Reviewed: December 12th, 2021 Released: November 12th, 2021 Genre: MM Paranormal Fantasy
“And if I am a monster? Will you want me then?”
Ten days after the battle at Blackriver, Michael struggles with new forbidden desires, with his rampant Flame, and a deepening relationship with the taciturn werewolf, Commander Gabriel Flanagan.
Feeling responsible for their loss, Michael longs to rescue the students stolen by the manipulative vampire prince, Alexei Vasiliev. But the High Council refuses to free Michael from his chains. They fear the Whisperer — the half-breed who decimated an entire company of soldiers and came back from the dead. Yet, Michael still yearns for a future among the Guardians. For a place beside his Finnish, silver-eyed giant. For a home within the crazy supernatural world he’s now bound to.
But does Michael still have a future? He’s a descendent of the Warlock — from a bloodline that produces only monsters. If discovered, not even his protective lover can save him from certain execution. He may not want to.
Dark Fate is the second book in the Flame Born series. This MM urban fantasy/paranormal romance is action packed, featuring steaming hot scenes, a hunk of an alpha love interest, a chocolate-scented snarky vampire prince, a clever best friend who can kill a man with her little finger, and one too many shady characters to count. There is content through the series some readers may find distressing. Meant for mature audiences only. See inside for trigger warnings. Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: December 7th 2021 Released: November 25th, 2020 Genre: MM Dark Fantasy
Book two of the Prince’s Assassin series
“Know your place, Nikolas.”
“Under the heel of your boot, Your Highness?”
After a terrible inferno destroys the Caville palace, and with the people of Loreen turned against him, Prince Vasili is left with no choice but to flee his ancestral home, leaving his brother Amir to proclaim himself King. But Vasili’s life isn’t the only one left in ashes. King Amir has not forgotten Nikolas Yazdan—a lord’s bastard son and Vasili’s favorite pet. With forbidden power in his veins, Amir has become more than Niko can fight alone.
Thrust together with Vasili once more, Niko must travel south, to a land of pirates and thieves, of mystery and magic. A land of opportunity for a manipulative prince and his reluctant assassin. But just as Nikolas begins to believe Vasili might be worth fighting for—that Loreen can be saved with Vasili on the throne—the dark flame trapped in the royal bloodline unravels its ancient bonds. One prince must control the unrelenting power desperate for its escape. The other must die.
Niko thought he knew which prince he could trust, but he’s been fooled before and as Vasili’s true motives are revealed, Niko finds himself at the mercy of Prince Vasili once more. Only this time, there’s more than love at stake. The fate of the world rests on Niko discovering the truth about the flame, about the cursed Cavilles, and his place in their doomed destiny.
***Reign of Darkness is the second book in the Prince’s Assassin series. The series should be read in order, beginning with King of the Dark.
Reviewed: December 5th, 2021 Released: July 10th, 2020 Genre: MM DarkFantasy
“Your love is worthless, it’s your hate I need.” ~ Prince Vasili Caville
When King Talos Caville surrendered the war to the elves, soldier Nikolas Yazdan vowed never to serve the royals again. He said the same to the prince who tried to buy his loyalty, and learned that the Caville princes don’t take no for an answer.
Whipped for his insolence, Nikolas is also forced into slavery in a palace full of vicious, brutal royals. Prince Vasili is the worst Caville of all. Malicious and cruel, the prince is more viperman, and someone inside the palace wants him dead. Nikolas would kill the prince himself if not for one thing: Julian, the prince’s personal guard and Niko’s light in the dark. If Nikolas doesn’t submit to Prince Vasili and discover who is plotting against him, Julian will suffer.
But there’s more wrong in the palace than just the prince. The king is on his deathbed, the ferocious elves are creeping closer to the great city of Loreen, and madness stalks the hallways. There’s poison in the Caville court, and if Nikolas doesn’t discover the real reason Prince Vasili tried to buy him with a bag of coin, the palace, the city, and everything he loves, will be lost forever. Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: November 5th, 2021 Released: September 11th, 2018 Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Three years ago, Aspen (as she calls herself), woke up in an abandoned cabin without a single memory. Forced to start her life from scratch and exist entirely off the grid, she’s led a lonely life, but a quiet one… Until now. Suddenly, strange things are happening all around her: phantom tornadoes, exploding fireplaces, massive sink holes – not to mention the strange man that’s been following her everywhere she goes.
When Aspen audits a college class for a much-needed dose of normalcy, she’s shocked by the assistant professor’s cold disdain for her, and her alone. Their heated confrontation turns a corner when Aspen panics, accidentally shattering every bulb in the classroom. That’s when Aiden realizes what she is… but he’s not the only one who’s been paying attention.
In her mission to discover who – and what – she is, Aspen must learn to control her powers, navigate her budding feelings for this new and mysterious ally, and, finally, unearth the shocking truth about her past. Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: November 3rd, 2021 Released: November 2nd, 2021 Genre: Dark Fantasy
A deliciously dark and turbulant paranormal fantasy, with characters that will inveigle their way into your affections, even though you know one of them shouldn’t!
Battleworn Ruby is putting her darkest days behind her, and where better to start again than the bustling Callien city? Too good to be true, when the demon of her past comes crashing back into her life, the warning he carries with him leaves it in pieces. Where Drayvex goes, chaos and mayhem trail in his wake. And she’s bound to him tighter than ever before.
Scheming Drayvex has been busy: chasing the demon turned traitor from world to world, keeping furtive tabs on the girl with a piece of his soul; oh, and running a demon empire. Concerned Ruby will be discovered alive, he enlists her on a hunt for the lapis temporis, an object that can quite literally turn back time, to fix old mistakes and kill their mutual enemy in the past. He’s done playing games.
Power-starved Saydor is on the run. Converting to his cause one underdog at a time, his eyes and ears are everywhere. You can’t kill what you can’t find, and Saydor’s covert talent is deadly. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. And he’s just getting started.
But when you are playing for time itself, how do you know when you’ve been here before? Read More…
Reviewed: October 30th, 2021 Released: October 25th, 2019 Genre: Science Fiction
With the fate of his people on the line, the truth is his greatest weapon…Eighteen-year-old Dante refuses to let evil conquer the galaxy. And the fact that his own father acts as the instrument of a dark lord’s unrelenting destruction only makes it harder. But when Dante learns a mysterious warrior has strange visions of his family, he discovers she may hold the key to defeating his father.
As sinister attacks threaten more and more planets, he fears their purpose is to prepare for an ultimate showdown. But with clues scarce and the girl’s mission to help him turning deadly, Dante might be running out of time before those he swore to protect are doomed.
Can the young hero unravel the mystery and win freedom for the universe?
The Spinning of Deception is the enthralling first book in the Sunspear science fiction series. If you like epic tales of the battle against darkness, intriguing characters, and dangerous adventures, then you’ll love Elizabeth Lavender’s star-spanning saga. Read More…
Reviewed: October 26th, 2021 Released: October 26th, 2021 Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
On the surface, everything about Kira Lockwood is a picture of perfection — an amazing best friend, a loving boyfriend, and a promising future in ballet. But beneath it all, she’s plagued with unusual dreams and nightmares. And to make things more complicated, the man who haunts those very dreams has just moved in down the street. Their attraction is undeniable, but she struggles to understand why he torments her at night while she sleeps.
Blake Michaelson is a handsome and powerful centuries-old warlock. He and his three brothers have been searching for one thing – Kira Lockwood. Though she doesn’t know it, she is a descendent of the first Supra Virtutem, a witch with the ability to harness the ultimate power. He and his brothers have spent a lifetime, hunting others like them, and claiming their magic as their own. To ensure their immortality, Blake must complete the Order of Three: claim her body, take her blood, and end her life.
Kira can’t ascend and harness her power until her 21st birthday but her magic lives within her and her light recognizes the darkness. Will Blake complete his mission or will the power within her be enough to save her? Read More…
Reviewed: October 24th, 2021 Released: September 14th, 2021 Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
The last time he followed his heart, Shax ended up in Hell. This time, it just might be his only salvation.
Once Lucifer’s most feared assassin, Shax is stuck on Earth and tormented by the need to find the one who got away. Outrunning supposed friends and definite foes, he takes refuge in Kansas City. It isn’t long before he comes face-to-face with his quarry, the angel Kheone. The smart choice would be to kill her, but for reasons he does not want to examine, he rescues her instead. Now embroiled in the events that closed the Gates to Heaven and Hell, Shax must decide between love and saving his own skin.
