Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMasterKiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so…innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

In my earlier days as a book blogger I remember Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster being one of the first steampunk stories I’d ever read, the other being Kate Locke’s series – Immortal Empire. I seriously fell in love with the world that McMaster created and the paranormal elements she molded to fit in with everything. When I saw the opportunity to listen to the audio version on McMaster’s entire London Steampunk series with Alison Larkin narrating, I knew that I had to experience this series in this format – the sample I listened to hooked me as well.

As always whenever you are revisiting a series in another format you are going to experience some inconsistencies simply because when you read it for yourself you imagine how certain characters sound, look, and the way they carry themselves. In listening to Kiss of Steel with Larkin’s narration behind it I did find myself not really liking her portrayal of Blade’s voice. Now the interpretation could be completely wrong on my part because I have no idea how his English accent was supposed to sound, but I envisioned him with a deeper voice. I digress, Larkin did an amazing job with everything and everyone except for Blade’s character.

The story of Kiss of Steel was also something that drew me in immediately. Yeah there are vampires within Kiss of Steel, which have been included in paranormal stories for decades upon decades, but the way that McMaster penned the challenges, hierarchy, and world elements within Kiss of Steel sets it apart from other paranormal/steampunk stories you will ever read.

Since I never did get pass Kiss of Steel when I was going through this series the first time I’m super excited to see how the world McMaster created expands and changes as the series goes on, plus I want to see how the series transitions into the spin-off series The Blue Blood Conspiracy.

 

 

Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Sommersgate House by Kristen AshleySommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #2
Published by Self Published on December 7, 2013
Pages: 461 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister’s children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas’s frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she’s decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn’t so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

Why didn’t I first start with Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley in her Ghost and Reincarnation series?!

With the way I responded to Sommersgate House I truly believe that all things happen in their own time and with their own reason because had I not read Penmort Castle first and somewhat loathed it I wouldn’t have given Sommersgate House a chance.

While I was reading Sommersgate House I seriously dwindled away into a pile of goo. This story held everything I love in a contemporary romance story, especially a story of Kristen Ashley’s caliber. There was a broody hero, little babies that needed love, a strong-minded heroine, a mystery that kept me intrigued, a villain that I loved to hate, and a romance that was absolutely timeless. Ugh, I’m getting excited all over again, this book was so good!!!!

When I asked Kristen Ashley which order I should go in when going through her Ghosts and Reincarnation series, since Goodreads had a particular order, she let me know that I should follow her order for this series instead of Goodreads lol. I sort of feel cheated because Goodreads and Amazon stated that Penmort Castle is the first in the series so that’s why I read that first, but in reading Sommersgate House so many things now make sense that I was confused about in Penmort Castle.

Sommersgate House was an amazing start to Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series, it introduced the premise of the series in a way that now if I were to read the synopsis of the other stories in this series I would at least know what the end goal would be for each couple. Ugh, I have a feeling that I’ll have a new favorite series by Ashley, I’m seriously contemplating vetoing the ranking system I have for her series because it’s starting to feel redundant.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne WrightLure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Mercury Pack #3
Published by Montlake Romance on November 21, 2017
Pages: 333 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Gwen Miller may be a human, but she has no problem taking a stand against her own kind. She’s going to testify against the teenage boy she saw viciously assault a lone shifter female—and no amount of pressure from the boy’s wealthy family will make her back down. But when the harassment turns violent, help comes in the form of a lean, toned wolf with winter-gray eyes.

As a guest at Gwen’s inn, shifter enforcer Zander Devlin can’t help but notice that the fierce and leggy brunette is in serious trouble. Since she’s putting herself at risk for one of his kind, keeping her safe is the least he can do. That’s not the only reason Zander wants her close. He desires her, even as the wolf inside him backs away from her. But his feral instincts are hard to keep down, and as they take shape, they’re harder for Gwen to resist. Then again, embracing them could be the only thing that could save her life.

When I say that I was equally shocked and surprised by how much I liked Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright, I am not kidding you. I really thought that Wright would continue on in her same formula of storytelling as she’s done with past stories in both the Phoenix Pack and Mercury Pack series, but that was not the case – well not entirely – with Lure of Oblivion.

Wright really took her time in giving ample page time to illustrating the background and present circumstances surrounding our main characters, Gwen and Zander, which I definitely appreciated. I’m not going to say that Lure of Oblivion had a complex storyline, nor was it completely action filled, but I will say that with the overall mixture between the romance, drama, and paranormal elements I was thoroughly entertained and engrossed in all that took place within this installment of the Mercury Pack series.

Gwen and Zander’s relationship really reminds me of how much I loved Harley and Derren’s relationship from an earlier story in this series. The strength of each character was something that grabbed my attention and made me pay focus on them as individuals before they became a ‘them.’ I usually have no issue with a story being romance led but it’s such a breath of fresh air when I can learn to love the individual characters instead of only recognizing their identity in their romantic relationship.

