The Unyielding – Call of Crows #3 – Shelly Laurenston

Ragnarok is about to be unleashed on to the world and there’s only one person who can stop it and that’s Erin Amsel. Wait! That can’t be right. She’s a total dick and likes to start trouble so she’s more likely to light the world on fire than save it…literally. One of her gifts is fire. She can withstand it to a degree and she can throw flames from her hands. She’s been chosen for all these reasons to go into the Nine Worlds to save the world.

Stieg is a Raven, a follower of Odin, who has been ordered to follow Erin to see what she is up to because the Ravens know she’s up to something. Stieg is not happy about his assignment. He cannot stand Erin Amsel who plays games with people just toess with their heads. She stabbed him in the leg before during a battle because he got in her way. Ugh! But he follows her anyway and ends up helping her when she gets herself into deep doo doo.

Erin is a Crow, a follower of Skuld, but unlike the other clans who are part of the Nine Clans who follow Norse gods, Crows aren’t from Viking blood. In fact, most of them descend from Viking slaves. They weren’t raised to fight for their god. No, they are women who are given a choice just after their brutal deaths to get a second life if they follow Skuld. Then they get wings and fight at night for Skuld.

Usually, I don’t like women like Erin but the author had me falling in love with her because she was just so crazy and most of the people she messes with deserve it.

I am really into the ongoing storyline of this series. Gullveig, a minor goddess I had never heard of before, is trying to start Ragnarok for some reason that I must have missed while reading this. She has the help of Hel, Loki’s daughter, who has loaned Gullveig the use of her Carrion who are disgusting winged creatures who are not only strong but have rotting flesh that can rot a human’s flesh too. Ew!

Erin has to go into the Nine Worlds to find a Surtr’s Sword which is guarded by Nidhogg, the dragon, because it may be the only thing that can kill Gullveig.

I have to admit that I am getting tired of the Gullveig angle to this story but, at the same time, I was wondering how the story would progress if they defeated Gullveig? What other Big Bad Ugly would replace her? Nidhogg? An Elf? Maybe even Hel? I, of course, can’t tell you who the next Baddy is but it did surprise me.

Now, I can’t wait to read the next book.

The Unleashing – Call of Crows #1 – Shelly Laurenston

This book was a mixture of corniness and outrageous but something about it pulled me in and kept me reading. The author’s humor and the way the characters said and did hilarious but foul things reminded me of my friends and family. It probably wouldn’t appeal to polite company but polite company bores the hell out of me.

Kera is an ex-Marine who works at a coffee house until she gets stabbed to death in an alley. As she lay dying, the guy she thought was a homeless vet holds her and sends up a prayer to Skuld, a Norse god, to save her.

She has been given a second life. She now is part of the Crow Clan, women from all races who fight for Skuld. But she is having a hard time transitioning because the Crows thrive on chaos and ate unorganized. When she tries to organize them, they want none of it.

I really connected with a lot of the characters in this book and I appreciated that the main character, along with many of the other women, was a woman of color. More Paranormal Romances need to do this.

I went ahead and downloaded the next book in the series.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior – Immortals After Dark #11 – Kresley Cole

What a scrumptious read! My favorite so far. Do I say that about each one of these books in this series? I guess they just keep getting better as the story gets deeper and more complex. What is crazy is that I have already read this series once before and although I remember the basic story, I have forgotten details and even the endings of some of the books but because I recall enough of the plot, it makes it all the more exciting to me.

A lot of these books run concurrently alongside the other books so we sometimes know a lot more than what the characters know. For example, in this book Regin, the female protagonist, worries about her half-sister Lucia but Lucia’s book was #9 in the series so we know what happened to her already but since this book is happening along the same time period as Lucia’s story, Regin has no idea what is happening.

Regin the Radiant is a Valkyrie whose skin glows. We have gotten to know Regin through previous books. She is the prankster of the group and loves to kill vampires and bad demons. She’s been known to make demons eat strange things like hubcaps just for kicks. Her best friend and half-sister is Lucia. They spend a lot of time looking for ways to kill an evil god who wakes every Accession. He is intent on abducting Lucia for his own and triggering the end of the world. The Accession is a war that happens every 500 to 600 years in the Lore where factions take sides, alliances are made and a lot creatures from the Lore find their mates. It is meant as a sort of population control since many will die.

