Doing better day by day. Still not reading much, but hopefully that will change soon.
Mark of the Rose
In 1537 lady-in-waiting to Queen Jane, Widow Verity Llewellyn is at Richmond Palace, the court of Henry VIII. She fears her Queen is dying, but her brother Jasper the Druid vampire slayer ridiculed her feelings. With him away healing from injuries, she protects the monarchs from rogue vampires. She sends a note asking for help from her excommunicated cousin Rosalind for help; because of her grandfather’s shunning of her relative, she sends it through mutual acquaintance Rhys Williams a slayer healing from a vampire ambush at Rosalind’s home. Neither pregnant Rosalind nor her husband Christopher Elias (see Kiss of the Rose for their story) can go as he must keep their special six year old son safe while she is growing.
Meanwhile Vampire Council representative at the King’s court Christopher’s brother Elias affirms to Verity the queen is dying. Rhys arrives at court to forge an alliance neither desires but explains to the tyro slayer that it is him or no one. To save the queen and the child she carries, they must uncover who is serendipitously drinking her royal blood. While hoping to not make obvious their sleuthing, they fall in love.
The latest Tudor Vampire Chronicles historical romance is a fabulous investigative thriller as the lead couple follow clues while also falling in love. As in the previous entries (see Blood of the Rose), the alternate Pearce world seems real as the author deftly creates a King Henry VIII realm filled with Druid slayers and vampires. Readers will enjoy this complex political deadly saga as Kate Pearce provides a taut sixteenth century whodunit. Harriet Klausner
My Soul to Take
Washington Square (Pocket), $13.00
In 2016 California, Clarion World Health Corporation public relations director John Wright persuades retired musical superstar Phoenix Smalls Harris (see Joplin’s Ghost) to let him in her house to talk. When he realizes she is alone he lectures her for allowing a stranger into her home. He explains his employer (Immortal) Fana Wolde wants the singer to heal the world through music rather than just the firm’s incredible drug Glow that comes from the blood of immortals. Whereas much of the world has legalized Glow’s use, the United States refuses claiming terrorist ties, but many insist the pharmaceutical industry thrives on the sick not the healthy.
A mother of a seven year old son, Phoenix agrees to perform as she still does a rare concert to raise money and awareness like she did for Haiti. She is willing because she knows people are suffering from the Praying Disease that Fana's fiancé, Michel deployed on an unsuspecting world. This Immortal believes humans must become extinct to fulfill the Book of Revelation’s Apocalypse. Only Fana and her Life Brothers can stop the Immortal she is destined to marry, but his kill rate far surpasses their heal rate.
The latest thought provoking African Immortals thriller (see Blood Colony and The Living Blood) is a powerful poignant tale as mortals with immortal allies battle for their existence with other immortals. The story line is globally loaded with action, but character driven by the key players as well as those caught in the crossfire. Readers will appreciate this tale with clever ties to Joplin’s Ghost as Tananarive Due will receive plenty of deserved accolades for her insightful exciting war of species cleansing in the name of God. Harriet Klausner
The Urban Fantasy Anthology
Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale (Editors)
The Urban Fantasy Anthology is divided into three sections: Mythic Fiction, Paranormal Romance and Noir Fantasy. Each contains an introduction essay defining the section and several stories.
In his essay on Mythical Fiction, Charles De Lint defines the category as having mythological and supernatural beings in modern day society. His entry “Make a Joyful Noise” stars a shapeshifting Native American spirit helping a depressed ghost. “On the Road to Egypt” by Jeffrey Ford has Jesus, smoking a camel, and a companion traveler stopping at MacDonald’s for a burger and shake.
Paula Guran defines Paranormal Romance as key characters possessing special powers; females typically kick butt. Suzy McKee Charnas’ “Boobs,” stars a teenage girl dealing with the changes of her body due to being a werewolf in puberty. “Farewell, My Zombie” by Francesca Lia Black’s protagonist opens with that Attitude when she asks what to call a female investigator if a male is called a private dick. Two lovers, one recently reanimated, star In “She’s My Witch” by Norman Partridge.
In defining Noir Fiction, Joe R, Lansdale states not to categorize tales as a “club”, but instead makes the case that the Noir is the link not the fantasy/paranormal background. His short contribution “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” stars a bounty hunter working with the reanimated dead.
The essays are interesting attempts to define three subcategories, but come across more like a Venn diagram. The collection includes nineteen reprints and one new tale ("Talking Back to the Moon” by Steven R. Boyett). The anthology is fun to read with no clinkers, but few are excellent; as Ms. Guran says novels are the prime method of Paranormal Romance. Harriet Klausner
Bound by Night
Drake the vampire purchased Wolfram Castle four centuries ago. Although he has modern devices like an IPOD and better facilities to stay at he never modernized the rundown castle; he comes here when he needs quiet time alone.
After her parents died, Elena Knightsbridge moved in with her Aunt Henrietta, her Uncle Alfred and her cousin Lucinda. Henrietta has since died and Lucinda eloped. She fears her uncle who has been caressing her and insists they marry as they are not blood related. Elena flees to the haunted castle as ghosts are better than her uncle. Elena falls asleep on the couch. Drake knows a human female is inside. He tastes Elena and decides her blood is sweet. While Alfred searches for his niece, Elena wakes up in a bed near naked. Later she meets Drake who invites her to stay. Elena asks Drake to marry her in name only and he accepts her proposal. His brother Stefan informs him their sire demands he return to the Fortress for the first time in centuries. Drake tells Elena she will be safe at the Fortress though he will be punished as vampires do not marry humans.
The Ashley vampire world is fascinating though with today’s social networking I have doubts a community of human sheep and drones could be hidden from society though one could argue cults do that very well. The lead couple is a solid pairing even with her being a victim of her uncle, her host, and her husband’s family. The support cast is excellent as the sheep are unsure what freedom is. Although the lead couple pulls several Houdini tricks to stay out of trouble too easily, readers will enjoy Bound by Night. Harriet Klausner