Spotlight! River Road by Suzanne Johnson

Today we’re celebrating Suzanne Johnson’s River Road.  This is the second book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series, which follows Drusilla Jaco’s adventures as the sentential of New Orleans.   Check back in a bit for my review of River Road, but for now, enjoy this excerpt from the book.

Excerpt River Road by Suzanne Johnson

The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone. The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it had been hand- carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs.

They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.

The infamous Jean Lafitte had expected me at seven. He’d summoned me to his French Quarter hotel suite by courier like I was one of his early nineteenth-century wenches, and I hated to destroy his pirate-king delusions, but the historical undead don’t summon wizards. We summon them.

I’d have blown him off if my boss on the Congress of Elders hadn’t ordered me to comply and my co-sentinel, Alex, hadn’t claimed a prior engagement.

At seven thirty, I abandoned my drink, took a deep breath, and marched through the lobby toward the bank of elevators.

On the long dead-man-walking stroll down the carpeted hallway, I imagined all the horrible requests Jean might make. He’d saved my life a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina sent the city into freefall, and I hadn’t seen him since. I’d been desperate at the time. I might have promised him unfettered access to modern New Orleans in exchange for his assistance. I might have promised him a place to live. I might have promised him things I don’t even remember. In other words, I might be totally screwed.

I reached the door of the Eudora Welty Suite and knocked, reflecting that Jean Lafitte probably had no idea who Eudora Welty was, and wouldn’t like her if he did. Ms. Welty had been a modern sort of woman who wouldn’t hop to attention when summoned by a scoundrel.

He didn’t answer immediately. I’d made him wait, after all, and Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste.

“You have many assets, Drusilla, but apparently a respect for time is not among them.” Deep, disapproving voice, French accent, broad shoulders encased in a red linen shirt, long dark hair pulled back into a tail, eyes such a cobalt blue they bordered on navy. And technically speaking, dead.

He was as sexy as ever.

“Sorry.” I slipped my hand in my skirt pocket, fingering the small pouch of magic-infused herbs I carried at all times. My mojo bag wouldn’t help with my own perverse attraction to the man, but it would keep my empathic abilities in check. If he still had a perverse attraction to me, I didn’t want to feel it.

He eased his six-foot-two frame into a sturdy blue chair and slung one long leg over the arm as he gave me a thorough eyeraking, a ghost of a smile on his face.

I perched on the edge of the adjacent sofa, easing back against a pair of plump throw pillows, and looked at him expectantly. I hoped what ever he wanted wouldn’t jeopardize my life, my job, or my meager bank account.

“You are as lovely as ever, Jolie,” Jean said, trotting out his pet name for me that sounded deceptively intimate and brought back a lot of memories, most of them bad. “I will forgive your tardiness— perhaps you were late because you were selecting clothing that I would like.” His gaze lingered on my legs. “You chose beautifully.”

I’d picked a conservative black skirt and simple white blouse with the aim of looking professional for a business meeting, part of my ongoing attempt to prove to the Elders I was a mature wizard worthy of a pay raise. But this was Jean Lafitte, so I should have worn coveralls. I’d forgotten what a letch he could be.

“I have a date after our meeting,” I lied. He didn’t need to know said date involved a round carton with the words Blue Bell Ice Cream printed on front. “Why did you want to see me?”

There, that hadn’t been so difficult—just a simple request. No drama. No threats. No double- entendre. Straight to business.

“Does a man need a reason to see a beautiful woman? Especially one who is indebted to him, and who has made him many promises?” A slow smile spread across his face, drawing my eyes to his full lips and the ragged scar that trailed his jawline.

I might be the empath in the room, but he knew very well that, in some undead kind of way, I thought he was hot.

I felt my face warming to the shade of a trailer- trash bridesmaid’s dress, one whose color had a name like raging rouge. I’d had a similar reaction when I first met Jean in 2005, two days before a mean hurricane with a sissy name turned her malevolent eye toward the Gulf Coast. I blamed my whole predicament on Katrina, the bitch.

Her winds had driven the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into the canals that crisscrossed the city, collapsing levees and filling the low, concave metro area like a gigantic soup bowl.