Over a thousand years ago, Regin met a Beserker named Aidan the Fierce who fell in love with Regin. He vowed to earn Ohalla and marry her. The god Woden bestows Ohalla on a warrior who fights for him after he has won 200 battles but Aidan couldn’t wait so he had sex with Regin before he became immortal. A vampire killed him just afterwards but he promised to return and find Regin. He has returned over and over again but gets killed directly after they make love. Regin is expecting him again soon.

Declan Chase hates immortals, all of them. He and his parents were tortured by a nest of Neoptera, some of the most dangerous and evil immortals of them all, when he was just 17 years old. He found his brother in the kitchen with his throat slit and after days of torture, his parents didn’t make it but Declan was saved by a man named Webb who told him about the Lore which he called miscreations or miscreats who needed exterminated out of this world. Webb ran something called The Order which captures, studies, tortures and kills immortals and inducted Declan into it. Now, Declan runs a facility on an island where he captures and imprisons immortals of all kinds and studies them.

What Declan doesn’t know is that he is a reincarnation of Aidan the Fierce. He has always been stronger and faster than a mere mortal and started using heroin to calm himself when he was about 14 years old. He still has the doctor at the facility make up a blend with an opiate to control his symptoms. The medicine keeps him numb and emotionless.

But when he captures Regin, he starts to feel something for her and he hates it. He doubles up on his meds and starts running twice as far on the island but nothing stops him from thinking about her. He even tortures her with an IV full of poisonous liquid but feels sick as he is doing it. He has never felt anything for an immortal before.

Regin, of course, knows he is Aidan and tries to convince him of this but he thinks she is just messing with him. Regin knows that if she kisses him, he will remember his past lives and then he will die shortly afterwards but can she do it? He did torture her after all.

The tension between these two was palpable. Kresley Cole writes the story so well that I felt it while I was reading and my emotions ran from hating Declan to feeling sorry for him to cheering him on and hoping he could change and maybe get the girl…if he lived.

There was a lot more happening in this book than the romance/hatefest going on between Regin and Declan. There were other prisoners, some who we have met before in previous books like Carrow and Malkum Slaine who were the stars of the last book and some who were just being introduced in this book like Regin’s cellmates, Natalya the dark fey and Thad, a 17-year-old who-knows-what who just looked like a normal kid. Then there is Brandr, a Beserker who earned Ohalla because he promised Aidan while he was dying that he would always watch over Regin. Lothaire, The Enemy of Old and a powerful vampire, is also a prisoner in the facility. We get to know a lot more about him who I am loving more and more even though he is evil.

Speaking of Lothaire, that is the title of the next book so gotta go read. Bye!

Kiss of a Demon King – Immortals After Dark #8 – Kresley Cole

I am re-reading this series and it is just as exciting this time as it was when I first read it but now I know to pay attention to certain things that I didn’t realize were important to the storyline the first time around. This series is about the Lore which is exactly what it sounds like, a bunch of creatures from folklore and myth like Valkyries, Vampires, Lykae, Nymphs and Demons. It is an ongoing story but each book can be read as a stand-alone even though I think a lot of the story would be lost on someone who just picked up a book from the middle of this series.

This book followed Rydstrom and Sabine.

Rydstrom is a Rage Demon who lost his kingdom to an evil Sorcerer named Omort the Deathless. He has been trying to get his kingdom back for hundreds of years and he may have found a way. Omort’s brother, Groot the Metallurgist, has made a sword that will kill Omort but is demanding the Vessel in trade. The Vessel is a female from the Lore who will have a child who will either be good or evil. There is a Vessel in every Accession which is a war that happens about every 500 years in the Lore. Not all Vessels make it to have a child because factions of the Lore will be vying for her either to breed with her or kill her. But that story played out in the last book. Rydstrom’s brother was sent to Groot’s stronghold with the Vessel who happened to be his fated female.

