Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Velvet Chair by Jennifer Stevenson

The Velvet Chair
Book 2
Jennifer Stevenson
Ballantine Books
May 20, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-345-48669-1

Working as a fraud investigator in Chicago keeps Jewel Heiss busy with bizarre crimes. While she’s not fond of the department she’s stuck in, she’s finally been given a partner. Clay being an ex-con might not have been her first choice, but his checkered past comes in handy more often than not.

When Clay Dawes refuses to help his father’s girlfriend he and Jewel find themselves going undercover in his father’s home. What they’re after is the Venus Machine, a chair reported to intensify beauty making the subject who has used it irresistible to those around them. Their job is to investigate the fraud and shut down any talk of magic.

Randy, the sex demon, is still by Jewel’s side and hoping for a permanent release from his curse. He also manages to get them all into some pretty risky situations. Between the three of them they’ll have to prevent public knowledge of the Venus Machine and find a way to prove that its magic is really just the power of suggestion.

In this second Jewel Heiss installment, Jewel returns with Clay and Randy in an undercover adventure that’s sometimes dangerous, often laced with sexual tension and always filled with magic. Ms. Stevenson gives readers a wonderful follow-up story, turning up the heat with more lusty moments and humorous escapades. The Velvet Chair is a steamy romp and a great time with this amusing trio. Book three, The Bearskin Rug, is scheduled for release on June 24, 2008.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

The Brass Bed by Jennifer Stevenson

The Brass Bed
Book 1
Jennifer Stevenson
Ballantine Books
April 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-345-48668-4

Jewel Heiss works for the Chicago Department of Consumer Services where she investigates fraud and tries to keep a lid on the magical things that go on around town. Her boss thinks his wife, Nina, is cheating on him and wants Jewel to find the proof. Not the kind of case she wants to be involved in, but in the process she’ll investigate the sex therapist Nina’s seeing because Jewel is sure he’s a con.

Giving in to her friend’s demands, Jewel agrees to a session with Clay, the therapist. What she gets out of the experience is Randy, a demon lover who attaches himself to her as her sex slave.

When his mistress used her magic and cursed him for being a lousy lover, Randy found himself trapped in a brass bed. He’s been stuck there since 1811. The deal is that he has to satisfy 100 women to gain his freedom and it’s taken him nearly 200 hundred years to get there. He was lucky that someone like Clay finally came along and made good use of the bed or he may have been stuck forever. Still, something hasn’t gone as planned and Randy has little choice but to rely on Jewel to help him work things out.

This is the first book in a new fantasy series with Jewel Heiss and while the over-all plot was enjoyable there were a few points that were difficult to get past. The biggest were Jewel’s boss who cheats on his wife, and the wife who accepts the cheating as a relatively tolerable part of life. While they were secondary characters their presence was strong enough that it cast a dark shadow over what is otherwise a lighthearted and humorous read. Ms. Stevenson has created an interesting world for her characters and the storyline for The Brass Bed is basically a fun one. Jewel, Clay and Randy are an entertaining trio that share chemistry, lust and crazy capers. I’m looking forward to their next adventure in The Velvet Chair.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

The Iron Hunt
Hunter Kiss, Book 1
Marjorie M. Liu
June 24, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01606-8

Maxine Kiss is a demon hunter and the last of her kind. Her body is covered in tattoos that provide her with armor during the day, but when the sun sets the demons she wears on her skin separate and become living creatures. Bound to protect and fight by her side, they’ll be together until the day that Maxine passes them on with her death. For now they’re the closest thing to family that she’s ever known.

Grant, a former priest who runs a homeless shelter, is Maxine’s boyfriend. While that’s something she never thought she’d have, their relationship is as close as she’s come to trust with someone other than the ‘boys’. Grant also has a supernatural talent of his own, one that’s powerful enough to offer some protection from the demons.

The Veil has weakened through the years, and something new has been freed from the prison to walk the earth. Humans made zombie by the demons using their skin are fairly common to see, but an entity wearing a familiar face has appeared and it’s unlike anything Maxine was prepared for. Angry after so long imprisoned, the avatar has plans to regain what was taken from her and to take so much more. Maxine’s job is to prevent that from happening at nearly any cost.

This is the first novel in the Hunter Kiss series, but there is a prequel with the series name in Wild Thing, a Berkley anthology, and this may explain a slightly disorienting feeling at the beginning of the story. Ms. Liu does a lovely job in getting readers up to speed and preparing us for the high-speed action in her demon filled adventure. A creative and well-written storyline provides a strong backbone for this new urban fantasy series, and the unique characters in The Iron Hunt will charm, tempt and surprise readers into coming back for more.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey

A Match Made in Hell
Nicki Styx, Book 2
Terri Garey
Avon Books
June 24, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-06-113616-0

When a heart condition nearly took her life, Nicki Styx came back with a gift she’d rather not have. She can see the spirits of people who haven’t crossed over, and each of them need her help. This time around an accident victim, Peaches, leads Nicki to answers from her past and the family she didn’t know existed.

