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Dark Wolf

DarkWolfCoverDark Wolf by Kate Douglas
Reviewer: Lisa Guertin
Kensington Publishing – Aphrodisia
Novel: 352 pages
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Roses: 4

It is a new beginning for the Chanku. For so long they kept their shapeshifting ability secret, but now they have assimilated into the world in ways they once never thought possible. Still there are those who want to destroy them, with dark powers of their own… A Bold New Beginning The CEO of Cheval International, Lily Cheval chooses to live alone, but a series of rapes and murders leave her wary and worried for her fellow Chanku. Then she meets Sebastian Xenakis and the connection is intense and immediate. The son of a charismatic cult leader, Sebastian is a mysteriously sensual man who uses magic to shift into wolf form. He and Lily come together in a moment of supreme ecstasy, succumbing to a primal passion that leaves Lily shaken but utterly alive. Is Sebastian her lifetime mate or is he her worst enemy?

Excerpt

Dark Wolf by Kate Douglas is a delightful addition to her Chanku series.  Lily Cheval is a strong heroine and is more than able to take care of herself and her family.  Not only a shapeshifter, she is also a strong mage.  Sebastian Xenakis is a troubled son trying to build a relationship with his distant and newly discovered father, who just happens to be the her race’s worst enemy.  When the two meet for the first time, sparks fly.  As the story develops, I found myself cheering for Sebastian, even when I was certain if he was a good guy or the bad guy in the story.  There were times when it could have gone either way.  I enjoyed watching Lily and Sebastian grow and work on their connection.  My only negatives about the story development are that it seemed a bit odd for a 40ish man to be quite so focused on winning his father’s approval (especially after his mother’s deathbed warning of danger) and the fact that Lily is so quick to accept that the attack she suffered at their first meeting was not his fault, in spite of coming from Sebastian.  However, these are minor flaws and do not detract from the overall storyline.

I know that many of Kate’s fans were disappointed when she announced that she was ending the series.  But now that she has taken up the stories of the Chanku children, loyal fans can look forward to many more books and staying in touch with the characters we’ve come to know and love.  That said; this is a book that can be read and understood without having read the many Wolf Tales books that came before.  Kate does a good job of filling in the uninitiated on the Chanku history that is needed to understand the storyline.  This was the first book our newly formed book club read and it was a unanimous hit.  And the cover alone makes this a book worth owning!

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Dead Man and the Restless Spirits by Lou Harper

Dead Man and the Restless Spirits by Lou HarperDead Man and the Restless Spirits by Lou Harper
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Harper Books
Novella:  37,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Dying sucks hairy monkey balls, even when you’re not the stiff.

Denton Mills has a secret: he can see dead people. Or rather, how they died. It’s quite a drag in a city like Chicago, teeming with the echoes of the no-longer living. Rather than whine about it, Denton has learned to live with his troublesome talent. His adaptability comes in handy when he meets his enigmatic new neighbor.

Bran Maurell catches Denton’s eye right away, but unfortunately Mr. Tall, Dark, and Mysterious is as standoffish as he is alluring. However, after an unexpected introduction from Bran’s cat brings the two men together, Denton discovers they have a mutual interest in the spirit world. Herbalist by day, Bran moonlights as a witch, performing house cleansings for a fee.

From Bran, Denton learns that his knack for interacting with the dead qualifies him as a necromancer. It makes good business sense for them to team up and rid Chicago of its pesky spirits one grateful client at a time. Amongst ghostly adventures the attraction between the men is impossible to ignore. They seem like perfect partners—unless Bran’s not-so-little secret comes between them.

Warning: men loving men, ghosts with attitudes, and a portly feline with hidden talents.

Note: Denton also plays a small but important role in Spirit Sanguine

Excerpt

When we are introduced to the two MC’s they appear such totally opposites that there seems no way for the two men to ever even get along let alone have a relationship.  As the story progresses you can see the two characters in a different light and see how their differences aren’t more than the things they have alike.  I liked the story line.  The idea of the two men getting together to made a team and be all “ghostbuster” like, but that part of the plot isn’t strongly developed in the story.  It seems to be more about the two men getting together.  The romance was a little…blah.  I mean to take out the paranormal and you’d have a lot of other books that are out there.  This is the first in a series so I have hope for that being developed.  The characters are lively.  I could picture them so clearly.  I loved that about the author.  The way that the characters were developed was amazing.  The two men were vividly real and so fun to follow even with the relationship angle being a little common place.  I would definitely look for the next book in the series.

