Thursday, July 31, 2008

Killer Charms by Marianne Stillings

Killer Charms
The Darling Detectives Trilogy, Book 3
Marianne Stillings
Avon Books
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-06-085074-6

From the back cover:
If he could really see the future . . .

Logan Sinclair is nothing but a fraud. Or at least that's what Inspector Andie Darling, undercover on the streets of San Francisco, is determined to prove. Sure, the sexy Scotsman may say he's a clairvoyant, but Andie's never believed in second sight—or love at first sight. So why does his sweet talk turn her into a lovestruck fool?

He'd know that Andie Darling always gets her man.

Getting the goods on the elusive con man would get Andie out of boring Vice and into Homicide, yet all she can think about is getting into Logan's arms. But juggling her job and her heart leaves her with little time to protect herself from a crazed killer hot on her heels. Logan would love to help Andie—and get closer to her—but charm might not be enough to save them now.

My thoughts:
Andrea Darling is a detective for the SFPD where she and her partner, Dylan Jericho, are working on catching a con man who claims to be psychic. The problem for Andie is that Logan Sinclair is a charmer and he’s good at distracting her from her job. If she doesn’t find the proof that he’s guilty soon, the people she cares about most will all be in danger.

Logan Sinclair is a world renowned psychic with a past he can’t put to rest. When he agrees to help a lingering spirit find peace to move on, he gets much more than he bargained for. There’s a valuable necklace in question, and Logan finds himself in the midst of a murder investigation. With Andie nearby, he’s having a hard time remaining focused on his job, but focus he must because their lives may depend on it.

In this final book of The Darling Detectives Trilogy, readers are treated to Andie and Logan’s story. Ms. Stillings brings to life a heroine who is strong in character, deeply caring when it comes to her family and friends, and will have you laughing when you least expect it. The attraction between the detective and her psychic suspect is impossible to miss as their passion builds along with the mystery, lies, murder and blackmail. The story erupts in a surprising climax, and should leave most readers well satisfied. While Killer Charms is the third story in a trilogy, it’s written well as a stand alone book.

To learn more about Killer Charms and to read an excerpt, please visit Ms. Stillings: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Trailer - The Bride of Casa Dracula

Marta Acosta has been busy making some fabulous trailers for her books and I just had to share! Here is the trailer for the upcoming release, The Bride of Casa Dracula:

...and here's the trailer for Happy Hour at Casa Dracula:

She did an excellent job! You can also visit Marta on Vampire Wire. :)

Rogue Giveaway at Temple Library Reviews...

Harry over at Temple Library Reviews is giving away a copy of Rogue by Rachel Vincent! So, any of you Urban Fantasy readers who haven't had a chance to check out this series, here's your chance to enter and maybe win yourself a copy. Just stop by and follow Harry's instructions: HERE

Good luck, and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seduced by the Storm by Sydney Croft

Seduced by the Storm
ACRO series, Book 3
Sydney Croft
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-385-34082-3

From the publisher’s site:
They met in a steamy Florida bar—then spent a night of mind-bending passion. Two secret agents who each possess unique telekinetic gifts—and whose combined sexual powers leave neither of them unscathed. For ex-Navy SEAL Wyatt Kennedy, assigned by the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives to the most treacherous mission of his career, the woman in black leather and lace has just become more than a one-night stand. Because Faith Black is the sole barrier to the success of his mission—and not even Wyatt’s legendary seduction skills can penetrate her deep cover.
Faith’s psychic gifts make her one of the world’s most dangerous women—but she hides a secret pain she shares with no one. Until Wyatt. And Faith has an agenda of her own: using her unique powers to save someone close to her—a move that pits her against a man she thought she’d never see again. For as a deadly hurricane is unleashed across the eastern seaboard, desire reignites between Faith and Wyatt, exposing secrets that thrust them both into harm’s way. With the hurricane sweeping closer—and their erotic hunger for each other growing—these two wary hearts must come together to heal, to trust . . . and to harness the power of a storm that could consume everything in its path.

My thoughts:
Agent Wyatt Kennedy is a telekinetic with the ability to seduce without ever physically touching the intended target. It’s a handy skill in his job for ACRO and one he’s good at. When he’s sent on a mission to stop and destroy the weather machine that their nemesis is using, the last thing he expects is to fall for a woman. Especially a woman like Faith, who has similar goals and a talent of her own that she’s willing to use to ensure that she walks away the winner.

The story that Faith Black tells is that she’s a free agent, working on her own for those willing to pay for her time and skills. That’s not entirely true, but she’s a wild card and possible danger to Wyatt and his mission. For Faith this job is personal, because if she fails and returns empty handed someone’s sure to pay the price.

This is the third installment in the ACRO series, and like its predecessors it will keep readers glued to every erotically action-packed page. It’s easy to see how well Sydney Croft works as a creative team. The authors build a world populated by strong characters with extrasensory gifts and they reveal just enough weakness to keep them believably human. With thrilling adventure, turmoil and danger behind every door, the agents of ACRO make Seduced by the Storm the most passionate to date.

To learn more about the ACRO series and to read an excerpt from Seduced by the Storm, please visit Sydney Croft’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Devil You Know by Jenna Black

The Devil You Know
Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist, Book 2
Jenna Black
Dell – Spectra
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-553-59045-6

From the back cover:
The beautiful. The bad. The possessed.
Some people worship them. Some people fear them. And some people—like Morgan Kingsley—go up against them toe-to-toe, flesh to flesh, and power against power. An exorcist by trade, Morgan is one of the few humans with an aura stronger than her possessor, even though her demon can tease her body senseless. She’s also a woman who has just discovered a shocking truth: everything she once believed about her past, her identity, may have been a lie.
With a family secret exploding around her and a full-scale demon war igniting, Morgan is a key player in an unsettled world. Then a rogue sociopathic demon enters her life with a bang. His name is The Hunter. And since she is the prey, Morgan has only one choice: to hunt The Hunter down—no matter what heartbreaking truths she uncovers along the way….
My thoughts:
Morgan Kingsley is an exorcist with a dilemma. She’s not only been possessed, it’s the demon’s king, Lugh, who has made himself at home. Unlike most, Morgan has the strength to prevent a demon from taking over her body, unless of course she’s asleep and then she can only guess at what he’s been up to. With a demon out to get her and no idea of whose body he’s slipped into, she may be left with no choice but to accept Lugh’s help. For Morgan, that means giving up control and that’s something she’s far from comfortable with.

Possessed by a demon of his own, Adam is also the Director of Special Forces in a department of the Philly police force that’s responsible for investigating demon related crimes. He’s not one of Morgan’s favorite people, but luckily his lover, Dominic, often steps in as a buffer in their abrasive relationship. Adam is also loyal to Lugh, and he’s the best chance of physical protection she has until the demon currently stalking her can be apprehended and destroyed.

