Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

This is book 10 in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. It is written in third person from Holly Chang and Venom’s POVs.

Venom is one of the Archangel Raphael’s Seven, making him a very powerful individual. Venom is a vampire, but a very unique one. He was Made my the Archangel Neha who is the Queen of Poisons, and she has a fondness for snakes. She is very proud of Making Venom. He is unique among vampires, for he has a number of snake-like traits.

Holly survived a horrifying experience and near death at former Archangel Uram’s hands. Since that experience she has been changed in many ways. It is almost like she is half vampire in ways; she needs blood to survive, but she also needs food. She is also similar to Venom in how she moves when she lets the otherness inside her loose and she is venomous. But with that otherness she is also experiencing dangerous voices in her head. She doesn’t know if she is losing her mind or not, but she has a strong will to live and will not lose herself after working so hard to live.

Bounty Hunters are after Holly, and the question is why? Best that can be figured is it must have to do with her affiliation with Uram and her uniqueness among vampires. Though there are similarities to Venom, she is a mystery in the angel world that cannot be completely understood. Now someone is looking to capture her, but to what ends?

In order to make sure Holly is guarded, Venom is assigned to her. This is frustrating for Holly, but she isn’t one to cut off her nose to spite her face; she knows people are after her, and Venom is scary strong and good to have at one’s back. There is a lot of antagonism between Holly and Venom, but that just makes them more fun to experience. Being stuck together gives them a chance to really go at each other.

The romance here is a slow build. There are glimpses early on in the book, but the characters need the time to get to know each other before that next step even becomes a possibility. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy watching how the relationship evolves from a bickering banter to a more united companionship. And the wittiness of the dialogue is the best part.

Though probably not my favorite Nalini Singh novel, this one is solid. Venom and Holly each have some personal obstacles to overcome, and they work together to get it done. Outside of the romance, the story is interesting. The world Ms. Singh has created with the angels and vampires is very interesting. Though convoluted at times, and some questions continue to hang in the air, she keeps you on your toes. Vampire junkies and freeloading angels are just a part of this sophisticated world she takes us to and I love revisiting it.

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Wyrd Blood by Donna Augustine

This is the first book in Donna Augustine’s Wyrd Blood series. Is is written in first person from Bugs’s POV.

Bugs lives in a world where the powerful want the magical. Magic sprung up fairly unexpectedly, and the world quickly learned that my possessing magic, you have power. Those with magic are called Wyrd Blood. Whether or not you personally are a Wyrd Blood can be irrelevant as long as you can get people who are. I’m currently unsure if most Wyrd Blood are viewed as slaves or not, but in Bugs’ experience, having magic is a curse, and she is hiding hers.

Bugs lives in the Ruined City with her crew hiding the fact that she is a Wyrd Blood. She doesn’t know much about her magic, but she knows that people will try to force her to work for them if they know about her. Bugs and her crew are essentially homeless and in order to survive they have to forage in the Ruined Forest or steal from chuggers that come around their area. Her crew is currently starving. Bugs makes some tough decisions that get her noticed by Ryker.

Ryker runs the Valley, and he is a Wyrd Blood. He has a job he needs Bugs to do, and due to some things that Bugs needs to survive, she is stuck helping him out. The danger here for Bugs is that in working with Ryker, people could find out her secret which could lead to them wanting to force her to work for them. Ryker is also getting ready for a war, and Bugs doesn’t want her crew anywhere near him.

I loved this story. Donna Augustine does a great job first in creating an interesting world, and then creating characters that are just as interesting. She also does a great job in making the characters relatable.

Bugs is tough because she has to be. She doesn’t care about whether or not she survives, she cares about if her crew does. She will do just about anything to ensure their survival, even if it means her death. She is in a crappy situation. I’m not sure if she really makes the best of it, but she knows she has to deal with it, and she does. She tries to find solutions to the problems that plaque her. She’s impressive.

On the romance front, feels like something will build with Ryker and Bugs. Ryker hates Bugs at first since she is essentially stealing from his people. However, as they work and train together, Ryker starts to learn more of where Bugs comes from and starts to understand where she is coming from.

Ryker is interesting. I feel there is a lot more to learn about him and I’m looking forward to learning more as the series progresses. He has a community that he is responsible for, and in being perhaps the strongest of the Wyrd Blood, there is a lot riding on his shoulders. My biggest issue with him is he’s a pretty crappy teacher. One of those who basically throws a problem at someone and tells them to solve it without telling them how. So though he’s pretty sexy, he’s also somewhat of an ass.

We also have good supporting characters in this. Bugs has her crew which are very loyal and more of a family than anything. Ryker has a couple of close friends that work with/ for him and keep things entertaining. This is definitely a well written story that leaves you ready for the next part. Hopefully it comes out soon!

The Devil in Disguise by Cynthia Eden

This is the first book in Cynthia Eden’s Bad Things series. It is written in third person limited from Lucien “Luke” Thorne’s and Minalynn “Mina” James’s POVs for the most part, some from Garrick McAdams.

Luke Thorne lives in Key West, FL. He is immortal and keeps who he really is on the down low. He’s at the bar having some drinks where he is approached by the most seductive woman he has ever seen, Mina. Mina approaches him like a woman who knows what she wants from a man and she wants Luke to take her to his secret island. Luke is in! She seems to be acting rather peculiar, but he doesn’t have time to concern himself with that.

Mina needs Luke, or more precisely, she needs something Luke has. She has been looking for him for five years. He has something she needs, and she knows who he really is. With the power of her voice, she is going to use him to get it so that she can escape the man who is chasing her and will not let her be.

For a relationship that starts with a lot of subterfuge, there is an instant connection between Mina and Luke. The fact that she is trying to control him is problematic, but as time passes, Luke is someone Mina CANNOT control. Luke commands the dark world, his twin brother the light. They are doomed to fight each other to the death at some point, but Luke isn’t in a rush to do anything. The fact that Mina tried to control him is infinitely more interesting to him. And oddly enough, he wants to help her. Can Mina accept his help?

Mina doesn’t know why she has power with her voice. She has to use caution with everything she says for fear she will cause someone to do something unintentionally. This “power” she has has caused her nothing by trouble in life and is now leading to her being hunted. Luke is possibly more dangerous to her than those she is fleeing, but there is an attraction there. Dare she trust him?

I love devilish men. Luke is entertaining and Mina, for all that she’s rather damsel-in-distress-y, is very likable and relatable. She’s be dealt a pretty crappy hand and she’s trying to do something about it. Just so happens she meets Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome along the way. This is definitely a good romance.

Renegade Magic by McKenzie Hunter

This is book three in McKenzie Hunter’s Legacy Series. It is written in first person from Olivia “Levy” Michaels’ POV.

This is going to be a pretty short one because I could not get into this book. I really enjoyed books one and two and I was looking forward to diving into this one. It lost me about halfway through. I put it down for a while, then came back to it, and it’s just not pulling me in.

I don’t know if the issue is just with me getting frustrated with some of the decisions Levy is making or what, but I just lost interest. Hopefully at some point I will look back into this series, but at this time I just can’t get up the effort with this book to actually finish it.

I think the characters lost some depth for me. There is no emotional attachment. I don’t feel the chemistry anymore.

Beast in Shining Armor by Cassandra Gannon

This is the second book in Cassandra Gannon’s A Kinda Fairytale series. It’s written in third person from Prince Avenant and Honorary Princess Rosabella Aria Ashman’s POVs.

SPOILER ALERT: There may be some spoilers from the first book in this series. I did not read the first book before reading this one, so it stands alone just fine, but fair warning.

Prince Avenant has just escaped from the WUB Club (basically an insane asylum for the Wicked, Ugly and Bad people). He ended up there thanks to Belle usurping his throne because he was born Bad. Now he wants his throne back. Not necessarily because he WANTS it per se, but because he wants to defeat Belle. They have been competing against each other since childhood and he cannot stand the fact that she took his throne.

Belle had Avenant arrested for embezzling from the kingdom. He shouldn’t have been king after that, especially on top of how he’s been oppressing the people of the Northlands. The fact that he’s taking her to court now and winning is unthinkable. She already defeated him fair and square and now this is happening. In the end the judgment is for everyone who wants to be the new prince/ princess of the Northlands has to face the labyrinth and find Excalibur. Whoever comes out with the sword wins. Everyone else will probably die.

After being competitors their whole lives, if either of them wants to reclaim the throne, their best chance is working together. Makes for a very new experience for them.

I loved this book. You kind of want to smack each of them occasionally for being so obtuse and stubborn, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying their interactions. Avenant was born Bad. I still don’t get how this works, but whatever. Bad people aren’t supposed to rule over the kingdom. Belle is born Good. The most interesting difference between Good and Bad folks is how they know their True Loves. Bad folk know right away, just by seeing them. Good folks figure it out when they have sex.

Avenant has known Belle is is True Love since kindergarten. Belle, not so much. Avenant doesn’t know how to be Good or nice. So, being a child, he does the whole pulling hair route which just upsets Belle and leads to a life time of competing to prove who’s better. Everyone else is terrified of upsetting the Bad prince, but not Belle. She stands her ground and does her best to make his life difficult, and Avenant returns the favor.

The have that typical animosity romance thing going on. There is so much tension there, and you know they each recognize they want the other, but they just don’t know how to accomplish that.

The other thing I really enjoy about this book is that each chapter starts with a testimony from Avenant’s original trial. Example: “‘Then, Avenant foreclosed on my shoe.’ Testimony of the Old Woman who (Formerly) Lived in a Shoe – The People of the Northlands v. Prince Avenant“. Seeing the various roles that fairytale people play in these books if a lot of fun. The sheer creativity and imagination Ms. Gannon has it is a joy to experience.

In the negative, there are a fair number of typos as you read. Needs some better proofreading.

Bound by the Night by Cynthia Eden

As far as I know this is a stand alone novel by Cynthia Eden. It’s written in third person from primarily Jamie O’Connell and Iona’s POVs with a bit from Latham Gentry’s POV.

Jamie is on a mission to free the Blood Queen who is bound by a sleeping spell. She is his only hope to defeat Latham who has destroyed his family and pack. Jamie is a werewolf and the Blood Queen is a vampire. Vampires and werewolves do not mix well together, but Jamie has some fail safes in place so she’ll have to help him after he wakes her up if she wants to live.

Iona has been trapped within her body for 15 years and now all she wants is revenge. She was trapped by the same man who destroyed Jamie’s pack. Latham trapped her because she told him no and he’s psycho. She doesn’t trust Jamie, doesn’t want to help him. But then, she wants Latham dead, so they have a common purpose.

This book is ok to me. I feel the relationship between Jamie and Iona develops too quickly. This book delivers all of the basics you would look for in a love story, but I didn’t get as emotionally connected with the characters as I would have liked to. It’s not a bad read, and it’s pretty quick, but I didn’t feel it brought anything new to me. So it’s not bad, but could be better.

The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra Gannon

This is the third book in Cassandra Gannon’s A Kinda Fairytale series. It is written in third person limited from multiple POVs, but primarily Midas’s and Guinevere Pendragon’s.

Queen Guinevere is on the run from the Scarecrow. King Arthur is dead (did Gwen do it?) and the Scarecrow wants to be King. To be King he needs to marry the Queen. Gwen doesn’t want to marry the Scarecrow (he’s creepy and evil even though he’s Good) and decides to take her daughter, Avalon, and run. Where does she go to find safety? To the Kingpin of Camelot, Midas.

Midas has more money than he knows what to do with and he got it via some questionable means. He’s rather tacky in dress and how he lives, but you have to admit, he does not live a beige lifestyle. All his life he has been trying to figure out how he can buy some class. He can buy everything else so far, but class has been eluding him. Then Queen Guinevere enters his life, and she emanates class. She’s also offering a bargain that Midas doesn’t want to refuse.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Cassandra Gannon, so I don’t know much about the first two books in the series other than what Amazon has for a blurb. The Kingpin of Camelot stands alone just fine. I found out about this book on Ilona Andrews’s blog and decided to give it a shot. This book is wonderful!

Gwen LOVES contracts (she’s very logical), Midas LOVES spending money (he used to be poor, now he’s making up for it). Somehow, they fit together. And they have a truly fantastic supporting cast. Trystan is a gryffon (I really hope he gets a story) who doesn’t feel emotion (though I beg to differ). He’s probably the best assassin in the land. He takes protecting Midas very seriously. Avalon is four, loves pink and sparklies and … SPOILER ALERT … plays war games with dolls with Midas and Trystan. It’s ADORABLE!!! There was so much humor and adorableness in this book.

Let’s talk about the world for a minute. I’m not sure if this just holds for Camelot or more of this fairy tale land, but the Good Folks more or less run the show. You are born Good or Bad, though I don’t know how that’s known. Gwen is Good, however Midas and Avalon are Bad. In this book, the Scarecrow is working on a concoction with the White Rabbit to make Bad Folk into Good Folk. I guess my biggest issue with this book is that I don’t know what makes a Bad Folk Bad. The Scarecrow is a Good Folk, however he sure isn’t good. Midas is Bad, but he’s not bad. All wizards are born Good. But I have NO clue how this happens.

But that being said, I still loved this book and I’m planning to read the first two, probably in reverse order since book two seems to be based on Beauty and the Beast, and I love that story in most of its variations.

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

This is the third (and currently final) book in Ilona Andrews’s Hidden Legacy trilogy (I’m really hoping for more). It is written in first person from Nevada Baylor’s POV, except for a VERY brief third person POV from someone else.

SPOILER ALERT: This contains spoilers from the two previous books in this series. I STRONGLY encourage you read those first! They’re phenomenal.

So Rynda Charles (Rogan’s ex-fiancee) has come to Nevada for help in finding her missing husband. This wouldn’t be quite as annoying to Nevada is Rynda didn’t seem to be trying to get Rogan. Nevada’s family is warning her to beware, Rynda might be a homewrecker.