Joe Bascombe, the emergency room doctor who saved her life, is her new beau. More often than not his time is spent by her side, especially during the times that she needs him most. He’s adjusted to Nicki’s gift rather well, so when she finds herself chasing down family ghosts it’s no surprise that Joe takes a few days off from the hospital to join her.

A surprise visit from a family member leads them both to the home they knew nothing about. Once there, family secrets are revealed, spirits are set free and Nicki finds herself fending off some tempting attention, the price of which could cost her soul.

This is the second novel in the Nicki Styx series. Nicki’s family background is revealed and it’s as much a surprise for her as it is for fans. Ms. Garey adds many twists to this installment, and keeps readers on the edge of their seat until the last moment. With some new and intriguing characters added to the mix, the trouble in A Match Made in Hell intensifies, a strong romance is put through more than one test and souls are in danger. The chemistry is scorching, looks can be deceiving, and Nicki’s life is about to get a lot more complicated.

Kimberly Swam Darque Reviews

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Real Vampires Get Lucky by Gerry Bartlett

Real Vampires Get Lucky
Glory St. Clair, Book 3
Gerry Bartlett
June 3, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22154-9

When Gloriana St. Clair and her shapeshifter bodyguard, Valdez, find a nearly dead woman in the alley behind her building, she does something she’s never done before. She changes Lucky Carver, a loan collector, to vampire. Now she’s responsible for teaching Lucky the ropes. Her mobster father is grateful for Glory saving her life, but he still wants answers and he’s more than willing to pay for what he wants. Her good deed is about to turn around and make life much more complicated.

Not being the type that takes orders from anyone, Lucky ignores the need for secrecy of her new life as vampire and attracts attention in a very big way. She’s just been given an immortal life that she plans to lead in any way she wants, and her first order of business is to take revenge on a guy who jilted her years ago. There are two sides to every story, but Lucky has no interest in giving him a chance to speak his peace and soon more trouble lands in Glory’s lap.

Jeremiah Campbell is Glory’s on again, off again, vampire boyfriend. If it were strictly up to him, he’d have married her long ago, but luckily for Glory he hasn’t given up hope. He does all he can to protect her, but she still manages to get herself into bad situations. This time around, Jerry has some troubles of his own.

This is the third installment in the Glory St. Clair vampire series, and Glory’s humorous escapades will keep readers glued to the pages. Ms. Bartlett pens an inventive urban fantasy tale with engaging characters, an intriguing mystery and a storyline kept light with witty dialogue. Real Vampires Get Lucky is filled with twists, turns and temptation that will keep readers coming back for more.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cluck: Murder Most Fowl by Eric D. Knapp

Cluck: Murder Most Fowl
Eric D. Knapp
Book Surge
December 10, 2007
ISBN# 978-1-4196-8264-3

A rooster hatches and begins his life on a farm. While he’s larger, stronger and more intelligent than the rest, he doesn’t know what fate has in store for him. He connects with Helena, a hen that has hatched at the same time. They become favorites of the farmer, and he treats them just a bit better than the rest. When the rooster dies, he suddenly finds himself alive again, or undead as the facts may be. The zombie rooster evolves from the pleasant soul he was, to the Rooster King who now has an army of rotting zombie chickens to do his bidding.

Arnold is born to parents who are amazed by his intelligence. While most children would take years to learn the basics, Arnie swiftly masters them. When he starts seeing auras and souls, his mother sends him to Father Beaumont who recognizes his gift for what it is. He soon shuffles Arnie off to The Order in France where his talents can be utilized. Once there, he has a mentor who eventually passes on The Charge to him. There are other members of The Order, but Arnie finds himself with the knowledge and the responsibility for fighting the evil chickens.

After years of fighting to stay alive against the foul chickens that have invaded his farm house, Bobby Garfundephelt is slowly going crazy as he does his best to avoid the traps and ambushes the chickens set for him. Arnie’s appearance could mean his survival of the horror he’s been through, or it could mean something else entirely.

From the supernatural life of a rooster, to the paranormal talents of a boy, Cluck: Murder Most Fowl is beyond anything you might imagine when you pick up this book. Mr. Knapp entertains readers with a well-written and detailed world that has many twists, turns and horrors to experience along the way. While zombie chickens may not be at the top of your list of interests, the bizarre nature of this story will keep readers turning the pages to see where it will lead. It’s an unusual tale that falls more on the light side of horror than anything else, and it’s one that anyone who reads it won’t soon forget.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton

Blood Noir
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 16
Laurell K. Hamilton
May 27, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22219-5

Anita Blake is a necromancer, Federal Marshall for vampire executions, and the human servant to Master of the City of St. Louis, Jean-Claude. When Jason, Jean-Claude’s pomme de sang, asks Anita for a favor she convinces herself it’s the right thing to do. Afraid of flying, and less than thrilled to be meeting Jason’s family under less than truthful circumstances, Anita says goodbye to Nathaniel and Micah, her live-in boyfriends, and accompanies Jason home. What might have been an emotionally difficult trip for Jason turns into a life threatening time for them both.