This is the second book in the Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist series and is every bit as exciting as the first. Ms. Black crafts a well-detailed storyline and keeps readers fully engrossed while she exposes the heroine’s strengths and weaknesses. The secondary characters return to share in the chaos, bringing along confrontation and revelations of their own. Amidst the intense action, the romance, and the fight to survive, The Devil You Know will endear many of its engaging characters and have readers looking forward to the next demonic adventure.

To learn more about the Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist series, please visit Ms. Black’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Shades of Dark by Linnea Sinclair

Shades of Dark
Linnea Sinclair
Bantam Books
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-553-58965-8

From the publisher’s site:
Can love alone save the day? Award-winning author Linnea Sinclair returns with a vibrant interstellar thriller of romance and adventure in which two lovers are tested in the crucible of deep space, where there are only…
Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah “Chaz” Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the “justice” of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind—until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding, and it works.
With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal—not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce Sully, and not just loyalties but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice, changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose—between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.
My thoughts:
Chaz Bergen may be on the run, but she’s happy to be by Sully’s side. When they receive news that her brother has been taken into custody, she and Sully know that the main purpose is to get him to share all he knows about them by any means necessary. As their destination approaches and they watch for breaking news, they worry over the crew’s reaction. There is also a traitor among them who’s selling personal information in addition to their whereabouts.

When they bring an ally on board, they soon find that Captain Del Regarth has a big interest in the connection shared by Sully and Chaz. While this newcomer has skills and information that can help, his seduction of Chaz is not appreciated and soon causes friction within the couple’s bond. As a Kyi Ragkiril, Sully has power, but his is untrained against an expert like Del. With temptations all around someone is bound to get hurt, but more importantly there are worlds to save and a new fleet to build to accomplish their mission. The safety of the crew and Chaz’s ex-husband, Admiral Guthrie, must take top priority.

This story is a follow-up to Gabriel’s Ghost, where Chaz and Sully live, love and fight to see another day. Ms. Sinclair weaves together a fabulous science fiction tale with strong characters, a well-defined world and an amazing love story. Between the covers of Shades of Dark, readers will experience trouble around every corner, life-threatening danger in every move, and a scorching romance that’s capable of everything but a smooth ride. While this is a sequel, the author does a wonderful job of filling readers in on the basics from the previous book.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, July 28, 2008

Immortals: The Redeeming by Jennifer Ashley

Immortals: The Redeeming
Immortals, Book 5
Jennifer Ashley
Love Spell
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-505-52745-5

From the back cover:
For centuries they have walked among us—vampires, shape-shifters, the Celtic Sidhe, demons, and other magical beings. Their battle to reign supreme is constant, but one force holds them in check, a race of powerful warriors known as the
He is going to take her. And it won’t be gentle. After all, the last 700 years of torture and captivity haven’t been gentle on Tain. This woman, this half-demon who leaves him burning with desire, is pretty tough herself. She needs to be, for the world is not safe for demon-kind these days. A violent backlash has disrupted the balance of power, and now Tain finds he may have to rescue the dark ones instead of fight them. He feels compelled to protect the alluring Samantha—whether she wants him to or not—but all he can think of is seduction. Ultimately, she’ll either destroy him or bring exactly what he needs most…
My thoughts:
Samantha Taylor is half-demon and works with a werewolf partner, Logan, for the LAPD. She’s been under-cover trying to stop a demon related date rape drug from circulating in the clubs. Just as she’s about to make a bust everything goes wrong and the immortal warrior, Tain, makes his presence known once again. Samantha’s part in his rescue a year earlier has never really been far from her mind, despite him leaving without a backwards glance. Her life is rapidly changing with the involvement of her clan, and her allies may be her only chance for survival.

After years in captivity Tain was free, but memories of the centuries spent at the torturous hands of a demon have continued to haunt him. His job is to protect humanity from those like the demons who would hurt the innocent. Samantha may be half-demon, but he knows she’s nothing like the monster who imprisoned him. By her side is where he longs to be, but keeping a tight reign on his sanity and the power that runs through him must come first.

This fifth book in the Immortals series, The Redeeming, is Samantha and Tain’s story. While this was the first Immortals book I’ve had the opportunity to read, I had no trouble with picking-up the storyline about Tain, his immortal brothers, and the women they love. Ms. Ashley is a passionate writer, her characters are well-defined and the chemistry between them sizzles with every encounter. Readers are taken on an emotional journey where power comes in many forms, surprising allegiances are formed, and sometimes love really can conquer all. A compelling read that will leave fans looking forward to future tales of the Immortals.

To read an excerpt of Immortals: The Redeeming, please visit Ms. Ashley’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Interview - Caitlin Kittredge

Darque Reviews welcomes Caitlin Kittredge!

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

CK: Hi Kimberly, and thanks. I love talking…er…doing interviews.

Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and what inspired you to write urban fantasy?

CK: I’ve been writing seriously since 2005, but I was writing fanfiction and infant-stage novel attempts since I was 13, so…ten years, really. I’ve always loved fantasy, from the time I was just learning how to read—my mother gave me a big book of Greek and Norse myths, and I learned largely on those and on Grimm’s fairy tales. It seemed natural that I’d write fantasy when the time came, and I love shapeshifters, so I created a world where my werewolves could thrive and it turned out to be contemporary. Urban fantasy hadn’t quite blown up the way it has nowadays, so I was pretty much writing blind, but I was happy to find that this strange book I’d turned out had a niche.

Night Life
was released March 4th, 2008 by
St. Martin’s Press, can you tell us a bit about Luna Wilder and Nocturne City?

CK: Luna Wilder is my heroine, who is a werewolf and a homicide detective in Nocturne City, where the story takes place. I always say that Luna could only exist in Nocturne, and Nocturne could only exist because of Luna. They’re the perfect noir couple: a grim, dark city with a tarnished heart and a tough, street-smart detective who hasn’t lost her sense of justice. Luna is a bit of a departure from “kick-ass” heroines—she makes mistakes, she gets herself into bad situations with her big mouth, she has trouble paying her bills, she has job stress. But she’s also incredibly strong, because I was inspired by some very strong women growing up and I wanted to translate that unsinkable, unshakable heart into one of my characters. Luna is a survivor, and that doesn’t always lead to happy ending, especially in a place like Nocturne City, but she does the best she can.

Pure Blood is scheduled for release on August 26, 2008, by St. Martin’s Press, what can fans expect to see Luna up to in this second installment?

CK: Pure Blood takes readers deeper into what I call the Hexiverse (after the Hex Riots, which outed supernatural creatures to the larger world in the 1960s), with an exploration of witchcraft and Luna on the trail of a killer who’s a much, much better predator than she is, and has bad plans for the future of the city. Any more would be spoiling, but I guarantee that if you enjoyed Night Life you’ll love Book 2!

What are you working on now, and what can we expect to see in new releases coming up?

CK: Right now, I’m writing Book 5 of the Nocturne City series, tentatively entitled Spell Bound. I’m also pleased to report that I sold a new series to St. Martin’s, the Black London adventures, about a psychic mage and his police inspector partner on the trail of missing children, hungry ghosts and black magic in an alternate version of London where demons are commonplace and nothing is what it seems. Street Magic, first in that series, will be out in June of 2009, and the Nocturne City books will continue to release every six months.

What’s the most difficult/enjoyable part of the writing process for you?

CK: The most enjoyable part is definitely plotting, and writing that first draft of something totally new. I love playing around with ideas until I hit just the right combination. I’m a musician, and it’s a lot like playing with chords until you get just the right progression. Writing a draft is very freeing…you can toss anything in and not have to self-edit. My least favorite part is probably copyediting, because then I not only have to deal with my mistakes, but I know that someone else read the manuscript and caught them all!

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

CK: I’ll read absolutely anything that catches my fancy. I love nonfiction, particularly about music, Victorian culture and fashion. I read a ton of urban fantasy because I get a ton of free books (bonus!) and I love mysteries and thrillers as well. Right now I’m reading a mystery by a Japanese author, Natsuo Kirino, entitled Grotesque that’s just fabulous. Some of my favorite authors are Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and H.P. Lovecraft. For urban fantasy, I really enjoy Cherie Priest, Stacia Kane, Richelle Mead, Holly Black, Jackie Kessler, Kat Richardson, Mark Henry and Jim Butcher.

Is there something special you do to reward yourself each time you’ve finished writing a book?

CK: Yes! This is silly, but I’ m a vegetarian and usually fairly strict about my diet (outside of the chocolate), so when I finish a book I take a day off, pop in a movie, and order up a pizza or cook a big plate of cheese fries. Comfort eating is definitely my reward.

What is a typical day for you like, and how much of it do you spend writing?

CK: I’m a night owl, so I usually wake up, er…late. I pour some tea into myself so I can be semi-coherent, and spend about an hour answering email, reading blogs, and doing what I call “administrivia” to wake my brain. Then I grab food, figure out what I need to write by reading my outline and settle down for about 3-4 hours to get in my wordcount for the day. Ideally, I hit the gym and do responsible, grown-up things like go to the post office and buy groceries, but more likely I go play in the garden or load up Rock Band for my Playstation…what can I say? If I’m on tight deadline, I write for another hour or two after dinner, or work on copyedits, page proofs, etc. I usually go to sleep between 2 and 3 a.m. to do it all over again. I write full time, so I don’t really get “days off” unless I’ve just finished something.

How do you spend your free time when you find some?

CK: I love to garden, so I spend a lot of time battling weeds, slugs and all of the other wonderful pests we have here in Washington. I catch up on my reading, or my Tivo, go to movies (I’m a huge movie geek, so I go once or twice a week), go thrift-shopping, go out places with my friends, or find interesting spots to take pictures. I have a Flickr stream that’s linked on my web site if anyone’s interested.

Where can readers find you on the web?

CK: I have a web site,, and there’s my blog, which is (so exciting!) I’m on LiveJournal, Myspace and Facebook, which are all linked on my site. Feel free to friend me…I like the false sense of importance that comes with online social networking.

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

CK: Readers: Thank you so much for reading my books. Really. I know there’s a vast selection and the fact that you read/will read mine is a huge thing. You make my career possible, and I love each one of you from the bottom of my neurotic writer heart.

Aspiring authors: A crappy finished manuscript is better than a perfect manuscript that’s not done. You can always go back and edit the damn thing. That’s the best advice I ever got (other than “Don’t be an idiot”, which is sound advice any way you slice it.)

Thanks so much for joining us, and the best of luck with both your Nocturne City and Black London series!

CK: Thank you, Kimberly!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Pure Blood by Caitlin Kittredge

Pure Blood
Nocturne City, Book 2
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-312-94830-6

From the Back Cover:
In the shadows of Nocturne City, witches lurk and demons prowl, and homicide detective Luna Wilder must keep the peace—while living life as a werewolf. Now bodies are turning up all over town, the brutal murders linked by a cryptic message:We see with empty eyes…
To make matters worse for Luna, she can’t get wolfishly handsome Dmitri Sandovsky out of her mind. The last time he helped her with a case, Dmitri suffered a demon bite that infected him with a mysterious illness…and now his pack elders have forbidden him from associating with Luna. But she’ll need his help when high-level witches start turning up slaughtered. Because a war is brewing between rival clans of blood witches and caster witches—a magical gang war with the power to burn Nocturne City to the ground.
My thoughts:
Luna Wilder is a homicide detective for the Nocturne City Twenty-fourth Precinct. She’s also Insoli, a werewolf without a pack, and is in need of some help that Dimitri could give. That’s if he were still talking to her. After she played a part in his accidental demon bite, his pack elders forbid him from seeing Luna. They’ve also made demands on his future, not wanting him tainted further by an Insoli. Now something bad is coming and someone from her past has surfaced. Luna’s partner is way too close to the problem, so unless she can convince Dimitri to help, she may not survive.

Dimitri Sandovski was the alpha of the local Redbacks when he met Luna, but circumstances have turned his life upside down and ripped them apart. He’s just returned home, and despite the warnings and threats from the elders, he finds himself drawn to Luna’s side to protect her. She’s gotten herself involved in an age old war that’s coming to a head. Witches are dying, and the feud between blood witches and caster witches has just turned deadly. Anyone foolish enough to enter the fray may not make it out alive.

This is the second installment in the Nocturne City series and it’s as action-packed with danger as the first. With Luna’s job putting her in the thick of a longtime quarrel, there’s plenty of supernatural death and romance to keep readers glued to the pages. Caitlin Kittredge expands the world she’s created and adds new characters to tempt and torture in a lethal combination. Jump in with both feet and hang-on tight because Pure Blood is an emotion filled ride that’s anything but smooth.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Before I Wake by Kathryn Smith

Before I Wake
The Nightmare Chronicles
Kathryn Smith
Avon Books
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-06-134027-7

From the back cover:
You may call it a dream job . . .
And in some ways, you'd be right. I actually get paid to study people's dreams. It comes much easier than my employers at the Sleep Center suspect; after all, I, Dawn, am the daughter of the king of the dream world, and I can roam the dreams of others, battling the nightmares that plague them.
I call it a nightmare . . .
Honestly, I could use a good night's sleep. But ever since I met Noah Clarke, I'm even more torn between the two worlds: smart, sexy, and able to control his own dreams, Noah could be my perfect man—except he's being stalked in his sleep by an unearthly evil, hell-bent on destroying him . . . and the entire world.
My thoughts:
Dr. Dawn Riley works as a specialist of sleep and dreams, but she was born a Nightmare. With a human mother and a father who’s King of the Dreamkin, Morpheus, Dawn is cursed to straddle both our world and the world of dreams. In her human form she hides her ability to enter and alter dreams, but when a patient believes he’s being hunted and will be killed within his own dreams, Dawn has little choice but to help Noah in any way she can.

Noah Clarke is an artist with a fertile imagination, and he’s always been a lucid dreamer who could maintain some control over his dreams. Now something in his dreams is fighting him, and he fears that the goal is his death. His only hope is his doctor, Dawn, but he’ll have to let her in beyond the walls he’s erected, and that’s something he’d much rather not do.