Loyal and lethal, Kheone pursues the demons roaming the Earth with single-minded ferocity, fulfilling her purpose to protect humankind. When her friend dies under circumstances eerily similar to the explosion that cast her out of Heaven, she makes a deal with Shax to track down the killer. Struggling to trust her new partner, Kheone fights her growing bond with the demon as they discover the pieces to a puzzle that just might reopen the ways back to Heaven and Hell. Working with a demon has Kheone questioning the very nature of good and evil, testing her loyalty to the Archangel Michael and all the angels trapped on Earth. Read More…
I am so happy to chat with historical fiction author Kelly Evans, today. I’ve read Kelly’s gothic horror novella The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank and you can find my review here, but today we are talking about Kelly’s latest novel The Beggar Queen which released on August 6th. Welcome Kelly. Let’s start with you introducing your latest novel.
Kelly: My current novel is The Beggar Queen, recently released! It takes place in Seventh Century France and tells the story of Bathilde, kidnapped from England and sold into slavery to a powerful mayor. She thinks her life is over but when the king notices her, everything changes. He marries her but when, in the fashion of Merovingian kings, he dies early, she rules on behalf of her young son. By the end of her life Bathilde had changed the face of France forever.
Helen: This sounds really interesting, sometimes real history is more exciting than fiction! What can you tell us about the cover? I am assuming this Bathilde?
Kelly:The cover for The Beggar Queen shows the main character, Bathilde, in the chemise she chose to wear when she retired to a monastery. The chemise is based on her actual clothing, still kept in the monastery she founded in Chelles, France. When she gave up the riches of her life, she had a jewelled cross embroidered on the front to remind her of the life she once led.
Helen: She sounds like an extraordinary woman who lived an extradorinary life. What made you choose to write her story?
Kelly: I like bringing little known women in history out of the footnotes of the (mostly) men and telling their stories. There are so many amazing women whose stories need to be told, it’s difficult to chose. Bathilde’s story is my third about obscure women. The first is about Aelfgifu, the first wife of Canute the Great. The second is about Edith of Wessex, the wife of Edward the Confessor.
Helen: They all sound equally amazing. As they say, ‘behind every successful man is a strong woman’, I think they didn’t have any choice but to be strong. There was never anyone standing behind them. Which genre to write? This is Historical fiction, isn’t it?
Kelly: Historical fiction (with a side in historical horror!). I’ve always been interested in history; my first degree is in English Lit and History. When I moved to England there was no way NOT to be fascinated, particularly the medieval period, with so many still-standing buildings to visit. Re the horror, I’ve been a horror fan from childhood, I used to watch old monster movies with my dad on Sunday afternoons. It made sense for me to combine history and horror, so I wrote a book that takes place during the black death and added a little undead goodness. As much research went into that book (and the second one in the series) as my straight up historical fiction.
Helen: I would imagine there is a lot of research, as you have to get your historical facts spot on when writing about real people, even if you are putting your own spin on it. How much research did you have to do?
Kelly: I’m a huge proponent of being as accurate as I can in my novels. It can sometimes take months of research before I even start writing, and then I’ll do additional research as I go along. My job is to make scenes in my novels as realistic and immersive as possible without sounding like a high school history paper. I extend this idea to the free articles on my website, including the series of articles I’ve written by the fictional medieval manor owner, Lady Matilda. She offers advice about everything from running your manor to beauty tips to entertaining during the black death. Despite the tongue-in-cheek delivery, the same amount of research goes into those articles as any book I write.
Helen: Sounds like there is as much work, if not more in the resarch than in the book. I am glad you get other uses out of the information you learn. It must be fascinating. Lady Matilda sounds like she knows a thing or too! What made you start writing?
Kelly: This is kind of a cop out answer but I don’t really know. In high school I used to write a short story (as part of a series) in my last class of the day and leave it in my friend’s locker for her to read the next morning. She began reading them to her homeroom class and, after a while, I discovered I had a bit of a following. It was fun so I guess that’s where I really ‘caught’ the writing bug. I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction ever since.
Helen: As you have to do so much research do you plan your novels, or do you still find that you are a bit of a panster?
