Off Duty (again)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a book called Off Duty. It’s a book written by Ellie Masters and Lucas X Black. The cool thing about these authors and this book is that they were going to done proceeds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. As of this weekend, they have donated $500 to MaW! That’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me.

When I wrote my last post, I hadn’t read it yet. I have now, courtesy of Ellie Masters. (Thanks, Ellie!) And, I reviewed it on both Amazon and Goodreads. Here is a copy of my review. If anyone wants a link to my Goodreads or Amazon profile, just ask and it shall be given. I review a lot of books, and am working on reviewing everything I can, I’m so far behind though.

Laura is a world-renowned trauma surgeon and Queen Bee at her hospital. She’s called Ice Queen and other not so nice names because she is very private, closed off, and will ream out anyone whom she feels has failed at their job. She demands perfection from herself and no less from the staff and doctors that she works with.

Keith is a paramedic that has been out on the streets for years. He was a corpsman in the Navy and is used to the stress that being out on the front lines can hold. He is rapidly burning out on it though and some of what he sees overwhelms him, like the death of a child.

A death of a child named Caleb is what originally brings Laura and Keith together. They see each other out at a restaurant where they are both eating alone. Laura comes over to share some news about Caleb with Keith and then manages to get blind drunk.

There isn’t really insta-love in this, at least not as it shows up in other stories. Laura and Keith spend several weeks butting heads with each other and yelling at each other. Once they do get really into the relationship, the love happens quickly, but the relationship didn’t happen overnight, exactly.

The M/s story is good. He is very demanding and very harsh at times. Laura likes it, so it’s all good. I mostly liked the book, but I did have a few issues with it. One is that sometimes Laura seemed to be topping from the bottom. She pushed forward faster than Keith did, which leads to my second issue that really her full surrender came fast. But, it’s a book, so I can’t blame it because you can’t spend the time developing the relationship, and the authors did mention that in a warning in the beginning. The characters do acknowledge that it will take time for them to truly know each other, so that takes care of that quibble. That’s just my personal issue, others may not have it, your mileage may vary.

Overall, I do like the story. I think that Masters and Black developed the characters well and showed some of the stress that Laura and Keith would experience in their jobs. I definitely recommend it.

Urban Fantasy Pt. 3

Make sure that you check out Part 1 and Part 2. That way you’ll get the whole impact of my thoughts, opinions, and favorite authors.

Ilona Andrews

This husband and wife team have several series which would fit right smack dab in UF. One also works as post-apocalyptic. One, the Innkeeper series, I’m balancing between UF and straight fantasy. I haven’t quite decided how I would classify it as of yet. I haven’t read the Edge series, I’ve read synopsis of the books, and they just don’t grab me.

Kate Daniels is the main character for the Magic… series. She is a mercenary with a heaping helping of personal magic, and a huge secret that she is hiding. Her secret could get her killed. Her father, Vorin, taught her how to fight so that she would be ready when it came time to enact her revenge. Along the way, she meets and falls in love with Curran, the Beast Lord, defeats her all-powerful aunt, and tries to kill her real father.

Ilona has said that she based Kate’s sword fighting style after Cossack sword dancing, which makes sense, since Vorin was of Russian descent, and so is Kate on her mother’s side. BTW, Ilona is of Cossack descent herself, check out her blog post about it. Their blog is fun to read. They have snippets of WIPs, slice of life snippets, and a little bit of everything, including a look into the world of a professional author.

Cossack sword dancing is very cool to watch. Very cool.

This is what I think Kate must look like when she’s fighting.

And just because this fighting style is so fucking pretty, have another video.

I read the Kate Daniels books regularly, usually at 2x a year. That includes the companion novellas and the shorts. The upcoming book, the 10th Kate Daniel’s book, is going to be the final in the series. Sadly. I think there are going to be more written in that world, and be Kate-adjacent.

