Review of Unassailable by Cynthia St. Aubin

Blurb:

When dead men tell mo’ tales…
Running afoul of a pants-less ghost pirate wasn’t exactly what Paranormal Psychologist, Matilda Schmidt had in mind when she took off for some R & R. Even at a quiet beach-side bungalow, Matilda can’t catch a moment’s peace when the restless spirits aren’t the only ones haunting her bedroom.

Marooned by a disappearing demigod, and seeking a solution to banish her unwelcome guests, Matilda rides shotgun with a hit man who’s better at making ghosts than eliminating them. When Matilda’s new-found abilities leave her feeling more psychotic than psychic, she’s forced to consider an offer she doesn’t want to take, but can’t afford to refuse.

Rating and Audience:

Another great book! Again I have to give St. Aubin top marks- 10 out of 10 -for this one. There are a couple of steamy scenes and some sexual innuendo and a pants-less ghost from a time when men didn’t wear underwear so if any of these things bother you, you might want to find another book.

Review:

I dove in to this series with both feet after reading the first book. It is witty and brilliantly written and I can’t get enough. I love the humor and craziness in each book and the sex scenes are H-O-T, but I also appreciate the intelligence behind the writing. The development of the characters through each story is subtle but also profound.

This installment reveals more about both Matilda and Liam. The majority of the revelations about Matilda have to do with the character development I was talking about; while the revelations about Liam have to do with his feelings. It would seem that these characters are either learning about themselves or learning to accept the truth. Of course, the discovery of some truths only leaves us with more questions in need of answers. I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment to find out what else Matilda discovers!

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Review of the Cynthia St. Aubin’s Dr. Matilda Schmidt Series (Books 1-4)

Blurb: It isn’t every day a sexy demigod throws a pissed-off Cupid onto psychologist Matilda Schmidt’s couch and informs her the fate of the world depends on her ability to get him off his diapered ass and back to helping people fall in love.

Just when Matilda convinces herself she’s not hallucinating, in walks a Vegas hit man with a big gun and a bigger threat: pay back the million dollars she owes a notorious casino mogul, or wind up as fish food in Lake Mead.

Rocketing across country with a gun to her head, Matilda has a dysfunctional love-god in her laptop bag, a million dollar debt she has no knowledge of, and must convince the seductive hit man he’s snatched the wrong woman before he convinces her he might be the right man—for a night.

Can Matilda stay alive long enough to keep love from becoming history?

Blurb: Accused of stealing gold from an infamous Irish street gang, Paranormal Psychologist Matilda Schmidt will die in exactly five days if she doesn’t cough it up—guilty or not. With minutes ticking away and her office overrun by a leprechaun who’s loopier than he is lucky, Matilda makes a deal with a demigod—give him one night in her bed and he’ll help her locate the missing gold.

But when Matilda’s recent one-night stand shows up with inside information about the heist she’s being framed for, she finds herself caught between a hit man and a demigod both offering to protect her—if they don’t kill each other first.

If Matilda’s luck doesn’t change soon, death might be the only thing waiting for her at the end of the rainbow.

Blurb: When there’s not a hop in hell…

The day is going to hell in a hurry for Paranormal Psychologist Matilda Schmidt, and that’s *before* a suicidal Easter bunny shows up for treatment.

When pictures surface of Matilda caught in the middle of a hit man-Cupid sandwich, she lands in the oily grip of a ruthless blackmailer, whose motives are as ugly as his mustache. Now Matilda must betray the trust of someone who cares for her to meet the blackmailer’s demands, or she can kiss her reputation, her practice, and even her freedom goodbye. But blackmail is only the beginning when the immortal mystery-client brought to her couch by a seductive demigod causes Matilda to fling caution—along with her panties—to the wind.

Hunted by two jealous goddesses who would gladly use her intestines to lace up their strappy sandals—and with her full-time hit man sometimes lover nowhere to be found—Matilda will have to save herself, or the world will be up River Styx without a paddle.

Blurb: When you can’t grin and bear it…

Paranormal Psychologist, Matilda Schmidt is sick of secrets. But when her troubled mother falls into dangerous hands, she must enlist the help of the two men who may be hiding the most: the hot-bodied demigod who’s suddenly tight-lipped about his current client, and the delicious hit man who’s been concealing much more than a gun in his pocket.

Faced with the destruction of her tidy life at the paws of three rowdy werebears, and protected only by an immortal egg on the edge, Matilda will have to come riding to her own rescue, or risk a life that’s anything but happily ever after.

