The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper

The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Erotic Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Lionel and Lucifer are drawn deeper into a murder case, but they are set on solving it together.

Just when Lionel’s love life has gone back to normal — normal meaning the kinky Devil making his ownership known — Lionel’s murder case gets stranger. Lionel’s birth father seems to have his hands in the mystery, and Lionel finds himself in the sights of Eris, goddess of discord.

Lucifer used to be a prime example of a powerful underworld deity with all the knowledge and skill to take care of a lover in the bedroom. But that was before Lucifer fell properly in love and won over his necromantic boyfriend, who also happens to be a demigod. Lionel’s innate magic, magical skill, and stubborn nature make it exceedingly difficult for Lucifer to be the alpha god he wants to be for Lionel.

Lucifer is set on finding a way to provide for the man he loves and to fulfill Lionel’s every desire. But before he can focus entirely on his necromancer, the two of them must solve the case, prevent primordial deities from being raised and destroying the world, and learn to communicate better. It’s what relationships and crime solving are all about.

The devil and a necromancer meet…they fall in love and solve mysteries. What a series.

I did like the show Lucifer, but I rather wondered what it would’ve been like had the lead character been gay. Now, through this series, I get to find out how it would play out. I do like it a lot.

Lucifer and Lionel make a good pair. They’re kind to each other, considerate and complement each other well. Their love story is cute, too. It’s also pretty hot. Can’t knock that.

This is a mystery and I liked that I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery right away. That kept me in my seat needing to know what would happen next. It felt like there were a few loose ends in this book, but it’s also part of a series and I haven’t read all of the others yet. I wasn’t lost, but there did seem to be a bit that wasn’t rectified at the end.

Still, it’s a hot book and great for an afternoon that’s chilly. If you’re looking for a book featuring the devil and a necromancer, filled with love and sweetness, plus a mystery, then this might be the one for you.

Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele

Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Tomasina Parks is responsible for making sure her boss’s first holiday event goes off smoothly. Chasing a gate crasher who swipes the party’s money tree is not in her plan. Neither does she expect a guest to follow her home and discover her most guarded secret.

Court Germaine shares DNA with a cunning creature, and it craves freedom as he stands in an apartment lobby eyeing a dog — who turns into a woman. Christmas lights from a miniature tree flash multicolor ribbons on a beautiful, petite body — the body of another genetic anomaly — one smelling like heaven!

Two shifters, one holiday and a lot of heat.

I love the books of J Hali Steele and this one was no exception. It’s funny, the writing flows well and it’s hot. That’s a plus. I wanted a hot, short holiday read and this one ticked all the boxes.

Tomi and Court are both at the same holiday party and not as attendees, but to work. I liked their interactions. I also liked that in this animal world, the women run things. That’s a great change. At least it was for me. I liked how these two had to work out their issues and the way the holiday spirit played into it. Tomi is a good foil for Court and he’s just as good of one for her.

If you’re looking for something hot, short and fun for a holiday read or to heat up a snowy evening, then this is the one for you. Check it out. I recommend it.

River Hag by Pelaam

River Hag by Pelaam
Book five in The Devil’s in the Details series
Publisher: Pride Publishing, Totally Entwined
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Sometimes, a friend in need can be deadly in deed.

Keegan has an abusive stepfather, Frank, and is bullied at college. He dodges bullies, led by Owen, by hiding close to the river. He tells his friend about the attacks and his narrow escape. The next day in college, pondweed is found in Owen’s locker, and he blames Keegan. The pondweed is sent to John Bull, and on examination is found to have a paranormal resonance, so he sends Emery, Alex and Kadin to investigate.

When Owen is found drowned in a bathtub, secured with pondweed, the team believe they’re dealing with a grindylow—a river hag. They need to establish whether the creature is acting for its own ends or at someone’s direction. Circumstances point to Keegan, but the team can’t find the connection and feel time is running out.

The next victim is Keegan’s stepfather, and with Keegan missing, Kadin decides to try to communicate with his spirit. He learns that the grindylow is protecting Keegan, but the team know that its nature means that Bo, now Keegan’s lover, will be the next victim.

But first, they need to find Keegan.

A protector that might not be so protecting after all.

