Lee Savino-Owned by the Berserkers

Lee’s back with her Berserkers. They are a bunch of Viking and ancient Celtic warriors who were changed into wolves by magic. They have three forms, the man, the wolf, and the monster. The Berserkers walk a fine line between being sane and crazed. The monster can eat away at their sanity. Because of that, most of the Berserkers have paired up in brother bonds, to help keep their sanity intact. It wasn’t until the Alphas found their woman and found out that she was something called a spaewife that they learned that spaewives can mate with them and can control the beasts. There were originally four sisters, but then the Berserkers found out about an abbey filled with orphans who are spaewives. So, they raided the abbey and took all the orphans with them.

In Owned by the Berserkers (Berserker is a fun word to type), we get the story of another one of the orphans, Fern, and her mates, Svein and Dagg. This book flashes back and forth between the present and the past. We get to see what happened at the raid and what’s currently happening.

At the raid, Svein and Dagg discovered Fern and carried her away. They knew that she was her mate and they decided that they were going to be very careful with her and woo her before they told her. All Fern knew is that she felt safe with them and that being with them held off her visions of the skeletal monster who wanted to have her. She got to spend just a few blissful days with them before that monster, the Corpse King, decided to attack. He managed to make Svein and Dagg crazy and cause them to do things they never would otherwise.

Now, Fern lives with all the other unmated spaewives and orphans. They live in a lodge on the mountain, isolated from all the Berserkers so that they don’t cause any problems. When each of the women goes through the heat that each spaewife goes through, she is mated to the Berserkers who are their mates. The women get to see some of the already mated women from the orphanage, but other than that, they are kept under close guard.

Fern has problems though. One is that her visions of the Corpse King are coming back and they are coming back stronger. All she knows is that she was safe with Svein and Dagg. And there are wolves that are howling around the edge of the mountain. She’s been feeding them on the sly, but she finds out that they are to be driven away after a blizzard. That’s when Fern knows that she has to do something.

Fern, Dagg, and Svein are going to be my second favorite trio, after Sage, Rolf, and Thorbjornn. Fern is an incredibly strong character. She knows that she has to do something and she goes out and does it, even after she’s been warned that the wolves howling at the mountain are monsters with nothing left of their humanity and that there’s a horrible blizzard on its way. She goes out and does it anyway and nearly dies from the weather, but succeeds at her overall goal. I was sad about some things in this story, because, well, they are sad things. I was also worried about some things. But, overall, I was hopeful and knew that Fern would be successful in her goals. She was too determined to win for her to manage to fail. If you haven’t read any of the Berserker books, you could read each as a standalone, I guess, since each is a story in and of itself, but they are all part of a larger story, and you will like them more if you have read the ones before it.

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I’m looking forward to seeing how Fern’s new power is going to fit in with the rest of the story. I do love that the women are powerful and that they are actually powers in their own right, not just because they are mated to a Berserker pair. I think that’s pretty awesome.

I’m looking forward to seeing Juliet’s story. I know that Jarl has something to do with it, so it’s going to be interesting to see. She may be the first Berserker bride without a flower name. Maybe she needs to have a name change.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check out both the Berserker Saga, for how the story began, and the Berserker Brides for how the story is continuing. You won’t be sorry! Happy reading!

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Aria Adams-The Belle Jar

Aria Adams is a pen name for Katie Douglas. It’s the one where she writes dark stuff. And the Belle Jar is dark. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it sure as fuck isn’t any kind of fairy tale. It’s dark, horrific in places, merely scary in others, but it has glimmers of light in it. It’s a great story and I loved it.

Marea lives in Darkholm, which isn’t a very nice kind of place to live. Her mother was burned as a witch and the people of her village keep accusing her of being a witch. The only thing that has saved Marea from being burned is the fact that her mother had the foresight to have a chastity ring inserted on Marea. This ring went into her bits, making sure that she would retain her virginity. No one could figure out how to take the ring off, and frankly, Marea is pretty happy about that, because it proves she’s still a virgin and never had sex with a demon, meaning she couldn’t be a witch. But the fact that she’s a redhead doesn’t endear her to the people in her village.

In the dark and evil woods near their village, is a castle. Every 7 years, the denizens of the castle demand a sacrifice. This year, the village has decided that it’s going to be Marea, so they bundle her into a sack and pop up onto the doorstep of the castle. When she’s taken out of the sack, she’s confronted by monsters who pop her into a bell jar and begin doing terrible things. She manages to survive that part, but more and more horrible things happen.

I loved the story. Aria managed to put a lot of different layers in it and to leave you wondering what’s going to come next. I wasn’t sure what Marea was going to do when she got stuck with horrible choices. When your choices break down into a handful of shit or a bigger handful of shit, there’s not really any good choice for you to make. I’m pretty sure that Marea would’ve been happy if handfuls of shit had been her choice.

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I love the dichotomy of the castle boys and the mirror boys. It was really interesting to see. I’m not sure if it made it any easier for Marea or not. I mean, she had someplace to escape to, but when she came back to the castle, she had something terrible to deal with. I would think that each time she was able to go to the mirror, it would make coming back so much worse.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go read it, but make sure you have a comfy blankie with you while you do.

Alta Hensley & Zoe Blake-Red & the Wolves

Alta and Zoe have released Red and the Wolves, the second book of their 3 RH dark romance fairy tales. These are not fairy tales to read to your children. In fact, you might not even want to read them around your children. The steam rising off your Kindle might cause them some concern.

So, are you can probably guess, Red is the reimaging of Little Red Riding Hood. Only when the Big Bad Wolf wants to eat Red, he’s not thinking about dinner. And it’s more like Big Bad Wolves, 5 of them, and they all have designs on Red.

The village where Red is born and grows up is surrounded by a tall wall and thick forest. In that forest, there are 5 magical wolves. Back in the day, 500 years ago, the village elders used magic to create the wolves from some of the villagers. They were needed so that they could fight the darkness that threatened everyone. Every so often, the Blood Moon rises, and when the Blood Moon rises, the village sacrifices a villager to the wolves.

Red’s grandmother is a village elder. Too bad it had never been any kind of bonus for her. Her grandmother, the evil old hag, hated Red’s father and since her mother died at birth, it fell on the hag to raise Red. She made sure that not only did Red know how worthless to everyone she is, she also made sure that the village made her an outcast. It doesn’t help that Red stands out because of her very red hair either.

When the Blood Moon rises, the elders say that it’s time for a sacrifice. All the other sacrifices have been chosen from the oldest unmarried males in each household. This time, the hag manages to push through a change, it’s the oldest unmarried person from each household. In this case, Red would be in the group and is the only woman there. And we can guess what’s going to happen, otherwise, this would’ve been a really short book.

Red gets turned out of the village and is left to the tender mercies of the wolves, named Canis, Beo, Grimm, Rood, and Helm. Or, are they men?

OK, it’s time. I love, love, love the names of the guys. I picked up some of the references with the names, but I don’t know if all of them have some kind of significance. I love the books that do that. I love the books that don’t. I love the books. I just think it adds in an extra layer of fun to have various names of characters referring back to other things. Red is a very strong character and is willing to stand up for what she believes in, in my opinion. She doesn’t always listen well, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? The guys are very strict and very intense. There is some heavy dubcon going on here, IMO, at least at first. The book is swelteringly hot, with all the good stuff going on. Each of the guys has a distinct personality, and it’s interesting to get to know them. We also get a peek at Snow White and her guys.

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I love that Red wants to let the people of her village know the truth. The guys deserve to have the truth known. After all, theirs was the true sacrifice.

I wonder if they were to have babies, would they be able to shift back and forth from human to wolf? That would be such an awesome start to a werewolf legend.

OK, go check this one out. Happy reading!

Stella Moore-Cassandra’s Curse

We had Stella Moore on here not too long ago. And here she is again. However, this time, Stella has given us a different genre with a paranormal romance filled with love, romance, and spanking. So, let’s talk about Cassandra’s Curse.

