Category Archives: Romance

Cheek, Kater; Parasitic Souls (2016)

Cover art by: Fiona Jayde Media and Kater Cheek
Cover art by: Fiona Jayde Media and Kater Cheek

About five years before the beginning of Parasitic Souls, the Earth experienced a magic apocalypse. As a result of the apocalypse, some people became magical. The strangest form of magic is SL (spontaneous lycanthropy), in this case to coyote . More common is magical talent. Those who had practiced magic before the apocalypse, like brujas/brujos and witches/wizards, had a head-start. The magically talented are able to use their energy to set wards, make charms or influence people. Scientists study magic in hopes of understanding its underlying principles.

One of the magics discovered is a fountain of youth. Not a particularly ethical magic, but one that might potentially earn the inventor loads of money. Many people would be willing to use this highly questionable form of magic and pay almost anything. However, before this fountain of youth could be sold to the wealthy and unscrupulous, it needs testing. Which is how we meet Lenny.

The apartment was dark except for the streetlight shining rudely through the curtains. Since she had a raging thirst and an urgent need to pee, Fiona got up. She managed to find the bathroom without shinning herself too badly on the birch Ektorp coffee table, and she only had to open four cabinets before finding a cup to drink out of. As she was downing her third glass of water, she heard a non-human voice creak at her through the kitchen window.

“Let me in!”

She dropped the glass on the floor. It bounced and rolled under the table, spilling water everywhere.

Fiona gets called to Clementine, California, by her step-mom’s assistant, Sophie. Fiona’s step-mom, Carlotta, had done a disappearing act. There was little the two girls could do to find her, except wait and hoped that the only thing wrong is a severe hangover. Turns out, Carlotta’s problem is a bit more serious. In fact, her whole demeanor changed from warm and kind to cold and mean. At least towards Fiona and Sophie. Something is up, and the two of them know it has to be bad.

Fiona is 24-years old and born to a messed up mother and father. One of her father’s marriages had been to Carlotta. Carlotta was everything Fiona needed, and she was there for Fiona even after she divorced Fiona’s father. So Fiona has reason to expect Carlotta to, at least, let her sleep on the couch. Instead, Fiona has to shack up with Sophie.

Sophie is 18-years old and the adopted child of adoring and overprotective parents. Because Carlotta is related to her mother, Sophie was able to move to Clementine and apprentice with Carlotta. Up until the personality change, Carlotta had treated Sophie kindly. Now neither Fiona or Sophie has a job, and they certainly have no idea what to do about Carlotta. Should they go back or stay and try to fix things?

Parasitic Souls would be a terrible, and probably realistic, story if they chose to give up. However, the two do not. Things happen, and through them we meet Marcello and Xavier. Marcello teaches magic theory at Clementine Preparatory Academy for Magic and Technology. Xavier is apprenticed to his grandmother, the bruja, Luna. Luna is a woman you do not want as an enemy. The two men are in their early twenties and both of them are interested in the two women. So. Some romance.

Parasitic Souls is a Young Adult story with three types of stories in it. Coming-of-age, romance and “what if”. There is plenty of action, some of it rather unusual. Kater Cheek also manages to thrown in her odd, but cool, sense of humor. I liked it and recommend Parasitic Souls.


Parasitic Souls is available at Smashwords


Kater Cheek gave me a copy of Parasitic Souls in exchange for a review

Roberts, Richard: The Doll House (1): Inventory and Price List (2011)

The Doll House by Richard Roberts

Ray has signed, in blood, a spell for knowledge. When he falls asleep, he finds himself dreaming of a house, The Dollhouse. Entering the Dollhouse is akin to playing with fire. Except Ray didn’t think anything would happen when he signed in blood a spell for seeking knowledge. Oh, dear, once again we learn that all actions have consequences.

Ray is fortunate in a couple of respects. He soon realizes that his dream is very real and sets out to understand what he is dealing with. Seven women with innocuous names but with personalities and abilities that ought to frighten a wise man.

