Lee Savino-Bonded to the Berserkers

(I’m writing this part before I’ve even finished the book. I’m 70% done right now, just getting the post started. I swear I’ll finish it before I write more. It’s really good.)

So, Lee Savino has brought us a new entry to her Berserker series, Bonded to the Berserkers. There are a whole lot of books before this one. They really aren’t standalone, you do need to read the whole series before you get to this one. Luckily, they are pretty quick reads, so go get up on that.

So, I’ve finished now, so yay, back to the Berserkers.

OK, backstory of the Berserkers. The stories take place in the Viking era. The Berserkers are all Vikings or Celts who were going to go fight for a jarl, who wanted to make sure he got the best warriors possible. So, the last 100 standing he had turned into werewolves. The Berserkers had three forms, man, wolf, and beast. The beast is a mindless hybrid. While the beasts give them some awesome power in battle, the problem is that they slowly go mad from having it inside of them. The Berserkers need to have mates in order to keep them stable, but the problem is that they searched for many years with no luck and the men started to despair. Finally, they discovered that there were women who could mate with them. Those women had their own magic and were called spaewives.

The first spaewives were 4 sisters, and were the first Berserker books. Now, we have a whole abbey full of spaewives, and they are in the Berserker Brides books. I’m going to say right now that I love all of these books, including this one. It’s a good series, a nice balance of sex, violence, spanking, and plot. However, my very favorite is Kidnapped by the Berserkers. There’s so much pain in it, but it’s so beautiful. But, back to Bonded.

Bonded is the story of Laurel, Haakon, and Ulf. Note, the majority of the Bersker books are MFM menages. Laurel is the cook at the abbey, and when the Berserkers come to raid the abbey to get all the orphaned spaewives, she holds off Haakon and Ulf for a moment with pots and pans, and a huge cauldron of cabbage soup. That doesn’t stop them for very long and Haakon grabs Laurel, tosses her over his shoulder, and away they go.

Haakon and Ulf have a warrior brothers’ bond, which means they can communicate mentally, and the same woman will be the mate for both of them. Ulf went through a fire and half of his face is burned, so he thinks he’s too ugly for a mate. Haakon is the more easy going of the two.

While they are trying to get away from the Corpse King, Laurel tries to run away. Haakon has gone off to try and find a different path and Ulf scares Laurel. When she runs away, she runs to the edge of a cliff and falls over.  Haakon catches her and breaks her fall by breaking himself, badly.

Ok, so we all know what time it is. If you don’t want to risk any spoilers, then this is the place to end for you. If you haven’t taken a look at this series at any point, I recommend you do so. It’s full of very hot Alpha guys and strong women. Yes, the women end up submitting to their mates, but they aren’t weak-willed women. They are fighters and strong in their own right. The women claim their mates as much as the men do. They are lovely stories, and each one has its own HEA. The series does build from one book to the next, so I truly recommend you start from the beginning if you haven’t read it.

woman and wolves

Alright, now that it’s just us, I can let my hair down and talk about the good stuff.

Laurel is tough, she really is. She is willing to fight for Haakon when Ulf has to lure the Grey Men away and Haakon, still injured, is left alone. She wants to keep her men safe, just like they’ve done what they can to keep her safe. Ulf literally walks through fire for her.

Ulf did make me mad. Not at all his he’s too ugly for a mate shit, but for the fact that he dumped Laurel in the unmated women’s quarters. I just wanted to smack him for that. He does make up for it, but still, I got mad.

Lee always comes up with some hot punishments, and she didn’t miss her mark here. I loved the final punishment and the one that Ulf does with the frame. I may or may not have highlighted that section for… later use. It was nice to get a check in with some of the other spaewives. It’s not a whole huge followup, but they were friends with Laurel, so it makes sense to have a little check in.

I love Lee’s books, and I love the way she writes her characters. One of my favorite things about this book is how much of a boob man Haakon is. Literally, he talks to Laurel’s bosom at one point. He’s obsessed.

Anyway, excellent book, excellent series, can’t wait for the next one! Check it out, and happy reading!

Imagine my ARC disclaimer here.

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Kate Daniels Reread pt. 2

My next-to-last post was all about the world of Kate Daniels and such. Today we’re actually going to get into the books. I’ve read the first three, but this review may or may not talk about all three. From now on, the reviews will just be about one book at a time. I just got ahead in my reading. So, without further ado, let’s start reviewing!

Magic Bites

Magic Bites is the first book in the series. In it, we are introduced to Kate, a merc. She’s sitting in her house in Savannah, GA, drinking when a vampire shows up to ask if she’s talked to her guardian lately. Ghastek was the one who was navigating the vampire. He and Kate are going to have an interesting relationship over the series, so remember his name.

She rushes to Atlanta to find that Greg Feldman, the man who was her guardian after her father died, has been gruesomely murdered. He was the resident Knight-Diviner for the local chapter of The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid. The Order is kind of like modern day Templars, only slightly less merciful. They will provide mercy, but sometimes that mercy is provided at the edge of a sword. The Order was founded right after the tech fell and the shift started. It is very regimented. Greg did get Kate into the Order’s Academy, and she tested out at electrum level, which is the highest you can go, and there have only ever been like 8. However, she walked out and became a merc, which drove a wedge in between her and Greg. There will be more about the Order in reviews to come. Anyway, she goes to the head of the local chapter of the Order to get help and ends up with permission to work with them to find Greg’s killer.

