Natalie Bennett-Devils With Halos

Natalie Bennett is back with a new wicked series. The series is called Malignant and the first one is Devils With Halos. And trust me, it’s definitely dark and malignant. It has Natalie’s undeniable touch, and anyone who has liked any of her other books is really going to like this one too.

So, Faith is a recovering addict. She quit drinking and drugging the day that her best friend, Sam, ODed. Even after having gone through rehab, she’s still trying to put her life back together. She was given a trip to a resort for her and her 3 friends, Lilly, Camilla, and Marcy, to enjoy. Faith kept trying to get in touch with Ryker, the one man she loves and who is also Sam’s older brother, but he’s not answering his phone. As she drives away, she waves to her dad, who gets on the phone to someone. She’s pretty sure that it’s Ryker.

Faith wakes back up in the SUV having fallen asleep while the car was driving. She wakes up because the car has stopped. They are at a strange, empty, closed gas station so that they can get gas. The problem is that Faith is pretty sure that there is something wrong, because there’s a white van with no windows in the back just sitting there. Too bad she didn’t pay attention to those instincts, because her sweet trip went from a girls’ resort trip to a less mutanty and cannibalistic version of a Wrong Turn movie.

It turns out that she and her friends, as well as some other people, were taken by a group called Malignant. And guess who’s in charge of Malignant?

There are some serious mindfucks going on here. Poor Faith. Nothing is what she expects it to be anymore. She is standing with her feet on two separate pieces of debris in the middle of a whirlwind and they are going to go in different directions any microsecond, leaving her completely falling. But, she doesn’t quite realize that yet. She’s starting to, but… Seriously, this is dark. There’s some nasty shit that happens. There isn’t a whole lot of good and happy at all in this book. I don’t expect any good and happy to happen. There may be a small ray of light, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a cliffhanger, but there is a hill, so if you don’t want to be left hanging on the side of that hill, you may want to wait until the next 2 books come out. Luckily, Natalie tends to write pretty quick and doesn’t leave us hanging too much.

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You know, I don’t have a lot to say down here. I really don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to spoil anything at all.

Go read it. I’d say happy reading, but…

Loki Renard-Angelo

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that I love Loki Renard, that tricksy fox. And, you know that I love her House of Vitali books. I think Angelo is a simply marvelous character. He’s devious, deviant, twisted, tricky, sly, and convoluted. But, we’ve never gotten a lot of his backstory. I mean, something had to turn Angelo into the Angelo we know and love. You aren’t just born that convoluted, at least I don’t think so. But now, Loki has gifted us with Angelo:Making a Monster.

Bobby and Angelo are… well, they are being Bobby and Angelo. Bobby is falling in love with Angelo, you know, as one does. And he wants to know more about his lover. Of course, we know Angelo. he doesn’t want anyone to love him. He wants them all to be afraid of him. Bobby, being Bobby, won’t let anything drop and keeps asking Angelo questions about his past. Angelo, being Angelo, finds a way to stop him from asking questions, but of course, it pisses off Mark.

The story switches between current time and flashbacks. We get to see Angelo’s history through his eyes, as it’s happening to him, instead of him telling Bobby or Mark about it, which you know he would filter and skew. I found his history to be fascinating, and I really want to know about it.

And as always, when it comes to Angelo, you know, he has so many plans on top of plans on top of plans. He always knows how Bobby and Mark are going to act. Always. But here’s my latest question about Angelo. Does he know what they are going to do because he forces them to do it? Because if he does action A he knows that Bobby is going to do action B, which is usually try to kill Angelo? Or does he take into account their personalities and act in a way that if he does something he can predict the most likely action that they will take? We already know that he has plan A-ZZZ set up so that he is ready for anything and everything. There’s no way to trip him up, really. He’s just so damn twisty.

I love Angelo. He’s one of my favorite characters. I’d count him as a book boyfriend, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the parts that he’s looking for, and well, frankly, I’ve seen what he does to his lovers.

There are no spoilers today because it’s a short read and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. Hit up the Zon and check it out. Happy reading!

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Natasha Knight-Taken

Oh, ducklings, my sweet and precious ducklings, Natasha Knight has taken us on a roller coaster in Taken. One word of warning before I proceed, Taken is part of a duet, so it ends in a cliffie. The second part will be out in 2 weeks, so it’s not like Natasha is making us wait for a long time for the resolution. So, if you are interested in this one but you don’t like cliffies, wait a couple more weeks. Now, on to the review.