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Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price

Magic Mansion by PriceMagic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Novel:  117,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Professor Topaz is tired of fending off advice that he should retire in Vegas where magicians his age have an easier time finding work.

Ricardo Hart’s career has sunk so low, he’s resorted to shaking his moneymaker at bachelorette parties.

But there’s a casting call for a new reality show called Magic Mansion that could change everything for these two gay stage magicians, one recovering from the loss of his partner, the other awe-struck by the presence of his idol. Each is poised for a critical second chance: at fame, and at love.

Who will win? Step into the Mansion, and find out….

Excerpt

This story was originally written as a serial for the author’s newsletter.  It reads a little that way but overall it’s like most books in the change of chapters.  I am always amazed by some author’s ability to take prompts and turn out a story week by week with little or no solid structure for the story.  These authors that amaze me manage to turn out a story that makes sense, isn’t all choppy and is really an entertaining/interesting read.  Jordan Castillo Price managed that with this story.

John “Professor” Topaz is a fascinating character.  He is an older man in his 60’s.  He has been through quite a bit in his life starting with his mother telling the world she was his aunt.  He has had tragedy with losing his life partner to a horrible traffic accident.  You feel for the man fairly quickly.  John is a bit of a straight-laced man but very passionate about his craft.

Ricardo “the Magnificent” Hart is a more colorful character.  He is out and proud.  Ricardo is almost the total opposite of John in outward appearances.   Both men are both True Magic welders.  They have a heart for their magic.

The concept of the story is wonderful.  It really fits with today’s world of reality shows.  The set up of the story fits perfectly with the story being serialized.  It also makes the book version of the story feel more like it is being told in the context of a reality show.  The setting made sense to me.  A sense of magic even added to how the show was filmed.

The story was really good in the set up and the telling.  The romance didn’t strike me as being as good.  It felt a little shallow.  I just didn’t see how the two could start saying I love you with very little knowledge of each other.

In the overall I loved the writing and the concept of the story.  The characters were entertaining and engaging.  I was engaged by the characters and story.  I read until late and was anticipating what would happen in the next chapter.  I was a little disappointed walking away from the story.  There seemed like there was a “wow” factor missing to make this amazing.  Still all in all it was a story I couldn’t put down until I finished.

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A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland

A Reason to Believe by CoplandA Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Carina Press
Novel:  81,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4

Detective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core–and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees–but love offers a reason to believe…

Excerpt

This is a story about one man’s making his way back from a horrible abyss after his partner and lover die.  Matt is a man who has lived every person’s worst nightmare, his partner and lover was coming home and stopped at a convenience store for beer for a bar-b-que and was shot and killed.  Now he is finally dealing with his first case since then and he ends up having a little girl’s spirit lead him to her body.  Needless to say the department doesn’t not only not believe him but they tell him to “take a vacation”.

Matt is a man mired in his grief.  He can’t let go and live again.  It’s in this state and now on a forced vacation that Matt is dragged by his sister-in-law, it was wonderful to have such strong female characters in this book, to a reading by renowned psychic Kiernan Fitzpatrick.  He is very surprised by what he finds there.

Since Matt is the “voice” of the story there isn’t that personal insight, but what we do see is a man who is full of energy and animation.  He has a wicked sense of humor, which is shown by his enormous t-shirt collection, and has a big sense of responsibility.  Kiernan didn’t have an easy childhood but hasn’t let it stop him.  He seems like just the fresh air to wake up Matt and make him want to live again.

These two men are in for a fast, hard courtship.  I know many would say everything between them happens too fast but I know it can go that way sometimes from personal experience so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

The storyline captured me more than the romance portion of the story.  The mystery was good and the way the author set it up made me keep turning the pages.  I think the character descriptions and the setting were perfect for the story.  I was a little disappointed that Matt seemed to cave so fast after he had fought off any response in a year and a half.  I would have thought there would have been a little more internal turmoil.  It may have been a little more believable for me if he had had some sexually contact between his ex’s death and Keirnan.  Since there wasn’t and this was supposedly the first time he had felt real desire for another man since his loss I thought it seemed a little quick.

Overall I think the writing was excellent.  I think the character development was good but would have like to see a little more of about Keirnan.  I also think that they could have been a little more integrated to the story.  I really didn’t feel as into the romance part of the story as I thought a read should if it is labeled as a romance.  Still I think it was an excellent read.  I almost hope the author will revisit these two since I would love to see more of them.

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