Kathryn Smith has created a fabulous world for her characters, and added unrest among the ranks of the Dreamkin to fuel the plot. This fast moving tale has all of the right details that make it a captivating read that’s difficult to set down. Before I Wake will have readers eager for the next in The Nightmare Chronicles. This is a book that I’d happily recommend.

To learn more about The Nightmare Chronicles and to read an excerpt from Before I Wake, please visit Ms. Smith’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Razor Girl by Marianne Mancusi

Razor Girl
Marianne Mancusi
SHOMI – Dorchester Publishing
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-505-52780-6

From the back cover:
Molly Anderson is not your average twenty-one-year-old. It’s been six years since she and her family escaped into a bunker, led by her conspiracy theorist father and his foreknowledge of a plot to bring about the apocalypse. But her father’s precautions didn’t stop there. Molly is now built to survive.
Yes, Ian Anderson’s favorite book gave him ideas on how to “improve” his daughter. Molly is faster, stronger, and her ocular implants and razor-tipped nails set her apart. Apart, when—venturing alone out of the bunker and into a plague ravaged, monster-ridden wilderness—what Molly needs most is togetherness. Chase Griffin, a friend from her past, is her best bet. But while he and others have miraculously survived, the kind boy has become a tormented man. Together, these remnants of humanity must struggle toward trusting each other and journey to the one place Molly’s father believed all civilization would be reborn: a magic kingdom, where everyone knows it’s a small world after all.
My thoughts:
After six years of being hidden away in a bunker, the time-locked door has opened. The date is July 1, 2036 and Molly Anderson has just said goodbye to her mother and to her captivity. She’s free to follow through with the plans her father set out for her, and her journey to reach him will soon begin.

The world is a different place now, with humans turned zombie looking for their next meal there are few untouched people remaining. Having been altered by her father to improve her chances of survival in the plague wasted world, Molly is fortunate to meet up with Chase, someone she knew before. Her destination is Florida, where her father believed that Magic Kingdom was the place for humanity to once again flourish. What they find when they arrive isn’t quite what she bargained for.

Ms. Mancusi fast forwards time and plunges readers into what appears to be the aftermath of armageddon. As the heroine’s father predicted, she has an important journey to make, but it may not be the one he had planned. Razor Girl combines science-fiction, horror, romance and more. The author does a fine job of telling the story in alternating segments between the years 2030 and 2036. The storyline is written in a believable manner, but I did have a hard time with Molly following her father. At her age, and knowing that her father was fanatical in his theories, she shouldn’t have been na├»ve enough for things to play out the way they did. The matured Molly on a mission was much improved in character. The overall story moves quickly and has some unique qualities that are often quite humorous. I won’t hesitate to read another of Ms. Mancusi’s books, and will continue to enjoy Dorchester’s SHOMI line.

To read an excerpt from Razor Girl, visit Ms. Mancusi’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Blood - Anthology

First Blood
Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy,
Chris Marie Green & Meljean Brook
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22400-7

From the Publisher’s site:
You never forget your first blood...Susan Sizemore returns to the universe of her Laws of the Blood novels with a sizzling story of the relationship between a vampire enforcer and a werewolf.
Erin McCarthy’s Sasha Checkikov flees the bright lights and dangerous slayers of Vegas for New Orleans, where she is saved by a vampire haunted by his past—and hungry for passion.
Set in the Vampire Babylon world, Chris Marie Green’s story puts the bond between twin female vampires to the test when one of them falls for her prey.
Meljean Brook’s vampire Annie Gallagher needs help to save a young human girl, but she doesn’t expect the help to come from the FBI agent she loved—and had to give up—when she was transformed.
My thoughts:
Cave Canem by Susan Sizemore
weaves a tale that begins in the past as the first hellhounds come into being. A litter of pups in the present are threatened and it’s up to a strigoi, Dan Conover, to do everything he can to protect them, even if that means trusting the werewolf-witch Tess Sirella, to help.

Russian Roulette by Erin McCarthy opens with a vampire being held against her will. She’s been betrayed, but with little choice Sasha Checkikov will have to trust in her savior, Alister Kirk, to keep her safe.

Double the Bite by Chris Marie Green follows Ben as he tracks down the events that led to his brother’s death. He meets Ginny and Geneva, seductive vampire twins, and his future is changed forever.

Thicker than Blood by Meljean Brook brings Annie Gallagher to the last man she’d ever consider going to for help. With a young girl on the run and in danger, Jack’s FBI contacts may be the only hope for finding Cricket, even if facing him is one of the hardest things Annie’s ever done.

First Blood is a collection of vampire tales from four of today’s popular urban fantasy authors, and what a mix it is. Each story is an interesting contrast to the next. Ms. Sizemore shares a dark tale of hellhounds that, while it is shapeshifters, may be disturbing for sensitive readers. Ms. McCarthy creates a more romantic read. The ending feels a little rushed, but the events leading up to it are enjoyable. Ms. Green gives readers a trip into the dark side of her Vampire Babylon world with vampiric twins who have two very different agendas. Ms. Brook ends this anthology on what will surely be a favorite with readers. Her engaging characters and great detail in this short story really end the compilation on a high note.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy, Book 2
Richelle Mead
April 10, 2008
ISBN# 978-1-59514-175-0

From the back cover:
Rose Hathaway's got serious guy trouble. Her gorgeous tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason has a huge crush on her, and she keeps getting stuck in her best friend Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian.
Then a massive Strigoi attack puts St. Vladimir's on high alert, and the Academy crawls with Guardians - including the legendary Janine Hathaway...Rose's formidable, long-absent mother. The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks. This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only provide the illusion of safety. When three students run away to strike back against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. Only this time, Rose - and her heart - are in more danger than she ever could have imagined...
My thoughts:
Going on a road trip to test with a legendary Strigoi slayer was reason enough for Rose to be nervous, but what they found when they arrived was far more than she bargained for. The Strigoi have stepped up their attacks and the academy fears the worst. The safest place they can take everyone is to an isolated ski resort where there’s less chance of the Strigoi finding them.

Once settled in with little care by most of what’s going on in the outside world, a few students get it into their heads to make a stand. With information on Strigoi whereabouts, and guessing where her friends have gone, Rose sets out with Christian’s help to track them down and stop what could be a senseless battle.

In this second installment of the Vampire Academy, Rose, the guardian dhampir in training, and Lissa, the Moroi princess she protects, will face life altering challenges long before either is ready. Ms. Mead advances her storyline with high tension, deadly conflict and the lure of forbidden attraction. Engaging characters and the creative plot in Frostbite add just the right touch of realism, keeping the reader’s attention throughout the story. Shadow Kiss, the third book in the series, is scheduled to release on November 13, 2008.