But NBC Nightly News and Anderson Cooper had missed the biggest story of all: how, after the storm, a mob of old gods, historical undead, and other preternatural victims of the scientific age flooded New Orleans. As a wizard, I’d had a ringside seat. Now, three years later, the wizards had finally reached accords with the major preternatural ruling bodies, and the borders were down, as of two days ago. Jean hadn’t wasted any time.

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802

ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336

Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

About the Author:

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Website: www.suzanne-johnson.com

Blog: http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Suzanne_Johnson

FB: http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Johnson.author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5046525.Suzanne_Johnson

Publisher Page: http://us.macmillan.com/author/suzannejohnson

Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson


 

Title: Royal Street

Author: Suzanne Johnson

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.


Review:

Royal Street has been on my TBR mountain for a long time, so I jumped at the opportunity to host a spot on Suzanne Johnson’s blog tour.  New Orleans is a great setting for books, especially urban fantasy reads, and I admit that I’m fascinated by the city and it’s history.  I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet, but it’s on my list of places to visit.  Setting the story after Hurricane Katrina just made it that much more appealing to me.  That big, scary storm caused so much damage, why couldn’t it have ruptured the borders to another dimension?  I’m totally buying into that!

Drusilla Jaco, AKA DJ, is a junior sentinel for New Orleans.  She controls green magic, which is kind of weak and lame compared to her mentor’s.  Gerry is a powerful wizard, and he can do things that DJ can only dream about.  Light a candle with the flick of a finger?  It’s a snap for Gerry.  Banish nasty paranormal critters back to the Beyond?  No problem with that, either.  What DJ wants is to test her wings and prove that she is capable of more than the menial tasks Gerry sends her on.  The story starts with her confronting Jean Lafitte, in the bayou.  If she can send him back where he belongs, maybe Gerry will give her more important tasks. 

Her first assignment starts to go sour, but DJ proves that she’s a quick thinker and that she’s also clever and resourceful.  She also pisses off Lafitte, and he menaces her for the rest of the book.  I loved him.  He had more personality than any of the other males characters, and I found myself hoping that DJ and Lafitte would hook up.  Their tense, charged encounter so early in the novel spoiled me for her relationships with Alex and Jake.  Unfortunately.

When Katrina rumbles into town, DJ is ordered by Gerry to evacuate.  DJ  needs to be safe, just in case something happens to Gerry.  Gerry is the major force keeping the dangerous  beings that live in the Beyond right where they belong.  Though DJ believes the storm will blow over, just like all the rest have, she obeys and crashes with her grandmother.  When the storm obliterates the city she loves, DJ just wants to get back home and make sure that Gerry and her friends are all right.  When Gerry disappears without a trace, she is frantic to find him.  When the wizard Elders believe that Gerry’s a traitor, DJ is determined to prove them wrong, even if it means risking her life to prove his innocence. 

Overall, I enjoyed Royal Street, but there were times when I was so frustrated with DJ.  I just don’t understand why these bright, intelligent women constantly turn off their common sense and go skipping into danger with hardly a second thought.  Again and again and again.   This is one of my biggest pet peeves with PNR and UF.  The heroines are in such a hurry to solve whatever mystery they are confronted with that they cease to think things through.  When everyone you know tells you to hunker down or you will die, I think that you need to listen every now and again, but maybe that is attributed to my cautious nature.

I didn’t find the relationship with Alex or Jake very compelling, but Jean Lafitte spoiled me for other men.  He’s a pirate, for goodness sakes!  It’s hard to compete with that!  Mix in his apparent immortality, and, wowzies!  I want DJ to bring out the noble man that I know must be hiding under that rakish pirate attire.  I’m not saying that Alex and Jake are 100% chopped liver, because they’re not.  Jake, the wounded Marine who now runs a bar, did have some appeal, and Alex, an uber alpha, gun-toting enforcer, would have been more interesting to me if not for the presence of Lafitte.  I dig pirates! So sue me.

I found the pacing occasionally ponderous, but when the action clicked into gear, things really rocked.  The ending, in particular, was a blast, and kept me turning the pages in rapid succession.  DJ was just starting to come into her own, and I’m curious to see where the story goes next. 

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Spotlight! Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Today we’re celebrating Suzanne Johnson’s Royal Street.  This is the first book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series.  I love reading about New Orleans, and this book begins just prior to Hurricane Katrina, and it follows Drusilla Jaco’s, otherwise known as, DJ, misadventures after the storm.  Her mentor is missing, she has managed to piss off Jean Lafitte, and a minor voodoo god has a bounty on her head.  If that’s not enough to keep her busy, her new partner, a ruthless, gun-toting enforcer, is convinced that her mentor has gone rogue and he’s determined to track him down.  Check back in a bit for my review of Royal Street, but for now, enjoy this excerpt from the book.

