woensdag 29 juli 2015

Jenn Bennett – Grave Phantoms

The third book in the Roaring Twenties series, published May 5, 2015.
Genre: paranormal historical romance
Cover: good

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Feisty flapper Astrid Magnusson is home from college and yearning for the one thing that's always been off limits: Bo Yeung, her notorious bootlegging brother's second-in-command. Unfortunately her dream of an easy reunion proves difficult after a violent storm sends a mysterious yacht crashing into the Magnussons' docks. What's worse, the boat disappeared a year ago, and the survivors are acting strangely...
Bo has worked with the Magnusson family for years, doing whatever is needed, including keeping his boss's younger sister out of trouble - and his hands to himself. Of course, that isn't so easy after Astrid has a haunting vision about the yacht's disappearance, plunging them into an underground world of old money and dark magic. Danger will drive them closer together, but surviving their own forbidden feelings could be the bigger risk.


The third and last book in this trilogy, taking place in the Roaring Twenties, San Francisco. The time of bootlegging, illegal drinking and smuggling, corrupt cops looking the other way. But it is also a time where a relationship between people of different races is frowned upon, and forbidden. Especially when the female in the relationship is white.
A time where fortunes can be made by those willing to take a risk. Like Winter Magnusson has. His right-hand man for many years has been Bo Yeung, a young Chinese man Winter took in. Bo has been doing odd jobs for Winter for years now, acting as chauffeur and bodyguard and serving as his eyes and ears. Living with Winter and his family, made Bo live between two worlds: no longer fully accepted by the Chinese living in China town, and certainly not belonging in the white world either, where he is seen as merely a servant.

But Bo has been in love with Winter’s younger sister Astrid for years now, and it seems that she feels the same for him. Or will time spend apart cure her from that? When Astrid goes of to college in Los Angeles, where she will make new friends and learn interesting things, will she forget all about him? And what if she doesn’t?

And then Astrid comes back home on her birthday, in the middle of a huge storm, and no one is there to welcome her, so she sets out for her brother’s warehouse herself, where she is certain she will find Bo. Slighty drunk on champagne. She just has to see him.
But then the storm tosses a yacht into their dock, a strange yacht that has disappeared a year ago, and has been missing ever since. The survivors all look and act strange, and are taken to the hospital. Bo and Winter want the ship gone from their dock as soon as possible, they don’t need curious gawkers around their place of (illegal) business. The police wants it to stay put, but Bo invents some excuse to get aboard and see if the motor is still running. Stubborn Astrid goes with him, as does the police officer on watch, and they find the place absolutely trashed. When Astrid stumbles and picks up a strange little statue, things go to hell.

She sees a vision of people getting killed in some strange ritual, a year ago, and falls into a coma. Bo is frantic, but in the hospital Astrid awakens again. It is a busy evening, as the survivors have also been brought there and they pick up some gossip.

Whatever happened to Astrid is dangerous, and even more dangerous are the people who want that statue back. And so Bo and Astrid set out together to find out the meaning behind the statue and the strange symbol on its stomach, meeting interesting people and falling more and more in love with eachother. Bo has his own ideas about their future together, but Astrid is determined to find her own place in the world, and in his life, and with some help from her sisters-in-law, she manages it.


This was a very captivating tale, which showed a unique peek in live in the twenties in America. I enjoyed the careful romance building between Astrid and Bo, it felt natural, even though both wanted so much more. After closing the book, I would have liked to have witnessed the trouble a mixed couple had in those days a bit more, not it was more glossed over or anticipated and it never came.
I really liked Astrid, and how she never backed down for anything. She stood beside Bo and did the things she thought were right and had to be done. I admire her for that.

Jenn Bennett certainly delivered in this very good last instalment in the series. I wish I could have met the Magnusson family back then.

9 stars.



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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian


maandag 27 juli 2015

Kelly Hunter – The spy who tamed me

A stand alone novel, published April 1, 2015.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: mine is better.

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After two years undercover, Special Operative Jared West feels like a stranger in his old life. The bruises on his muscle-honed body will fade, but not the memories. Still, he hasn’t lost his appreciation for a beautiful woman: Rowan Farmington is too arresting to be ignored.
New Director of Operations Rowan has heard Jared’s most dangerous weapon is his sexy smile, but it’s her job to see through his bravado. Rowan must get to know Jared intimately to ensure he’s read for his next mission.
But neither is ready for the passion that erupts from the casual touch of a hand…


As Kelly Hunter in an Australian author, this story features the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, not the American FBI or CIA or whatever. And that was fun, as it is so new and fresh to me.
Rowan has worked hard to be in the position she is in now, and she is proud of it. She loves her work, loves being in charge of her agents, and planning and plotting to keep them safe. And now after two years undercover, Jared West is back. Just in time for his sisters wedding to his best friend, bruised and hurt, but he made it. He knows he will have to be debriefed first, but he doesn’t care, he wants to see his family. But when he sees his new Director, Rowan, sparks fly. He doesn’t care that she is his boss, or older than he is, he wants her.

Rowan doesn’t mind the flirting, but she will debrief him, she is sure he has some more information he hasn’t shared yet with the Agency. Still, he is very handsome. Is there any chance for them to really have a long distance relationship? With him living on the coast, being with his family, and with her working such extreme long hours in the city? She is is not about to give up her career and start a family either. She is 40 and she likes where she is.

Jared has trouble letting his last case go though, he is not happy with what happened that made him able to get out, and he has some last evidence to find about dirty people in charge, even at the Agency. And then there is the little boy he promised to protect …


I devoured this story. I liked both main characters from the first page they walked in the story, and was rooting for them. They did not make easy choices, their relationship developed naturally and not too fast. And when Jared really screwed things up, Rowan did not forgive him easily, she made him think things through as well. And the ending really surprised me, Rowan got the job she really wants, and that opens everything up again.
The only thing I did not appreciate, was the latest addition, when they were perfectly happy without it at first.

9 stars.



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zondag 26 juli 2015

Recommendations from Karin for July 2015.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.

Karin:

It’s unbelievable how quickly time flies when you can enjoy it reading good books. This month I have decided not to rate my readings according to what I liked best but I want to draw your attention to a few series that make for a light – and sometimes not so light – summer reading.

Like Peggy I have rediscovered my love for jocks. Not that I understand the least about American football but I can enjoy the lovely descriptions of professional sportsmen like the next woman.
So I want to recommend “The Lone Stars” series by Katie Graykowski
The books are:

Perfect Summer

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Saving Grace

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Changing Lanes

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All three books deal with sort of normal people. Of course the heroes are impressive to look at and filthy rich. Still they all have their little baggage to carry. The heroines are anything but impressive to look at, they have their share of insecurities to bear and all three of them possess a great heart. There are some obstacles in the way to the HEA but (something I appreciate immensely), they deal with the difficulties in the way adult and mature people are supposed to do: they talk about them! So if you want a light fluffy read for the summer – go ahead.

Another series about pro footballers, their heavy baggages and the wonderful women who help them to find ultimate happiness was written by Jami Davenport. These books are a lot heavier on the sexy scenes – and I mean a lot - than the Lone Stars.

Reading order:

Fourth and Goal

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Forward Passes

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Down by Contact

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Backfield in Motion

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Christmas Break (novella)

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Time of Possession

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Roughing the Passer

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I really enjoyed reading these books, some bedroom (or wherever) scenes I simply skimmed. What really annoyed me time and again was the poor editing, and I’m not talking missing commas or the like. I really hate it when there are spelling mistakes or sometimes even word mix-ups. How a native speaker can miss that “rode” was mixed up with “road” is really beyond me.
Apart from that a well recommended series.

And last but not least I would really recommend one of my favourite writers again. I guess by now everybody who follows this post knows that I love Grace Draven and she published a novella-length sequel to “Master of Crows”.

It’s

The Brush of Black Wings

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During a foray into the woods of Neith, Martise stumbles upon a ruined temple and reawakens not only a power she thought lost, but also something far more malevolent. An ancient darkness, imprisoned in an eternal cage, sees a chance at freedom in a woman once held in bondage.

Desperate to save her, the Master of Crows will break the barriers of time and worlds to challenge an entity born of forgotten magic and the remnants of souls—a demon king who once led hordes of the damned across the face of the world.

The destroyer of gods will battle the destroyer of men to reclaim her and discover a truth the keepers of history once conspired to conceal.

A tale of revelation and redemption

I would buy this book just for the gorgeous cover alone. Although the story is short it’s packed full of action, suspense and the sweetest love that one can imagine. It concentrates only on Silhara and Martise and how the Master of Crows wields his astonishing magic with the help of the heroine. Highly recommended!!

What’s left for me now is to wish you happy summer reading which I’m doing as I write this.

Karin photo Karin 2_zps9oybhsee.png

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I am glad you got to read so much! I didn’t do very well myself, with working so many long days, but I read some goodies. And I will read Grace Draven this year, promise!



© 2015 Reviews by Aurian


donderdag 23 juli 2015

Barbara Taylor Bradford – Unexpected Blessings

The fifth book in the Emma Harte series, published January 4, 2005.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: my book has the smaller cover, and I prefer that one.

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The new blockbuster from one of the world's greatest storytellers delves into the life of Emma Harte - the original WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE – and the ambitious, passionate and volatile women of the generations that follow.
Evan Hughes, Emma's American great-granddaughter, is trying to integrate into the powerful Harte family. She is caught between her estranged parents, her new family, and new love. But a dangerous enemy hovers in the background.
Tessa Longden, Evan's cousin, is battling her husband for custody of their daughter, Adele. When Adele suddenly goes missing, Tessa is forced to seek help from her half-sister Linnet – a woman who has been her rival all their lives.
Linnet O'Neill, the most brilliant businesswoman of the four great-granddaughters, is desperately trying to show that she is the natural heir to her mother, Paula. But her glittering future at the helm of the vast Harte empire means many sacrifices, perhaps even the loss of her sister’s fragile trust.
India Standish, the traditionalist in the family, falls in love with a famous British artist from a working-class background. Madly in love, India is determined to marry him, no matter what her family thinks.
Evan, Tessa, Linette and India: four remarkable women. Three generations of Hartes. One indomitable family whose loyalty binds them together and whose enemies want to tear them apart.


Twenty years ago, I loved Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books. I devoured them. The strong women and the lives they build for themselves. And the saga of Emma Harte was my favourite. How she started out as poor as possible, working as a servant girl at 13, getting seduced and abandoned by the son of the house, and working her way up to become one of the major businesswomen in England.
And now I recently picked up this book second hand, and within a few paragraphs, I was totally back into the inner workings of this large and convoluted family, and I loved every page of it.
I so enjoyed catching up with all the family members, finding out how they are doing, what the evil grandson Jonathan is up to, and how they all work together in the various parts of Emma’s empire.

Evan is one of the main focuses, and it kept jarring me because for me, Evan is a man’s name. She is the (illegal) granddaughter of Emma’s son Robin, and Emma’s former secretary Glynnis. And now that her grandmother has died, she has sent her of to England, to meet the Harte family. As Evan was bored in her current job in America, she did as her grandmother requested of her. And there she met Gideon Harte, who works for the newspaper enterprise, and they fell madly in love with each other, on first sight.
Still, that romance is not really working for me. Gideon is too highhanded and Evan is a bit too timid and wanting too please. But I did love her interactions with Robin. And I did like how she found her own place in the Harte company, designing new floorplans for the shops, and even her cousin’s wedding dress.

And there is Tessa, who as the eldest granddaughter thinks she is entitled to be the new woman in charge when their mother Paula retires (and that won’t happen for a long time!). But her eyes are opened to what is really important to her when her almost ex-husband kidnappes their daughter. And when her twin brother takes her to Paris to recover from the ordeal, her life changes even further.

Linnet is a real strong woman, just like her great-grandmother Emma and her mother Paula. She is a cunning businesswoman, she has great instincts and she is the right one for the job. She quickly takes care of the abduction problem while their parents are in America, and she gets it solved and dealt with.

India is from the titled part of the family, and she has fallen in love with a highly successful British portrait painter, who seems to be a reverse snob, claiming her family would never approve of him. He doesn’t even want to meet them. Their relationship doesn’t seem to move forward either, and India wants more of him. But will she stay with a man who doesn’t want to commit, and keeps such huge secrets from her? It will take his crazy ex to open his eyes but will it be on time?

The evil Jonathan is really plotting something that will kill off his entire family, and will leave him the sole heir. I did not expect that from him! Although I know he is truly evil. I know he is behind Evan’s “accident” as he is Robin’s son and does not want to chance his father getting close to someone else. And the weak husband of Tessa is just the perfect tool for some mayhem in the family.


I will certainly pick up some more books in this series soon. I loved meeting all those family members again, I think it would make for a great soap opera on t.v.. Lots of romance, some love scenes, action and business, and never boring. Amazing characters whom I would love to meet and then be too shy to talk to.

9 stars.



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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 21 juli 2015

Judith Krantz – Spring Collection

A novel, published March 13, 1996.
Genre: contemporary romance or what I call: glitter romance
Cover: fashionable.

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Passion…
In a tale as timely as Scruples, as compelling as Dazzle, as intriguing as Mistral’s Daughter, Judith Krantz launches three innocent beauties on the city of fashion and love…
Scandal…
It’s the hottest thing that’s ever happened to Loring Model Management. Three of its unknown models have been chosen to star in the debut spring collection of bad-boy designer Marco Lombardi – and one of them will win an exclusive, multimillion-dollar contract. But the agency’s owner, Justine Loring, is furious. Only she knows that Lombardi’s billionaire backer, Jacques Necker, has set her up, hoping to manipulate her into chaperoning her models to Paris, and meeting him face-to-face.
Glamour…
But Justine isn’t about to play his game. She dispatches these three sensational girls – the classic Minnesota blond, the African-American goddess, and the moody Tennessee redhead – in care of her second in command, droll Francesca Severino. Little does Justine know how their two weeks of discovery and love affairs will be matched by an explosive encounter in Manhattan that will change her own life.


I have read this book in Dutch, a long time ago, but I still enjoyed reading it in English.
Justine is furious when out of all the thousands of models in New York, her three girls have been chosen to enter the contest. She can’t possibly refuse this, or all her models would run away from her agency, but she knows it has been done to manipulate her. To make her meet with the big boss, Jacques Necker. Her father. Her mother has refused to tell her who her father was all her life, until she was dying. And then she sent him the scrap books and photo albums she has kept all her life, to take her revenge on him for abandoning her when she was pregnant. As Jacques never did have children with his wife (he is now a widower) he desperately wants Justine in his life. But out of loyalty to her mother, who sacrificed so much to raise her own her own and give her everything she could, Justine keeps refusing his overtures.
And now she is needed in Paris by her three young models. But at the last possible moment, she sends of her assistant Frankie, with the excuses of being unable to fly due to an inner ear infection. Jacques is so very sorely disappointed, but he is still a gracious host to Frankie and the three models, and Jordan manages to distract him. She is interested in antiques, and Jacques’ whole house is filled with priceless antique furniture and other items.

The red headed Tinker used to be a beauty pageant Queen, until she hit puberty, and now she wants her place in the lime light again. But she is very insecure, and being trained to be a little doll since she could walk, makes it impossible to her to adapt to the sexy way a model should walk the catwalk during a fashion show. Marco Lombardi, the designer, has promised he will teach her and guide her, as he has set his eyes on her to make her his new pet, to break her and let him do to her whatever he wants. But she is on to him, and beats him at his own game. Still, he works her way too hard, when he chooses her as his main model and as the one to design his clothes on. Her new boyfriend Tom Strauss, whom she met their first night in Paris, is not happy with it, he is the jealous type, and he also asks a lot of her energy.

Gorgeous classic blond April finally finds out she is gay, and with the help of famous journalist Maude (who has come with them to document everything for Maxi Amberville’s magazine) she starts exploring her sexuality. And then she changes her appearance drastically …

Frankie is unable to keep an eye on the girls, when they want to party and keep escaping her, so she just gives in, and has her own good times with Mike, the photographer that Maude brought with her, and who happens to be the boy she crushed on all through high school.

And back in New York, Justine unexpectedly finds her own love in the form of a contractor during the biggest snow storm of the year. But will she give in and meet with her father? She will have to be in Paris for the fashion show …


I loved reading this book. All those main characters and romances are so entertaining to read about, with secrets about the fashion industry revealed. Lots of lines and fun and hardship, as a model’s life is hard work. The man in charge preying on them, and only so very few of them will become world famous. Of course some of those bad guys are in this book as well, trying to get their hands on April, Tinker and Jordan. And Justine herself. Of course Justine is one smart cookie for having started her own model agency while she was still a model herself, and she won’t give in to blackmail.

I know I will read more glitter novels in the future, as they are pure entertainment and give a peak in a world that is so very far away from my own.

8 stars.



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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 19 juli 2015

Heather Blake – Some like it Witchy

The fifth book in the Wishcraft Mystery series, published May 5, 2015.
Genre: paranormal cozy mystery
Cover: fun

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The Enchanted Village is abuzz when the old Tavistock house finally goes up for sale. Darcy's friend, Curecrafter Cherise Goodwin, is hoping she will have the winning bid on the home, but Darcy can't shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen - and her magical instincts are usually right.
Sure enough, while Darcy and Cherise are looking at the property, they discover real estate agent Raina Gallagher stone-cold dead on the floor. Clutched in her hand is a gemstone amulet, and on the wall above her is a large red A. While Raina has no shortage of enemies, there's also a dark legend about the house itself. To track down the killer, Darcy must unlock the secrets of both the deceased and the estate - and she'll need to act fast because revenge is a deal that never closes....


While her aunt Ve is busy with her campaign, running for village council chairman, Darcy is left to run their concierge business As you wish by herself, and doing a good job of it. She is currently helping her friend Curecrafter Cherise Goodwin with househunting.
The current chairman Sylar, and one of aunt Ve’s ex-husbands, is voting for raizing a big part of the Enchanted Woods so new homes can be built, but those woods are sacred, as the Elder’s meadow is a part of it.

Cherise has her heart set on the old Tavistock house that has recently come up for sale, but she is not the only one interested in it. Darcy loves it herself, but she knows she can’t afford it. Twenty years ago, there was a famous diamond heist in New York. The thief was arrested, but the diamonds have never been found, and they are rumoured to be inside the Tavistock house. So treasure hunters want to buy it to raize it to the ground in their quest to find it, even though the police have repeatedly searched it top to bottom.
And when Cherise and Darcy are walking through the house again, trying to determine how much Cherise should bid for it, they find the dead body of the real estate agent, Raina Gallagher. Did one of the treasure hunters kill her? Or someone else who was jealous of her sccess?

Darcy is determined to find out, especially when Raina was pregnant and her husband is not grieving at all about his wife’s demise. He is rumoured to be having an affair, but with whom?


I so love this series. It is truly magickal and I wish I could visit. I love Darcy, and how she tries to solve the case with the help of her boyfriend and police chief Nick Sawyer. Their relationship is developing nicely, his daughter Mimi loves her as well, and even their dogs are compatible. Of course they are no ordinary dogs, but familiars and Darcy is still trying to find out who they were.
I love her interactions with Archie, the scarlet macaw who lives with their neighbour and Aunt Ve’s current boyfriend (and ex-husband) Terry. But he won’t be her boyfriend for long, if Darcy reads the signs correctly. And Cherise seems to be interested in him again (he is also one of her ex-husbands). And of course Pepe and mrs. P. play their part again, telling Darcy things she really needs to know about the past and the Tavistock house.

Lots of little plots makes this story a captivating read, great and well fleshed out secondary characters keep returning to the stories. The mystery was a very good one, I truly did not guess the killer, and the ending was a big and good surprise. I can’t wait to read the next book!

A whole village filled with witches (called Crafters), lovely old homes and lots of intrigue and relationships, I love everything about it.

10 stars.



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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 17 juli 2015

Thea Harrison – Midnight’s Kiss

The eighth book in the Elder Races series, published May 5, 2015.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: a scene from the book, I like the body, not the face.

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Ever since their scorching affair ended years ago, Julian, the Nightkind King, and Melisande, daughter of the Light Fae Queen, have tried to put the past behind them - and distance between them. But when a war breaks out between Julian and Justine, a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind council, they find themselves thrown together under treacherous circumstances....
Kidnapped as leverage against Julian, Melly is convinced that her former lover won't be rushing to her rescue. But when Julian gives himself up to save her, they both end up Justine's captives. Armed only with their wits and their anger, Melly and Julian must work together to escape. But will they be able to ignore their complicated history, or will the fiery passion that once burned them blaze again?


The end of the previous book, Night’s Honor, laid the foundation for this book, when Justine kidnapped Melisande. Of course a cliffhanger like that, made me crave this book at once, so when it dropped on my doormat, I had to start reading it immediately. And I kept reading past my bedtime.

I have to admit, I did not really like Julian, the Vampire King, when he appeared a few times earlier in the series. Like when he banished Carling, and tried to kill her. And in the beginning of the book he is very arrogant to Melly, even though she is the one who saves them both. He just refuses to listen to her, but in the end, he has to admit he was so very wrong.
I was very pleasantly surprised by Melisande, who is not only the Light Fae Queen’s oldest daughter and Heir, but also a famous movie star in the human world. She was strong and resilient, and she used to watch MacGyver, one of my favourite tv-shows back then. And that knowledge sure came in handy while trapped in those underground cells Justine created.
Justine not only keeps them locked up, she has a whole army of starving Feral vampires down there, feeding them with humans she has snatched from the street.

If Julian would have known about it earlier, he would have swept it clean long ago, but it is impossible to chart all the tunnels and hideaways under the city.

After escaping Justine’s clutches (of course they do, this is not a spoiler) they will still have to find her, and fight her and her allies. Getting Evenfall and his people back, will not be an easy battle.


I really enjoyed this story, and Julian grew on me when he finally started believing Melly, and looked at a future again. He was tired of being the King, being under the scrutiny of the Council every day. Yes, he surprised me.
But I loved Melly, I think she is my favourite heroine in this series. She doesn’t give up, she keeps going, and I loved her interaction with the bikergang. She just vibrates off the pages. She is not brass and in your face like my favourite harpy, but she feels very real.
Julian gets help from not only the Light Fae, but also a Wyr and a Jinn, and that makes it even more interesting. I hope to see a Jinn book soon, I am intrigued with their hidden pasts, especially when the Outcast Jinn was helping the evil vampire Justine.

I am certainly looking forward to the next book. Meeting Thea Harrison in Berlin was certainly a highlight of the weekend.

10 stars.



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