Jason Schuyler is a werewolf and has not seen his father in several years. His father is now dying and Jason is returning home to make one final effort in smoothing things out before his death. What he hadn’t known when arranging their trip was that his cousin, Keith Summerland, is getting married during the same time he’ll be in town. The problem is that Jason looks so much like Keith and his twin brother that he’s immediately mistaken for him and has the press hounding him and Anita from the time they touch down. If that weren’t enough, it seems that his cousin has gotten himself into a very bad situation with the vampires, who also mistake Jason as the culprit.

Marmee Noir is waking, and the power Anita holds within her is like a magnet to the Mother of all Darkness. A trip that had already turned life threatening is about to take an even darker turn when Anita finds herself fighting an unseen battle to survive.

This is the sixteenth installment in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Blood Noir centers on an out-of-town trip where Anita accompanies Jason to make peace with his dying father. The action is a plentiful mix of human and supernatural that leaves little time to lose interest. Sex is a part of the overall storyline, because without feeding the ardeur Anita won’t survive. Ms. Hamilton adds detail to a charming character by giving readers a look into his past, and takes her heroine a step further with her battle against powerful dark forces. A must read for fans of the series, especially those fans who want to learn more about Jason. If you’re new to this series you should really start at the beginning. If you’re squeamish about explicit sex scenes then take a pass on this series rather than torturing yourself with such delicious detail.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Walk on the Wild Side by Christine Warren

Walk on the Wild Side
The Others, Book 5
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s Press
June 3, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-312-94791-0

Kitty Sugarman was raised by her grandparents. Her mother, Misty, was too far into herself to be bothered with a child, and her father she’d never met. When a visit with Misty finds them in a car accident it triggers a transformation in Kitty, turning her into a were-lion. Realizing that she’s one of the Others, Kitty makes arrangements to meet her absentee father, Martin Lowe, at his home in Vegas. He’s the Felix of his Pride and currently in poor health. Clearly there he had a lot of explaining to do.

Marcus “Max” Stuart is baas of the Red Rock Pride, Martin’s second-in-command. He’s happy to retrieve her from airport for the man who he thinks of as a father, but what greets him is a surprise. Their first meeting has Max giving Kitty her first lesson in gaining control over her change.

Kitty’s time with her father dwindles, the relationship with Max grows and members of the family shun her presence. She’s left to make some hard decisions about her future. The world she knew will never be the same, but the one she’s entered can be a very dangerous place.

This is the fifth book in The Others series and tells the story of one young woman’s struggle to accept her new life and how she finds her nearly perfect mate in the process. Ms. Warren weaves a seductive tale with strong chemistry, roiling emotions, steamy romance and supernatural action. The fast moving plot in Walk on the Wild Side will keep the reader’s attention riveted through every page, and have them eagerly watching for the next installment.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Personal Demons by Stacia Kane

Personal Demons
Megan Chase, Book 1
Stacia Kane
Juno Books
April 15, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-8095-7255-7

Dr. Megan Chase has just taken on a new job counseling callers on a radio show, and with so many people in need of slaying their personal demons Megan has her hands full. She may be able to help them cast aside the little voices they hear, but with each one she stops from committing harmful acts Megan’s digging her way into deeper trouble.

Greyson Dante is a fire demon sent to recruit Megan, but somewhere along the way he takes more of an interest in her life and welfare. He’s aware that she unknowingly carries within her important information about The Accuser, an entity that every demon fears. In an effort to keep her alive he enlists the help of three demon brothers, Maleficarum, Malleus and Spud, to guard Megan and keep her out of trouble.

Megan finds herself fighting off demons, defending her past to a determined reporter and being stalked by Arthur Bellingham to volunteer time as a counselor for his Fearbuster group. Greyson is by her side, sharing forbidden knowledge and lending her the strength to stand against her enemies. Now it’s up to Megan to remember her past and set things right for the future.

In this first book of the Megan Chase series, Ms. Kane reels readers in with a brilliant concept and keeps them fully engaged while the heroine is forced to accept something beyond her wildest imagination. Fast moving action, deadly confrontations in vivid detail, and a scorching romance make Personal Demons a great read. The second book, Demon Inside, is currently scheduled as a January 2009 release.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lover Enshrined by J. R. Ward

Lover Enshrined
Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6
J. R. Ward
June 3, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-22272-5

In the midst of dealing with a troubled past that continues to affect his life, Phury has taken on the role of Primale to the Chosen. It’s his duty to father the children that are needed in order to insure that their race continues. While it’s not a path he would have originally chosen for his life to follow, his loyalty to the Black Dagger Brotherhood and each of its members was all it took to change the course of Phury’s future.

