Leap of the Lion (The Wild Hunt Legacy #4)

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She shifts for the first time on the day of her escape.

After a decade of captivity, Darcy MacCormac escapes the corrupt, clandestine organization called the Scythe, leaving family and friends behind. She must find a way to rescue them. Discovered by other shifters, the brand-new cougar gets two mentors. Blademage Gawain is an easy-going blacksmith with a steel-hard core. His brother Owen is a deadly warrior. Grumpy. Rude. And he doesn’t like her.

They aren’t the mates she’d dreamed of—they’re more.

Powerful, dominating Owen protects the clan—especially the weak—and the only remnant of an abused childhood is his avoidance of females. Now he has to mentor one? Although Gawain soon falls for the dauntless little cat, Owen knows better than to lose his head. But Darcy has a gift for repairing everything…including damaged hearts.

Love isn’t in her destiny.

In the brothers’ arms, Darcy finds safety. Comfort. And love. But however much she longs for a future with Owen and Gawain, her people need her. Somehow, she must find the courage and skills to save them, even if the attempt demands her life.

—                         —                         —

I have been eagerly awaiting this book all year. The Wild Hunt series is one of the handful of book series that I wish I could bring to life. It has the personality I look for in books, where the whole town comes to life through a supportive cast, strong leading characters and well thought out culture and backstories (since this is a fantasy series). Nothing in the Wild Hunt Legacy feels contrived or forced.

Cherise Sinclair masterfully balances the needs and distinct personalities of three main characters in a way no other author can match. Owen, Gawain and Darcy each had their moment to shine and I felt that the needs of each character were balanced with each other, and with the plot demands.

The romance kindles much slower in Leap of the Lion that readers of Sinclair would expect.  Owen and Gawain develop respect and friendship for Darcy before attraction takes over. There isn’t the same level of insta-romance that I typically expect but once love developed between these three, it was everything that I had hoped for.

Leap of the Lion grows the series in a lot of ways. We learned more about shifter culture, specifically Tinkers, Blade Mages and Healers, and several more shifters were introduced who could lead in stories of their own. While I am excited to get my paws on Tynan and Donal’s story, I think that Fell/Patrin/Heather will come first, which isn’t exactly a hardship.

I definitely recommend this book, this series, this author! But these books should be read in order, starting with Hour of the Lion.

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Leopard’s Blood by Christine Feehan

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan cuts straight to the heart of a man who stalks the shadows in an intoxicating Leopard novel.

Though born into a leopard’s lair in the bayou, Joshua Tregre’s fighting skills were honed in the rainforests of Borneo. Sleek and deadly, he’s the perfect man to take over a crime syndicate back home in Louisiana’s lush swamplands. His razor sharp instincts give him an edge in the violent underworld he knows so well, but even the watchful leopard inside him isn’t prepared for the danger that comes from the girl next door…

She is a woman who can create beauty out of thin air—and out of the ruins of her own life. The games that dangerous men play have taken their toll on her, but she is bent, not broken. And it’s her fierce spirit that’s like a lure to Joshua, a temptation he can’t resist—even if it means bringing his true nature into the light…

—                         —                         —

Leopard’s Blood starts with a bang!

The couple meet straight off when Sonia’s leopard goes into heat for the first time, and she calls to her mate, Shadow. This is a change from many of the other books in the Leopard series where the heroine doesn’t shift forms until the latter part of the book. One of the aspects of this series that I really like is seeing the interaction between the two leopards, and the leopards and their respective human partners so it provided more opportunity for this to happen.

Joshua is much more patient and understanding than most of the other Leopard men we have met, which makes sense because he has a reputation as one of the more level-headed guys. He might actually be my favourite hero! Although paranoid about his mate’s security, he is happy to work with her and support her career, rather than trying to get her to stay at home. He also doesn’t mind her having male friends, secure in her commitment to him emotionally, even when she is still on the fence. This is a welcome change from previous couples – not that I dislike the he-man routine, but it helps keep the series from becoming repetitive and one-dimensional.

Throughout my reading of Leopard’s Blood, I was going to give the book a five star review for most of the story, but I decided to drop it down to four. Without giving away too many plot details, a serious altercation occurs which results in Sonia and Joshua’s leopards being furious with each other and although the humans resolve it, the leopards never really appear again, except in fight sequences. It felt like the story was unresolved and a moment I was really looking forward to didn’t happen.