To read an excerpt from Frostbite, visit the author’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy, Book 1
Richelle Mead
August 16, 2007
ISBN# 978-1-59514-174-3

From the back cover:
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires--the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir; she is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's - inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...
My thoughts:
Two years ago Rose Hathaway thought that the best way to protect Lissa Dragomir was to run from St. Vladimir’s Academy and hide where no Strigoi could find them. Lissa is a vampire, a Moroi princess, and Rose is a Dhampir who has sworn to protect her. Their freedom comes to an end when the guardians finally track them down and return them to the school.

Now Lissa must reestablish her social standing among their classmates, which isn’t too difficult a task with such a fickle lot. Rose on the other hand will be doing double duty to make up for the time she’s missed him her training, and the academy has just the man for the job. She could learn a lot from the guardian, if she could just keep her mind on practice.

This is the first in the Vampire Academy series, and is a great read for teens or adults. Lissa would be lost without protection, and Rose is dedicated to insuring Lissa’s safety, regardless of any personal cost. Ms. Mead introduces readers to her vampire world with a fascinating and fun crash course in her brand of vampires that makes for an adventurous ride. Vampire Academy has a steady pace, the characters are intriguing and the action will have you coming back for more.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Death's Half Acre by Margaret Maron

Death’s Half Acre
A Deborah Knott Mystery, Book 14
Margaret Maron
Grand Central Publishing
August 20, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-19610-9

From the back cover:
As family-owned farms and lush fields in North Carolina's picturesque countryside start to give way to shoddy mansions and housing developments, discontent begins to rile the inhabitants of Judge Deborah Knott's beloved Colleton County. Beneath the surface of her seemingly peaceful town, a tide of corruption is rising, and even her strong-willed father might be led down a dark path. In the meantime, the murder of a controversial, high-profile woman commissioner leads Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the shadows of the past, where even the most prominent townsfolk have something to hide, including the honorable judge herself. Intent on protecting those who love her most, Deborah must balance her own concerns with her commitment to justice, and the knowledge that a vicious killer is still on the loose.
My thoughts:
As developers reshape the area of Colleton County, NC, Judge Deborah Knott sees more and more cases in the courtroom caused by those changes. Housing developments coming in mean more people used to city living have to learn to accept and respect the farmlands that back the property in many of those neighborhoods. With so much going on it’s easy to sometimes miss what her family is up to, as is the case with her father, Kezzie Knott. Deborah has no idea what he’s gotten into this time, but whatever it is it can’t be good. Unless she can discover what it on her own she may never know, because he has no intention of talking.

When Candace Bradshaw is found dead, Deputy Dwight Bryant becomes involved with the case. Many of the townspeople are shocked, especially the deceased’s ex-husband. As a business owner and chair of the board of commissioners, power was what Candace was after and she had worked hard to get to where she was. Taking her own life just doesn’t add up. It’s not long before the Sheriff’s office is investigating a murder, rather than a suicide, that sends them on a hunt for a well-hidden item that could contain nearly all of the answers they’re looking for.

This is the fourteenth installment in the Deborah Knott Mysteries. Deborah is a judge who sees her town changing with little she can do to stop the process. Love and protection for her family comes first, and with a killer at large Deborah will do everything in her power to help her husband discover who may have had a secret dark enough for murder. Ms. Maron has built a strong world for her characters and she mixes in murder, mystery, and family values in a comfortable country setting. Death’s Half Acre will appeal to readers who enjoy a good mystery and love a small town atmosphere.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Seaborn by Chris Howard

Chris Howard
August 3, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-8095-7281-6

From the Publisher’s site:
All Life began in the ocean.The tides, the salt, the rolling waves are in our souls.The sea will always have the power to call us home.
There is a world deep under the sea, a kingdom that has endured thousands of years without the modern world knowing it exists. Those who dwell there are Thalassogenêis: SEABORN
Kassandra is the Seaborn king's granddaughter--the one he wishes he'd killed when he'd had the chance. She comes from the sea, but she has spent her whole life in exile on the surface, learning to control strange and frightening powers she barely understands. But now she's ready to declare war on the murderous king.
Corina Lairsey is a scuba-diving Californian who has freed herself from a controlling relationship...and finds herself in another. Only this time, Aleximor, an ancient Seaborn sorcerer, is literally inside her head and wearing her body. Corina must strive for control of her self, fighting against time as Aleximor trades pieces of her life away in exchange for power over the path between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Aleximor wants revenge for his 400-year imprisonment and his dangerous machinations threaten to destroy both young women and the world of the Seaborn.
My thoughts:
Born to a royal family, but exiled to live among the land dwelling surfacers, Kassandra is gathering her power to exact revenge on her grandfather, the king. Little does he realize that some of the power she gathers through Bleeds is coming from a source that may surprise him, and there’s nothing that he can do to stop it. With the help of her family and allies, Kassandra will lead an army to secure the family’s rightful place in society as well as her own.

Corina spends her free time diving off of the California coast, and her penchant for doing those dives alone is about to change her life in a very dark way. Her introduction to the Seaborn comes at the hands of Aleximor, a sorcerer who was imprisoned and is bent on revenge. As he takes over Corina’s body it becomes a battle of minds, one she can’t win against a being who gathers his strength through the dead.

Seaborn is the first novel for Chris Howard, and what an amazing tale it is. From the underwater society to the surfacers on land, the detailed account of preparation and battle is vividly drawn. There are instances, especially when they involve Aleximor, that are graphic in nature, but they’re well within character. The story is well-paced, action-packed and laced with tension filled emotion. There are also two distinct threads that come together as they lead up to a climactic battle, and the author has done a great job of keeping them equally exciting. This is a book I’d recommend to fantasy readers, but horror fans should enjoy Aleximor and Corina’s tale as well.

To learn more about the author and Seaborn, visit Mr. Howard: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Out of Time by Samantha Graves

Out of Time
Samantha Graves
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-61837-3

From the Publisher’s site:
For museum curator Jillian Talbot, her ability to see an object's history is her little secret. She never expects it to land her in the middle of a deadly battle for money and power between dangerous underground elements. The object of their greed: an ancient crystal lens that can unlock mysteries from the past... but only for someone with the sight. The one person who doesn't seem to want her dead is a cynical tomb raider who Jillian can only hope is worthy of her trust...

Simon Bonner has paid the last of his debts and is out of the looting game...until the lens lands on his doorstep. The other half of the crystal's secret is locked inside the eyes of a straitlaced psychic who still believes in doing the right thing. Now he must track the mystery deep into Mexico, where his desire to stay alive and his growing passion for the sexy seer make every move a dance with danger.

Tomorrow could be history.
My thoughts:
Simon Bonner thought he was retiring from tomb-raiding until an early morning visitor tells him otherwise. His ex-wife has been kidnapped and will be killed unless he finds a way to convince a woman named Jillian Talbot to help him. There’s a a crystal lens for finding a hidden treasure in Mexico, and somehow she’s the key to locating it.

Jillian Talbot enjoys her job as head curator at the Linden Museum in Harlem. When everyone’s left for the night she can use her special gift and delve into the past of the pieces on display. Her talent for catching glimpses of the past is about to become very valuable to Simon, because without her help as the Seer he has no chance of saving his ex. After the last time Jillian shared her secret gift with the man she cared about, she’s not expecting Simon to stick around once the job is done. Still, an affair with the rugged man might be just the thing she needs.

