Review: Blood Before Sunrise by Amanda Bonilla

 

 

Title: Blood Before Sunrise

  Author: Amanda Bonilla

  Publisher: Signet

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

“She needed a bargaining chip and this was it. Raif’s daughter’s life for hers. And he knew damn good and well I was right. Just like he’d assured me the night I’d killed Azriel, this was far from over. His daughter was alive, I knew it. And I was going to find her.”

For months Darian and her Shaede guardian Raif have searched for the Oracle who attempted to overthrow the Shaede Nation—and kill Darian in the bargain. But now that they’ve finally found the half-crazed Oracle, for their efforts they are granted a possibility too painful for Raif to imagine, and too enticing for Darian to ignore.

Darian is determined to reunite Raif and the daughter he thought was dead, but her mission quickly proves dangerous when her lover Tyler is almost killed. And when a brooding and mysterious Fae warrior offers his guidance—at an extraordinary price—Darian finds herself willing to risk everything. As her single-minded hunt turns into an obsession, and she and Tyler grow further apart, Darian finds herself caught between the man she loves like a brother, and the man whose love she can’t live without…

Review:

Blood Before Sunrise is another action-packed entry in the Shaede Assassin series, and it features a kick-ass heroine and her sexy as hell lover.  Darian is self-assured, cocky, and ruthless, and she doesn’t hesitate to let other people know how deadly she can be.  Once a victim of domestic abuse, she is bound and determined that no one will brutalize her again.  Instead, she strikes first and asks questions later.  While I like a strong heroine, there are times when Darian takes things too far, and that makes it hard to like her.  She is the product of violence.  After being freed from her husband’s abuses, she becomes one with the night.  A trained killer, she does not shirk from bloodshed or pain.  She is proud of what she has made herself, and she hates having to depend on anyone.  This gets her into so much trouble, and made me question her common sense more than once.  It made me hard to relate to her.  There are times when you just have to ask for help; it doesn’t make you less of a person for it, but Darian is carrying so much baggage that she doesn’t understand that yet.

In this outing, Darian is determined to find Raif’s missing daughter.  Delilah, the Oracle, knows where she is, but she’s not spilling the information Darian needs to track Brakae down.  Even after Raif tells  her to drop it, Darian vows to find Brakae and reunite father and daughter.  This is a character trait of Darian’s that drove me nuts.  She doesn’t care what anyone else wants, and regardless of how often she is told to leave things be, she just can’t.  It’s not in her personality to give up.  Not only does this almost get her killed numerous times, it almost causes the end of the world!  Like asking for assistance, there are times when you need to just give up, especially if your continued persistence is going to cause the death of every one you know and love.

While I like Tyler, Darian’s lover, a lot, I also like Raif, and wonder if he wouldn’t make a better match for Darian.  Tyler is bound to her, and until someone starts messing with his mind, he worships the ground Darian walks on.  Raif, on the other hand, doesn’t cut her much slack, and I think a relationship between them would be a little more interesting, as well as volatile.  The conflict between Tyler and Raif was engaging, mainly because it was so one-sided.  Poor Tyler needed a  Xanax, but I don’t think they are available in Jinn strength.  It probably wouldn’t have helped much with his raging jealously issues, anyway.

I love the world building in this series, and love the concept of such a strong, fearless heroine. I did have problems with Darian’s thought processes, though, and found her too impulsive and completely lacking in common sense. She makes so many bad decisions that I feared for her continued good health. Because she kept making the same errors in judgment,  by the halfway point in the story I became fearful that she would never learn from her mistakes. That was frustrating for me.  Otherwise, Blood Before Sunrise blasts along at a blistering pace full of magic, combat, and bloodshed as Darian attempts to extract herself from all of the stupid situations she gets herself into. I wish Tyler and Raif would have had larger roles, because I find them both so interesting. My personality conflict with Darian was my biggest hindrance to totally loving this book.

Grade:  B/B-

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Review: A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang

 

Title: A Brush of Darkness

Author: Allison Pang

Publisher: Pocket Star

ISBN: 978-1439198322

Abby Sinclair #1

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

Review:

When I read that protagonist Abby had a miniature unicorn that slept in her underwear drawer, I added A Brush of Darkness to my TBR.  I mean, who doesn’t want a teeny tiny unicorn living in their apartment?  Assuming it didn’t trot about, pooping all over the place.  I was hoping that Phineas would be like Sparky from Laura Bickle’s Embers; a magical creature that both kept Abby out of danger, but also caused trouble for her at the same time.  Phineas turned out to be a fun secondary character, who, despite his small size, manages to pack an incredible amount of attitude into his gleaming silvery hide.

I liked Abby, too, though I have serious concerns about her recklessness and lack of common sense.  She has managed to get herself caught up in a very dangerous situation, one that could easily cost her her life.  Not that she puts much value in that, though, as she is still reeling from the death of her mother, who died in the same gruesome car accident that robbed Abby of her dream of being a professional dancer.  Now she works in a rickety bookstore that stinks like cat piss and cabbages (or maybe dirty feet), and she’s signed a Contract with Moira, one of the OtherFolk.  Moira is not just any Fae, mind you, she’s the Protectorate, and she helps keep the peace between all of the different and dangerous OtherFolk.  When she goes missing, it starts to look like Abby has something to do with her disappearance, and that does not bode well for a mortal woman who is suffering from PTSD.