In the last book, Rydstrom was racing to meet his brother, Cadeon, to make sure he would he actually traded the Vessel to Groot who happens to be just as evil as Omort but Rydstrom wants his crown back. We know he gets imprisoned by Sabine, the Queen of Illusions who happens to be another sibling of Omort and working with him. We, the readers, just didn’t get all the details from the last book.

This book starts out telling the story of Sabine and her sister Melanthe or Lanthe when they were little. Their mother and father were Sorceri who worked evil magick according to some beings called Vrekeners, winged beings who police the Sorceri and execute them if they are doing evil. Apparently, Sabine and Lanthe’s parents were evil because one night, the Vrekeners came and killed their parents and were going to either take the girls or kill them. Sabine took a sword and cut one of their heads off. Lanthe, who had the power to command people, told them to fight each other and to a boy Vrekener who was with them, she told to jump out of the tower window without using his wings to save himself. They escaped but for thousands of years, the Vrekeners have been after them. The boy lived and has spent his life trying to capture them.

Omort offered a safe haven for them. For some reason, the Vrekeners cannot follow them into Rothkalina, the realm that used to be Rydstrom’s kingdom but is now ruled by Omort, but Omort has an unnatural attraction to Sabine and wants her for himself. The only reason he hasn’t forced himself on her is because of a prophecy that says Sabine is Rydstrom’s fated mate. Her child will open the secrets of the the Well of Souls which is in the castle.

Sabine captures Rydstrom and tries to seduce him into vow to marry her because that is the only way her child would be recognized as the heir to Rothkalina but Rydstrom is having none of it. Well, that isn’t entirely true. He is attracted to her and his body knows she is his fated mate but his heart and his mind think she is evil.

Rydstrom is known for always being honest and it is said that a lie has never left his lips so when he finally vows to her in Demonish, which she does not speak or understand, that he will get revenge on her, she believes that he vowed to marry her.

Sabine was so selfish and into herself but I couldn’t help but like her. I could tell by the way that she loved her sister and was loyal to her that she had to have some kind of redeemable quality.

Rydstrom was your typical holier than thou hero whose only goal was to get him kingdom back which I thought was pretty selfish because he expected his brother to give up his female so Rydstrom could be happy.

What I like most about these books is the ongoing storyline and all the background stories that are going on at the same time. There are characters who I want to get to know better like Lothaire the Enemy of Old, a vampire who seems to be evil but helps the good guys once in a while…for a price…to serve some hidden agenda. He’s up to something.  Then there are the twin Lykae who keep showing up, Munro and Uilleam aka hot and hotter. And, of course, there is Nix the Ever Knowing, the soothsayer who seems to be manipulating everything from behind the scenes. They call her Nucking Futs Nix because she is barely lucid most of the time because she has so much going on in her mind.

I love this series. The characters are far from perfect which makes them that much more lovable to me and the storyline is just getting more complex and more interesting. This is one of those series that I’ll never get enough of.

I’ve already started reading the next book.

A Hunger Like No Other – Immortals After Dark #2 – Kresley Cole

I have been wanting to re-read this series for quite a while but after reading Blood Red Kiss, a book with stories from three different authors including Kresley Cole’s first book from Immortals After Dark, I decided to procrastinate no longer.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I have forgotten when I re-read a series. Well…Okay, I admit that I have not re-read many books, let alone, entire series. I’ve only re-read one series so far, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, but I was surprised while reading each book about what I forgot and missed.

This series follows the creatures of the Lore. The Lore is just what it sounds like, the hidden world of creatures from folklore and myth. They live hidden amongst humans and in different realms. Every 500 or so years, the Accession happens which is a war between factions of the Lore for ultimate supremacy.

This book was about Emmaline Troy who is part vampire and part Valkyrie. Her mother died of sorrow after she and Emmaline’s father broke up. Emmaline was raised by her aunts who hid her from the vampires for some reason. She has no clue who her father is but she is curious to find out who he is so she sets off for the first time by herself in her 70 years and goes to Paris where she knew her father and mother had lived together before she was born. I probably should point out that Emmaline looks like she is in her early twenties.

She has been sheltered all her life and thought of as meek too nice and unskilled. Her aunts are hardcore Valkyries who love to kill vampires who they think are the scourge of the earth. In fact, most of the Lore thinks of vampires as leeches so they shun them. It hasn’t been very good for Emmaline’s self-image.

Lachlain MacRieve is the leader of the Lykae Clan. He has been chained below the city of Paris in catacombs for one hundred and fifty years being tortured by an eternal flame. He dies just to be revived again over and over. He was imprisoned by the king of the Horde vampires, Demestriu and his right hand man Ivo the Cruel.

Lykae have predestined mates and sometimes, they wait centuries for them. When Lachlain senses his mate is right above him in the city, he fights his chains before the fire starts again and weakens him. He ends up amputating the bottom part of a leg in order to free himself and spends the next week regenerating it enough to be able to search for her. When he finds her, he is horrified to find out she is a vampire.

Lachlain takes Emmaline hostage because he has just come from being tortured by vampires and he has rage issues. Plus, she is his mate and even though she is a vampire, he doesn’t want to lose her. I had a lot of problems with Lachlain’s handling of Emma throughout this book but I had to keep reminding myself that they aren’t human. They have to appear to behave similar to humans to fit into the world but that is where the similarity ends. They, at least the Lykae, are still animalistic by nature. At first, he needed her because he was unfamiliar with the world and its new technology but Lykaes learn and adapt fast. He also needed her credit card to get him back to his castle and clan in Scotland before the full moon. He knows that the vampires are rich so she can afford it.

He has no clue that Emma is part Valkyrie and her aunts will kill him when they get their hands on him.

Meanwhile, vampires are looking for something and have been stalking Valkyrie around the world. Emmaline’s aunts think they could be looking for Emmaline because she may be the last living female vampire. Demestriu had the others killed but no one knows why.

Kresley Cole did an incredible job of developing the romance between Emma and Lachlain. I went from wanting to castrate him to feeling a little sorry for him.

The development of the ongoing story is also incredible. The first time around, I missed a lot of the little nuances and subtle details that seem like they aren’t important to the story but (because I know what happens later) actually are something that will tie into the future story. I have started a list of the weird things that Nix says because she is a soothsayer. She’s nuttier than a Filbert tree at harvest time but she knows a lot more than people think and I believe she has set up a multi-dimensional chessboard and is setting up the game pieces in her favor.

This book was just as enjoyable to read the second time as it was the first time.

Blood Red Kiss by Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione and Gena Showalter

Blood Red Kiss

Three Stories by Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione and Gena Showalter

I have to mention the cover of this book because I love it. I am a huge fan of black and white with a pop of color but this goes a step further by using a simple symmetric design of just the bottom half of a face with a red heart drawn onto the lips. Sometimes, the simplest things are the best.

The Warlord Wants Forever

By Larissa Ione

This story was steamy…as in dampen your panties and sit in a hot sauna surrounded by sexy men steamy.

Myst is a Valkyrie who meets Nikolai who is a Forbearer vampire while she is imprisoned in another vampire. When Nikolai and his army take over the castle, Myst tricks Nikolai into thinking she is his Bride. Forbearers get one chance at having a mate in life. Sometimes, they have to wait centuries to meet that Bride. Sometimes, they never meet her. When a Forbearer vampire is turned, he stops having any sexual desire and his heart does not beat. Once, they meet their Bride, their heart starts pumping and their desire comes back but they cannot ejaculate without their Bride being near. Myst purposely works Nikolai into a frenzy and escapes when her sisters come for her but before she leaves, she does one last cruel thing. She kisses him, purposely cutting her mouth on his fang to give him her memories to further torment him. You see, Forbearers are not allowed to take blood directly from the source because they fear going crazy and turning evil.

For five long years, Nikolai suffered with memories of Myst and with not being able to climax. Then one of Myst’s memories comes to him and reveals where she lives, New Orleans.

Myst and her family of Valkyries hate vampires. Fifty years ago, their queen went off to fight a vampire and was never seen again. Rumor has it that he chained her to the bottom of the ocean where she drowns over and over again due to her immortality. Most creatures of the Lore think of vampires as the lowest of forms so they shun all vampires. The Lore is what creatures such as vampires, Valkyries, Fae, demons etc., call themselves. They live right alongside humans yet humans have no clue they exist. The Lore views vampires as leeches so the shun them. Myst hates that she still has an attraction to Nikolai and even regrets leaving him to suffer when she should have killed him.