Cormia has been asked to be the Primale’s First Mate, a position a Chosen like herself is both excited and nervous to be in. She understands her role and the honor it represents, but the longer she waits for Phury the more restless she becomes.

Phury is in a constant battle with addiction, making it more difficult to make decisions and a much easier excuse for avoiding them whenever possible. Everyone around him suffers, including Cormia who is dealing with her own anxiety as a First Mate whose Primale doesn’t appear to be interested in her.

The Lessening Society continues their battle to destroy the vampires of the Brotherhood in any way possible. More often than not the Lessers have found themselves in over their heads, but times are changing and with a new member of their team their strengths and future possibilities have increased.

John Matthew continues to grow, and the strength of loyalty between friends sets off a chain of events that finds them in a difficult position. With few choices for an outcome, the lives of these young hopefuls could change more than they’d ever imagined.

With this sixth installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, J. R. Ward has many more surprises in store for fans. While several questions are answered, many new ones will be formed. Intense and emotional, Lover Enshrined has all of the elements readers have come to know and love about the series. While many of the books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series are long in page count, they are over-flowing in action that fills each page. The characters and their world are well detailed, the story is riveting and the developing romance brings much of this tale together. If you’ve been following this series you don’t want to miss Lover Enshrined. If you’ve just discovered it you’ll really want to start at the beginning and enjoy the progression and developments that lead to this point.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beneath the Surface: Athena Force by Meredith Fletcher

Beneath the Surface
Athena Force
Meredith Fletcher
May 13, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-373-38981-0

Fifteen years ago Shannon Connor attended the Athena Academy. She was also the first to be kicked out for reprehensible behavior that should have had more than one responsible party. She swore that one day she’d uncover a story that would destroy the Academy.

She’s worked hard as a news reporter for ABS and has had an unknown source that’s helped her get there by sharing some powerful tips. Now that her source has stopped sharing information, Shannon finds herself in some pretty deep trouble with Vincent Drago. He’s a private investigator and top-notch computer hacker who thinks she’s setting him up.

Allison Gracelyn, a graduate of the Athena Academy with deep connections, believes that Shannon has allied herself with an enemy of the Academy. She enlists the help of Raphael Santorini to keep Shannon out of trouble until they can discover what she’s up to. There is more than one enemy at work and the only way to defeat them is to join forces. A task that’s easier said than done when a fifteen year old grudge may stand in the way.

Action and suspense lead the way in Beneath the Surface, the latest addition in the Athena Force series. With twists and turns fueling the adventure, Meredith Fletcher takes readers on an engaging journey that resolves old suspicions, tracks down enemies and ignites a romance between two strong characters. A quick read that once you’ve started you won’t want to put down.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interview - Rachel Caine

Darque Reviews welcomes Rachel Caine!

Hi Ms. Caine, thanks so much for sharing your time with Darque Reviews! We’re looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing, and how many books you’ve had published?

RC - I started writing when I was 14, but I didn’t sell anything until I was nearly 30 – long learning curve, I suppose! I published my first book, Stormriders, in 1992. Since then, I think the total is about 25 novels to date, with three more still to do this year.

We’d love to hear about your Weather Warden series and your upcoming August 2008 ROC release, Gale Force (Weather Warden, Book 7). Can you tell us about Joanne Baldwin and her role with the Wardens?

RC - Joanne started out in trouble with the Wardens – a magical organization that controls all sorts of magical forces – and while her status has definitely risen, her talent for getting into trouble is also going strong. She’s quick with a quip and has a sharp eye for absurdity, but she definitely takes her role as a Weather Warden seriously – she’s prepared to die for others, and in fact, it wouldn’t be the first time. By Book 7, Joanne’s risen to the top of the organization, but she’s gained a lot of enemies along the way. Her love affair with David, the leader of the New Djinn, is still going strong, but now that he’s asked her for a formal vow, it’s putting them both at risk.

There are Djinn that are as beautiful as they are dangerous. How did they develop, and what is their relationship with the Weather Wardens?

RC - The Djinn come from two sources ... the “True Djinn,” who have been around since the dawn of time and were never human, and the “New Djinn,” humans who have been transformed into Djinn by the circumstances of their deaths. Not surprisingly, there’s a pretty big division between the two, at least in terms of internal politics. None of the Djinn are entirely happy with the Wardens, who more or less perverted the trust that the Djinn gave them way back when, and now Djinn and Wardens exist in an uneasy state of truce – but only because they need each other.

Undone is the first book in a new Weather Warden series titled Outcast Season. Can you tell us about the series and when we might see the first release?

RC - Outcast Season follows a True Djinn named Cassiel who has a serious disagreement with her leader Ashan, and gets exiled into human form. She’ll die without help from the Wardens, but the Wardens want something in return for their generosity ... namely, she has to become part of their organization. But looking human and being human are two very different things, and Cassiel has a lot to learn about herself, and the world around her.

Undone is out in February 2009, and there are four books total in the series.

Another fabulous series is your Morganville Vampires young adult series. Feast of Fools is the 4th book in this series, scheduled for a NAL June 2008 release. Can you tell us about Claire Danvers and her Morganville friends?
RC - Claire moved to Morganville for college, but she’s getting a lot more of an education than she ever expected. She’s acquired some great friends, (like Michael, Eve, and her now-boyfriend Shane), and some strong allies (like the most powerful vampire in town, Amelie). But now she’s apprenticed to a crazy, brilliant vampire scientist Myrnin, and neck-deep in town politics ... and Amelie’s evil father has rolled into town to take over. What’s a girl to do? Especially with final exams looming!

What are working on now, and what can we expect to see in new releases over the next few years?

RC - I just turned in the fifth Morganville book, Lord of Misrule, and I’ll be starting on the next Weather Warden novel shortly. In addition, there will be three more Outcast Season books coming in the next couple of years. I plan to also do another Stargate SG-1 book this year, and I have some other irons in the fire that aren’t finalized quite yet – but I’m staying busy!

Oh, I’d also like to put in a good word for a marvelous new charity anthology coming out soon called Tears of the Phoenix ... the profits go to the repair and support of the New Orleans Public Library system, which sustained such horrible damage during Hurricane Katrina. It’s being released in two editions, paperback and hardcover, and in the next few weeks you can preorder copies at the website:

Is it difficult for you to switch gears from writing an adult series to a young adult series?

RC - Actually, not at all ... I really enjoy the change of pace, and the style and characters are very different. I’m very lucky to have so many varied opportunities.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have any of them been an influence in your writing?

RC - I have so many favorite authors, I don’t think you have enough space for them here! But I’ll give you the short list: Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, P.N. Elrod, Vicki Pettersson, Stephenie Meyer, Laura Anne Gilman, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, C.J. Cherryh, Roger Zelazny, Tanith Lee, Judith Tarr. I’d probably say that the biggest influence on my writing has been Roger Zelazny, if I had to choose one in particular. I still re-read his Books of Amber just about every year. I also love the classics – the Scarlet Pimpernel series by Baroness Orczy, Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, the Sherlock Holmes stories.

When you’re able to find some free time, what do you enjoy doing?

RC - What is this free time of which you speak? When it rolls around, we have a pretty fierce home theater system and loads of movies and TV shows. Also, I’m trying to get myself back into reasonably good order on playing the clarinet (which I did for a number of years) and learn guitar and harp.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring writers before we go?

RC - I’m a reader first, last, and always – I love writing, but there’s just something so magical about reading a new book for me. So hooray for readers!

And for your aspiring writers ... patience is a virtue. It can seem to take forever to get noticed and published, but honestly, there’s no substitute for hard work, dedication and learning the business. And I look forward to shaking hands with you at a book signing someday!

It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Rachel. Thanks so much for joining us!

RC - Thank you for the opportunity. It’s a pleasure!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

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Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine

Feast of Fools
The Morganville Vampires, Book 4
Rachel Caine
June 3, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-22463-7

Claire Danvers is away from home and attending college in Morganville, a town run by vampires. Her intelligence has been found useful to Amelie and she’s been working with Myrnin, an older vampire, whose grasp on reality is deteriorating with a baffling vampiric disease. Under Amelie’s protection, Claire, her boyfriend Shane, and her friends Eve and Michael are relatively safe. Then a stranger rolls into town with plans that will destroy the balance Morganville works to maintain between the vampires and humans.

Mr. Bishop is much scarier than his daughter, Amelie, and that’s saying a lot. He’s also brought some friends along who are beyond anything Claire’s friend, Michael Glass, can stand against. The town will be turned upside down when he starts by dragging Claire’s parents into it for leverage, and then takes over Michael’s house holding them all until Amelie agrees to face him. Mr. Bishop has plans that soon escalate to trying to take over Morganville. With Claire’s knowledge, and help from an unlikely source, the residents of their town may have one small chance. It’s up to young Claire to pull things together and save the family and friends she cares about.