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a very late review

Guess who finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy II?! Yup, this girl. I’m sure there are a million and one reviews out there already breaking it down, but I want to talk about it so here is one more.

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Also, spoilers abound.

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Guardians II is FUNNY. Quite possibly even funnier than the first one which is saying something. Rocket and Baby Groot are hilarious and kinda steal the show in my opinion. There was one point where I seriously considered whether I would have to leave the theatre for a few minutes to calm down I was laughing so hard.

There are very few action movies that are also comedy but Guardians has that shit nailed down. It is also family-friendly and thoroughly entertaining for adults so its no wonder they rake in a billion + before the DVD is released.

Baby Groot is adorable and I loved that the animators took the opportunity to make him so much more expressive in personality and facial expressions. At times, this little guy almost broke my heart but he is the core of the film and my favourite character.

The only part of this movie that I didn’t like, was the part that I was looking most forward to. The big reveal of Peter’s lineage, aka The Celestial, Ego.

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Ego started out great and I think Kurt Russell did a pretty great job of it, but the idea of Ego is somewhat existential and I didn’t feel like that came across very clearly. I also hate how he was supposed to be so powerful and yet was defeated relatively easily. Certainly more easily than Ronin in the previous movie!

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Additionally, I was disappointed that Peter finally finds his dad, who is a super cool being, just for Ego to immediately portray his complete lunacy and evil intentions, and then be killed off. It was too “easy” and would have loved to see Peter have a contentious struggle with his father all his life … which is apparently a very long time … and develop his super-power.

It finally looked like we had met a human supe without any (obvious) physical enhancements, “just” the ability to manipulate energy and energy balls. Most of the Marvel cast are superhuman in a physical way, from Thor, to the Hulk and Spiderman and Captain America. Now Peter is a run-of-the-mill human.

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I detest that Marvel made Ego so evil. It doesn’t fit with my idea of a Celestial and made the character so pathetically one-dimensional when he could have been the most interesting new development in the MCU. I would have preferred him to go forward mostly impartial to the plight of humans, and all our “petty” concerns, and have an ongoing relationship with Peter and his family. Ultimately, this plot line dropped a star from my review of an otherwise fantastic movie.

I did love the plot development that went into this movie. Everyone involved brought more into the universe from the intricacies of ravager society, and the gold people to information about the creation of the universe itself.

I saw this movie with my Mum who isn’t a marvel fan and doesn’t like superhero movies in general. She hadn’t even seen the first movie which I didn’t quite realize before we arrived, but she was a good sport to go with me for my birthday and even she admitted it was great. I’m glad she enjoyed it and even ventured that the trailer for Spider-man (2017) looked good so maybe I can return the favour and take her to that for her birthday!

Trailer for this movie

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Fatal Harmony by Anne Malcom

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I may be the villain of the story, but at least I get a leading role.
Evil is a term thrown around history and literature as if it’s something so easily definable. A concept to fight against.
Evil doesn’t exist.
Neither does ‘good.’
Vampires do, though.
I just happen to be one.
I’ve cruised through the centuries managing to avoid all the wars, supernatural and human, but still going to all the best parties.
I would say I avoided bloodshed, but it’s kind of part of the whole ‘vampire’ thing.
I’ve lived on the fringes of a society that considered cruelty and sadism favorable character traits for almost five hundred years. Now I’m in the middle of a war that might just put my nonbeating heart in a lot of danger.
Battles, I can handle.
The impossible attraction between me and the vampire slayer, not to mention the penetrating gaze of the king of our race, on the other hand?
I might not get out undead.

—                    —                     —

Fatal Harmony is the first book in a brand new series by Anne Malcom, who is one of my favourite authors. She normally writes biker romance set in California, so a contemporary fantasy series about vampires, witches, werewolves, demons and slayers is quite the departure. I try to trust authors I’ve been following for a while though, and I always want to support them, so I had this pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as the link went live and read it the day it downloaded to my kindle.

I am so glad I made this decision. Not so glad about the one to stay up reading until 3 am just so I could finish book. Facepalm! I really need to start campaigning my work to provide paid “book days” to staff. I do work in a library after all. It is an expectation that we read and often. Let’s just call them professional development days, shall we?!

