Hot Blooded ~ Amanda Carlson

  • Title: Hot Blooded
  • Author: Amanda Carlson
  • Series: Jessica McClain #2
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Net Galley ARC
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 2 out of 5

Description:  It hasn’t been the best week for Jessica McClain.

Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge — but Jessica is playing for keeps.

Because she’s the only female werewolf in town…it comes with its own set of rules…and powers.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

All in a day’s work for a girl.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties…


Review:  Hot Blooded picked up right where Full Blooded left off. It kind of had to, since Full Blooded ended somewhat abruptly with no firm conclusion. The greatest incentive that I had to give the second book a shot was not so much that I was eager to find out what happens next, but rather that I was granted a free advanced review copy by the Publisher via Net Galley.

Once again, Carlson’s concept was good, but the execution was not. For example, the main character, Jess, was maybe a little too powerful. This appeared to be a go-to plot device for the author. The characters were in a no-win situation, no problem! Jessica would mysteriously discover yet ANOTHER inexplicable super power. Maybe I would have bought into it more if there had been some sort of logic behind the powers, but there was not.

Another over-used trope in this book was that all of the villains adhered to the Scooby Doo school of pontification. “Well, now that I’ve captured you, let me gloat and fill in details so that you can find a chance to defeat me and escape.” Ugh. The hero characters plainly walked into danger half cocked, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would not have been better for the bad guys & gals to shut up and kill them already!

Speaking of half-cocked, I found Jessica to be more annoying in this book. On top of her ridiculously emerging powers, she took head strong to the level of hard headed. Bad decisions made under the guise of being tough are still bad decisions. Rinse, lather, and repeat over and over and the result was one stupid heroine.

The one good side of the heroine rushing head first into danger was that it resulted in a lot of action. The battle scenes were not bad at all and quite frankly, they were what kept my attention and allowed me to finish the book. Well, that and the hope that the world-building potential might just solidify into something decent.

What finally made me bump my rating down to just two stars was the cliff hanger ending. It was pointless that a completely new plot line opened up and was tacked on to the the end of the book. Why do some authors seem to think that they this is the way to make sure readers purchase their next book? Isn’t just simply writing a compelling story enough???? This tactic so annoys me that if I had not already received a free advance review copy of the next book I would drop the series cold. As it stands, this series has two outs with no one on base. We’ll see if the third books strikes out.

**Disclaimer: Reviewer was provided with a digital advance review copy of this book by the publisher via Net Galley.

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Pleasure Unbound ~ Larissa Ione

  • Title: Pleasure Unbound
  • Author: Larissa Ione
  • Series: Demonica #1
  • Genre: PNR, UF
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .

She’s a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .


**Warning: I am giving my review an R-Rating. It is meant for adults. Considering the nature of the book, it is also clearly meant for adults.**

Review:  Take 2 scoops each of paranormal romance and erotica, a dollop of urban fantasy, a generous sprinkle of demons and a dash of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you get Pleasure Unbound. This is what I would call a bubble bath book; sexy, light and fluffy. It was a bit silly and ridiculous, but once I accepted that, I allowed myself to turn my brain off a bit and enjoy the humor, whether it was always intended or not.

The world-building was not too deep, but it was interesting. I really liked the concept that the demon world is the flip side of humanity, that demons are mostly evil with good exceptions versus there being evil exceptions to the basic goodness among humans. Plus, there were some kick-ass fighting scenes, which always make me happy.

**Spoiler Alert – detour to avoid spoiler content**

Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated was Tayla’s difficulty in reaching the Big-O. Romance authors are so gratuitous with their orgasms that we see the achievement of multiples during virgin deflowering scenes. HUH? I think we can all agree that while we’d love to see fireworks every time, but it is not just reality for most of us. I think this made Tayla much more relatable and Eidolon more endearing for his determination to get her there. Now, as for the lame insta-psychology healing of deep mental trauma, well, not quite as well-played.

