Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

I want to start this review by saying that Patricia Briggs is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her Mercy Thompson series is hands-down one of the best urban fantasy series out there. Dead Heat is book four of the Alpha and Omega series, a spin-off of Mercy’s world. For some reason, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I wanted to.

18941694 For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

I’ve been in a terrible reading funk. Probably one of the worst I’ve ever had, where I’ve left multiple books unfinished. It’s like I’ve lost all desire to read. So I made myself read Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs because it’s from an author I love so I thought it would zap me out of my funk. Unfortunately, my funk either affected my read of this book, or this book just isn’t as good as I’m used to from Briggs.

I really enjoyed the first three books from Charles and Anna. The most interesting thing about their relationship is Anna’s damaged past and Charles’ cold calculation. Dead Heat follows the pair down to Arizona to buy a horse and paranormal activities just so happen to take place.

There were two big issues I had with this book. First, the horse buying/showing was tedious to read. I found myself skimming and skipping as I realized more and more of the pages were filled with horse jargon and unnecessary book fluff. Second, Charles and Anna’s relationship is basically non-existent. They discuss a few couple issues, but for the most part they could be two friends hanging out. There was no romance in this book. I don’t even think they kissed once. I was sorely disappointed.

However, in true Briggs style, the danger was evident through this story, where a Fae is stealing children and leaving a changeling/fetch in its place. The investigation into finding the Fae was intriguing and the final showdown at the end was well-written. In fact, a major death in the end had me shedding a few tears. The fact that I was still emotionally impacted by a story that was for the most part boring me to death is the only thing that saved this book for me.

I may be in a reading funk, but I still think that Briggs missed the mark on this book. I want more of Charles and Anna’s relationship and less of the history and background. The secondary characters in this book were too far-flung from the main characters to be considered secondary. It was like Charles and Anna were dropped into a completely different story and world. However, I did enjoy the ending and I won’t be giving up on Mrs. Briggs.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world.

Today, I’m anticipating he release of Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs, which will be released Tuesday, March 3, 2015. This is the fourth book in the Alpha & Omega series.

18941694THE NEW CHARLES AND ANNA NOVEL

Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,”* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

There is a special place in my heart — and on my shelves — for Patricia Briggs. I love her supernatural stories. I first discovered Mercy Thompson and that series but quickly jumped into her Alpha & Omega series, which follows Charles and Anna within Mercy’s world. I love the idea of an Alpha and Omega, needing both the strong and the weak to create the perfect couple. I can’t wait to get more of Charles and Anna’s story.

Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill

A week or so ago, I started the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill. I’ve always had a soft spot for Urban Fantasy but I’ve also always had my favorite UF heroines. I’m happy to say that Neill’s Merit makes that list.

4447622They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

I bulldozed through the first seven books of the series within a couple weeks. I just couldn’t stop reading; I had to see what happened next. Unfortunately, with all these books under my belt, it’s hard to remember where each book stopped and another started. I guess that’s an indication of how flawless this series is when it comes to plot, writing and flow. So I’ve decided to do a “why-you-should-read-this-series” review (even though I’m not quite finished yet.)

To be frank, I am in love with this series so be prepared for some biased fangirling. The main protagonist in the series is Merit, English grad student turned vampire against her will when she was attacked on the way across campus one fateful night. She then joins the Cadagon House (All the vamps are separated into “houses,” where they pledge their allegiance to the Master.) and meets the master vampire, Ethan Sullivan. [Cue Swooning]9581001

The chemistry between Merit and Ethan is electric. Neill makes the reader wait a really long time before anything really happens between them but the give and take is just as good as any dirty details. When it does come down to the nitty gritty, Neill is very light on the details. The focus is really on their relationship not so much the physical aspect. Regardless, each interaction between Ethan and Merit left me panting or reeling. I loved every second of it.

Merit is a kick ass heroine. She has to come into her own but once she does, she is one badass girl with a katana. I enjoyed watching her navigate the vampire world but still hold onto her humanity. Each book in this series has a challenge for Merit, Ethan and the Cadagon vampires to overcome, exposing the reader to new supernatural species, such as shifters, fae and river nymphs. There’s always a lot of action and really good character development. Not just with the main characters but the secondary characters as well. For example, Merit’s best friend Mallory and Catcher, the sorcerer.

My favorite book so far is Hard Bitten, the fourth book. The reader FINALLY gets to see some action between Ethan and Merit and the ending is such a cliffhanger it left me bawling my eyes out. There are nine books currently out with the tenth installment, Blood Games, coming out soon on August 5. If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, especially if you enjoy authors such Kim Harrison or Patricia Briggs, you will love Chloe Neill. This is a series that shouldn’t be missed.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance

Karen Chance is one of my all-time favorite authors and the Cassandra Palmer series is also one of my top favorites. It’s one of those stories that I continually think about and come back to again and again. So I was ecstatic when the sixth book, Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance, FINALLY came out.

