Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00
The Vamp Man Slade Johnson raids the research lab of scientist Jane Frederickson. He takes her prisoner as he believes she can save his people especially his dying nephew. Slade escorts Jane to his home Sanctuary where he and the other Renegades live.
Jane is shocked to realize Slade, a a technological genius is her intellectual equal and her sexual fantasy. Slade is stunned when he realizes Dr. Jane may be the savior of his people, but she is also his Mate. As they fall in love, she makes him promise not to convert her; as she has issues involving her stepfather and he has issues with what their relationship can do to her physically and to him emotionally. Finally there is her formula that everyone wants.
The latest Shadow Wranglers ranch romantic fantasy (see Jace, Jared and Caleb) is an engaging tale starring two geniuses falling in love. The irony of the story line is neither of the brilliant pair knows what to do with being each other’s Mate. The exciting somewhat thin story line contains an insightful relationship drama inside an action-packed plot; as the lab rivals the boudoir for dominance.
Touch of Power
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, Dec 20 2011, $14.95
The plague spread across the Fifteen Realms killing many people as the once adulated healers failed to prevent the pandemic. Raging at their plight, people held the healers culpable; some leaders accused them of causing the deadly disease. Healing became outlawed and healers are hunted and executed.
The last breathing healer Avry of Kazan used her power to save a dying toddler as she could not stop herself from interceding. However, her reward was being turned in to the law for execution by villagers collecting the gold bounty placed on healers. Kerrick of Alga and his men free Avry, as he believes the people need her skill while the royal leaders battle with one another for power.
Touch of Power is the exciting opening act of Maria V. Snyder’s latest fantasy (see the author’s “Study” and Glass” trilogies). The world-building is superb with class distinctions; while the political machinations by the aristocracy are insightful as the upper crust seek power and wealth while using healers as scapegoats for their failures when it comes to the plight of their subjects. Kerrick is somewhat stereotypical of the genre as a charismatic caring roguish hero. However, this is Avry’s saga as the last healer who cannot stop herself from deploying her skills though she knows the cost. The romance between them is somewhat muted as both know the objective is to help the people so their desire for one another takes a back seat in an engaging fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Pocket, Nov 29 2011, $7.99
Jayne Heller realizes her recent victories against more powerful paranormal creatures (see Darker Angels and Vicious Grace) is improbably at best and impossible at most likely. She considers why she has such powers that she adeptly deploys in spite of only recently learning her affluent uncle’s occultism.
Jayne believes a rider demon possesses her, in which a second rider effect is kicking butt. Needing help, Jayne turns to Ex the former priest who she trusts with her soul; that is if she still has a soul. Agreeing with her assertion, Ex knows the rider must be removed before his friend loses everything. In New Mexico, he takes Jayne on a journey to locate his teacher and his friends so they can exorcise the rider before it’s too late. However, when the rite failed, Jayne finds her friends hunting her to kill her and the demon while another rider is nearby ready to take control if her current demon is removed from her. Realistically Jayne knows her only comrades in arms are the beast inside her and a vampiric exile she saved.
The latest Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy is a gothic atmospheric introspective thriller in which the heroine has less fights and more time looking inside her soul. Jayne is terrific as she fears an evil rider owns her. Although the action is somewhat abated especially compared to the previous entries, fans will enjoy It Happened to Jayne.in a creative and tantalizing urban fantasy thriller. Harriet Klausner
Shaedes of Gray
Signet, Dec 6 2011, $7.99
A hundred years ago, her husband abused Darian. Her lover Azriel the immortal Shaede changes Darian into the gray shadowy walker that he is and informs her they are the last two of their species. He vanishes without a trace.
Feeling “Alone Again (Naturally)” (by Gilbert O’Sullivan) Darian becomes a skilled assassin whose current handler is Tyler. However her latest assignment stuns Darian as a key premise that she believed in for the past century proves false. Her kill target is King Xander Peck ruler of the Shaede Nation. Darian is caught in the crosshairs of supernatural combat as she carries out her task to assassinate the monarch while wondering what other transgressions her creator told her.
The first Shaede Assassin is an excellent urban fantasy starring a strong survivor. Intrepid Darian holds the exciting story line together as she learns the truth about the existence of the Shaede nation and tries to find out why Azriel lied to her and deserted her to her own wiles. Fast-paced, readers will believe in the existence of Shaedes of Gray as Darian professionally goes about completing her mission. Harriet Klausner