Make no demands once you enter the Dollhouse, and try your best to not offend, and you may just make it out alive.

I had fun reading The Dollhouse: Inventory. Definitely recommended.


Review: Laurie


The Doll House: Inventory available at Booklikes

 

Bunn, Christopher: The Girl Next Door (2012)

“What do you do?” she asked.

“Well, it’s funny that you should ask. I do a little proofreading, sort of a family thing. My father did it before me, so I decided to carry on the tradition. Editing. Marking up manuscripts with red pen. Hence all the books.”

“I just had a marvelous thought. You can proofread my book.”

“Hang on,” he said, startled, “I wouldn’t want to presume on your acquaintance.”

“Don’t think of it,” she said. “I’m not at all offended by your asking.”

“Not at all offended …?” stuttered Peter.

Christopher Bunn

Lyon, J.J.: Truth is Relative (A Truth Inducer Mystery) (2014)

Artist: Caitlin Willey
Artist: Caitlin Willey

The Monday before Thanksgiving, my car disappeared. Or it might have been late Sunday night. The day was half over before I even looked outside. Instead I focused on an ugly painting until I realized I was hungry. I was out of bread and low on groceries in general. I cleaned my brushes, grabbed my keys, opened the front door, and stared at gray asphalt where my Mazda used to be. A few dead cottonwood leaves swirled there before the wind swept them off.

I didn’t bother calling the police. My car hadn’t been stolen, it had been repossessed.

Anthony has had a rough time during the year after his gift/curse emerged. All it takes is thirty seconds within a ten-foot circumference of him and people cannot help telling him their secrets. Just going to the store is a challenge. And the things he hears. “My wife left me this morning.”, “And then their dad comes home and he needs dinner and he wants sex.”, “I knew it was you and I don’t want to talk to you, but it looked bad.” and “So how did a totally hot man get a gift like that?“. Some of the secrets are much worse than this, and they are part of the trouble Anthony is in and is going to land himself in.

I liked the way J.J. Lyon looked at Anthony’s talent. One of my talents is having no filter on what I hear. Concentrating on my conversation while others are going on around me is extraordinarily difficult. I usually end up commenting on other conversations, or my companions tell me to stop listening in. Sadly, there isn’t an off-button on my talent. That can make talking to me annoying. I just upped my difficulty to the nth degree and probably arrived at Tony’s challenges. So, I truly get why he has made himself a hermit, does not want to visit his family and avoids any close contact with other people if he is able to. However, doing so has gotten him as close to bankrupt as a person could get.

He needs to come up with some way of getting hold of money and using his gift for other things than hitting on girls. His older brother Bart comes up with what he considers a really smart scheme. Why doesn’t Anthony become a PI? Yes, a PI. At first Tony is reluctant. But once he realizes what is really going on, his’s involvement becomes truer.

Recommended.


Reviews:


Truth is Relative is available at Amazon

McLeod, Suzanne: The Shifting Price of Prey (spellcrackers.com IV) (2012)

The Shifting Price of Prey is the fourth book in the story of Genvieve Nataliya Zakharinova Taylor, her past, her present and her potential future. You definitely need to have read the previous three novels to get the most out of The Shifting Price of Prey.

As you might have noticed in my previous reviews of the spellcrackers.com serial, I have used art from various sources to represent the creatures/people in Suzanne McLeod’s stories. I have tried to stay true to the characters she describes, but the only one I am certain of is Ricou. Ricou loves putting on the glamour of Jonny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Good choice Ricou. There is just something about Jack Sparrow as presented by Jonny Depp that leaves a lot of women (including myself) wanting to stare. I love the choice McLeod made there.

