zondag 31 januari 2016

Cate Tiernan - Night's Child

Book 15 in the Wicca : Sweep series, published August 25, 2003.
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Cover: good

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Morgan Rowlands was the most powerful young blood witch for generations. Now, 20 years later, her daughter, 15-year-old Moira, knows there's more to her mother's past than she's been told. As she begins to put the puzzle together, she realizes that there are secrets that could destroy her world.

The book starts so good, with Morgan and Hunter finally deciding to start living together, the get handfasted. But then Hunter disappears when the ferry sinks, is he really dead? Morgan collapses, as even her powerful magic can't find him anywhere on the earth.
And so, mired in grief, they take her home to Cobb, where she will have to build a new life for herself.
She married a gentle man who loved her, and they had a daughter, the headstrong and powerful Moira. Moira is just getting into her power, and she never knew much about her mother's past although everyone is also in awe over her mother's power and her healing abilities. But now, reading her parents' old Books of Shadows, and meeting a stranger who claims to be her uncle, her world is turned upside down! Her parents aren't who she thinks they are, and when she finds out about her real grandfather, she really freaks out. Meanwhile, Morgan is not too happy about history repeating itself, when the son of a witch she knows is bad news, attaches himself to Moira. She can't help making the connection with Cal. But Moira doesn't want to believe her, he is different!

Still, when all the secrets are exposed, and Morgan's enemies make their final move, mother and daughter will have to stand together, and fight for their lives and their village against another Dark Wave …

A great ending to the series, and one that still amazes me. I admire Morgan hugely, for surviving so many bad times, and fighting all the evil she encounters. And now, does she really have a final chance at happiness? As it is the last book in the series, it has to be …

10 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 30 januari 2016

Jean Johnson - The V'Dan, First Salik War

The second book in the First Salik War series, published December 29, 2015.
Genre: science fiction with a hint of romance
Cover: ugly, not a scene in the book.

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It is the age of the First Salik War. The battle against humanity has been engaged.

The V'Dan always believed they were the chosen race, destined to make a mark on the galaxy. For the last few centuries, they interacted peacefully with other sentient species - save for the Salik. Cold, amphibious, and vicious, the Salik were set on one goal: to conquer every race within their grasp.
Now that the Salik's ruthless war has begun, the fate of the galaxy is in the hands of two strange companions: Li'eth, a prince under siege and his rescuer, Jacaranda MacKenzie. A beautiful ambassador from the Motherworld, Jackie possesses more than the holy powers of a goddess. She brings a secret weapon - a strange, wondrous, and dangerous new technology that could be her and Li'eth's last and only hope to save their people from extinction...

I just finished this book, and I am speechless. I am all: o wow. o wow. No, it can't be finished, I need the next one! I need more! But alas, I just saw that I will have to wait 11 months! November 29, 2016 for The Blockade. But I guess the cover relieves some of my worries. Still, I want to know how/what/how!

So yes, I am guessing I am warning you for the enormous cliffhanger at the end of this book. If you really hate those, you should wait until the series is finished, because Jean Johnson, amazing author as she is, is way too good at writing those.

Okay, the book itself. I have to admit, while it was really interesting to read about this new species, the V'Dan, and how its origins are human, it was pretty boring at times as well. But always interesting, so I never skimmed or skipped pages. I liked the interaction between Jackie and her staff. I also love how earth has developed, has put an end to racism, and has now a single government, and without any corruption or insane salaries and bonuses. Amazing.

What I didn't like all that much, was the lecture mode Jackie fell into so often, every time someone started making a remark that was belittling humans, because without the facemarks the V'Dan have, we look like children in their eyes, she would interrupt them and start lecturing them on proper behaviour. That would go on and on, and was pretty impolite as well, especially when she even did that to the Empress, her mate Li'eth's mother. I really liked the Empress, and I wish there was a scene where the two women first met in person, and not as politicians.