First off, Fatal Harmony is FUNNY! I love Isla. She could be my best friend. She always has a quip or a quick one-liner and is heavily influenced by the entertainment industry, one of the things that makes her so different from the rest of the vampire race. She is fashionable, a self-made billionaire and hard-working CEO who is incredibly sarcastic but not in an unkind way. Isla is unassuming. She is one of the best-connected and powerful of all vampires, due to her genealogical lineage and friendships with other otherworldly beings, but spurns the aristocracy and politics of her own race.

Malcom provides a fresh perspective on vampire literature. I am so sick of reading vampires but I love her take on them. They don’t sparkle. And they aren’t “turned” humans.

Vampires are their own race created by the gods in the dawn of time, just like witches and werewolves. And humans. Baby vamps are born to vampire parents and grow up remarkably human-like, until they reach the age of sexual maturity and undergo a transformation into vampirism … much like a second stage of puberty. Every few hundred years, vampire women experience an “awakening” for one year, in which their body basically wakes up and is able to procreate.

Malcom’s world is well thought out. All of her otherwordly explanations make sense to me which is incredibly important because I have a difficult time suspending disbelief while reading. I need to feel that the relationships and rules of a society are “believable” even in fantasy.

Along with the POV character Isla, we also meet a wide range of other characters. Her best friend is a bad-A witch with coven problems and her “not a side-kick” second-class vampire friend (vamp mom, human dad) has hidden depth. The King of the vamps is seriously scary and completely intrigued by our dear Isla, which is even scarier. He is one sexy and powerful potential relationship. I cannot wait to learn more about him in the sequel.

Finally, vampires’ mortal enemies Slayers, are back in town and one in particular has some pretty big secrets. And sex appeal to spare.

Life is gonna be interesting.

Fatal Harmony is the first book in the Vein Chronicles. The second is in progress but no word yet on a release date. Sounds like 2017 though!

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Dark Promises by Christine Feehan – review

I have been a fan of Christine Feehan for fourteen some years now, which most certainly makes her the author I have been reading for the longest period of time. But the past few years, I have gone off her megahit “Dark” series which I began with. They seemed (to me) to have become repetitive and somehow less tangible when compared to most of her other series. The Sea Haven and Ghostwalker series are much more human in my experience and I find it easier to relate to those female protagonists.

Enter Gabrielle in Dark Promises.

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Blurb, courtesy of the author’s website.

Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing the man she’s engaged to nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once Gary was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger.

And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown…

Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled onto the path of a desperate woman on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.

** Note, the author posts the first chapter of every book on her website, if you want to check it out before deciding whether to purchase.

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What absolutely made this story for me was Gabrielle and her refusal to accept the new Carpathian life that fate has set before her. She isn’t in love with her stranger of a lifemate (Aleksei), clings desperately to beau Gary and quite seriously considered suicide before dedicating herself to reinventing her life.

In all the previous Dark books the heroine has rather easily accepted the new life thrust upon her. The overbearing lifemate, the eternal life not also granted to loved ones, the strange new rules and customs of an ancient and foreign species, career loss, the necessities of drinking blood and sleeping underground (aka getting buried alive every night) to survive …. these all seem reasonable given the emotional and physical intimacy between lifemates, at least to the majority of heroines.

Well I call bullshit.

As fun as it can be to read about, much like the Hunger Games, this is one world that I would prefer NOT to jump into. I think it would actually be rather traumatizing to become a Carpathian and I highly doubt I would adjust as quickly as most of the leading ladies. And I like to picture myself as said lead, I do it unconsciously as I read, so it is important that I am able to relate to her.

Savannah was already Carpathian, although she had trouble accepting her lifemate at first. Lara and Alexandra notable resisted. But nearly 30 books on, true denial of the lifemate bond has been few and far between. If you follow the series, you know that Gabrielle was actually “turned” several books ago to save her life, well before meeting Alexei, but she hasn’t made any attempts to join Carpathian society. She can’t even feed herself or tuck herself in underground in the morning. She clings to her human life and human mind with every bit of strength and tenacity she possesses.

I think her reaction would be most closely aligned with my own of all the heroines introduced so far. It was refreshing to see a “normal” woman with regular old problems trying to fit into this world and failing so desperately at first. It was also awesome (in a bittersweet way) to watch Alexei fail so miserably in stimulating affection in Gabrielle for the first while. The series is set upon the basis that they are two halves of the same whole, but in the mean-time, they are still complete strangers who have many misunderstandings and hurts standing between them and happiness.

