There is Strength in Ivie

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A novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe, Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward, I was a teensy bit disappointed in this one, mostly because I thought it was about a different character and I was SO EXCITED to read her story, but oh well.

Featuring our leading lady Ivie, a nurse at the vampire clinic, she deals with death and illness on a daily basis. Then a handsome stranger Silas comes along, worms his way into her heart, and in the end it seems like she has to say goodbye to him too soon.

Apparently he suffers from a rare disease that only affects aristocrats because of all the inbreeding, and is 100% fatal. He’s in the end stages when he meets Ivie, and hides it from her as long as he can.

But in the end, the truth will out. And stubborn Miss Ivie winds up saving more than just him.

Good little side story to the BDB world. I don’t recognize Ivie from any of the other books, but you can bet I’ll be looking for her now.

Back to saucy, possibly bad romance!  Sacrificed to the Dragon by Jessie Donovan next.

In exchange for a vial of dragon’s blood to save her brother’s life, Melanie Hall offers herself up as a sacrifice to one of the British dragon-shifter clans. Being a sacrifice means signing a contract to live with the dragon-shifters for six months to try to conceive a child. Her assigned dragonman, however, is anything but easy. He’s tall, broody, and alpha to the core. There’s only one problem—he hates humans.

Due to human dragon hunters killing his mother, Tristan MacLeod despises humans. Unfortunately, his clan is in desperate need of offspring to repopulate their numbers and it’s his turn to service a human female. Despite his plans to have sex with her and walk away, his inner dragon has other ideas. The curvy human female tempts his inner beast like no other.

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Arkansas Werewolves

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Sexy werewolf romance! By the Light of the Moon is the first in the Arkansas Wolves series written by Jodi Vaughan was a bit tropey towards the end, but otherwise was a really good read.

So once upon a time, there were at least two breeds of werewolves: red wolves and grey wolves. The red wolves were thought to be driven to extinction ages ago by their own primal and violent society, but here they’re making a resurgence.

Determined to repopulate as quickly as possible, the red wolves are kidnapping female grays with the intent of breeding them against their will. The plan is to force them into repeated heats with some special secret serum they have, then using them as sex slaves until they are impregnated and give birth.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

One such kidnapped female Ava is the daughter of a high ranking pack member known as the General. A lone wolf Damon recently acquired into the pack is sent to retrieve her, and of course the sexy sparks start to fly.  On the run to keep the Ava protected, she is introduced to THE most awesome grandmother EVER, and they learn of at least one other female who has been kidnapped, as well as the fact that the females are being targeted for the purity of their bloodlines.

Which, of course, Ava is the bluest of blue bloods.

Aaaaand of course when it looks like all is lost and the lovers are never destined to be together, it’s revealed that OMG! Damon is a blue blood werewolf too! They can be together yay!

Eh. Still a good story. Might not continue with the series, but still enjoyable.

Sooooo excited for this next one!  A Black Dagger Brotherhood novella, Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward is next!

The last place Ivie expects to be approached by a devastatingly handsome male is in a crowded, smoky cigar bar rarely frequented by vampires—yet here he stands. Silas is flirtatious, gallant, and, above all, mysterious. Ivie is anything but. A nurse at the healer’s clinic and the daughter of a biker, Ivie is accustomed to speaking her mind. So she does. Since aristocrats rarely pick up females of her class, Ivie asks Silas just what kind of game he thinks he’s playing.
 
Despite her guarded exterior, Ivie surrenders to the fierce desire she feels for Silas. And yet, just as their courtship is heating up, he reveals that it cannot last, for he is bound to return to the Old Country. Their bond only deepens as they make the most of their precious time together. But when she learns the truth, Ivie must find a saving grace—before all is lost. . . .

Shadow’s End

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Shadowbane: Eye of Justice by Erik Scott De Bie is the 8th installment of the Shadowbane saga, and as far as I can tell the last even though it doesn’t feel that way.

Everything pretty much comes to ahead here. Picking up shortly after Shadowbane leaves off, we come across Kalen and Myrin travelling to Westgate to try and save their friend Rhett if he is still alive, or bury him if he is not.  Little do they know, they are but pawns in a larger play, with a mysterious Trickster following their every move.

Really so much goes on here it’s hard to keep track of it all, but in the end nothing is really resolved. I’m glad Myrin finally learns about her past, but it’s still a mystery how she is over a century removed from the timeline she was born in.  The relationship between Kalen and Vindicator is so complex.  We learn that has the sword is an instrument of the Three Fold God, so too then must it have three wielders, one sworn to each god Vindicator represents.  Kalen seems to accept his role as Helm’s wielder of Vindicator, but doesn’t seem to follow through on it.

I still hate Myrin’s character. She demands that Kalen trusts in her to make her own decisions and to protect herself and essentially accept her the way she is, but refuses to do the same for him. Ok, yes he is overprotective.  But she just throws common sense out the window and refuses to listen to caution despite what she’s personally experienced.  She was kidnapped and almost killed by someone she trusted for crying out loud, and she places more faith and trust in complete strangers than she does in someone who has fought and bled and almost died for her several times over.

Myrin: ‘Oh you’re a dark and mysterious stranger with crazy shadow magic and you hint at knowing my past without telling me anything? WE ARE NOW BEST FRIENDS AND I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER’

Kalen: ‘Um…not saying NO here…but…maybe…slow down a touch?’

Myrin: *starts crying* ‘Kalen why don’t you trust me to make my own decisions I can take care of myself and wah wah wah’

Again, I get the issues they have had, but she is just so driven to find out about her past she ignores everything else and she refuses to place the kind of faith and trust in Kalen that she demands from him.

And the ending doesn’t even feel like and ending. It feels like there should be more to this story because so many threads are left untied.

I like the whole premise of this series, but the relationship between Kalen and Myrin (nevermind Myrin herself) and the fact that despite being alone for a few weeks they don’t even attempt to try and discuss anything about themselves to resolve their issues just kinda puts me off the whole thing.

Back on a paranormal romance kick and finishing off the freebies I got for my Kobo.  We’re checking out By the Light of the Moon, first in the Arkansas werewolf series but Jodi Vaughan next.

Werewolf Guardian, Damon Trahan lives by a Code: Protect the Pack with his life. Damon has experienced death and betrayal, now all he wants is the freedom of his Harley and the loyalty of the men he rides with, the only family he has left. Those are the things he knows and believes in. Love and the hurt that comes with it has no place in his world…

Until he receives new orders: Rescue female werewolf, Ava Renfroe from a Pack of rogue wolves.

Bartender Ava Renfroe is tired of Alpha males running her life. Being raised as the daughter of a Military General made her want independence more than air—and she has it! Until she’s kidnapped. Damon Trahan, her alpha male rescuer and bossy pain-in-the-ass, is exactly the kind of man she doesn’t want, but try telling that to her libido. His brooding good looks are panty-dropping hot. Too bad he’s bat-shit crazy and thinks he’s a werewolf. Worse, he claims she’s a werewolf too. But when Damon shifts in front of her, she begins to doubt everything she’s known to be true.

On the run from the rogues, Ava and Damon can’t ignore the red hot passion between them. But Damon knows it can’t last. Will he sacrifice everything he’s ever known to have the one thing he’s never meant to have? Or will the war between the Packs destroy them before love is given a chance?

Return of the Raven

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Prince of Ravens by Richard Baker is the second and as far as I can tell final installment of Jack Ravenwild, a fast talking con artist with a moral compass, a gold tongue, and a taste for the finer things in life.

Prince of Ravens starts up a little bit after City of Ravens ends. Jack awakens out of what turns out to be a century’s long sleep after being trapped in the ancient Mythal beneath the city, and awakens in the company of drow, along with what appears to be the petrified Myrkessa Jelan, infamous warlord.

With no knowledge of how he came to be trapped, or even what has happened within the past century of his imprisonment, Jack is easily captured and enslaved by the drow who were working to rebuild their ancient forgotten city.

Slaving away in the drow rothe paddock, Jack held out hope of escape when he meets a young noblewoman. Finally seeing his chance to escape, he does so and takes the noblewoman, heir to a great house with him.

Once above ground again, Jack seeks out the few old friends that remain, tries to figure out who exactly entrapped him to begin with, as well as play the part of a long lost nobleman and rack of a few jobs to bring in the coin.

But all is not well within his old –and new- home. Beset by drow and slavers who are rumored aided by the high council, Jack finds his city embroiled in mystery.  Mystery he just can’t seem to keep away from.

Overall I enjoyed it. It had been a while since I read of Jack Ravenwild in the City of Ravens. He’s actually a funny character and watching him trying to fast talk his way into and out of everything that crossed his path was the best part about this book.

FINALLY going to finish the Shadowbane Saga with Shadowbane Eye of Justice next.

Rumors are swirling around the dark corners of Westgate that vigilantes are dealing violence and havoc in the guise of Shadowbane. Kalen and Myrin have just arrived from Luskan, in search of Kalen’s former apprentice, Rhett. Though Kalen believes Rhett to be dead, Myrin won’t give up hope as she in turn seeks more information about her past. And Kalen too must find his place, perhaps in the Eye of Justice, though that’s the last place Kalen wants to end up. But who are these vigilantes who wield the vaunted sword Vindicator? Myrin and Kalen have no idea that a game is being played in which they are only pawns. All is not as it seems in Westgate

Shadow Rising

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Ok forget what I said about being back on track. Heir of Shadowbane by Erik Scott de Bie is ANOTHER throwback.  Second in the series, it falls between The Last Legend of Gedrin Shadowbane and Downshadow.  Good grief I’m glad this series is almost done if only to end all this bouncing around in the timeline.

Anywhoodle, here we see a glimpse of Kalen Dren’s life before Luskan and Myrin and the death of his apprentice. Living in Westgate, a member of the order of The Eye of Justice, Kalen Dren along with his Halfling sister Cecille and mentor Levia (btw WTF?  I thought all the references to his mentor/master were about Gedrin Shadowbane…) do what they can to keep the streets in the city of thieves safe.

But a shipment of slaves coming into port with the watch paid to look the other way is too much for any of them to let slide, so the trio go off to see what they can do to rescue the poor souls.

And find themselves in a trap set by the head of their order.

Apparently the Eye of Justice has been slipping into decline for some time. No longer the bastion of truth and justice that Gedrin Shadowbane intended for it to be when he founded the order, it has slipped into deceit and treachery.  Not sure from this snippet if they indulge in unsavory practices themselves, but they are certainly in league with and assist those who do in order to profit off them.

Which begs the question, why did Kalen Dren send his second apprentice, the half elf noble son from Luskan, off to Westgate with Vindicator when he knew full well the organization (if not the person he directed said squire to seek out), wanted him dead? There was no warning for the lad, just ‘hey go to Westgate, find Levia and she’ll teach you the ways of the Eye’, then the next thing Kalen knows is he’s being handed the broken sword of Vindicator with the word WESTGATE written in blood on the hilt.  So now at the end of Shadowbane, his second apprentice is either dead or kidnapped like Myrin.

Anyway. When you put the series in chronological order, it’s pretty good.  I am having trouble keeping track of stuff since I’m bouncing around like this, but overall I’m enjoying the series and CANT WAIT to see its conclusion in Shadowbane: Eye of Justice.

But that’s another tale for another time. Right now we’re going to look and Prince of Ravens by Richard Baker next.

After a hundred years, Jack Ravenwild—thief, sorcerer, scoundrel, and accidental hero—is released from a magical confinement, only to fall into the hands of the marquise Dresimil Chûmavh, ruler of an exiled drow clan who sees an opportunity in Jack.

Through guile and subterfuge, the wily Jack escapes the drow to discover a new world waiting in his old stomping grounds, Raven’s Bluff, a city equally abounding in fortune and danger. Unfortunately for Jack, he is best at stirring up the latter. His former archenemy the Warlord Myrkyssa Jelan is at large, and she isn’t the type to forgive and forget. And worst of all, the drow aren’t done with Jack and they mean to get him back.  

Gods of Darkness and Misfortune At Play

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Chosen of the Sword is a novella within the Shadowbane series by Erik Scot De Bie. If you count everything published within the series this novells counts as the fourth installment (yes I know I’m really mucking up the reading order but oh well 😛 ) , and it’s one I have been looking forward to since reading Shadowbane. It takes place between Downshadow and A New Purpose.

Brief recap, in Shadowbane we’re introduced to Kalen Dren who bears the death of his former apprentice and squire heavily on his shoulders. I personally have been burning with curiosity as to what happened to him, and here I finally get to find out.

In Shadowbane Kalen pretty much blames himself for the death of his squire Vaelis. If I remember correctly he flat out says ‘I killed him.’  And technically, this is true but when you read the story you really can’t blame the guy.  Well at least I can’t.

So we’re taken to Waterdeep and the area of Downshadow where Kalen and his apprentice haunt the streets, defending the innocent and all that jazz, Kalen teaching his young protogee the ways of being a paladin. Kalen hooks up with the fey’ri Fayne a few times, and during one of their carnal encounters his apprentice is attacked by a master vampire who then kidnaps Fayne and demands Kalen’s sword Vindicator in return for her freedom.  This btw, is the same one that killed Kalen’s master, the first Shadowbane Gedrin.

Kalen is able to heal Vaelis somewhat, saving him from death, and the young man rushes off to save Fayne when it seems that Kalen is willing to leave her to her fate, believing himself no match for the master vampire holding her. Kalen eventually follows, and something happens or is done to the apprentice, it looks like he tries to kill Kalen while coughing blood all up on him.  So Kalen, thinking himself in a fight for his life, kills him.  And in the process the sword cracks and denies its wielder, no longer confident that Kalen is the one worthy to wield it anymore.

So yea Kalen did kill his protegee/squire/apprentice/whatever. But really if you think your life is on the line what else are you going to do?  Plus I really don’t think the loss of Vaelis was a great blow to Kalen’s order, the Eye of Justice.  There were some pretty big red flags popping up that if Vaelis continued on that way he would have been one of those like vengeance paladins whose first thought is ‘oh the world will be better off without this one so off with their head!’

Seriously its guys like him that make me dislike paladins…no shades of grey and ironically enough that’s the very color of the holy fire that Vindicator unleashes!

Anyways, there is something MUCH bigger going on in the background here. The master vampire was a servant of Shar and he wanted the blade destroyed for whatever reason.  Fayne is an antler wielding favorite of her goddess Beshaba, and she’s the one who steals Myrin’s note from Kalen and later returns it in order to get him to go to Myrin in Luskan.  Where his long lost sister –a high priestess of Beshaba- tries to kidnap and sell Myrin off, another antlered favorite of Beshaba tries to stop this, and a Shar serving genasi who first tried to aid in Myrin’s kidnapping, only to turn into one of her protecters.

So yeah, two every interesting gods at work behind the scenes here, very much looking forward to what their end game is.

That’s going to be a bit tho. We need to backtrack to the Last Legend of Gedrin Shadowbane first.

Just Another Prequel

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Bear with me, we’re almost done this skipping around the timeline. The Last Legend of Gedrin Shadowbane is the 3rd installment in the Shadowbane series but it also serves as the prequel if that makes any sense…

Here we see the end of Gedrin Shadowbane and the rise of Kalen Shadowbane. Now all throughout the last couple of Shadowbane books I’ve gone through, (btw I did read the first one Downshadow back in 2012 but you think I can remember any of it now?!?) Kalen has always said that Gedrin was his mentor.  But here we see an aging Gedrin who is led to his death by his squire in the city of Luskan, and along the way to his rendezvous with his end he passes by young Kalen Dren, a little beggar boy in the streets.  The aging paladin knows he goes to die and that the one he has sought to teach is his betrayer, but he sees in Little Dren something that makes him believe Kalen is the next true wielder of the sword.  So Gedrin gives the boy his sword Vindicator, and his ring of Helm and instructs him to go to Westgate and train with the Eye of Justice to pick up Gedrin’s path.

So this master/student thing was a real big stretch. It was a brief meeting, a moment in time, after which young Kalen follows Gedrin and watches from a window as a master vampire ends Gedrin’s life.  Again, not as we have been lead to believe.

It’s a little disappointing that we’ve kinda been lied to in a way about the relationship between Gedrin and Kalen, but at the end of the day that brief interaction shaped the rest of Kalen’s life and help mould him into the man he is now so really who are we to complain?

Finally back on track! Next we’re dealing with the Heir of Shadowbane, 7th in the series.  Again, sorry for all the jumping around here folks, but we got through it!

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