Hidden Legacy

Hidden Legacy takes place in Houston. In this series, various Houses pretty much rule the world, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes not. Each House a type of magic associated with them. In walks Nevada Baylor, who has what she thinks is just a little truth sense talent. Turns out it isn’t just a little bit, and she’s a Prime. She’s a PI and while looking for Adam Pierce, she comes to the attention of Mad Rogan, one of the most powerful Primes ever. He’s very focused on her. They get their HEA, eventually, and sorta by the skin of their teeth.

So far, this is just a trilogy, and the last one just came out this month. Hopefully, there’ll be more to it. It’s a fun series, with a kickass hero and her cute, focused, somewhat insane boyfriend.

Innkeeper

The Innkeeper series started out being serialized on Ilona’s blog, but was popular enough that they were turned into books. In this series, there are special inns that are sanctuaries where the paranormal, alien, what have you, can stay if necessary, or hold meetings, and such like. The Inns are somewhat sentient, but they are under the control of their Keeper. This series has an inn that was closed off, but Dina, the Keeper, is determined to get her Inn back to good shape and get it highly rated again.

I like this series. It’s a pretty light series, all things considered, and generally a little less intense than the other two.

We’re going to have more posts about some of my favorite authors in this genre, but I think next week we’ll take a break and talk about something else.

As a reminder, 22 great authors, some of which I know, got together and wrote a set called Royally Mine. It’s only $.99 on pre-order, and it comes out 8/22. I’ve read some ARCs from the set, and they are hot, hot, hot!

Urban Fantasy Pt. 2

My last post talked about what urban fantasy is. Now I’m going to touch on some of my favorite UF authors. Like I said, I love UF, so there are a lot of authors I read. They mostly tend to be female authors with strong female leads. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good male UF authors, Jim Butcher is very good, as is Charles de Lint, I just tend to read more female authors.

Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey (bibliography) has several stories which could be classified as Urban Fantasy. They all came out in the very late ’80s and early ’90s. I’m not sure that I would classify them as straight UF so much as pre-UF or early UF. There are 3 series that she, along with her husband, wrote. SERRAted Edge, Bedlam’s Bard, and Diane Tregarde. They are all set in the same universe and there is some small connection from series to series.

SERRAted Edge is basically about elves want to start racing. Because they can’t race in stock cars because of the metal content, they’ve created their own racing league, SERRA, with somewhat different rules. Most of their cars are elven steeds who take the shape of the cars. However, that doesn’t work well for inspections. The elves bring in a metallurgist to fake them. There are struggles against the dark elves and a million other things. There are kitsune, wizards, dragons, and other fun, magical creatures. I think that there have been some books printed since the turn of this century. I haven’t read the series in a while, I think it’s time to reread it.

Diane Tregarde is a Wiccan who is a Guardian. She is in the business of fighting off all the big bads, along with other Guardians. She also has a vampire lover. There is a small crossover here with SERRAted edge. In one of the books, Diane has to go to OK, and she meets a teenager who will end up being a main character in SERRAted Edge.

Bedlam’s Bard has a main character who is a magical violinist. He doesn’t quite realize it until he summons up Nightflyers at his audition for Julliard, which then messes up his life. Eventually, he gets control of his powers, helps save the homes of the elves, stops gang wars, etc.

Laurell  K Hamilton

When I think of urban fantasy, I really go straight to LKH (Bibliography) and Anita Blake. I first found Anita in my sophomore year in college, for those of you playing along at home, that was ’98. By that time, she already had 7 books out I started the first one, and then hit up the library for the rest. I know own most of them in either e-formant or paper. Anita’s books take place in a St. Louis where magical creatures are widely known. There are laws about vampires up before Congress which may declare the vampires people or not. Anita, on top of raising zombies, is a licensed vampire hunter, nicknamed The Executioner for her high rate of kills. In the first few books, the focus was more on Anita’s job and her work with the police. The later books got pretty sex heavy and all of Anita’s job fell by the wayside. The most recent books are working on getting a better balance, but there is a heavier focus on Anita’s magic vagina saves the world than I particularly like. I have nothing against sex in books. I mean, hello, look at some of the other books I’ve talked about, but it didn’t seem to happen in an organic fashion to me. I don’t know that I’ll continue to read any more of her books because I can’t just seem to get interested in them anymore.

