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    REVIEW: How To Vex A Vampire by Alice Winters

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    VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Vex A Vampire – Alice Winters

    Finn
    Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.

    Marcus
    The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.

    This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three. 


    I have read about three Alice Winters books so far, the first Hitman’s Guide story and the two In The Mind installments. I noticed that her pairings usually come in the form of a persistent, outgoing, flirty lead pestering a stoic, reserved, grumpy love interest who secretly enjoys the pestering but doing his manly best to resist. I’m enjoying the heck out of these chases especially when the other shoe drops.

    How To Vex A Vampire is another paranormal offering set in a world where vampires are free to mingle among humans after a bloody history of persecution and deaths. The VRC is a police department who handles any case related to vampires.

    Finn finally managed to get himself into the department, something he worked hard and schemed hard to achieve for entirely very personal reasons. He was partnered with the notorious Marcus Church, a vampire detective known for his gruff manners.

    The book presents several mysteries. First is the case of a murdered female vampire and a drug that drives vampires into a feeding frenzy. There’s also a hooded ancient vampire stalking Finn for more than a decade. They know next to nothing about this entity but this is the only thing that puts real fear into the heart of the spunky Finnegan Hayes.

    The two MCs hinted at some secrets of their own. Marcus’s true status as a vampire is not known to most. Finn had to make a few educated guesses. The biggest mystery of all might be Finn himself. What makes this little human so special that high-level vampires rally to protect him?

    I love Finn! Finn is, in Marcus’s words, a tiny, fragile human. He lost an arm and a leg from a car accident. He now wears high-tech prosthesis, something Finn goes out of his way not to advertise. Our boy is out to prove that he can stand toe to toe with big bad vampires. He has proven again and again that he can. He’s a man on a mission to kill a very specific vampire. Meanwhile, he’s also hellbent on pursuing one other bloodsucker…

    Poor Marcus tried to put up immovable walls but alas. As the two detectives go about finding the bad guys and before he even realized it, Marcus was swept away by the unstoppable force that is Finn. It was a lot of fun to watch! Check out The Date.

    The book stands out for its humor. It does not have the exhausting hyperactive wackadoodle antics of The Hitman’s Guide. It has a more toned down but still OTT snark for snark exchange that is as funny but not as overwhelming.

    There’s suspense and a lot of action but the focus here is on the character interactions and romantic development. The police procedural aspect might not be the most realistic or even accurate but still procedural enough for us to feel these guys are doing their jobs.

    The VRC series has a great cast to work with, many of them memorable. So it’s no surprise that a couple of supporting characters have books of their own, like my grumpy Russian, Karsyn, and nice guy, DeGray. I’m excited to get to their stories.

    This series opener ends with a cliffhanger so we will be continuing the hunt on the second book. Finn has now charmed enough vampires to form an army. One very vexed vampire is right in front, ready to tear the world apart for him.

    Time to end this elusive ancient threat!

    P.S.

    And so because I got too excited for book 2, I read some reviews and learned the name of this mysterious stalker vampire is Doll Maker. This is giving me ideas! Could it be him?!

    Posts on Alice Winters works here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Walls Down
    Artist: Memba feat. EVAN GIIA
    Album: Saga-II


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    REVIEW: Discovering Destiny by Abigail Kade

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    Familiar Magick: Discovering Destiny – Abigail Kade

    Who would believe that pretending to be your next door neighbor’s boyfriend for a simple family dinner would change so many lives forever? As two witches from two very different families learn how their destinies are intertwined, they realize they may be the only hope for their kind to survive what’s coming for them all.

    Atherton Blackwood

    Once upon a time, I was the heir to my family’s seat on the High Council of Witches. After one horrific night, the Council was no more and all the families went into hiding. The likelihood I would ever find my mo shíorghrá, my soul mate, was gone. But by fate or luck, I’ve finally found my other half. Tobias Wyvern was destined to be mine, but we’re discovering that’s not all destiny has in store for us. I need to find out if our future will be our own, or if it will be determined by a prophecy that was written before either of us were born. I’ll do whatever I have to do, go wherever I have to go to find a way for us to be together. Even if it means going home.

    Tobias Wyvern

    I invited my next door neighbor, Arthur, to a family dinner to get them off my back, but what I’m finding out is that my whole life has been a lie. I was always told we were the only witches left in the world, but that’s because my family was too frightened to tell me the truth. They signed a contract when I was a child, but had no intention of following through. The Wyverns and the Blackwoods would never be united if they could prevent it. Things happened and they were able to disappear, but now Atherton Blackwood is here to claim me, and I’m ready to be claimed. However, claiming me now has consequences far beyond a vow to each other. By coming together, we’ll set into motion a destiny neither one of us could ever have predicted.


    My first thought upon reading the blurb was that Discovering Destiny was Romeo and Juliet, witch version.

    It wasn’t.

    Familiar Magick is built upon the tragic history of witches. There are families of witches that specialized in various elemental magic. One day, malevolent entities killed the witches en masse. There were a few families who managed to stay alive. The survivors scattered and went deep into hiding, practicing their magic in secret.

    This is a short book of only 126 pages. It did not dwell too much on the details but it was able to establish a fairly well-conceived world, enough to give the series solid bones to work with. There was nothing groundbreaking or new here but this was the part I enjoyed the most.

    Destiny is the main theme and witches are fated to soul mates who compliment their magic. They’re also bound to very vocal animal familiars. They’re there as plot device and comic relief, serving as voices of reason and sources of annoyance, mostly nagging their witches towards various courses of action.

    Atherton is from the Blackwood Family. They specialized in wind magic, allowing them to affect the weather. His familiar is a raven, Lucy, a foul mouthed, foul tempered creature. She’s not that bad because she has Ath’s best interest at heart.

    Tobias is from the Wyvern family. They specialized in earth magic. In Tobi’s case, this allows him power over plants. His familiar is a cat, Chester. He’s well-spoken and has perfect manners. Excerpt when you try to scratch his belly.

    I have more descriptions for the familiars because the personalities of the two MCs weren’t as distinct, fully realized or that interesting. They were content to be swept along by their destiny, neither one questioned the state of things.

    Anyway, these two were destined to be together but were pulled apart by the evil forces who massacred the families. But as fate would have it, they ended up as neighbors 20 years after.

    Ath knew Tobi was a witch. Tobi was utterly clueless. He grew up with the knowledge that the Wyverns were the only witches left in this world. The two men were egged on by their familiars to ask each other out. Both were digging their heels. Tobi, because he’s shy and socially awkward. Ath, I don’t know.

    This part was both cute and frustrating. Cute with how the two were dancing around each other and throwing off sparks. Frustrating because, for the most part, they did nothing. Also, Chester was already talking to Ath secretly and explicitly telling him to make his move. So why didn’t the cat just tell Tobi about the existence of other witches? From what I gathered, there were no specific caveats about this thing. Also, cluelessness could be adorable but I couldn’t believe Tobi was actually that dense not to figure things out after some very obvious clues.

    The second part of the story was meeting the Wyvern family. Here, we meet horrid characters in the form of Tobi’s mother and brother. A mystery presented itself and unveiled a quest that will tie together all the books The two MCs were more active participants now, taking action to solve the riddle left by Tobi’s late father.

    I feel that the ending could have been executed better. It was going for a cliffhanger but it took the focus entirely off Ath and Tobi. It was like they were forgotten upon the introduction of the new characters who were going to be leads for the second book. I think it’s important for romance novels to end with something conclusive about the main couple even for HFNs and cliffhangers, especially if the series features a different couple each book.

    Discovering Destiny might have one-dimensional characters and wonky plot but it laid a good foundation for the series and had it’s share of entertaining moments. My interest was piqued by the next book, starring a nerdy fire witch and his leather daddy demon. Plus, there’s a fast-talking squirrel familiar. I say read this series opener to get the lay of the land so we could have the best experience out of the more promising sequels.

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: You Were Made For Me
    Rating: Freddie & The Dreamers
    Album:


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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Conned by Kim Fielding

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    Bureau: Conned – Kim Fielding

    World War I veteran Thomas Donne is new to San Francisco. Always a stoic man, shell shock and a lost love have nearly turned his heart to stone. No matter–a private eye has no room for softness. Almost broke, he takes on what appears to be a simple case: finding a missing young man.

    As a magician and medium, Abraham Ferencz cons his audiences into believing he can cheat death and commune with their dearly departed. Although his séances are staged, the spirits are very real, and they’ve brought him almost more pain than he can bear.

    When Donne’s case becomes complicated and the bodies start to pile up, he and Ferencz must fight their way through a web of trickery and lies. The truth is obscured by the San Francisco fog, and in their uncanny world, anyone can catch a bullet.


    Bureau is a series I’ve been diligently following since the beginning. Six books in and it’s still giving us lovable characters and enjoyable stories with magic and heart.

    Conned is the latest installment. Private detective and former Londoner, Thomas Donne was hired by a rich and dubious wannabe politician named Herbert Townsend to find a young man. Townsend was decidedly non-specific about the details but was willing to pay good money.

    Thomas’s investigations led him to magician and conman, Abe Ferencz. Abe has been employing the young man as his assistant. A series of deaths led the PI and conman to work together to uncover the killer’s identity. All the victims were known to Abe. He could be next.

    Ghosts and spirits aside, this is the most spiritual of all the books. Religion played an important role with Abe’s Jewish background being a crucial part of his character. The story put emphasize on how it anchored him to his true self.

    All the books in the series has always been, for a lack of better word, vague about the definitive presence of a god. I liked how the world-building didn’t limit itself to the usual religious concepts. Instead, it had a more general and inclusive ethos which makes a lot more sense in a world where literally anything can exist

    Townsend explained the Bureau‘s mission something to the effect of the lines of good and evil, friends or enemy are porous and it’s their job is to nudge those lines gently until they are in the right place. It’s about protecting “everything that’s valuable in people and not just human people“.

    Our heroes, Thomas and Abe, were men who had seen enough deaths to know not to waste life in regrets. So I could understand how they want to grab life by the balls and jump head first into a relationship in just a matter of days. I liked how the author executed the romantic development. She did it in such a way that you feel the strength of their connection and not how short the timeline actually is.

    While I liked the pacing of the romance, I did feel the drag in the first half of story. This was the part where they found the dead bodies one by one. There was the going-around-in-circles feel to it. Thankfully, the story picked up upon the appearance of Agent Crespo.

    Also, while I liked the general world-building, in this story, the paranormal elements were kind of confusing and a bit scattered in its presentation. Maybe it helps if the reader is more familiar with Judaism than I am.

    The book is set in the late 1920s. There’s a great sense of time and place with a noir vibe. It was an era of cloches and speakeasies, a time I’m fascinated with but don’t want to time travel to because, wow, people smoke and drink like there’s no tomorrow.

    This is a prequel of sorts to the entire Bureau world. The agency was only less than a decade old. We also meet Townsend before he was the West Coast Chief.

    I’m happy we finally get a backgrounder on the Chief. He is always present but mostly in the shadows, wielding his considerable influence and power, nudging various characters towards the best outcome. There were hints of his paranormal nature throughout the series. Here, we get his origin story. It’s definitely worth the wait especially with how it was related to a key secondary character in the story.

    Conned might not be my favorite book in the series (that honor goes to Creature) but it was a great addition, nonetheless. It certainly answered some burning questions I had and getting a look at the early days of the agency is a treat. You will meet men brave enough to catch bullets. You will see what a true mensch is capable of. And learn what it is about all along.

    A game.

    A very long game.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Street Spirit (Fade Out)
    Artist: Radiohead
    Album: The Bends

    P.S.

    The books can be read as standalones but I recommend starting at the beginning where a half angel and a captive demon discovered their cosmic connection. There will be a holiday-themed book about them soon.

    Reviews of Bureau books below:
    Corruption
    Clay White
    Creature
    Chained
    Convicted

    Posts on Kim Fieldings works here.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Bureau. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.