I really enjoyed the way the bear clan drama played out in Alpha's Queen. With both sides of an arranged marriage not that interested in getting married, a clan on the brink of civil war, and a power struggle within the Alpha's family, there is a lot going on. Lila Felix does a great job of tying it all together and using the political tension to show the hidden and overlooked strengths in Harrison and Atlas.
Harrison isn't all that interested in becoming the Alpha of the Black Bears. He was a fun character once I got past his disinterest in all things clan related and his desire to forgo his responsibilities. I kind of get why he felt that way once I saw more of his family.
Atlas was a bit of a sacrificial lamb. A member of the lower castes that were threatening revolution because of poor treatment by the royals, she was supposed to mend fences with a marriage. But we all know that doesn't usually work out. At first, she is torn between duty and following her heart. But meeting Harrison quickly changes her mind, and she finds herself neck-deep in the twisted politics and family drama that comes along with him.
There weren't any really surprising twists or turns in this one. It was just a well-told story of two fated mates saving their clan while finding love.
The first book in this new serial-style series from Lia Davis quickly introduces us to the worlds of the werewolves and the vampires. Distrustful of each other for what seems to have been forever, an unknown force is now trying to bring hostilities into an all*out war. I don't see too much of the person stirring up trouble and killing tons of werewolves and vampires, and Davis does a good job of showing just enough that of them that I really want to know who it is
Kane is the vampire prince, but in order to take his place on the throne, his mother expects him to have a mate first, Problem is, he's pretty sure his mother won't approve of his true mate - his heart and soul cry out for the werewolf princess.
The book sets us up for a bit of adventure, an interesting mix of a menage, and several conflicts to stand in their way. And let's not forget about the potential war brewing in the background, present enough that I never forgot about it, but never fully overshadowing the romance aspects.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Zoey was a great teenage character. The new kid in school and feeling a bit like an outcast is something I could completely relate to. Being uprooted and moving is rough for anyone, but moving AND finding out that you're not exactly human? That would be super stressful.
To add to Zoey's difficulties, the older generations of her Ice Dragon family are a bit snobbish and don't think humans are good enough for their grand-daughter (even if she is only half-dragon).
I really admired the fight that Zoey found within her self and the courage it took to stand up to her family and their traditions. I don't think her battle is over yet, but she may have won some allies to her side of the field by the end.
I have totally fallen in love with Teeny Weeny Tahini. The little faerie has been a part of a few previous Havenwood Falls stories, and she's always been so much fun. I was really excited to see her featured more in one of the stories.
However, the book didn't grab me right away. While I loved to see Tahini flit about, it seemed like it wasn't really going anywhere. It was super light and not the usual feel I've come to expect from a Havenwood Falls book. But then....
Well, then it all got a bit dark when we start to figure out who Shayin Pisik is and what she's up to. Shayin and Matt (the owl-shifter) have clashed in the past, and it's coming back to haunt him and his family. Shayin will do anything to get who she considers the love of her life back, even the darkest of dark magic. <shiver>
I don't know that I would have recognized this as a fairy tale retelling if I hadn't been told it was. I hope we get to see more of Tahini in future books, she really steals the show!
One of the things I enjoy most about the Havenwood Falls storylines is the great diversity of characters. People from all walks of life and creatures from all over the mythos. The Fall introduces a creature that I haven't seen in Havenwood Falls yet, and her best friend, who happens to be a witch.
Serena, our new creature, has no idea the paranormal world exists and that she is a very big part of it. Much of her family's past is shrouded in mystery, and her mother (who is understandably a bit of a crazy person) is unable to share the secrets and guide Serena. It falls to her aunts to take care of her, and they are up to something that Serena just doesn't understand yet.
As a person who has always found water to be very peaceful, I understood Serena's draw to it. But her draw is much more than mine, and it causes her peace and solitude, and also pain and guilt as she learns more about who she is and why the water calls to her.
This book was very much high school. The cliques, the friendship fights, the pranks, the getting in trouble, and learning the lessons of life. It rang very true (if a bit over the top) for what the high school experience is like. The Fall is one of my favorite editions to Havenwood Falls High so far (there are many I have yet to read though).
**Warning - this does have a bit of a cliff hanger ending - so be prepared.
What happens when a witch hunter falls in love with a witch? Well, hopefully nothing in Havenwood Falls. Witch hunter Macy is supposedly warded from her witch hunting blood, and it shouldn't be a big deal that she's dating the witch, Gallad. But her wards start to fail, and to avoid all hell breaking loose, Macy runs.