I would love to see Christine one day write a book where the heroine comes with a few kids who aren’t so happy with the Carpathian lifestyle (and danger) their Mom is dragging them into. Maybe with a biological Dad in the background that shares custody.

A lot of fans might not share my dream – they’re more escapist readers who want the fantastical adventure and fairy-tale romance – but I love to read tales that are bound to the human world, and what could be more human than our complicated familial ties and emotions that bind our lives to one another.

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Winter of the Wolf – Cherise Sinclair

Winter of the Wolf is the second book in the Wild Hunt Legacy series by Cherise Sinclair.

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Blurb:

After years in foster care, Breanne Gallagher has the stable life she’s always wanted, living with her foster-sister, working as a chef, enjoying her comfortable routines. Then one devastating night, a hellish creature invades her apartment and shatters her fragile existence. Shifting between monster and man, it slaughters her foster sister and assaults Bree. Alone, wounded, her beloved home tainted by gruesome memories, Bree flees to a tiny wilderness town, following her only clue to her past.

Shapeshifting warriors, Zeb and Shay move from one pack to another, hunting the hellhounds which prey on their kind. Assigned to Cold Creek, they take over management of a decrepit fishing lodge for their “human” cover. Their first renter is a pretty human female who trembles at the sight of them—yet stands her ground. Furious at the hurt they see in her eyes, the protective nomads are drawn into helping her. Although no shapeshifter is ever attracted to a human, her scent is oddly compelling, and her ferocious determination to conquer her fears ignites longings neither loner ever expected to face.

Bree is healing, learning to shoot the biggest pistol she can find, and overcoming her fears, especially of the two deadly, disconcertingly attractive hunters. Her life is getting back on track…until she tries to save a little girl from a hellhound and discovers that everything she knows about herself is false.

—                 —                   —

It isn’t often that you see a second novel build so incredibly from the first in a series. Often, the story revolves around new characters in the same format and world.

Well, the world might be the same. And the initial premise too, of an adult woman discovering that she is a shapeshifter and trying to find her footing on new ground. But Bree is such an incredibly different character from the heroine of book one, almost her opposite in many ways, that it feels like a completely different story. Her male companions too are different, friends and partners in the field instead of littermates.

While I loved the original story, I also loved the differences that made this one unique. Bree is vulnerable and emotionally fragile throughout much of the book, with a difficult foster care background and abuse suffered both as a youth and an adult. Yet she grabs hold to a new existence in Cold Creek, forging personal relationships and business ties, and just generally establishing a life for herself.

I love books where the heroine does this. I find that … gumption? determination? pizzazz? something … to be an extremely admirable quality. It is something that I have many doubts I could do but wish I could. One day maybe I will pack up and move somewhere completely foreign to me and start again. Lord knows I wish I could, and Bree gives me the encouragement that maybe it would be possible for me as well.

Another difference from the first novel is that the protagonists are werewolves rather than were-cats, which means that in addition to belonging to the territory, they also have a pack that all the wolves in their territory belong to. The were-cats and bears don’t have this second community so it was an interesting development that added depth to the Wild Hunt series. I wanted to tear the pack leader limb from limb, but hey – that’s just a sign of a great author if they can make you care so much.

Ms. Sinclair adds enough humour into her novels to make them light, even when there is dark content, and that is a rare and lovely addition to erotic romance. Here is a brief excerpt from Winter of the Wolf, a scene that shows both Breanne and Zeb’s true natures, and is humorous as well.

A sweet voice caught his attention. Carrying a small tray she could use one-handed, Bree was taking drink orders. As she wove her way around the tables, her sunny hair gleamed in the light from the wall sconces. The wavy tangle stopped just above her waist, drawing attention to the way her jeans cupped her round ass. An inch or two taller than Vicki, she was even curvier and totally appealing.

Fuck.

Others had noticed, as well. She was collecting interested looks from the entire male population of the bar, even Daonain. But, true to form, humans started the trouble. Drunk, human, and male spelled pain in the ass, and the centre table held four PITAs.

One latched onto Bree’s arm tightly enough she couldn’t jerk away without spilling the drinks. Another had the effrontery to grab her ass.  Taller than everyone in the room, Zeb had a clear view. He started to push his way through the crowd.

She scowled and snapped something, but the human males only laughed. And then, she pivoted and planted her foot into the ass-toucher’s stomach. Man and chair went over backwards, skidding a few feet until coming to rest against the adjacent table.

