and training, so I am hoping that will be another book. I thought how all the police just jump up and do whatever Raphael says at times unbelievable.

There are several things that make this book work: the chemistry between Jesse and Ian, having someone a reader can love to hate, and the friendships which give the book heart. Although the relationship between Ian and Jesse is fast, with the way things happen I didn’t have an issue with that. Where this author shines is individual scenes between characters. The book is very entertaining with likable main characters, but it could have been great instead of just good with more detailed world building, especially a more realistic view of the relationship between the vampires and law enforcement.

The cover artist is Garrett Leigh. Since both Ian and Jesse are tall with dark hair, I have to guess, but I would say this is Jesse. Along with the title, it hints at Jesse’s past and is appropriate for the story.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2XQCbgv

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2J1E19X

Universal Link: books2read.com/WoundedSoul

– Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 245 pages
Published April 28th 2019
ASINB07R8TMVYK
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Wounded Soul by Annabelle Jacobs — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Pendulum by Joel Abernathy, Kingdom of Night 1

Pendulum Cover
I would rate this 4.25 stars.

This is a trilogy and the first two books end with cliffhangers, so you have been warned. If you follow my reviews, you know I hate cliffhangers, but there is a definate story arc and these have already been written since this is a rerelease under a new pen name, so I decided to take the plunge. This series has dark themes and explicit content so pay attention to the trigger warnings and tags. (As an aside, there is nothing hardcore in this book in terms of BDSM, but I have used the author’s tags which may be for the whole trilogy.)

Remus is looking to start over in Washington after having left Texas, to get away from his rich controlling ex-boyfriend. He meets Arthur, who is a member of a high class BDSM club run by the Wolf Pack. There is a contest to be Alpha’s Pet that Remus enters without meaning to and quickly gets in over his head. The whole situation is odd and gets more odd by the minute. It’s also a lot of fun as both Remus and I tried to figure out what is happening. Remus meets the twins Sebastion and Victor, sparking angst and jealousy in Victor as Sebsatian has marked them as mates without telling Remus or giving him a choice.

Although Victor seems creepy at first, in many ways he would be a better match for Remus. The love between Sebastian and Remus is too soon and unbelievable. The sex scenes between them are lacking something. The author does a good job of seesawing between the three of them in a love trangle, but it would have been a great job with more time devoted to figuring out why Sebastian and Remus fall in love in the first place. Having more depth here would have really given an emotional oomph to what happens later in the story. The author is great at building the tension like a horror novel. Also the sexual tension between Victor and Remus is well done in places, but could have been better developed with more scenes. Here, the short looming deadline could be seen as working against the story, but a few more scenes with Victor as Master would have gone a long way. This may be a personal preference as some readers may like the fast pacing, which does add urgency. By the time the extent of Remus’s past is revealed, there is yet another impediment to them being together.

This brings us to the vampires. The origin myth for the wolves and vampires is completely awesome. It also helps develop the mythos of both cultures which we’ll see more of moving forward. I feel like there is a little hypocrisy about the way the wolves view the vampires in terms of death and violence although the wolves do seem…saner, mostly. The last part of the book is OTT (Over The Top). It is both horrifying and fun. No one is left untouched and the readers’ perception of each charcter will completely change by the end. I think I know what will happen–there is plenty of foreshadowing. For me to be happy about Remus ending up with Sebastian in any fashion, there will have to be some major character development. Having said that Remus has some problems of his own to fix. I had wondered why the author spent so much time on Remus’s professor and roommate, only to seemingly drop that portion of the story, but they popped up later when I least expected it and will definitely be more involved in the next books. My last little thing is that I didn’t actually like the switch in POV in the Epilogue, even though I acknowledge that it helps set up a dilemma for the next book. Without giving away too much, there is a good reason that Remus’s POV may not be desirable at this point in the story arc. It’s a good thing I only have to wait a few weeks to see what happens.

Buy from Amazon

Joel Abernathy/L.C. Davis Twitter

Joel Abernathy Facebook

L.C. Davis Website

 

Review: Not Yet Dead by Jenn Burke

Not Dead Yet cover
Book covers at Carina Press are done in house.

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

An immortal, Wes Cooper is technically dead, but able to travel between this world and the otherplane. Lexi Aster is his best friend and a witch; it was her great grandmother’s spell to resurrect Wes after he was killed. He’s not a ghost since he has a living body, but he can make himself disappear, so that resurrection went a bit wonky. When he witnesses a murder, he is frozen and doesn’t act in time. His guilt motivates him to try and help with the investigation. Except for the first time, the killer actually sees Wes while he’s invisible. Now his ex from 33 years ago, Detective Hudson Rojas, gets assigned the case and Wes’ life gets complicated.

The author takes a huge risk giving the POV to an amoral character who is not terribly mature and so self-absorbed that he has spent no time getting to know or understand the magic that allows him his life. Over the course of the book, it becomes obvious that Wes isn’t a bad guy, that he cares for his friends. Knowing the time period and how he dies explains why he is the way he is, but he is so much more as he starts to care more for others and things outside of himself. Hudson has his own growth that needs to happen for them to get their second chance. As with most of the books I have been reading lately, most of their issues come down to lack of communication, but timing in life is everything. In the end, these guys are sweet together. Wes reads as demisexual, although that word isn’t used. The final love scene was hot and funny at the same time–quite an accomplishment and it helps to make the whole thing real.

The lovers reunited element works well in the story. Lexi and Evan (to avoid spoilers, I’ll say he’s Hudson’s friend) are fleshed out enough to care about what happens to them, but I did want a little more. The mystery and the murders are interesting with enough action to keep the suspense going. If witches, vampires, secret societies and ancient artifacts sound exciting, this is the book for you. I’d be happy to read more in this world.