This is the fourth book in The Morganville Vampires series and is as thrilling as the previous installments. Claire’s life has changed drastically since moving to Morganville for college, and we’ve read along as she’s matured into a young woman. She has good friends, an honorable boyfriend and a stronger place in their local society. In sharing her well-imagined world, Ms. Caine gives readers the danger filled supernatural moments they crave while adding friendship, romance, and teen issues to give the story a realistic feel. A fast-moving series where there’s always a surprise just around every dark corner.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Kiss
Lords of the Underworld, Book 2
Gena Showalter
June 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-373-77232-2

After opening dimOuniak (Pandora’s Box), made of bones from a goddess to hold the spirits of demons, Lucien was forced to accept the demon of Death inside himself as punishment. He’s a Lord of the Underworld, scarred from self inflicted wounds and charged with escorting souls into the afterlife. Lucien keeps to himself and is content with the negative effect his appearance has on women. Then Anya comes along, and her single minded pursuit has him rethinking his most recent orders to kill her.

Anya is the Goddess of Anarchy, and lives with a curse that has made her unwilling to do more than flirt and tease men. Her sights are set on Lucien, and there’s little he can do to deter her from her goal. While Cronus, the new king of gods, hounds her for the special key she possesses, Anya assists the Lords of the Underworld in searching for powerful artifacts that could lead to Pandora’s Box.

In this second installment of the Lords of the Underworld, readers explore Lucien’s past and changing future as Anya insinuates herself by his side. Lucien is closed off and brooding with his curse to bear. Anya is outgoing, sarcastic and desperate for Lucien’s affections. Ms. Showalter has a fabulous style all her own, and really knows how to unfold a story at a steady pace. While there were some distracting moments with Anya’s over-the-top behavior, The Darkest Kiss is well-written, entertaining and wonderfully steamy. To enjoy the full effect of this series, readers should start from the beginning.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Goetia - Hellgate: London by Mel Odom

Hellgate: London, Book 2
Mel Odom
Pocket Star Books
February 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-1-4165-2580-6

It’s been four years since the Hellgate was opened and Demons began taking over Earth and every living thing upon it. The majority of humans are being killed off; those who survive are in hiding or have been altered and used for the demon’s purposes. The landscape is destroyed and reformed to meet the demon’s needs and desires.

Simon Cross is a Templar who once tried to turn his back on the order. Now, in the midst of chaos, he and his team strive to rescue and save the survivors living in small pockets throughout London.

Leah Creasey, who works with someone unknown to Simon, has come to him with information about a linguistics professor, Macomber, who has knowledge the Templar need. He may know the location of Goetia, a manuscript written by King Solomon. It’s said that the power in the book was used to bind seventy-two demons and that skill would be valuable in their current situation.

Warren Schimmer was nearly killed by a demon, but in the end he found himself alive and bound to the demon, Merihim. Merihim has a thirst for power and he plans to use Warren to achieve it. They’ve recovered a book with power of its own, and it’s more than happy to help Warren develop his own power to one day free himself from Merihim.

The search for Goetia is on, and those who uncover it first may end up with power to change the odds in the battle against demons. Finding it is only the first step.

Goetia is the second installment in the Hellgate: London Trilogy and is based on a video game from Flagship Studios. Having not read the first book I had expected to have a little difficulty understanding what was going on, but that wasn’t the case at all. Mel Odom introduces characters into the storyline with good detail of who they are, what they’re after, and whose side they’re on. The only real enigma is Leah. While she aligns herself with Simon, she’s also answering to another group, and refuses to share those details with him. This is not a fast read, there’s a lot to take in as the story progresses. Goetia is action-packed and set in an enjoyable futuristic world that I’d be happy to visit again.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, May 5, 2008

I've Been Tagged...

I've been tagged by Rachael at:

So this is how it goes:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences.

The nearest book to me would have caused people to fall off of their chairs if I posted something from it. *grin* um….so, the next closest is The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter. Here are the three sentences:

All had been mortals, amusing for a little while as they showered her with the compliments she’d always craved from the gods, but most had been as forgettable as she wanted Lucien to be. The more memorable ones had become her friends, even though she had refused to sleep with them.
One by one they had died.

I tag:

1. Robert (Fantasy)

2. Scooper (Urban Fantasy/Romance)

3. Angie (Urban Fantasy/Romance)

4. jessewave (Erotic Romance)

5. Harry (Fantasy)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weddings From Hell - Anthology

Weddings From Hell
May 27, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-0614-7268-8

‘Till Death by Maggie Shayne – When Kira Monroe receives a call requesting she attend the reading of her great-aunt’s will, she finds herself heading to Scotland to meet the relatives she never knew she had. She also meets the handsome Ian Stewart who captures her attention from the start. It seems there’s a family curse on the women of her mother’s line, and Kira’s convinced there’s a way to break the curse and set the ghosts free. It could be her only chance at love.

Happily Never After by Jeaniene Frost – Isabella Spaga is being forced into marriage with Robert Bertino, a local mafia boss with big plans. Her brother Frazier has disappeared, and Bertino claims to be holding him until their wedding. All is not lost because Chance arrives to honor his sire’s request in stopping Bertino. Once he lays eyes on Isa he’s in it for a whole lot more. Now he’ll just have to convince her that what he is doesn’t make him a monster.