Speaking of Eidolon, for a demon he was a bit of a Marty Stu. He heals everyone who comes into the hospital, even if they are the enemy (Hello, Tayla). He takes beatings on behalf of his ego-centric brother with a tortured soul. All he really wants is to find someone to love & raise a family. Aww, do they have picket fences in the underworld?

As for Tayla, she is hot mess of a demon slayer grappling with the discovery that *gasp* she is half-demon. Didn’t see that one coming (said with the barest hint of sarcasm). I was bit disappointed in the Buffy societies gullibility and lack of knowledge. They were portrayed as this elite order with a long history of demon slaying, and yet they knew very little about demons and were very easy to infiltrate. Hmm. Maybe they needed Giles.

**Spoiler detour – you are clear of spoilers beyond this point**

I personally prefer a book with more depth and plot, but I can definitely see the appeal in this book for its intended audience.

Ever After ~ Kim Harrison

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  • Title: Ever After
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Series: The Hollows #11
  • Genre: UF, PNR, Fantasy
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Soo
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  The ever-after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing . . . for the worse.

Saving the world isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan…

Review:  Ever After may be my favorite book out of the series because it looks like Rachel has finally grown comfortable with who she is. She’s still reacting to events happening around her rather than making a focused effort to be a part of formulating events. Yet, she’s not fighting her very nature or questioning herself in the process. Rachel is great because she has a big heart and she wants to do what’s right for everyone. She has her flaws but that’s part of the charm. The way she gets caught up in the crazy antics of her life, and she blindly makes decisions based on what’s right for the moment. Her taste in men is suspect and what happens to her sucks! Yet, I wouldn’t have her any other way. The chaos that is Rachel’s life makes sense. It would be really dull otherwise!

Events are coming to a head. The Demons are doing their best to do as little as possible and still come out on top. It doesn’t take much to make Rachel the butt end of the plots and have her take all of the blame. She’s the newest member to their ageless race and of course she has to figure out a devious way to get out of it! It’s not like it’s the first time Rachel’s faced with the choices of death or death.

The Demon’s world is shrinking rapidly and no one knows why. All of the Demons know that Ku’Sox is behind it but they’re willing to stay true to their demonic natures and let someone else fix it. After all, Ku’Sox’s target is Rachel and if Rachel can’t take care of the situation like a true demon, she should suffer the consequences. That is the Demon way we all know and love–right?

Totally unsurprised to see jackass Nick pop up in the middle of the chaos. Of course he’s working with Ku’Sox! I just wish poor Jax would come to his senses and come back home to Jenks.

I must say that I like the more subtle layering of events and interactions woven throughout this book. It goes hand in hand with how well the characters are growing more mature without losing the element of fun and carefree joy. Like Jenks and his new relationship that he tries to hide as being a nice pixie. Maybe he’s getting won over by the fact that his new wardrobe is kinda rockin’!

I hate what happens to Ceri and Quen. We didn’t get more than a glimpse of the life they have together. I’m not sure if I believe it was a well planned move to keep the story flowing. It seemed rather abrupt to me.

On one hand, I loved how action packed this story was! On the other hand, I felt like I read three novellas that were patched together into one with a short story about vampire politics that starts off strong and fizzles into a wisp. The book is oddly disjointed but that fits the growing pains. I believe the book is a well placed transition piece of Rachel and gang. The characters and world is growing richer and deeper. The Hollows is changing from a teen into an adult.

Let’s be clear: Rachel and Trent need to hook up and see where the cards fall! That is my opinion as a romantic and wishful dreamer of happily ever afters. Let’s also be clear that I enjoy a well played happily ever after. I know. I ask for a lot. If I was Rachel, I would be holding Trent off with both arms, legs and a ten foot pole! He is such a sneaky, manipulating, devious and arrogant prat of an elf! The Rachel I envision wouldn’t be as willing to do anything with Trent after everything that happens. They’re history is long, awkwardly intertwined and full of heartbreaking moments that fill eyes with tears, heart with joy and rile up emotions like no other.

My Appeal to Kim Harrison:

I totally want Rachel and Trent to end up together. I don’t know if that’s going to actually happen. I hope it does. If you do go in that direction, I only ask that you do it in a way that I can believe it. Cause, I didn’t really believe it in this book. Sure, I want it. But that doesn’t mean I actually bought the story here. The pieces didn’t line up for me.

My absolute FAVORITE scene in all of the Hollows it the climax in Ever After! Whew! Talk about awesome!

Three bits stick out as well crafted scenes in the book. Best of all is the climax. It’s SO good! For the other two, one is when the vampire politics pops up with Felix going a little  psycho and the other is at the very end of the book with three of our favorite characters.

If you’re a fan of the Hollows, you should read this book as soon as possible! Though the story has an clunky feel, so many things happen that you’ll feel like you’re on a crazy ride that takes your emotions from one extreme to another and you won’t have time to really note where the story jumps awkwardly. You’ll spend more time on the big events and be roaring to dive head first into the next!

I can’t wait for the next book. I also can’t believe the series will be coming to an end. I hear there’s only two more books lined up for the Hollows. That sucks! Yet, I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend ~ Linda Wisdom

  • Title: Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend
  • Author: Linda Wisdom
  • Series: Demon’s #1
  • Genre: UF, PNR
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Soo
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  Feisty witch Maggie enjoys her work as a paranormal law enforcement officer—that is, until she’s assigned to protect a teenager with major attitude and a sleazy boyfriend. A group of satanic Mayans priests has decided Courtney has a drop of divine blood in her—making her just the virgin sacrifice they need to release their God and rule the world.

To prevent this catastrophe, Maggie must team up with half fire demon Declan, the proprietor of Damnation Alley, an underground club and busy demon portal. Declan will be damned if he’ll allow his demon race to be blamed for the malicious acts of some evil Mayans. So he decides to seduce the sexy witch in an effort to discover what the law enforcement agency knows about the Mayan’s plans, but then things get more than a little hot, and Declan finds himself seriously entangled with the sexiest woman he’s ever met…

*Potential Spoilers*

Review:  Maggie O’Malley isn’t a typical petite blonde in skimpy club clothes. She’s a centuries old Witch and a part of the Hellion Guard. The Guard is a select police force for the supernatural community that lives amongst the uninformed average Dick & Jane. Maggie’s group followed a lead to capture a Bloater at Damnation Alley. Everything went as planned until the Bloater blew up and splattered icky goo all over Maggie and the club. First impressions matter! It’s a good thing Declan, the club owner, saw Maggie before the goo-tastic explosion because more than one kind of spark lite when Maggie and Declan meet for the first time. Add a mouthy, rebellious teenager, grumpy gnome boss, portents of world destruction and a mile high ice cream sundae to get a small but hilarious insight into Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend.

The story caught my grin with the first page! I was chuckling and laughing a lot as I read the novel. The characters are engaging, the plot moved along at a decent clip, and it was easy for me to imagine the world that Linda Wisdom created for the book.

It’s very cute. I suppose I should think Maggie is badass and Declan is swoon worthy but I see them as a cute couple who kind of fell into another Armageddon plot and kind of saved the world in passing. The story isn’t about being a great warrior or witch. It’s about Maggie’s family of friends, falling in love, and figuring out how to make that all work despite ingrain prejudices.

I love a steamy love scene. However, I think this story would have been better if the love scenes were more vague and leave it up to the reader’s imagination. Most of the time, I thought the scenes were corny or very awkward. The dream sequences were great! I enjoyed the creative flair and depth of a different kind of romance.

Initially, I wanted to rate this story 4 stars because I enjoyed reading it a lot. However, a few consistent points keep me from rating it higher. I don’t get a sense of why certain things work the way they do in the story. Maggie’s magic is very powerful and seems to have no drawback. The deal with the Mayans and the climax feels like a passing byplay that I can’t make myself care about too much. I should have been really engaged by the climax and I found myself not caring by the scene. I grinned when the God of Destruction ends up being a Goddess. I rolled my eyes at the events following her appearance.

Yay for Maggie starting a family of her own and finding love! I look forward to seeing what happens to the gang in the next book. I hope the world becomes more fleshed out and that the action of the story is as important as the characters living in it.