Buy from Harlequin

Buy from iTunes

Buy from Google

Buy from Kobo

Buy from Barnes and Noble

Buy from Amazon

Jenn Burke’s Website

 

Review: An Erie Collection by V.L. Locey

An Erie Collection jpg
Cover by Meredith Russell

I would rate this 4 stars.

This is a m/m paranormal romance collection of short stories with a lot of humor, sexy times, and some violence. The urban fantasy stories are set by Lake Erie, in case you wondered. The stories are told from our plucky hero Templeton’s point of view. Although these stories are a lot of fun, in the way of science fiction, this has some rather pointed points to make about society with serious social commentary woven through each story. So, each story has its own plot–usually murders–and an overarching plot about politics in the magical community. There are graphic sex scenes in each book between the fun and violence. I really enjoyed these tales; you just kind of have to roll with each new thing that gets thrown in and laugh. Each story is written in a different season until we come full circle over a year later.
An Erie Halloween
This is an interesting take on wolf shifters as well as adding a nontraditional shifter character, which is fun. It’s not all fun and games because shifters are being murdered. Mikal and Templeton get thrown together as someone tries to kill Templeton. It’s a good thing things go bump in the night to hide paranormal activity at this time of year. Sexy times, political intrigue, and an attempted coup later, the story has a sweet ending.
An Erie Operetta
This continues our adventures with the werewolf Mikal, and his lover Templeton. The rogues are rising and shifter civil war threatens if the strong and those in power don’t start to make concessions to modernity. Of course, they have to go to the opera because that is what one does when bored in winter weather. It’s fun to see more magical beings. Did I mention this is a murder mystery? After the crime is solved, they continue building their dream to have a safe haven for LGBT shifters as the vampire Vincente, and his human partner Akio come to live at the manor.
An Erie Garden Party
It’s finally Spring and hibernation is over. Mikal’s cousin Haval comes for a visit and all of the sudden, there are dead bodies. With the full moon making Mikal much more aggressive than usual–the sex is rougher in this one. As the Council investigates the deaths, will Mikal and Templeton get found out? Cross species dating and being gay are forbidden after all. Then there is Haval’s secret. Of course what one does when there have been humans murdered on the property is take one for a walk along the lake, at night. An old friend from the Halloween book shows up to wrap up lose ends so they can finally have their garden party with Rugby, the majordomo, in fine form for the comic relief.
An Erie Uprising
The ongoing shenanigans come full circle back from Halloween to Christmas in this tale. The pack has been away at a werewolf gathering of the east coast packs. The bear shifter Margaret now lives at the manor with Haval. The rebellion that has been brewing is here as species choose sides: to maintain the status quo, or fight for a more equal society with equality. The author lured us in with all the fun and sex, but this is a much more serious book and was fully foreshadowed, so not a surprise. Don’t worry, a happy ending is had by all who don’t get killed.

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Kobo

Buy from Barnes and Noble

Buy from iTunes

Author’s Blog

 

Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.

In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.

The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)

The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)
ISBN139781554878253
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Bitter Blood By Lyn Gala

Bitter Blood Cover
Cover by Lyn Gala with stock art by Dreamstime.

I kept having a deja vu feeling whilst reading this and when I checked, I had actually read an earlier version under a different title. This has been revised and re-edited. Lyn Gala is know for her M/M writing so this is a rare M/F for me.

The book has a logical, strong, no nonsense heroine. When Paige’s rookie partner shows up on her doorstep, bleeding and confused, having been kipnapped, she’s not sure what to do. Brady has no pulse, so calling their colleagues doesn’t sound like a good plan with dissection and rubber rooms in their respective foreseeable future. Before Brady was kidnapped, tortured, and killed, they had been working on a case to find victims of a serial rapist and killer who was targeting illegal immigrants. Suddenly, this small, quiet town is filled with vampires, demons, and hunters. Brady is not quite Brady anymore and Paige doesn’t know who to trust. When she runs into an ex-military hunter named Jim, she learns a little about vampires/demons, but Jim has his own agenda. He also drives a blue sedan, just like the one seen at several of the rape/murders and outside Brady’s apartment the night he got kidnapped.

In the end, Paige doesn’t trust what all the various men are telling her, she trusts herself. She trusts her own interactions with people and her own judgement about them. As the trauma of the events and the emotion spills over, Paige is more emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to Brady’s seduction. I love the horror elements in this and it wins hands down for the creepiest post-coital scene ever. I am also completely freaked out that the sex scenes are hot…with a possibly dead guy (Buffy and Angel aside). Also, the way to distract the demons is hilarious. There is actually a lot of action, described well. The author creates great tension in many scenes. I like that we struggle to figure everything out as they do. There are layers to their communities, not just the demons, but the demon hunters. There are different types of demons and vampires mentioned (pijavica, vrykolakas, jiangshi, blajiji, strigoi, vârcolac) so feel free to fall down the internet rabbit hole. Actually, one little criticism is these words seem used interchangeably sometimes and they shouldn’t be. Brady is quite clear he is a demon.

The plot twists near the end are great. I didn’t see them coming, yet I didn’t feel sideswiped or tricked. They seemed like natural progressions to the book and the only way out of the situations that had no other good way to end. I would have liked a little more information in the end about the demon Gavril, and where this might go. It did seem a strangely abrupt ending, but I would have no hesitation recommending this for a fun cross genre read.

I would rate this 4 stars.

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Barnes & Noble

Buy From Kobo

Universal Buy Links

Author’s Website

Author’s Patreon