Review: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires, Book 2) by Michelle Hauf

vampire hunterReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: It’s Kasper’s (Kaz) sixteenth birthday and his only present is a wild, fanged beast trying to kill him – in his panic, he stakes him, killing him outright, though it takes another man, Tor to tell him that the beast he just took out was a vampire and even though he bit him, as he killed it – he would not become like him. He got lucky and, though Tor can’t offer him a place to stay as he’s also homeless, he tells him he can become one of the Knights of the Stake who live to protect the humans who walk the streets of gay Paris.

Review: Kaz has changed from what we saw in the prologue. In chapter one and onward he is a grown man who has developed martial arts skills to be able to look after himself, but the ability to be fast still evades him. Meeting Zoe in the cemetery was a chance he never thought possible, but she needed help and he as after three more vampires, longtooth they are known as, and they could have done a lot of damage to a woman like her if they had caught her. The difference is Zoe isn’t like other women he’s met she’s a witch and being with her would go against his code of ethics.

After kissing Zoe once, he wishes he could kiss her again. Strange thing is he feels drawn to her, like they are meant to be together even though he has never met her before. Kaz, like most heroes in romantic fiction is a man on a quest – to find the single-toothed vampire who killed his friends Robert and Ellen Horst. They had been on their honeymoon when the crazed vamp had a burning desire for the diamonds his wife wore that night. Rumour has it there is a new drug going around called Magic Dust and if vampires take it, it makes them crave shiny things. Other than Kaz’s need to find the killer, he wants to find the one who is creating and distributing the drug – but it he does, he might not like who it is.

Good Bits:

  • The fight Kaz has in the cemetery at the beginning.
  • The ever mysterious Vaillant.
  • The naughty things Faeries can do during sex with vampires!

Summary: Michelle tackles the subject of Faerie and other supernatural creatures living in a sort of harmony in this novel. Vampires have the sort of needs we never pondered before and are far from the Gothic, fanged predators we took them for. They have weaknesses and the Faerie tend to exploit them for their own gain. Kaz is a strong character and Zoe is equally as strong but in different ways. I liked that this story was based in Paris and had a lot of fast-paced moments, emotions and humorous moments too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires Book 2)

Love, Romance and… TV dinners!

From Paris With Love coverGuest blog by Sam Tonge, author of From Paris with Love

Love, romance, passion… That’s what make life worth living, and in no place more than Paris, the setting of my new romantic comedy novel, From Paris with Love. As a younger woman I lived in the French capital for a while, and quickly fell head over heels with its sophisticated glamour. As any of you know, who have visited, it is a treasure-trove of beautiful places, all wrapped up with stylish simplicity.

So what better place to set fun-loving Gemma and Lord Edward’s next standalone story, which takes place only a few months after he proposed marriage? Except that this sexy city lets them down, and within days of settling there, cracks appear in their relationship.

That’s the first difficult stage of any love affair, isn’t it? When the initial passion fades just a little… When romantic candlelit dinners, eaten in the nude at home (haven’t you ever tried that? Watch out for hot, dripping sauces) suddenly become lazy TV dinners in front of a chat show… When you begin to notice annoying foibles about your partner, such as the way they hog the duvet or are always running late. It’s a make-or-break time for any couple.

Yet little irritations and differences can easily be overcome if the initial lust turns out to be something deeper; if it fades to reveal a true love that can provide the building blocks for a happy future together. As for the passion, in time, other qualities mean just as much – like your partner “getting” who you really are and never letting you down; like him sharing the night-time bottle feeds when you have kids, and knowing just when you need a bar of your favourite chocolate.

Not that Gemma and Edward have quite reached that point yet, it’s just that… Monique. A snooty, annoyingly beautiful actress befriends Edward and seems set on exaggerating the couple’s differences and making Gemma out to be a gold-digger. Then Gemma starts hanging out with hot rockstar Blade, with his leather clothes and eye-lined, come-to-bed midnight eyes… Urgh! Far from convincing Gemma to accept Edward’s proposal, Paris only serves to magnify the lack of common ground between the former pizza waitress and aristocrat.

In fact, at times, it is as if they are right back at stately Applebridge Hall – the story of which is told in my debut novel, Doubting Abbey, where we first meet Gemma, a flighty fun-seeking girl and Edward, a stuffy, uptight noble. Can the French capital work its magic and bring this unlikely pair back together? Why not download From Paris with Love to find out? It’s the perfect story if you love food, hot guys and the Eiffel Tower!

Picture 014Bio

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Doubting abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

Blurb

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade – there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…

Buy: From Paris with Love

Review: Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long

changing lanesReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Abigail “Abby” Halladay and her fiancé purchased a condo in Paris, New Jersey. She’s at her parent’s house when she meets an old friend, Mick. Kathleen writes a great scene where Abby’s back in her bedroom for the first time in a long while – reminds me of some of my days that I’d like to forget. There will be several times during this book when Kathleen will have you in stitches. – just make sure you don’t have food in your mouth at the time.

Mick O’Malley has come back to Paris to take care of his mom. Kathleen has written a story that I think some people will be able to relate to. She also has Abby’s mother keeping a special type of journal that she writes in – I think this is a great idea for a parent to do (you may want to steal the idea if Kathleen doesn’t mind).

A reoccurring theme is the fact that a lot of the characters like to reminisce. This is a great way to connect with your past and to remember the people we love and those no longer with us. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love because you don’t know how much time you’ll have with them – look at what happened in Sandy Hook and Boston.

I found this a hard book to put down – you come to care for the characters and want to know that everything works out for Abby. Frankie is the teenager that you may have been when you were that age. Nan is the grandmother I miss and long to see again. One character that I can really relate to is Detta.

Detta is a woman with the beginning signs of dementia. My mother had a disease that is similar but different. She had what’s called Lewy Body’s disease. Think Alzheimer’s but with hallucinations. My mother had a problem when we watched the cooking shows – she thought they were cooking for her. She had a stroke which just complicated things. Kathleen’s story brought tears to my eyes as I remembered what we saw my mother go through the last three years of her life. But I also appreciate that this character was there.

I think that we need to stop getting angry at people and telling them that they don’t understand. Instead, we need to educate people and hope they make a donation that will help to find a cure – or at the very least to slow the progression of this terrible disease. Statistics show that only five percent of people ages 71- 79 have dementia and it then jumps to twenty four percent for ages 80 – 89. What’s more surprising is that there are five million people, in the United States alone, that have Alzheimer’s.

This is a very inspirational story. There’s love involved but romance is not the main theme. This is Abby’s life and how she had the chutzpah to make a change. The book has no sex in it and it doesn’t need it. Kathleen was smart to leave it out because it would have changed the path of the book if she had included it. If you have any imagination, you can always add your own scenes in. I hope you will give this book a try – you just might start reminiscing about your own family.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Changing Lanes

Review: Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Reviewed by Karin

I absolutely love this memoir! J’adore! It is a book to be enjoyed and savored — and one I will likely reread either if I am visiting Paris again or only hankering to visit Paris again.

The book is made of little sound bytes — or if you will, word bytes — of the small daily events that occur in a family uprooted to a new city where the teenage boy who is bilingual goes to Italian school and finds it more difficult than his previous school, and where the city sparkles with the Eiffel Tower and pastry shops and little known shops, restaurants, and pastries. Yum!

I love the honest interactions of family, raising an 11 year old daughter and a teenage son. Eloisa James is married to an Italian man who grew up in Florence. That is interesting to read also.

My advice: run out and buy this book. Or get it from Amazon. ( not sure if available for Kindle.)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Paris in Love: A Memoir

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Review: Forever Vampire by Michele Hauf

by Sharon S., guest reviewer
 
I had no idea how much I would enjoy this story! Hauf’s voice is a breath of fresh air for me. I would describe this book as an enchanting dark fairy tale (with real faeries <G>). The author has built an Urban Fantasy world that is unique and vivid consisting of Vampires, Werewolves and Faeries. She does a great job of introducing you to this world without making you feel like you are being spoon fed information. There is great pacing to the story and a twist at the end.
 
I was totally enchanted by our lovers, Valliant and Lyric, even their names are fairy tale like <G>. Vail (swoon) is a vampire that grew up in Faery, but recently got thrown out. Now this is where is gets complicated <G>. He wants to kill his birth father, has never met his birth mother Viviane (she is insane from being raped by Vail’s birth father) who is married to a Were/Vampire hybrid, Rhys (and they have a son, his half brother, Trystan), and his faery step mother made him believe vampires were filth. He has issues <G>.

Lyric, is a member of a lying, thieving vampire mob family. She grew up wanting the fairy tale life, complete with a prince to love her forever. She gave up on that dream because in her vampire world, everything and everyone has a price, you use and get used all the time. She is loved by her mother and brother, but there is a hole in her heart.
 
Faeries and Vampires hate each other. So when these two meet, there are sparks, and where there are sparks…there is erotic sex <G>. I love watching these two flirt and play like two horny teenagers. While trying to figure out who they are and how to live in a world where they don’t fit in, they realize where they belong is together and that is all that matters. Made my heart sing.
 
Read about the other books in Hauf’s Beautiful Creatures World.
 
Author’s Website: http://www.michelehauf.com/
 
Rating: ★★★★★
 
Buy: Forever Vampire

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Review: Paris A to Z by Marie Sexton

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: In this 5th book of the Coda series, Cole and Jonathan (Strawberries for Dessert) are getting married in Paris. They invite their Coda friends Jared and Matt (Promises) and Zach and Angelo (A to Z). Even though it will be an all-expenses paid trip by Cole there are two in the party who are don’t really want to go: Matt and Zach. Since Cole and Jared have a past, Matt cannot stand that Cole still touches and flirts with Jared. In his head, he knows that he is being unreasonable, but he can’t control his emotions. Zach has no desire to see Jon. Their breakup 10 years ago was an unpleasant one and running into him 2 years ago while with Angelo in Las Vegas caused problems.

Review: I was hoping that Sexton would write a story where all the guys would get together. So when I saw this I immediately downloaded and devoured it in about two hours (it is a novella). Sexton delivered exactly what I was looking for! There is hot M/M action. The interactions between the characters are at times funny and other times touching. I don’t know if this will be Sexton’s last Coda book, but if so she has wrapped it all up nicely. Zach in particular had issues to deal with from his and Jon’s broken relationship.

Favorite scenes: There are too many to list them all, but in particular I liked:

Jared listing to Matt all the things he hadn’t done with Cole (whew!).

Those dinners where everyone is teasing Matt. (That Cole is such a cute troublemaker.)

The talk that Zach and Jon have in the hotel suite.

Recommended: Well I can’t recommend this one for those who haven’t read the rest of the series because it brings in aspects from the other books. So go out there and read the rest of this excellent series! That’s your main course. Then read this dessert of a story. It has whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Books in the Coda series:

Rating: ★★★★½

Unexpected Cupid

by Janet Skeslien Charles, guest blogger and author of Moonlight in Odessa

When people ask how I met my husband, I usually tell them the short version: we on my first day in Paris when I came to teach English in France in 1998. It seems random and romantic.

The long version, a truer version, began a year earlier in Missoula, Montana, a city nestled in the Rocky Mountains, where a cranky, chain-smoking French teaching assistant played the role of cupid. Amélie was my officemate when we worked at the University of Montana. Every sentence she uttered began, “In France, we…” For example, when she saw how many individuals and businesses displayed the American flag, she scorned, “In France, we don’t need flags to remind us of who we are.”

Amélie was angry that store clerks would not accept her French passport as proof of identification so she couldn’t buy cigarettes. She was angry that a social security contribution was taken out of her paycheck. She had signed a long-term lease on a horrible flat. She was miserable. And I was miserable sharing an office with her.

After a trying school year, I accepted a job as an English teacher in Alsace in the autumn, but before leaving for France, I decided to host the next teaching assistant so that she would have a better start than Amélie. At the airport, I met the new French TA. All 6’2”, 250 pounds of him. Looking at Stephane, I realized that I’d invited a total stranger, a huge total stranger, to stay with me. I walked with him to the luggage carousel, berating myself for my stupidity. When Stephane bent down to pick up a suitcase large enough to stuff a cadaver inside, I saw he was wearing Mickey Mouse socks. Perhaps it would be all right.

It was – he was affable and interesting and funny. We found him a furnished apartment near campus and explained the paperwork. His transition was seamless. And this would have been the end of the story, except for one thing: Air France went on strike. My ticket to Alsace was canceled and rebooked to Paris. Stephane called his older brother and asked him to get a train ticket to Mulhouse.

“I’ll meet her at Charles de Gaulle and drive her there,” Eduard replied.

Eduard was at the airport, in a bright red shirt, as promised. We spent the day in Paris, where we made our way through parks and little flea markets and sat at a café near the Seine. As the French words spilled out of my mouth, I tasted each one – tart, sensual, new. Now that I have lived in Paris for ten years, I see (and hear) the traffic, the crazy prices (how can a coffee cost so much?), and people yakking on their cell phones and flooding the sidewalks. As the holidays approach, I am homesick and wonder if I was right to move so far away from my family. But that day was perfect: the man of my dreams in the city of light, at a moment in my life when all doors were still wide open and possibilities were endless. Perhaps this is the reason romance novels appeal; they remind us of these moments in our own lives, before the mortgage, brutal coworkers, the difficult in-laws, the kids having trouble in school, when life seems relatively easy and choices were simple. Writing my novel Moonlight in Odessa was a pleasure, but it was also a bit painful, to see the world through the eyes of Daria, a 23-year-old single woman. Each date and job and trip held so much potential, so much anticipation, much like my own trip to Alsace.

On that first day, Eduard and I were already a couple, and I knew that we would get married. So did he. This year we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. And it is thanks to our cranky cupid.

About the Author:

Janet Skeslien Charles is the author of Moonlight in Odessa and the first American recipient of the British award for comedy romance, the Melissa Nathan Award. She lives in Paris, where she is the Programs Manager at the American Library. Her debut novel has been translated into twelve languages. Please visit her at www.jskesliencharles.com.

Here is my favorite short review/ summary from Publishers Weekly:

“This darkly humorous debut explores the world of eastern European mail-order brides and the men who finance them. Daria, a savvy, warmhearted but standoffish secretary in Odessa, Ukraine, fears that her boss will fire her after she refuses his sexual advances. So to keep him busy (and to keep her job), she sets him up with her shallow friend, Olga, who promptly turns on Daria. Fearing imminent unemployment, Daria takes a second job at Soviet Unions, an Internet dating service that connects Western men with available Ukrainian women. As Daria, who is fluent in English, bridges the language gap between the women and foreign men, she wonders if she will ever find true love. The endearing and forthright Daria is the perfect guide through the trickery and sincerity of chaotic courtships and short-order love. Meanwhile, her own romantic life swirls between a sweet suitor in California, a Ukrainian gangster and her manic boss. The teetering dance between humor and heartbreak burns through this tale that takes place at the intersection of love and money, East and West, male and female.”

Buy: Moonlight in Odessa