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PJV Quickie: If you’ve been looking for that ‘Next Great Series’ and you want shapeshifters and vampires and a kick-ass heroine, look no further: J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files is just what the book-doctor ordered, and Edged Blade is a fabulous installment to this ongoing series.
Kit Colbana is a half-human, half-aneira (kind of Amazonian) private investigator (and occasionally assassin-for-hire). Her BFF Justin (a witch) has come to her with concerns about missing witches. As their investigation intensifies, they realize it’s not just witches but other non-humans as well. Of course the mystery is bigger than they thought, and while Kit is willing to risk it all to save her friends, Damon is less enthusiastic about risking losing her again. To solve this case, she’s going to work with the vampires, and then things get even more complicated when one of missing is Damon’s ex-girlfriend, who disappeared while she was on her way to see Damon…
For those who don’t know, J. C. Daniels is actually Shiloh Walker. I did not know that when I picked up Book 1, Blade Song. I started reading J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files in December 2014 (I’m late to the party, I know!), and I fell in love with this series. Other reviewers have noted a similarity to Kate Daniels, and while there are some similarities, the Colbana Files stand on their own merit. I devoured the first three books, back-to-back, in less than a week. And after the ending in Book 3, I had to get my hands on book 4, had to. I was not disappointed. There is a big underlying story arc is happening over a few books, so while there is a conclusion to the main part of the story, Kit’s still working on a much bigger end-game. So Edged Blade kind of felt like a ‘bridge’ book, but with essential plot, if that makes sense. The last page left me re-reading the last line, thinking “oh snap!”
J. C. Daniels writes great action, but she really writes the emotions of her characters really well, and that’s what keeps bringing me back. Kit’s still damaged from previous books, and parts of Edged Blade are painful to read, but there’s a hope, and a refusal to give up, that I really love about these books. The romance is not the main focus of this series, but it is an important part of Kit’s character growth; not that she needs a man to love her, but that because of her respect for him, she sees the good things in herself that he sees (if that makes sense). Note: if you’re in this series for the romance, you won’t be disappointed. Just sayin’…
I also love that Kit is loyal to her friends, and they are loyal to her. Her witchy bff Justin, and Damon’s nephew Doyle are two of my favorite characters and I’m hoping that as the series progresses we’ll be seeing much, much more from them.
I really think that fans of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series will enjoy J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, I would not recommend starting with Edged Blade – start from Book 1, Blade Song, because this series is that good.
PJV Quickie: Wow! I took a chance on His Witness (I don’t normally start with the 4th book in a series) and was not disappointed. His Witness starts off strong and grabs your attention immediately. I had a few issues that I’ll discuss below, but I spent most of the book fascinated with the characters, especially the Hero’s mafia life.
All Melanie Ronaldo wanted was to go to college and have a normal life like her friends. Instead, she’s running her father’s club and working with the mafia. Her father’s restaurant business was failing and he made some bad decisions, now they can’t get out because the mafia uses the club. She hates when the guys come in and store their drugs and money.
Tommy O’Sullivan is a half-Irish, half-Italian mobster. He was taken in by Jack, the mafia boss, when he was younger, and he found that being the mob’s butcher (in more ways than one) helps with his anger issues. He’s taken with Melanie, the girl who runs one of the clubs – she’s got a sassy mouth and doesn’t take shit from anyone. And she’s sexy as hell. Unfortunately, he can’t convince her to go out with him.
When Melanie is trapped into being the government’s star witness against the mafia, Jack needs her to recant her testimony. Tommy knows this is his chance to grab her…and keep her.
I am a sucker for mob romance, kidnapping stories, and BDSM stories, so of course I hit the “one click” button. I have to tell you the story jumps right in on page one – Tommy is doing what he does best, which is killing people for the mob. He’s the best at what he does and he takes pleasure in making people suffer before they die. I have to be honest, Tommy fascinated me: he’s sick and twisted and vulnerable and volatile and is a pretty complex character. Melanie is a good match for him: fiesty and furious but an overall nice person. I liked the way their story progressed…up until the kidnapping.
Once the kidnapping occurred, I feel like the story lost some of it’s complexity and attention to detail. Tommy wants to break her and make her dependent on him, and we get glimpses of that but the story skips over a lot of the details and lets the reader fill in the blanks themselves – the blurb says “day by day” but I feel like we only got a few days here and there. The good thing about His Witness is that I was so into the story that I did fill in the blanks and went with it, but I did feel like it weakened the story.
I don’t know anything about mob life or the RICO act or how the FBI handles their undercover cases, so I can’t vouch for any accuracy or non-accuracy in the story. I found it to be interesting and couldn’t stop reading to find out what was going to happen next.
I’m always leery of reading a new-to-me self published author because usually the grammar and editing is bad, but that’s not the case with His Witness. I think there were 2 or 3 spots where I had to re-read a sentence but other than that, grammar and spelling were not an issue.
This is book 4 in the series but can be read as a stand-alone; I didn’t read the first three and I don’t feel like I’d missed any back story. Now that I’ve read His Witness, however, I am going to go back and read the first three books in the series.
If you read and enjoyed Kresley Cole’s The Professional, or Jill Myles and Jen Frederick’s Last Hit series, I’d recommend giving His Witness a try. For 99¢ it’s definitely worth the read. Also, I never watched the show Dexter, but from what I heard about it, I think His Witness might appeal to fans of the show.
At parajunkee.com we accept books in exchange for a review, we also use affiliate links for Amazon.
PJV Quickie: I have a weakness for Rock-Star heroes, but sometimes it feels like I really have to dig to find the gems. You Really Got Me is one of the gems: with just the right amount of rock-industry lifestyle, sexual chemistry, angst, and romance, You Really Got Me really grabbed me.
Emmie Valencia is a personal assistant for a record label bigwig. She’s been working with him for eight years and what she really wants is a promotion and to go find new bands. When a disagreement lands her in Austin for six weeks, she arranges to live with her brother and his band, Snatch. Snatch is big on the college scene but they want to go national. Emmie has a few tips and offers to help them work on getting signed.
Slater Vaughn is the carnally sexy front man and songwriter for Snatch. He’s got a reputation as a raging man-whore, but his passion is writing songs and playing his music and he’s focused on getting the band noticed by a label.
Emmie has ‘been there, done that’ with a rockstar boyfriend, and he broke her heart. She’s vowed to stay far away from all the sexyness that is Slater and concentrate on finding ‘the next great band’. Slater isn’t interested in a girlfriend that’s only going to complicate his dream of musical success and superstardom. No matter how hard they fight the attraction, they both seem to click, even though a relationship between them would be doomed before it started.
You Really Got Me was a surprise hit for me. I’ve been let down a few times with Rock Star heroes, and I’m so glad I took a chance on You Really Got Me – you know how sometimes a book just grabs you from page 1? Yup, that’s exactly what happened here. I like Ms. Kelly’s writing style; her characters were interesting and I liked the overall flow of the book. She really hit just the right balance of industry lifestyle, sexy stuff, and relationships (not just the H/h relationship, but their lives before they met). I was never bored or felt like skimming ahead.
I love a good romance where there’s a breakup and both parties are miserable -Love it! And in You Really Got Me the angst and uncertainty between the hero and heroine was well done, both towards each other and involving other people in their lives. I definitely closed the book wanting more, and am already making grabby hands for the next book in the series, I Want You To Want Me.
If you like Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series or Olivia Cunning’s Backstage Pass series, I’d recommend giving You Really Got Me a try. Sexy, fun, rock-star goodness.
Patti’s Favorite Reads of 2014
Hey all! Patti here – I can’t believe it’s almost 2015 already! I thought about the books I read this year and made a list of my favorites. Not all of them were published in 2014 but they are books I read in 2014. I hope some of them are also your favorites or that you discover a new favorite through my list.
My list is a bit eclectic this year – I feel like I mostly read Contemporary books (adult and NA) but most of my favorites this year are Paranormal. Go figure… I had resolved last year to try more new authors in 2014, and I did, a few of them even made my list! So, without any further ado, and in no particular order, I give to you my favorite Romance reads from 2014:
(links through book covers are amazon affiliate links)
Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid: The first book in this series, Neanderthal Seeks Human, made my 2013 list. This series is so good and in my opinion, underappreciated. I love the characters and the books are so freakin’ funny. The fourth book, Beauty and the Mustache, is my favorite so far. I’m not really a beard fan but this book may have changed my mind!
Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead: I love this series more than the series it spun off from (Vampire Academy for those who haven’t discovered the cracktasticness of Richelle Mead). I love Sydney and Adrian as main characters and the end of Silver Shadows had me yelling “Oh SNAP!” I cannot wait for the last book, The Ruby Circle. Love, love, love.
Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan: I don’t know how to express how much I loved this book. The hero is not your typical romance hero, and I loved him. The writing was absolutely beautiful and I was sorry when it ended. Absolutely excellent. (This was a new-to-me author)
The Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones: So I may have just discovered this series in the fall, and then proceeded to glom all seven books in a row. Fifth Grave on the Right though is probably my favorite of the bunch. A funny, quirky Grim Reaper who’s in love with the super-sexy Son of Satan? Yes, please. I’m crying because Book 8 isn’t out until May 2015. #moremoremore (This was a new-to-me author)
The Professional by Kresley Cole: I had no idea how much I love reading Mafia heroes (anti-heroes?) until I read The Professional (The Game Maker #1). I HATE serials, but I bought this one; I just couldn’t wait until it came out in one book. A sexy Mafia enforcer whisks a college student to Russia to save her from enemies and she ends up falling for him. So freakin’ sexy. After finishing The Professional I may have gone on a ‘mafia romance’ binge…
Transcendence by Shay Savage: I mentioned this book a few weeks ago in a reading update post. I absolutely loved this story featuring a Neanderthal hero, told entirely from his POV. It sounds bizarre but trust me, you want to give this one a chance. This is one of those books I kept thinking about long after I finished it. (This was a new-to-me author)
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews: I was super-excited that Ilona Andrews had a new series out, and as expected, it was fabulous! I like the world-building and the hero and heroine. If you’re already a fan, I definitely recommend Burn for Me, and if you haven’t read anything by Ilona Andrews yet, be prepared to glom their backlist once you’re done!
The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole: I don’t know why but I checked out the first book, Poison Princess, twice before I actually read it. I fell in love with the characters and the unusual premise of this series. It’s a YA dystopian with romance and intrigue and I have been counting the days until the next book, Dead of Winter. I know already this is one of those books I’m going to want to race through but need to force myself to take my time and make it last: The first two books were published in 2012 and 2013, with nothing new until January 2015. That’s too long!!!!
Lead (Stage Dive #3) by Kylie Scott – love this NA series of guys in a rock band. I think Jimmy’s story might be my favorite so far.
The Best Kind of Trouble (Hurley Boys #1) by Lauren Dane – Hmmmm…rock stars again, I’m sensing a theme here Seriously, Lauren Dane is such an amazing writer. I loved this story and am currently reading the second book, Broken Open.
Bite Me (Pride #9) by Shelly Laurenston – I love this series and Bite Me was so funny. A honey-badger shifter and a bear/tiger hybrid shifter make the BEST couple. If you haven’t been reading this series, you need to start it!
The Colbana Files by J.C. Daniels (aka Shiloh Walker) – I’ve only recently discovered this series (recently, as in last week) and have torn through the series so far. A half-human/half-Amazon heroine and a feline shifter hero. A nice urban fantasy with romantic elements. Be warned though, the books do wrap up the main story but each ends with unfinished business – not a cliffhanger, but close.
What were your favorite 2014 reads?
What are you looking forward to in 2015?
PJV Quickie: I picked up the first book in this series on a whim. I figured it was a risk-free read – if I hated it, I was only out $0.99. The price-point worked and I was sucked in to this series of shapeshifters and magic – I went through this series in a week!
I love “woman falls for older brother’s best friend” stories and had been looking for a good shapeshifter romance read, so when I saw the blurb for the first book, Seven Years, I went for it. Seven Years is Lexi and Austin’s story: Austin was Lexi’s brother’s best friend, but left town after he died and never contacted her family after he left. Seven years later, he’s back, and he’s got his eye on Lexi.
Sounds good right? And it was pretty good. There were a few spots where the world-building wasn’t very clear, or the character’s motivations didn’t make total sense to me, but I was interested in Lexi and Austin, their family histories, and the secondary characters; not only Austin’s pack but some of the other shapeshifters as well. And that’s why I kept reading – I wanted to know more.
In book 2, Six Months, Austin’s brother Reno is the hero, and he falls for a human. Again – book crack for this paranormal romance lover I liked their story and was even more interested in the pack. I tore through this one in a day.
Book 3, Five Weeks, has a rock-star hero (he’s a former addict) and the heroine is The One Who Got Away: yes, please! Again, I enjoyed the main characters, and I love that not only do we see how the previous hero/heroines are doing, but the pack is moving along too, and we’re learning more and more about their world.
Book 4, Four Days, features a hero who is the Alpha from another pack, and the heroine is the strong, silent type. Four Days is the best in the series so far, in my opinion.
Ms. Dark’s writing is getting stronger with each book and there are some differences from shapeshifter world-building that I’m used to reading, but I like it. I plan to continue this series to the end. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I will say that I’m hoping book 7, the last in the series, will feature one particular human and a very old werewolf.
If you’re looking for a fun, sexy werewolf romance and you’ve read the “bigger” authors out there, give The Seven Series a try. The first book is still $0.99 right now, and although the story is good, the writing is weakest in this book, so I’d definitely recommend giving at least the first two books a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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