Ghoul’s Night Out by Terri Garey - When Nicki Styx got a call from her cousin, Debbie, she did the right thing by agreeing to be in her wedding. Even if it meant that she had to dress like the Chiquita Banana lady. It’s not long before a ghost pays her a visit and clues her in on how she became a bride’s maid. Someone among the group of Debbie’s friends has intimate knowledge of a murder. Now she just has to get a confession to prove it before the killer strikes again.

The Wedding Night by Kathryn Smith – If Violet Wynston-Jones wondered why she wasn’t happy to be marrying her handsome fiancé, she need only think of Payen. It had been five long years since the night he ran away and never looked back. His sudden reappearance may push her into doing the right thing, but Payne is a vampire child of Lilith, and convincing him to stay is going to take a lot more doing.

With stories from four fabulous authors, Weddings From Hell offers something for everyone who enjoys a good urban fantasy or paranormal read. From ghosts to vampires, sweet to steamy, these strong heroines know what they want in a man and are determined to get it. A fast, fun and entertaining time.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Spectre by Phaedra Weldon

Zoë Martinique, Book 2
Phaedra Weldon
June 3, 2008

Zoë Martinique isn’t just an astral traveler; she’s a Wraith who’s in demand. With several groups trying to capture, control or kill her, Zoë is having a time of it just keeping herself and those around her alive. Homicide detective Daniel Frasier is still recovering from injuries and has no idea what Zoë is, but he’s by her side every chance he can be.

After a failed job for Maharba, Zoë is expected to take on another in its place. While she’d love to refuse, there’s the threat that he knows where she lives and will take it out on the people she cares for. She arrives on the job with her assignment and spends the evening dodging all manner of people and entities with their own agendas. It’s there that Zoë encounters the Vice detective, Joe Holleran, who helped get her out of the morgue when she’d been separated from her body and presumed dead.

Several deaths by dismemberment have taken place, and it seems that the same evil that would like to control Zoë is following old rituals and searching for the Eidolon amulets they’ll need to capture and control her. In order to survive she’ll have to turn the tables and outsmart those that are after her. Zoë’s only hope is with help from those she trusts, but even they may not be what they seem. It’s enough to make her scream, if she could, but the Archer is still using her voice with no intention of giving it back anytime soon.

In this second installment of the Zoë Martinique Investigations, new powers are revealed for Zoë and place her on the radar for many who’d like to control her future. Ms. Weldon takes readers on a fast moving adventure of murder, mystery, the dark side of survival and a romance that is ready to bloom. Spectre provides fans with action and danger at every turn while adding to the growing list of questions about Zoë, the Archer and the assortment of friends and beings she attracts. While you’re waiting for this release, you might want to stop by the author’s website to read Out of the Dark, a dose of Zoë and her friends between the first two books in the series. It can be found here:

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Night Child by Jes Battis

Night Child
An OSI Novel
Jes Battis
May 27, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01602-0

Tessa Isobel Corday is an Occult Special Investigator for the Mystical Crime Lab unit of CORE, she’s also a mage. She’s been assigned the case of a vampire that’s been killed in a puzzling way. The only clues in the murder appear to be an address and photo found in the victim’s pocket. The address leads Tess and her telepathic partner, Derrick Siegel, to a teenage girl, Mia Polanski, being raised by her aunt. The photo leads Tess into the vampire world where their attractive liaison, Lucian Agrado, is a powerful necromancer who both intrigues and repels her.

When Vailoid demons, who are mercenaries for hire, begin trying to kill Tess to kidnap Mia, she’s sure that there’s more to the young girl’s unsettling past. The closer they get to the truth, the more risky things become. It's not long before their boss pulls Tess and Derrick from the case and forbids them to have contact with Mia. When the young girl desperately needs help, Tess will be forced to decide whether to walk away or risk everything, including her life, to save her.

The first book in a new urban fantasy series, Night Child kicks things off with a murder investigation that leads the heroine down a twisting and dangerous path. Jes Battis takes readers on a tension filled journey of murder, mystery, and temptation. The author’s attention to detail when describing the investigative procedure and mystical talents keeps this fictional tale believable. An intriguing storyline, easy flowing dialog and fascinating characters all combine to keep readers engaged, but it’s the never knowing what’s around the corner that will have readers coming back for more.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview - Jeri Smith-Ready

Darque Reviews welcomes Jeri Smith-Ready!

Hi Jeri, thanks so much for sharing your time with Darque Reviews! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and your writing a bit better.

Wicked Game is scheduled to release on May 13th, 2008 by Pocket Books. Can you give readers an idea of what they’ll find between the covers of your upcoming release?

JSR: WICKED GAME is a dark, fun, and sexy urban fantasy about a con artist trying to save a vampire radio station from corporate takeover. It’s loaded with music, spiked with horror, and has more than a touch of romance.