A large part of this story is Macy coming to terms with her history and legacy. When she stumbles upon distant relatives with a more violent tendency, she is forced to come face to face with what she just might become.
Macy's family, and her boyfriend Gallad, are racing against the clock to find her. If her month away runs out, then the magic will force her to forget everything she knows about her home.
There are some super crazy fight scenes, a very well-written psychological and moral dilemma, and a boyfriend that just won't give up on his true love. All in all, this is a great addition to Havenwood Falls, and I loved the entire premise and history of the witch hunters that live in the town.
Alpha Challenge is the 10th book in the Ashwood Falls series, and while I highly recommend reading them in order because there are a lot of carryover plots and characters, you could read them individually and still get a really great romance with a lot of great shifter war action.
Just as the shifters of Ashwood Falls think they have defeated the pack intent on destroying them, an attack steals away their young and the hunt is on to get them back. I wish this had been a little bit harder to do. While the Ashwood Pack is pretty much the strongest community of shifters, it felt a little bit like a stroll through the park in a thunderstorm instead of the struggle to fight against a strong enemy they knew little about.
The romance in the story was very well done. Both characters are struggling with issues from their past. And while they also both recognize it, Alec is the first to try and breach the gap between them to claim his mate. (And yes, as in most shifter romances, they know they are mates.) But Rhea has a harder time because of the secrets she as been hiding. But secrets have a way of coming out, and during the rescue of the kids, Rhea is confronted with Alec learning everything.
I really enjoy the Ashwood Falls shifters, and I hope this new enemy presents a challenge for them that they can really dig their teeth into and show how the pack still has room to grow and change.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Title: Forever Wolf (The Legend of All Wolves #3)
Author: Maria Vale
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Born with one blue eye and one green, Eyulf was abandoned as an infant and has never understood why, or what he is...Varya is fiercely loyal to the Great North Pack, which took her in when she was a teenager. While out on patrol, Varya finds Eyulf wounded and starving and saves his life, at great risk to her own.
Legend says his eyes portend the end of the world...or perhaps, the beginning...
With old and new enemies threatening the Great North, Varya knows as soon as she sees his eyes that she must keep Eyulf hidden away from the superstitious wolves who would doom them both. Until the day they must fight to the death for the Pack's survival, side by side and heart to heart...
About Maria Vale
Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her at mariavale.com.
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Excerpt from A Phoenix is Forever
©2019 Ashlyn Chase
Instead of going straight home, Luca parked nearby and started to walk off his hurt and frustration. He wasn’t in the best part of town, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t in the best mood either. How the heck had he gotten to this point in his life? Up until a short while ago, he had been hopeful about his future. Now, he wasn’t so sure. Still wearing his police uniform, he stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets and walked aimlessly with his head down.
Half an hour later, nearing the fountain of the Christian Science Center, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, he barely noticed the regal elegance of the domed structure overlooking the calm reflecting pool. But in the quiet of the early morning, his ears perked up in sudden alert when he heard a woman’s strained gasp.
He glanced up and saw a young woman standing near the fountain. She was about five six with short, spiky brown hair, wearing a black leather jacket. Neck tattoos and a lot of piercings gave her a bad-girl vibe, but what was even odder was that she was staring right at him, wide-eyed. Then she passed out.
“Shit,” he muttered and ran over—faster than a human could. Worried she could wind up with a concussion, he cradled her head before she hit the pavement. He shook her shoulder and shouted, “Hey! Are you all right?”
Eventually, she opened her eyes. Big gray-green eyes. Unusual. Supporting her back, he helped her sit up.
“What’s the matter?” He was tempted to ask if she’d ever seen a cop before, but that was because he was in a crappy mood. Sarcasm aside, he was trained not to assume what was going on in a person’s brain. Asking open-ended questions would gain more information.
“I…saw blood.” She paused and closed those big green eyes again, taking a deep breath. “I always faint at the sight of blood.”
“What do you mean? You saw an accident or someone get hurt?” Luca gentled his voice in concern. Perhaps she’d witnessed a murder and had a delayed reaction.
She shook her head and reached out to grasp his hand. “Look, this may sound crazy,” she said, “but I’m a psychic. I saw you walking this way, and I got a dreadful feeling. Did something just happen to you? I see auras and have premonitions. Your aura is just…well, terrible. Then I had a vision. I saw you covered in blood.”