Ratings and Audience:

On a whole I have to give the series a 10 out of 10. There are some pretty steamy sex scenes in these books and a lot of innuendo so they might not be for everyone. I’d say they are on par with Janet Evanovich’s books, especially the between the number books from the Stephanie Plum series.

My Thoughts:

I like to attend online parties. Authors, groups, and pages do them pretty often and there are usually some great prizes to be won. I find it is a great way to discover new books and authors; I get a chance to hear more details about books before I read them. I will say that I have found some of my favorite books this way.

(My other preferred method it to take my hyperactive sister to the library but that can get scary at times and should only be attempted when my patience is at its highest.)

Anyway, it was at one of these recent online parties that I learned about this series. I won an Amazon gift card from Cynthia St. Aubin and decided that using it to purchase her books was only fair. After reading this series, I know I made a great decision. I don’t think I will ever be able to get enough of Dr. Matilda Schmidt. The books were very enjoyable and even though they are short, I never felt like the story was missing something. Each book in the series picks up where the previous one left off, creating a continuous story line so if you read them in order, you never feel out of the loop on the events.

There are so many wonderful things I could say about these books. I found them to be fast paced–there’s never a lull in the excitement which, I think, is vital for shorter stories. All four books were absolutely hilarious–the parade of shady and supernatural characters with unexpected psychological disorders provided tons of comedic antics that made me laugh until my sides hurt. There is more to them than laughs though, I found them very sexy as well–they weren’t filled with smut, but there was enough steam to make me want to adjust the thermostat on the A/C. There was also an element of intrigue that kept me enthralled and had me looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

The writing style is superb. The characters are all very vivid and well written and the story flows perfectly. I love the way the author takes bits and pieces from myths, legends, fairy tales, and even nursery rhymes to create a stunning cast of supernatural characters; it is cleaver and wonderfully refreshing. I also like the more realistic components of the characters as well. The good doctor is a psychologist and she has a way of assessing everyone in the terms of her profession. I think it highlights our tendency to explain our own world in terms we can understand. It also gives accurate commentary on the human condition. Everyone has their own set of issues and the only way to be content with life is to learn to deal with who and what we are. Then you have Liam Whatshisface, who’s sordid past and irresistible charm highlights humanities baser desires and the ability to not only overcome anything, but to also do what is necessary to survive.

**Oops, I’m letting my inner scholar take over–get back heifer!

For those of you that read for enjoyment, you wouldn’t be disappointed in this series. It isn’t often that a series of shorter stories offer this much entertainment but St. Aubin pulls it of magnificently. The tales of Matilda Schmidt kept me highly entertained for the better part of my week. They were so cleverly written that I just couldn’t get enough. I will be anxiously waiting to get my hands on the next book so I can find out what happens next.

By the way… The first three stories: Unlovable, Unlucky, and Unhopppy can be found all in one volume- Dysfunctional

Review of Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne

Blurb:

They told 20-year-old Charlie O’Malley that they had a cure for the rare blood condition that would eventually kill her–an untested, experimental cure. All they wanted in return was for her to join their elite military team and train to kill the Undead.

She took the deal, not because she cared so much about extending her life, but because it would make her strong–stronger than ordinary humans. Strong enough to kill the vampire who’d pretended to love her, taken her blood, used her body, and murdered her mother.

Killian was the last of his kind, or so he thought. When he found Charlie, he felt the pull. She had the rare Belladonna Antigen all vampires had as humans. Vampires were compelled to protect those rare mortals they called The Chosen. But with Charlie, the bond was different, more poweful than anything he’s felt before, and impossible to resist, even though surrendering to it will probably get him killed.

Ancient vampire elders Rhiannon and Roland come out of exile, risking their lives to help their mortal friend Roxy reclaim her granddaughter. But before the tale ends, their lives will be forever changed.

Join Maggie Shayne as she returns to her most beloved series of all time with this new beginning….

Wings in the Night: Reborn

Rating and Audience:

I think this book ranks somewhere in the 9-9.2 range on a 10 point scale. Some of the sentence structure in the beginning bothered me and had me rereading passages to make sure I understood what was being said, but that was REAL early in the story. There are some other things that stop me from giving the book top marks but I will discuss those below. There are a couple of steamy scenes but they are fairly mild in nature–meaning yes, there is sex but it isn’t overly detailed and if you are the type that skips these scenes, you won’t really miss any key parts of the story.

