Review: Twilight Hunter by Kait Ballenger


Title: Twilight Hunter

Author: Kait Ballenger


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity…but what happens when danger collides with desire?
Jace McCannon has one loyalty: the Execution Underground. Despite his mixed blood, his hatred for the werewolves he hunts is legendary. But in his search for a sadistic killer, Jace finds himself face to face with a stunningly seductive packmaster…and longing for a night with his mortal enemy.
Nothing can stop Frankie Amato from defending her kind–or catching the rogue responsible for killing women in her territory. For that, this alpha female needs Jace’s skills more than she wants to admit. But as their investigation exposes evil truths, need burns into a passion that dare not be fulfilled. For to do so will have deadly consequences for them both…


I was trying to put my finger on why I don’t didn’t really care for Twilight Hunter, and I think I finally figured it out.  Kait Ballanger’s Execution Underground world is grim, bleak, and brutal, and it’s not one that I would want to visit.   There is nothing cutesy about the series or the characters, and there are times when the darkness caught me off guard.  This installment focuses on Jace, a half-werewolf whose abusive childhood shaped him into a cold, hard killer.  Jace hunts werewolves for a living, and every rogue werewolf has him hoping that it’s his father he’s hunting down.  He will never forgive his father for beating his mother, and worse, for walking out on them so many years before.

When a serial killer begins preying on young women, torturing, raping, and ripping them to shreds, Jace is certain that a werewolf is committing the horrible crimes.  He’s determined to stop the killer before he murders again, but he can’t catch a break in the case.  Finding Frankie at one of the murder scenes, he’s positive she has something to do with the deaths.  She’s an abomination, isn’t she? She has to be responsible for the killings, or know who the killer is.  What Jace doesn’t know is that Frankie is the leader of the local pack, and she’s on the trail of the killer, too, in part to avoid the full moon and her expected joining with her childhood friend Alejandro.  Now, she’s Jace’s captive, and if he doesn’t back off, they are going to be doing the bronto  bop when her estrus is at its height.

Mating rituals is a  component of werewolf stories that I don’t like.  It kind of takes all of the guessing out of the game if whenever that full moon looms overhead the protagonists are so compelled by their wolf that they will jump the first available prospect they see.  In this context, it gave Jace something else to beat himself up over, because he was too weak to keep himself from sleeping with a werewolf.  It also gave him another excuse to hold Frankie in contempt, because she would obviously sleep with anybody.  Sigh.

One thing that I do like about werewolves stories is the action, and there is a ton of it here.  The fighting scenes are a blast to read, and Frankie is a kick-ass heroine.  She doesn’t back down from anything or anyone,  especially when she’s defending her position in her own pack.  Not all of the members are happy that she’s their leader, and it’s a constant struggle to maintain her place.  Her parents were murdered a few years ago, and she took their place in the pack.  The altercations within the pack are no-holds barred exchanges, and only Frankie’s fighting skills and determination have kept her in charge, and still breathing.

Both Jace’s and Frankie’s pasts collide during their attempts to capture and kill the murderer.  The killer is one sick puppy, and his demise couldn’t come soon enough.  He made me uncomfortable, with his remorseless drive to inflict pain and death.  At first I was afraid that there wouldn’t be an explanation for his behavior, other than that he was a psycho (which he was, in spades), but there was rational behind his nutcase behavior.

Twilight Hunter will appeal to fans who enjoy grittier tales with a high steam factor and lots of intense action.

Review copy provided by author

Cover Shot! Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron

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?

What a cool cover!  Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron even has a cool name!  I love the thought of an archeologist heroine, too.  This will be in stores next week.

Hits stores March 12th.


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.

Cover Shot! The Silvered by Tanya Huff

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 read a book by Tanya Huff in a long, long time, but The Silvered caught my attention.  I love the subtle hues and the intense expressions on both the woman and especially the wolf.  I loved were stories, so I have added this to my wish list.  It hits stores November 6, so I don’t have long to wait.


