Cover Shot! Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta

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 can tell that Amelia is a woman who likes to take risks.  Just look at her outfit.  From the goggles perched on her head to the  layered fringed skirt, everything about her screams, “Look at me!”  Then look at the cowboy standing next to her.  He’s kind of dull in comparison.  How I hope her wildness glams him up a bit, because he clearly has no imagination when it comes to his wardrobe!

In stores November 2012

Amelia Darcy has no interest in marrying well. Her heart belongs to the sky and the dirigibles of brass and steel that swoop over Victorian England. But when her father, an eccentric inventor, dies, the Darcy siblings are left with scrap metal—and not a penny to their names.

Their only hope to save the family reputation and fortune is to embark on a quest to discover an invention of historical importance in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Armed with only her father’s stories of a forgotten da Vinci workshop, a mechanically enhanced falcon, and an Italian cook, Amelia takes flight for Florence, Italy.

But her quest is altered when her kitecycle crashes into the airship of ex–Air Marshal—and scandalous dime novel hero—Tucker Gentry. Tuck agrees to escort Amelia to her destination, but the two are challenged by political unrest, a devious sky pirate, and their own sizzling attraction. Soon the pair is dragged into an international conspiracy that could change the course of history…again

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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-

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by publisher

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Review: Dire Needs by Stephanie Tyler

 

 

Title:  Dire Needs

Series: The Eternal Wolf Clan #1

Author: Stephanie Tyler

Publisher: Signet

ISBN: 978-0451236234

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Feared by humans and envied by werewolves, the Dire Wolves are immortal shifters, obeying no laws but their own bestial natures.

Rifter leads the pack, and his primal instincts have led him to claim Gwen, a woman seeking solace from the chronic pain that has wracked her body her entire life.

But whatever future Rifter and Gwen have is threatened by an enemy of both humanity and the Dire Wolves…

Review:

One of the most exciting aspects of jumping into new genres of fiction is discovering new-to-me authors.  I have been reading more paranormal and urban fantasy, so I was curious when I came across Dire Needs.  Stephanie Tyler has several best-selling romantic suspense series under her belt, as well as several series romances, so I was chomping at the bit to start reading this book. 

I love werewolves; they are one of my favorite paranormal beings, and they are so much more exciting than vampires.  To me, a good depiction of a werewolf captures that edgy, dangerous side, and shows how little control they can have over their inner beast.  The more unpredictable the werewolf, the better.  They should be always teetering on the brink of losing control over their human side, and in this respect, Dire Needs excelled.  Rifter is the alpha over a small group of alpha dire wolves.  He is one tough M-fer, and he is swift to mete out punishment over what’s left of his pack.  The great Extinction wiped out most of the Dires.  After they turned on humans, going on a murderous rampage, the Elders punished them harshly; every Dire was killed, except for Rifter and his small group of Dires.  There are no females, so they have no hope of ever finding a mate.  Oh, and they are immortal, so they have plenty of time to reflect on the sins of their ancestors while protecting the humans their kind once slaughter indiscriminately.  These are some tortured heroes, without hope of ever finding a happy ever after.

When Rifter meets Gwen in a were bar, she latches onto him and takes him home.  She is dying, and for one uninhibited night, she wants to let loose and revel in being alive.  She wants to forget about the seizures that have invaded her life, that are pushing her to the brink of death.  Her medications are no longer suppressing them and she has lost all hope for survival.  If ever two unhappy people needed each other, it is Rifter and Gwen.  Both without hope, both willing to throw caution to the wind to squeeze some kind of enjoyment from their hopeless existences.  The chemistry between Rifter and Gwen sizzles.  Rifter is at first reluctant to give in to his attraction for a human female, because he is so badass he’s afraid that he’ll hurt her.  Always skating on the edge of violence, he’s even more dangerous during the full moon.  The beast within demands that he give in to the animal inside, and so he finds it impossible to resist Gwen’s advances. 

I enjoyed the interaction between Rifter and his Dires.  They are always one word or gesture from tearing each other apart.  Vice is my favorite, and I can hardly wait to see him achieve his HEA.  Now, while I liked the Dires, I was overwhelmed with the number of characters in Dire Needs, and by the rapid succession in which they were introduced.  The first 60 pages is full of character introductions and info dumps about the Dires and the Weres, and I thought it bogged down the story.  The beginning of the book was uneven for me, and it didn’t always hold my attention.  I wasn’t fully engaged in the story until the fighting started, and then I didn’t want to put it down.  That’s when the story was at its best; during the action and when the characters took charge, instead of the world-building taking priority.  I found the world of the Dires a bit confusing, and honesty, after having it force fed to me, I stopped trying to understand it and just went with the flow, hoping that the focus would shift quickly back to the characters again.

While Dire Needs didn’t rock my world, I am invested enough to read the next book.  We have several story threads that need resolution, and I am curious to see how the Dires are going to best the witches and the weretrappers.  Plus, all of that testosterone was addicting, and I want to see how our alphas find happiness after being unhappy for such a long time. 

Grade: Waffling between  B and B-

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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