Kelly: Absolutely a planner! It’s difficult to be a pantser when you write historical fiction, you really need to stick to the historical timeline accurately. I also find being a planner means there’s less major editing to do once the story is done because you’ve already worked out all the major plot lines and issues. I also worked as a project manager for trade software platforms before I retired to write full time so my brain kind of works in that logical manner anyway.
Helen: You are fortunate to be able to write full time, I am so jealous! Do you have a set space set up for writing?
Kelly: I have an office in my back room with a window facing the deck and yard. Every so often I’ll look up and just stare out the window for a moment to give my eyes a break. I also have everything I need to hand, including three shelves full of history books!
Helen: Tell us about your current work in progress; who are you writing about?
Kelly: I’m currently researching Seventeenth Century Bologna and Baroque art for my, as yet unnamed, novel about the artist Elisabetta Sirani. She trained under her father and when he fell ill was responsible for looking after her entire family with her art. She started her own art school for women and her art was desired in Bologna by the rich and famous. Sadly, she died young due to the stress of supporting her family.
Helen: With so much research needed for your own books, do you ever have time to read novels for pleasure?
Kelly: I’m currently reading The Conjurer by Luanne G Smith. It’s the third part of a trilogy about a vine witch and the further stories of her two associates. I love the idea of a winery having a dedicated vine witch to help the grapes (the first book), and the follow-on tales of her friends are an easy, entertaining, supernatural read. Perfect at the end of a day of heavy research.
Helen: I loved the Vine Witch, and I have the second book on my kindle tbr pile. I will get to it soon! Tell us something random, or anecdotal about yourself.
Kelly: I’m able to play music by ear ie I can pick up any instrument and, after a few minutes, play it. I took clarinet in school and still actively play tenor recorder (the big, deep-sounding one – I play mostly medieval music), oboe, guitar, and I recently took up the ukulele.
I’ve led a somewhat charmed life. I’ve been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, been on Austrian television, flown an airplane, worked in one of the world’s greatest museums, and so much more. I try to try as much as I can!
Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, Kelly. It’s been lovely meeting you. It is so interesting to find out more about these hidden women of history. I am glad you are bringing them out into light. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out.
Kelly: Try to write every day, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t – life gets in the way and you have to be flexible. Be wary of adjectives (and adverbs too!). Never stop trying to perfect your craft – you’re never too good or too experienced to stop learning.
About the Author:
Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly Evans graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector. While in London Kelly continued her studies in history, focussing on Medieval England.
Kelly is now back in Ontario with her husband Max and two rescue cats. Her books include The Confessor’s Wife, The Northern Queen, The Mortecarni, and Revelation (all set in Medieval Europe), Elizabeth: Path to the Throne (Tudor England), and The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank (gothic novella).
When not writing, Kelly loves reading, music (she plays a pretty mean ukulele and some wicked medieval recorder), and watching really bad old horror and science fiction movies. Preferably ones with large insects or lizards. And with a LOT of popcorn. Really a lot.
I am so happy to be chatting to fantasy author Rachel Hobbs today. Her second fantasy novel Soul Strung launches on November 2nd, and if you haven’t read Shadow Stained yet, you should! Welcome Rachel. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.
Rachel: The book I’m working on right now is Soul-Strung, the second book in the Stones of Power series. Soul-Strung is the direct sequel to Shadow-Stained, my debut adult dark fantasywhich launched last year. In Soul-Strung, we pick up the story around a month after the events of book one. Ruby is living Callien city, where she’s been trying to build a new life for herself in the wake of past catastrophes. Always the opposite, Drayvex is leaving trails of devastation. Saydor, having narrowly escaped with his life, is back in the power game, and boy does he know how to play it. As we know, Drayvex now has one very clear, very human weakness. And it’s only a matter of time before Saydor discovers that she survived. But despite Drayvex’s dogged attempts to hunt the demon down, Saydor has been one step ahead. So Soul-Strung starts with Drayvex turning up on Ruby’s doorstep out of the blue, armed with this devastating confession and a crazy plan – secure the stone of time and kill Saydor in the past. It’s the first time she’s seen him since Shadow-Stained, and his presence is the equivalence of a demonic hurricane ripping through her new city life. Buckle up, this is going to be a bumpy ride!
Helen: I am so excited to read Soul Strung, as you well know I love Drayvex, even though he is a terrible demon lord, he does have a soft, well a softening centre! What about the cover? What can you tell us about how you came up with the design?
Rachel:Both Shadow-Stained and Soul-Strung have my demon-human duo, Ruby and Drayvex, on the covers. Ruby and Drayvex have a complicated relationship, and it just gets more tangled and polarizing as the books go on. I wanted to reflect that on the cover of Soul-Strung. The biggest difference in the two covers, though, lie with Ruby. This is a deliberate reflection of her personal journey, of the changes she undergoes between the first and second books. On Shadow-Stained’s cover, our heroine has her back to Drayvex and the threat he poses to her. On Soul-Strung, she’s facing Drayvex head on and ultimately, the darkness he represents. She’s not the victim she once was. She’s a little stronger, a little wiser, and she’s no longer scared of the big bad Demon Lord. The question is though, is she facing down his darkness, or is she inviting it in? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Helen: Sounds amazing! I hope she is inviting him in. He needs some of his sharp edges smoothing! How did you come up with the title of the book?
Rachel: I wanted something suggestive of being trapped. Strung is a great word, as it evokes visions of being tied to someone or something against your will. A loss of control and freedom that’s forced upon you, but at the same time, not entirely torturous. With these vibes in mind for book two, Ruby and Drayvex are living with the consequences of that impulsive decision at the end of book one. Consequences that just seem to unfold and unfold. Yes, he saved her life. But not even Drayvex could know what the price of this would be, as no demon before him has ever put a piece of their soul inside a living, breathing human. At least, they didn’t leave an instruction manual!! Does he come to regret going to such lengths? Now isn’t that the question.
Helen: With such strong characters in your book, who did you prefer writing? Ruby or Drayvex?
Rachel: I’ve always gravitated more towards the villains than the heroes in stories. Give me a character with grey morals and a big personality, and I’m yours. I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero, and I think this is a big part of why I find Drayvex so much fun to write. It’s just so much more interesting when the protagonist is a terrible person! I must admit, I feel like I do sometimes really push those anti-hero boundaries with Drayvex. He’s a villain masquerading as an anti-hero. He’s unapologetically demon in all the worst ways, and yet somehow, he manages to get away with murder time and time again. I was told pretty early on that Drayvex’s one redeeming quality is his affection for Ruby. This made me laugh, as when you put it like that, it sounds pretty bad! But I couldn’t agree more. When I first released Shadow-Stained into the world, I wasn’t sure how well he was going to be received. But it seems like the sly devil is doing pretty well for himself. Everyone loves a rogue.
Helen: I think part of it his struggle to understand what is happening. We sympathise as he attempts to understand human emotions, emotions he shouldn’t be experiencing! Which part of the writing process do you prefer? Editing or writing?
Rachel: I used to think I preferred editing to writing. I’m one of those writers who favour having written the book to the act of writing itself. Writing has never been easy for me, and when I’m in a bad cycle, I struggle day after day, after day and I don’t enjoy it. But on those good days, writing from scratch feels like flying. There’s nothing more freeing than taking that tangle of thoughts and words and emotion inside your head, and shaping it into something entirely new that has a life of its own. Having now taken two books from initial concept to a living, breathing story, I’ve come to realise that when I’m writing, I prefer editing. When I’m editing, I’m dreaming of writing. So now I see the pattern, I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the process as a whole. Both writing and editing have their place. They’re both part of the journey, so I may as well try to enjoy the whole ride!
Helen: It’s been lovely chatting iht you, good luck wiht the launch of Soul Strung. Just to close us out, tell us something random about yourself.
Rachel: I played clarinet in my school orchestra in my teen years. We travelled the world, played in Prague and Barcelona, and Lake Garda. From carparks to grand halls, we did it all. Music was one of my chosen escapes back then, and it was so easy to lose myself in these big booming pieces that blew me away. Being part of a bigger whole kept me whole. Well, that and stories. I was quite young when I first joined, so some of my memories of these beautiful places are stronger than others. But I’d like to back one day with my partner and see them again with fresh eyes.
You can find my book review of Rachel’s first book Shadow Stainedhere.
About the Author:
Rachel Hobbs lives in South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.
Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.
Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night.