When Nikolai finds her again, she tries to run but he catches her around the chain that she has worn around her waist for over a thousand years. It breaks so she is able to get a head start running. Nikolai yells for her to stop and her feet just stop running. It takes him but a second to figure out that the chain controls her. He uses it to his advantage and kidnaps her. He takes her to his home in Estonia.

From this point on it gets a little stalkerish and raperish. Nikolai was not only out for revenge but also trying to get Myst to stay with him as his Bride but he orders her to do things that were a little over the top like pleasure herself in front of him. If she hadn’t decided that she liked it…and it wasn’t so steamy, I would have been out for Nikolai’s gonads. I was mad at Myst for the initial playing of Nikolai and making him suffer but I also understood that she isn’t human and plays by a different set of rules and that she wasn’t going to just accept that just because a male wants her for himself, doesn’t mean she is going to roll over and lose her freedom and life. Plus, her family and the rest of the Lore would make her into a pariah and put her at the bottom of the food chain if she ever got together with a vampire.

Despite their many faults or maybe because of them, I rooted for them. I wanted them to end up together even though it seemed impossible.

I actually read this story last even though it was the first one in the book because I have read it before. It is the first book of the Immortals After Dark Series and because I have been thinking about re-reading the entire series again and wanted this fresh in my mind.

 

Forsaken by Night

By Larissa Ione

This is the second story in Blood Red Kiss and the third book in the MoonBound Clan Vampires series. I’ve been waiting for Lobo’s story and was not disappointed.

Lobo is a skinwalker vampire. He can shift into almost any living being including humans and vampires. Most vampire clans believe skinwalkers are evil and should be killed but some disagree. They do agree, however that shifting into the form of another vampire should be punished severely. Because of this, Lobo was banished from his clan decades ago and now lives a solitary existence in the vast forests in the Pacific Northwest.

In this world that Larissa Ione has created, vampires have been enslaved by humans and even though vampires are stronger and faster than humans and have certain powers, humans have figured out a way to control them. Humans experiment on them in labs and basically do anything they want to the vampires. But some vampires have managed to keep themselves hidden from humans with magic spells that hide their compounds and by other means.

Lobo has lived in a small cabin in the woods with a unique wolf who he found wounded in the woods. Tehya the wolf has been his only companion for twelve years. Sometimes, she projects and image into Lobo’s mind of a beautiful woman, a beautiful naked woman and Lobo believes Tehya might be this female’s spirit animal. When Tehya gets shot by poachers and lies dying, Lobo makes a decision that could cost him his life. He shifts into the image of the nearby MoonBound Clan’s chief, Hunter, and runs with Tehya in his arms to MoonBound’s caves where he sets her on a table in the medical lab and lets the doctor and his assistant take over. He begs them to save the wolf and they get to work immediately. He leaves, wondering if he will ever see his wolf again and knowing that he may get the death penalty for shifting into a clan chief’s image.

Tehya wakes up as a vampire in the lab. A little over twelve years ago, she was a human but was bitten and turned into a vampire. She had only been a vampire for a month when she had been injured and shifted into a wolf but couldn’t shift back into a vampire. Lobo found her starved and dying. She had tried for a long time to shift but just couldn’t so over time, her wolf mind took over and she just became content living as she was as long as Lobo was taking care of her.

When she wakes in the clinic, she’s frightened and panics. She pushes a female in her hurry to escape and realizes she was pregnant too late but it seems the female is okay so she takes off out of the compound which is a complex cave system. She run through the woods naked to find Lobo. She tells him who she is and what happened. He’s surprised but not totally shocked. He and Tehya have an immediate sexual attraction to each other but now they will have to run and hide because Hunter and the MoonBound Clan will hunt them down and kill them.

One of those in the hunting party will be a woman who has tormented Lobo since he was a toddler when Hunter’s father was clan leader and she wants Lobo dead. Hunter’s father had raided Lobo’s clan and killed everyone except for him who he brought back to the caves and put on a chain. He had to eat scraps from the floor and was generally treated like crap but one vampire took it further. Su’Neena liked to kick him and torment him. She enjoyed his suffering but that is not why she wants Lobo dead. She wants him dead because he knows a secret about her that she does not want her clan to know. A secret that MoonBound would kill her for.

This was an entertaining story and I am glad I got to read Lobo’s story. I wonder who will be featured in the next MoonBound Clan Vampire book.

 

Dark Swan

By Gena Showalter

This was the final story in Blood Red Kiss.

Although I have read many of the talented Gena Showalter’s book series, I have not read any of the books in this Alien Huntress series yet…well, besides this one now. I’m not sure exactly how many books have been written in the series so far but when I went to Gena’s website, I counted eight so this one is probably the ninth in the series. I usually like to start from the beginning because I feel like I’m missing something when I start in the middle but Gena Showalter did a great job of making this a stand-alone book so I could follow along easily.

The prologue begins with three twelve-year-old sisters Trinity, Jade and Lilica. The sisters, who were created in a lab, were being threatened by one of the staff members, Dr. Walsh. He frequently uses the sisters against each other to control each of them. The youngest sister, Lilica, is the stubborn one and tries to take on any punishment for her sisters but this time it is her sisters who won’t budge when Dr. Walsh threatens her. When they refuse, he tells them their dinner is taken away and then when they still won’t budge, he threatens to take away their breakfast too. Lilica lost it when Dr. Walsh took out a syringe with which he intended to tranquilize her. She used one of her many powers or gifts on him, the ability to use her voice in a certain way which controls the subject. She ordered him to stop and then to the orderlies trying to open the door, she told them not to enter and it worked until new orderlies to whom she hadn’t issued the order to came through the door but not before she had ordered the doctor to try to kill himself and if that didn’t work to kill all the staff members. Yikes!

Many years later…

Alien Investigation and Removal agents aka AIR help keep Earth free of dangerous aliens. Dallas Gutierrez works for AIR and is after the Queen of the Schön, a beautiful alien who is infecting people with the Schön virus which rots them from the inside out unless they constantly prey on other humans or aliens and pass the virus on. She calls them her army. The Schön Queen ends up being Trinity, one of the three sisters. Dallas needs to stop her before she harms anyone else.

We, the reader, find out that Earth had had an alien war decades ago and it now has many different type of beings living here.

Dallas keeps hallucinating which he learns are visions of the future. In one vision, he sees Trinity crawling towards him asking for help but the Schön disease had taken over her brain and she was just trying to trick him into coming near so she could infect him so he shot her. In another, he sees a beautiful naked woman sitting in his chair at home. These images are disturbing to him but when he meets the subject on his last vision, he is even more disturbed.

Devyn, his alien friend, has had her in a cage for three weeks torturing and interrogating her. Dallas recognizes her as the naked woman in his visions and, for some odd reason, feels protective over her and doesn’t want Devyn to torture her anymore. He volunteers to take over her interrogation by taking her away from Devyn’s.

He finds out that she is Trinity’s sister and she thinks she can save Trinity from the Schön virus but nobody has found a cure for it yet so Dallas insists on killing Trinity because she is much too dangerous and he thinks she has turned totally evil.

Meanwhile, one of Devyn’s associates named John has captured Lilica’s other sister Jade. John seems to have become fond and protective of Jade. Do I sense a future romance?

Lilica accidently or accidently on purpose bonds with Dallas because her dominant alien gene (she was created with a mixture of 23 different alien races plus human) is the Falle race which bonds with the person they choose as their husband or wife. When this happens, the urge to consummate their union is so strong that if they resist, the couple starts to get animalistic in nature as the urge takes over. They could even harm anyone who gets in the way of clinching the deal. Because of the bond, neither can hurt the other physically without feeling it too and they can read each other’s minds to an extent so their race against each other to find Trinity first will be difficult.

As his feeling for Lilica grow, he starts to worry that he will lose her if he kills Trinity but he must put the safety of others above all. How can a relationship where he kills her sister ever work out?

This book had a lot of sexual tension and erotic scenes but not so much that it took away from the story.

I will put this series on my to read list.