On the way to the solution, she goes to the morgue and meets Crest. She goes to Unicorn Lane and meets Curran, greeting him by saying “Here, kitty, kitty.” She goes to the Keep and meets Derek Gaunt, faithful, teenage, werewolf sidekick. And she goes to the Casino and has to talk to Nataraja. More to come in the spoiler section.

Magic Burns

In Magic Burns, a seven-year flare is coming. A flare is several days when the magic is extremely high. It’s a high peak of magic that plateaus during that time. Saiman, Kate’s magical expert, metamorph, and deviant extraordinaire, calls it the time of the gods. And he’s not wrong. During the flare, shifters have a hard time controlling themselves, Navigators have a harder time controlling their vampires, and magic users and magical people, like Kate, get a huge power boost.

This book starts out with Kate doing a merc job partnering Jim, a were-jaguar and the chief of security for the Pack. They are trying to track down a madman with a salamander. A salamander is a magical creature that starts fire. Just as Jim and Kate catch their firebug, he gets shot with a mysterious black arrow. Then Jim gets paged by someone in the Pack and has to leave. Remember, with the Pack, it’s us against them, and for Jim, he will drop everything when the Pack calls. He’s the Alpha cat and the security chief, so he’s super-duper responsible.

Later, Derek comes to ask Kate for help because someone has stolen maps from the Pack. Their maps are uber-accurate, and highly sought after. This person poofed in, grabbed the maps, and poofed out. While she was trying to figure out how to help with the maps, she runs across a street shaman named Red who had helped her a little bit in the last book, and his girlfriend, Julie. Julie’s mom is missing and Red tells Kate to take care of her. More in the spoiler section.

Magic Strikes

Magic Strikes starts out a few months after the flare. Kate is headed home from her job at the Order. She runs across Jim and some other shifters picking up a dead body. She offers them help, Jim turns her down. When she gets home, she gets a call from Saiman, telling her to come pick up something of hers. It turns out it’s Derek, who has snuck into his apartment to steal some tickets to the Midnight Games. The Games are an underground fighting tournament. In it, teams go into the Pit and fight each other. Derek has been working undercover in the Games and has found a young woman he’s trying to help, Livvie. That’s why he wants the tickets. Saiman extorts Kate into going to the Games with him, and Derek asks her to give Livvie a note from him. While this sounds like a minor little thing, it turns out to be pretty important.

So, we’ll leave it here until the spoiler section, which, as this is getting long, is going to actually show up tomorrow, I think. I don’t like to read long blog posts, so I don’t want to write them for people.

There is romance in the series, but there isn’t really any in the first books. Kate and Curran get a little kissy face going on, but nothing else really. It’s not until the fourth book that their romance really gets going. In these books they are still dancing around each other and kind of confrontational. Really, I think foreplay for them involves arguing and physically fighting with each other, in a sparring way, not in a bad way.

It’s a good series, well-written and enjoyable. The way the books work, they build on each other. Each book adds more to the characters and to the world, so there is always something new to find out. I really love that.

So, here is where this quick overview of books 1-3 ends, and we get ready for tomorrow’s post, which is going to be spoiler-iffic. And I’m going to leave you with this beautiful picture of a Barbary lion, just because.

TVCWAx9

33 Free Books

Everyone loves free books! Thirty-three authors have gotten together to offer up 33 free books!  The offer is good through the 12th, so check it out, especially if you like smexi romances.

The books include Born to Be Bound, the first book in Addison Cain’s Alpha’s Claim series, The Invitation by Jennifer Bene, who I love and it’s a book I enjoy, and Wicked Ways by Cari Silverwood. Cari is a new author to me, but I really enjoy her. She just put out a steampunk, dark erotica, science fiction story called Acquired Possession. (Check out my review!)

There are also other authors I enjoy, Skye Warren, Maren Smith, Maggie Ryan, Alta Hensley, Lee Savino, and Meredith O’Reilly. Honestly, I can personally recommend about 1/2 of the authors and their books, either because I have read them or have read other books by the various authors.

If you like your romance with a dash of spice (or maybe a little more than a dash), check out the giveaway.

 

The Alpha’s Punishment

For the next 4 days, the totally awesome Renee Rose is offering one of her novellas for absolutely free on Amazon. In The Alpha’s Punishment, Ashley learns what happens when she lies to her mate, an Alpha werewolf. It’s a nice introduction to Renee’s writing and a nice little story.

While you’re there checking out this story, you can always pre-order Royally Mine, an anthology with Renee and 21 other authors. It’s going to be packed full of thrills, chills, and bad boy royals.

My Top Ten Part 1

Everyone should have a top ten list. I actually have several. This one is my Top Ten darkest and most fucked up things I’ve read. The list changes around some and the order changes around. Number one is currently number one, but the order of other four in my top five can change around, depending on which one I’ve read recently. This post is going to be the five top stories. Next Tuesday will be part two with stories 6-10.