This Cassandra, while Greek, has nothing to do with the Cassandra of Trojan fame, even though she was cursed too. Different woman, different curse. Our Cassandra was cursed many, many, many years ago by another immortal witch. Cassandra had stolen Iliana’s man away from her, so Iliana was going to make her pay by cursing her into an amulet until someone can manage to break the curse. Until then, she has to serve the man who owns the amulet, in whatever way he wants her to. She has been doing this for hundreds of years. Cassandra serves a man, and then is locked away in the amulet for a time, and then years later, someone else gets the amulet, and the cycle starts back over.

One day, Wyatt is wandering through an antique store, looking for the perfect present for his mom. Well, in this case the perfect present is the one she told him to pick up, a beautiful amulet from this particular shop. Wyatt haggles with the owner and buys the necklace for his mother. When he gets it to his house, he decides to take it out and look at it. Then a note falls out of the box. He reads the note, and poof, out pops Cassandra. She tells him that she’s a witch and has been cursed to the amulet and now she must serve him in whatever fashion he tells her to.

OK, it’s that time. This is a lovely story. There is some spanking, just enough to add some spice to the story. Cassandra and Wyatt work well together, and he’s good with teaching her how to handle the world that has changed since she was last out of the amulet in the 1860s. It’s an interesting story with a good premise and Stella gave me something that I really enjoyed.

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I was surprised when some of the people turned out to be the people that they were. It was a nice surprise and it worked out really well for the story.

I adore Wyatt’s mom, she’s a pretty awesome character and I’d love to see more with her, because why the hell not.

I’m hoping that we can get more stories about Wyatt and Cassandra, maybe just a quick novella catching us up on them?

Go check this out over on the Zon and tell me what you think! Happy reading!

Raisa Greywood-Wicked Deception

You know how I love to help out new and new-ish authors, right? If the author has done the hard work to write the words and been vulnerable enough to hit that publish button on Amazon, I’m going to do what I can to help them out. (Sidenote, leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for authors you like.) What does that have to do with today’s blog? Well, I’m more than happy to introduce you to Raisa Greywood, a new-ish author who is just getting started. Today, we’re talking about the first book in her Wicked Magic series, Wicked Deception.

So, WD starts out like a fairly typical Victorian-era romance. You have the young lady who is swept off her feet by a handsome lord who whisks her away to a life of wealth, comfort, and hot sex. But, that would be deceptive. Here’s what really happens.

Elizabeth is the daughter of a knight and has spent most of her life living in genteel poverty that’s slowly becoming more poverty and less genteel. She runs the house, avoids her father who is a prick, and tries to keep up on her own interests. She’s a very smart young woman, who reads Newton and Darwin. She’s also very much WYSIWYG. She’s blunt, honest, and not tactful at all. She’s terrible at small talk. She’s loyal to her friends, even though they probably want to strangle her on a frequent basis. I like her. If I were her friend, I would want to strangle her. She’s also determined, strong, and stubborn.

One day, Elizabeth’s father called her down to his study where he introduces her to Richard, Earl of Shepton. She’s promptly told that she will be marrying him in the morning. She’s actually kind of happy about that because that means she’ll be getting away from her father. Still, she’s about to get married to a man who she has met for all of 5 minutes. And when he is late for their wedding the next day, she’s worried.

As soon as she can escape from her father’s house after the wedding, she does. Now, Elizabeth is an interesting character. I really did like her. But, she’s a mix of OK, I’m married now and OMG, I’m alone with a man and he’s my husband and WTF happens now? And keep in mind, they barely know each other and they’ve had to have a special license to get married so quickly.

When they eventually get to their house, there are some fun sexy times. I loved the bathtub. And things are… OK for a while. Elizabeth knows that she will probably have to share her husband with his mistress, especially when he calls her Angeline while they are having sex. Then, Angeline shows up.

Angeline is a shady, sneaky bitch. I didn’t like her at all. And when Richard was around her, he turned ugly. She fed all kinds of nasty impulses in him. But for some reason, Elizabeth liked everything that happened, appeared to be a willing participant, and did what she could to please Richard and Angeline, even when she heard a little voice in her head try to tell her all these things weren’t right.

Elizabeth’s stubbornness does serve her well, as does the strength of her character. She uses these things to her advantage when she has the chance to take charge of her own destiny. This really was a good story and I really did enjoy it. I’m dying to read the next one.

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I really want Amelia’s story at some point. I’m pretty sure she’s going to grow up to a true force to be reckoned with.

I love how Elizabeth handles Angeline. It took some out of the box thinking. And I do love how she handled Richard. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t going to pass up what she wanted just because of Richard feeling guilty.

All in all, quite a good story. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Lee Savino-Berserkers

So, yeah, I may or may not have reviewed one or two of Lee’s books here. (Spoiler, definitely did, and more than 2). This time I’m looking at one of her series, or maybe it’s two series, or one total series with two branches. Enh, doesn’t really matter how it’s classified, it’s all about Berserkers anyway.

Way back when, the Vikings had berserker warriors. When these guys went into battle, they were in a kind of trance. They would go into battle without any kind of armor and no one was safe from them and their frenzied fury. There are stories in the various sagas of the berserkers turning into animals during the battle.

Lee has taken the stories and legends of the berserker warriors and turned it into a great set of paranormal romances.

Here’s the basic story. Many years ago, a Viking king wanted to have the best warriors possible. To do that, he had a witch cast a spell over some of his men. The spell that she cast over them turned them into wolves. They also ended up with a 3rd form, the beast. The beast is the berserker form of the Berserkers. When they are in that form, they will rage and kill everyone and everything that is in their view. As they get older, it’s easier for them to fall into being the beast. In order to fight the beast as much as possible, the Berserkers have formed warrior bonds to each other as pairs, inside the larger bonds of the pack. As a pack, they are all connected to each other and they can talk to each other inside their heads. Warriors who have bonded as brothers have a deeper bond and can talk to each other in their heads.

The Berserkers were given information by a witch that if they found a mate, they would be able to control the beast. They were also told what women to look for. The women are called spaewives.

For grins and giggles, I looked up the word spaewives as I was writing this. I wondered if Lee made up the word or not. The word is real, it comes from Scotland and primarily means a prophetess, witch, or fortune teller. Lee also describes them as hedge witches, so that works out well. Makes sense that it comes from Scotland since the stories take place in Alba, which is ancient Scotland.

At the beginning of the Berserker Saga, there are 2 packs. Each pack is ruled by bonded pair of warriors, who are the Alphas. One of the pair is more Alpha than the other. One pack is lead by Samuel and Daegan and the other is ruled by Ragnvald and Maddox. Protip: Hit that link and read the whole saga all at once because there are also bonus extras in it.

The spaewives in the first 5 books are a set of sisters. Brenna, Sabine, Muriel, and Fleur. The sisters have their books in that order. Brenna was attacked by a wolf years before and cannot really speak. Sabine has some skill as a healer.  Muriel and Fleur are twin sisters.

Alright, each sister gets their mate, but that leaves a whole lot of Berserkers without any mates. Because their Alphas are under control, the rest of the pack are more under control, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need their own mates. Luckily, or maybe not quite so luckily, in Fleur’s story, a convent full of spaewives is found, and all the Berserkers go raid it to get their own mates, which leads to the Berserker Brides series.

In Fleur’s story, we get to find out about that convent because she is chased by the grey men who are minions of the Corpse King, the uber-bad guy. He has been taking the spaewives as necessary to power him up.

The Berserker Bride storyline is all about the various Berserkers getting their brides and fighting for them. Each story has its own HEA, but they are all connected together in a broader sense. I, personally, wouldn’t read any of these books as a stand-alone, and especially not the newest one, Berserker Babies, which is a small look into the lives of the sisters and where they are standing as the fight against the big bad progresses.

