God Save the Queen

 I loved this book so much! Set in the modern world but with a twist; Victoria is still on the throne and is celebrating her 175th year, the aristocracy are vampires and werewolves with the lower classes being half breeds or humans.  Then there are goblins, a mutation of all the others.  The British Empire is still very much in effect except for the Americas and Canada which were conceded and of course, world history for the last 3 centuries is very different from our own.

Kate Locke managed to pack so much into God Save the Queen but it never felt too wordy or heavy on explanation as to how and why the world is at as it is.  Electricity, computers, cars, motorbikes and mobile phones are all present but are a bit different than what we know.  They are named in keeping with the setting and so well described, you could clearly envision it.  The genetic side was just brilliant, the evolution of vampires, werewolves and goblins, starting from the bubonic plague.  It was clearly laid out and a matter of fact part of life.

Our heroine is Alexandra Vardan, the half blooded daughter of an aristocrat and I absolutely love her.  She’s feisty, intelligent and loves her siblings to the point she would walk happily into danger for them. As a member of the Royal Guard, it’s her duty to protect the aristocracy but as her youngest sister goes missing, Xandra has to go against everything she has been taught, if she has a chance to find her.  What she finds is something that shocks her to her core and suddenly nothing is what it seems.

The pace of the book was exciting and fast but the few quieter periods were well timed and a much needed break for both reader and heroine!  The plot was just phenomenal, I loved it all.  I was actually sad when the book finished but only because I didn’t have the next one!  I also liked how the romantic scenes were not played out in full, it left a lot to the imagination and it suited the story perfectly.  And Vex, he is one sexy scottish wolf!

In terms of genre, I would put this book in Urban fantasy.  It does have the twist of steampunk but the setting and language are modern. I liked how words and phrases had carried on from Victoria but became more modern.  I am also stealing ‘hatters’!

God Save the Queen is a fantastic debut by Kate Locke and I highly recommend it!  A fresh and wonderful voice to Urban Fantasy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kate Locke
  • Series: The Immortal Empire (1)
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Red

I enjoyed this take on the red riding hood fairy tale, the premise that somewhere in Elodie Rose’s heritage was the woman who spawned the myth.  The book itself is a very sweet story of Elodie, a seventeen year old girl who just wants to be normal, but tragedy and a shocking truth divert the course of her life.  Her father, a man who would do anything to protect her from the curse that follows their family, drills and trains her to survive in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Sawyer is a young man who has his own family secrets and when Elodie comes to work on his father’s research project in the Park, he finds there is something irresistible about her; something that draws him to her but raises his suspicions.

Both characters are solid and likeable and work really well together.  You can believe their instant attraction and the struggle they have dealing with more than just the usual teenage hormones.  The intensity between them was well written, powerful and tasteful, leaving me and them just on this side of wanting more.

I liked the plot, that tragedy had followed Elodie’s family for generations and it was poignant that she believed she would succumb to it too.  The scenes in which she acts out her worst fears were especially emotional.  I enjoyed seeing Elodie’s confidence grow as she dealt with the more mundane bullies.   I also liked that she was willing to stand up for a new girl, it said a lot about her character.  The choice of ‘bad guy’ was good and made a lot of sense after the reveal, and it certainly had me fooled!

The pace was good and well judged, there were no moments where nothing happened, and there was always something pertinent to the story going on.

An enjoyable and engaging read in the Young Adult genre and Kait Nolan is an author I would like see more of.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kait Nolan
  • Format: Kindle
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Bound to Shadows

A beheaded vampire is found outside a Melbourne vampire club and an already testy Riley is sent in to investigate.  As the body count starts rising, Riley has her work cut out for her to find out who, or what, is behind the murders.  With civilities between the local vampire and human population breaking down it’s only a matter of time before violence breaks out.  Dante Starke, the owner of the club is a vampire with an aura that makes even a Guardian nervous, but Riley has to get answers.  Two human women are found dead in their beds, with no discernible cause of death and Riley feels there is somehow a link.  How or why is something she has to figure out, even with the distraction of her hated soul-mate Kye making a reappearance.

I’ve hugely enjoyed the previous books in the Riley Jenson Guardian series.  They are easy to read, exciting, erotic and action packed yet Bound to Shadows takes it to the next level.  The emotions inherent throughout the book seemed more real, more tangible.  Fear, rage, lust, love and sorrow and the latter is what got me in the end.  It made me cry.  Without spoiling anything, the big kick in the gut was something I knew might happen and something I knew had to happen but the way that whole section was written was just perfect, right to the last word.

Riley is definitely up there as one of my favourite urban fantasy heroines.  Conflicted often by her half-vampire, half-wolf soul, she tries to do the best she can for each but also stay true to herself.  She’s fierce in everything she does whether it’s loving or fighting and while diplomacy might not be her best trait, she achieves what she needs to sometimes at the cost of herself.  Brilliantly and consistently written.

I loved that we saw more of Quinn in this book and the bond that is between him and Riley.  They are a great foil for each other and while you learn more of his history and how powerful he can be, I sense that there is a lot more to come and it won’t necessarily sit well with Riley.

I still love the interactions with her twin brother Rhoan and his mate Liander, they make a great couple and the big question they ask Riley, something she never thought would be possible brought a tear to my eye.

I can’t really say much more (and I really want to!) without spoiling it so I will just say this; Bound to Shadows – Read it… just read it.

If you are new to the series then get started as this is book 8,  Find ‘Full Moon Rising’ and get going!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Keri Arthur
  • Series: Riley Jenson, Guardian (8)
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Silver Borne

Mercedes Thompson is one of the most exceptional mechanics in the Tri-Cities area.  She’s also a Coyote skinwalker but that was a birth thing rather than a career choice.  Raised by the local Werewolf pack whose Alpha is Bran, The Marrok gave her a pretty good idea of the differences between her own abilities and werewolves.   Now in love with the Tri-Cities Alpha Adam and part of his pack, she is still trying to come to terms with her earlier attack and also deal with resentment from other pack members that Adam brought her into it.  Add in a depressed, suicidal werewolf, a book about the Fae that it seems they will go to any lengths to retrieve and it all equals Mercy having another bad day.

This is the 5th book in the Mercy Thompson series and when I get some time (ha!) I really need to go back, re-read the others and review them as they truly deserve it.

Mercy is a character that I utterly love.  She’s sassy and bold yet has her insecurities and is well aware of her limitiations.  That doesn’t stop her pushing beyond them when those she loves are in danger however.  I love her Coyote character as well, very much Mercy but ‘other’ too.

The other major characters are just as fascinating.  Adam her pack Alpha and mate is a great strong and not so silent type and his interactions with Mercy can be downright hilarious.  Samuel, her roommate who is the Marrok’s son but a lone wolf so not part of the Tri-Cities pack.   He’s usually right up there with Adam but his role in this book is one of sadness.  I really felt for him when he made his decision but when his alter-ego Sam the Wolf took over there are quite a few moments that made me giggle.

The humour aside, this book also has its darker side – betrayal and scheming from those you don’t expect as well as the Fae being involved and after Mercy as they believe she has something of theirs that is powerful and utterly dangerous.  By the end I felt a bit of a nervous wreck but loved the way it turned out, even if not all of it was pleasant.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I cried for much loved Medea… twice.

A great addition to the series and leaves me hungry for more.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
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Hunting Ground

Following on from Cry Wolf, Anna is still coming to terms with her past and being married and mated to Charles.  She is now firmly established as Omega in the Pack and learning about her new status.  Bran as Marrok continues his plans of bringing the American Werewolves out into the public world.  He sends Charles and Anna to Seattle to meet with international Alphas to settle any concerns they might have and has the meeting arbitrated by one of the Fae.   The French Alpha, after provoking a fight ends up being murdered and all evidence seems to point to Charles.  Knowing he’s innocent, Anna sets out to discover who is responsible for both the murder and framing Charles.