I wanted more of Jackie meeting the other species in the Alliance, and to know more of the V'Dan's main religion as the priests are the ones with psychic powers. What happened to that one priest? I was also very much intrigued by the Immortal one, and would like to have a few more encounters with her.

I also completely understand Jackie's fear of the K'katta, a spiderlike race. I am just as phobic as she is, and really don't want to come eye to eyes with them, even though they apparently are very gently creatures.

But overall, a great new book in this very promising series. I really, really can't wait for the next book, but I will have to.

10 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 29 januari 2016

Cate Tiernan - Full Circle

Book 14 in the Wicca : Sweep series, published September 30, 2002.
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Cover: nicer
Re-read for the fifth time.

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I thought the worst was over.
I am finished as a Seeker.
But now something is reaching out for me from my past.
The road ahead is uncertain.
Thank the Goddess I have Hunter.
Though Morgan will always be there for me…
I know that together we can face any foe
I know I must face my future alone.
Seventeen year old blood witch Morgan is being tormented by an evil spirit. Can she stop it before it destroys her?

Almost the last book in the series, and again evil is searching to kill Morgan. Bad nightmares are making her sleep walk, and drive, and it is terrifying. Who is after her this time? Why is she dreaming of Cal? Cal is dead, isn't he?
With the help of Hunter and Alyce (owner of Practical Magic), and some other of Alice's coven members, they try to help her sleep so deep that she can't be reached, and to fight back when she knows she is dreaming. And why is she dreaming of hawks all the time?
When she finally catches the one after her, it almost kills Hunter and Alyce and Bethany, until Morgan shapeshifts to lead the creature away from them.

Hunter has quit his job as a Seeker for the council, as he doesn't trust them anymore. They could have made sure he saw his mother before she died, as they knew where his parents were staying at the time. They didn't tell him when Ciaran MacEwan escaped, and other things. The council seems to be divided, with members doing things to benefit themselves. But what can he do, now he no longer has a job? So when some witches ask for his unofficial help, as their coven leader seems to be dabbling in Dark Magick, he gladly takes the job. Which is very handy, as his father has just crafted a spell, that takes away only certain magical abilities from a witch, and not all of their power.

And then, Morgan is given a scholarship for a very exclusive school in Scotland, to study herbs and magickal healing, exactly what she is so very much interested in. But how is she to convince her parents to let her go? It would be easier if it would be for math …

A very good book, lots of action and suspense. And perhaps finally a happy ending for Morgan?

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 28 januari 2016

Nalini Singh - Shards of Hope

Book 14 in the Psy-Changelings series, published June 2, 2015.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: love it

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Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn't welcome outsiders. And they must survive.
A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain.
Zaira has no such hope. She knows she's too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what. This time, even Aden's passionate determination may not be enough - because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken ...like Zaira.

It is hard knowing that everyone around you has read and fallen in love with this book, while you are still waiting for the paperback to come out. That is one of my pet-peeves with the publishing world, when a series you absolutely love switches from paperback to hardcover halfway through the series. And as I just don't want to buy hardcovers, I have to wait a long time for the paperback. Hardcovers are just too expensive, they take too much shelf space, and are more heavy to hold while reading.

So, the last day of 2015, finally the paperback was lying on my doormat when I came home from the office. And of course, I had to start reading it immediately. I only noticed it was 12.00 at night, when the noise of the fireworks outside suddenly became more heavy. And I just kept on reading …

It was an amazing story, very intense, with characters that are so well written you totally understand them. Zaira who is so much wounded inside thanks to her psychopath parents, and her Arrow training. But Aden has always been there for her, and he is everything to her. She will protect him from herself if she must. Silence has fallen, and emotions are allowed again, and so very very carefully people are starting to relax, to live, and even to love. It was so heart warming to read about.
I also loved the part where Zaira and Aden were with the changeling pack, and that little leopard cub Jojo stole my heart. Aden was struggling so much with how to change the Arrow way of life, and he had the courage to ask Remi for help, in how to raise potentially dangerous children, without pain and fear.

