Review: Guardian’s Mate

Review: Guardian’s MateGuardian's Mate (Shifters Unbound, #9) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #9
Published by Berkley on September 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“Rae looked across the tossing water at Zander Moncrieff and couldn’t decide whether she should jump overboard of leap onto his boat and smack him.”

FINAL DECISION:  Lovely story with lots of action and characters I liked and cared about.  My only negative was that the emotional connection between these characters happened so fast and only the circumstances of the plot kept them apart.

THE STORY:  Wolf shifter Rae Lyall is the chosen Guardian (the shifter who can send shifters to “heaven” at their death).  Her choosing by the Goddess causes unrest because a female has never been chosen from that position.  Now subject to suspicion and derision, Rae’s father sends her to polar bear shifter and healer Zander Moncrieff for protection and training.  Zander is Goddess touched himself and understands the challenges of the “gift”.

There is a reluctant attraction between the two but the threats that surround them keep Rae and Zander focused on working together while falling for one another.

OPINION:  I’m a big fan of Ashley’s shifter series. The series has a lot to say about issues of the day in an entertaining fashion.  I also enjoy how the Shifters have managed to retain their own traditions and identity despite the onerous restrictions placed upon them by humans.

In this book, Zander is a free spirit.  Seen as “crazy” by many, Zander suffers with his gift of healing.  Not only does he suffer by healing, he also knows that he cannot help everyone.  By making himself inaccessible, he limits the demands on his gift. Despite his behavior, Zander cares tremendously about others.

Rae is an orphan wolf shifter adopted by felines.  She loves her family but still feels the loneliness of being different.  Her choosing as Guardian further separates her from others.  She is strong and mouthy and just amazing although she is young and is still developing herself.

The interaction between Rae and Zander is funny and spicy and sometimes adorable.  The two banter and argue and have some hot scenes together.  They both have a core of not belonging that unites them.  Their gifts have separated them from others and this allows for true understanding between them.

The book is a roller coaster with lots of action with different storylines merging and weaving together in sometimes unexpected ways.  The resolution of the plot is surprising and yet completely in line with the story.  I loved how things came together.  Appearances by characters both new and old (Tiger!) never lets the reader forget that there is a larger world and story that these characters are a part of.

I love learning about new types of shifters and I look forward to their stories being told as well.

WORTH MENTIONING:  For readers of the series there are some reveals as to what the Fae are up to (with apparently some human allies).

CONNECTED BOOKS: GUARDIAN’S MATE is the ninth book in the Shifters Unbound series.  This book can be read as a standalone although there may be some learning curve as to the shifter world that this book resides in.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Alexandria Affair

Review: The Alexandria AffairThe Alexandria Affair by Ashley Gardner
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #11
on May 17, 2016
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“In late August, 1818, my wife had me abducted, trussed up, and taken down the Thames to be put on a tall ship bound for Egypt.”

FINAL DECISION: These books just keep getting more amazing.  This book is a blend of a buddy travel book, an adventure story, a mystery and a look into Regency antiquities.  I love Lacey more and more in each book and I can’t wait for the next one!

THE STORY:  Captain Lacey’s wife is determined that Gabriel is going to Egypt with his friend Lucius Grenville.  Gabriel has been wavering because of his wife’s pregnancy.  Trussed up and sent away, Gabriel and Lucius quickly turn to the adventure of exploring the exotic locale.  Unfortunately, Gabriel gets mixed up in a murder and treasure hunting prompted by his crime boss contact Dennis.  There is much danger and the return of Gabriel’s “twin” who has been trying to murder him and those he cares about.

OPINION:  One thing I have always loved about the Captain Lacey Mysteries is the intriguing mix of mystery and romance.  Well, in this book the romance element is lessened — although Lacey never forgets about his beloved wife — but there is a new adventure element to take its place.  The emphasis of this book is the mystery so readers should not be fooled.  Here, I was much more intrigued by the adventure story than the mystery.  I became fascinated by the descriptions of Regency Egypt and the expeditions going on there.  There is some progress on some ongoing stories including Lacey’s mystery stalker.

This has become one of my favorite series because it has so many good characters with twisty stories that I want to follow.  I can’t wait until the next book because I knocked off 1/2 star merely because I love the interaction with Lacey and his wife and I missed that here.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a lot of cool information about Regency Egypt and the discovery of antiquities.  It feels like an adventure book as well as a mystery.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR is the eleventh book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series.  The mystery in this book is self contained but there are some overarching storylines and relationships.  I think a new reader could read this book without missing much.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: White Tiger

Review: White TigerWhite Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #8
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 335
Goodreads
four-stars

“Addie never paid much attention to Shifters — they weren’t part of her world. And now one had come to her diner to eat pie.”

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable romp, WHITE TIGER continues to expand the Shifter universe.  As always, the world building is strong here. The sweetness of the romance between Kendrick and Addison is matched with an adventurous story.  The only thing I missed here was a progression in the overarching story.

THE STORY: Kendrick is a Guardian and the white tiger shfiter leader of a group of uncollared shifters. A father with motherless children, Kendrick has lived for so many years in secret in order to protect his family and his shifters, Kendrick has not been able to resist a nightly trip to a diner to see a waitress Addison Price.  When an attack leaves them all vulnerable, Addison is pulled into the world of the Shifters.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book because Kendrick and Addison are such a sweet pair. Addie is really strong as a woman and I love her protective instincts.  Kendrick has a hidden gentleness to him and the pain he has experienced makes him wary of falling for Addie but he quickly does even as he wants to keep his distance to protect her.

Most of the conflict in this story involves Kendrick’s clan and a shifter who wants Kendrick for herself.  That part of the story didn’t work as well for me, but I enjoyed the overall story in such a way that I could overlook it.

Aside from the romance, my favorite part of the book was watching Kendrick, with Addie’s help begin to build a home for his shifters.  The sense of finding a home and building a place where shifters can find happiness and community just made me happy.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Any book where Tiger appears is a great book to me!  I love that guy and was pleased to see this part of his story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WHITE TIGER is the eighth book in the Shifters Unbound series.  It can be read as a standalone although a new reader might feel challenged by the worldbuilding that has already been done and isn’t explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Wild Things

Review: Wild ThingsWild Things (Shifters Unbound #7.75) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.75
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 220
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Romance But It’s The Shifter Info Revealed that Is Really Good

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable with a less experienced Shifter male and a woman who has tried to find love in the wrong places. This novella expands readers knowledge of what is going on in the Shifter universe. Sweet and fun.

THE STORY: Mason McNaughton is a wolf shifter (youngest brother of Broderick from BAD WOLF) is tired of the feral feline living in his house driving him crazy and sometimes trying to kill him. He decides to help search for a cure which leads him to a psychic in New Orleans Jasmine Samuelson. Mason doesn’t believe in psychics but Jasmine is known for finding people and Mason needs her help to find the elusive Guardian healers who might be able to turn the feral back from his madness. Jasmine finds Mason sexy but she has had bad luck with men including a shifter who broke her heart before.

OPINION: This romance is sweeter and less intense than others in the series as this short novella has a lot of plot to get in. That being said, I enjoyed seeing Mason who is somewhat younger and more inexperienced than the typical Shifter in this series fall in love. Mason is really sweet even as he says that Shifters are wild and dangerous. The connection between Jasmine and Mason is quick and there is little conflict between them except for Jasmine’s wariness because of her past. I enjoyed this book especially because of the return glimpses of some of my favorite Shifters. This is not that deep of a book, but it is enjoyable and expands the Shifter universe.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of cameos from series favorites! There are lots of cubs arriving soon!

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILD THINGS is book number 7.75 in the Shifters Unbound series. It can be read as a standalone EXCEPT a reader has to understand a bit about the Shifters because it is not explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

Save

four-stars

Review: Dreamwalker

Dreamwalker
Dreamwalker by Allyson James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Return to Stormwalkers Universe

FINAL DECISION: A book ultimately about connections, caring and relationship wrapped in a paranormal shell, this book moves the mythology of the Stormwalkers series forward with the presence of all of Janet’s family and friends.

THE STORY: Janet Begay, Stormwalker and half-goddess, is planning her wedding to dragon Mick when the most powerful mage Emmett Smith demands her magic mirror or else he will take it from her — and he doesn’t care who gets hurt. When a battle with demons knocks Janet out and sends her to a dream world in the past, Janet and her friends and family begin to live in a world where the dreams of the past may not happen like before and where there are real dangers. Janet needs to find a way back to the present and defeat Emmett before everyone she loves is destroyed.

OPINION: This book has a lot of drama as Janet struggles through her dreams. Janet struggles with her ever increasing group of loved ones and friends. The more she cares about others, she is both more powerful and also more vulnerable. I especially liked how Janet’s relationship with her sister continues to evolve. In this book, they have a breakthrough. I also enjoyed being able to see Janet evaluate her relationship with Mick in her dreams. After reading the other books in the series, this book gives a sense of how far the two have traveled together and developed. While this book has a lot of action in it, I appreciate the relationships more.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the first Stormwalker novel after a several year hiatus. Thankfully, the tone of the novels and the characters blend in nicely with the previous novels.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DREAMWALKER is the fifth book in the Stormwalkers series. The story here can be read as a standalone although there is a continuing mythology.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

Review: Nightwalker

Nightwalker
Nightwalker by Allyson James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Action Packed with Overlapping Mysteries in this Paranormal Series

FINAL DECISION: An exciting, action packed entry in the Stormwalkers series. All the series favorites make appearances here and the mythology of the series continues to develop in new and unexpected ways.

THE STORY: Stormwalker Janet Begay owns the Crossroads Hotel. The friends, family and fiance consists of a variety of magical and non-magical creatures. When Ansel, a Nightwalker (aka vampire) is being sought for the murder of his girlfriend, Janet and her fiance Mick don’t believe that Ansel would have committed the crime. Unfortunately, Ansel himself is not sure that he did not kill her in a blood frenzy. When powerful magical creatures come after Ansel, Janet realizes that more is going on here than a possible murder.

OPINION: This book is an exciting chapter in the Stormwalkers series. There is much ambiguity here which is where this series excels. It is not certain that Ansel is innocent — in fact everyone and everything points to guilt on his behalf. Janet’s defense of him threatens her life and those she loves. The struggle with power, the betrayal of friends, mistakes made. All these themes are present here. This book is filled with a whole cast of characters from the series as it appears that everyone is after Ansel. Janet and Mick’s relationship opens in new directions in small ways in this book. Mick opens up in ways he hasn’t in previous books in the series. All this combines into a good paranormal mystery adventure.

WORTH MENTIONING: What is Mick up to?

CONNECTED BOOKS: NIGHTWALKER is the fourth book in the Stormwalkers series. The story is self contained and can be read as a standalone, however, there are ongoing personal stories regarding the characters that span the series of books and are not necessarily understood by reading only this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

Review: Shadow Walker

Shadow Walker
Shadow Walker by Allyson James
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

My Favorite of the Series

“Nothing quite makes your night like falling two hundred feet into a sinkhole.”

FINAL DECISION: This is my favorite book in the series. The drama with the relationship between Janet and Mick raised the importance and tension in the story.

THE STORY: Janet Begay is a Stormwalker with a boyfriend, Mick, who is a dragon. When the ground collapses beneath Janet, she finds something dark under the ground. Even worse, it seems like darkness is all around and even Mick begins to act strangely.

OPINION: For me the best part of this book is the change in Mick and the threat to his relationship with Janet. Janet is challenged here because she realizes the real possibility of losing Mick. In many ways, she has taken their relationship for granted. The story in this book forces her to consider how much Mick means to her. There are other strange things going on in this town, but, for me, this book is best when Janet is having to consider how much the relationship and Mick means to her. This book is sad and at times very filled with angst. Because of the development in the relationship, this book is my favorite.

WORTH MENTIONING: One of the interesting things about this series is that the end of each book gives a little teaser about what is coming up in the future setting up one of the continuing stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW WALKER is the third book in the Stormwalker series. The story is self-contained although the continuing character relationships and some of the stories are continuing throughout the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

Review: Double Hexed

Double Hexed
Double Hexed by Allyson James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Novella About Janet and All Her Friends Trapped in Her Hotel by an Evil Spell

“That was my MIck. Forgiving me for turning into a crazy, murderous, insulting bitch who’d just tried to kill him. Times like these kept a relationship strong.”

FINAL DECISION: A book that takes all the main characters from the series and traps them in the hotel, this book ups the drama and the angst from the main series. Everything is condensed to good effect.

THE STORY: Janet Begay is a half-Navajo, half-underworld goddess with the power to control storms. She also runs a hotel in the Southwest. When her hotel is hexed, Janet along with her friends are trapped in the hotel. Cassandra, a witch believes that her past has caught up with her and she is the reason the hotel has been hexed.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book because it has all the good aspects of a Stormwalker book but everything has been condensed. Janet’s concerns about her powers, her love for her friends. The quirky personalities of the series cast of characters, the intense relationship between Janet and Mick, a weird paranormal mystery and serious action and danger. Sometimes novellas don’t accurately represent the tone or pace of the series, but this one does very well.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novella has a full storyline with a lot of drama and angst for such a short story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DOUBLE HEXED is book 2.5 of the Stormwawlkers series. It can be read as a standalone another many of the nuances of relationships between the characters will be lost without the background of the other books.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.

Review: Firewalker

Firewalker
Firewalker by Allyson James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expanding Mythology Makes This Book Better Than the First in the Series

“Despite everything Mick and I had been through, despite what we had together, I knew that Mick still watched me with wariness. He loved me, protected me, shared a bed with me, yes. Had complete faith that I wasn’t a danger to every living being on the planet, no.”

FINAL DECISION: FIREWALKER which improves and expands upon the paranormal world of the first book in the series has more emotional conflict between the characters and within Janet herself.

THE STORY: Janet Begay, a Stormwalker with goddess power from her evil mother, is concerned that her boyfriend MIck, a dragon, will be put on trial by the dragons for failing to kill her. She wants to help and Mick wants her to stay out of it. Janet is also struggling with her goddess powers that she cannot control. She has been warned that her friends might have to kill her as she becomes a danger to everyone. Also, there is a resurrected killer running around.

OPINION: The problem of Janet’s powers and the conflict it brings with her friends and lover was the best part of this book. Janet struggles with the powers she inherited from her mother. Those powers threaten to overcome the person that Janet is. I found this storyline to be more intriguing than the story in the first book in the series. In addition, this book assumes knowledge of the first book and thus there is less worldbuilding than in the first book. Additionally, the relationship between Janet and Mick feels more developed as well. This is a long term series where the character relationships are more slowly developed and there are ongoing and overlapping stories. This book is an episode, but there are many things left unresolved.

WORTH MENTIONING: The relationship between Janet and Mick feels much more developed in this book at by the end of the book has become much more a pairing of equals.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FIREWALKER is the second book in the Stormwalker series. The books should be read in order because the mythology builds upon itself.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

Review: Stormwalker

Stormwalker
Stormwalker by Allyson James
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Paranormal Based on a Mix of Native American and European Myths with an Erotic Romance Taste

“The only thing I knew was that MIck, whose last name was not Burns, was very dangerous, more dangerous than most things out there. I’d known that from the very first night I met him.”

FINAL OPINION: I liked much about this book. The characters and the situation were intriguing but, for me, the book suffered from too much necessary explanation and world building.

THE STORY: Janet Begay is half-Navajo and can harness the power of storms. She lives in Magellan where strange happenings occur. Janet owns a hotel in town that she is renovating. One day her lover from five years ago reappears in her life. Mick can wield fire and not be burned. Janet knows that Mick is not human but doesn;t know who or what he is. Mick has returned to protect Janet from some strange things that begin to occur.

OPINION: This book is the first in the paranormal action series. There is also an ongoing romance between Janet and Mick, but that relationship is not resolved here, nor is it the focus of the story. This world combines many elements of Native American myths along with witches, vampires and other European and pan-myths. The addition of the Native American culture and myths give this paranormal series an interesting point of view. This book focuses on Janet and her gaining knowledge of her own background and her powers. I didn’t feel Janet’s relationship with her boyfriend as much because he remains very mysterious and much of their relationship feels uneven. By the end, however, their connection felt better. This book has some erotic romance language and situations without much of the emphasis on the sexual relationship from erotic romances. I missed some of that here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is really focused on the paranormal with only a smattering of romance. This is part of a series where the romance is not completed in one book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: STORMWALKER Is book one of the Stormwalker series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.