I love the books of Pelaam and this was no exception. The story clips along well and got me right into the action. I didn’t feel confused because it’s book 5 and I wasn’t caught up. Instead, it reads as a nice little standalone. It’s creepy in spots, tender and romantic in others and gripping.

Keegan hasn’t had the best time in life. He’s been abused and bullied. His character is someone many can relate to. I liked how the grindylow came into the picture and how it interacted with Keegan. He needed a protector. Enter his friend.

Then there’s Bo, Keegan’s boyfriend. He’s sweet and everything Keegan needs in a lover. I liked him right away. I wanted to see them have a happy ending, too.

I liked the twists and turns in this story and can’t wait to read the others. It’s a complicated story and takes a bit of unraveling to keep it straight, but I had to know what would happen next.

If you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path, sweet and original, then this is the book for you. Check it out.

Beyond Odin’s Gate by Greig Beck

Beyond Odin’s Gate by Greig Beck
The Mysterious Island: Book 2
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The legend of Lemuria, the Mysterious Island, and all its wonders and dangers were all too real. And it has been found.

But the ancient stories of the great treasure and great horrors that existed through the ice rift and beyond Odin’s Gate, could never have prepared them what they discovered – monstrous creatures that lived in the sea, in the air, and on land. And now Troy Strom and Anne Walsh are trapped there amongst them.

But they have a plan, and if they can retrieve the Heart of Odin, the massive ruby, they can use it to escape. Until then they must learn to live on a primordial island amongst horrifying life forms that defy the normal rules of evolution. To survive they need to travel into the dragon’s lair, and there find the truth about the ancient dragon of myth and what it guards, and also discover the fate of the first Viking clan that set foot there and what they had become.

The legend of Lemuria – the Mysterious Island – has been discovered and the tales of adventure and monsters are all too real. Troy Strom and Anne Walsh are trapped down there, with the creatures and wonders. But if they can retrieve the Heart Of Odin – a massive ruby – it can be used by them to escape. Only their enemies – Elle and Tygo – are not far behind them, even more determined to once again have the Heart Of Odin in their hand, and this time they don’t plan to leave without it.

I found this to be an exciting action/adventure story, filled with paranormal and amazing creatures and monsters. I feel the story covers a number of genres, from Mystery to mild Horror, to Paranormal and Adventure. While it’s the second book in what I expect shall be a trilogy I do feel readers could pick it up and enjoy it without having read the previous installment. I strongly feel for maximum enjoyment the first book should have been read before this – but the plotline, characters and story arc is very well explained by the author so it isn’t strictly necessary. Equally, some new characters and plotlines are introduced here in this book so it adds a lot to the overall arc – that of Lemuria and the mysterious hidden island – and definitely nudges the reader towards interest and curiosity on what will happen in the final installment of the trilogy.

I really enjoyed the fact there were a number of new types of monsters (very hungry monsters) in this book and Beck really needs to be commended on his imagination. I found the monsters he created were realistic, scary and very easy to picture. The fact the monsters managed to eat a fair number of random characters was just a bonus for me. Readers who like monster/horror style of adventure novels should definitely feel Beck does justice to this genre in the book. I was found the book quite amusing/ironic that just as a number of parties were trying to find their way into Lemuria and find the Heart of Odin, equally there was Troy and Anne trying to find their way out. That situation tickled my funny bone.

Overall, I thought this was an exceptionally well written story – full of adventure, monsters, a few really solid plotlines and plenty of interesting characters. I definitely feel Beck is an excellent author and am eager for the final installment in this trilogy. The pace of the story was fast enough to keep me gripped to my seat but didn’t feel too rushed or like it skimmed over anything. There were a few plots interwoven together and as they’re all so clearly linked to the one larger story arc, I feel this helps give the whole book a good cohesion and feel as if we’re rollicking along on a crazy – and monster filled – adventure together. A great book and I’m very eager for the next one to come along.

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)
Arcane Society, Book 2
Publisher: JOVE Books (Print), Brilliance Audio (Audiobook Publisher)
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Relationships are challenging enough for most single, over-30 women. For level-10 parasensitive Clare Lancaster, they’re a minefield. The elite few who know her secret call her a human lie detector, and any falsehood, no matter how subtle or well hidden, sets her blood racing.
Over the years, Clare has come to accept that someone with her extraordinary talents is unlikely to find a suitable mate. And she’s even resigned herself to the fact that everyone, to one degree or another, hides behind a façade – including her recently deceased brother-in-law.