The main complaint I had about Wright’s latest release did find it’s way in Lure of Oblivion, but I’m both grateful and exasperated that she still chose to include it, even if it was in the last 5% of the story.  It may be nice to have a story where Wright either explains the significance of anal sex or just chooses to annex it altogether because this element is seriously starting to get old.

About Suzanne Wright

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something, whether it was stories, poems, or even songs – though I can’t carry a tune. I only have one rule when I’m writing a book which is that it has to have a happy ending. Other than that, pretty much anything goes. I write stories that I would enjoy reading and then I just hope that others will enjoy them too.

I was born and raised in England where I live with my husband (a person who doesn’t judge me for hearing voices in my head – how often do you come across people like that?), and my two demanding children.

Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Archangel’s Viper by Nalini SinghArchangel's Viper by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #10
Published by Berkley on September 26, 2017
Pages: 400 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

It seriously took me a minute to remember if Viper was Venom’s name, but I think my confusion came from the rarity of characters and book titles that start with the letter ‘V.’ Anyway, Archangel’s Viper was somewhat different than the other secondary character stories within the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. I wanted to chalk up how I felt about this difference as a bad thing because I am sometimes a stickler for things staying the same even though I love change, but when I tapped to the last page I couldn’t help but totally dig the overall story of Archangel’s Viper.

Out of all Raphael’s Seven, Venom, Demetrius, Jason, Adohan have been the ones I’ve been most fascinated by. With Jason and Demetrius already having their stories told I am glad that Venom was next up. While his background story wasn’t as elaborate as Demetrius and Jason’s, it definitely explained the ins and outs of everything Viper, especially his character from the current books. For some odd reason I was expecting his background to harbor more dangers and conflicts than the angst that was revealed. Again, I’m all for change but my default response is always expecting things to turn out or work out the way previous situations/character stories have worked; I’m usually proven right but I relish those moments when things work out differently as it did with Archangel’s Viper.

As much as I love Venom’s character, Holly made Archangel’s Viper that book for me. I’ve been curious about the evolution of her character ever since her debut in Angel’s Blood. I absolutely loved how spectacularly Archangel’s Viper tied up the story arc from Angel’s Blood, my mind was even blown with how everything transpired.

I will say that every heroine we’ve had in the Guild Hunter series by Singh hasn’t been able to match my likability level for Elena, and that’s perfectly okay that they don’t, but if I was to do a rating I would say that after Elena it would definitely be Holly and then Demetrius’ wife. The mystery that surrounded her character, as well as how she just went about living her life even with her future being  a huge question mark made her an instant favorite. From her style, to her personality it was super easy to want for her to have a HEA towards the end of Archangel’s Viper.

I don’t know why I was skeptical about reading Archangel’s Viper, especially since I just finished, or caught up on Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, but I really had to push myself to dive into this story. The leap of faith seriously paid off, from the drama from the events in Angel’s Blood to learning about the intricate details of Venom’s background and making, to Holly’s present and possible future, and to the set up of the next installment of Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I was content. I sincerely hope that Adohan’s story is next but I have a feeling with some of the hints dropped and things hinted to that Illuim’s story might be next. No complaints here but I think that he’s such a favorite and he’s gets enough page time that one of the less mentioned and more mysterious characters should be next lol. I don’t know, as always the decision of the next installment is as always up to the author and creator, Nalini Singh.

About Nalini Singh

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated frequently).

So far, I’ve worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer’s mill.

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There’s no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

Into The Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Into The Fire by Jeaniene FrostInto the Fire by Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Prince #4
Published by Avon Format: Kindle
Source: Library
Goodreads
four-half-stars

The reviews on Into The Fire really left me feeling as if Bound By Flames should’ve been the last Night Prince story I read. But always wanting to be someone that finishes what she started, unless of course I choose to be done with a series or story, I dived into Into The Fire and really ended up loving it.

One thing I was already spoiled on was Ian’s inclusion in Into The Fire, but other than some key scenes here and there and mentions, this story really felt like the conclusion to Vlad and Lelia’s story. But that miniature cliffhanger though!

Unlike Bound By Flames, Into The Fire touched and concluded the conflicts that were introduced. In addition to that, new characters and situations that yes will probably feed into Ian’s stories also made sense for the progression of Vlad and Lelia’s too.

The romance between Vlad and Lelia was on point like always, and the suspense was intricate and logical enough that I didn’t feel like I knew what was getting ready to happen with every page turn. I’m also, equally glad that Jeaniene Frost chose to bring back the demons into Into The Fire. Other than Denise and Charles’ story (what’s going on with those two?) I had completely forgot their existence in Frost’s Night Prince/Night Huntress world.

Other than Into The Fire ending Vlad and Lelia’s saga off with a bang and cry, except for that ending…I hope the Dracul’s get a short story or something, I can’t wait for Ian’s stories because I can already tell that it’s going to be bumpier than Vlad, Charles, Mencheres, and Bones’ combined.