K Teen/Dafina, Dec 27 2011, $9.95
Samara Marshall goes to school and works at Buncha Books. She likes working there, but cannot understand why women make fools of themselves over the music department assistant manager Caleb Baker, the man with the "intense violet eyes’" whom females have heart attacks over. Her weekend partner exchange student Nadine Petrovsky has the same effect on men.
Caleb is attracted to Samara who somehow resists his lure. At a seniors’ party, Samara serves as referee to her BFF Mia and her boyfriend Dougie, and chaperone to her younger friend Alicia the sophomore who should not be at the party but came with Garrett. When Samara sees Garret on top of Alicia, she kicks him in the face. When he recovers he calls her a name and attacks Samara. Raging Caleb kills the serial rapist. Caleb admits that he is a Cambion, whose body possesses two souls; that of his own and an incubus who lures women to dine on their essence.
This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy with a strong cast especially at the bookstore, who affirms Virginia is for lovers. The story line starts off fast as the audience meets the cast; but slows down in the middle with the moral heroine taming the beast; before accelerating with a tense finish involving Samara’s family. Although the first Cambion Chronicles at times especially in the middle section focuses too much on values that seem demeaning dumbed down, young teen readers will enjoy meeting the strange crew at Buncha Books. Harriet Klausner
Zebra, Dec 1 2011, $7.99
In 1762 Earl of Whitney James Shelbourne is a blue blood Hellraiser as he, like his four friends, loves the thrill of a high stake risk in which the ante is him. Whit visits a Romany camp where he meets intriguing mysterious Zora Grey, an adept card player. Used to always winning even against insurmountable odds, Whit loses to his skilled opponent while being distracted by her hands working the cards rather than his fantasy.
Attracted to James, Zora knows she must help her beloved overcome the devil deal he and the other Hellraisers made in which they gave away their respective souls to obtain their heart’s desire. As they fall in love, Whit realizes the paradox of Zora being his heart’s desire but if they overcome the pact he fears she will no longer be his heart’s desire; however he also knows if he fails to fight back, he loses her anyway and evil will be even further entrenched in the mortal plane.
The first Hellraisers Georgian romance is a terrific tale paradoxical Faustian thriller starring a bad boy hero who sold himself to the devil and the tough passionate female who prays she can rescue his soul though his heart. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening piquet game of cards to the final confrontation as love may not be enough even with a Friend and Lover to Reach Out Of The Darkness. Harriet Klausner
Bound by Darkness
Zebra, Dec 1 2011, $7.99
The recent death of malevolent Morgana le Fey has freed the Sylvermyst from the evil one who enslaved and tortured them. However used to being liberated to make decisions, the clan reacts differently. Prince Ariyal will do anything to keep the Dark Lord from finding a new vessel to return to while Tearloch insanely obsesses over bring back their former master. He kidnaps a baby that will serve as the vessel for a mage to perform the rite of passage. Ariyal plans to kill the innocent infant so that the Dark Lord cannot return.
The Commission assigns vampire warrior Jaelyn to capture Ariyal to take to the Oracles and to protect the baby. However he stuns her when he takes her prisoner instead; he takes her to the Avalon. As an Oracle proclaims they must work together to prevent global destruction, he asks her to assist him in hunting down his rogue kin controlled by evil.
The latest Guardians of Eternity romantic fantasy (see Devoured by Darkness) is an excellent entry; starring two intrepid souls who are natural enemies though share the bond of love. The storyline is action-packed but driven by the lead couple who go from antagonists to protagonists as their respective missions intertwine on an increasingly deadlier wider scale. Bound by Darkness is a strong thriller. Harriet Klausner
The Demon Lover
Ballantine, Dec 27 2011, $15.00
Dr. Cailleach “Callie” McFay feels her lifelong love of gothic literature and folklore has come together with her recently published "The Sex Lives of the Demon Lovers" and her accepting an instructor’s position at Fairwick College. She was hesitant about accepting the job of teaching folklore until she saw Honeysuckle House. The Victorian seemed to whisper her name so she bought the home and took the position.
The house once belonged to historical romance writer Dahlia LaMotte. Her notes, journals and unpublished books can be read by Callie, but must never leave the premises. Each night Callie dreams of a shadowy male having sex with her; each morning she wakes up sexually satiated. Though she knows something is not right with these nocturnal fantasies and LaMotte’s writings affirm her belief, she begins to accept that she has a Demon Lover; of whom she obsesses over in spite of this incubus draining her life essence.
Demon Lover is a strong urban romantic fantasy starring an intrepid heroine who uses her intelligence to fight for her life. The storyline is fast-paced yet ensures that the witches and other paranormal residents of the town of Fairwick seem real. Readers will relish the entertaining tale of the professor and the incubus. Harriet Klausner