Smashwords book reviews by Escape Between The Pages
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
on Aug. 15, 2010
When I was asked to read and review this book, I was hesitant, because it was in digital format and I don't own an ereader. I really didn't want to sit, at my desk for hours reading, as it is hard on the ass and straining on the eyes. But, when I read the blurb, it just appealed to me. It was exactly the type of book, I would have bought had it been in print. So, I was like...what he hell?
Jolie Wilkins is a psychic, who had accepted her life for what it was. Yes, at times she was lonely, but hey, she still had her cat, Plum and BFF, Christa. Her life changed when tall, dark, and handsome, Rand Balfour walked into her place of business asking for a reading. The hunk of burning love, with an incrediable aura and a commanding presence came back every week, for what she thought were readings. It turned out, he had been testing her. Rand informed her, he needed her help, to solve the murder of his client. When he told her, he was a warlock, his client was a ghost, and she was a powerful witch, she thought he had lost his fricken mind. When he proved it to her with a little hocus pocus, she believed him and agreed to help him. Jolie did solve the case and in doing so, did something that no one thought would have been possible. With the mystery solved and the job completed, and unresolved sexual tension between them, Rand and Jolie said thier "Good byes".
Jolie's miraculous deed spreaded like wildfire throughout the supernatural community, making her most wanted. Everyone wanted to possess her, including a powerful witch named Bella, who entered Jolie's business with an invitation to a party. At the party, Jolie is reunited with Rand, who informed her that Bella was no friend, and invited Jolie for her own nefarious reasons. While Jolie insisted that no one was going to make her do something she didn't want to, Rand informed her, she didn't have a choice. He explained, the supernatural community worked a little differently than what she was used to. Because of it, she was forced to abandoned her her former life and become dependent on Rand as his employee...She did what she had to, to survive, but she takes her cat and her BFF with her. With her former life behind her, Jolie embarks on a new journey, one that is filled with hot warlocks, sexy vampires, hunky werewolves, flirting ghost, and lustful fairy kings. Throw in a prophecy, and you have the makings of a good time...but, it isn't going to be that easy for Jolie...the big bad bitch witch wants her and will do anything to get her...including threatening her, kidnapping her and if she has to, killing her. If she can't control her, no one will. Yep, Jolie's life was no longer humdrum.
I loved Jolie's character. She was straight forward, blunt and had a fantastic bullshit meter. She wasn't going to sit idley by, while people were trying to completely run her life. She was honest, tried to do the right thing, and wasn't afraid to admit her feelings. I enjoyed the sexual tension between Rand and Jolie. Poor Rand, struggling with his attraction to Jolie. He was her protector, so he in his mind, he needed to protect her, not mate her. He wanted to, but was afraid it would put her in danger. Yes,....he was a dumb ass, the only excuse I can give for him, is that he was an Alpha male...that should be explanation enough...*rolls eyes* Making his decision final, Jolie seeked companionship elsewhere. You can imagine how well that went over. I didn't care for Trent, he was pretty much a dog...possessive and lived by his libido. I did find Sinjin intriguing. I wish, I had learned more about him, and perhaps the reason why he and Rand did not get along. Bella was definately the Big Bad Bitchy Villian. I can't help but wonder, what modivated her. Why did she think bringing people back from the dead, that they would automatically follow her? Did she know about the prophecy? *sighs* So many unanswered questions.
The world the author created was crediable. I like how the hierarchy in the supernatural community was set up. The concept of new talents being unionized with a protector or champion was compelling. Sort of like a preternatural sponsor. I didn't care for the whole job aspect of the sponsorship though. I didn't like the idea of Jolie being told, what job she would have. If it was me, I wouldn't be so accepting.
Overall, this was a great debut for H.P. Mallory. I really enjoyed reading this book and it was definately worth the pain in my ass. I thought the characters were quirky, interesting, engaging and most of all memorable. The plot was simplistic in design, but effective in capturing my imagination and allowing me to join in the adventure. While this felt more like a paranormal romance versus an urban fantasy, I did feel elements of both. I hope that there will be another book to follow, as there were too many unanswered questions. If you are in the mood for a light hearted, fast paced, paranormal romance, that is listed as an urban fantasy, and is filled with charming wit, magic, intrigue, romance, and adventure, then this book is for you. Hmmph, Ebooks can rock...who knew?
To Kill A Warlock
on Sep. 02, 2010
Dulcie was a faery with trust issues. You know the story...woman loves man, man screws other women. Since her break-up, she hadn't moved on, hated her Spock-like ears, desired to be an author, and was determined to be the best Regulator she could be. What is a regulator you ask? Think paranormal cop working for the ANC (Association of Netherworld Creatures) - cops who policed creatures living among the humans.
To Kill A Warlock opened with Dulcie being spelled with a gross booger spell. Yes...the green stuff. While Sam, her BFF and witch extraordinaire tried to reverse the spell, Dulcie informed her, that she was trying to take down Fabian. The little cretin was dealing with illegal potions. But, she got distracted by a strange man. Sam was instantly intrigued, especially since, she had been trying to get Dulcie to date. But, Dulcie confessed that the distraction was because she couldn't tell what the stranger was. Something that should have been impossible to her faery blood. That was when the little bastard Fabian took advantage and spelled her. She contemplated her revenge.
But, Fabian turned up dead and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive. In order to prove her innocence, she must secretly work with sexy detective from the Netherworld, Knightly "Knight" Vandar, question Bram, a sexy vampire, who seemed to be infatuated with her, and S&M demon and all around creep, Dagan. Not to mention, she had to keep her mission a secret from the boss she had been secretly crushing on, protect Trey, a hobgoblin and co-worker, and find the real murderer.
I have to tell you, I absolutely loved Dulcie's character. She was likable, engaging, and easy to relate to. I loved her inability to trust. I know a weird thing to find appealing, but I did. We have all had moments, when trust was the flame of suspicion. But, the phrase, "letting your imagination run wild" must have had Dulcie in mind. Because, it was so easy to live vicariously through her, I often found my mind merging with her thoughts...and it was taking me on some trippy conclusions. When reality was forced and the truths revealed, Dulcie was embarrased and I was left giggling, at how easy it was for me, to believe in her crazy theories. In fact, it was fantastic!!! You know, you have had one of those moments, where you do something embarrassing, but instead of being humilated, you are laughing, because it was too damn funny? That is what happened to me a couple times throughout this book. The supporting characters were also done well. While the author didn't delve too deep into the characters backgrounds, she made them quirky and likable enough, to keep them interesting and engaging.
The story was cleverly written. While the plot was about solving a murder, I couldn't help but think, the underlining theme was about trust. There was alot of romantic potential, with a gorgeous detective, a handsome elf, and a sexy vampire, all vying for her affections, it was a good thing, she had her witchy BFF to turn to.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a light-hearted, fun, and very engaging read. With flawed characters and red-herrings, To Kill A Warlock sucked me in, played with my mind, tickled my funny bone, and left me craving for more.....alot more.
Toil and Trouble
on Jan. 02, 2011
Toil and Trouble takes off where the first book, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble left off. Jolie had just dueled with Dougal, champion of the fairy king Odran, in order to win thier allegiance against Bella and her minions. Thankfully, she won. But, in order to do so, she had to take in much of Dougal's negative energy and use some of her own life force. It not only put her in a coma for three days, but after waking from it, left her incapacitated. While she was resting and waiting to regain her strength, Rand had assembled thier allies to Penlham Manor and was overseeing the preparations for the upcoming war. Among those allies was the sexy and suave vampire, Sinjin, who much to Rand's chargin, had more than a passing interest in Jolie. While bedridden, Jolie was attacked by one of Bella's minions, a werewolf who had hidden among the allies. In order to prevent her from turning, Sinjin had to suck the wound. This was an intimate act that pleased Sinjin, aroused and confused Jolie, and pissed off Rand. When Sinjin healed the werewolf bite, he also managed to return her strength and heal her completely.
Unfortunately, while Sinjin was making every effort to get closer to Jolie, Rand kept pulling away from her. First, Rand left her hanging during a very intimate moment, then he refused to let her participate in the war. He was afraid of her being in danger...Men can be dumbasses! She was at the core of the war...of course she was in danger, no matter what he did. *rolls eyes*. When he forbade her from the war, she was not a happy girl. She swore off anything with a penis. As far as the war went, she had her own reasons to enter it and wasn't going to be left out. She secretly turned to Sinjin for help. Naturally, as Jolie and Sinjin worked closely together, a war of another kind was brewing between Sinjin and Rand.
I loved Jolie's character. Even bedridden, she still maintained her straight forward, blunt and fantastic spirit. I loved that although she was a witch, she had very human thoughts. Her time rehabilitating, gave her the time to reflect on her relationship with Rand. In the first book Rand struggled with his attraction for Jolie.In this book, he struggled with commitment. She just wanted him to accept her...all of her. She loved him, but a girl can only take so much rejection. So, it was completely understandable how Sinjin had begun to appeal to her, the more she was around him. I could understand Rand's perspective, but, I didn't think, he should have prevented his current relationship with Jolie from moving forward, just because of a past love he didn't even remember. Hell, I was just as fustrated as she was with him. I also appreciate Jolie's determination...she was one of the core reasons for the war in the first place. After all it was her talent Bella was determine to control. Not to mention, she wanted a little payback and satisfaction of knowing she killed Ryder...Hell no, she was not going to be left out. I love that she did what she had to, what she knew was right.
Overall, Toil and Trouble is an amazing balance of love and war. There was never a dull moment and plenty of surprises. In this book, feelings were questioned, time was tavelled, truths were revealed, and war was fought. As I finished reading the book, the romantic complications for Jolie and Rand looked like they were finally resolved....but, with the unpredictability of H.P. Mallory, one never knows. The author has an uncanny ability to satisfy the reader, by blending action, magic, love, time-travel, and battle into a wonderfully coherant and entertaining story. Not to mention, she taunts the reader with a teasing last word... making them eagerly anticipating the next installment. If you're a fan of urban fantasy and paranormal romance that is light hearted and fast paced, then I think you will like this series.
The Mind Readers, Book 1
on Jan. 09, 2011
From the first page, the world outside the book ceased to exist and I was sitting in a diner hearing the pervy and violent thoughts of others. I began to feel Cameron's emotions and see things from her perspective. In truth, I was living vicariously through her. I felt her shame when she couldn't help others, her fustration when it came to her so called friends, her anger at her grandmother's controlling nature, her longing for the unrequited love, the warm and fussy feeling of a new love, the excitement of learning she was not alone, and the fear of those she cared about in danger. I am amazed of how well and how fast I was captivated by Cameron's character. Not to mention, I am in awe at how well the author wrote Cameron's thoughts, personality, and actions with such power, passion, and fluidity. The words flowed off the pages and into my imagination with amazing ease. I wasn't being told the story, I was living it.
I loved how Cameron grew as the story progressed, not only in learning to control her abilities, but the empowerment that came with it. She went from self preservation and hiding to standing up for and voicing her opinions on what was right, even if it cost her everything she cared about. She discovered that things are not always what they seem. And through the journey of discovery, confusion consumed, secrets were learned, betrayals revealed, and relationships questioned.
The supporting characters were also complex and interesting. First, there was the controlling and domineering grandmother, who would have loved nothing more than to have kept Cameron safely hidden from the world. There was also Emily, the supposed BFF, who took great pleasure in malisciously taunting her. Then came Lewis, the dark, seductive, and charming stranger who showed up and took Cameron away from the stifling life she had and brought her to others of her kind. It was easy to understand how she could fall in love with him. But, sometimes things that are too good to be true, usually are. Lewis had secrets and ulterior motives of his own. He introduced her to Aaron, who promised her father, to train her and protect her...or so he claimed. She also met the gorgeous and dangerous Maddox, the supposed enemy, who was being held prisoner and tortured in the basement. He spun a different tale. Who was telling the truth and who was the real villian?
Overall, it is said, "The best things come in small packages". This short story packed a powerful punch and knocked the wind right out of me. It was that amazing. The plot was filled with suspense, intrigue, and excitement and most of all, it was never predictable. I love stories that mess with my mind and consist of sides not of black and white, but shades of grey. Because of this element, I didn't know who to trust or who was right or wrong, and that made it all the more thrilling. As secrets came to light, betrayals revealed, and truths questioned, I was biting my nails and anticipating the turn of each page. Lori Brighton did an incrediable job merging believable circumstances with powerful emotions, engaging characters, and suspenseful intrigue and turning it into a compelling and thrilling tale. I hope that there will be another book to follow Cameron's journey...as the "cliffhanger that wasn't" left me fustrated, anticpating, and craving for more. The Mind Readers is a book to be savoured, but compulsion will cause you to devour it.