Samantha Graves weaves a suspense filled paranormal adventure as her characters work against a clock that’s ticking down to murder. Out of Time leads readers to Mexico where the story’s heroine picks up the trail of an ancient treasure. This is a fast-moving and suspenseful read, with fascinating paranormal elements. There’s a nice spark of chemistry between the lead characters, and they manage to conquer their disastrous pasts and move on to a romance that takes root hesitantly. Readers may see the double-cross coming, but there’s a twist in the end that really makes the book worth every page.

To learn more about Ms. Graves and read an excerpt of Out of Time, please visit her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

My Wicked Enemy by Carolyn Jewel

My Wicked Enemy
Carolyn Jewel
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-17823-5

From the back cover:
A desire to be controlled…
Carson Philips is a witch on the run. For years, the notorious mage, Alvaro Magellan, has held her as his psychological prisoner. But once Carson gets a glimpse of the true extent of his evil, she flees Magellan's mansion--stealing a stone talisman of unimaginable power on the way. Her only hope for survival is a demon who ignites a voracious hunger in her she can't deny, a longing she can't resist...
A hunger that can’t be sated…
Nikodemus is a warlord with a mission: Kill Magellan and his green-eyed witch at any cost. But when he meets the desperate Carson, the pull of her magic takes his breathe away. He's not sure he can trust this tantalizing woman--she is his enemy--and less sure he can keep his hands off her. But Magellan will stop at nothing to reclaim what belongs to him. Can Nikodemus stop him before his desire for Carson destroys them both?
My thoughts:
Raised by the powerful mage Alvaro Magellan, Carson Philips recently realized what a truly bad man he is when she witnesses a murder. As she runs from the mansion she grabs a valuable artifact, and if Magellan isn’t angry enough over her espcape, he’s fuming when he realizes she’s stolen the talisman. Battling headaches that she’s certain will kill her, and fearing for her life, she’s run to San Francisco and right into the arms of someone who sees her as the enemy.

Nikodemus thought it was his lucky day when he spots Magellan’s witch, Carson, but taking the opportunity to rid his kind of the threat she poses has just gotten complicated. He’s a Warlord, born to be a leader among his kind. Saving his people from a life as mageheld fiends that are controlled by mages and witches is a priority in his life. With Carson on their side, Nikodemus may have found the key to freedom for his kin. Now he just hopes she’ll choose to stick around.

Carolyn Jewel takes readers on a dangerous journey with Carson, an untrained witch who finds strength through Nikodemus. Together they can stop the mage who threatens their existence and fills Carson with fear. My Wicked Enemy unfolds at a steady pace and offers up a host of characters that keep the deadly action flowing. The storyline is fresh, the characters are entertaining, and the romance is delightfully steamy.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Friday, July 18, 2008

Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01595-5

From the Publisher’s site:
Young Carmen Dula and her family are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—they’re going to Mars.Once on the Red Planet, however, Carmen realizes things are not so different from Earth. There are chores to do, lessons to learn, and oppressive authority figures to rebel against. And when she ventures out into the bleak Mars landscape alone one night, a simple accident leads her to the edge of death until she is saved by an angel—an angel with too many arms and legs, a head that looks like a potato gone bad, and a message for the newly arrived human inhabitants of Mars:We were here first.

My thoughts:
Carmen Dula isn’t so pleased about her family being chosen from the lottery for a trip to Mars. Six years is a long time away from Earth. With her last hours on Earth, Carmen finds herself sitting on a sandy beach when a man, older than her, appears and introduces himself as Paul Collins, their pilot to Mars.

For the first two weeks they’ll be stuck in the Space Elevator with a few dozen strangers. There’s only one stop before they reach the top where the spaceship waits to take them the remaining five and a half months journey to Mars. Six months is a long time to travel, and for Carmen, an interest in the captain will help pass the time.

It’s not long after arrival that the daily grind begins to wear thin and Carmen manages to make an enemy of Dargo Solingen, the general administrator on Mars. Looking for some time alone, Carmen suits up and heads outside on the planet’s surface for a walk. What follows is the introduction to other intelligent life on Mars and quick changes in Carmen’s life. Her world is turned upside down when she meets Red, the leader of the alien colony on Mars, and she finds herself settling into a new job as the liaison between Earth and the aliens.

Marsbound is set in a future where technology to travel to Mars has been utilized, and members of a research project have begun living there. Carmen is a typical teen starting out on an adventure that she’s been forced to endure, but by the end of the story she’s matured through extraordinary life experience. Mr. Haldeman pens an entertaining and often humorous futuristic tale where tension and conflict abound, the mysteries of an alien race begin to unfold, and romance finds a way to thrive. The protagonist, Carmen, is the most well-defined character throughout Marsbound, and most of the action, adventure and drama revolves around her. While the aliens are a large part of the story, they’re described in a fairly simplistic fashion that works well in leaving the reader open to focus on Carmen and her journey. The author has done a wonderful job in mixing in humor to keep things lighter, and as a whole it forms a very enjoyable read.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The First Death by Laurell K. Hamilton

The First Death
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Laurell K. Hamilton
Hamilton – Green – Alves
Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc.
March 12, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-7851-2941-7

From the cover flap:
For more than a decade Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire-slaying heroine Anita Blake has excited fans through a series of heart-pounding novels set in a world where the undead have won civil rights and come out from the shadows, a world where someone has to execute those undead who cling to their murderous heritage. An “animator” by trade, raising the dead for a living, Anita Blake is the person the cops call in when they get a case too macabre for them to handle alone, and the woman the vampires call “the Executioner.” Now, for the first time ever and exclusive to comics, Hamilton pens a tale set before the first Anita Blake novel, Guilty Pleasures, to reveal how Anita’s career began! In a story co-written by husband Jonathon Green, illustrated by Wellington Alves, and with covers by fan favorite Brett Booth, fans can finally read about the first meeting between Anita and the sensuous vampire Jean-Claude, the serial-killer case that began her involvement with the police, and how she became allies with the sinister hitman of all things supernatural, Edward! Whether you are a longtime fan of Anita Blake, or have only just discovered her, join us for the prequel fans have been waiting for, as we pull back the veils on the mysteries of Anita’s origins!

My thoughts:
Anita Blake is a necromancer working for Animators Inc., she raises the dead for a living. She’s also a vampire hunter, licensed to execute them for their crimes, and a consultant for the St. Louis Police Department’s Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT), that’s run by Dolph Storr.

When Dolph calls Anita to take a look at the victim of a grisly murder, a child, she responds to the scene. It appears that a vampire is preying on children and Anita isn’t about to let the monster go. Their investigation leads them to Jean-Claude, the manager of the vampire strip club Guilty Pleasures, and their meeting is a bit unnerving for Anita.