She hadn’t even spilled a drink.

She turned toward the other male. He snatched his hand from her arm. With a swing of her blonde hair, she moved away as if she’d never been stopped. Fucking amazing. Zeb adjusted his jeans around a disconcerting hard-on and returned to the bar.

Calum was waiting for him. “Could you do me the favor of taking out the trash? Just the two. Politeness is not required. The others may stay.”

Sinclair, Cherise (2012-03-23). Winter of the Wolf (The Wild Hunt Legacy Book 2) (Kindle Locations 1144-1148). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Winter of the Wolf is certainly a romance novel, but you won’t find gratuitous sex scenes in the first couple of chapters. It is a menage relationship between two male “cahirs” and one little female, and they take their time getting to know each other before jumping beneath the sheets. Sometimes this gets boring, but it works for this series and the plot moves quickly without the spicy scenes.

I highly recommend this series, it is currently my favourite in the fantasy-romance genre!

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Hour of the Lion – a review

Does it ever feel like time just gets away from you?

As previously announced, my favourite author Ms Cherise Sinclair is releasing a new book in her erotic-fantasy series, The Wild Hunt Legacy, on January 26th. I wanted to review the first two books prior to the release of the third so that I had the whole series reviewed … here we are two days before and I’m just starting. Gosh dang it!

Nonetheless, it is time to push on, so here is my review for the fantabulous (yes, that’s a word) novel, Hour of the Lion.

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Blurb:

As a dedicated covert ops agent, Victoria Morgan follows two rules: accomplish the mission and protect the innocent. When bitten by a werecat—yeah, that was a sucky day—she must investigate beings that shouldn’t exist and are hard as hell to identify. Just how can she tell if a person is human–or an animal-shifter who enjoys Bambi-sized snacks?

During her investigation, she finds a real home and friends for the first time. Sweet, right? But there’s a flip-side: the bad guys are waiting for her to turn into something four-legged with a tail, the shifters suspect her of spying, and she has fallen in love with a pair of Thumper-eating werecougar brothers.

Her duty is to expose their existence. Or she could follow her heart and protect them with all of her deadly skills.

—                     —                     —

The first time I heard that Sinclair’s new release was going to be a menage romance,  I was a little wary. You can read a lot of things that wouldn’t actually appeal to you in real-life, but this was one of those topics I didn’t think I could get past. But I love her writing and she has helped me through some tough spots in the past so I gave it a try anyway. There is something to be said for having an author who is an automatic buy!

I loved Hour of the lion!!!

The world that she created is so magical and much more complete than I was expecting. Instead of just the were-creatures that are the focus of the series, the author also builds her world with brownies, pixies, fire salamanders, et al, all in the background but contributing to the feel of this otherworldly community hidden in a remote mountain town.

Victoria was an incredibly spunky and vivid character, a really inspirational role model for any woman. I find that when I read many books in a row whose female protagonists exhibit the same major characteristics, I tend to unconsciously take on some of those attitudes. “Vic” attacks life with a take no prisoners approach and doesn’t let fear stand in the way of anything, so she is a great role model to be reading about.

This is one of my favourite quotes:

Okay, she was braver than this. She wasn’t a little girl unable to fess up to her actions. She’d done the deed – deeds – and not it was time to pay the piper. She stared into the fire and confessed …

Victoria isn’t afraid to do a lot of things that I am. Like stand up to a mean guy who stole a waitress’ tips, or break up a barroom brawl. Of course she is a marine and CIA agent with lots of training behind her. I’m certainly not. And she is a book lover to boot! What’s not to love?!

Calum and Alec, the two male leads in Hour of the Lion, are entirely drool-worthy. Both are strong, protective, thoughtful males who aren’t afraid to stand up to their mistakes when they get it completely wrong. And boy do they get it wrong sometimes! I like that both are patient and slow to pass judgement, even if they have quick tempers. I love heroes who have an edge of danger to them, something both Calum and Alec have in spades. De. Lic. Ious.

I loved Hour of the Lion and encourage everyone not just to check it out, but also all of Cherise Sinclair’s books. Here website is: cherisesinclair.com or her author page on goodreads can be found here.

I can’t wait to read Eventide of the Bear this week, but I will try to review the second in the series before I get to it. The OCD perfectionist in me will grump if I review out of order ; )

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