When Clare finds the body of Brad McAllister, the golden child of Stone Canyon, Arizona, the posh residents turn a suspicious eye in her direction. As Archer Glazebrook’s daughter, Clare is shielded from the law, but not the gossip. It seems that meeting the half sister and family she did not know until seven months ago was a mistake. Now her father summons her from California to play a role in his business empire, and Clare doesn’t intend on making the same mistake twice.

But after meeting Jake Salter, Archer’s “business consultant”, she is convinced that things aren’t what they seem. Salter’s careful conversation walks a delicate line between truth and deception, revealing and resisting. Something sparks and sizzles between them – something more than the usual electricity between a man and a woman.

Caught in a dizzying storm of secrets, lies, and half-truths, Jake and Clare will plunge into an investigation that demands every bit of their special gifts. Together, they must overcome their mutual distrust in order to unravel a web of conspiracy and murder.

This fast-paced story has it all. For starters, it has action, murder, narrow escapes, conspiracies, mad scientists creating designer drugs, psychical talents and powers, and best of all, a romance that thrills the senses and engaged my emotions. My most favorite term is what Clare calls Fallon Jones throughout the novel. If anyone has read the series, even out of order, Fallon’s personality is pretty much the same – abrasive. So, every time Clare says her pet-name for Fallon, I cracked up, giggled, grinned and thought it hilarious.

But Fallon isn’t the hero in this novel, Jake is. He makes for an interesting and fascinating hero. He’s not over the top in his actions, but the author uses words that kind of builds him up bigger than what he does and is. That’s okay because I’m glad Jake doesn’t do super-hero stunts; it made him more relatable and acceptable as an alpha-type hero. The good thing about Jake is that he likes a strong woman. Sure, he admits that he wished Clare didn’t do some of the things she did because it scares him spitless, but he doesn’t stop her or belittle her. He supports the heroine and backs her up whenever he can. He uses his brain, and yes, some of his psychical powers, but they aren’t infallible.

Seriously, I found the writing tight, the mystery well thought out, the dialogue great and the romance delightful with a few moments of spicy fun for those readers that prefer those scenes in a book. The story can stand on its own without them though – it’s that complete.

The above is my review of the print version. Now I want to mention the audio version that I listened to, twice. David Colacci does Jake’s voice and all the other male characters in the story, and Kathy Garver does Clare and all the rest of the female secondary characters. They are AWESOME! They both had emotion and clear differences between their characters. When a female villain breaks down and cries – it’s realistic and effective. When Jake is growly, or boldly laughs out loud or talks sultry to Clare, my heart goes pitter-patter. His voice for Archer cracked me up because it is brash, distinctive and LOUD, and David Colacci voiced the perfect Fallon Jones – crack me up!

I think the audio version was a real hoot. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and even when I listened to it a second time, I picked up things I missed on the first go-round, which helped me enjoy it just as much in the second reading/listening. It was a splendid experience and fans of the Arcane Society series really need to take the audio version of White Lies for a spin after reading the print version. Both are awesome because the writing and story are what makes it work. Romantic suspense has never been so fun!

Sea Hunters: Shonisaurus by William Meikle

Sea Hunters: Shonisaurus by William Meikle
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

John Seton, a grizzled British sailor, is a sea monster hunter.

When he takes on a job for an exclusive yacht club in South East Asia he expects it to be a simple one. It’s only one beastie after all.

But all too soon John and his crew discover that they are in big trouble.

An ancient terror from the deep has risen,

And it is out for revenge.

John Seton is a well-seasoned British sailor and a sea monster hunter to boot. He’s pretty much seen it all. But when he and his crew are hired for an exclusive job in Manila, John isn’t expecting anything too difficult. Very quickly he realizes just how wrong is initial assumptions were.

I’m a total sucker for “big beastie” types of stories – and I was actually really impressed and excited to find this wasn’t (exactly) a Jaws/Megalodon shark book. Sure, in an over-simplified way there is nothing groundbreaking or new here. But that in no way detracts from the fact it’s an easily read, highly enjoyable and fast paced paranormal/beastie mystery/horror style of novel. I am amazed and embarrassingly proud of the fact I spent the majority of the book equally rooting for random characters to get eaten by the beastie as much as for the captain to capture the monster.