Just as Anita thinks she and her co-worker Manny have lost the killer’s trail, Edward shows up. He’s an assassin for hire and more than happy to hunt the monsters. Edward believes they’re working the same case, and despite her fear and distrust of him Anita has little choice but to exchange information if she expects to find the vampires responsible for the murders.

The First Death is set near the beginning of Anita’s work as a consultant with RPIT, when hunting vampires and raising zombies filled her days and nights. Anita is tough as nails when it comes to ridding the world of monsters, and she’s not about to let one get away, especially one who’s chosen children as the victims. Ms. Hamilton shares an easy to follow vampire murder mystery that’s co-authored by her husband Jonathon Green. The cover and artwork by Brett Booth, Ron Lim and Wellington Alves throughout this graphic novel are simply amazing. Graphic is the operative word, because the artists have really outdone themselves in capturing every aspect of the characters and the world around them, even the gory bits of The First Death. It’s a quick read, but as a longtime reader of the Vampire Hunter series having a visual of the action had me taking my time and savoring each page. There’s also a Guilty Pleasures Handbook included as part of this book that’s both fascinating and fun to read. Graphic novels are a new experience for me, one that I’ve wanted to try, but hadn’t really gotten the opportunity to before now. I’ll be looking forward to the next in the Guilty Pleasures series that’s currently scheduled to release on July 22, 2008.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Pleasure Unbound
Demonica, Book 1
Larissa Ione
July 7, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-40103-6

From the Publisher’s site:
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 . . .

My thoughts:
Tayla Mancuso witnessed the death of her mother at the hands of a demon and has commited her life to ridding the world of as many as she can. Working with The Aegis as a Guardian, Tayla and her partner, Janet, come up against a Cruentus demon. Janet loses her life and Tayla finds herself in Underground General Hospital, owned and operated by demons. It’s too bad she’s instantly attracted to her doctor, because while he’s definitely the most gorgeous demon she’s ever seen, he’s still the enemy.

Eidolon is a Seminus demon, an incubus nearing one hundread years old. He’s also an emergency room doctor at Underground General Hospital, a hospital he runs along with his brothers Shade and Wraith. With the end of his first century comes a change in his life that will force him into mating with any female he can, demon or human. A mate of his own could curb those urges and help him through his change with his sanity and the ability to continue his job as a doctor intact. Meeting someone like Tayla, who’s an enemy to all demons, was not what he had planned, but now walking away may not be a possibility.

The first in the Demonica series, Pleasure Unbound is an engaging read. Tayla is commited to her job, but something underhanded is going on in the ranks of the Aegis and it could cost her life. With the change coming on, Eidolon’s attraction to Tayla is not the best timing, but she’s about to find her life changing and he may be the only one who can keep her alive. Ms. Ione has created a dark fantasy world that’s filled with intriguing characters, entrancing suspense and fast-moving action. I enjoyed the uniqueness of each demon dependant on their parentage, loved the chemistry that sizzles between hero and heroine and was captivated by the black market mystery unfolding. Pleasure Unbound has found its spot on my keeper shelf and I’m looking forward to Shadow Lover adding more detail to the shadowy world of demon and vampire society. Book two is currently scheduled to release in March 2009.

To read an excerpt and learn more about Pleasure Unbound, visit Ms. Ione’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Review

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Harmony by C. F. Bentley

C. F. Bentley
Daw Books
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-7564-0485-7

From the back cover (arc):
The world of Harmony, along with its close-knit colony planets, had long ago isolated itself from the rest of the universe. Whether you were of human or alien descent you were not welcome in Harmony space.

But in a universe where the human-based Confederate Star System fleet found itself hard-pressed to stand against ever-increasing attacks by the alien Marillon Empire, the Harmonic Empire couldn’t be left alone. For if the CSS could not win an alliance with Harmony, the Marils would surely find a way to invade and seize control of the invaluable metal which only the Harmonites could produce.Yet invasion is far from the only threat the people of Harmony faced. The very structure of their society was on the verge of crumbling. The population was divided into a seven-part caste system - with one’s lot in life determined by the caste marking they were born with - ruled over by the High Priest and High Priestess of the Crystal Temple. And the gulf between rich and poor, rulers and ruled, was nearly insurmountable. What was even worse was that the planet itself seemed to be becoming increasingly unstable. In this time of crisis one young woman, a member of the working class, yet born with the marks of all seven castes - an unprecedented event - might prove Harmony’s best hope or the catalyst for total collapse.

Could Harmony – and the unique young woman suddenly thrust into the role of High Priestess – survive both the external dangers to the empire and the internal political, social, religious, and ecological upheaval that threatened to tear the world apart?

My thoughts:
Born the daughter of a working class family, Sissy is happy enough with the factory work she does. Different than most, she carries the mark of each of the castes and has hidden all of her life from those who would lock her away as a Lood. When an earthquake hits the city, it’s Sissy’s connection with Harmony herself that saves them all. This young girl, still considered a freak by some, is elevated to High Priestess and quickly learns that the High Council has been acting in their own best interests instead of the interests of Harmony.

As war threatens from both the CSS and the Marils, Sissy accepts the guidance of her personal guard, Jake, to set Harmony on the right path. With his help, history is rediscovered, but what they learn could break their already fragile world. Especially when Sissy unveils the secret that Jake’s been hiding.

Harmony is a well done start to this series. As a world built on religion strays from their beliefs, an unlikely savior arises to protect, lead and deliver the people back to the unity of Harmony. C. F. Bentley builds a world that will capture the attention of science fiction and fantasy readers. The story moves through stages in a steady pace with defining moments in new leadership, discovery and the ever present possibility of war. While there’s no point in this installment that I’d call a big climax, there are twists and turns along the way that set the stage for what should be an interesting opening in the next visit to Harmony.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris

Dead Over Heels
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 5
Charlaine Harris
Berkley Prime Crime
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22303-1

From the Publisher’s Site:
Part-time librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden never liked Detective Sergeant Jack Burns, but she also never wanted to see him dead—especially not dropped from a plane right into her own backyard. But when other strange things happen around her, ranging from peculiar (her irascible cat turns up wearing a pink ribbon) to violent (her assistant at the library is attacked) to potentially deadly (her former lover is stabbed), she must decipher the personal message in the madness before it's too late.

My Thoughts:
Aurora Teagarden-Bartell, Roe to her friends, set up a lounge chair to relax while her bodyguard finished mowing the backyard. Alerted by the buzz of the plane, Roe looked up just in time to launch herself and Angel out of the path of a falling man. It’s an incident that begins a string of death and mishaps all around them, and a mystery that Roe intends to solve.

Arthur Smith, Roe’s ex-husband, appears to be observing her with hungry eyes every opportunity he gets. Her co-worker has turned threatening because she feels that Roe is not doing her share of the work. Angel has just been given some shocking news from her doctor and her husband, Shelby, is less than understanding. As things heat up, Roe manages to track down leads, rule out suspects and discover the identity of the killer just in time to stop them from taking another life.

