Review: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (Pink Carnation, Book 11) by Lauren Willig

mark of the midnight manzanillaReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Make sure to read the Prologue because it prepares the reader for the first chapter.

Sally Fitzhugh is at an evening soirée and she has an interesting discussion with friends.  Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, has a late night visitor and they have an interesting discussion – there’s no way you can stop reading now.  Believe me, if you like to read historical, paranormal, and time travel romances by the end of chapter two this author will have you hooked.

Sally has an interesting personality and she’s a woman who doesn’t mind trying to figure things out.  This author could have left that story at that and just let things unfold from there but she took it a step further- she’s added in a mystery to be solved.  And don’t worry about wondering if you’ll be lost between the past and present – the author lets you know so there’s no confusion.

This was a book that looks to be part of a great series.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t start reading this author’s work before now.  I found that this book could be read as a stand-alone so you don’t need to read any of the other books to understand what is going on here.  My only hope is that if you liked this book as much as I did, and you haven’t read this series before, you will want to go back and read more about the ladies of the Pink Carnation.  If you’re patient, book twelve is scheduled to come out next August.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla: A Pink Carnation Novel

Get into Bed with Elisabeth Staab (Author Interview)

Elisabeth StaabKeira: Tell us a bit about the vampire mythology around the Chronicles of Yavn Series.

Elisabeth Staab: The vampires in the Chronicles of Yavn are alive rather than undead. They’re a sort of divergent species that also comes equipped with super powers. They have the standard weaknesses – can’t handle sunlight (unless they’re a half-breed), and they weaken without blood or if they overuse their powers. They can live for a long time, but they’re not immortal. There’s a lot that revolves around the vampires being an insular, remaining few, and even fewer who have pure vampire blood. As a species who has been hated and feared by humans, many vampires dislike them, especially the older vampires like Lee (the hero of Hunter by Night) who lived during the old times when humans knew about vampires, but they came after them with fire and pitchforks.

Keira: Lee Goram is not a fan of humans. How does he survive?

Elisabeth: Lee was mated for awhile to a succubus hybrid, but in the decades after their “divorce” he gorged himself on vampire blood. Until meeting Alexia, he’s never touched human blood. Vampire blood is stronger, thicker, and more powerful. He won’t touch human blood, because he views it as inferior. We find out in Hunter by Night, however, that his actions and his belief in the superiority of vampire blood, is about to be his downfall.

Keira: And now his food source is killing him?

Elisabeth: In a way, it’s not simply the food source but Lee’s arrogance, and the number of times he’s bellied up to the buffet. He’s turned into a bit of a lone wolf. No family, no mate, and the one thing he has is his power. Blood gives him power and his ability to protect. The more he consumes, the more powerful he becomes. There’s a tipping point, though, and Lee’s reached that point at the beginning of Hunter by Night.

Keira: Alexia might be the key to his cure… but she’s human… will he have to feed off of her?

Elisabeth: Probably so. 😉

Keira: Best friend to the queen of vampires, how did Alexia get to be so close to royalty?

Elisabeth: They met in the Florida rave scene, pre-King of Darkness. Alexia had run there to escape her past, and Isabel (the destined queen) had moved there with her family, when her parents felt they weren’t accepted by the rest of the vampire population. The rave scene is a place where young people who don’t belong anywhere else can feel included. For an orphaned vampire and a human on her own, what better place to find each other?

Keira: Isn’t she worried about being in their compound? How does she keep safe?

Elisabeth: Sure. Alexia doesn’t do “caged” very well, and being on the compound, even though it’s supposed to be for her safety, kinda gives her the heebie-jeebies. It’s something she and Lee will need to work out by the end of Hunter by Night in order to be together.

Keira: What’s your favorite scene in Hunter by Night?

Elisabeth: That’s a tough call, because I love Lee and Alexia together from start to finish. But I think my favorite is when they’ve just gotten through a fight and Lee has to get Alexia cleaned up and give her blood to heal her. It’s the first time they’re close together in a way that’s sensual and intimate, and the sexual tension starts to build between them. I love the way Lee’s resolve cracks and the promise of what’s to come in that scene.

Keira: What’s your favorite part about paranormal romances? Vampire romances?

Elisabeth: I love the element of forbidden, and the added conflict. The sexiness of some possible hidden danger lurking right under our noses that we might feel but can’t see. For vampires especially, there’s a special bond between lovers. They’re not only falling in love, they’re bonding on a physical level through the exchange of blood, which is something that adds a heightened element of romance as a reader, and adds an extra layer of fun things to play with as an author. The primal, larger than life, animal factor that comes into play when your hero is part monster, and the idea that a special someone is the only one who can keep him or her in check? Yeah, that’s all hot stuff.

Keira: How do you define love?

Elisabeth: I would say anytime you feel deep affection for another creature, that’s love.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After?

Elisabeth: That’s so nebulous. I just need to feel that a good story has been told, and I need to have a sense that things will be okay going forward. Sometimes as a reader I get greedy and wish I’d had more details about certain things, but really that just means I loved the story and I wanted to know more. Mostly though, I want to walk away feeling satisfied that the characters really will go forward and have good lives together.

Keira: What’s next for you?

Elisabeth: I’m not 100% sure. My kids are home for the summer and I’m looking forward to spending time with them. I also have some contemporary projects in the works (I hope to have the next book in my HaleStorm series out before too long.), but I’m looking forward to not having deadlines for awhile, and getting more time with my family, so I don’t want to commit to much just yet.

hunter by nightBook blurb:

She wants out

Party girl Alexia Blackburn is only hanging around the vampire compound until her best friend—the queen—has her baby. After that, nothing is going to stop Alexia from getting back to daylight, safety, and feeling like a normal human being. But leaving the vampire world has one big catch…

He needs her to stay

Head of vampire security Lee Goram has hated and distrusted humans for centuries. Feeding on vampire blood has kept him strong…but now it’s killing him—and he’s horrified to discover that Alexia may hold the key to his cure. He’d rather die defending his king than admit his weakness, but time is running out for the great vampire warrior…

Buy: Hunter by Night (Chronicles of Yavn)

Heroes Who Think They’re Villains

fangsandfloggersmedGuest blog by Saloni Quinby, author of Fangs and Floggers (Weapons of Redemption)

Although I love many different types of characters, my favorites are the redeemed villain and the antihero. There’s nothing more intriguing than a man or woman with a murky past who at some point in their story, manages to do the right thing.

I like characters who do what they must to achieve their objectives, who make tough decisions, not concerned about approval from others. Depending on your point of view, that can make the character a hero or a villain.

The best villains are the ones who, in some twisted way, believe they’re doing the right thing. Deep inside, they recognize that their decisions hurt others and they regret it, but in their mind, they’re sacrificing for the greater good. These characters have the potential to cross over to hero or antihero status.

Even if a villain redeems himself, his past is not erased. He can’t undo the damage he’s done, but he can change his future. He might reconcile with some of his old adversaries, but he’ll always have enemies. His inner struggle is part of what makes him endearing. Without it, he’d be one dimensional and like a hero who’s completely golden, he would be hard to connect with.

Most people have both a good and an evil side. The appeal of villains and antiheroes is their imperfect nature. It makes them easier to relate to, since everyone has made mistakes and there are times when we all have to choose between being an angel or a monster.

In my Weapons of Redemption series, I enjoyed developing the villain, Tarun, and finally giving him the chance to tell his story in the last book in the series. Fangs and Floggers delves into the vampire pirate’s past, showing why he chose his wicked path.

I hope you enjoy the following excerpt from Weapons of Fangs and Floggers (Weapons of Redemption).

How do you feel about villains and antiheroes? Like them or hate them?

Weapons of Redemption 5: Fangs and Floggers by Saloni Quinby

(M/M Erotic Vampire)

It is said that every villain thinks he’s a hero, but what about the hero who thinks he’s a villain? Eventually he becomes what he believes himself to be. Still, he has the soul of a hero and only if he lets it guide him again will he find redemption.

Adrian had written those words in his journal just hours ago, when his lover had been at the threshold of salvation or destruction. Tarun had been whole in body then, but shattered in mind for more centuries than Adrian could fathom. Now his body was in the same state as his mind — seriously damaged but possible to restore.

Adrian had tried to warn him that his blood sons would attempt to destroy him tonight, but Tarun had been determined to welcome them home. It had nearly cost his life.

The van carrying Adrian, Tarun and two of his lover’s minions who were necessary for this escape, sped down the dark country road.

“I don’t know why I’m trusting you,” Dirk, the burly redheaded vampire driving the van called into the back section where Tarun lay on the verge of death, Adrian beside him. Cara, a rare medical doctor who specialized in vampires, worked at saving Tarun’s life.

“Because you know you can,” Adrian replied. “Now shut up and focus on driving.”

“And slow down!” Cara snapped. “Hit another bump like the last one and we’ll probably lose him.”

“Well it won’t take Bryce and the others long to figure out what happened to us. Then we’ll all die. Except Adrian. His damn vampire-killer brother will probably make sure he stays alive.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Adrian said softly. One thing about Shane, he lived by his own code and no one changed his mind once it was set.

Or at least that’s what Adrian had thought. He’d been shocked to learn that Shane had taken a vampire lover — unfortunately Bryce was Tarun’s archenemy. He had been the first to rebel against Tarun. The first to bide his time and turn more of Tarun’s blood children against him.

The problem was, like most vampires as well as most humans, they were completely ignorant of the truth — the hidden truth. Both Shane and Adrian had been born with certain gifts that had enabled them to become great vampire hunters. Both were immune to vampiric mind control, but Adrian had an additional gift — he could read vampires.

Everyone had secrets, some so deep that they even disguised them from themselves. After nearly three thousand years, Tarun had many secrets.

“You need to pull over,” Cara said. “The bullet is very close to his heart. I need everything to be still for me to help him. Adrian, you’ll have to assist me.”

“Where should I pull over?” Dirk demanded.

“Anywhere!” Cara shouted.

The brakes screeched as he pulled off the side of the road, behind a clump of bushes.

Cara released a pent-up breath. Glancing at Adrian, she said, “Ready?”

“I’d better be,” he replied.

As a vampire hunter, Adrian was no stranger to blood and injury. He and Shane had patched each other up countless times over the years. This was different. It was the first time Adrian had ever wanted to save a dying vampire.

Glancing at Tarun’s pale, angular face, he thought about how tumultuous their relationship had been. Tarun had started out as his enemy. The vampire had wanted to slay him, but something drew them together. It wasn’t just sex — although that was amazing. Despite how they appeared to be total opposites, their lives were similar in many ways. They understood each other. Adrian had never felt this way about anyone. Now that he’d found his soul mate, he didn’t want to lose him.

Buy: Fangs and Floggers (Weapons of Redemption)

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Contest

To enter the following contest, you must be 18 or over.

To enter for the chance to win a pdf download of Weapons of Redemption 5: Fangs and Floggers, please leave a comment. A winner will be drawn three days from the day of this original post. Thank you!

About Saloni Quinby

The child of a painter and a psychic dreamer, Saloni Quinby feels spirituality and storytelling go hand-in-hand. She loves the scent of gardenia, the sound of wind chimes and the taste of honey. By listening to what isn’t said, she creates works based on unspoken desires. Saloni prefers blurred gender lines and many varieties of romance. In a world where passion must at times be restrained, she believes erotica is a pleasure to be shared. With her stories she would like to make her fantasies yours and hopes you enjoy the ride. She also writes under the name Kate Hill. Please visit her online at http://www.kate-hill.com, http://www.twitter.com/katehillromance and https://www.facebook.com/kate.hill.92505.

Buy: Fangs and Floggers (Weapons of Redemption)

Review: Blood Torn (Blackthorn, Book 3) by Lindsay J. Pryor

blood tornReviewed by Sharon S.

‘Vampires might bite, honey, but lycans tear.’

Jask Tao, lycan leader, rules his pack with absolute dedication and demands the same loyalty in return. In the world of Blackthorn, where respect is a rare commodity, Jask has earned his – few dare to cross him, and fewer survive to tell the tale.

When he captures Sophia, a rare serryn witch – whose blood is lethal to vampires – Jask knows just how valuable she can be. Despite her fiery nature, he also can’t shake the feelings that she rouses in him – feelings that he thought died along with Ellen, his mate.

Sophia knows she has to escape from Jask’s lycan compound – and fast. Inheriting her sister’s serryn powers can only mean one thing – that her family is at risk. She’ll have to get past the dangerously attractive Jask first but, scarred by memories of her mother’s murder, Sophia won’t ever give up.

Sparks fly between Jask and Sophia but, as both her family and the pack come under threat, they might just need each other if they, and their loved ones, are going to stay alive…

In this thrillingly sensual novel, Lindsay J. Pryor returns to the shadowy dystopian world of Blackthorn, where tensions are rising, the risks are high, and the most powerful loves are formed in the face of great danger.

This is the third book in the sexy action filled series Blackthorn. I am surprised I hadn’t heard of it since it has every thing I love. It is one of those fun series that blends the world building and grittiness of urban fantasy with the sexy love story found in paranormal romances. Even though this is book three I was able to understand and enjoy Jask and Sophia’s love story, but I felt a little lost with the series arc. Only because there were so many other characters involved from the first two books. I will be checking out the other books so I can find out what happened with those couples.

I am pretty hard to impress in the paranormal romance department. I need some meat to my story (heehee, that kind too) and strong over bearing personalities. Blood Torn contained my two favorite romance tropes, forbidden love and enemy to lovers. Jask is a tortured werewolf alpha in the best possible way (swoon). The mythos Pryor created for the werewolves in her world is full of danger and heartbreak. Turning isn’t something they want to do and this fact is being used against them. Sophia is a witch, but still human, and has a destiny forced on her that she didn’t know about. They are both alphas and broken on the inside. I loved watching them one up each other even cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Even though I couldn’t get enough of them, the author went over the top occasionally.

It is the dark world Pryor created that really draws me to the series as a whole. You could even call it a dystopian. Vampires decided to make their presence known to humans 80 years prior and they brought the werewolves with them against their will. The “others” have been segregated into an inner city by a scared human race. How close to the inner city a human lives in dependent on their money and social status. The elite living gated off in the suburbs.

Definitely a series I will be following and one urban fantasy fans and paranormal fans can enjoy.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Blood Torn (Blackthorn)

Why Do Vampires Make Great Heroes?

Vampires_HungerGuest blog by Cynthia Garner, author of Vampire’s Hunger

Prior to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires were dead things that crawled out of their graves each night to feed on the living, usually their family members and friends. They were the evil (and icky) undead. Nothing remotely romantic about ’em. Then Mr. Stoker came along with his tall, dark and handsome Transylvanian count and all that changed. Oh, the vampire was still deadly. Just not as dirty.

This transformation opened up the way for the vampire to become the hero as well as the love interest of an intrepid heroine who was brave enough to take him on. When she looked at him, that monster cloaked in humanity, what exactly did she see?

Well, if she’s like me, she sees someone who’s sexy, powerful, and ruthless when he needs to be. He is fiercely protective of her and will use his strength—a preternatural strength that he could use to kill—to guard her from harm, from others and from himself if need be. And he’ll do it even while he’s fighting what he feels for her. He is usually emotionally (and sometimes physically) scarred. He’s big, tough, and ready to rumble. He might be a little (or a lot) rough around the edges, or he might be the quintessential metro sexual. But never doubt that he’s an alpha male who plays by his own rules. An apex predator.

One of the biggest draws to this dark hero, this dominant man, is that he can and probably will be brought to his knees by his love for the heroine, the one woman for whom he’s been waiting centuries and who finally makes him feel complete. Whole. Healed.

And because of this, the heroine can feel safe in his presence even though she’s the lamb to his lion. Because, let’s face it, vampires are predators and humans are their prey. But for all of us who love paranormal romance, love always triumphs over instinct.

What draws you to a fanged hero?

Blurb:

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, civilization no longer exists, and only the strongest survive. The few remaining humans must band together with supernatural beings to battle unspeakable evil-or all hope will be lost.

Kimber Treat is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift: she can raise the dead. As a necromancer who works with the police, she communicates with murder victims to bring their killers to justice. But after a normal session goes horribly wrong, Kimber realizes she’s summoned something dark and sinister. She’s unwittingly unleashed the apocalypse, and everyone blames her . . . except Duncan MacDonnough, the devastatingly handsome vampire she can’t stop fantasizing about.

As society shuts down and flesh-eating hordes close in, Duncan vows to protect Kimber. He can keep her safe from others-but not from the insatiable carnal hunger he feels for her. Now racing to reverse the chaos she’s unleashed, Kimber can’t afford any distractions. But even as she succumbs to Duncan’s seduction, she fears that he has a hidden agenda. And with the line between life and death starting to blur, his secrets might kill her-or worse . . .

Buy: Vampire’s Hunger (The Awakening Series)