Of course new enemies pop out of the woodwork, determined to put the world back into chaos for their own profit. Aden and the Arrows are their main target, but they are also messing with the BlackSea Changelings. Trying to turn allies into enemies, and that could have very well worked if the different groups didn’t communicate with each other.

Against this wonderful new world building, turning the Arrows into a whole different kind of community, the hunt for a Psy killer, and especially the desperate search for an abducted Changeling child, the slowly developing romance between Aden and Zaira is the focus and it was absolutely beautiful to read. This was an amazing story, and definitely one I will read again and again.

I am absolutely looking forward how this world will develop further. Can humans, Changelings and Psy really work together for a better world for all?

10 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 27 januari 2016

Cate Tiernan - Reckoning

Book 13 in the Wicca : Sweep series, published August 26, 2002.
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Cover: a bit better

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Somewhere there is a place for me. There are people who understand me and can explain the mysteries of my past. I have travelled far in search of this place. But instead of knowledge or understanding, I have found only danger, hostility, and fear…
Alisa is half blood witch, but she has terrifying powers and she's determined to unlock the secrets behind them…

Yes, this book is not about Morgan, but about Alisa. She hates her life, her new stepmother-to-be has taken over the house and the rules, and now she wants Alisa to move out of her room into a very tiny one so the new baby can have her room and be closer to the main bedroom. Alisa really dislikes this, she feels like she is stuffed away, that the new baby will completely replace her. That, and the fact that Hilary is only 10 years older than she is, and throws away her mother's stuff.

And so she reaches out to her mother's family. Through some old letters she found, she knows her mother had a brother, and when she contacts him, he is most welcoming and surprised. And so one night, she just runs away. But she does tell Morgan, and asks her for a lift to the busstation.
Alisa is very much welcome to her uncle Sam, and she can stay with him. It is spring break, after all. Her cousin also seems to like her, but Alisa is completely drawn to her cousin's boyfriend … and that seems to be mutual. The rest of her family is condescending of her, especially her grandmother. As a half witch, she is not supposed to have any powers at all, and she doesn't tell them differently.
It appears they also have a resident ghost, who likes to destroy things. Or is it something else altogether? Like… hereditary telekinetic powers perhaps?

At first I didn't like a book that did not feature Morgan and Hunter, but this is a good story nonetheless. It was good for Alisa to find out more about her background, and to have real family. She really shakes them up too. And I did like that her grandmother finally gives her her mothers' things. Like the athame she has been dreaming about.
Also, her father is paying more attention to her, and how things are for her after she scared him silly by running away. He did not know about her mother's family at all.

8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 26 januari 2016

Darynda Jones - Sixth Grave on the edge

The sixth book in the Charley Davidson series, published May 20, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: cool

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Most girls might think twice before getting engaged to someone like Reyes Farrow---but Charley Davidson is not most girls. She's a paranormal private eye and grim reaper-in-training who's known to be a bit of a hell-raiser, especially after a few shots of caffeine. Her beloved Reyes may be the only begotten son of evil, but he's dark and sultry and deeply sexy and everything Charley could hope for. Really. But when the FBI file on Reyes's childhood happens to land in her lap, she can't help herself: She opens it . . . and then the real fun begins. First, Charley finds a naked corpse riding shotgun in her car. Then, a man loses his soul in a card game. Throw in a Deaf boy who sees dead people, a woman running from mobsters, and a very suspicious Reyes, and things can't get any worse for Charley. Unless, of course, the Twelve Beasts of Hell are unleashed. . . .

I really enjoyed this book, I think the series is just getting better and better. In the previous book, Reyes proposed to Charley, and now she is tormenting him by not just screaming yes, but making him wait for it. Of course it is inevitable, and he will make her acknowledge that. But before that happens, lots of horrible moments occur first.
The fun things though: Cookie and Charley have concocted a plan to make her Uncle Bob jealous, so he will finally ask Cookie out on a date. It works, and it backfires amazingly. But it was fun to read about.
Amber and Quentin get into trouble when they ditch school to go sightseeing together. Quentin sees dead people, and the girl who finds him, absolutely terrifies him. It takes a lot out of Charley to rescue him, and to make the girl depart through her. Her short life has been so utterly miserable, because of her mother. Luckily, the woman is in prison already, or else.

