Oxford Whispers (The Oxford Trilogy #1) by Marion Croslydon: The Art that Inspired the Trilogy and Giveaway

Oxford Whispers Banner

Welcome to my stop on the AToMR Tours-sponsored Oxford Whispers tour.  In my day-to-day life I am an Art History professor so I am beyond stoked to be able to show you all the art that inspired Marion Croslydon’s Oxford Trilogy.  If you would like to check out the rest of the stops on this tour (and we absolutely hope you will) you can do so by clicking here.

Title: Oxford Whispers (The Oxford Trilogy, #1)Author: Marion CroslydonRelease date: October 8, 2012Genre: Paranormal Age Group: New Adult
Title: Oxford Whispers (The Oxford Trilogy, #1)
Author: Marion Croslydon
Release date: October 8, 2012
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: New Adult

Madison LeBon is dead set against the dead. She has vowed to ignore her Voodoo-stamped heritage and the psychic gift passed down through her Louisiana family. The world of the living is where she wants to belong.
But her resolution shatters when the tragic lovers in a painting—the subject of her first history class at Oxford—begin to haunt her. The lovers warn her against their own nemesis, a Puritan from the English Civil War.

College becomes more complicated when Madison falls hard for Rupert Vance, a troubled aristocrat and descendant of one of the characters in the painting. With the spirit of a murderer after her, she realizes that her own first love may also be doomed…
{Upper-YA/New Adult – Recommended 17+}

Title: The Wounded CavalierArtist: William Shakespeare BurtonMedium: Oil on canvasSize: 36" x 41"Location: Guildhall Art Gallery, LondonImage Source: Wikimedia Open Source
Title: The Wounded Cavalier
Artist: William Shakespeare Burton
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 36″ x 41″
Location: Guildhall Art Gallery, London
Image Source: Wikimedia Open Source

The Art: For the first book, I’ve drawn inspiration  from a Pre-Raphaelite painting by William Shakespeare Burton, titled The Wounded Cavalier. It’s set during the English Civil War. I used to spend hours as a teenager staring at it on my bedroom’s wall. No Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt for me!

I can’t explain how the idea of threading the stories of the Cavalier, the Maiden and the Puritan with that of Madison and Rupert has come to me. I guess we’d call that creativity! But the Cavalier’s story is the first story I told to myself as a teenager. I kept wondering what happened to those three characters, what were their backgrounds, secret love and heartbreaks. I could feel it wasn’t a happy ending though. So through Oxford Whispers, I’ve managed to give them some kind of second chance and redemption.

The second book in the trilogy is titled Oxford Shadows. Again, I’ve used an artwork as a starting point for the plot. This time it’s music, a melody titled Greensleeves. It’s very famous here in England. One of the reasons is that Henry the Eighth is rumored to be the composer. He would have written that piece of music during his courtship of Anne Boleyn… But I put my own spin on it.

 No idea for the next and final installment though… Totally open to suggestions!

Marion Croslydon - author photo

About the Author: In addition to being an author, I work as an entrepreneur, wife and mother-of-one but spend a good deal of time with books, DVDs and listening to my mp3 player; all for the sake of inspiration, of course.  My debut series, The Oxford Trilogy, has been a blast to write because I can indulge in my favorite types of music: Country and English rock.  My main goal as a writer is to make readers dream bigger and cause their hearts to beat a little faster.  Since my writing is all about sharing dreams and stories, I love connecting with fellow readers and authors.

Where to find Marion Croslydon:

Blog          Twitter          Facebook

Want to buy Oxford Whispers (The Oxford Trilogy #1)?

Amazon          Goodreads

Want to try and win your very own copy Oxford Whispers (The Oxford Trilogy #1)?  Just click the ‘copter link and good luck 🙂 


Last but certainly not least, thanks to Julie at AToMR Tours


Cover Reveal: The Space Between by Victoria H. Smith

Title: The Space BetweenAuthor: Victoria H. SmithExpected release date: April 2, 2013Genre: Contemporary RomanceAge Group: New AdultCover Designer: Okay Creations; http://okaycreations.net/site/
Title: The Space Between
Author: Victoria H. Smith
Expected release date: April 2, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adul
Cover Designer: Okay Creations; http://okaycreations.net/site/

Synopsis: When Drake started the night at his father’s campaign fundraiser, he never imagined he’d end it being conned into buying drugs on the West Side. Losing high-stakes poker has its consequences, but he’d repeatedly face them just to hear Lacey Douglas sing. Drake sees Lacey light up the stage, and he has to have her. But his intentions for being on her side of town turn out to be the reason he can’t.

Chicago native Lacey has dreams of the opera, but life has its obstacles. Lacey has come to know her hardships as part of living in the real world and accepts them fully. When Lacey meets the intense and invigorating Drake, a fire is lit inside her, unleashing those dreams again.

Two paths that should have never crossed prove to create the exact pairing the other needs. But when their worlds take time to catch up, everything they have is tested. Finding the space between the two sides that challenge them will be hard, but it’s the only place that will keep them together.

The Space Between is a new adult contemporary romance.

author photo

About the Author:  Victoria H. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She puts it to good use writing romance all day. She resides in the Midwest with her Macbook on her lap and a cornfield to her right. She often draws inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, and the twenty-something characters she writes give her an earful about it.

 In her free time, she enjoys extreme couponing, blogging, reading, and sending off a few tweets on Twitter when she can. She writes new adult fiction romance in the sub-genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary, but really, anywhere her pen takes her she goes.

Where to find Victoria H. Smith:

Blog          Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads

Links to find The Space Between:

Goodreads          Book Trailer

Last but certainly not least, many thanks to Julie at AToMR Tours for organizing this cover reveal.


Angels’ Flight by Nalini Singh: Review

Format: ebook, 368 pagesPublished: February 28, 2012 by Berkley Sensation Edition language: EnglishOriginal title: Angels' Flight Series: Guild Hunter 0.5, 1.5, 4.5, 4.75
Format: ebook, 368 pages
Published: February 28, 2012 by Berkley Sensation
Edition language: English
Original title: Angels’ Flight
Series: Guild Hunter 0.5, 1.5, 4.5, 4.75

Goodreads          Nalini Singh’s Goodreads page

Synopsis from Goodreads: In Angel’s Wolf a vampire becomes fascinated with the seductive angel who rules Louisiana. But all is not what it appears to be in her court.
In Angels’ Judgment a hunter must track one of her own gone bad, while surviving the deadly tests placed in her way by the archangels themselves. Unexpected backup comes from a stranger who might just be the most lethal threat of all…
In Angels’ Pawn a vampire hunter faces off against two rival factions and the angel manipulating them both, and a vampire whose help is not entirely selfless…
In Angels’ Dance an angel trapped in the mountain stronghold of the Refuge finds herself under siege by a warrior angel from a martial court.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: As much as I love the Guild Hunter series one would think I would have known about this collection of novellas.  Alas, I (thankfully!) stumbled upon it and devoured all four stories almost instantly!  Included in this collection are the titles Angels’ Pawn, Angels’ Judgment, Angel’s Wolf, and Angels’ Dance and for lovers of the series, these short stories are excellent companions to the series.  Each novella gives the reader an incredible amount of background information and a fully developed story about characters who will likely never be big enough in the Guild Hunter world to warrant their own full-length novel.

Angels’ Pawn features Ashwini, the semi-nuts Guild Hunter and Janvier, the three-hundred year old vampire Ashwini has hunted three times.  Sounds like she’s not very good at her job, huh?  While Ashwini is used to working alone and considered one of the best among the Hunter community, even she knows her limits.  Ashwini (and the Guild) have been contracted to “rescue” a kidnapped vampire.  The mission will take the Guild Hunter into the heart of the South where vampire and angel politics are as tricky and unpredictable as quicksand.  Ashwini knows she must tread lightly if she wants to come out alive so enlisting Janvier’s help seems the most logical choice given the nature of the contract.

Janvier and Ashwini have a bizarre relationship that involves a lot of chasing, tracking, and hunting though never actually catching.  As we discover in Angels’ Pawn the hunting, chasing, and tracking are more sport and entertainment than business for the two.  Because of their past associations with one another there is respect and definite attraction toward one another which leads Janvier to immediately agreeing to help Ashwini.  Though the two know they will be successful in their attempt to “rescue” the “kidnapped” vampire they also fully appreciate the inherent danger involved.  Though all the plotting, scheming, and killing we get to see Ashwini shine and Janvier play a far more serious role than we are used to from him.  We learn more about each character’s background, their motivations and desires as well as their intentions toward one another.  Janvier can be serious and deadly but he is also charming, playful, and sensual.  Ashwini is lethal, focused, and driven but also beautiful and sexy.  Her troubled background adds an edge of wariness that Janvier is committed to overcoming though he knows this will take time.  I very much enjoyed the deeper look into these two characters: Janvier is a delightful rogue and Ashwini is serious beauty with a dark past she is working hard to overcome.  While I don’t think these two will ever warrant their own book I do think we have not seen the last of them in the Guild Hunter world.

Angels’ Judgment: novella number two is, for all intents and purposes a prequel to the Guild Hunter series.  If you’re a fan of Guild Director Sara, then this short story is absolutely for you!  Angels’ Judgment details one of Sara’s last hunts before becoming the Guild’s Director; this is also the time she meets her future husband, Deacon.  The meeting of Sara and Deacon is anything but pleasant – there is a psychopath on the loose knocking off vampires.  The real problem?  The psychopath is likely a Hunter or a crazy bastard imitating a Hunter which is why Deacon has been called.  Known among the Hunter community as the Slayer, Deacon is a man of legend, the one called in to hunt and stop rogue Guild Hunters. Few have ever met the Slayer and being in his presence does little to calm Sara’s feelings about this case; the potential for taking out one of their own is high and something no member of Hunter community wants to be involved in.  Sara is, however a professional and with Deacon’s help she will do what must be done to bring the killer to justice.  Because of the length of this read, the action is fast, furious and seriously intense.  It is a wild ride from start to finish and even has some naughty bits thrown in to spice things up 🙂

I loved this particular novella!  I have always been fond of Sara in the regular series as she is practical, level-headed, loyal, and absolutely perfect as Guild Director.  Quite simply, Sara doesn’t take crap off anyone!  But, we have always only been given a limited amount of information about her; Sara has been a part of the plot as she relates to Elena and Raphael more than anything else.  Angels’ Judgment highlights not only Sara’s talents as a Guild Hunter but Deacon’s talents as both a Hunter and the Slayer.  The background story for both Sara and Deacon (especially Deacon!) is very interesting and kept me turning pages at a lightning pace.  Honestly, I didn’t want this particular story to end because Deacon is not only a sweet man but dead sexy and deadly with his weapons.  Oh, and he is the mastermind behind all the amazing weapons the Guild Hunters use – seriously, can this man get any hotter? 🙂  Deacon is instrumental in helping Sara take down the psychopath and vice versa.  You see immediately how good the two Hunters are together and how they perfectly balance and complement one another.  For fans of Sara and Deacon, this one is a must-read.

Novella number three is Angel’s Wolf and is the story of Noel and Nimra.  Fans of the series may recall (from book #2) Noel is the poor bastard who was beaten to within an inch of his vampiric life and left for dead within the confines of the Refuge.  Noel has been with Raphael for more than 200 years choosing to serve the archangel following the expiration of his 100 year Contract.  Noel’s rise within Raphael’s ranks of trusted companions was nothing short of meteoric right up to the moment he was left for dead.  Though fully healed and back in service, Noel feels he is being punished when Raphael sends him to the court of Nimra in the deep South.  Despite his intelligence and intuition, even Noel is unprepared for what he finds in Nimra’s court.