The Willows and the Scarfonis have a centuries-old relationship. That’s not a good thing here. For centuries, the Willows have always had quadruplet daughters and the Scarfonis have had sons. It used to be that they had 4 sons, but now they only have 3. Well, they still have 4 sons, but one son in each generation dies. Anyhow, once every generation, when the Willow daughters turn 21, the Scarfoni sons go and reap one of the daughters. They choose one, and keep her for 3 years, each brother getting their year with her, from oldest to youngest. The 3 sisters who don’t get chosen go on with their lives, get married, and one of them has quadruplet daughters, and the cycle begins again. The Willow Girl, the one that the Scarfonis choose, doesn’t always fare well. Their life expectancy after their 3 years is rather short, with a number of them committing suicide. There is one who seemed to survive her 3 years of service well, and that is Helena, the great-aunt of this generation’s Willow daughters.

Helena is also the name of one of the current generation of daughters. She actually looks like her great-aunt Helena. She’s dark to her sisters’ light. They are golden dolls, but Helena has dark hair, with a silver stripe. Ever since her 16th birthday, when her mother told her and her sisters what was happening, Helena has hoped that she wouldn’t be the one chosen. In fact, she went and got rid of her virginity, just so that she could knock herself out of the running.

Sebastian, Ethan, and Gregory as this generation’s Scarfoni sons. Along with Lucinda, who is Ethan and Gregory’s mother and Sebastian’s step-mother, they have come to the library at the Willow estate where the 4 women are standing in transparent shifts and on blocks so that they can be chosen. Helena has had to be bound and gagged while she is standing there with her shift that has a smear of blood on it, marking her non-virginal state. Sebastian is the one who gets to choose which of the 4 women standing in front of him is to be this generation’s Willow Girl, and by all rights, it should be one of the golden girls, but that would make our story really short now, wouldn’t it? Of course, Helena is the one that Sebastian wants.

There’s a lot going on in this book. I don’t know if I like Sebastian. I mean, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. That’s OK, that’s how Helena feels about him too. She likes parts of him and she likes what he makes her feel, but she really basically just hates him. He’s told her that he wants to break her, she’s told him that he might have her body but can’t have her soul. There are things going on with Sebastian that we don’t understand or have access to, as of yet. I hope we find them in the next book. I’m interested in them. Helena, I like her a lot. She’s strong and fragile, broken and whole, all at the same time. She has to keep being rebellious because that’s the only way that she can be, the only way she can survive. Ethan and Lucinda deserve to burn in hellfire and lava, or to be cast into the center of a sun. I hate them, a lot. Gregory is… an unknown. I’m looking forward to finding out more about him too.

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Aunt Helena’s ring, OMG, I love her ring, and especially love how she got it. But yeah, I agree, Auntie Helena didn’t come back all that sane. But, you gotta wonder, what exactly happened to her to make her do what she did? It had to have been bad.

I’m kind of thinking that maybe Sebastian’s mom didn’t commit suicide, maybe she was helped along by someone near and dear to her. That person seems like they would do that to me.

And fuck, that ending. Ugh.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. I can’t wait for the next one to come out. I may not survive the wait. Happy reading!

Aria Adams-Bred

So, Katie Douglas got busy again under her dark nom de plume, Aria Adams. She’s given us fire, the sea, and now we’re about to get Bred.

Khloe is on a mission. She has to go fix what her stepfather has screwed up and rescue her sister. It turns out that her stepfather owes some very bad people a lot of money. So, instead of, you know, trying to come up with a reasonable way to get it so he could pay those people off, he decided to sell off 14 year old Latifah for her organs. If he signs a contract with Caden for Latifah’s kidney, then Caden will pay off the asshole’s creditors. But, Khloe has other plans. She pushes her way into the building so she can rescue her sister. Not only that, but she also works on beating up the guard. I thought it was pretty damn funny.

Caden has other plans too. He wants to have an heir. While he may be rich and powerful, that’s not something he can do himself. He needs to have someone with a working uterus help him with that. He’s thought about using surrogates, but he hasn’t seen one he liked. When he sees Khloe and her spirit, he knows that she’s the right one for him. He doesn’t want to have a relationship with her, he just wants to breed her. And, of course, for her to obey him and to punish her when she breaks the rules.

This is a short and filthy read. When Katie puts her Aria hat on, she writes some doozies, and this definitely is one. I love Khloe for a lot of reasons. She has a lot of fight in her. She’s not willing to do down easy. She is strong. She’s also mouthy, stubborn, and doesn’t necessarily know when to shut up or stop. Those can be good things, but they can also be bad things. Caden has his own code that he sticks to and has his own reasons for doing the things he does and the way in which he does them. He’s not a nice guy and many of the things he does or wants to do to Khloe aren’t all that nice either.