The Life of Anna

Seriously, when I say that LoA by Marissa Honeycutt is dark and fucked up, I might be understating it. The trigger warnings may need to have trigger warnings. I’ve talked to other people who read dark books and they rank this as their darkest read ever and considering some of the books we talk about, that’s saying a whole lot.

LoA takes place in an alternate universe. It’s still Earth but there are magical Immortals. Anna is part Immortal. The world is basically run by the BDSM version of the Masons. Two very, very, very bad men take advantage of Anna from a very young age. That’s because they know what she is and what she will be able to do at some point. They want to be able to control her and use her powers. There is one pretty good man who does what he can to save her. There is a lot of sex. There is some BDSM. There is also a lot of brutality towards Anna. It is a very intense read. I cried through huge swaths of it, and I had to take a break to read something else in the middle. The complete story is on KU, or you can buy the serialized version. But trust me when I say that it is dark, intense, sometimes brutal, and can be triggering. Marissa Honeycutt published a companion novella called Abandoned Grace, about Devin, the main bad guy in LoA, and I just found out today that she has a new one coming out on August 24! It’s in the same world, but not about Anna. It’s called Master of My Body: Finding Sabrina. I’ve already 1 clicked.

Monster

Remember how in my last post I said that I would be talking about Monster in this one? Well, here it is. Monster is a short from Hero Undercover. HU is an anthology by 25 authors, including Jennifer Bene and Addison Caine, who has a story in another anthology that is about to show up on this list. Now, the premise of this anthology is that there is a good guy, usually a cop, but not always, is undercover and rescues the heroine. There is often a lot of spanking involved, yum.

Anyway, telling the good guys from the bad guys isn’t always easy, especially when the good guy has been undercover for a long time. That’s what happens with Monster. Nikki walks into a situation that is way above what she can handle because she wants to save her brother. Andre wants her. Terrible things happen to Nikki.

This story just trips all my triggers in an oh, so good way. Jennifer manages to pack a whole lot of twisted shit into a little package. Everything that happens would be intense in a longer work, but in a short, you just don’t get a break from it, which is totally wow. Great story in a great anthology.

Nightmares in Wonderland

Nightmares in Wonderland is Addison Cain’s entry in The Dark Forest. DF is another anthology. In this one, several great authors get together to put their own spin on various fairy tales. Obviously, Addison took on Alice in Wonderland. OMFG, did she ever. Addison swims in the deep, dark, disturbing end of the pool right next to Jennifer Bene. In fact, it was through Addison that I found Jennifer, as well as some other dark authors like Kitty Thomas, who doesn’t show up on this list, but will show up on my blog sometime in the next few weeks.

Addison’s version of this particular story is disturbing. Deeply disturbing. Her Alice spends years unable to sleep and being basically tortured by nightly visitors. The only time she gets any peace is then the Hatter comes to visit. He guards her sleep. After years and years, her parents try to have her cured. This whole story is delightfully disturbing and dark.

Beast

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is written by A Zavarelli. If there was going to be a movie version of this book, I’m pretty sure that Emma Watson would turn down the role of Bella. Beast is really dark. It has capture and non-con themes.

Bella won a singing contest, and her manager is trying to get into her pants. Javier was trained by her father, who is now missing. Bella rushes home to deal with what’s going on with her father, but mysterious things start happening. She gets drawings and other things start showing up. She feels like she is being watched. And of course, you can probably guess what’s happening, she is, of course, being watched, by Javi.

Poor Javier, bad things happened to him as a child and then Bella’s dad takes advantage of the poor kid that is Javier. Javi hates her father for what he did. Frankly, I don’t blame Javi one bit for that. Her dad is a massive prick.

Anyway, Javi takes Bella, locks her up, and subjects her to a lot of things. However, this book isn’t necessarily about what happens here, but it’s about the light that can come from the darkness. For a book that starts as a non-con, it ends up with an HEA. Now I need to go read it again. Can’t recommend it enough.

Dare

Dare was a book that I read because one of the FB groups I’m in had a takeover by the author, James Crow. Of all the books on my list, most of which have some mind-fuck going on, this is the most mind-fuckingest. I will never, ever play truth or dare again. I’m pretty sure that my response was along the lines of what the fuck did I just read?

I don’t even know where to start describing this book. Pretty much anything I saw about it is a spoiler. Let’s just say it’s truth or dare to the Nth degree. The end was so not what I expected at all. I spent quite some time afterwards trying to figure it out. If you read it, you’ll understand why.  There is a lot of sex, and some (well, a lot of) drug use.

Anyway, these are the top five of my Top Ten. The second half will come out next Tuesday, or maybe earlier, I don’t know yet. Also coming next week, a blog post about urban fantasy, another very favorite genre.

Reminder, Jennifer Bene is offering her book, Security Binds Her, for free on Amazon right now, until 7/15. This is a great time to grab this book and get started reading her Thalia series. The last book just came out and it is a wonderful end to the series.