The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar…

Review: The Half-Breed Vampire by Theresa Meyers


Title: The Half-Breed Vampire

Author: Theresa Meyers

Publisher: Harlequin


Available in both print and eBook


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ignorant of his true heritage, half-breed Slade Donovan is fated to feel like an outsider among his clan. Until a mysterious woman arrives with the ability to unlock his secrets—and make him crave a future he never believed he could have….

As a game warden, Raina Ravenwing has only one mission in the Cascade Mountains: to hunt down a pack of rare wolves that is terrorizing her tribe. Her instant attraction to Slade is a distraction the beautiful wolf whisperer can’t afford, unless she agrees to let him help her. Yet working so closely together only intensifies their passion…even as the unfolding truth of Slade’s identity threatens everything Raina holds sacred.


The Half-Breed Vampire is the second of Theresa Meyers’ books that I have read.  I found both stories to be fast-paced and fun reads, with likable characters that I wanted to see together.  Though both couples seemed so wrong for each other at first, it quickly became apparent that they needed and completed each other.  I love a story that makes me want the protagonists to overcome all obstacles and find their HEA.  Slade and Raina have so many issues to work through, but with the support of their friends and a fierce sense of belonging, they manage to defeat their own objections about being together.

Slade is a vampire, and he’s been recruited to help game warden Raina Ravenwing track a bunch of wolves.  The wolves are harassing her tribe, and Raina needs to study them to discover why.  What she doesn’t know is that they are a pack of werewolves, and they are plotting a coming out party. Vampires made their presence known a year ago, and the weres don’t like that their hated enemies are enjoying the spotlight in the mortal world.  As Slade assists Raina in her mission, he begins to discover some unsettling truths about himself, and the past he can’t remember. 

First off, let me say how much I enjoyed Slade.  He’s one of those characters who manages to pull off tough and tender at the same time.  But only tender for the woman he’s slowly falling for.  His fellow vampires and the embattled weres don’t get the benefit of his softer side.  Only Raina brings out a fierce protectiveness, even when she’s a tight ass and totally rubs him the wrong way when they first meet.  She is uptight and she adheres to the rules, which drives him nuts.  It was fun to see them annoy each other, and then slowly begin to accept each other.  As Raina comes to trust Slade, she lets down her guard, too, and they begin to form a highly effective team.  I loved that.  As the story progressed, I couldn’t imagine them not together, because they really did prop each other up and offer strengths when the other faltered.  I believed in their teamwork and their togetherness, so much so that the flimsy plot and one-dimensional villain did not bother me. 

I found the world of the Cascade Vampire Clan very interesting, and I want to know more about Achilles, Slade’s commanding officer.  The vamps probably have it a little too easy, though, as they can teleport, materialize objects, and survive grievous injuries with only a few hours rest.  They can even be out in the sun, suffering only migraines and sunburn.  They powers aren’t limitless, and once they’ve used them up, they are kind of helpless, so I guess that’s the great equalizer.  Then, like batteries, they need to recharge.  I couldn’t help but think about how great it would be to materialize a new pair of Nikes or the latest and greatest XBox game out of thin air.  Do they have to pay for this stuff?  Needless to say, the vampires live much more luxuriously under the streets of Seattle than the werewolves, who live in a cave in the mountains.

This is the third installment of the Sons of Midnight series, but I didn’t have any problems following along with the action, despite not having read the prior books.  I would have liked a little more backstory for some of the characters, so I’ll have to track down the other volumes.  The Half-Breed Vampire is what I consider a popcorn book.  While enjoyable, the plot would not stand up to critical analysis; it’s more of a go with the flow type of read.  I was completely engaged in the story from start to finish, and I wanted more when I hit the last page.  Throw a copy in your beach bag; this is the perfect read for an afternoon in the sun (though Slade might disagree).

Grade: B, but teetering in B+ territory

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours


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Interview with Stephanie Tyler, Author of Dire Needs

Stephanie Tyler is the best-selling author of several romantic suspense series, as well as a veteran series romance author.  Her brand new paranormal romance series, The Eternal Wolf Clan, kicks of with Dire Needs.  Stephanie recently dropped by the virtual offices for a chat – check out what she has to say!

