Mark of The Demon by Diana Rowland, Book Review

Goodreads Blurb 

Cop and conjurer of demons, she’s a woman in danger of losing control to a power that could kill….

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives’and souls’of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.

Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head…

My Review

Rating: 4*

So this was an interesting one for me as it was a little outside of my usual fare. It was a real combination of police-procedural and urban fantasy, with a healthy dose of humour and just a dash of eroticism. I think Ms Rowland did a seamless job of blending all those elements together and the one constant throughout was Kara. She was a great lead character as she was imperfect, flawed and ordinary except for when she was extraordinary. I like her vulnerability, it makes her extremely human in sometimes inhuman situations.

I must confess to taking an immediate and very shallow liking to Rhyzkahl. Ryan, on the other hand, was a slow burner, intentionally so I think. The two male leads really make you question the concept of good and evil, reminding me a little of Anne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil.

All told, an enjoyable read and I look forward to finding out what happens to the trio in the next one.

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) Jim Butcher, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

Harry Dresden — Wizard.

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

 

My Review

Rating 4*

Harry Dresden is a Wizard for hire. Along with helping civilians with magical problems, for a fee, he also works with the Police Department when they have magic related crimes. In this first volume of The Dresden Files, Harry gets embroiled in a crime that spans magic and the mafia, while at the same time trying to prove to the wizard authority, the White Council, that he is not breaking wizard law by practising black magic. To make matters worse, the Police have Harry in their sights, too.

What makes a refreshing change for this type of Urban Fantasy is having a male protagonist and a male author. Though I really liked Harry, perhaps that is also why I found it a little bit difficult to stay completely immersed in the story. And the fact that Harry was a bit hapless simultaneously added humour to the story and turned me off. Perhaps it was my own expectations that tripped me up here. Even though I like to think of myself as an open-minded reader, perhaps I’m more set in my ways than I thought. 

There are some great characters in this book, Butcher has a gift for giving a real personality to his characters, all of them different, all of them with a back story. Even if he doesn’t share all of it with us, the reader, you get a sense of them without him belabouring the point. That is the books real strength, along with the quality of writing. 

It’s flaw, for me, comes from the pacing of the story. The first half of the book felt very slow, though I understand he was world-building, while the second half was relentless. Poor Harry stumbles out of one impossible situation straight into the next. I personally enjoy the odd moment of stillness in a book, a chance for the protagonist, and me, to catch our breath. And I do like my leading men to be a bit more Alpha male. Again, though, I’m willing to concede it may well have been my own expectations that got in the way. 

This was a hard one for me to rate because Harry is a contradiction. On the one hand he’s accident prone, not too great with women, and seems to attract danger, while on the other he’s a formidable Wizard. If I was rating it purely on how much I enjoyed the book I would have given it 3*. But if I take into account the fact that this is a well written book with great characterisation, a solid mystery and the ability to challenge my expectations at every turn, in good faith I can’t give it less than 4*. 

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6) by JR Ward, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other—six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now, a dutiful twin must choose between two lives…

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love…

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

How I’ve missed the boys! It’s been a while since I’ve read this series as I’d heard that they has changed for the worse. Now, having read it for myself, I have to disagree. They have changed somewhat, perhaps edging closer to UF than PNR, but I liked the changed. The series has grown, in my opinion, the stories are deeper, more emotional, and more exciting. I understand why that may not be to a lot of BDB fans liking, and I was worried myself as I’m old and don’t like change, but I loved it.

Phury is in a bad place. He’s much more like Z than I’d previously thought, and Ward really explores the depths that he has sunk to. You really develop concern for Phury that I’m not sure I felt for the others in the earlier books to this degree. That may be because I’ve forgotten them or because of how Ward’s writing has changed. I liked exploring the psychological aspect of one of the Brothers.

And how cool are the Baby Brothers? We really get to see how the next generation of BDB are growing into their shitkickers in this book, and rather a lot of it focuses on them, which I didn’t mind in principle, but would have liked maybe even more about Phury.

All told, a great read, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as the previous 5, and am certainly going to keep reading this series.