Supernatural Summer Reading

Goldenseal (Book 1) by Gill Mcknight

Amy Fortune, a botanical artist, is summoned back to her childhood home of Little Dip valley when her Aunt Connie becomes sick. The valley is the home of the Garoul family, and the woman who broke Amy’s heart years earlier, Leone. Reluctantly, Amy returns to help finish illustrating the annual almanac published by the Garoul clan, something her aunt had been working on when she contracted a mysterious illness that has seen her remain absent during Amy’s stay. Amy is determined to finish the project and leave; she learnt her lesson in love a long time ago and is not interested in pursuing a relationship with someone who crushed her without a second thought. But Leone has other ideas. She has been waiting for Amy to return to the valley and is unwilling to let her out of sight. As Amy’s unease grows, so do her old feelings for Leone. But where is her aunt, and why can’t she speak to her? And what is the sinister presence prowling around in the woods? As Amy uncovers a series of lies and deception, she must find the pieces of the puzzle that will reveal the Garoul family secret, something that might drive her away forever if it doesn’t kill her first.

This is an entertaining novel that is easy to read with likeable characters and reasonable plot development. The eeriness of the woods and its evil inhabitant is well portrayed, and the hints and clues that reveal the mystery of the Garoul family unfold at a pace that keeps the reader engaged. The building tension between the two main protagonists is believable and the resulting steamy bedroom scenes are a welcome addition! This book is not a serious contender for horror or suspense genres and the humour scattered throughout lightens it further, but it is still a good, fun read for a lazy afternoon.

Ambereye (Book 2) by Gill McKnight

Hope Glassy is returning to work at Ambereye, Inc. after a serious illness. Little does she know that during her absence her beloved job took a little twist— and she now has moody workaholic Jolie Garoul as her new boss. Jolie is awkward, contrary, and on occasion, just plain mean. Hardworking and popular Hope is determined not to let the childish antics of her bizarre boss put a shadow over her new optimistic outlook. The ensuing actions are hilarious as both characters attempt to outwit each other in office politics. With the protective encouragement of her twin brother, Andre and his partner, Godfrey, Jolie is slowly manipulated into seeing the benefits of her new PA.  An uneasy truce follows until Andre comes up with the idea of holding an important family meeting in Little Dip, home of the Garoul clan, over the Thanksgiving break. Hope doesn’t need to work over Thanksgiving however that’s exactly what she and Jolie end up doing. A little interference from Andre and it’s assumed Jolie has brought her chosen mate to meet her pack. Much to her consternation, the socially awkward and inept Jolie finds she likes this idea, but Hope has no time for romance. She is eager to get her life on track and her health and career back to normal. Jolie is determined to change her mind, but how does a lycanthrope woo a human? Add in a love triangle with Hope’s beloved mutt, Tadpole, and you have a fast paced, riotous page turner you won’t be able to put down. The author does a superb job with the relationship development between both main characters. The too infrequent sex scenes, underpinned by both characters’ vulnerabilities, are scorching. By far the best of the series.

Indigo Moon (book 3) by Gill McKnight

After reading the second instalment of this series, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the third. Sadly, I was a little disappointed with the writing itself. A much darker story than either of the previous two, it starts with great suspense. A woman, Isabelle, is horrifyingly attacked in her car by a pack of wild animals, causing her to crash the vehicle and give the animals access to the inside- and to her. She awakens sometime later, in a cabin in the woods, with a mysterious dark haired stranger, Ren, watching over her. Isabelle has amnesia and remembers nothing of her former life. She finds herself stumbling across a series of clues that lead her to question whether Ren and her bunch of misfit charges are friend or foe.

Low self esteem and uncertainty plague Isabelle, but unfortunately the authors attempt at engaging the reader with the main protagonist’s vulnerability falls short.  As Isabelle sifts through the evidence before her, she begins undergoing some changes of her own. Finally escaping from the desolate valley, Isabelle finds herself prowling the streets of a city she somehow feels connected to, looking for answers. Enter Hope and Godfrey from the previous novel. This is where the story really picks up, as Hope and Godfrey attempt to get her to Little Dip, and the help of the Garoul family who can guide her through the changes brought on by the attack. But there are a bunch of rogue werewolves on their heels, determined to stop them at any cost.

If you enjoyed the previous two books you will probably like this one, however McKnight fails to produce the same gripping connection with the main characters as previous novels in the series.

Everafter (book 1) by Nell Stark & Trinity Tam

This fast-paced and edgy novel is one of the better ones in a genre saturated in the lesbian market. Told in two halves, each belongs to the first person point of view of each of the main characters.  Medical student, Valentine Darrow, (written by Stark) is violently attacked on her way home from buying champagne to celebrate her surprise proposal to girlfriend, Alexa Newland. Waking in a hospital bed, the only clues to her attack are those reported to her by the police, and a series of flashbacks that come without warning. Plagued by an unquenchable thirst, Valentine returns home and tries to get her life back on track, but she soon succumbs to the need to seek answers from the specialist doctor who treated her in hospital. Tracking him down at the private clinic run by a clandestine group called the Consortium, it is soon revealed that the attack has left Valentine infected with a rare parasite- that of a vampire species. Struggling to come to terms with her new identity and her need to feed, the only way she can stop from undergoing full transformation into vampirism and becoming one of the souless characters of folklore is to feed only from the one source- her true love, Alexa. Not willing to risk the safety of her girlfriend, Valentine leaves.

The second half of the novel is told by Alexa (written by Tam). Having dicovered the secret her lover tried to keep, Alexa also begins to research ways in which she can satiate Val’s thirst for blood while keeping her from losing her moral essence. Exposed to the Consortium, the women learn one of its other  mysteries: shapeshifters or weres. Alexa begs the head of the Consortium to infect her with the were virus so that she might feed Val and also replenish her own source of blood each time she shifts. The approval Alexa is given angers many of the political heads of each of the two groups. After successful transformation, Alexa and Val commence on a journey into seedy, underground nightclubs  to find the rogue vampire who first infected Val, and has also killed several more victims since.

Fans of the supernatural/paranormal genre should love this story, but those who enjoy a good old fashioned romance with a twist will also take pleasure from it.  A good read that has a turning plot, is well written and engaging.

Nevermore (book 2) by Nell Stark & Trinity Tam

This second novel in the series sees the return of vampire, Valentine Darrow, and her shape-shifting soulmate, Alexa Newland. Again, it is told in two halves- the first person point of view of each of the main characters.

Having hunted down and killed the blood-sucking rogue who transformed Val, both women now have time to investigate their new heritages. When Alexa travels to a primeval city to learn more about her were history, Val is left alone in New York to negotiate the fragile political alliance between vampires and shifters.  Finding herself the only remaining being of an ancient vampire clan, she dedicates her time to studying the parasite that now consumes her blood. Meanwhile, a deadly disease has begun ravaging the shifters of the city. Unable to contact her lover to warn her, Val embarks on a dangerous mission to uncover the cause of the infection and the dark secrets of the Consortium. But will she uncover them in time to save Alexa, and how long can she resist the formidable urge to feed from another source- and forfit her soul forever?

Caught in a power struggle between two groups of wereshifters, Alexa finds herself trapped in an ancient city. Captured by a ruthless Were-leader who is determined to use her as bait for his bloody-minded crusade, Alexa must find a way of escape and begin the treacherous journey that will take her back to Val. But first, she must determine who is friend and who is foe if she is to stay alive long enough to make it. She is working against the clock, because at the forefront of her mind is the knowledge that if she doesn’t reach her in time, Val will have no choice but to feed from another and lose her humanity in the process.

This book has more action and adventure than the first in the series, but the relationship of the central characters is not overshadowed by the fast-paced twists and turns. Instead, it is a great sequel that provides insight into the history and egos of each group. Once you start, it’s hard to put this book down!

 

Nightrise (book 3) by Nell Stark & Trinity Tam

All good things must come to an end, and sadly this is the case with the excellent story-telling in this series. After the first two entertaining novels, I had great expectations for the third, but a lack of intrigue and lazy writing makes it seem the authors couldn’t wait to round out the tale (although there is apparently a fourth instalment, ‘Sunfall’ destined for the shelves in the near future).

Valentine Darrow has lost her soul, and her soul-mate, Alexa. As an elite and powerful leader of an ancient vampire linage, Val embarks on a campaign to transform as many humans as possible to her new clan. Partying by night and converting an old bank into the new financial capital of the Consortium by day, Val has moved on from her old life and the human weakness that Alexa forced her to. But her red-headed ex continues to plague Val’s thoughts and senses, and her brutally ambitious enemies know it. After a series of attempts on her life, will they succeed in bringing her down?

Alexa Newland has just discovered that nothing is forever. Desolate and despondent from Val’s betrayal, she attempts to pick up the pieces of her life and move forward, but the discovery of an ancient legend sparks a ray of hope for Val’s salvation. Unravelling the archaic script and piecing together the puzzle, Alexa risks everything, including new friends, to travel to the far reaches of Argentina and find a cure for Val. But will the custodian of the rare flower be willing to share, and even if she does, will Val accept the treatment and forfeit her new-found power?

Promises, Promises: A Romp with Plenty of Dykes, a Unicorn, an Ogre, an Oracle, a Quest, a Princess, and True Love with a Happily Ever After- L-J Baker

 (Description from Amazon) Sandy Blunt, witch, has big dreams but C-average magic skills. Her only noteworthy talent is for paying extravagant compliments to women. Trouble is, when she uses that gift, she unwittingly foretells the future for a pretty princess. The punishment for prophesying about one of royal blood is death. With the help of ill-assorted companions, including a self-proclaimed princess in disguise with a wild imagination, a self-absorbed member of the royal guard who doesn’t like getting dust on his shiny armour, a chain-mail bikini clad feminist amazon warrior, and the not-so-average girl next door, Sandy has a year and a day to travel to far-flung places–encountering such dangerous creatures as a dragon who writes awful poetry, slovenly elves, not-so-scary ogres who grow glorious gardens, and boarding house landladies–to collect the weird and magical items needed to turn her prophecies into promises and so evade the executioner.

This is a humorous and clever parody of almost every cliché ever written in the fantasy genre.  Fans who have previously read a lot of the genre will recognize many of the references and allusions Baker uses. Even if you haven’t read much fantasy before, the story travels along at a crisp pace with laugh-out-loud moments, and you will love the antics of the characters as they fumble their way through the series of challenges they confront.

 

 

~ Bonnie.

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