EXCERPT- ROYAL STREET by SUZANNE JOHNSON

Friday, August 26, 2005

Once [Tropical Storm Katrina] moved over the gulf today, it was expected to wheel north, pick up speed and hit the Florida Panhandle on Sunday.”

The New York Times

CHAPTER 1

A secluded Louisiana bayou. A sexy pirate. Seduction and deceit. My Friday afternoon had the makings of a great romantic adventure, at least in theory.

In practice, angry mosquitoes were using me for target practice, humidity had ruined any prayer of a good hair day, and the pirate in question?the infamous Jean Lafitte?was two-hundred years old, armed, and carrying a six-pack of Paradise condoms in assorted fruit flavors.

I wasn’t sure what unnerved me more—the fact that the historical undead had discovered erotic accessories, or that Lafitte felt the need to practice safe sex.

Nothing about the pirate looked safe. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had dark blue eyes and a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth as he watched me set two glasses and a bottle of dark rum on a rickety wooden table. A tanned, muscular chest peeked from his open-collared shirt, and shaggy dark hair framed a clean-shaven face. A jagged scar across his jaw reminded me the so-called gentleman pirate also had his ruthless side.

He’d arrived by way of a stolen boat at this isolated cabin near Delacroix, a half-hour outside New Orleans, to pursue two of the world’s most timeless pleasures: sex and money. I’d met him here to play the role of a gullible young wizard falling under the spell of the legendary pirate, at least for a while. Then I’d do my duty as deputy sentinel and send his swashbuckling hide back to the Beyond, where he could rub shoulders with other undead legends and preternatural creatures unfit for polite human company.

My hand shook as I poured the rum, sloshing a few drops of amber liquid over the side of the glass. I’d finally been given a serious assignment, and I needed it to go without a hitch.

Lafitte’s fingers brushed mine as he took the drink, sending an unexpected rush of energy up my arm. “Merci, Mademoiselle Jaco—or may I call you Drusilla?”

Actually, I’d prefer he didn’t call me anything. Despite his obvious hopes for the evening, this wasn’t a date. “Most people call me DJ.”

“Bah,” he said, taking a sip of rum. “Those are alphabet letters, not a name.”

From beneath the red sash that accented his waist, Lafitte pulled a modern semiautomatic handgun and set it on the table next to the rum bottle. I knew how he’d gotten it—he’d rolled the Tulane student that summoned him, lifted the kid’s wallet and iPod, rode the streetcar to Canal Street, and made a trade for the gun. Enterprising guy, Lafitte.

I pondered the odd spike of energy I’d gotten from his hand. Touching increases the emotional crap I absorb from people as an empath, but Lafitte was technically a dead guy. Still, I’d like to say if he touched me again, I’d demand double pay from the wizards’ Congress of Elders. Triple if it involved lips.

But who was I kidding? My bargaining position was nonexistent. My boss Gerry only sent me on this run because he had something else to do and knew Lafitte might respond to my questionable seduction skills.

I’d pulled my unruly blonde hair out of its usual ponytail for the occasion, loaded on some makeup to play up my teal eyes, and poured myself into a little black skirt, short enough to show off my legs while not offending Lafitte’s nineteenth-century sensibilities.

It must have worked, because the pirate was giving me that head-to-toe appraisal guys do on instinct, like they’re assessing a juicy slab of beef and deciding whether they want it rare, medium, or well-done.

“You really are lovely, Drusilla.” The timbre of Lafitte’s voice shivered down my spine, and I fought the urge to check out the biceps underneath that linen shirt.

Holy crap. This was just wrong. I should not be absorbing his lust.

Royal Street

Sentinels of New Orleans Book One

Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327796

ASIN: B006OM459U

Number of pages: 337

Word Count: approx. 94,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Book Description:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802

ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336

Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

About the Author:

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Website: www.suzanne-johnson.com

Blog: http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Suzanne_Johnson

FB: http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Johnson.author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5046525.Suzanne_Johnson

Publisher Page: http://us.macmillan.com/author/suzannejohnson

Cover Shot! Deadshifted by Cassie Alexander

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I haven’t started Cassie Alexander’s Edie Spence series, but that doesn’t stop me from liking the covers.  I love the creatures lurking in the background.  While the dress looks like an unskilled attempt at Photoshop, the tentacles writhing in the waves behind her are pretty cool.

In stores December 2013

 

Edie Spence just wanted a vacation. A nice, relaxing, stress free, non-adventure away from the craziness that’s dominated her life since becoming a nurse for paranormal creatures. But from the start, her trip on the Maraschino, a cruise ship bound for Hawaii, has been anything but stress free, especially when Edie’s boyfriend Asher recognizes someone he used to know. Someone from his not-so-nice past. With their lives in the balance, will Edie and Asher be able to save their growing family or will this adventure be their end?

Review: Dweller on the Threshold by Rinda Elliot

 

Title:  Dweller on the Threshold

Author:  Rinda Elliott

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

On a hunt to save her sister, the last thing Beri O’Dell needs is love. Aren’t demons bad enough?

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is. Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.he once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.

With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.

The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.
It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

He calls it the Dweller on the Threshold.

Warning:
Contains a worried heroine with no time, a witch with fire problems, a pissed-off necromancer, a trapped goddess, and a damned sexy, but scary, warrior. Throw in bloody battles, mass-murderer history lessons and a bit of sexy time and you get the start of Beri’s new life.


Review:

After my success with Erica Hayes Redemption, I decided to dive into another Paranormal/UF book.  Dweller on the Threshold looked like an interesting blend of creepy and magical, and it was.  The romance is kept on the back burner, and instead the focus is on finding and taking down the dreaded Dweller on the Threshold.  There are people dropping like flies as their souls are sucked out of their bodies, demon battles galore, and an ancient Minoan warrior who possesses both brawn and good-looks.  I liked the Greek mythology that was incorporated into the story, as well as the concept of guardians, ghostly protectors who watch over their charges, usually invisible and undetected for normal people.  Beri, the protagonist, isn’t normal.

I found Beri an interesting protagonist.  She knows that she’s different, but she doesn’t know why.  She can see her guardians – the serious Fred, who was killed in a fire when he was on the cusp of manhood, and Phro, who claims to be the Goddess of Love.  Yes, that Goddess of Love.  Beri wonders what motivates both of them to stay with her, especially the beautiful Phro.  Surely she has better things to do than follow a towering, streaky haired freak of a woman around year after year.  I am still wondering what Fred’s deal is, because it’s obvious there is more to him being with Beri than meets the eye.  Maybe we’ll find out what’s going on with him in the next book of the series?  Where does he keep disappearing to, and can he be completely trusted?  With so many dangers popping up to threaten her life, I believe these are questions that Beri needs to have answered  stat.

Beri has been searching for other answers for her entire life.  Who is she?  What is she?  After being bounced around from foster home to foster home, she’s developed a thick skin, and she prefers to keep others at a safe distance.  The only person she is close to is Elsa, whose parents took Beri in before weird things started happening and they became too terrified of her to keep her round.  Now, the two women consider themselves sisters, and when Elsa interrupts a paranormal hunting trip in the swamp, Beri is obligated to help her sister, a police detective, with the case she’s working on.  Even though things ended disastrously the last time she tried to help, and Beri ended up bathed in blood and detached body parts.  Ugh.

Back in the city, Beri learns that Elsa is in a coma, and things don’t look good.  When she can’t see Elsa’s soul, Beri knows that she has to figure out what she was working on.  As danger mounts, and more mysteries are revealed, Beri has no choice but to trust Blyth, a flaky witch, and Nikolas, an old, old being who is surrounded with the darkness of hundreds and hundreds of trapped souls.  And, oh, yeah, even though he’s older than dirt, he’s a handsome, hulking warrior, and Beri can’t help but be attracted to him and all of his secrets.

I loved Nicolas’ tragic past, and all of the references to Greek mythology.  While some of the world-building was confusing or non-existent, there was enough demon slaying and demon attacking action to distract me from most of my hang-ups about the world Beri resides in.  Just throw some magic, some ugly monsters, and a kick-ass heroine into the mix, and I’m a pretty happy camper.  The action and the quest to find  and defeat the Dweller drive this story, more so than the romance or any other element, and I didn’t mind one bit.  What did kind of bug me?  The non-ending! 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

Review: Redemption Erica Hayes and Giveaway! Win a Kindle Fire!