Ciara is an ex con trying to live a straight life, the vampires are DJs forever tied to the eras in which they were turned. Which of these ideas came first, and how did the other follow?

JSR: I was driving to work flipping the dial and came to a classic rock station playing “Bad Company” by the band of the same name. I thought, Hmm, “Bad Company” would be a perfect title for a paranormal book with a shady main character.

By the time I got to work, I had a fully formed idea for the vampire DJs stuck in time and a heroine with a criminal past. (The punch line is that even though it all began with “Bad Company,” the publisher ultimately asked me to change the title.)

It was a few more weeks before I figured out Ciara’s criminal background. Con artists tend to be the most charming crooks (who doesn’t love Redford and Newman in The Sting, or Sawyer from Lost?). It also lets Ciara sympathize with the vampires, because she’s a predator, too.

Will this be a stand-alone story, or can readers expect to see more of Ciara Griffin in the future?

JSR: At least one more book (tentatively titled Bad to the Bone) will appear next spring. Like any new series, its continuation largely depends on reader enthusiasm. (hint, hint—if you like the book, tell all your friends!)

Can you tell us about your previous books?

JSR: I also have a romantic fantasy series with Luna Books. The ASPECT OF CROW trilogy (Reviewers Choice Winner and Rita nominee EYES OF CROW, 2006; VOICE OF CROW, 2007; and THE REAWAKENED, November 2008) takes place in a world where everyone has magic bestowed by their Guardian Spirit Animal. The heroine has the Aspect of Crow, which deals with the powers of death. The character’s world is threatened with destruction by an outside force called the “Descendants,” who lack magic but are more technologically advanced—both due to their alienation from nature.

My first urban fantasy was REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL (2001), which takes place in modern-day Washington, DC. Lucifer is masquerading as a political consultant (not much of a fantasy, I know). He falls in love, and it changes who he is, how he does his job, and even his destiny.

Which of your characters are you most attached to, and why?

JSR: I would have to say Shane, the hero of WICKED GAME. Ciara is probably my favorite, but she’s completely irrepressible. She could survive anything through strength of will alone. But Shane has that darkness lurking inside, waiting to consume him. The music gives him a reason to live, which makes saving the radio station an even more urgent matter for Ciara, as she comes to care about him.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

JSR: Definitely the first draft. It feels like sculpting air. Once I have a rough draft down, no matter how crap-alicious, I can work to make it better. But that initial creation of the story is torment.

What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to next?

JSR: I’m in the middle of the second draft (yay!) of WICKED GAME’s sequel, BAD TO THE BONE (to appear in spring 2009). I’m also putting the final touches on THE REAWAKENED, the third book in the Aspect of Crow trilogy. That will be released this November. Once those two projects are turned in, I’ll finish a proposal for a young adult urban fantasy series.

Which genre do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors?

JSR: I tend to read widely rather than deeply. Want a dark confession? I’m not much of a series fan—I tend to read the first in a series, then no more, no matter how much I enjoyed it. I’m whatever the opposite of an addictive personality is. I’m pretty sure I’d be the world’s first casual crack smoker.

The short list of authors I’ve read 2+ books by include Rachel Vincent, PC Cast, Caprice Crane, Madeleine L’Engle, Charles de Lint, John Irving, Neil Gaiman, C.E. Murphy, James Morrow, Catherine Asaro, and Jana Oliver. And of course the Harry Potter books, but I read them all straight through in a month, which was the only way to hold my attention.

Music was a big part of Wicked Game. Do you always listen to it while you write?

JSR: Usually. It helps me focus amid the background noise of my home. It also keeps me awake, which I find to be really useful when writing.

As to how music affects the actual creation process, the rhythm and mood can drive me through the scene, lending it an extra edge. And of course, when writing a scene that contains music, as often happens in WICKED GAME, I need to hear the song to describe it, so that a reader who’s not familiar with the tune can get a feel for it. If Shane is playing a song on the guitar, I try to find a YouTube video of someone performing it so I can describe how it looks as well as how it sounds.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring authors before we say goodbye?

JSR: To readers: support the authors and series you love by buying their books new and spreading the word. These days, it’s the only way to make sure they stick around.

To aspiring authors: If I had treated my writing with the same amount of professionalism *before* I had a contract as I did afterward, I probably would have been published years sooner. So if you’re serious about it, don’t cram it into the corners of time you manage to find each day. Make it a priority and fit the rest of your life around *it*. Yes, even if it means giving up television.

Thanks so much for spending time with us. The best of luck with Wicked Game!

JSR: Thanks for having me, Kimberly. I really enjoy your site!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

You can visit Jeri Smith-Ready at her website, here:

You can visit her blog, here:

You can preorder Wicked Game, here:
Amazon – Wicked Game