Ricou and Sylvia are incredibly cute together. The Bitter Seed of Magic showed us the extent of their love across the boundaries of race. Their mothers aren’t pleased with Sylvia and Ricou choosing each other. In The Shifting Price of Prey these same two mothers are still conniving to get their way with Genvieve. One of the many things I love about fantasy and science fiction is the way real life issues are brought to light in a manner that makes me think. Perhaps taking issues into the land of imagination make them clearer and easier to understand for me. Because I find it terribly confusing to try to understand why something like color should make us hate each other and not want our children to love each other. It’s just really weird and illogical in my mind.

Another thing I really enjoy about reading Suzanne McLeod’s story of Genny and her friends is the way she shows us the silly excuses we use in our lives to justify what we do. Take Finn. He drops in from taking care of his daughter. In The Bitter Seed of Magic it is highly likely that Nicky had been raped into pregnancy. Finn and she went off into Between with the other girls who had become pregnant so the babies and the women would be safe. That is completely understandable and Genny agrees wholly with what he does. But Finn is incredibly stupid when it comes to one thing in his life and this time (again) he uses the dumbest excuse to rationalize his actions. I love the way McLeod reveals the issue to us and also my own reaction when I hear his excuse. I cannot help feeling sorry for Finn with his blind side. I also cannot help but wonder what my own blind sides are.

I have met people like Mr. Lampy. Shudder. Genny’s reaction is something I identify with. Mr. Lampy’s creep factor is way out there and as we read through The Shifting Price of Prey it keeps on rocketing. Which is why I absolutely loved Cat-Girl’s question and Genny’s answer at one point. Way to go both of them!

Tarot cards are something I know nothing about, except for what I have seen in movies or read about in fictional works. After reading about the ones in The Shifting Price of Prey I am no closer to becoming a fan of them. If there is one thing that is certain in Genvieve’s life it has to be that nothing comes to her the simple and easy way. Oh, no! Suzanne McLeod has to make her fight for every little answer. As a reader I love, it but I tend to feel sorry for the poor characters who have to suffer the author’s pen.

Anyways! I had fun with The Shifting Price of Prey. Suzanne McLeod met my expectations completely and I certainly look forward to reading the next installment of this serial.


Reviews:


The Shifting Price of Prey on Amazon.co.uk, Kindle, Book Depository, Waterstones


My review of:

  1. The Sweet Scent of Blood
  2. The Cold Kiss of Death
  3. The Bitter Seed of Magic

Carnival Fantastique is based on the Carnival in Trinidad

Page, Jessica: The Agency (Agency Hunger I) (2014)

The Agency - Jessica Page

The Agency by Jessica Page is a paranormal romance with a mystery twist. The Agency is Ms. Page’s first published novel and is part of a series called Agency Hunger. Ms. Page provided me with a copy of her novel in return for a review.

We all know that I am a terrible romance reviewer but I will comment of the stuff that I understand about the concept.

Our male main character’s name is Reid. He falls into the cognitive trap of telling himself to “not think about thinking about a subject”. You know what happens then. The more you fight it, the more you think about it. Sure enough. The more Reid thought about not thinking about liking Harper the more she stuck out in his mind. Silly old vampire. Should know better by now. Especially since he discovers early one that Harper is able to read minds. I thought this was hilarious which is what romance is to me.

The other romance bit that I am able to understand is the sex part. For those of you who do not know yet, I am Norwegian. When Ms. Page told me that her novel had adult content I admit that made me curious as to whether this Viking would think so as well. Personally I think older young adults could read Ms. Page’s novel so they could learn about consensual sex. Because that was what it was. Nice, consensual sex that made me a bit horny. Well done Ms. Page – both on making me horny with your writing and for writing about kind sex. Nor was the violence especially violent.

Both Reid and Harper are extremely sexy and good-looking and that seems to be some sort of rule with romances.

We first meet Harper as she is on her way to and arrives on the subway platform. She has her first encounter with the supernatural world when a person sneaks up behind her wanting to “taste her”. Harper knows this because of what she thinks is a one-of-a-kind ability. To say that she is freaked out is putting it mildly. She turns around, sees sharp incisors and red eyes and thinks what any regular person would

“a fucking vampire standing right in front of me ready to kill me? That is not possible.”