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

[Stephanie Tyler] Wife, Mother, Writer. Lover of Weimaraners & wolves. Sydney Croft co-author. Currently looking 4 sum1 2 go find Big Ang’s bar w/.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about DIRE NEEDS and your new Eternal Wolf Clan series?

[Stephanie Tyler] The Eternal Wolf Clan series is all about the last surviving Dire Wolves and how they’re tasked with helping Weres and humans alike, saving them from evil – and sometimes, from themselves. Dire Needs is Rifter’s story – he’s the reluctant leader of the Dire Wolf pack and he believes he’ll never find a mate, as no female Dire wolves survived the extinction. But when he meets Gwen, a dying human doctor, he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her, and refuses to let her go.

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

[Stephanie Tyler] The concept came from several places – my daughter and her medical issues are always a source of inspiration for me, as odd as that may sound but if I tell you more I’ll give some of the story away. And the wolf thing, well, hey, I read Twilight and couldn’t understand why Bella wouldn’t pick the wolf! I mean, come on, the wolf was the obvious choice and he got screwed at the end of that series!

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Stephanie Tyler] Balancing the beginning of a series, talking about the world so the reader understood things without giving too much information. The first book is always hard when you’re introducing a large cast of characters, but it was necessary. These wolves work as a team so the reader needs to meet them all.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Rifter would never have in his bedroom?

[Stephanie Tyler] A cat, a book on dream symbolism and a witch.

[Manga Maniac Café] Why do you think paranormal romance is so popular?  

[Stephanie Tyler] I think for the same reason romance in general is always popular – it’s the ultimate escape. With the paranormal aspect, it just adds to that feeling of, this could never happen but OMG, what if it did? What if supernatural creatures really do exist around us? And I think most of us do tend to believe that there are things out there that go bump in the night – so it’s taking something that might have once scared us – or that still might – and making it exciting instead of frightening.

[Manga Maniac Café] Which of your characters is most like you?

[Stephanie Tyler] I’d have to say Isabelle, from Hard to Hold, the first in my Hold romantic suspense trilogy. She’s solitary, needs a lot of time alone but she’s not lonely, per se. I can relate to her. But I really never base my characters on me or anyone I know – they kind of arrive in my mind, fully formed, so it’s really one of those, any resemblance to any person living or dead is merely coincidence…

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

[Stephanie Tyler] I don’t know what exactly they are – it’s just there. It’s always been there – and I guess I’d believe it’s a muse. I really was born a writer. I’ve always had this internal urge to create, to tell my stories. They’re always in my head. It’s something a little magical and mystical and it’s just really cool.

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

[Stephanie Tyler] My music (I make soundtracks for each book), a Clairefontaine notebook (I write about half my book in longhand and I adore this paper – it’s smooth the ink never bleeds, even with markers) and my MacBook Smile

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

[Stephanie Tyler] Wow, I had to go back and search for some of the first books I remember reading over and over – The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin comes to mind (I have a copy on my shelf still) – I remember reading that one over and over and that’s something I still do with favorites.

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

[Stephanie Tyler] Spending time with Zoo (husband) and the kids – watching bad reality TV. Reading. And inevitably, thinking about writing, because it’s not something that ever really turns off. Which is okay, because I adore my job.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers get in touch with you?

[Stephanie Tyler] I love hearing from my readers! You can find me at:

My website: (I have a contact page & a blog)




[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Dire Needs is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  You can also purchase the The Eternal Wolf Clan novella, Dire Warning, which is available exclusively in eBook format.

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: 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…


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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Excerpt–Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison is the start of a new paranormal romance series from Ballantine Books, and it hits stores on April 24th.  I love werewolves, so I’m eager to get my hands on this book.  Check out the excerpt and the plot summary; I included a pre-order link for you, too.


In stores April 2012


For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

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