Review:

I managed to discover Maggie Shayne’s books a few years ago. I bought a grab bag of paperback books at a library sale and luckily, there were several vampire books in the mix, including one of Shayne’s Wings in the Night novels. Lemme tell you, that bag of books got me hooked on several authors and has made me a perennial customer at out local library’s sale.

Maggie’s Wings in the Night novels revolve around a pretty common story line- every one has a true soul-mate, even vampires. The draw between the two halves of a single soul search each other out and when you meet The One, you automatically know. The fated pair are inexplicably drawn to one another and they face seemingly insurmountable odds to find their happily ever after.

The vampires and the Chosen in these books share a common blood abnormality called the Belladonna antigen. Only those that have the antigen can become vampires and vampires are driven to protect all of the Chosen but they are more drawn to one individual in particular.

The original series ended with a showdown between the vampires and DPI, a secret division of the CIA that conducted all kinds of heinous experiments on both vampires and the Chosen, killing some and seriously hurting others. This book is the first installment of the Wings in the Night: Reborn series. It picks up a few years after the previous series.

At this point, the public believes that all of the vampires were destroyed so when a news story breaks reporting that several people with the Belladonna antigen were found exsanguinated, DPI assures the populace that the culprits have been executed and any who have the antigen can depend on the government’s help just in case there are still some vampires living out there in the world. [on a side note- “We’re from and the government and we’re here to help…” Really? Why do people keep falling for that one?] Of course I’ve read the earlier books so I know that DPI is a bunch of lying douchebags that seem hell bent on conducting Nazi-like experiments on a race they deem nothing more than animals. So, to me it is obvious that DPI is up to their old tricks and they have orchestrated the whole thing to get their hands on the Chosen again they’ve just changed tactics slightly to get willing volunteers for their experiments.

Charlie O’Malley doesn’t intend on going to DPI but she didn’t expect to be living off the grid with a grandmother she’s never met before either. She decides almost immediately that Roxy is definitely paranoid and possibly insane but Roxy has experience with DPI and knows how to avoid them and she is determined to keep them safe. Unfortunately, Charlie doesn’t know enough about her new world and decides to run away when she learns the man she’s been dreaming about and falling for is one of the undead. Now in the hands of DPI, she has to learn the hard way just which side is the right one.

Meanwhile, news of the attacks travels to Hotel Transylvania where many of the survivors of Vampire Armageddon have been hiding. The vamps are getting restless, they are tired of hiding and they don’t like the idea of DPI causing another witch hunt. The elders are trying to decide how to act when they find out that a group of their own has gone rogue and the granddaughter of an ally-the oldest of the chosen- is in DPI’s hands.

I waited for months to get my hands on this book. I love the Wings in the Night series and I was very excited to hear that the author was bringing it back and even more so when I learned that Rhiannon would be coming back as well. (Rhiannon and her pet panther, Pandora, are two of my favorite characters from the original series.)

I will say that there is a lot going on in the book with the threat of rouge vampire attacks and DPI being back in full force; it gives the characters a very distinct set of objectives that seem pretty cut and dry–rescue A, stop B, destroy C, etc.–but there are some unexpected twists that the writer throws at us proving that not everyone may be what they seem. This definitely raises the rating in my opinion. As a student of literature, I do like the fact that the characters aren’t static or stagnant. Maggie Shayne’s characters are vibrant and alive (even if they are undead); they grow and change throughout the tale. Hell, even the most hated character(s) sometimes show growth.

The problematic part for me is the relationship between Charlie and Killian. I know that the two are supposed to be together and find their happily ever after, but the development of love seems completely connected to the pull between vampire and chosen. There is talk of shared dreams before they actually met and maybe if that were explored a little more, the designation of actual love between the two instead of intense physical attraction would make more sense. But the actions of the characters convey that the emotion between the two is real; (I mean, come on, they are willing to die for each other so that has to mean something, right?) So the lack of emotional development doesn’t detract from the story much but it is the reason that it doesn’t get a perfect score.

I believe the new cast of characters introduced in this book will provide a good catalyst to relaunch the series and it could potentially last for a long time. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had a little bit of everything, action, intrigue, romance and even some humor and I was unable to put it down until I knew just how the story ended.

Now the wait for the next installment begins.

