Lora Leigh, Michelle Rowen, Jory Strong and Ava Gray
Berkley, Feb 1 2011, $15.00
“Bleeding Heart” by Michelle Rowen. Dhampyre Declan Reyes vows to keep safe purebred human Jillian Conrad in spite of their attraction to each other. He knows only her death can bring them together. This is an entertaining direct follow-up to Nightshade.
“Skin & Bone” by Ava Gray. In a remote part of Ecuador that keeps him off the grid after five years of torture and imprisonment to reveal his gift, Silas rescues American expatriate Juneau Bright from the rubble of an earthquake. Though he fears betrayal and returning in to the grid, he finds himself thinking of a second chance at life with his new “partner”. This is an exciting direct follow-up to Skin Tight.
“Angel-Claimed” by Jory Strong. In California, Addai the angel knows he must forget Sajia, but cannot. Sajia the Djinn knows she must forget Addai, but cannot. Their love is considered taboo and unnatural since djinn and angels have warred for eternity, yet each prays for the safety of the other. This is an enjoyable return to the post-apocalyptic world of Spider-Touched and Ghostland.
“Primal Kiss” by Lora Leigh. A good girl all her life got Kita Claire Engalls is betrayed by her loved ones. Now she has met bad boy Wolf Breed security specialist Creed Raines and knows she loves him. However, she fears her beloved will be like her family by betraying her love. This is an exhilarating Breed thriller.
All four tales are well-written fun that overall will satisfy series fans, but the novella format limits character development; trademarks of the contributing authors in their romantic fantasy novels. Harriet Klausner
Mira, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
Somewhere in Ohio, Graf McDonald is on his way to a party, but in spite of GPS he is totally lost. Smoking a cigarette, the vampire sees a light and heads to it. When no one responds to his knocks he shouts at whoever is inside. Twentyish Jessa tells him to shut up and drive as It is coming.
Graf is confused thinking maybe he entered an isolated Amish community though unsure what caused a part of a roof to fly at his car. He learns he is in Penance, Ohio as the first outsider to enter in five years as It does not allow anyone to enter or exit. Supplies are extremely low and the townsfolk are panicking. Now he cannot leave either. Though neither Graf nor Jessa trust each other, they need each other to survive; and not just from It.
This engaging romantic horror fantasy stars a hedonistic vampire and a desperate country girl inside a town with no pity run by a monster. The lead couple is terrific as he cares not one iota about others except as a blood bank or a place to hide from the sun; thus his transformation to caring in love feels off kilter and detracts from his self-indulgence. On the other hand Jennifer Armintrout cleverly reveals clues about It over the course of the story line that has readers wanting to know what it is. Although the romantic subplot feels more like a sub-genre requirement, readers will enjoy the tale of an American Vampire trapped in the Heartland. Harriet Klausner
DAW, Jan 4 2011, $25.95
In the Essaylieyan Empire capital, Averalaan, Jewel “Jay” MarkessA has survived being an orphan in the slums thanks in part to her “mentor” Old Rath the demon slayer who taught her how to live off the treasures beneath the mean surface streets. She has formed a den of discarded children in Rath’s home and struggles to feed her charges; but her life and that of her pups appeared to improve when the most powerful of the Essaylieyan Empire ruling Houses, Terafin take Jewel and her den rats under their protection with the stipulation she must pay the price.
Jewel proves her worth when she prevented a demonic assassination of the Terafin ruler. That proves easy compared to what the House leaders assign her next. With demon kin planning something deadly, they order her to escort their mages on the magical pathways into the hidden Undercity where the demons reside. Initially Jewel assumed this is easy thanks to her relationship with Rath, but each portal vanishes just before Jewel reaches them. Jewel fears that her den will be deported back to the slums. The visions she sees adds to Jewel’s feelings of hopelessness when failure is not an option, but success seems impossible as she expects the improbable of an all out demon kin assault on the House of Terafin, but does not know how to prevent what seems inevitable.
The third book of the House Wars saga is an exciting entry that continues to tell the events of the Sun Sword epic from the primary perspective of Jewel. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, but lacks the freshness of the first two tales especially The Hidden City; as fans of Michelle West will sense déjà vu. Still following the adventures of Jewel remains a delight. Harriet Klausner
Roc, Mar 1 2011, $25.95
"Winsol Gifts”. The Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince of Dhelan Daemon Sadi prepares for the gala celebrating his first anniversary with his spouse Jaenelle the Witch Queen; as family and friends arrive.
"Shades of Honor”. Daemon’s brother Prince Lucivar Yaslana struggles to escape a traitor’s trap at a time when Surreal of Ebon Rich learns her former lover Prince Faloner claims he is the ruler.
"Family”. The vicious warlord No Face threatens the lives of Queen Sylvia and her sons Beron and Mikal.
"The High Lord's Daughter". Daemon has lost his heart and soul with the deaths of his beloved wife and father Saetan. As the High Lord of Hell he meets and marries Surreal, and they have a daughter named after his late first spouse. However, the two women in his life may not be enough to get over his broken heart.
This is a super Black Jewels dark fantasy anthology containing four strong entries due to Anne Bishop’s ability to make her characters seem real as life is a struggle from birth to death, but joyfully with loved ones at your side. Harriet Klausner