Friday Book Club #17 *Super Sized Edition!*

Friday, October 5, 2018

Read & Have Opinions On:

The Third Circle by Amanda Quick
Attempting to recover a relic stolen from her family years ago, gifted crystal worker Leona Hewitt secretly makes her way into Lord Delbridge’s private museum. But who she finds there is more entrancing than the crystal she seeks.

Thaddeus Ware is a mesmerist with powerful psychic energy—that doesn’t seem to be affecting the woman before him. Instead, Leona seems to exert a rather hypnotic power over the hypnotist himself. After she gives him the slip, absconding with the crystal they recovered, Thaddeus fears for her safety. For he is on assignment for the secretive Arcane Society and knows that the crystal holds the potential for great destruction. It is the key to Lord Delbridge’s membership in a shadowy group known as the Third Circle. The nobleman killed before to acquire the crystal, and Thaddeus has no doubt that he will kill again.

My Thoughts: You know, I generally enjoy Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick quite a bit but I picked this up because of a Kindle sale and it wasn't really my favorite. The beginning was slower than I expected and the characters lacked a bit of the initial charm that sucks you in. I almost took a break for other reads, but I persevered and happily things got better for Leona and Thaddeus. Krentz/Quick/Castle strings a lot of her worlds together so while I wasn't sure exactly where installment this fell in the overall universe (I could have looked it up, I'm not that invested) I was able to pick it up as a stand alone just fine. In the end I'd say it was a fine sale purchase but Quick has better historical paranormals, so maybe try one of those? Or her futuristic paranormals as Castle (love those!).

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh 
Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rule breaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

My Thoughts: Uh, so, yeah, Nalini Singh. She's an author I love unabashedly and her contemporaries run neck and neck with the Psy-Changeling books as some of my favorites. I say that to preface all the gooshy love feelings I have about this book. She's done an incredible job of making Nayna and Raj real as people, ones with commitments to themselves and their families, and thus navigating their way to a real HEA isn't always easy. But there are those lovely REAL TALKS ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS conversations that happen, compromises on both sides, and smart ways of incorporating their loved ones opinions in a respectful way. It's awesome, I love it, go read it (but maybe start with Cherish Hard? It'll give you good backstory AND it's good as a contemporary romance in and of itself).

The Witches Walk by Jeanne Adams 
Welcome to Haven Harbor, Massachusetts!
In 1691, a group of renegade witches fled Salem in the dark of night, escaping the desperate evil that spawned the Witch Trials. They struck out to form their own town, with their own rules. Three hundred years later, their descendants celebrate by retracing those steps, but this year, a new evil stalks the Witches Walk…

It’s Time for The Witches Walk!

She’s got a plan. Burned out, beaten down, and on the brink of a career implosion, event management dynamo Mari Beecham bypasses the contract of a lifetime to take a job in a community known for its strange, spooky happenings. She doesn’t buy into the story line about the witches founding the town, but it’s great publicity. Bottom line? If she can make the annual Witches Walk a top destination event, she’ll save her career and, maybe, find some balance. She’ll do it, too, if “First Son of Haven Harbor” Peregrine Hestworth will stop interfering.

He’s in her way. As Town Council chair, Pere is serious about the safety and welfare of his people. He doesn’t want to like Mari. Even if he didn’t suspect his meddlesome mother of weaving a matchmaking spell, he still would have voted against hiring the petite whirlwind with a spine of steel. His visions of fire and death moving to Haven Harbor along with Mari are too deadly to ignore.

As trouble brews and the event stalls, the attraction between Mari and Pere bubbles like a cauldron. When a woman is attacked, and another disappears, Pere knows his unreliable foresight has hit the mark this time. An old evil is rising, with a new vendetta, and if they can’t work together, the devastation Pere foresees will take his town, along with the woman he’s coming to love.

My Thoughts: I picked this up with a bunch of others while I was sitting in an Urban Fantasy track panel at DragonCon. There's nothing like hearing an author talk about how they crafted his or her world to make you passionate about trying them yourself, and I think this is a series I would enjoy diving into! I liked Mari's strength as a heroine even when she was thrown into unfamiliar circumstances, because I don't think that I would be as cavalier to find myself amidst "honest to god with powers and everything" witches (plus, you know, murders and all that). The supporting characters are actually what I think made this so much more interesting to read, because a small time setting helps orientated you and Mari into the politics and history of the town, which is integral to moving this book and the series forward. I'm also happy to report that the romance is a good balance between "love at first sight" and "grow to love each other" with a growly, protective hero, so I'm looking forward to starting the next one!

The Mountain's Shadow by Cecilia Dominic 
The hot new behavioral disorder. A family curse.

The disgraced scientist who has to find the connection before she becomes the next victim.

Joanie Fisher’s career is sabotaged just when she is about to hit the mother lode of all medical discoveries. One step from discovering the origin of a Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome outbreak and ten steps ahead of other researchers, her hard work was not only paying off, but gaining the wrong kind of attention. She may have been forced to leave her position, but her research follows her to the estate of her missing grandfather.

Ensconced deep in the Ozark Mountains at Wolfsbane Manor, Joanie’s life takes another sharp turn. When a sexy werewolf seeks her help, Joanie finds herself in the middle of the mystery of missing local children and a chilling family curse. When Joanie discovers the truth, it may be too late to stop a devastating epidemic with no cure…

The Mountain's Shadow is the first book in the Lycanthropy Files, an urban fantasy series with the bite of a medical thriller. If you like hair-raising mysteries, complex characters, and stories that blend science and magic, then you'll love Cecilia Dominic's transfixing tale.

My Thoughts: This was another "heard the author speak at DragonCon" purchase, but unfortunately it didn't work for me as well as the previous one. The pieces are all there to for a paranormal romance I'd really enjoy, but I think it was the characters themselves that put me off. They weren't exactly not sympathetic, but I didn't end up liking them all that much either, which made rooting even for the main couple difficult. This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" read in my opinion, so while it wasn't my cup of tea, the mystery was interesting and the action well paced, so you may want to try it for yourself.

I'm Looking Forward To:

Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal by Forthright (October 22, 2018)
She wasn’t aware of her gift’s significance, yet he expects to be courted.

Kimiko enrolls at the In-between’s prestigious new high school, which is designed to promote the integration of the human and inhuman races. As a reaver, she’s supposed to act as peacemaker, bridging a formidable cultural gap, but the other two members of her triad don’t need any help in that department. Akira and Suuzu have been friends since middle school. Instead, the boys must rally behind Kimiko when she inadvertently initiates a courtship with Eloquence Starmark.

The Bones Beneath My Skin by TJ Klune (October 26, 2018)
In the spring of 1995, Nate Cartwright has lost everything: his parents are dead, his older brother wants nothing to do with him, and he's been fired from his job as a journalist in Washington DC. With nothing left to lose, he returns to his family's summer cabin outside the small mountain town of Roseland, Oregon to try and find some sense of direction.

The cabin should be empty.

It's not.

Inside is a man named Alex. And with him is an extraordinary little girl who calls herself Artemis Darth Vader.

Artemis, who isn't exactly as she appears.

Soon it becomes clear that Nate must make a choice: let himself drown in the memories of his past, or fight for a future he never thought possible.

Because the girl is special. And forces are descending upon them who want nothing more than to control her.

Archangel's Prophecy by Nalini Singh (October 30, 2018)
Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind—and now they are failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering across the world. In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews (November 6, 2018)
Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle.  Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home.  Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic.  But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness.  Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

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