 

 

 

 

Title:  Redemption

Author: Erica Hayes

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit—and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there’s plenty to be done. But Japheth is after one vampire in particular—the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels—until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy—the Prince of Thirst himself—they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell


Review:

I don’t read many paranormal romances, and I’m not sure why.  I enjoy them on the odd occasion when I do pick them up, and Redemption was no exception.  This is the second book in Erica Hayes’ The Seven Signs series, and I didn’t have much trouble figuring out what was going on, even though I haven’t read the first book, Revelation (which has a zombie virus, so I will be reading it, hopefully soon!).  The series features the war between angels and demons and the prophesied end of the world.  I enjoyed how the angels were portrayed in this story; just because they are angels didn’t mean that they were “good.”  What was even better; Japheth, a Tainted angel, is working tirelessly for his redemption, so he can return to Heaven.  His fellow Tainted behave like fraternity boys; drinking, chasing women, and partying in between missions slaying demons and hellspawn, and trying to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

Michael is in charge of the angels, and he’s a ruthless jerk.  I hated him.  He’s power hungry and cruel, and he doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his angels if it will fulfill his ambitions.  He sends Japheth to kill Fluvium, the Prince of Thirst, and recover the vial of wrath in his possession.  Japheth doesn’t know why Michael cast him out of Heaven.  He’s always been brave, righteous, and dedicated to serving God.  All he wants is to be let back into Heaven.  He lives a life a purity, distaining pleasures of the flesh, and obeying orders to the letter.  What does he get for his sacrifices?  A never ending hard-on and no sense of humor.  Poor guy.

Rose Harley is Japheth’s unlikely match.  Like Japheth, she’s been tricked, and now she’s a vampire, the slave of Fluvium.  He’s ordered her to steal Japheth’s soul, or he’ll throw her into Hell.  Terrified of the never-ending agony of Hell, Rose is determined to carry out his commands.  She’s killed angels aplenty – they don’t call her Angel Slayer for nothing.  When the two meet, however, they both discover that they have clearly met their match.  They are both fierce warriors, they are both driven to carry out their mission at all costs, and they both have preconceived notions about the other that are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Circumstances have fooled them both, and robbed them of their dreams.  Rose has lived through the horror of being a demon lord’s plaything, and Japheth is the casualty of another’s powerful ambitions.

I enjoyed the world building in Redemption.  I loved how the lines between the hellspawn and the angels blurred, leaving me wondering who was good and who was truly evil.  There is a large cast of characters, and I want to know more about several of them, both angels and demons.  I’m sure they’ll be back for future installments of the series.  What I really want is to see the characters I dislike meet their comeuppance.  There are several who deserve the wrath of both heaven and hell.

The pacing is blistering.  After all, Japheth is racing to complete his mission and put a stop to the Apocalypse, all at the same time.  He’s saddled with Rose, a vampire he doesn’t trust, but is forced to rely on.  He has nothing but contempt for Rose, and he won’t even consider that there might be more than he realizes about her turning into a vampire.  Nope, she’s hellspawn scum, and the sooner he finishes his mission, the sooner he can put an end to her cursed life.  Nice guy!  Maybe he’s not so righteous after all?

Though he took a while to warm up to, I did come to like Japheth.  His fall from grace was only possible because he couldn’t see the evil in those he served.  He was the ideal warrior – fighting for the faith he believed in with all his heart, making his betrayal that much more bitter.  It takes him a long, long time to come to terms with what he believes his fellow angels should be, and the reality of what they are.  I wouldn’t want to have to trust any of these guys, because I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

The action is intense, and the sparks between Japheth and Rose are blinding.  As they begin to trust each other, their attraction for each other blazes out of control.   If only Japheth wasn’t trying to stay so pure! 

Redemption is a fun, action-packed romp through a nightmarish vision of the Apocalypse, where the lines between good and evil aren’t all that clear.  The romance between Japheth and Rose, two strong and noble characters who have had their faith and trust shattered, is hot and steamy and will leave you believing in their HEA.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

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More about the book:

Redemption
The Seven Signs, Book 2 by
Erica Hayes

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

ISBN: 978-0425258385

Number of pages: 330

Cover Artist: Kris Keller

Paperback: Amazon BN Book Depository

Ebook: Amazon BN iTunes

About the Author:

Erica Hayes was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy and romance writer.