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Because it is short, I don’t have a lot to say down here, because pretty much anything that I could say would be more of a spoiler than I like to post. The one thing I will say is that I really like Khloe’s way of handling long-term problems.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Claire Marta & Anna Edwards-Beauty’s War

Oh, these two. When they got together to write this book, they completely did something completely awesome. Beauty’s War blew me right the fuck away and left me gasping. Before we get started, let me just say I love this title. It means different things, depending on where you put the emphasis and what way you are thinking of. I love those kinds of titles, you know. Word play is so awesome, and I appreciate it so much.

Claire and Anna are taking on Roman mythology and modernizing it. I really like the way that they are doing it and spin that they are putting on it. Basically, you have two sides of the eternal war between good and evil. On one side, Jupiter and his sons, Mars, Apollo, and Hercules. On the side of evil, Pluto and his minions. Only these minions aren’t cute and yellow and probably don’t like bananas. The way that it works is gods and goddesses still walk among us, but not all of them know who they are. The goal, of both sides, is to find the gods and goddesses before the other side does. Pluto wants to either kill them or turn them evil, while Jupiter wants to save them and bring them back to their glory. If the deity in disguise dies, then they are reincarnated, but each time it happens, they add on the trauma of that death and their memories slip a little bit further into their deepest unconscious.

And to add to all that, Jupiter and his sons own and run one law practice in Rome while Pluto runs another, and they are frequently legal adversaries as well, as what opens this book shows. Pluto has been trying to get off a truly vile man while Mars has been trying to get him put behind bars. Sadly, Pluto prevails at this point. (Boooooo, hissssss)

While this is going on in one part of Rome, outside the Coliseum, very British Vicky and her best friend Susan are having a girls’ vacation. Vicky loves to draw, sketch, paint, and create art, Susan tolerates her doing it, but get bored watching her do it. So, when Susan asks if Vicky is done drawing the Coliseum, Vicky says sure, and they go off to get pizza. One of my favorite kinds too, margherita. Across the crowded restaurant, Mars and Vicky catch each other’s eyes and the connection is sizzling.

Mars immediately disappears off to tell his dad that he thinks he found another goddess, and Jupiter tells him to become her friend. I love Mars’ interior dialogue at this point where he is saying that he’s the God of War, not the God of Making Friends. That was hilarious, if you ask me. But, Mars pops into where he senses Vicky and manages to save Susan from a couple of lechs by saying he was there for their 3some. Again, I laughed. Spoiler, there wasn’t a 3some.

There are a lot of really terrible things that go on in this book. This isn’t really a nice, light, and fluffy romance. This is gritty and dark and occasionally tortured romance. Poor Vicky has a seriously shitty time of it. Seriously shitty. OTOH, I think Vicky is pretty damn fierce from the very beginning, just to deal with everything, and only gets more so. I think that she’s definitely Mars’ match. I like Mars too. I think that he’s a little arrogant sometimes, but, you know, god. What are you supposed to do? I think he sometimes gets blinded by what he wants versus what needs to be done, but I can see why he got that way when he did. I can’t wait to see what these two talented ladies come up with next in the series.

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OMFG, what they do to poor Vicky. And not just once. I think Claire and Anna must’ve really hated her. Maybe they knew a Vicky who really pissed them off at some point because, damn. I mean, just damn.

I feel sorry for Bellona. I don’t excuse her actions, but I would probably have done the same thing in her place, but I still feel sorry for her. She was put in such a difficult place and loving someone more than they love you is always painful.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Loki Renard-Scar

So, a couple of weeks ago, Loki Renard released a new book. This one pretty much decimated me. It was wonderful and terrible and brutal and tender, all at once. Honestly, I still don’t quite have all the right words to describe the feelings that Scar inspired in me.

Mary Brown has been trapped in a hospital. Well, let’s be generous and call where she is a hospital, I mean, it is in the upper story of a hospital. She doesn’t know how long she’s been there, all she knows that is that she’s nearly gone. So when a man in black stands over her and tells her that he’s there to get her out, she’s pretty sure that she’s hallucinating.

Ken Ares is a Special Forces soldier who is in between enlistments. So he took a private job. It was his job to bust Mary Brown out of the torture hospital that she’s spent untold months in. When he sees her, she’s nearly catatonic, and there isn’t a whole lot of life in her eyes. He manages to get her out, gets her to someplace sort of safe, and calls for an evac for her. He never thought he would see her again.

Fast forward to Afghanistan and a year or so later. Mary is there as an embedded journalist and Ken’s commanding officer just embedded her in the unit that he is in. He’s doing some scouting before his Special Forces team joins him. On their first mission, she doesn’t listen to him and talks to some of the women in the village and gives them some little things like soaps and shampoos. Ken yells at her, and since they are sharing quarters, spanks her, and then they have mindblowing sex. A few days later, on another mission, they go back through the area after an attack, and Mary sees one of the women she had talked to before having her soap taken from her and a man beating her. Mary jumps out of the transport they are in and goes to beat the shit out of the man. Ken totally flips out because she’s blown all kinds of things now, has her press credentials pulled, and then sends her home. She’s devastated, of course, and is pretty sure that he hates her. So when she gets to the airport in the states, and his brother Tom is there, she’s not sure what to think. She tells Tom that she’ll just leave because bad things will happen, but he brings her to his house anyway.

This isn’t the darkest thing I’ve read. It’s not even the darkest thing that I’ve read that Loki is written. But then again, it kind of is the darkest thing that I’ve read that Loki has written. I know that doesn’t make sense at all, but, like I said, this one is still defying my prodigious vocabulary in trying to define my feelings. Probably if I spoke German, I could mash a few words together to come up with the right emotion. German is good for that. I cried because of this one. When I reread it, I expect that I will cry again at the same spots, and probably for the same reasons.

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OK, I so totally didn’t expect anything about Mary’s past. That was a total shocker. But I can see why she said that she had secrets and that bad things would be happening and were coming.

I have to say that I saw the Head as Amanda Waller from the DC comics, also known as the Wall. It’s that same kind of I will bury you and not think of you after I do kind of attitude. If you saw Suicide Squad, remember where Viola Davis as Waller shoots all the FBI agents who were there to help her? Yeah, that’s the attitude. That’s who I saw the Head as, and frankly, that works really, really well.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out. I want to hear what kind of emotions it inspires in you.

TL Martin-Dancing in the Dark

Dear TL Martin, thank you for giving me my latest book hangover. Captain Morgan and I are going to retire to my bedroom to see if I can get through it.

Signed-your ever faithful book blogger.

So, OK, you may think I’m joking, but only just. Dancing in the Dark really did get to me, and I’m having problems with settling down and figuring out exactly what to read. I feel like I want to read something completely light and out of the dark romance genre, but that doesn’t feel right either. I have some new books to read that are out of the romance genre altogether, and I might just have to go with one of them. I was going to blog this yesterday, but my real life got a little crazy and I didn’t have as much time to read and blog as I thought I would. But here it is, better late than never.

This is dark. It’s not the darkest book I’ve read, but it is dark. It has some dark scenes, including one with candles that gave me the heebie-jeebies. It also has some mindfuck going on, but for me, it’s more of a mindfuck-medium.

The story goes like this. Emmy has a sister named Frankie and a completely bug-fuck, religious zealot mother. Think the mother from Carrie, and you may get close. I think Mama may be Carrie’s mom squared. Anyway, Frankie has gone missing. Months and months ago, she came home and asked Emmy if she would leave if she had the chance to leave everything behind and find a place where you could be absolutely you. Then she disappeared, and Emmy never heard from her again. After trying to find Frankie on her own, Emmy finds a number and calls it, and ends up talking with Stella. Stella is the chief secretary to the Matthews Brothers, and she assumes that Emmy has been contacted to become a secretary.

Now, when I say secretary, think less Miss Drysdale and more Maggie Gyllenhaal in the movie. They sign a year long contract that basically signs their entire everything over to the Matthews for that time period. The secretaries can get claimed by one of the brothers, who she will then serve pretty exclusively, or she may serve all 4 brothers, Raife, Felix, Griff, and Adam. There are 3 distinct phases to the whole process, and during the meet and greet, it’s pretty obvious that there are all kinds of games being played.

I like Emmy, most of the time. Most of the time she’s very interesting and is always thinking and very goal-oriented. However, there are a few times when she totally loses the narration. However, they work well with what’s going on. Adam is interesting. There is obviously so much damage, especially since he talks about how damaged he is, but I don’t think that he’s as damaged as he thinks he is. Felix and Aubrey are characters that I want to know more about. Griff, Raife, and Stella can all just fuck off and die, if you ask me.

This is done in dual POVs, and both first person. I’ve been having a discussion with some authors on FB about this very thing. When you have 2 POVs and they are both 1st person, you have to be careful to make sure that the break in between character A and character B is very clear and you have to make sure that their voices are very distinct. I’ve read books where it is done poorly, where you have to go back and look to see who’s talking, and I found it really confusing and frustrating. I’ve also read books where it is done very well. TL Martin did it very well. It helps that each POV change happens at a chapter break, but Emmy and Adam have very distinct voices.

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The boys’ background is pretty horrific. I totally get why they are the way they are, from all the things that they weren’t through.

I didn’t really have any kind of feeling for Stella, but I didn’t like Griff or Raife from the very beginning. They were really yucky and just never got better.

OK, that’s all I have to say. I’m off to try and fix my book hangover.