In bigger news, Nevada’s grandmother (not the nice one) knows who they are. How can they protect themselves? By becoming a House. No one really wants to be in a House, that way leads to danger and House warfare. However, it’s that or submitting to Lady Tremaine (the evil grandmother). Tough choices have to be made.

So on the romance front, Nevada has to deal with Rynda making moves on Rogan. Rogan on the other hand is dealing with other houses finding out about the power that Nevada has and testing the waters there. It really puts there relationship to the test. Rogan knows that their magic is not compatible. Should Nevada really stay with him even though they love each other? But the thing that I love about Nevada is that she’s strong, smart, and knows what she wants. She’s not a waffler when it comes to men. I hate love triangles, and with Nevada, you know where she stands. She’ll call Rogan out on his BS, but she’s in his corner, and she’s not moving. And what’s even better, she knows Rogan feels the same way about her. They can tackle the world together, and they will.

And the other things that keep me coming back for more, the supporting cast. Nevada’s family is amazing, and as you learn more about them, you just like them more. There’s also a bear that is a pacifist who give free hugs, eats cereal and loves the Jungle Book. He could have gone to Alaska, but that’s boring. This world and the people and magic in it are constantly fascinating.

Ilona Andrews writes books that you feel good reading and you hope will not come to an end. I’m currently hoping for news on the next book in the Hidden Legacy series, but no word yet. I’m eternally hopeful however. There are just so many more stories I feel this world has to share!

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

This is the first book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Trinity series which is the continuation of her Psy-Changeling series. Is it written in third person from Silver Mercant’s and Valentin Nikolaev’s POV’s primarily with a couple others along the way.

Silver Mercant is a powerful telepath in charge of EmNet, an emergency response network that spans the humans, psys and changelings around the world. She is a powerful telepath who embraces Silence (doesn’t feel emotions) as it allows her brain to operate most efficiently. She is cold in nature. One thing that she does understand is loyalty to family. The Mercants are loyal, always. Shes doesn’t understand a certain bear who keeps showing up at her apartment.

Valentin is the alpha of the StoneWater bear clan. Bears are… bears. They are rough around the edges in general, but have a lot of charm. They drive people nuts, however you can’t help but love them… unless you’re a wolf. Changelings by nature love contact. They are constantly touching each other as signs of affection. When Valentin first sees ice cold Silver, he wants to touch her and find out how to light her up.

This was a good book. I admit, not my favorite by Nalini Singh, however still solid. It’s interesting watching Silver learn to handle emotions, though that may not be the best thing for her. Valentin is there every step of the way to help and support her, though he is facing some problems of his own.

For me I think there were parts of this book where Silver reacted in ways that didn’t seem to fit her character which caused me trouble to really connect with her. I meshed better with Valentin. He’s just a lovable character, a real teddy bear as he likes to tell Silver. Their relationship is fun to watch, especially where the StoneWater clan gets involved. Valentin’s sister in particular I think is a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this series progresses. How the Psy as a race has evolved has been fascinating, and the various connected being made between the three groups keeps pulling me back in for more.

Fused by Fire by K.F. Breene

This is the third and currently final book in K.F. Breen’s Fire and Ice Trilogy. It is written in first person from Reagan Somerset’s POV.

SPOILER ALERT: There are spoilers regarding the first two books in this series! Ye be warned!

So Reagan is trying to get a handle on her magic. She has had fire magic for as long as she can remember, but now there is this icy magic she is dealing with. She wants to learn to control it, however it erases her humanity when she sets it free. Yay for the vampire “boyfriend” (Darius) being willing to do just about anything to help her, even take a beating.

So while Reagan is trying to figure that out, she learns that the demon she thought she killed (who has secret information about Reagan’s demonic parentage) didn’t actually die and may be revealing her secret. Good new is demons hold knowledge close to their chest and probably want to catch her first. Bad new that they know and in theory can spill the beans at any time. So Reagan needs to do some damage control.

I admit, this was my least favorite of the series. At one point (SPOILER ALERT!) Reagan and Darius are traveling through the Underworld. I just felt it kept getting rather more ridiculous, and boring, and I probably would have stopped reading if I wasn’t invested in the series. The good news is that the book ends strong.

On the romance front, Reagan and Darius do spend a lot of time together, however not great relationship building. There was a lot of moving the plot forward with this book, and I feel like the character development got pushed aside somewhat. It also wasn’t as fun to read as the first two books. So still a solid read, and a good conclusion (though a certain confrontation I was hoping for did not happen), but didn’t meet my expectations to be blunt.

Looking to the future. Sounds like a certain character that has first been alluded to in this book will be part of a new trilogy that I’m hoping involves Penny. Time will tell. Also sounds like maybe more Reagan books in the future, but not right now.