She writes dark paranormal and urban fantasy romance, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colourful heroes with dark secrets.

She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she’s terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.

http://www.ericahayes.net

http://erica-hayes.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/ericahayes.author

http://www.twitter.com/ericahayes

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2922003.Erica_Hayes

Interview with Rinda Elliott, Author of Dweller On The Threshold

Our special guest today is Rinda Elliott!  Her latest release Dweller On The Threshold hits store shelves next week.  Please give Rinda a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Please tell us a little about yourself.

[Rinda Elliott] Let’s see, I’ve been married forever to my best friend. I’m crazy about my kids and I love to read above all things. I prefer genre fiction—mostly urban fantasy and romance. My other loves are movies and shows like The Walking Dead, Lost Girl, Veronica Mars, Buffy and Firefly. (Yeah, the last three are long gone, but I still miss them!) I love to cook and have a sincere respect for red wine. Hobbies? Making wine (I share the process in photographs on my website.) and sometimes playing video games. Last year, I took up gardening because of the cooking and my love for fresh vegetables.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Dweller on the Threshold?

[Rinda Elliott] Here’s the official blurb:

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is.  Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.

She once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.

With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.

The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.

It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

He calls it the Dweller on the Threshold.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Rinda Elliott] I started Dweller on the Threshold years ago. I had written quite a few romances and though editors seemed to like them, most told me my heroines were too strong. Beri, the heroine of Dweller on the Threshold, sort of stormed into my life. I started writing about her for fun and everything really gelled when I came upon this theosophical concept of the dweller on the threshold. People who follow theosophy believe that a person is reincarnated over and over until they learn all life lessons. When they reach their last incarnation, they can only discover true enlightenment when they vanquish the karmic gathering of all their past lives. I thought what if that karmic gathering came from many evil lifetimes and it found a way to physically manifest? Then, I thought about Beri and how she’d deal with such a thing. Dweller on the Threshold was born. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Beri?

[Rinda Elliott] Unique, impatient, and caring.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Nikolos is never without.

[Rinda Elliott] I can name two. His ankh and his dagger.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Beri’s bedroom?

[Rinda Elliott] Perfume, dresses, and heels. She’s not very girly. <g>

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Beri’s greatest regret?

[Rinda Elliott] She regrets losing control to a fire elemental and killing someone in a horrific manner. He was a bad guy, but knowing she’s capable of that kind of violence terrifies her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Rinda Elliott] Other writers I admire, music and art. I make collages of images for every book. I also put together soundtracks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Rinda Elliott] This one is tough. I was going to say laptop, but I can sometimes fill up notebooks. I was going to say music, but occasionally, quiet is best. I don’t have rituals because I believe it’s better to write whenever and wherever you can. Think this comes from being a mother. I do like to have a cup of coffee or tea somewhere close. Okay… and lip balm. I admit that’s weird, but dry lips bug me, so I keep a tube next to anyplace I might write. I also like lit candles. Doesn’t matter what time of day or year, I keep a bunch on my desk and love to have them flickering behind my laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Rinda Elliott] I have to be honest. It was my critique partner’s latest project. I can’t say anything about it other than I loved it. She has several other series out people can read until this gem is available. Her name is Rachel Vincent and the series are Soul Screamers, Shifters and Unbound.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Rinda Elliott] Just one? As a kid, I read everything. My earliest favorite book memory is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I went on to devour all the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Then Judy Blume came into my life. Everything changed one summer when I was living in the Ozarks, bored out of my mind, and a nice woman gave me a box of Harlequin Presents novels. The first one I picked up was called Living with Adam by Anne Mather. My young heart went crazy and a love for romance novels was born. My husband tracked that book down for me again many years later and I reread it. Had to laugh. My taste in heroes and heroines has changed dramatically, but that book was the start. The start of my love for paranormal books? Wizard of Seattle by Kay Hooper.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Rinda Elliott] Hang out with my family, watch movies, make wine or read. Sometimes, I’m reading while doing all those other things.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Rinda Elliott] I have too many websites right now, but hope to streamline them soon. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, but the best place is http://relliott4.wordpress.com. I’m also a member of a group of fantastic writers called The Deadline Dames. You can check out all our books at http://www.deadlinedames.com .