12528745Being a goddess is a lot less fun than you might think. Especially when you’re only a half goddess, and you only found out about it recently, and you still don’t know what you’re doing half the time. And when you’ve just used your not-so-reliable powers to burglarize the booby-trapped office of a vampire mob boss.

Yeah, that part sucks.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Cassandra Palmer, aka the Pythia, the freshly minted chief seer of the supernatural world. After all, Cassie still has to save a friend from a fate worse than death, deal with an increasingly possessive master vampire, and prevent a party of her own acolytes from unleashing a storm of fury upon the world. Totally just your average day at the office, right?

I have a confession to make. It has been years since the last book came out and all I remember is devouring it in one sitting and loving it, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember how it ended. Within the first few pages of this book, I was googling the crap out of spoilers from the previous book, Hunt the Moon, to get a refresher. I ended up re-reading the last few chapters just to get up to speed. If you haven’t read the series stop now because I’m about to give a recap. Basically, Cassie finds out her mom is Artemis, the goddess. Her dad worked with the black circle, and in a heartbreaking ending, Pritkin (who’s a half-incubus demon!) gives up his freedom on earth and is banished back to hell because he gives Cassie “energy” to save her life through a sexy kiss. All of this leads us to the beginning of book six, where despite the many years that have passed since this series started, it’s only been a few months in Cassie years.

I’m torn with this book. I love this story but this book was so one-sided. Cassie comes up with a plan to invade hell and get Pritkin back no matter what and she’s still struggling with being the new Pythia. And as a member of Team Mircea, I regret to inform you he is not in this book. I repeat NOT in this book. Okay, so there is one sexy scene (the ONLY one mind you.) but for the most part Cassie is saving Pritkin and Mircea is somewhere else. I’m dying to know what Mircea thought when he found his girlfriend butt-naked kissing Pritkin on her coronation day! I guess we’ll have to wait another year or so until the next installment? 😦

However, if you are team Pritkin, you are in for a treat! Cassie really has to define her feelings and motives to do what it takes to save him. This book has a heartbreaking but hopeful ending and at one point Pritkin (sort of) talks about his feelings toward Cassie. As a sucker for love triangles, I’m not sure what’s going to happen here, but it’s going to be interesting!

There was a lot of action in this book in true Chance style, and she did not disappoint. I just miss Mircea. The next installment, Reap the Wind, comes out in 2014 and I hope it’s sooner rather than later because, after that ending, I have to know what happens next.

STARS: 4 out of 5

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

I was in the mood for a good urban fantasy and I came across Keri Arthur. I took a chance and bought the first few in this series about a half-vampire/half-werewolf, independent, sexually liberated, kick-ass girl named Riley Jenson.

172764In this exciting debut, author Keri Arthur explodes onto the supernatural scene with a sexy, sensuous tale of intrigue and suspense set in a world where legends walk and the shady paths of the underworld are far more sinister than anyone envisioned.

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races–and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker–until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn’t be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she’s going to find her brother….Easier said than done as the city pulses with frenzied desire, and Riley is confronted with a very powerful–and delectably naked–vamp who raises her temperature like never before.

In matters carnal, Riley has met her match. But in matters criminal, she must follow her instincts not only to find her brother but to stop an unholy harvest. For someone is doing some shifty cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior–by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind–and just how much it needs her.

There are two main reasons why I loved this book.

One, it’s a refreshing urban fantasy where the main protagonist knows what she wants and doesn’t want. She’s sexually aware and embraces her overly-sexual werewolf lifestyle. This book has a lot of sex scenes but they are necessary plot-building scenes. Plus, as a werewolf during the full moon, there is a reason for all the sex. It’s so refreshing when there is a point to everything.

Two, with lots of sex scenes, there are multiple partners. Again, with her alternative lifestyle, this is socially acceptable. This worked because she had a relationship with each one individually. I’m a sucker for love triangles and the like, so multiple love interests is always my cup of tea. I really enjoyed watching the heat rise and fall with each partner, trying to determine which man fit her best. Even better was her desire to one-day still find her soul mate, who has to be werewolf (which causes issues when she’s falling for a vampire!). This gives her the girl next-door feel, which helps combat her more whore-ish qualities.

Also, this book is so exciting! It’s action-packed with a mystery to solve. As Riley digs deeper into finding her missing twin brother she gets more involved in becoming a guardian (which she doesn’t want) and gets sucked into all the drama (which she doesn’t want either). However, it all involves her on such a personal level; she has to do what she has to do in order to save her brother. Plus, don’t forget about sweet revenge.

I was totally enthralled by this series. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like and it seems to be growing with each consecutive book, making it a series worth reading.

STARS: 4 out of 5

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Here we are, book 7 of the Mercy Thompson series brought to us by the wonderfully talented Patricia Briggs. Frost Burned was everything I’ve come to expect from Briggs.

13413589Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more.

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Every time I read Briggs, I wait for her books to get more formulaic and predictable, but she always surprises me. With every book, something comes out of nowhere to test Mercy, but her relationships are still rock solid with the same, steady characters. However, at times, it’s a little too out of left field. I have to wrap my mind around all the new concepts before I can run with it.

Mercy is the same badass coyote. In this book, her man is in danger and she’s going to do whatever it takes to get him back. I really liked how this book focused on the complexity of Mercy having a stepdaughter and how that relationship affects her relationship with Adam. The politics are ramping up with the werewolves out in the open and Adam and the pack are in the forefront of it all.

The best part of this book is the “battle” in the end. I call it a battle because I don’t know how else to describe it and I don’t want to give anything away. Compared with the beginning of the book, Mercy’s just doing a lot of running around town looking for clues. The ending is where the action is and where Mercy’s true colors can shine–her stubbornness and how everyone underestimates her power. We get to watch Adam and Mercy’s relationship grow and they learn how to be a normal couple even with the many dangers that surround them.

I always enjoy Briggs and this book is no different. However, some of her books have been better. The character development overall was kind of lacking. She spent a bit too much time world-building, which at this point in the series should be pretty set. With that said, I will continue to read this series, it’s one of my all-time favorites.

STARS: 4.5 out of 5

Kate Daniels series #1-3 Magic Bites, Magic Burns, and Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

I’m always up for a good urban fantasy, when I heard about this “Kate Daniels” and Ilona Andrews, I was intrigued…and I was hooked after the first few pages of book one. Let me give you the low down on the first three books in this series because, most likely, you will read them in quick succession like I did.

imagesWhen the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Book one, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, was a sufficient introduction into Kate Daniels’ world. I found Kate to be incredibly entertaining with her badass moves and her witty quips. (A girl after my own heart.) The line “Here, kitty kitty…” when she first meets the Curran, the lord of the beasts, was hysterical! I found this book to be a great set-up for the series but the “meat” just wasn’t there. The relationships were only just starting to grow and the storyline was beginning to take off.  However, we do get to know Kate very well, well enough to love her and continue the series.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

imagesCAM6ZXAPDown in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

Book two, Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews was an amazing continuation of this series. It had a “meaty” plot that drove the interactions between the characters. Andrews created the most delicious sexual tension I have EVER experienced. I was writhing in anticipation by the end; can Kate just get a little action?? Speaking of action, there is also a completely different kind of  action in this book, and it was non-stop. I LOVE fight to the deaths and Andrews delivered. My heart is still racing from all the action. As a character, Kate is slowly unraveled before us exposing the secrets she keeps and why she keeps them. I loved her secrets and I loved that she fought to keep them a secret but was still human enough to want an ordinary life. The only issue I had with the series so far is every problem turned into “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!” This plot device can be overdone and desensitize readers. At one point, I found myself annoyed that every fight determined the fate of the world. I’d appreciate a little more reality in that aspect of the books. Overall, it’s still a great book.

STARS: 4 out of 5

images2Investigator for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Kate Daniels keeps humans safe in Atlanta. But when her werewolf friend Derek is dying in human form, from attack by the mysterious Reaper team at the Midnight Games, she and Curran, the Beast Lord, must fight together to win the Wolf Diamond topaz and save his Pack and her friends.

Book three is Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews. This series just keeps getting better and better, just when I thought the series would level out, it keeps building with more action, more character growth, and more PASSION. I am absolutely hooked. Andrews has led me along quivering in anticipation from the sexual tension between Curran and Kate. Finally, in book three, there was some sizzling action. (Waiting until the third book for a sex scene in an urban fantasy has got to be a record!) These sex scenes add to the plot which is super refreshing and I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed them. However, the best thing about this book was the witty writing. I have never (in my entire life) laughed out loud while reading as much as I did with this book. I was practically rolling on the floor. (This is NOT an exaggeration.) I had so much fun with this book and it was so entertaining. I loved how Andrews blended the funny with the serious. This book had a very sweet ending. Andrews has truly built a series that I want more and more of.

STARS: 5 out of 5

I’m already on the path to devouring the next two books, Magic Bleeds and Magic Slays, and I’m anticipating the release of Magic Rises which comes out July 30, 2013. If you love Urban Fantasy, this series is for you.