A man has sold his soul to a demon, and now he needs it back. And so Charley comes into contact with the Dealer, and learns more about her own powers, her heritage, and perhaps her future. But Reyes is absolutely furious with her for getting herself into danger once again.

A great new addition to the series, and I will certainly read the Seventh Grave and no body soon. Especially after this ending!

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 25 januari 2016

Recommendations from Karin for January 2016.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


I have read quite a few books this month because I keep buying bundles of 10 to 12 books for a dead cheap price.
One of them was Alphas Unwrapped

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One of the quite short books in there was Raging Winter: Max Denton Book 2 by Colleen Gleason

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A stand-alone, short novel in the international best-selling Gardella Vampire Hunter series.
When vampire hunter Max Denton goes undercover at an English estate over the Christmas holidays, the last person he wants to find there is the lovely Savina Eleiasa. But present she is--and on the arm of her new fiancé.

I have never read the Gardella Vampire Series (I know that you enjoy it, Aurian!) but this is the second book about Max Denton that I really enjoyed. I found it easy to dive into this world although I have no previous knowledge and I like the tortured hero (well, truth be told, I could sometimes smack him – but still). The heroine is self-confident, she is resourceful and by no means a wilting flower. What else do I need from a good, albeit short book?

Another one I enjoyed a lot was Christmas Flame (A Flame Series Book) by Caris Roane

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On Christmas Eve, vampire Officer Kyle Drake has finally persuaded the shy wolf shifter, Verena, to go on a first date. His plans include a little mistletoe and a lot of seduction. But when a call comes in that a teenage girl has been abducted and Kyle and Verena go in pursuit, he fears the dangers of their world will once again force Verena back into her no-dating-ever mode...

This is a series I have already started and I am tempted to continue reading it. The world building is interesting and very well done, there are conflicts abound and the solutions that are presented are believable. The love stories are HOT (actually I could do without too many sex scenes) and of course there’s a HEA.

I could continue with recommending this or that book from that bundle but I actually want to bring another book to your attention.

Peggy recommended Kat Latham as an excellent writer and consequently I tried her books about the London Legends rugby team. Now I don’t really know anything about rugby except that it’s a violent sport for men with incredible bodies. Never fear – the sports aspects are not too prominent and well explained.
A shining example for a really lovely book by Kat Latham is:

Unwrapping Her perfect Match

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'Twas a week before Christmas, and at the auction house...
At six foot one, Gwen Chambers has felt like a giant her whole life. She's a calm, capable nurse saving lives in a busy London hospital, but healthy men give her heart palpitations. When larger-than-life rugby player "Little" John Sheldon convinces her to bid on him in his team's fundraising auction, she discovers how pleasurable heart palpitations can be.
A rugby player was stirring, with desire no one could douse....
John has wanted Gwen since he first saw her, but when he's injured in a match just before Christmas he suddenly needs her, too. Not only can the sexy nurse help him recover, but she might be able to help him look after his daughter - a shy 10-year-old who speaks only French.
But will it be a happy Christmas for all, and for all a good night?
From decorating the Christmas tree to ice skating at the Tower of London, Gwen helps father and daughter open up and bond with each other - and she bonds right along with them. But when John's agent calls with a life-changing offer, Gwen has to decide how far she's willing to go for her perfect match. Will their first Noel also be their last?

It’s not a long book but it’s really a lovely story about one giant of a rugby player with a heart of gold and a nurse, who is very tall for a woman and has issues because of that. Then there is John’s French daughter who is at John’s place for the Christmas days. Unfortunately neither speaks the language of the other one and John has suffered a concussion during a game.
Gwen, who bought John at a charity auction (and left after a lovely date that went completely wrong in the end), does speak French, she is the nurse who will take care of John and his daughter and … well, the story unfolds and is very entertaining.

I have already read other books in this series (out of order, as usual for me) and I must say I enjoy them a lot. These rugby players are stars (mostly) in their sports world but they are not the national heroes like American Football players for example. They have these everyday problems like the rest of us, not all of them are swimming in money, none of them is arrogant or loathsome to the women in their lives – as I said: I like this series and I’m looking forward to meeting Kat Latham in person at the LLC in Berlin.

This is quite a long post again. Hopefully you trudged through to the end. I also hope you had a good beginning of the year 2016. Until next time: happy reading!

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Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I do want to read more by Colleen Gleason, and will certainly add this one to my wishlist. I think I have read a novella by Caris Roane as well, but will to check that series out too.

How about you, reader? Have you read any of these authors? What are your thoughts?

© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 24 januari 2016

Christina Henry - Black Night

The second book in the Black Wings series, published July 26, 2011.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: good

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Madeline Black is an Agent of death, meaning she escorts the souls of people who have died to the afterlife. Of course, not everyone is happy to see her...
If obstinate dead people were all that Maddy had to worry about, life would be much easier. But the best-laid plans of Agents and fallen angels often go awry. Deaths are occurring contrary to the natural order, Maddy's being stalked by foes inside and outside of her family, and her two loves-her bodyguard, Gabriel, and her gargoyle, Beezle-have disappeared. But because Maddy is Lucifer's granddaughter, things are expected of her, things like delicate diplomatic missions to other realms.
Dear old granddad wants Maddy to go to the faerie court and negotiate a new land and power treaty. The fallen's last emissary was decapacitated, so it's up to Maddy to keep her head - both literally and figuratively.

Maddie is just flying back home after a job, and some grocery shopping for Beezle, when a strange magical pulse knows out her powers, and she falls out of the sky. Gabriel has no chance to rescue her, but luckily, JB is there. Her former boss and co-worker. But they land right in the middle of a massacre. Something has torn a werewolf to pieces, literally. And in the vicinity, is her grandfather's messenger, another Fallen Angel.
As he needs to discuss something with Gabriel, Maddie and JB are going home, where a nasty surprise awaits them: Antares, Maddie's demonic half brother, who is determined to kill her and take her place in their father's court. With her last powers, Maddie defeats him, but she and JB are badly injured, and then her unwanted fiancée shows up. He recognizes JB immediately, and leaves Maddie laying outside, wounded, while he breaks down her doors to rush JB inside to heal him.
Apparently, JB is her Faery Queen's son, something he neglected to tell her. And that coincides nicely with the message her grandfather has for her: be the next liaison for the Faery Court, and negotiate a treaty. This is a very strange request (and one she cannot decline), as diplomacy is not one of Maddy's skills.

And then Beezle goes missing, more dead werewolves show up, and Gabriel disappears as well. And so she has no choice but to accept Nathaniel as her escort into Faery, as he knows his way around, and JB. Where more and more bad things happen to Maddy, with the most fearsome challenge yet: the Maze. Something no one has survived in a 1000 years … but to get Gabriel back, Maddie will do whatever it takes …

After reading this second book in the series, Christina Henry is firmly on my auto buy list. I absolutely enjoyed this one. It is fresh, it is fun, and full of action and emotion. Especially the time spend in the maze, and the aftermath, is amazing. I loved how she stands up to her father, and shows her spirit. I will be reading book 3 very soon!

9 stars.

A blogger made me buy itAutobuy authorLove this book

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 23 januari 2016

Cate Tiernan - Eclipse

Book 12 in the Wicca : Sweep series, published June 1, 2002.
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Cover: meh. My own book cover isn't very pretty either.

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Everything around me seems strange and dark.
I am not who I thought I was.
Danger is coming - I know this now.
Everything I believed about my family is a lie.
I can stop this, but I can't do it alone.
How can I live with this knowledge.
I need help…
I need help…
Seventeen year old Morgan is a blood witch. Everyone she loves is in danger, but her power alone cannot help them.

This is one of the most intense books in the series. Alisa discovers that she is a blood witch as well, when she finds her mother's Book of Shadows in Morgan's book bag (who just got it at Practical Magick). All the strange things that have happened lately, are her own doing! She has telekinesis, and she needs to learn to control it, fast.
Morgan's father has escaped the Council two weeks ago, and no one has bothered to tell them about it. Morgan is terrified, and rightly so. If she won't join him and Amyranth, Ciaran has no other choice but to kill her, and all her friends. Desperate, after being bound by magick, Morgan frees herself, and bounds him instead. Knowing his true name, he can't escape her. Then she calls Hunter to come, and together with other witches, they take away his powers in a magical ritual. Morgan refuses to participate in it, Ciaran is still her father. Her half brother Killian will take care of him, because Ciaran is completely broken now, and needs care.

But getting rid of Ciaran doesn't stop the Dark Wave, they will still need the spell. And only Alisa has a chance of surviving doing this, as she is a half witch. And so in a desperate attempt, Hunter and his father, Alisa and Morgan fight the Dark Wave with the intrinsic spell mr. Niall has crafted.

A very good book, and another heartbreaking episode for Morgan. But she evolves stronger every time, and more determined to use her powers for good.
But Morgan's sister Mary K. was good friends with Alisa, will they stay friends now that Alisa has discovered she is a blood witch as well? Mary K. really hates what Morgan has become, and is a very devout Catholic herself. Mary K. still thinks it is evil, and wants Morgan to give it up, even though she knows about her healing people, and her beloved cat Dagda.

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 22 januari 2016

C.E. Murhpy - Heart of Stone

The first book in the Negotiator series, published November 1, 2007.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: good, but what a scary place to be.

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What secrets lie shrouded in darkness?
Okay, so jogging through Central Park after midnight wasn't a bright idea. But Margrit Knight never thought she'd encounter a dark new world filled with magical beings -- not to mention a dying woman and a mysterious stranger with blood on his hands. Her logical, lawyer instincts told her it couldn't all be real -- but she could hardly deny what she'd seen . . . and touched.
The mystery man, Alban, was a gargoyle. One of the fabled Old Races who had hidden their existence for centuries. Now he was a murder suspect, and he needed Margrit's help to take the heat off him and find the real killer.
As they worked together to figure out who was framing Alban, Margrit discovered that this man with a heart -- and body -- of stone made her feel more alive than ever, And as the dead pile up, it's a race against the sunrise to clear Alban's name and keep them both alive . . .

Hard to read this book, as I liked and disliked things about it. So, let's try a different kind of review:

- the worldbuilding, with the different paranormal species that are totally hidden from the normal human world: gargoyles, selkies, dragons, djinn and vampires. Why only these 5? They represent the elements: earth/stone, water, fire, air. And yes, vampires don't fit that list. They might be true aliens. Some of the usual mythical lore works here, some doesn't;
- the story itself is what kept me reading, the little things we learned as the heroine learned them;
- all the paranormals we meet seem to be bad guys, except for Alban, who is naïve;

- the heroine herself, Margrit, or Grit. She is a lawyer, and works as a defender for hopeless cases. She goes running in Central Park in the middle of the night, and that is just plain stupid. Also, how she reacts to all the discoveries she makes about the Old Races, is just too accepting, she is not surprised in the least, or at least not showing it on page;
- she keeps having this on/off relationship with a Detective, Tony, and tries to make it work, while she is very much attracted to Alban;
- she blindly goes into the Dragon's lair without thinking first, planning, or anything, and suddenly acts in the only right way in dealing with this dangerous man?
- the emphasis that she is black, and on racism because of that;
- too little background on Margrit herself, her family and why she has come to live with her friends as she is. With a little more explanation, I might have liked her more.

As I do have the next two books in the series I will probably read them someday.

7 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian