I was excited to download the latest Jeaniene Frost novel, Shades of Wicked, and delighted that my favorite couple, Cat and Bones, made at least a cameo appearance in the novel. The main characters, however, are Ian, an irreverent, scofflaw man whore, and Veritas, an uptight Law Guardian with a deep, dark secret working for the Vampire Council. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, of course, on the way to their inevitable and oh, so satisfying HEA. But it’s what goes right that makes my beloved paranormal fantasy books so damn compelling. In this particular case, the story revolves around one of my favorite themes, the transformative power of love.

Tough Talk

I’m still thinking about Kathryn and Oberon in Thea Harrison’s Lionheart. I always love it when two strong-willed characters come together and have to negotiate the dance of partnership. I enjoy seeing how a given author handles the question of, “How do two alphas mate?” The answer, of course, is, “Very carefully.”  And the mechanism, it seems, is through a series of difficult conversations coupled with individual calculations of how much each partner can bend to accommodate the relationship.

What Happens Next

I’ve stepped out of the desert and into the promised land of book Nirvana. A new Thea Harrison novel. Woo-hoo! Lionheart, the third in the Moonshadow series, might be the best of the trilogy, although it’s a tough call because of the quality of Thea Harrison’s entire oeuvre. Anyhoo, this stellar story is about two fierce-willed characters, Kathryn and Oberon.

Essence and Ego

I’m in a book desert and my muse has taken an extended vacation. Sucks to be me. So I do what I’ve always done and pray that it will get me to where I always end up: with a new book that speaks to my soul and a shot of inspiration that kindles my creativity. I hope. I think. Maybe. Whenever I get here, convinced I’ve been abandoned and betrayed by all that I hold dear, I have to talk myself out of the endless loops of fear and anxiety that are old tapes that play in my brain. Not easy and not fun. But I can do it and I do, with a little help from my best book friends.

Confidence and Insecurity

I used to prefer my world in black and white, a time when my options were either/or and never both/and. It was a simpler – albeit less accurate – worldview. These days, I’m more comfortable with shades of grey, although not all 50 of them. And in moving away from absolute thinking, I’ve learned to hold seemingly contradictory views simultaneously. I understand that extraordinary kindness can coexist with extreme intolerance for stupidity, mendacity and banality. That intelligence in one area is no guarantee of high cognitive function in another. And confidence can coincide with insecurity. All in the same person. The heroine of Shelly Laurenston’s The Unyielding, Erin, is one such person. I’m another. 

Go Team

I’m partially through The Unyielding, the third and maybe last book of Shelly Laurenston’s Call of Crows series. These women warriors are fierce females. I love them and the men who claim their hearts. They are badass to the bone, battling to save the world as we know it. Along the way, naturally, they fight, vanquish monsters and of course…fall in love. Would that my world was drawn in such high relief. There is plenty of fantasy in Laurenston’s work, and also a great deal of truth, as is often the case in my beloved books. The most salient aspect of the Crows—women brought back to life by the goddess Skuld to express their rage and exact revenge—is that they are a team. All for one and one for all. They advance together and defend each other to the death. That’s a team I want to be on. Pick me!

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Thank you, Robyn Peterman.  Your latest Sea Shenanigans novel, Misty’s Mayhem, made me laugh out loud, while thinking hard about truth in fantasy. In this installment, Misty the Mermaid and Cupid the (demi) god of love, have been boinking for decades – casually of course.  No deep feelings here. Cupid has become jaded; he doesn’t believe in love anymore.  And, Misty is determined to avoid the slings and arrows of the Archer’s bow.

Escape Velocity

It’s here. After eighteen and half years, the time has come.

It began when the doctors put a tiny bundle into each of my arms. “Hello,” I whispered to their newborn, old man faces. We were already acquainted, you see – I knew a lot about their personalities from their behavior in utero, but seeing them as fully formed individuals separate from me was a whole different experience. Today, my sons are separating in a new way, leaving me physically, just as they did when I gave birth to them, but roaming much farther afield this time. Turns out, this separation is more painful than childbirth. 

I Feel Fine

I’m still thinking about Dani O’Malley in Karen Marie Moning’s epic story, High Voltage. She haunts my thoughts because she is a great example of someone (albeit a fictional someone) who is “all in.” I’ve written about the elusive state of being all in before because it’s my very favorite state of being. What is it about being all in that I crave with every fiber of my being? I rummaged around in one of the many piles that litter my home office on every available surface to find some thoughts I had committed to paper a number of years ago. 

Ride the Wave

I’m deep into the second book in the Call of Crows series by Shelley Laurenston, The Undoing. This is the story of Jace, an aptly named berserker Crow; she gets insanely angry and bad shit happens. To other people. Jace had a hard life and a bad death at the hands of her husband. When she is reborn as a Crow she lets rage be her guide (the mantra of the Crows, who are the harbingers of death for the Norse gods). She’s down with that. Jace lets her red rage shine out of her eyes and scare the ever-living fuck out of her targets. Jace’s after life is sweet. Sure, there are challenges—this is a romance after all and we can’t have smooth sailing to the inevitable HEA—but she’s got her groove on as a Crow, she’s living a life inspired by her goddess. It’s a hella good time.

Order and Chaos

I’ve just finished The Unleashing, the first book of Shelley Laurenston’s Call of Crows series. I love Shelley Laurenston. She has a deeply disturbed mind and she publishes at the speed of light, so I have a plethora of paranormal romances to enjoy. Heaven. This series explores the world of the Norse pantheon and their mortal servants. The Crows are women brought back to life by the goddess Skuld to be the strike team of the gods. They are the harbingers of death and a more diverse group of fiercely independent women I’ve never seen. I’d sign up immediately if it didn’t involve getting murdered first. The whole death thing is a dealbreaker for me. 

What If

As I finished Shelly Laurenston’s The Mane Squeeze the intensity of Gwen’s descent into hell—otherwise known as “what if?” disease—struck me. Before her star turn as a roller derby babe, Gwen is wracked with visions of all that could possibly go wrong and all the disastrous consequences of said outcomes. What if she gets hurt and can’t finish the match? What if she lets the team down? What if, what if, what if? Sounds like hell to me.

Something Shiny

I’m laughing my way through The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston. I needed something light and distracting to offset all the emotion of the last couple of weeks, and I’m enjoying the lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my.  Especially the bears—who shift into large, gorgeous hunks. Yep, it’s definitely working for me; takes my mind off the fact that I’m no longer a high school mom. And I had a birthday stuck in the middle of the graduation festivities, so I’m feeling old as dirt. Luckily, I’m not too old to enjoy a hot, sexy bear shifter and his tough-as-nails hybrid mate, in this case a tigon—half lion and half tiger. From Philly. Doesn’t get any tougher than that. Except maybe an uber-diva from Manhattan. Apparently, we have a lot in common. 

Pomp and Circumstance

I’m two thirds of the way through Dark Queen, the latest Jane Yellowrock novel by Faith Hunter. By this outing, Jane has assumed many titles including shapeshifter, skinwalker, Enforcer, Blood Master (of her very own clan of paranormals and humans) and Dark Queen. I think I’d like to be a dark queen. Or a warrior queen, or pretty much any kind of queen for that matter, but I digress. One thing about queens is all the ceremonies and rituals that attend royalty.

It's Worth It

A new Thea Harrison novella is always a cause for celebration. A novella based on Dragos and Pia requires a ‘sick day’ curled up on my couch. Planet Dragos delivers.  Ms. Harrison announced it’s the last Pia and Dragos story. Crushing. So, I’m putting off re-read and making plans to savor a second helping down the road. When I’m in a book desert. Or a funk.