I would suggest that you go read them, starting with the box set and go through the Berserker Brides. They are all pretty quick, easy reads, with some seriously hot wolf shifters. The women are all very strong characters in their own right, and nothing causes that to change. They are still strong women even when they are submitting to their mates. The majority of the books are menages, with Fleur’s book having 3 guys, and the first Berserker Bride book only having 1. I reread them fairly often when I’m looking for something that is hot, quick, and dirty. So, go check them out!

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Haven Handel-Princess of the Pack

Haven Handel is a pen name for Shanna Handel. She’s writing paranormal romance under this name. Of course, just because she’s writing in a new genre with a new pen name doesn’t mean that she got rid of the spanking and domestic discipline that go along with her other books.

In Princess of the Pack, we meet a new cast of characters. There’s Cassandra and Deo, her husband, and all of his family. Deo’s family are interesting, but we’ll get to them later. Right now all you need to know is that they are Greek and they all look like they stepped down off Mount Olympus.

So, Cassandra and Deo have been married for 10 years. In fact, the story starts out the day before their 10th wedding anniversary. However, in the past few months, their marriage hasn’t been good. They have been fighting and arguing and just pulling away from each other, in general. During a big argument that night, Cassandra tells Deo that she is leaving. It’s that exact point in time when everything changes. Deo tells her to go to his office, tells her to get undressed, and then takes her over his knee, after she laughed in his face, which meant she got spanked even worse.

The next day she goes to work late, so she wouldn’t have to sit down at her meeting, and tells her friend Cynthia what happens. Then she goes out to lunch with her friend Andrew, when Deo shows up. Bye-bye Andrew. When she gets back from lunch, another Greek god looking dude, Baal, is waiting in her office and tells her that Deo sent her and she needs to leave.

OK, this is a good place to mention all the names of the hot guys. Whenever anyone meets them, they always tell the new person what their name is and what it means. Deo means godlike. Baal is short for Balthazar, meaning protect the king, he’s Deo’s couisn. Alekos is Deo’s brother, and his name means defender of mankind. Draco, another cousin, means the dragon. Xander, yet another relative, means protector. Then there was Cassandra, who was an unheeded prophetess.

Here is where the paranormal bit comes in. When Baal and Draco get Cassandra to Deo at the castle, he starts to tell her what’s the what. Turns out he and his family are shifters who have to fight against dark spirits. They are all wolves, but Draco has a second, more powerful, form. Gee, guess what it is? Not that we see it in this book, but we will, I’m sure.

Alright, here’s where you choose which path to follow, my little ducklings. There is spanking and romance. Not so much sex, and not a whole lot of bad language. Shanna/Haven writes rather tame stories, sex-wise, but very entertaining otherwise, so I’m not complaining in any way. I enjoy reading them. Shanna came up with a good premise in this and an interesting way to turn the people into wolves, which is a way I’ve not heard of before, and I’ve read a lot of paranormal and UF, so that was exciting.

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OK, so here’s how they become shifters. You know, in most stories, they are bitten or they are born to be a shifter. In this one, Deo’s family was cursed many, many, many years ago. Now, when the men make a sacred vow, whoosh, the curse activates and they turn into shifters. Until they do that vow, they have no clue what’s going. So, when Deo married Cassandra, he made that vow, and he found out about the curse and was able to turn into a wolf.

There are always dark spirits around, but they multiply when vows and promises get broken, and they like to attack a lot more people when that happens.

I like that Cassandra stays a strong woman even after her husband starts with his domestic discipline. She’s a high powered lawyer outside of their marriage and is pretty Alpha herself, so Shanna did really well not letting that part of Cassandra disappear. Sadly, it earns her a lot of punishment, but you know, this happens. But, Cassandra also gets to be a BAMF and a kickass fighter, which is good.

Outside of telling you to go check this out, I think I’ve said quite enough. It’s a fairly short story, which is amazing that I was able to talk this much about it, and it’s a great start to a new series in an interesting world.