Review of Eternal Flame by Valerie Twombly

Blurb:

A woman he cannot have, a man who is only a dream…

When guardian Marcus Dagotto, discovers the gods have gifted him with a mate, he is pissed. He has no room for love and even less for a human who has no idea he exists.

Cassandra Jensen, has a shattered heart and has given up on men. Only one man can set her body on fire, but he is a fantasy that haunts her sleep.

Two worlds, one desire. When the two collide, fate will rip them apart and test their resolve. Will darkness and evil prevail? Or, will love conquer all?

Rating and Audience:

I give this book a 10 out of 10. It was well written, original, and mesmerizing. There is some violence and steamy sex scenes, so it may not be for everyone.

Review:

The book opens up in the midst of an epic battle. Powerful and moving, this scene not only sets the tone for the story but also gives the reader the best insight into Marcus’s character–specifically the source of his greatest pain. Fast forward 300 years; times may have changed but the struggles facing the vampires have not. The queen has been murdered and the quest for vengeance is about to begin. Marcus has promised his friend, the new king, to help avenge the queen’s death but things might not be as cut and dry as he thought. He still has his duties as a guardian to uphold and things get even more complicated when Marcus learns the gods have given him a mate, and she is human.

The story is fast paced and sets up an entire world full of vampires and dragons and demons. It really is an amazing world with a fresh take on the Vampire race. They are created to be guardians, but cursed to become monsters. It is an inevitability that they all accept, and they trust their fellow guardians to take them out when it happens. Of course there is hope, they just need to find a way to cure the curse that has plagued them for 300 years.

Throw in a bunch of misguided dragons and a slew of demons (on both sides of the fray) and you have the makings of a complex story that keeps you riveted. There is so much I could say about this one but I don’t want to spoil the story for the rest of you. I will say that the world that she creates is vivid and the characters have distinctive personalities that enrich the story. You can feel the pain of each character and understand what drives them to carry on despite seemingly insurmountable odds. It is a great start to a series that shows real promise. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Review of First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Blurb:

Private investigator Charlotte Davidson was born with three things: looks; a healthy respect for the male anatomy; and the rather odd job title of grim reaper. Since the age of five, she has been helping the departed solve the mysteries of their deaths so they can cross. Thus, when three lawyers from the same law firm are murdered, they come to her to find their killer.

In the meantime, Charley’s dealing with a being more powerful – and definitely sexier – than any spectre she’s ever come across before. With the help of a pain-in-the-ass skip tracer, a dead pubescent gangbanger named Angel, and a lifetime supply of sarcasm, Charley sets out to solve the highest profile case of the year and discovers that dodging bullets isn’t nearly as dangerous as falling in love.

Rating and Audience:

I would have to say this book earns a 9.9 out of 10 rating. I will explain it in a minute. As far as the audience- there are some pretty steamy scenes, so read at your discretion.

My Impression:

I didn’t know a lot about this series when I picked it up this summer; in fact the only things I knew were the names of the two main characters, and what they were. Normally, that isn’t enough to get me interested but I had seen a lot of talk about how amazing these books were and I wanted to know if they lived up to the hype. So I hauled my butt down to the local library and picked the first one up.

Now when I started reading, I found myself rolling my eyes at (and immediately docking points for) some of the grammar . I wondered why an editor would ignore sentences that sounded redundant until I realized that it was a quirk that was peculiar to Charley’s character. Once the realization hit me, I absolutely loved it; that quirk along with many others made the character more real for me. Sarcasm and snark aren’t what you would usually think of when you think of a grim reaper (at least I don’t), but Jones definitely makes it work.

Charley is a very colorful character and thankfully, she isn’t the only one in the story. Cookie the receptionist/bestie in some ways balances Charley out, and in other ways, she is an enabler–just like a best friend should be. The depiction of the relationship between the pair is absolute genius. The other secondary characters are well written and each has a distinct personality, I could almost picture myself being surrounded by the eclectic cast–Ubie, who tries to utilize Charley’s abilities to solve crimes without putting her in undue danger; Swopes, who doesn’t believe a word she says about the supernatural but has to put his own feelings aside to get the job done; and Angel, who is just what you expect from a dead teenager. There is never a boring moment with any of that bunch. Then once you throw in Reyes–dark, mysterious, and sexy–he adds more mystery to the story than a triple homicide can muster and enough steam to keep the reader (and Charley) begging for more.

I honestly could not get enough of this book. I found myself enthralled and I truly enjoyed every minute. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series and find out what kind of trouble Charley gets into next.