Nimara is a 500+ year old angel who controls a section of the deep South on Raphael’s behalf.  Though beautiful beyond belief and surprisingly human (she loves cats!!) given her age, Nimra has a nasty, nasty, nasty reputation and very few, even among the very old, have ever dared go up against her.   By far, Nimara has one of the coolest powers found among any of the angels and/or archangels in the Guild Hunter world.  And no, I will not tell you what that power is 🙂 Though generally absolutely capable of defending her court and her territory Nimra has discovered one thing she cannot defend against, an unknown assassin hell-bent on taking her out.  Disguised as Nimra’s new bedroom toy, Noel is given free rein to wander the court in an effort to determine who the would-be assassin is.  Loose lips, gossip and being thought of as nothing more than a harmless and temporary sex toy allows Noel to quickly determine who the perpetrator is.  Unfortunately the identity of the traitor is devastating for Nimra.  The intensity of the situation draws Noel and Nimra together and they quickly discover they can take comfort and strength from one another without sacrificing who they are as individuals.  In fact, the two understand almost immediately what a good and strong pair they are; they balance and complement one another.  Nimra’s strength and über-powerful abilities are tempered by her humanity making her one of the most endearing of all of Singh’s characters.  Though I am fairly certain Nimra and Noel’s story is complete, I must say it is sad to see them tucked away in the deep South and not making more appearances in the Guild Hunter series.

The fourth and final novella in Angels’ Flight is Angels’ Dance, the story of Jessamy and Galen.  Jessamy is more than 2,500 years as well as beloved and thoroughly well-respected throughout the angelic community.  Jessamy serves the angelic community as both teacher to the young and historian – there is nothing she doesn’t know about angelic history making her the perfect teacher for the breed’s young.  Jessamy is patient, kind, wise, and trusted absolutely by most of the Cadre of Ten.  On the outside Jessamy is calm, cool, and collected but for most of her 2,500 years she has held herself apart from everyone because of her deformity – Jessamy is an angel who cannot fly.  For Jessamy her inability to fly is a life-sentence: she cannot leave the safety of Refuge; she cannot have children for fear of passing on her deformity and; she certainly cannot fall in love as her deformity would be both a hindrance and embarrassment to her mate.  Galen is an oddity in the angelic world for he has chosen to transfer out of Titus’s court in order to become both weapon’s master and member of Raphael’s Seven.  Though new to the Refuge, Galen is not new to weapons work and training and quickly earns respect among other members of the Seven.  When Jessamy’s life is threatened Raphael is wicked pissed and Galen is called into action to protect Raphael’s former teacher.  What takes both Galen and Jessamy by surprise is their response to one another.  Though attracted to Galen, Jessamy is certain, based on his brutish nature and lack of manners that the man was raised by wolves.  Galen is insta-attracted to Jessamy and can’t seem to rein himself in around her.  During the course of their investigations the two learn to respect one another and reevaluate their personal positions concerning attachments and entanglements.  While there is a mutual respect and the two can work together, being together is a cat of a different color.  Both Galen and Jessamy are outrageously stubborn and this trait keeps them apart far longer than it should but when they do finally let down their respective barriers, the meeting is explosive!  Like Sara’s story, Jessamy’s story is a personal favorite and I was exceedingly glad to find it among the collection that makes up Angels’ Flight.

The Bottom Line: Angels’ Flight can absolutely be read as a stand-alone but I would highly, highly, highly  recommend reading it in addition to the “regular” Guild Hunter series.  This collection of novellas is a wonderful enhancement of a series I am already slutty in love with.  This book got me so fired up about the Guild Hunter series that after finishing Angels’ Flight I immediately went back and re-read the first two books in the series!  I can’t think of a reason not to recommend this fantastic paranormal series to mature young adults, new adults, and adult readers.  I’m not sure why you’re still here – you should be buying this book and the series, NOW!!

Want to buy Angels’ Flight?

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo          Target.com

Reaper’s Novice by Cecilia Robert: Excerpt & Giveaway


Hello all and welcome to my stop on the AToMR sponsored Reaper’s Novice tour.  I am thrilled you stopped by today to check out the excerpt I have for you.  If you would like to check out the rest of the stops on the tour (and we certainly hope you will) just click here.  Following the excerpt you will find three, yes I said three giveaway opportunities.  Thanks for stopping by and happy Thursday to you 🙂

Format: Kindle Edition, 300 pagesPublished: January 10, 2013 (first published October 7, 2011) ASIN: B00AYPCP9KEdition language: EnglishURL: http://cecereadandwrite.blogspot.comSeries: Soul Collector
Format: Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published: January 10, 2013 (first published October 7, 2011)
Edition language:English
Series: Soul Collector

Synopsis from Goodreads: 17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents,  good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.

Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance.  It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice:  save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.

Excerpt:  As soon as my bedroom door closes, Rolf swings me around and backs me up against the door, his entire length to mine. He slides his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. He leans down, pressing his lips on my forehead. “Your dad doesn’t trust me.”

I slide my hands up his firm chest and slip them around his neck, tangling my fingers with the silky-soft hair curling on his collar. “I don’t think my dad trusts any boy in my room.”

He chuckles, his warm breath caressing the shell of my ear. “Good thing he doesn’t.” His voice is hoarse, tossing away any decent thoughts from my mind. “I’ve missed you.” My knees barely hold me up as his lips trail my jaw, in a slow torturous pace. His arms tighten around me, melding us together. Hiking to my toes, I push my body forward until all that surrounds me is his light sandalwood aftershave.

“Missed you—” His mouth covers mine, cutting me off. Every sound inside the flat fades. Everything in me veers forward, focusing on him, on his lips on mine, not caring that my parents could walk in on us, or my siblings down the hallway could barge in. His hands travel down the hem of my t-shirt, and under it, wrap around my waist and soon his fingertips whisper into my skin. And I’m burning. They hike farther up. Every nerve in my body narrows to his fingers. I’m sure if he stops, my body will shatter into millions of worthless pieces. And when they do move up to trace the outer line of my lace bra, my body trembles with the promise of combusting. A whimper bubbles up my throat, and I push myself further into him. If only I could get under his skin, then we could be one. He groans low as he pushes me against the door seeming as desperate as I am. I tighten my hold on him at the same time fumble awkwardly with his shirt searching for the path to his skin. As soon as my fingers touch his skin, his whole body trembles.

He lifts his mouth from mine, then buries his face in the crook of my neck, breathing hard. I clutch him closer, tighter, my breath mirroring his.

“Kissing you has got to be the most pleasurable thing in the world, Ana.” His voice is still rough, his breath deliciously warm on the nape of my neck. I couldn’t agree more. I mean about kissing him.

Author Photo

About Cecilia Robert: Cecilia Robert lives in Vienna with her two children, has an incurable obsession with books, anything romantic, TV and medieval architecture. When not working in her full time job, catching up with her two children, writing or reading, she can be found, knitting or crocheting, taking photos of old buildings.

 Where to find Cecilia Robert:

Twitter          Blog          Facebook          Pinterest          Goodreads

Want to buy Reaper’s Novice?

Amazon          Kobo          Goodreads

Want to try and win some cool stuf??  Thanks to the author we able to offer three separate and unique giveaways for this tour!!  Each giveaway is open internationally 🙂  To enter, just click the ‘copter links below and follow the directions.  Good luck!

Giveaway #1: a chance to win one of two eBook copies of Reaper’s Novice.

Giveaway #2: a chance to win one of two $15 Amazon gift cards.

Giveaway #3: The swag!!  Up for grabs is a violin magnet, violin pin, and a beaded necklace/bracelet.  Check out the images below 🙂

Violin pin - giveawayBead necklace - giveawayViolin Magnet - giveaway

Archangels’ Kiss by Nalini Singh: Review

Format: Paperback, 323 pagesPublished February 2, 2010 by Berkley ISBN:  0425233367 (ISBN13: 9780425233368)Edition language: EnglishURL: http://www.nalinisingh.com/index.htmlSeries: Guild Hunter #2Literary awards: DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Best Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy (2011)
Format: Paperback, 323 pages
Published February 2, 2010 by Berkley
ISBN: 0425233367 (ISBN13: 9780425233368)
Edition language: English
Series: Guild Hunter #2
Literary awards: DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Best Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy (2011)

Goodreads               Nalini Singh’s Goodreads page

Synopsis from Goodreads: Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find that she has become an angel-and that her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, likes having her under his control. But almost immediately, Raphael must ready Elena for a flight to Beijing, to attend a ball thrown by the archangel Lijuan. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan’s power lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena…

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:  Yet another re-read for me and man was this one just as good the second time around as it was the first time!  At the end of book one, Angels’ Blood, Elena and Raphael are both battered and broken following their showdown with the bat-sh*t crazy archangel, Uram.

Archangels’ Kiss begins one year after the fateful battle above New York.  Elena has been in a coma for the entire year; as far as anyone, including Sara and the Guild know, Elena is dead and; Raphael has remained by her side willing her to come back to him.  Not surprisingly, when she does wake, Elena has a few questions; topping the list:

*Where is she? (The Refuge; a place no mortal has ever been!)

*How did she and Raphael survive the fall from the sky? (very carefully)

*How long has she been asleep? (one year; didn’t you read the above paragraph?)

*Why in Hell does she now have wings? (Apparently a long-held myth came true and in a moment of pure love, Raphael not only saved Elena’s life but made her an angel.)

Elena doesn’t have long to ponder these heavy questions and even heavier answers before the proverbial crap hits the fan.  Not everyone is excited about Elena’s new condition and someone is out to kill her and bring down Raphael at the same time.  Vicious attacks are being perpetrated against Raphael’s people and Elena is called on to help track the evil-doer.  As soon as she able to get out of bed Elena resumes her work as a tracker within the Refuge, begins studying angel history with Jessamy and the angelic young and begins training (weapons and otherwise) with Dimitri, Galen, and Illium.  Elena knows she must prove herself to Raphael’s Seven and if she cannot do this, she will never be accepted nor respected by Raphael’s innermost circle.  Elena pushes herself to the breaking point every day in order to be strong enough and competent enough to stand among the Seven and by Raphael’s side.  Elena’s determination is admirable and one of her greatest strengths.

Elena’s new condition, strength, and position as Raphael’s mate are known, but not well known.  Unfortunately (especially for Elena) one of those who does know of the situation is Lijuan, the oldest and now craziest of the archangels.  For Lijuan, Elena is a novelty and in order to better appreciate Raphael’s new toy, Lijuan invites the pair, and everyone else of significance in the angelic world, to her court for a grand ball.  While a ball does sound like a grand time, there’s one teensy, tiny little problem: Lijuan has discovered how to make zombies and she’s not afraid to show them off.  Understandably everyone, including the über-scary-nothing-scares-us Cadre is concerned by this development.

In order to avoid the appearance of weakness Raphael and Elena prepare (intensely!) to attend the ball.  As their departure date grows ever nearer the attacks against Raphael and Elena continue to escalate.  By the time they reach China, everyone is on high alert.  To say there is a kerfuffle, an incident, an event that occurs at the ball would be nowhere close to what goes down.  I’m not even sure there is a word to describe the ugly that goes down at Lijuan’s ball.  Lijuan allows her pets to walk freely among the guests, the mastermind behind the vicious attacks is both discovered and beheaded and the members of the Cadre are forced to stand against Lijuan.  Given her age and power even the oldest among the Cadre are not sure the combined power of the remaining can take her out.  See?  Didn’t I tell you the crap hit the fan?

Mixed in nicely and logically with all the drama is the growing relationship between Elena and Raphael.  Raphael is used to having his way and having his word obeyed always and without question.  Elena is strong and fiercely independent and not about to take orders from anyone least of all her mate.  Though the two often butt heads they are also clearly meant to be together and work well as a team.  Their naughty moments are sensual, lusty and hot and will keep you coming back for more.

The Bottom Line: I can’t get enough of this series!!  Elena and Raphael are excellent characters but the strength of the series lies in the long-reaching, twisting and turning plot line and the fantastic cast of other (they are so not minor) characters.  Woven into the major plot line are multiple arcs involving a variety of characters.  We learn a bit more, though not nearly enough, about most of the members of the Seven and gain some insight into a few other members of the Cadre.  Singh has created characters to love, characters to hate, and characters to absolutely reserve judgment about until a later time and date.  Though I have read most of the series more than once, I can still see this as a series I will return to again and again as the years go by!

Want to buy Archangel’s Kiss?

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo          Target.com

Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh: Review

Angels' Blood
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages Published: March 3, 2009 by Berkley (first published January 1, 2009) ISBN: 0425226921 (ISBN13: 9780425226926 Edition language: English Original title: Angels’ Blood URL: http://www.nalinisingh.com Series: Guild Hunter #1 Literary awards: Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award for Urban Fantasy Protagonist (2009), P.E.A.R.L. Winner (2009)

Goodreads               Nalini Singh’s Goodreads Page

Synopsis from Goodreads: Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.
Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My ReviewAngels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series and man, oh man is it an excellent read.  In all honesty, this review is the result of a re-read for me and I am OK with admitting my absolute, total and complete addiction to this series.  For me, this book (and series) has it all: strong characters both major and minor, an interesting and far-reaching plot line, lots of action and intrigue and some excellent sexy scenes.  What else can a girl realistically ask for in a series?

Singh has created a world where humans with the right genetic make-up can choose to be Made, that is, become a vampire.  While immortality sure sounds good, it comes with a price and any human who chooses to be Made must also sign a 100-year contract serving  the angel who helped create them.  In Singh’s world, not all angels are nice and as many of the newly Made discover a century is a very long time to serve a cruel master.  For many, the only option is to run and when they do, the Guild and its hunters are called.  When the Guild is contacted, Elena Deveraux and her fellow Guild hunters are called to track and return the runners to their respective “owners”.  While hunting may sound like a fool’s errand, Elena is not just at the top of her game, she is a hunter-born.  Elena’s skills are a part of her very make-up, her DNA.  Elena’s tracking skills, speed, and strength is greater than human making her the ideal hunter.  Because of her skill and reputation, Elena is often tapped for the hardest most dangerous retrieval jobs.

Raphael is the archangel of New York as well as the leader of the Cadre of Ten, the ten archangels who rule the various parts of the world.  While “regular” angels may be powerful and able to control/rule their own small territories, the archangels rule the world and all the world knows the archangels are not to be tested, tried, or crossed.  Raphael has lived for more than a thousand years and in that time has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful and cruel among the world’s archangels.  Unlike many among the Cadre, Raphael is not capricious nor does he inflict pain, injury, and/or death because he derives pleasure from the acts.  Raphael judges and punishes fairly and without remorse which has allowed him to earn the complete trust and loyalty of his inner circle, the Seven.

Despite their immense power sometimes even the Cadre needs help: enter Elena.  Here’s the problem, one of the Cadre of Ten, Uram, has gone bat-crap crazy and the body count is starting to add up and draw a lot of unwanted attention.  The Cadre, and more specifically Raphael has contracted Elena to track Uram and then step aside as Raphael destroys him.  To say Elena is scared crapless doesn’t even come close but the atrocities being committed by Uram are more than enough to (somewhat) outweigh her fears.  The race to track and eliminate Uram brings Elena and Raphael into near-constant contact with one another.  Elena is hyper-aware of Raphael’s presence and his ability to squash her like a tiny little insignificant bug but that knowledge is apparently not enough to keep her hormones in check.

For Raphael’s part, Elena is an intriguing entity he isn’t entirely sure he wants to let go of once the mission is complete.  The interactions between Raphael and Elena are some of my favorite parts of this book.  The early encounters are generally disturbing with a hint of lust and their later interactions are lusty, hot, and sexy with a hint of danger.  Elena constantly has to remind Raphael she is not his puppet nor is she his pet but is an independent and strong woman who also happens to be drawn to him. While Raphael is often baffled by Elena’s struggle to remain who and what she is, he does respect her and wants to see her safe, by his side and in his bed.  Even Raphael is surprised by the lengths he will go to in order to ensure he gets what he wants.

The culmination of Angels’ Blood is as interesting and dramatic as the rest of the book!  Uram’s capture and eventual death is spectacular and witnessed by a large number of New York’s citizens – which is a tiny bit hard for the authorities to explain.  What is also witnessed by a great number of New Yorkers is Elena and Raphael’s dramatic fall from the sky.  You so know I am not telling you how this one ends 🙂

The bottom line: This review was written after re-reading the book!!  There is not a single character in this book who does not fascinate me, the short-term plot line is resolved in a spectacular manner and the fate of Elena and Raphael is left rather ambiguous.  While this type of ending would normally piss me off, it works for this story and this series.  Also, I discovered the series after the second book, Archangels’ Kiss, had already been released so I got to dig right in 🙂  This book does contain mature themes and situations so I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable recommending it to younger readers but will whole-heartedly recommend it to mature readers and lovers of the paranormal.

Want to buy Angels’ Blood?

Amazon                    Barnes & Noble

Forbidden Magic by Jennifer Lyon: Review

Forbidden Magic

Goodreads                    Jennifer Lyon’s Goodreads Page

Synopsis from Goodreads: Wing Slayer Hunter, Ram Virtos, must find his soul mirror witch and convince her to mate with him before his Thunderbird tattoo kills him. But while that witch might be able to save Ram’s life, it is the mysterious Ginny Stone who inflames his passion.
Ginny has been deeply fascinated by Ram for months, but dared not act on it or she’d be torn from her mortal life on earth and thrust into her dreaded destiny as a half-breed angel. But when her beloved brother’s soul is at stake, she must do the one thing she both fears and desires…
Take Ram to her bed.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:  The last full-length Wing Slayer Hunter novel (Sinful Magic) was released in late May of 2011 and so far I can’t seem to find the release date for the next installment L  My sad panda mood was however lifted significantly when I ran across Forbidden Magic, a novella (hopefully) meant to tide fans over until the release of the next novel.  Let me tell you, dear reader I am tided over!!

Forbidden Magic picks up where Sinful Magic left off with Ramsey Virtos (aka Ram) well and truly screwed.  As with all hunters who have yet to find their soul mirror, Ram needs sex to tamp down the constant urge to kill a witch and take her blood.  Of course, Ram is panty-dropping hot and can have any woman he wants but as of late his desire to have sex with random women has been hampered by two things: 1) he has found his soul mirror and she ran away screaming and; 2) he doesn’t actually want his soul mirror (so the running and screaming isn’t really so bad) because he is intensely attracted to Ginny Stone.  Ram knows, without doubt he is bad for Ginny and though he tries desperately to stay away from her, the attraction is just too damn strong.  On the bright side, Ginny is also extremely attracted to Ram.  That’s pretty much the extent of the bright side.

Here’s the down side:

*Ram’s phoenix tattoo is waking up and is so not happy; even the witches aren’t sure why this is happening.  The little bastard is so cranky he is likely the reason Ram has electricity coursing through his body and causing him to shock the crap out of everyone he touches.  You can see how this might make sex a bit tricky, right?

*Sex with Ginny would be amazing but it would have to just be sex since Ginny isn’t his soul mirror and can’t help solve his long-term problem.  It doesn’t take Ram long to figure out there can be no “just” with Ginny.  After their first highly arousing round of sex, Ram comes to the startling realization he cares deeply for Ginny and will do anything to make her his own.  But he already has a soul mirror . . . .BALLS!!

*Ginny is not a woman without secrets and those secrets just may be big enough to take out one of the Wing Slayers’ hunters.  Can’t imagine that is going to make Wing Slayer happy!  Oh, and she has some serious daddy issues.

Bottom Line: Forbidden Magic has caused me to seriously reassess my position on novellas.  Generally novellas feel far too rushed and even though Ram and Ginny’s story is not resolved by the end of the novella their story is significantly advanced and there is still plenty of room for some ridiculously hot sex.  Did I mention how smolderingly, ridiculously, panty-dropping hot Ram is??  Sorry, I think I did J  While this isn’t a full-length novel it does fit nicely into the Wing Slayer Hunter series and contributes greatly to the future of this series.  By the time you blaze through this steamy read you can clearly see there is indeed an intense and long future for the Wing Slayer Hunters.  YAY! FOR! US!!!!

Want to buy Forbidden Magic?

Amazon                    Barnes & Noble