Immediately she has her second encounter when the first vampire is pulled off her by another one – Reid.

Harper is dragged into the supernatural world disbelieving herself and who/what she meets yet finally feeling as though she fits in. Her mind-reading ability caused her adoptive parents to turn her over to a private research facility for testing and Harper had lived 8 years of her life in a laboratory being examined in all sorts of ways. Growing up is difficult enough to do under normal circumstances. Adding non-optional electric shocks and other invasive procedures has made her wary of other people’s reactions to her abilities. Discovering that she is a normal supernatural with an irregular ability must have been relaxing. Finally there is a place in this world where she belongs.

The supernatural members of Harper’s new world are werewolves, vampires and mages (Harper is a mage). You are either born or made a vampire or werewolf. Mages have to be born but do not begin manifesting their abilities until they are ten years old. Werewolves have controlled, painless transitions and they remain in charge of themselves after the change. Vampires are alive but depend on blood to feed the virus that gives them extra abilities. Both werewolves and vampires need to be coached while they are newbies so they do not allow their predatory sides to take over.

Reid is old enough that he has seen the consequences of letting his predatory side rule. His choice was to join up with the group of supernaturals that wanted to keep the community and themselves under control. He belongs to the Agency as one of their best trainers and agents. His responsibility will be to train Harper. Their job will be to help figure out why all the illegal turnings and the deaths that follow the unsuccessful ones are happening.

I liked Jessica Page’s first attempt at a novel. Sure, there is something that needs work. That is a tightening of the story. Sometimes her story falls out of the flow and she has to find her way back into the stream again. But she manages to make her text flow and that is a feat in and of itself. Her English is Canadian English.


The Agency on Smashwords

Winchester, C.S.: Past Due (Past I) (2009)

Past Due CS Winchester
Cover photo: Ivaylo Sarayski The one I prefer

CS Winchester‘s Past Due is a romantic, urban-fantasy mystery placed in London. In it we find a major component of the paranormal and magical. Our main character is Frankie (Francis Wright), the psychic, who is supported by Alex (Alexander McNabb), the vampire.

Two killings bring them together, and the two of them end up working to solve the mystery of what seems to be serial killings with magical components. Frankie is part of MI5 (they control the paranormal population). Alex is not. He happens to own a nightclub. However unlikely it might seem that these two should work together to solve a crime, they do. In fact, the two of them end up becoming more involved in each other’s lives than they had originally thought.

The world of Past Due seems to be a man’s world. Except for a phone conversation with her mother, Frankie is the only woman we get to meet (other than the corpses). Her mother provides the comic relief of the story with what I presume is a common mother/daughter phone call:

… “Well you know, even large age gaps can be overcome. Felicity, from my bridge group, married a man thirty years her senior. Of course he was loaded, hardly a match made in heaven, but at least her husband died happy.”

“Well, I’ll just pop down to the bingo hall, shall I? See if they have any octogenerians?” …

Some resemblance is purportedly found between Frankie and CS Winchester (VLA). What do I know about Frankie? She is adopted, psychic (reacts to touch), in her 30’s, works for the paranormal police, wonders if a relationship with a vampire is doable, is independent, has a mother who does not believe that Frankie is psychic, has been thought insane and cares for the victims of her cases. When the vampires try to bully her into doing their will, she stays true to her cause. She and her ex have issues (nothing new there).

I find her believable.

Frankie and we discover fairly early on who the serial killer is. We get some information on him, enough for him to fit with profiles of serial killers. Even the magic element is something some killers would believe they use. I wonder what made our murderer actually step over the killing line?

I find him believable as well.

Past Due was an easy-on-the-brain type of read. I liked it.


Reviews:


Past Due on Amazon US