This is the fifth Aurora Teagarden Mystery, and was easy enough to follow without having read the previous installments. However, there may have been information in prior books that would help in solving the mystery in Dead Over Heels. Ms. Harris is a creative author who develops interesting characters and a story that will entertain. While this is a fun mystery, because Roe does get herself into some rather compromising situations, there seems to be so much going on outside of the actual mystery that it’s easy to get lost along the way. It may just be that this is a reprint from an earlier time in the author’s career, and I’m accustomed to her advanced skills. If you’re a fan of the series, then do check it out, but if you haven’t read the prior stories in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries then you may want to get a more detailed introduction of the characters by starting at the beginning.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Plague War by Jeff Carlson

Plague War
Jeff Carlson
July 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01617-4

From the Publisher’s site:
Researcher Ruth Goldman has developed a vaccine with the potential to inoculate the world’s survivors against the nanotech plague that devastated humanity. But the fractured U.S. government will stop at nothing to keep it for themselves.
My thoughts:
Ruth Goldman is a scientist living in a post-apocalyptic world where a nano-tech plague has destroyed anything warm-blooded and living below 10,000 feet. There are few survivors, but Ruth has developed a vaccine that may be their only hope for a future. Against the odds, she and another survivor, Cam, brave the devastation along with Newcombe, a soldier who trained in the Army Special Forces. They pick their way through what was once beautiful land to those who remain alive in the mountains. It’s the only way to spread the vaccine, especially with a government that doesn’t want to see that happen.

Cam Najarro has lost a lot to the plague, but he believes in what Ruth is doing to stop it from destroying what little is left. He’d follow her anywhere, and do anything to keep her safe. There’s no one that they trust more than each other, and despite the government’s protests Cam intends on seeing things through to the end.

This is a sequel to Plague Year and picks up with Ruth and Cam working along with a soldier to spread the vaccine. Despite injuries, immense danger and horrendous conditions, they won’t let anything stop them from doing everything possible to save what’s left of humanity. Mr. Carlson shares a well-written and riveting tale that draws a spark of hope out of the midst of despair. Nicely paced, tension filled, and thoroughly believable, Plague War is easily a worthwhile read.

If you’d like to learn more about Plague War and read the first chapter, you can stop by Mr. Carlson’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, July 14, 2008

Storm Front Giveaway on Vampire Wire....

All of you Jim Butcher (and James Marters) fans should be interested in the giveaway over at the Vampire Wire blog. It's the audio version of Storm Front, narrated by James Marsters. You have until Friday evening to stop by Vampire Wire, here....

...and leave Marta a comment sharing your thoughts on which actor or actress you'd like to see as a vampire, shapeshifter or other paranormal creature. Sounds like fun, eh? Get over there and get your entry in!

Happy Reading....


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gale Force by Rachel Caine

Gale Force
Weather Wardens, Book 7
Rachel Caine
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46223-7

From the Publisher’s site:
Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is on vacation when her Djinn lover, David, asks Joanne to marry him. She’s thrilled to say yes, even if some others may be less than happy about it.
Unfortunately, Joanne’s pre-marital bliss is ended by a devastating earthquake in Florida. And she can’t ask David and his kind for assistance. Because the cause of the quake is unlike anything Joanne has ever encountered—and a power even the Djinn cannot perceive.
My thoughts:
Joanne Baldwin is supposed to be enjoying some time in Florida away from her duties as a Weather Warden, but it’s not an easy job to set aside. There’s a wildfire that’s been burning along Alligator Alley for three days, and for Joanne it’s impossible not to be involved. Phil Garret, an investigative reporter, is after her for a story on the Wardens, so someone has been feeding him information. She also has a future with David to plan, but in the midst of that chaos a dark force is at work that must be dealt with. An earthquake is only the beginning.

David is among the strongest of the Djinn, but even he hasn’t been able to truly unite them as they once were. After they released themselves from serving the Wardens, the Djinn also divided. While David leads half of them, Ashan, a Djinn who truly despises Joanne, leads the other half.

The war among the new and old Djinn, as well as the war between the Djinn and Wardens, has caused death and destruction. With so many lost the trust between them is nearly non-existent. Even David is having a hard time believing in Joanne when she describes the force they’re working against, because it’s something the Djinn can’t see.

This is the seventh installment in the Weather Warden series and it’s as captivating as the previous books. Joanne’s life is forever changing as she continues to grow with new power, and her relationship with David has taken an unexpected turn. Ms. Caine is a top-notch writer and her skill in weaving a mesmerizing tale is easily seen. Her characters are wonderfully dimensional, and the world they live in is solid and believable. The chemistry between these strong characters always sizzles, and Gale Force stands out with their deep and fluctuating emotions. This is one that fans won’t want to miss, and I’d strongly suggest that anyone new to the series read each book in order.

If you’d like to learn more about Ms. Caine and her work, you can read an interview with her: Here

To read an excerpt of Gale Force and learn more about the Weather Wardens, you can visit Ms. Caine’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Underground by Kat Richardson

Greywalker, Book 3
Kat Richardson
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46212-1

From the Publisher’s site:
Harper Blaine was your average small-time P.I. until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker—walking the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.
Pioneer Square’s homeless are turning up dead and mutilated, and zombies have been seen roaming the underground—the city buried beneath modern Seattle. When Harper’s friend Quinton believes he may be implicated in the deaths, he persuades her to investigate. But the killer is no mere murderer—it is a creature of ancient legend. And Harper must deal with both the living and the dead to stop the monster and its master…unless they stop her first.
My thoughts:
After surviving a brief brush with death, Harper Blaine found she came back with a gift. Now she can move through the Grey where ghosts and darker things exist, and sometimes the layers of time can be accessed. Her P.I. business, and her new talent with the Grey, brings her in contact with beings and entities she’s left little choice but to believe in.

The homeless are turning up dead and Harper’s friend, Quinton, has asked for her help in discovering the cause. He’s a pro when it comes to designing electronics to protect and defend, but even Quinton is at a disadvantage when it comes to something ancient who hungers at the whim of a master. With Harper’s ever evolving skill in the Grey, they may have a fighting chance to find the answers they need before the evil seeks other avenues to satisfy the hunger that consumes him.

Seattle’s Underground can be a very dangerous place, but tracking a killer through parts of the city that were buried after the city’s tragic fire could cost them their lives. If they can uncover the monster, they’ll still have to rely on the support of those who can banish their foe because there can be nothing left for his master to hold on to.

This is the third release in the Greywalker series, and the aspects of the Grey become deeper still as Harper Blaine leads readers to discover what lies beyond the norm. As Harper comes to accept and utilize the changes in her life, not everyone around her is as agreeable with her choices. It makes for some interesting friction and opens another door to possibilities. Ms. Richardson gives readers a paranormal murder mystery and provides all of the fast paced action it takes to solve it. Underground should easily satisfy urban fantasy readers, and includes a touch of romance to lighten some of those dark corners of Grey. The author provides just enough background to start the series at this point, but I would recommend starting with the first Greywalker book.

To read an excerpt from Underground, visit Ms. Richardson’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews