I came to "The Demon Prince" last, after reading all of the other Vampiris Sancti books (well, all the ones that have been written so far), and I think this was a good one to save for last. By this time, I'd already encountered Zyre, the mischievous elf, several times, as well as the demon prince Vyrn Dhaigre. I also was slowly getting familiar with the world the author has created, with its population of demons, elves, gargoyles, pixies, vampires, and other magical creatures.
In this installment, the focus is on Vyrn Dhaigre, who has been obsessed with Zyre for years--demons often become obsessed with elves, and he is determined to have her for his own. He succeeds in setting up an arranged marriage, though his problem is keeping Zyre in one place long enough to have any real interaction with her. Though at first she's reluctant (and I remember her reluctance to lose her freedom from one of the other books), eventually through a give-and-take relationship of flirtation and sacrifice, they come closer together.
They do this while both dealing with the jealousy of Taryst, once betrothed to Dhaigre and now determined to make him pay, and the schemes she sets into motion. While the plot is complex and weaves in a large number of characters, its heart and its most enjoyable moments are those between the elf and demon prince. She's whimsical and charming, capturing first his obsession and then his heart with her own goodness, and he's brooding and charismatic, drawing her to him against her will.
I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy fantasy novels, especially novels with an intricately created fantasy world and with a romance that grows and blossoms, rewarding the reader with its depth.
I've read several of the Vampiris Sancti novels so far, and while some of the others immerse you more fully in the author's world, I think "The Vampire" is the installment I've enjoyed best--perhaps because Bethany Trent starts out as a human and is more fully rounded and complex than her elf, demon, or other magical counterparts.
Bethany is an outsider--lonely and immersed in solitude--and that's part of the reason the powerful vampire Galt chooses her to transform. The other reason is that she bears an uncanny resemblance to a dead vampire named Siah--and Galt is set on getting revenge on those who have wrong him by bringing a Siah-double into their midst.
However, Bethany is not so malleable as Galt thinks--once she has changed into a vampire, she develops a will and a backbone of her own, and is not so eager to be Galt's pawn.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this novel for me is how Bethany deals with her change--the confusion and the questioning she goes through are refreshing, because so many vampire books have the protagonist just accepting the transformation and moving on without much thought about it. I also liked Bethany's personality--she's a strong female lead, and one you can easily empathize with.
I also enjoyed the plot--there's romance and a love triangle (of sorts), but it's not a "Twilight"-type entry into the vampire mythos. The characters are adults, not just falling in love based on looks and romance, but rather against the odds and sometimes against their wills.
I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy vampire novels in general, and for those who enjoy reading novels that involve a well-developed, complex fantasy world that spans across multiple books and builds upon itself with each entry.
“The Elf” is the second novel I’ve read in the “Vampiris Sancti” series, but I definitely think I should have made it the first! I read “The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni” first, and I won’t hesitate to say I was confused by all of the different species, their social structures, and characteristics—trying to keep Vampires, Pixies, Elves, Goblins, Gargoyles, and more straight took some work.
“The Elf,” though, lays out all of its different characters in context—at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a mini-history and explanation of all of the different species, and some of the entries build in complexity and detail throughout the novel. You learn about Elves and their nature, Demons and their nature, etc. As a person who really enjoys detailed fantasy worlds, all of the extra information appealed to me and helped me to understand the characters and the overall world much better.
This novel’s main character is Zyre, the mischievous elf that you briefly meet in “Florian Ribeni,” and as the book begins she’s worried that she will be matched by the Elders with a demon prince, Lord Vryn Dhaigre. Elves mate outside of their species in order to have more powerful children, but female Elves are often unwilling to enter into marriage with a Demon—Demons are obsessive and demanding, consumed by love, and Elves cherish their freedom and find it torture to be tied down.
Instead of accepting the fate decreed by the Elders, Zyre decides to flee, with the demon prince in pursuit. She gets tangled up with Vampires, humans, and other magical creatures, weaving between worlds and dealing with her own growing emotions as well as with the demands of friendship and the heartbreak of betrayal. The plot is intricate and hard to summarize beyond that, but it’s fairly easy to follow once you start to recognize the different character names and species.
I actually enjoyed “The Elf” better than “Florian Ribeni,” only because I found Zyre a more sympathetic and relatable character—though she starts off a little distant, as she grows throughout the novel in emotional depth, the reader’s attachment grows as well. The novel ends on an open note, leaving room for more of Zyre’s adventures and explorations, and I will likely read others in the series to see what becomes of everyone.
Recommended for those who enjoy fantasy novels with detailed worlds and more complex plots.
"Vampiris Sancti: The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" is a vampire-focused novel that is unique among other entries in the current craze; instead of focusing on the relationship between vampires and humans, it focuses on the relationships between vampires and a host of other creatures. It's also unique in that its main character could very well be the ultimate Oscar Wilde of vampires--while characters like Anne Rice's Lestat indulge in hedonism, Florian Ribeni takes it to the next level. Before he becomes a Runner, helping enforce the laws of the vampire nation, his life both as a human and then as a vampire is totally devoted to fashion, sensation, and pleasure.
The novel starts with action, as Florian and his mentor chase Metis, a rogue vampire who is indulging in the forbidden "warmdri"--that is, the blood of a human who is not kept by vampires as a donor. Bringing modern-day problems into the vampire world, Florian's mentor is killed by a drunk driver during the pursuit, and Metis escapes to find sanctuary. Florian's true adventure then begins, as he and a host of other characters pursue Metis to bring their own brand of very violent justice to her.
"The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" presents a unique world where vampires, pixies, elves, and demons coexist, clash, and sometimes fall in love (or at least infatuation). Some of the most enjoyable scenes are between Florian and the playful elf Zyre, who delights in being wayward and causing mischief. The two have an unlikely yet charming relationship, and how they eventually come to peace with one another (well, a sort of peace) was fulfilling to me as a reader. I also very much enjoyed the flashbacks to Florian's youth, which detailed his journey to a life of pleasure and indulgence; as I mentioned above, they had a very decadent, Oscar Wilde feel.
While I was interested in the actual storyline and invested in Florian's pursuit of Metis, especially when he baits the truly terrifying Daughters of Leleht in a ploy to find the fleeing vampire, I often got tripped up by all the characters and the words the author has created for her novels. For instance, all the different vampire houses, their founders, and their Heralds grew confusing, and then when you added in all the different characters of different species I found myself reading over some passages multiple times to remember who was who and who had done what. There's a glossary at the back that helps a bit, but you don't always want to turn to the back to get a refresher on who someone is. I will say, however, that the revelation at the end of the book--the identity of Florian's true love--is shocking and satisfying, and gives the ending a definite impact.
For readers who like an epic read, with a host of unique characters and a new world that's richly developed, "The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" will be a good read. For those who are looking for something a little lighter and don't focus as much when they're reading, it might be a bit confusing.
I enjoyed “Don’t Call Me Baby” from the first page to the last, and it’s rare I find a book that both makes me smile and is a page-turner. Our heroine, Lola Hussey, lives with her mother, dejected that she can’t find a good job after college. She ends up as an assistant in a private investigator’s office and bumbles her way into a promotion. Her first job? To pose as a secretary at a corporation, investigating the death of Derek Lewis, a rich Australian who fell to his death under what the police insisted was an accident—but that his mother says is more suspicious.
She partners with the very handsome and serious Julian, who she’s immediately drawn to, but she also finds herself pulled to the “office Romeo,” Joe Junior. Both Julian and Joe aren’t exactly who they seem, and as Lola gets more deeply involved in the case she’s plunged into a mystery with a shocking twist of a conclusion—one that I definitely didn’t see coming.
As I said, I really liked this book—it reminded me of a British Stephanie Plum novel. Lola is spunky and funny; many of her observations and the situations in which she finds herself made me laugh out loud. Julian and Joe are also both sexy and appealing, and the supporting characters are well-drawn and memorable. “Don’t Cry Me Baby” is a good mix of suspense and humor; I would recommend it to readers who enjoy mysteries, thrillers, and romance.
“The Southern Billionaire’s Proposal” is a quick but sensual read if you enjoy BDSM erotica. At the story’s beginning, Riley is 23 and not happy with her life—her boyfriend of three years has dumped her and left her with rent she can’t afford, and even worse she’s working in a dead-end position for a jerk of a boss. Her outgoing friend Aimee suggests she try online dating—or even date their sexy, rich boss, but Riley scoffs at the suggestion.
That is, until her boss, Jackson Ebson, offers to pay her thousands of dollars to accompany him on a business trip—posing as his wife. Both because she’s attracted to him and because she needs money she agrees, and soon she and Jackson are on his private jet. She’s more than willing to go to bed with him, but a little shocked at his kinky fetishes—shocked as well that she enjoys them much more than she ever could have thought. The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger note, leaving room for a sequel for what will happen in their relationship.
If you enjoy genre erotica, you’ll enjoy “The Southern Billionaire’s Proposal”—Riley is a spunky and relatable heroine who has a sort of sexual awakening to a new world, and Jackson is attractive and powerful. There's tension over whether they will or will not end up together, and over whether or not Riley will start moving her life in the direction she wants it go. Overall, the story is entertaining and well-written.
“Zero Point Energy” is a sci-fi novel about a future that’s both scary yet holds amazing technological possibilities. Followers of the OTG (One True God) religion have taken over a large chunk of the world in a series of bloody civil wars, and are generally feared despite strong military presence trying to keep them out and tamp down religion generally. At the same time as religion is running wild, the opposite of religion—science—has made great strides.
The novel begins in a lab with Abigail, who left the military on rather bad terms, inspecting the lab for security issues. Inside the lab is a teleportation device that everyone would like to get their hands on—though it seems only Abigail (at first) can use it. When the lab is attacked by masked gunmen and politics over the lab get in the way of discovery, Abigail takes the fall and lets herself be taken into custody as part of a plan to keep the science out of corrupt hands. Eventually those who can teleport have a name—Resonators—and become like a family of sorts, fearing that the power will fall into the wrong hands.
If you enjoy science and learning in your science fiction books, “Zero Point Energy” will keep you happy as a reader—the book is filled with links to take you to articles about the various concepts and devices used and discussed. The characters, however, are what really make the book—Abigail and Terra and Peter and a wide cast of others who bring emotion, heart, and interest to the plot. Recommended for science fiction fans and science fans as well.
“Don’t Shed a Tear” is the second Lola Hussey book I’ve read, and I enjoyed it as much as the first. Last time we saw Lola she had just solved her first crime as a fledgling private investigator, with the help of two sexy partners, Joe and Julian.
This sequel picks up a little after where “Don’t Call Me Baby” left off, and Lola and Joe (whose real name is Al, but she sticks with what she met him under) are happily in a relationship—though she still questions if she has feelings/attraction to Julian. The three are now a team taking on new clients, and their first is a man named Rory Templeton, who has hired them as protection for his up and coming reggae fusion star King Dix.
Lola’s forced to hit the gym to step up her protection abilities, but it stops being fun and games when someone shoots at King Dix and Lola sees her long-lost brother, Marley, at the scene of the crime. Her job becomes twofold: protect the musician and find out who is trying to kill him, and track down her brother.
“Don’t Shed a Tear” is filled with suspense and a page-turning plot, lightened by the humor of the characters and the romantic entanglements. I can’t decide who I want Lola to end up with, which makes for a great triangle. Though this book can be read by itself without having read the first one, I’d still recommend a reader pick up the other one first, so that they can enjoy its plot without any spoilers. Recommended to fans of mysteries, romance, and Stephanie Plum books.
“The Advent of Lena: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast” is a contemporary take on a classic tale, subverting the general gender and character expectations into a unique new story. One day when the incredibly handsome Park is in a tavern with his friend, he makes a rude remark about a very ugly woman named Chloe—and he’s punched by Chloe’s friend for his callousness. It’s a moment of epiphany for Park, and he realizes he wants to be a better person than the shallow womanizer he currently is. He decides the only path to redemption is winning Chloe’s heart, and he insistently pursues her, though he doesn’t always (or even often) live up to the new moral standard he has set as his goal.
Unlike in the traditional Beauty and the Beast tale, both characters can be seen as beauty OR the beast; Chloe is beastly on the outside but beautiful on the in, while Park is beautiful on the outside and beastly within. Together, they could be whole and reconcile those qualities—that is, if Park can develop a better nature and Chloe can open herself up to the possibility of a relationship that looks past her appearance.
As other reviewers have noted, Park is not a likeable character—his motivations to be a better person are admirable but his constant failure (and treatment of other women, including the devout Julia and the scheming Miriam) are not. Chloe is very likeable, as a woman who has managed to mostly accept herself (though she still sees herself as physically lovely in her dreams, making me think she hasn’t accepted herself as much as she says). All of the characters—even the supporting ones—are flawed and human, and in the end “The Advent of Lena” is a fairy tale that is made realistic by the modernity of its characters and situations. The tension that keeps the pages turning is whether or not Park really will rise to the challenge of becoming a better person and whether Chloe will find the happiness and relationship she deserves. Recommended to readers who enjoy more adult retellings of fairy tales, stories about redemption and self-discovery, and contemporary fiction in general.
“Thump” is an entertaining fictional courtroom drama with a unique slant that delves into what exactly sexual harassment is, who it applies to, and how we usually define it in our culture. As the novel begins, T.M. “Thump” Jefferson is on top of the world—he has a beautiful and loving girlfriend, a successful career with one of the biggest investment management companies, and he’s even good-looking and generous to the homeless. However, part of how he rose to the top is engaging in affairs with his female clients—and when he tries to stay true to Tiffany and cut off his sexual ties with others, he finds himself without a job and filing a suit for sexual harassment.
“Thump” has a good, fast pace to it, with suspense rising not only from Thump’s relationship with Tiffany but also the court scenes (and you can tell the author took the time to research that thoroughly). Thump is a likeable character as well—charismatic and kind, even though his decisions to sleep with clients to get ahead makes him a bit morally questionable. However, given how he’s treated by others—like a toy, or “less than” merely because he’s not white—the book also spurs an intelligent dialogue about what you have to do to get ahead in some circumstances, and also if generally society is too narrow in its view of what is and is not sexual harassment. Henrietta Kingman is a formidable, unexpected villain, with Judge O’Connor becoming an interesting, complex hero figure as well. Recommended to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction (especially courtroom dramas) that not only entertain but also push you to think more deeply about certain issues.
“Death is Not the End, Daddy” is a book that’s equal parts suspense and redemption—it’s at times heartbreaking, as its characters struggle with faith, hope, and despair.
The book alternates perspectives between “John Doe” and a man named Matt—John was abused as a child by his father, and his only companion and comfort was Teddy, a stuffed bear. But Teddy has a strange and dark power over John, and compels him not only to hurt himself, but others, especially children. Matt is a loving father and husband; he and his wife are struggling with the aftermath of a miscarriage, which has shaken their faith in God. They will face the greatest test of all when John takes their daughter, Marcy…but abducting Marcy will also spark a deep change in John, as well….
This book should appeal to a wide range of readers—those who like suspense novels will enjoy the tension created by Marcy’s abduction and by Matt’s search for her, while those who enjoy books centered in faith will like how Matt and Janet seek Jesus and try to grow closer to him (though at times it’s a hard struggle for both of them, in their own separate ways). There is some thematic subject matter here that’s a little hard to read from an emotional standpoint, but it’s not gratuitous and is important to the plot. I also liked how neither Matt nor John is a black-and-white character—though John has done despicable things, he has a backstory that makes him complex and even sympathetic in how he is controlled by evil and yearns for the light. Matt, on the other hand, is a man who has a good heart but struggles to remain positive and focused on that goodness.
I’d recommend this novel to readers who like faith-based fiction about struggle and redemption, and to readers who like suspense novels.