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can pre-order Dweller On The Threshold from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:

Samhain

About the author:

Rinda Elliott loves unusual stories and she credits growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and horror kept them amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, Rinda tried to separate her darker side with her humorous and romantic one. She published short fiction, but things really started happening when she gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, she loves making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with her husband and two children.

Interview with Dana Cameron, Author of Seven Kinds of Hell

Please welcome Dana Cameron to the virtual offices today! Dana is celebrating the release of her new urban fantasy novel, Seven Kinds of Hell.  This is the first book in her new Fangborn series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Dana Cameron] I’m a writer and recovering archaeologist; a history and science geek, I’ve been lucky enough to have adventures and spin them into fiction.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Seven Kinds of Hell?

[Dana Cameron] Zoe Miller’s an archaeologist and she’s been on the run from her father’s family, who are reputed to be killers. Her own tendency to violence—and the occasional glimpse of fangs in the mirror—has her worried about her sanity. But when her cousin is kidnapped, Zoe is forced to renew family ties and come to grips with her powers: She’s a werewolf and Fangborn, part of a family of vampires, werewolves, and oracles dedicated to protecting humanity. Zoe must her use all of her supernatural abilities against her enemies—human and Fangborn—who seek an artifact of world-ending power.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Dana Cameron] The idea of the Fangborn first came to me writing a short story, “The Night Things Changed,” for Charlaine Harris’ and Toni L.P. Kelner’s Wolfsbane and Mistletoe anthology. In that story, I discovered the Fangborn—vampires, werewolves, and oracles—were secret superheroes, dedicated to fighting evil and protecting humanity. With that in mind, I turned a lot of the traditional conventions about supernatural creatures around, and started work on a Fangborn novel. Zoe entered the picture as the protagonist in an archaeological thriller I was working on at the same time; it was only when I realized that both books were halves of just one book that it all came together.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Zoe?

[Dana Cameron] Smart, curious, loyal.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Zoe had a theme song, what would it be?

[Dana Cameron] When I was writing the archaeological thriller, it was “Help I’m Alive,” by Metric. When that book became an archaeological thriller with Fangborn, Zoe’s theme song became “Artificial Nocturne,” also by Metric.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Zoe is never without.

[Dana Cameron] Her backpack.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Zoe’s bedroom?

[Dana Cameron] She’s always been broke, so I’m going to go with designer clothes, a jewelry box, really nice shoes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Dana Cameron] The right song. The glimpse of an actor in a role I’ve never seen before. An art museum. A good walk. My husband saying, “I dare you.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Dana Cameron] My playlists, a keyboard, and a closed door.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Dana Cameron] I’ve read a lot of great stuff lately, but what came first to me was The Name of the Wind. Patrick Rothfuss really took my breath away with that book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Dana Cameron] I remember reading very early, but the book that said “That! That’s what I need in my life!” was either Nancy Drew and the Secret at Shadow Ranch or Little Women.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Dana Cameron] I love to travel, and try different food and drink wherever I go. I looooove museums. I like going for walks. I’ve also been known to binge re-watch great TV series, like “Battlestar Galactica” or “Sherlock.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Dana Cameron] I love hearing from readers! They can reach me via my website (www.danacameron.com), Facebook, Twitter (@danacmrn), and GoodReads. I also blog with the Femmes Fatales (www.femmesfatales.typepad.com/).

Thank you so much, Julie!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Seven Kinds of Hell from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

Archaeologist Zoe Miller has been running from a haunting secret her whole life. But when her cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, Zoe is left with only one option: to reveal herself. Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She’s a werewolf and a daughter of the Fangborn, a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles embroiled in an ancient war against evil. To rescue her cousin, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against the dark and nefarious foe. The hunt brings Zoe to the edge of her limits, and with the fate of humanity and the Fangborn in the balance, life will be decided by an artifact of world-ending power.

About the author:

Whether writing noir, historical fiction, urban fantasy, thriller, or traditional mystery, Dana Cameron draws from her expertise in archaeology. Her fiction (including several Fangborn stories) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination. The first of three novels set in the Fangborn ‘verse, Seven Kinds of Hell, will be released March 12, 2013 by 47North. Dana lives in Massachusetts, USA with her husband and benevolent feline overlords.