LKH also wrote the Merry Gentry series. Merry is the American Faerie Princess. She can trace her lineage back both the light and dark Sidhe. The series starts out with her having run away and hidden for 3 years, until something happens and her aunt sends her Darkness out to bring her back. This series started out with sex, lots of it, and lots of participants of it. The plot is good. The reason that the sex doesn’t bother me here is that it was never anything other. I will read new Merry Gentry books, if LKH ever comes out with more.

Faith Hunter

Faith Hunter is one of my most favorite UF authors ever. Her main character is Jane Yellowrock, a skinwalker and 100% Cherokee woman. Jane is the premier vampire killer in the country. Part of what makes her so good is that she can switch to her mountain lion self, Beast, and hunt them at night. No one knows that she is a skinwalker, except for her BFF Molly Everheart and her husband and kids. In the first book, Jane is headed into New Orleans to find and kill a rogue vampire. She’s been hired by the current head of the city, Leo, to come in and take care of it. When she does, she exposes certain secrets that were being hidden and starts a whole slew of thing in motion, some of which are just now starting to show up, several books later. Faith has plotted so well.

Soulwood is a spinoff of the Jane Yellowrock series. In it, we meet Nell, who helped Jane rescue some vampires and kill off the bad guys. Nell isn’t quite human, and is tied to her land. Rick LeFluer, sent to Nell to try to recruit her to a supernatural police department, manages to get her on his team. So far, there are only 2 books from this series out, but the 3rd comes out later this year. I already have it on pre-order. I really love pre-order.

OK, UF pt. 3 will come out tomorrow with more to the list of my fave UF authors, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, CE Murphy, and Jim Butcher.

 

Urban Fantasy Pt. 1

Urban fantasy is also called urban horror or some mash-up between the two. It’s a relatively new genre, having only been around about 20 years or so. One of the pioneers in the genre is Laurell K. Hamilton, with her Anita Blake series.

When most people think about fantasy, they tend to think about JRR Tolkien, elves, hobbits, barbarians, and sorcerers. That’s not what urban fantasy is. Well, UF does have some of those things, but they are taken out of the realm of Middle Earth and moved into the mid-city. Traditional horror characters like vampires, zombies, ghouls, and were-creatures move into the mid-city as well.

UF worlds are generally alternate Earths. On that Earth, magic exists, and all sorts of magical creatures live in the same world as you or I do. In some universes, all the creatures and magic users are open knowledge. For example, LKH’s Anita Blake series is one of these ‘verses. That series is based in St. Louis. Anita Blake is an animator, someone who raises zombies. It’s an inborn power, and if she doesn’t use it, then it just oozes out of her and zombies are accidentally raised. Everyone knows about vampires and various flavors of shifters. While some of the magical people still live in the broom closet, so to speak, the fact that there are werewolves or fairies, as a species, is well-known. In this world, werecreatures and vampires are created in the way that we would expect, although there are some that are born that way. They also have the traditional weaknesses that we would think of, silver, holy water, crosses, etc.

Then there are the other ‘verses. The ones where all those magical creatures exist, but they are a secret. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is an example of one of these worlds. Harry Dresden is a wizard, who actually advertises in the phone book, which is a whole different story. There are elves, fae, vampires, Knights of the Cross, and a whole host of other bad guys, who are all magical but the world doesn’t know about them. There are a few non-magical people who do know about them, like Dresden’s police pal, Karen Murphy, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

UF is really popular, with a plethora of authors and series out there. Part of the reason is that it is really accessible. It’s easier for people to relate to St. Louis or Chicago than it is for them to relate to Middle Earth. They also tend to cross genre a lot. You’ll see a lot of UF fiction, especially if it’s written by female authors and feature a female protagonist, marked under romance as well. Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels gets this treatment. Because of that, a lot of people who wouldn’t ordinarily read books that feature magical mercs and pushy lion shifters pick up the books and get hooked on the series.