Readers looking for high-brow literature absolutely won’t find that here. I adore the rough-and-tumble nature of the crew and John and find their sweary Scottish/British nature an absolute hoot to read. I found I really enjoyed the small cast of characters but was pleased Meikle spent a bit of time fleshing them all out so I as the reader could get to know them all a bit. That was lovely and added quite a bit of depth to the book in my opinion.

Readers who enjoy a “hunting the monster” type of mystery should find this absolutely fits the bill. I really enjoyed it and am hopeful there might be more in a similar vein coming down the track soon. Recommended.

Bloodstone by Rebecca Henry

Bloodstone by Rebecca Henry
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Paranormal, LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

There’s something wicked in the wind on Ambrosia Hill and strength is held within a stone.

Zinnia knows nothing is as it seems in the witching world, and she realizes the aunts calling her back to the Fern House was not without consequences. Zinnia must embrace her witch abilities and undergo her biggest test yet. Can she learn to rely on her personal magic, the strength in others, and trust that what she sees isn’ t always reality? There’ s something wicked in the wind this Halloween on Ambrosia Hill and Zinnia must fight for those she loves most.

What might you find if you peeled back the stereotypes and looked at who someone really was?

The romantic subplot made me smile. I’ve enjoyed seeing it gradually develop from a friendship into a heartwarming romance since first meeting these characters in Amethyst. Not only was the slow burn approach perfect for them, it also gave me plenty of time to notice all sorts of similarities between them that make me think they’d be a great match. I can only hope that any sequels in the works will include more of this storyline as it’s such a nice contrast to the sometimes-scary work a witch must do.

Once again, I would have liked to see more character development. Yes, it is happening slowly, but I found myself wishing that Zinnia especially would be given more opportunities to show the audience how she’s changed as a result of coming out of the closet as a member of the LGBTQ community as well as accepting her identity as a witch. This was the only thing holding me back from choosing a five-star rating.

I know I’ve mentioned the beautiful world building in both of my previous reviews of the first two books in this series, but it continued to impress me this time around. Ms. Henry has been doing a wonderful job so far of feeding the audience exactly enough information about witchcraft and witch culture in this universe to keep my interest levels high. Just when I think I have it all more or less figured out, she adds yet another layer to it that deepens my previous understanding of how it all worked and makes me eager to see what might happen next. As far as this reader is concerned, there’s still a ton of ground to cover for these characters, and I hope for many more updates to come in the future.

While the plot itself could technically function as a standalone work, this is the third instalment of a series that should be read in order to best understand the complex and memorable world the author is building here.

Bloodstone made me yearn for more.

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

My name is Peter Grant, police officer, apprentice wizard and well dressed man about town. I work for ECD9, otherwise known as the Folly, and to the Murder Investigation Team as ‘oh god not them again.’ But even their governor, the arch sceptic and professional northerner DCI Seawoll, knows that sometimes, when things go bump in the night, they have to call us in.

Which was why I found myself in an underground station at five o’clock, looking at the body of James Gallagher, US citizen and Arts Student. How did he avoid the underground’s ubiquitous CCTV to reach his final destination, and why is the ceramic shard he was stabbed with so strongly magical?

As the case took me into the labyrinth of conduits, tunnels and abandoned bomb shelters that lay beneath the streets I realised that London below might just be as complicated and inhabited as London above.

And worse, James Gallagher’s father is a US senator, so the next thing I know, I’ve got Special Agent Kimberley Reynolds of the FBI “liaising” with the investigation and asking awkward questions. Such as ‘just what are you guys hiding down here’ and ‘how did you conjure that light out thin air?’

DC Peter Grant is learning about magic – and what, exactly, is hiding in London’s shadows – at a fast rate. So, he’s pretty happy when he’s called along “just in case” to what looks like a random stabbing death on the tracks at Baker Street underground tube station. He’s hoping it’ll prove completely mundane and that he’ll soon be back to studying at the Folly. But with buried rivers, London’s biggest sewers and magical pottery all muddying the waters Peter soon realizes there’s a whole other world underground.