I read this book straight after Cry Wolf and it was a very smooth transition, just sucked me right back in as if I hadn’t switched books.  The plot was a bit more complex this time but didn’t detract from the heart of the book, the characters of Anna and Charles.  Her growth from being a submissive victim to a more confident, loving and protective young woman has been really well done.  The development of her human side was well written, and the werewolf aspect almost secondary.  On the opposite side, seeing Charles becoming more relaxed, getting used to having a mate and having to be softer with Anna has been just as good.  Even with the bond they have as mates, communications still get mixed up and it can sometimes be amusing as they sort it out.

There are a lot more characters in this book than the last and it was interesting to see how Charles and Anna interacted with them all both as a couple and separately.  I didn’t predict the ending at all which surprised me, the clues I spotted led me in a completely different direction and I thought it was cleverly done.

It was a good second book, as easy to read as the first and I fell in love with Anna and Charles all over again.  I really hope there are more to follow!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
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Cry Wolf

For Anna being a werewolf was about pain, torment and submission.  Even after she was rescued by Charles, the Marrok’s enforcer, and claimed as his mate, she expected more of the same.   Finding it hard to believe not all werewolves were as sick and brutal as the ones she left behind, she reluctantly journeys to Montana with the wounded Charles and learns she is a special type of wolf – an Omega.  Neither submissive nor Alpha, she has the power to soothe the savage beast within others and as such should have been a much valued member of the pack.  Her wolf side was all for the mating with Charles but the human side is too scared to let go and trust another person, even the one she was meant to be with.

Anna and Charles first appeared as minor characters in the Mercy Thompson books and then had their own short story told in the ‘On the Prowl’ Anthology.  I’d read those and thought they were interesting characters and was happy to hear they had been built on and now had their own book.  I didn’t really have many expectations as it doesn’t always work and sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone.

Having just finished the book my impression is of having read a very touching story of survival and cost, and learning to trust again.  Familiar themes within urban fantasy but as with the Mercy Thompson books, Patricia Briggs has a fluid and easy to read way of writing that drags you into the story.  I loved the characters of Anna and Charles, Anna being very sweet and likeable, Charles being an Alpha and dominant wolf but tempered with intelligence, his position within the pack and his obvious love for Anna.

From the start the empathy with them returned, pretty much picking up where the short story ended and I liked that.  The original tale was quite brutal and I needed to know that for Anna it was starting to work out – and this book delivers on that front.  The plot was good, not very complex but since the book is character driven, it didn’t need to be and by the end I was firmly in love with these characters.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
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Deadly Desire

Life is never normal for Riley Jenson.  Being a rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf she often finds her dual natures at odds with each other, often wanting or needing different things.. or people.  Add in her Guardian duties for the Directorate, a role which she never wanted in the first place and it fast becomes a pain in the ass.  When strange murders of both humans and vampires start happening, it’s up to Riley to find out if there is a link and if so, to stop the killer.  But how does the mysterious and annoying Kye Murphy fit into it.  With the Moon’s heat rushing through her, can she focus enough to solve the murders before any more victims turn up.

This is the 7th Book in the Riley Jenson series and I have enjoyed the previous five a great deal.  They are gritty, fast paced, exciting and also quite erotic at times.  However, I’m not really sure what the problem is with this one.  I found it hard to get into the flow of it, kept putting it down to do other things but I did persevere and it was worth it in the end.  The plot was quite good, the characters consistent but it wasn’t really until the second half of the book when it finally engages you.  It almost felt like Keri Arthur had grown a bit tired of the series and nearly produced a book by the numbers, the saving grace being that she does write very well and her characters are interesting and for the most part lead you to care about them.

As a ‘just OK’ book is the exception rather than the rule for Keri Arthur, I would definitely read the next one as I do want to find out how Riley adapts to the new changes in her life.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Keri Arthur
  • Series: Riley Jenson, Guardian (7)
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