I really like urban fantasy, and I read a lot of it. Thursday, I’ll list up some of my series and authors.

Off Duty

Off Duty is a book written by Lucas Black and Ellie Masters. It’s about a doctor and a paramedic who end up getting together in a D/s relationship. Today is its Release Day. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I will be buying it and reading it in the next week. The reason I’m sharing it today is that Black and Masters are donating proceeds of this book to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The book is only $4.99, so check it out.

Hell Squad

Ready to go to hell? Hell yeah, the Devil needs an ass-kicking!

Anna Hackett has several sci-fi romance series, one of which is the Hell Squad series. Hell Squad takes place on an Earth that has more advanced tech than we have, and where countries have banded together to form larger unions or coalitions. Think the EU or the Commonwealth, but with one common government. The US and Australia, among other countries, are in one such group.

The series takes place in Australia, where, incidentally, Anna Hackett is from. Dinosaur-esque aliens called the Gizzida have invaded the Earth, and killed large percentages of the population. They have taken other humans for terrible experiments. The majority of the infrastructure is gone, including reliable contact with other countries. Most of the military are gone, because of course, the aliens are going to attack military bases first, just to make sure that no one can fight back. Wouldn’t you? Anyway, there are some surviving members of the military who managed to escape to a secret, hidden base called Blue Mountain, located somewhere near Sydney. The base is run by a surviving general, Adam Holmes. The military survivors are broken up into small squads of 8-9 people who go out to fight the Gizzida, rescue people, etc. The premier squad is Squad 6, run by Marcus Steele, also known as Hell Squad. Through the series, we learn about other squads, such as Squad 9, which is mostly made up of women, and Squad 3, the Berserkers, who are made up of mercs, motorcycle club members, enforcers, and other people of questionable origins. The name Berserkers fits them, because they are quite wild, generally riding into battle on modified motorcycles and wearing minimal body armor. Crazy but fun.

The military survivors are broken up into small squads of 8-9 people who go out to fight the Gizzida, rescue people, etc. The premier squad is Squad 6, run by Marcus Steele, also known as Hell Squad. Through the series, we learn about other squads, such as Squad 9, which is mostly made up of women, and Squad 3, the Berserkers, who are made up of mercs, motorcycle club members, enforcers, and other people of questionable origins. The name Berserkers fits them, because they are quite wild, generally riding into battle on modified motorcycles and wearing minimal body armor. Crazy but fun. Later books focus on members from those squads, but the first books focus on Hell Squad.

While some of the other books I’ve talked about are kink and sex heavy, these books have minimal kink and fewer sex scenes. That doesn’t mean no sex scenes or that the sex isn’t hot because there are totally great scenes in these books. I mean, you get a bunch of Alpha males and strong women together, and nature is going to take its course. They aren’t insta-love stories, most of the romances are people who have known each other and worked together for some time, however, there are a couple of stories where people get into relationships shortly after meeting. None of the relationships start easy, with one person or the other fighting the pairing, for whatever reason. I’m looking right at you, Hemi and Cam. But each one ends in an HEA.

The books in this series can be read as stand-alones, it really isn’t recommended. That’s because there is an overarching storyline that builds on each book and characters do show up from one book into the next.

All the books in this series are on Kindle Unlimited, start with Marcus. They are nice, easy reads, with good plotting and good writing. If you like sci-fi and romance, these are a good choice. If you like Anna Hackett’s books, you can try  Phoenix Adventures, which aren’t on KU, and Galactic Gladiators, which are.

OK, next week will be urban fantasy week. UF is one of my favorite genres. Some of the books and authors started in the romance genre and are listed under both romance and urban fantasy. It’ll be fun, so make sure to check it out!