I have been really enjoying this series and this – the third book – is no exception. Aaronovitch somehow manages to blend a really chatty style of writing, as if we’re at the pub listening to Peter tell us of his exploits, along with a decently paced plot, really vivid and at times hysterically funny characters and this delightful sense of absurd. At times I laughed aloud, and others I cringed and had to put the book down for a moment. This writing is really amazing but it’s utterly addictive.

The plot is both complicated and simple – much like the previous books in this series. While the main thrust is a regular murder and solving the puzzle of who-dun-it, there’s such a vibrant and multi-layered world encompassing everything it’s impossible not to fall down the rabbit hole. Some of the River’s have cameo’s and I was thrilled that DC Leslie May plays a much more active role here than she did in the previous book. I really like Leslie and Peter and the way they both work together but also sometimes spark off each other. I’m deeply intrigued into how their relationship – both as colleagues and friends – will develop in further books.

Readers who enjoy a solid British story and don’t mind a strong dollop of humour, the paranormal and a titch of the absurd absolutely should try this book. Personally, I’d start back at the beginning with the first in the series, but that’s not strictly necessary – I definitely feel readers could pick this up and really enjoy it just on its own merits. But the world building, the characters and just the series itself is well worth the investment and starting at the beginning is what I’d do for the maximum benefit. I also suspect that after another two or three books the world building will have been strong enough and layered enough you might not be able to just jump in halfway through but will need to come back to the beginning – so I strongly feel it’s an investment worth making.

An excellent mystery, strongly paranormal and laugh aloud funny – this is a great book.

Dark Surrender by Morgan Welsh

Dark Surrender by Morgan Welsh
Book 1 in the Vampire’s Call Series
Publisher: Totally Entwined
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Olivia Hargreaves had often fantasized about the man of her dreams. Little did she know he actually existed—and that he was a vampire.

Following a bad break-up and the need for a fresh start in her life, Olivia Hargreaves has moved from London to the US East Coast to be with her best friend. Now she has finally met the man of her dreams—literally.

Gabriel Langston, a vampire with the ability to get into the minds of humans has been entering her head and showing her the time of her life. When he turns up at the local bar she frequents, she is sure she must be losing it. Wealthy, powerful, commanding and impossibly handsome, Gabriel is different to any man she has ever known and there is no way she can resist the attraction.

And there is no way he will let her.

Dark, full of desire and wonderful.

I like a story I can, er…sink my teeth into. This is one of those stories. It’s long enough that it’s well developed, but short enough for a chilly night. The writing zipped along well, and I couldn’t get enough.

I liked Olivia because she’s every woman. She’s been through a rough time and wants things to level off. Then there are her dreams. Wooo doggie. Hot stuff. I loved when she’d see him that way. It made her relatable, in an odd way, because who hasn’t had dreams about a hot guy?

Gabriel is interesting because he’s a vampire and he’s devoted to her, but he’s also the dark, desirable package that’s rather standard in romance. It works and I like how the author used him.

If you’re looking for a hot read for a chilly night, then I suggest this one.

The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven by Jennifer Ivy Walker

The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven by Jennifer Ivy Walker
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

In this dark fairy tale adaptation of a medieval French legend, Issylte must flee the wicked queen, finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the forest. Fate leads her to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her life as a healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom.

Tristan of Lyonesse is a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his king or lose everything. When he becomes a warrior of the Tribe of Dana, a gift of Druidic magic might hold the key he seeks.
Haunted and hunted. Entwined by fate. Can their passion and power prevail?

Tristan and Iseult/Issylte has always been a favourite of mine.

When I read the blurb for this book, I knew I had to give it a go. What I got was so much more than I expected! It is a mixture of a well-known Arthurian story with Snow White, sprinkled with some Marian Zimmer Bradley feelings.

You definitely get both sides of the story with Tristan and Issylte having their own chapters. What I loved is that they have their own lives before they meet each other. In fact, part of Issylte’s life may impact the future stories, so I can’t wait to see if it does. It isn’t all sweetness and light either. The author describes the hardship of war, of those who pay the cost even if they’ve never lifted a sword. I loved the fantasy aspect with the Tribe and Avalon.

You have so much information given to you in this story and yet I was definitely left wanting more when I had finished. An excellent start to the series and I look forward to reading more. Absolutely recommended by me.