Blood? Luca helped her to stand. He believed in psychics—the genuine kind. After all, he was a shapeshifter, and he came from a family of shifters. But there were a lot of charlatans out there.
Given where his head was at after just being dumped by Lisa, he could only imagine what kind of energy he was giving off, let alone his aura…but blood? This chick could just be some wacko.
He folded his arms. “Do you want money to tell me more?”
“No! I’m not like that. I help people. Maybe the accident I just saw is something you can prevent from happening.”
He cocked his head. “You saw an accident? Where?”
“On a side street. It looked like an older part of town. They were just kids. Maybe sixteen or seventeen at the most. It looked like they were drag racing. A little kid rode his bike into the street and he was struck by one of the cars.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I see through other people’s eyes. I think I was looking through yours.”
Luca wanted to stay openminded in case she was the real deal.
“Some more weird energy is clinging to you,” she went on, her expression seeming earnest. “I think it has to do with other people in your life. Your aura is red. Angry. But it feels justified—and not just that. I-I feel as if someone is out to get you.”
Who could be out to get him? Was it just his fellow cops, taking advantage of the rookie? Doubtful. That was just for their own chuckles and part of the usual hazing. Something all newbies went through.
No, his dark mood was due to getting dumped. Lisa had acted strange that morning, but he didn’t see her as a danger. Did she have someone else already, and maybe that someone considered him a threat?
He was still mulling over the possibilities when the spiky-haired girl pulled out a card and wrote her name and number on the back.
“I’m sorry if you think I’m trying to take advantage of you. I’m not. Knowing that cops are usually close-minded about psychics, I wouldn’t have even bothered, except I think you’re in danger. And those kids certainly are.”
Glancing at the card, he saw the name she’d written. Dawn Forest. He flipped the card over. It read ScholarTech: Academic Software for Brilliant Minds.
“Is that your real name?”
“Yeah. If I were going to come up with a fake name, it would be better than that.”
“You mean something exotic, like Zelda the Magnificent?”
She laughed. “No. Something like Susan Jones. I don’t think my mom realized how many times people would ask me if my name was fake or if my middle name was ‘inthe.’”
“So you work at this software company?” He wondered why someone who looked like her, with her tats and piercings, would be working for a company that created academic software.
“Yes, I just started there last month. Someday, I’ll get my own business cards instead of the generic ones.”
“Your look doesn’t exactly scream ‘corporate head office.’”
“Well, your assumption is outdated,” she retorted, hands firmly on her hips. “I have a college degree and was top in my class. Not to mention, I’m the only person at ScholarTech, including the engineers, who can recite the entire software manual by heart.”
“Wow. And you’ve only been there a month? How did you learn everything in so short a time?”
“I have a photographic memory.”
“You’re a psychic and you have a photographic memory? Shouldn’t you be raking in the big bucks on Wall Street?” Luca flashed her his trademark grin. It usually got him out of hot water. She smiled back and visibly relaxed.
He took a good look at her, past the tats and piercings and spiky hair, and noticed how pretty she was. Her nose was slightly turned up and covered with cute freckles. The tiny diamond stud in her left nostril almost got lost among them. Her hair made her look like a pixie. Maybe the badass tattoos and piercings were a way to counteract all that cuteness and be taken seriously.
“So do you do anything with your psychic talent, professionally?”
“Like working at a tea room? Or doing parties? No.”
“Anything other than stopping strangers on the street?”
She looked at her feet and kicked at the pavement with the end of her leather-booted toe. “Sometimes. If friends ask me for help, I do what I can for them.”
There was something about her body language that had him questioning that statement.
He tucked her business card into his jacket pocket. “It was nice to meet you, Dawn Forest. I should be getting home though. I worked the night shift, and I need to get some sleep.”
“Okay. Watch your back,” she said and returned to her spot by the fountain to retrieve her backpack.
About Ashlyn Chase
Award winning author, Ashlyn Chase specializes in characters who reinvent themselves, having reinvented herself numerous times. With a degree in behavioral sciences, she mainly worked as a psychiatric nurse and Red Cross RN. She’s happily married to her true-life hero husband who looks like Hugh Jackman if you squint.
Connect with Ashlyn online
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Title: A Touch of Darkness (Hades & Persephone #1)
Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mythology Retelling
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as amortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.
The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a Goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.
About Scarlett St. Clair
Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master's degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.