The Sea Below by William Meikle

The Sea Below by William Meikle
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The adventurers from THE LAND BELOW return to the cavern under the Austrian Alps.

At first it is a rescue mission, but soon Danny, Stefan, Ed and Elsa find themselves in a fight for survival.

A perilous journey across an underground sea brings them to a lost island and fresh adventures, but their attempts to return to the surface only serve to make their situation worse.

Now they must flee for their lives, with all the denizens of that strange island at their heels.

When Danny received Stefan’s missive – that their mutual friend Ed had gone back underground to the caverns and other world they had recently discovered in an old caving site – Danny doesn’t hesitate. With little money to his name and even less reason to stay in London, Danny decides to go and offer whatever help his friends could use from an old soldier. Even though his dreams were still shadowed from his previous experience, Danny has no real idea of what’s in store for them all.

I really enjoyed this short story and feel it’s an excellent, quick read for those looking for an old school action/adventure with a bit of mystery and horror thrown in for good measure. While this is a sequel to The Land Below, readers should be reassured that they absolutely don’t have to have read that first installment to really enjoy this story. Even better, half the first few chapters aren’t spent re-hashing the previous book. While there isn’t much time spent describing Danny’s journey to the cave site, nor their descent down into the underground world the story is set in, I feel this time the story really reaps the rewards of having all it’s action centered fully on the caves, monsters and adventure the men have below ground. While the book is a self-contained adventure, there is not a traditional style of “happily ever after” ending. I don’t particularly mind this with mystery and adventure books, and I certainly don’t feel like the ending is a cliff-hanger or without suitable resolution, but I do feel readers should be aware the ending isn’t a traditional tying up of all the loose ends.

William Meikle – in my opinion – is an exemplary storyteller when it comes to short, action-paced and spooky stories. His writing style really flourishes in this sense and I feel he manages with true skill to straddle a number of genres. While not horror in a traditional sense, his story has monsters and things going bump in the dark. The action is there from virtually the first page and the pace is fast and I feel it really draws the reader along at a breakneck pace. I also really enjoy how he skillfully weaves the story so it’s impossible to tell what sort of period/year these two stories are set in. There are lamps, boats, trains and pulleys, engineering feats so it doesn’t feel “really” old – but the lack of computers and phones also indicates it’s not necessarily the modern world as we know it. Then again, phones and computers won’t work so deeply underground, so given the story’s setting this lack of modern technology indicating an older time period is seriously debatable. Underground caves in the middle of the isolated countryside don’t lend the story to the internet, wifi reception or satellite coverage. While I can’t quite figure this is a truly contemporary time period, I feel this story really can’t be slotted into a historical setting either – but more a vague, hazy “in between” type of time of not right now but neither in the distant past. And oddly, I enjoy the fact this story doesn’t give answers to every question that the reader will come up with. Some things are left to the readers own imagination – and isn’t that the point of reading, really?

Readers looking for an intense, fun and slightly scary monster/adventure/treasure hunt style of story should not find themselves disappointed with this. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word and I know there will be a number of happy re-reads of this to come. Recommended.

Wild Love by Alisa Woods

Wild Love by Alisa Woods
Wilding Pack Wolves 2
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The Army is in Noah’s past… and he hopes his dark secret stays buried there. Noah Wilding’s family is being targeted by an anti-shifter hate group—so he took medical leave from the Army to return home and help out. At least, that’s the story he’s told everyone… meanwhile, he’s going undercover to lure out the haters trying to kill the Wilding pack.

Emily Jones is the lead programmer for WildLove, the new app that hooks up shifters and humans for a night of hot sex and no commitments. Only she hasn’t had a date herself in years… ever since that dark day when her family didn’t protect her when she needed them most. She figures one magical night with a hot wolf will help her finally move on with her life.

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A great plot, interesting characters and a suspenseful mystery with danger dogging the heels of the heroine and hero is what is in store for readers of Wild Love.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by this author and it won’t be the last. I definitely am looking forward to reading the first book based on how much I enjoyed this one. This is easily a standalone because I didn’t feel lost at all by not reading Wild Love first. What it did do was whet my appetite to read Owen’s story, and the next one, Wild Heat. Inspiring future purchases is a mark of a good first impression.

I enjoy shifter romances and I’m always on the lookout for another one to grab my attention and interest. Yes, the plot of a hate group targeting the paranormal group du jour has been done before and it’s an effective conflict. I like what Ms. Woods did with it and how the hero and heroine try to work together to find out who the mastermind is, who the next target would likely be and how the information is being leaked. All great mysteries that need to be solved before the next shifter is targeted.

The chemistry between Noah and Emily flares to life at their first meeting but is allowed to turn into a slow burn for a good chunk of the story before passion exploded between them. I liked the intense yet low key, descriptive wise, of their love scenes. Their relationship moved forward from there and I liked the momentum.

Noah’s internal plot conflict stemming from the color of his wolf and what it means, works for the most part. I can’t put my finger on what it is that made me feel less than satisfied on how he dealt with it, emotionally or otherwise, but it wasn’t enough to dim my enjoyment of the book overall. The writing was really good and the exciting parts truly gripped me and kept me on the edge of my seat. So many close calls!!

Wild Love has a wonderful happy ever after ending. I was so very pleased for Emily, you have no idea. Until you read the book yourself, of course. You can’t imagine how trilled I was for both of them. It’s how it ended that had me buying the first book in the series before I even sat down to write this review. If the HEA is as complete like it is in this story, and it turns out that is the way Ms. Woods writes, then I expect to have another great read coming up.