Sexy incubus Brystion shatters whatever small amount of peace Abby has managed to find for herself.  Barging into the bookstore, he’s hoping that Moira can help him find his missing sister.  When Abby accidently links herself to him, her life will never be the same.  OtherFolk want her dead, she’s under suspicion because Moira is missing, and the incubus causes her heart to race every time she thinks about him.  And she’s having some of the most satisfying sexual dreams of her life.  That is, when she’s not having nightmares about being torn apart by sharks. Talk about disturbing.

For the most part, A Brush of Darkness kept me engaged in the story, right up until near the end, which I found a bit slow and very abrupt.  I loved the mystery, though, and the run up to the last thirty or so pages.  Abby has her work cut out for her.  She needs to find Moira – STAT – as well as Brystion’s sister, before she becomes the next dead succubus to turn up on the CrossRoads.  Abby doesn’t get much co-operation from her friends, either, as they begin to cast suspicious eyes in her direction, especially after she hooks up with the incubus.  It seems that nobody trusts a creature that devours other’s dreams. 

I found the world building and the OtherFolk’s dependence on mortals interesting.  In order to travel back and forth between realms, they needed to a form a contract with a mortal.  Abby’s contract with Moira means that she won’t age for seven years, and she gets one wish at the end.  Since the OtherFolk can’t ever quite be trusted, I don’t think that Abby’s payoff is worth the risk she put herself in, but as she is struggling to forgive herself for her mother’s death, she doesn’t place much worth in herself to begin with.  She is messed up, both physically and mentally, because of that tragic moment, and she just can’t move beyond it, which gives her enemies ammunition to use against her.  It also manifested in a recklessness that often took me by surprise.  I sympathized with her, and wanted her to finally find the strength to forgive herself. 

I enjoyed A Brush of Darkness, and aside from the lag at the end, found it hard to put down.  I’m invested enough in the story and the characters to want to read A Sliver of Shadow, the next book in the series.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

 

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Review: Shadowlander by Theresa Meyers

 

Title: Shadowlander

Author: Theresa Meyers

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

ISBN: B0061GHXYI

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Four sisters, three rules to live by, one big problem.

O’Connell Family Rule #1: Don’t let the Fae know you see them.
O’Connell Family Rule #2: Don’t talk to the Fae.
O’Connell Family Rule #3: Never, ever follow them.

Most people only believe what they can see. Gifted with the ability to see the deep, dark fae of Shadowland, Catherine Rowan Mary O’Connell would prefer not to. When the fae abduct her friend Maya, Cate breaks the sacred O’Connell Family Rules and sets a trap for the handsome fae who haunts her every step.

Rook, High Court Advisor to the Shadow King, has been following Cate since she was sixteen. When Cate reveals herself as one of the fabled “Seers”, Rook is stunned—she is one of the few that can permanently open the gates between their worlds. If he turns her over to the Shadow King, his court will rule the human realm.

Cate knows she has precious little time to find Maya. By midnight, the glamour of Mid-Summer’s Eve will fade, leaving her trapped forever in the Shadowland, but Maya’s abductor won’t give up the woman he’s mesmerized easily.
The midnight hour is almost at hand. Cate must choose: her freedom or her destiny.

Review:

This novella starts out strong and never backs down in terms of pacing and tension.  Cate is an instantly compelling protagonist; she can see the fae who cross the barrier between the Shadowland and the our own world.  Her whole family can.  Her family rules dictate that she never let them know that she can see them.  She can never speak with them.  She can never, ever follow them.  So when Cate’s best friend is kidnapped by one of the fae, she is propelled into action and she breaks every rule she’s ever lived by.  Time is running out, and if she doesn’t save her friend before the end of Mid-Summer’s Eve, they will both be trapped in the Shadowland.  Forever!

I really enjoyed this novella, even given a few “ick” moments when it’s revealed that Rook, the prince of the fae, has been stalking Cate since she was a young girl.  I mean, that’s just yuck!  At least he never tried to make a move on her, but still – yuck!  That would intimidate the heck out of me, and not leave me with any romantic inclination towards him.  Setting that one little sticking point aside – I kept telling myself, “It’s a fantasy, it’s a fantasy, and she’s 30 now!” – I thought this was a very well developed story despite the short length.

After revealing to Rook that she can see him, Cate is swept up in the adventure of a lifetime.  The fae are at war with the Wyldwood.  Once they subdue them,  they will set their attentions to conquering the human realm.  With Cate in their ranks, their victory is assured.  She is a sought after weapon, one that can open doors between the Shadowland and the human world.  As such. she is both a pawn and a highly regarded personage in the Shadow Court.  Despite the attraction she and Rook share, and the promises he made to help her free Maya, Rook is really powerless to protect her from the king.  I liked that Cate had to rely on herself to get out of the dangerous situation she found herself in, and that Rook’s power over her wasn’t absolute.  It evened things out between them, and made the dynamics behind their relative positions in the fairy court more interesting.

The romance is blazing hot and there is lots of action that kept me engaged in the story.  I liked all of the characters, even Rook’s rival.  Though not overly complicated, the world-building was interesting, and I am looking forward to learning more about the O’Connell sisters in future releases of the Shadow Sisters.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher