Exclusive interview with Justin Richards, author of The Wolfstone Curse

WolfstoneYou may remember that we reviewed author, and Creative Consultant for BBC Books on the Dr Who titles, Justin Richards’ The Wolfstone Curse recently. We posted the review along with an author biog of Justin too.

Well, now The Wolfstone Curse has been released and Justin has kindly taken some time out to give us an interview! A Reader’s Review Blog would like to say a great big THANK YOU to Justin and Templar Publishing for their support leading up to The Wolfstone Curse’s release.

We hope that you enjoy reading the following questions and answers and would love to hear your thoughts. Now we will pass you over to Justin:-

Justin_R_31. After reading The Wolfstone Curse I was left wondering, ‘Wow, where does Richards get his inspiration from?’ Could you give us an insight to this, Justin?

A lot of it is actually perspiration, and a lot of it is desperation! I tend to ‘collect’ ideas and things that interest me.  Then I wonder what would happen if you put them together, how they might relate.  So for The Wolfstone Curse, I combined werewolves and stone circles.  That gives me a starting point – and quite often my starting point then disappears as the story takes shape and it turns into something else.

2. Was there anything in particular that gave you the idea to write about werewolves?

I’ve always been fascinated by werewolves – they are monsters but ones with a tragic personal story.  It was a challenge to put a new spin on a traditional monster as well.  I did the same with vampires in The Parliament of Blood a few years ago, so I guess I just thought it was time to have a go at werewolves!  Actually, the first idea I had for Wolfstone Curse was a spooky house, and down in the cellars is a secret area.  That stayed in, of course. But originally I thought that the basement would be a werewolf museum – a huge private exhibition where the werewolf family had preserved artefacts from their history and proudly put it all on display…  That would still have worked, but it distracted from what became the main narrative.  So the museum was reduced to a tomb and the paintings…  Maybe it’ll turn up in another book.

3. Do you use any visual objects to help in describing any of the events/characters? If so, what do you use?

Sometimes for places and settings, either I visit them, or feel inspired by a place… Or I work from photographs. For Wolfstone, I had a real stone circle in my mind, for example.  I used to try to find pictures of people who looked as I imagined a particular character did.  But the pictures of them in my imagination were always better, so I don’t bother now!

4. Who is your favourite character in The Wolfstone Curse, and why?

I think it’s probably Carys. She’s had, as we discover, a strange and difficult time of things stuck at home in the middle of nowhere and meeting Peter gives her a chance to move on from that.  Outwardly she’s so confident and aloof – especially when they first meet – yet inside she’s really far more diffident and emotional…

5. When reading The Wolfstone Curse it certainly came across that a great deal of historical research had been done. Was this the case and did you enjoy researching for The Wolfstone Curse?

I did do quite a lot of research, although much of that then got changed into other things.  Yes, all the werewolf legends and facts and figures are from historical and mythological research.  But of course the history of the Wolfstone Circle is made up – although some is based on legends and stories about other circles. The Crystal Room is based – very loosely – on the Amber Room that disappeared from a palace near St Petersburg towards the end of the second World War when it was looted by the retreating Germans…

6. Who are your favourite authors and/or books?

I read a lot – adult and children’s fiction as well as non-fiction for research and for fun.  It’s difficult to choose favourites. Maybe I’m easily pleased!  One of my favourite (adult fiction) books is ‘The Eight’ by Katherine Neville which is part historical, part set in the 1970s and all about Charlamagne’s chess set.

7. In between the researching and writing, what are your favourite pastimes?

Between reading, writing and my family I don’t have a lot of spare time!  I enjoy cooking, though I don’t pretend to be very good or adventurous at it.  Watching television and films and going to the theatre – all of which I kid myself is research, of course.

8. Last but not least, I absolutely loved the characters Peter and Carys. They are great heroes for the reader of either gender. Are we likely to meet up with them again in another adventure?

I hope so. I have all sorts of ideas about what they might get up to next – about the adventures waiting for them. I think there’s lots of potential in the characters that I’d like to explore.  But it all depends how well The Wolfstone Curse does whether more Peter and Carys adventures are viable.  I hope so. I can’t wait to get writing them!

The Wolfstone Curse can be found on Amazon UK!!!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ‘The Skeleton Clock’ by Justin Richards – get the Kindle edition from Amazon Also in the Apple iBooks Store Sample or purchase The Skeleton Clock in other eBook formats http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56152 And read about ‘The World of The Skeleton Clock’ – free from www.JustinRichardsWriter.com

Follow me on Twitter – @JJCRichards

‘The Wolfstone Curse’ by Justin Richards

Now released, Justin Richards’ The Wolfstone Curse! Here is a reblog of our review, along with an author interview (above).

areadersreviewblog

Wolfstone‘The Wolfstone Curse’ is an action-packed thriller of horror and adventure where teenager Peter, visits the remote village of Wolfstone with his archaeologist father, Professor Crichton, who is due to be carrying out his work at the ancient Wolfstone Circle in the Cotswolds. As a teenager, in a very isolated place, Peter becomes bored and goes to explore the surrounding area, in particular the Wolfstone Manor. As the story unfolds Peter discovers the existence of werewolves and the curse that is placed upon them.

The story begins with a diary entry, dating from the Second World War, by a soldier who has just been briefed on the Nazi experiments taking place at Castle Wolfenburg. His group of commandos are sent to attack the genetically engineered SS Wolfen soldiers to prevent these experiments from taking place. There is no holding back with Justin Richards as the reader enters the story at…

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Hidden Agenda by Peter S. Berman

Hidden Agenda‘Hidden Agenda’ by Peter S. Berman is an amazing five-star crime-thriller/courtroom drama novel! It keeps the reader engaged, with plenty of dialogue, brilliant characters and most importantly, a dramatic storyline. Hidden Agenda is separated into four sections (books), beginning as a crime thriller, taking the reader right into the thick of a courtroom drama as it builds it’s way with many twists and turns into the concluding fourth section.

After losing his wife in an accident a few years before, Jeremy Hart, a senior prosecutor in the LA District Attorney’s office, is encouraged by his counselor to try socialising again. She offers him a ticket for a charitable event where he first meets Claire Carleton. Ex-model Claire is trapped in a loveless marriage to a wealthy and powerful man, Peter Carleton, who is also very abusive and possessive towards her.

Love blossoms between Claire and Jeremy and they wind up in an affair that neither one wants to walk away from. However, with Peter always looking over her shoulder it is difficult for Claire and Jeremy to meet up. After messaging to each other over the internet, Peter’s suspicions of an affair are proven when he catches Claire sitting as her computer as a message from Hart pops up. Peter goes on to violently attack Claire and threaten her life – either that or she could lose her two daughters if Peter was to take them to Brazil with him. Leaving her with no options, Claire is trapped and reveals all to Jeremy.

Later, Peter’s body is found on the driveway of his home where he has been shot to death. It is then up to the detectives, Gibson and Donahue, to establish the motive, the opportunity and the culprit. Jeremy Hart is suspect no.1 and as the evidence points to him it is not long before a trial begins. However, as more questions are raised, Gibson and Donahue continue to investigate behind the scenes to find out the truth of Peter’s murder.

Hidden Agenda is beautifully woven together and is written in such a way that it is easy for the reader to follow and yet produces an engrossing story. The first section (Book 1) of Hidden Agenda introduces the readers to Jeremy Hart and Claire Carleton as the reader follows Jeremy’s story, getting to know the main characters involved. Book 2 focuses on detectives Gibson and Donahue as well as the main investigation where we are made aware of the evidence. This takes us to Book 3, concentrating on the courtroom drama of the trial with lawyers, Brunon and Kelly, and then finally we reach the concluding section Book 4!

As a reader, I really enjoyed that Hidden Agenda keeps to the one crime continuously and is written and broken down in order. It keeps the reader engaged and interested as well as opens up your eyes for those who are not too familiar of the courtroom system. I really enjoyed reading this style of writing. Even during the trial scenes Donahue and Gibson were still working and questioning certain areas of the case behind the scenes which constantly keeps the story moving forward and the reader hoping that they find out the answers to all of their questions.

One of my favourite pieces of writing in this book is when Berman describes the sun setting as Hart is about to visit his colleague, John Taylor. At this point Hart is at a loss as to what to do regarding the beating that Claire has taken from her husband, Peter:

It was just after 6.00pm. The sun had set in a crystal clear sky and the city far below him was a twinkling sea of lights, blanketing the horizon like so many stars in the Milky Way.”

These lines create a beautiful and moody atmosphere for the reader and I personally drowned in these words as I felt the dilemma that Hart was in.

I found myself being a little sympathetic for Hart’s character when he becomes emotional when speaking with his attorney, Brunon. After being locked up, awaiting for his trial, Hart is growing weary and was a shadow of a man in comparison to earlier on the book.  However, this was mentioned subtly but still had an impact on me. This certainly helped keep the character Hart alive.

My overall favourite section of Hidden Agenda was Book 2 where the reader is introduced to detectives Gibson and Donahue. Gibson is a family man with a loving wife. He is used to working alone but on this particular case he is asked to work with female detective Donahue. Donahue is a feminine but strong and level-headed woman. Gibson and Donahue work really great together and whilst keeping a great sense of professionalism there is also a nice friendship that grows between them. The reader really gets a sense that Gibson admires and respects Donahue to the point where he considers working with her on a more permanent level. Considering that Gibson was always used to working alone this would be quite a change for him.

For the characters alone, especially ‘Gibby’ and Donahue I would love to read another story by Peter S. Berman. I can only hope that he will create another great crime novel with these fantastic detectives in. The crime in Hidden Agenda is laid out well for the reader and this style of writing is so easy to follow and yet constantly keeps the reader interested and guessing the outcome. If you like a great crime-thriller you will not be disappointed with Hidden Agenda!

For the purpose of an honest and fair review A Reader’s Review Blog received Hidden Agenda gratefully from BookHub publishing.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Update by Caroline

Wow, guys, it has been a while since our last update. I hope that you have all fared well and had many great books to read. A big WELCOME to our latest followers – we hope you enjoy our blog and please feel free to comment as we’d love to hear from you! So, what have Tina and myself been reading? What have been our latest reviews? What other areas of interest have we posted about lately? And last, but not least, what are we planning to read and review over the next week or two? Hopefully, this update will answer all of these questions by providing you with a recap and forecast for the coming week!!!

one-lovely-blog-award[1]Firstly, I would like to mention our nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award, nominated by Sarah Colliver! Thank you so much, Sarah. To take part, Tina and myself have provided you with 7 pieces of trivia about ourselves and provided nominations of blogs that we feel deserve more credit. Please check it out and have a look at our nominees’ blogs and have a little laugh when reading a few personal touches from Tina and myself. As well as clicking on the link above, you can also find it on our About Us page, along with our nomination for The Liebster Award!

Lomogram_2013-05-30_08-32-48-PMThe lovely Sarah Colliver is an author, blogger and a keen photographer. Not only was she kind enough to nominate us for the award, she has written an author post for us to coincide with Tina’s review of her Peggy Rodman series. In Tina’s words, “These poignant and uplifting tales describe how Peggy Rodman, a wife and mother, uses a new found gift to help  lost and confused spirits make sense of their past and reunite with their a8201da7e24b0a20e32f0e.L._V400995341_[1]-002loved ones. At the same time Peggy finds some comfort from her own grief at the death of her dear mother. Although both tales brought tears to my eyes, they both ended on a positive note and I found them to be inspirational and uplifting reads in their examination of love, loss and reconciliation in this life and the afterlife.” For Tina’s full review please click on the link above.

woman2[1]-001We have also welcomed Paul Hodge from his blog, Freak Folk Tales, as he kindly allowed us to publish one of his eerie, paranormal short stories, The Woman Who Floated Above The Hedge! This is a tale of an unwelcome visitor that may give you the heebie jeebies!! Thank you, Paul!

shutterstock_118713643-001This surely has been a week for A Reader’s Review Blog to welcome many guests, as we also have featured a post from Sabrina,  ‘The Urban Book Thief’, on Deconstructing the Alpha Male!! Here Sabrina has analysed the different male heroic characters and noted the different types of alpha male. This is a fantastic and fun read! Thanks, Sabrina!

Mulberry_WEB.smAs well as having our fantastic guest bloggers, Tina and myself have also reviewed two fantastic novels. I reviewed SJ Sprague’s follow up to ‘A Presence in Russell County (The Organization, Book 1)’, which is ‘Mulberry (The Organization, Book 2)’. The Organization series is an exciting crime thriller, focused on an elite organization that deal with corrupt officers of the law. With sufficient evidence they are able, if need be, to try and sentence the corrupt officers swiftly and wickednightscoverfinal[1]justifiably. The Organization series is truly a great read and does not go without romance either! Meanwhile, Tina has reviewed Gena Showalter’s ‘Wicked Nights (Angels of the Dark #1)’ about a heavenly match between a human and an angel. This is a spin off series from Gena’s fantastic Lords of the Underworld series, and as the  cover shows it is a little on the HOT side!!!

Upcoming on A Reader’s Review Blog…

WaysToSeeGhost CvrWhich leaves us to talk about upcoming reviews! Well, as already reviewed by myself and to tie in with our ghostly posts, i.e.  The Woman Who Floated Above The Hedge and Peggy Rodman series, Tina will be reviewing the young adult sci-fi/paranormal Ways to See a Ghost by Emily Diamand. We were lucky enough to receive a pre-released copy from Templar Publishing for the purpose of an honest and fair review. Ways toWolfstone See a Ghost will be released in July. For a taster, please check out my review here. Tina is also looking to review the young adult sci-fi The Wolfstone Curse by Justin Richards (the Creative Consultant for BBC Books on the Dr Who titles), also set for release in July from Templar Publishing. For a more adult read, Tina is hoping to review Eve Rabi books Obsessed With Me – When She Rejected Him, He Set Out to Destroy Her book 1 and 2! There will be more on these soon so please keep checking in!

Hidden AgendaI am currently reading a dramatic crime/thriller, ‘Hidden Agenda’ by Peter S. Berman. When Jeremy Hart, a senior prosecutor in the LA District Attorney’s office, has an affair with a young married woman, her wealthy husband becomes suspicious and is then killed. Detectives Gibson and Donahue are on the case and nothing is as obvious as it seems!

Enchanted Immortals 4: The Vixen (Enchanted Immortals, #4)Following Hidden Agenda, I will be reviewing two paranormal novels, Enchanted Immortals 4: The Vixen by C.J. Pinard and Tim O’Rourke’s latest release, Moonbeam ( The Moon Trilogy, Book Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy, #2)2)!! You can check out my review of Tim’s Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1) and also my reviews of C.J.’s earlier novels, Enchanted Immortals (Enchanted Immortals Book 1), Enchanted Immortals: The Vortex (Enchanted Immortals Book 2) and Enchanted Immortals: The Vampyre (Enchanted Immortals Book 3)!

I hope that we have included some great books for you all to think about! Have a great week and we hope that you check in from time to time!

Happy reading 🙂

Caroline ARR

Post image of warrior with sword: CURAphotography/Shutterstock.com

Guest Blogger – Sabrina, ‘The Urban Book Thief’ – Deconstructing the Alpha Hero

shutterstock_118713643-001Today we are thrilled to welcome Sabrina, aka ‘The Urban Book Thief,’ to our blog to give us an insight into the alpha heroes we love. In doing so she also shares some awesome book recommendations. Sabrina’s blog is bursting with fun and fantastic news and reviews of kick ass romance, urban fantasy and paranormal books. If this sounds like your thing (and it’s definitely mine), check it out, you won’t be disappointed! Over to you Sabrina and many many thanks! Tina 🙂

Deconstructing the Alpha Hero

Heroes. Male protagonists. The Alpha. The hottie with a body. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em – there’s just no avoiding them. For me, I just can’t seem to get enough. Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t shared quite so much by my hubbie, who has to live in a house with hundreds of books featuring half-naked men on their covers. Meh.

So I was going about my day last week when I ran into a rather awesome website called All About Romance. The content is stupendous; please do check them out if you have the time. The authors have one or two very insightful things to say about romance heroes, and I read an interesting post about how they tried to determine how many different types of ‘Alpha’ hero there are out there in big bad world of fiction. According to them there are eight heroic archetypes. It’s totally legit. They even had focus groups where they ogled different men and everything.

I was so extra-ordinar-ily fascinated with this idea that I created my own (rather less insightful) response.

1. The Chief

This is the guy you want to stick around when the world is about to blow. He is uber powerful, doesn’t take no for an answer and can kill a man by just jauntily raising his eyebrow in mock humour (just kidding – actually no… I think some of these heroes actually could).

Think Roarke from Nora Robert’s In Death series, Hawke from Kiss of Snow or Jericho Barrons from the Fever series.

“I’m not the hero, Mac. Never have been. Never will be. Let us be perfectly clear: I’m not the antihero, either, so quit waiting to discover my hidden potential. There’s nothing to redeem me.” (Shadowfever by K.M Moning)

Chiefs will never admit to being the hero. They are THAT inflexible. Though it is probably because they had to leave a lot of casualties behind on their way to the top…

2. The Bad Boy

This is the guy you don’t want your parents to meet: he’s the one with the leather jacket, a confident swagger (like Jagger yo) and a past he wants to bury. Tut-tut. He’ll usually say the wrong thing and will likely flick the Chief the bird when asked to do something. Even when it’s polite.

Think Tack from Kristen Ashley’s Motorcycle Man, Wraith from the Demonica series or Gabriel from the Dark Magic series.

“His voice was low and rough … “What about you? Do you like bad boys?” “There’s definitely appeal,” she breathed. “Good,” He bent and clipped her earlobe with his teeth … “Because they don’t come badder than me.” (Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione).

Ooooh! Count me in for a side serving of rebel with lashings of extra sarcasm. The bad boy is good for making with the funny and delivering the ultimate wise-crack put downs. Slam!

3. The Best Friend

This guy is known by many different names – my cuddly snookums, the one guy everyone gets along with, the sweetheart or the hero who declares his love within the space of almost three chapters. He remembers your birthday and will surprise you with flowers when it isn’t even Valentine’s Day. He’ll rock your little socks off.

Think Drew Kinkaid in Nalini Singh’s Play of Passion, Packard from the Disillusionists series or Jack from the Travis Family series by Lisa Kleypas.

“I respect you,” he murmured. “And your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God.” (Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas).

In paranormal romance, this type of hero is usually referred to as a Beta – and you know what ladies? Beta’s tend to be practical, they’ll pick their clothes off the floor without any prompting and will even cook dinner for you if you ask nicely… I’m sold. Where can I find one? My house needs cleaning…

4. The Charmer

This guy will sweep you off your feet with sweet, sweet words and a devilish smile. He’s fun, he’s sm-oo-th and usually has the gift of the gab which almost always get him into – and also out of – trouble. Think Bones from the Night Huntress series, Reseph from Rogue Rider or Gwenvael the Handsome from the Dragon Kin series.

“Wrong way, Bones. The men’s showers are in the opposite direction.” “I’ll file that away with all the other information that doesn’t pertain to me” was Bones’ mocking reply. (One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost)

He’s a playboy with a heart of gold… well, most of the time anyway. A word of warning, he’s not always the responsible type so don’t pen his name down for babysitting duty – not until he has been trained.

5. The Lost Soul

This guy is the one you want to take home and put your arms around cause life has just pure sucked for him in the past. Big brooders the lot of ‘em. Think Demetrius from the Night Prowler Series, Kere from Born of Silence or Dageus from Dark Highlander.

Also like honor and courage and love, sometimes the truth can be lost, and you have to find your way back to it, crawling over fields of broken glass and dead bodies, your knees and hands bloody and raw, until you get to it and it’s even sweeter than before because of what you suffered on the way. (Rapture’s Edge by J.T. Geissinger).

The Lost Soul is usually no stranger to torture, suffering or pain. In fact, if he wasn’t so god damn sexy we would probably have to put him out of his misery. Poor thing. Nice abs though.

6. The Professor

No, he hasn’t always got his nose in a book – but this guy does have book smarts, and lots of them too. This is a hero who is logical, practical and one to stick to the facts. Plus, I reckon he would definitely be able to complete The Times crossword puzzle. In an hour.

Think Ian from the Highland Pleasures series, Gabriel from Gabriel’s Inferno or Lock from the Pride Series.

When she knew she had her voice back, she asked, “So I’m your girlfriend now?”

“Yup. We’re going to attempt what’s known in the nonintellectual world as a rel-a-tionship.” He sounded the word out and Gwen struggled not to laugh. (The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston).

Cool as a cucumber and smart as a badger (badgers are dead smart. This I know because I’ve never actually seen one. In fact, I do not know anyone who has seen a real life badger. So unless they have all mystically met their maker, I have deduced that they are cunningly clever ninja spies). This guy can also count without having to use his fingers too. This will definitely help when he goes grocery shopping. Definitely.

7. The Swashbuckler

Step back Indiana, these guys have it covered. Fearlessly brilliant, this is a group of gainly gentlemen know how to dodge a deadly viper while simultaneously bouncing on a space hopper and eating a Big Mac. The Swashbuckler is not afraid to get dirty. In fact – he loves it. Oooh soldier!

Think Strider from Lords of the Underworld, Archimedes Fox from the Steampunk series Iron Seas or Garreth MacRieve from the Immortals after Dark series.

“At fifty times the distance, you dispatched that ko-bold with three arrows to the neck. I’ve earned a trio to the chest. Seems you slapped him while you’re tickling me. You doona want to kill me, which is a good sign. Maybe this is your way of flirting?” (Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole).

These thrills – they be multiplying. And boy do these guys love their thrills. Though just check yourself before you wreck yourself because this man likes to invite chaos and havoc along his merry way.

8. The Warrior

This is the guy you want with you when battling the demons lurking under your bed. These heroes are men’s men. Intensely masculine, hard as nails and potential knights in shining armour – although they may grumble about it and say things like ‘it was my duty’ or ‘I protect all my peoples, even lovely wenches such as yourself’.

Think Curran from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Rain from the Tairen Soul series or Sin from the Dark-Hunter series.

“I turned to leave and paused before the gap in the ruined wall. “One last thing, Your Majesty. I’d like a name I can put into my report, something shorter than typing out ‘The Leader of the Southern Shapechanger Faction.’ What should I call you?” “Lord.” I rolled my eyes. He shrugged. “It’s short.” (Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews).

When the warrior comes out to play it’s time for the bad guys to git cause this guy leaves no stone unturned – so be sure to leave plenty lying around in your back garden in case he comes over for a cup of tea.

Thank you for visiting us from ‘Down Under’ Sabrina. I love all of the alpha archetypes identified, although I’ve currently got a major thing for The Warrior – hence the post image, which I could not resist! I  also admit to adoring Barrons (The Chief), Bones (The Charmer) and  Wraith (The Bad Boy), from the alpha heroes that you identified. I think that all of our readers will have their favourites. Once again thank you for sharing your insights with us. Tina 🙂

The Urban Book Thief blog

All About Romance

Post image: CURAphotography/Shutterstock.com

Wicked Nights (Angels of the Dark #1), by Gena Showalter

wickednightscoverfinal[1]Heavenly Match between  Human and Angel

Wicked Nights is the first book in Gena Showalter’s Angels of the Dark, a spin off series from her fantastic Lords of the Underworld series. Gena writes hot paranormal romances with uber alpha heroes, snarky heroines and passionate and toe curling lovemaking scenes. The scorching cover of this novel certainly lives up to its promise!

In Wicked Nights, the brutal and emotionless angel, Zacharel, whom we met briefly in her LOTU series, is put in charge of a ragtag army of warrior angels. Zacharel’s deity  is frustrated with his lack of compassion and both he and his army have to work together as a team and above all refrain from killing humans in their war against the demons, or risk falling and losing their wings – not easy when you meet the less than angelic warrior recruits who all have mega issues! As part of their duties, Zacharel’s army are given the task of destroying demons attacking an institution for the criminally insane in the human realm.

The human Annabelle has been incarcerated there since being wrongly convicted of slaughtering her parents, her claim that they were murdered by a demon being dismissed. Since the attack, Annabelle has been tormented by other demons and is often heavily sedated to minimise her violent outbursts, in which she defends herself against demon attacks unseen by others. She has also suffered physical abuse from other inmates and wardens and  sexual abuse from one warden in particular.

During the attack, Zacharel is drawn to Annabelle. He becomes intrigued by her and takes her to his cloud, despite realising that she is in fact a demon’s consort. Things then get complicated as Zacharel’s frozen heart begins to melt and he starts to feel strong emotions for Annabelle, wanting to protect her. Annabelle in turn is attracted to her captor and decides to use the opportunity to learn from him how to fight demons.  However, it is not long before demons attack Zacharel’s cloud and Annabelle is put in danger. Yet what will happen when the demon high lord who has marked Annabelle as his consort decides to claim her? Will Zacharel and Annabelle consummate their relationship, when Annabelle struggles with deep seated fears of intimacy and trust? What long term future do they have when angels live for thousands of years, yet a human life is over in the blink of an eye? As usual Gena Showalter has plenty of tricks up her sleeve before the action packed plot concludes.

Zacharel, a truly tortured hero,  is a complex character, despising demons with a passion and for very good reasons. He is not only an alpha, but a VIRGIN to boot and has locked away his emotions since a personal tragedy devastated him and gave him major guilt issues. Annabelle is a strong heroine. She has somehow kept hold of her sanity, but is also deeply vulnerable due to the horrors she has endured. She will fight the demons and the demon high lord who wishes to claim her, even if it leads to her own demise.  She finds Zacharel attractive from the off, but is fearful due to her prior experiences.

I loved the developing romance between the couple in this book, which I felt was truly a match made in Heaven. The banter was both poignant and amusing and I enjoyed the fact that the hero, once his emotions had come to the fore, would do anything for his woman. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Zacharel finds himself wanting to bond with a woman who has been marked by a demon, a race he despises. The lovemaking scenes are both sweet and hot, as Zacharel strives to overcome Annabelle’s fears and assert his new found sexuality. Fortunately for a virgin he is a fast learner!

I enjoyed meeting the other angels of Zacharel’s army, who no doubt will each have their own story. I also welcomed the appearance of some of the characters from her Lords of the Underworld series. The demon foes are truly hideous and there are plenty of violent, gut spilling scenes full of blood and gore to keep readers entertained and to contrast with the romance. The author has done a great job of balancing the main story with the world building and the introduction of major characters to feature in subsequent books, which can be difficult in the first book in a series.

I am looking forward to reading the next book, Beauty Awakened, which tells the story of Koldo, one of Zacharel’s men, whom we are introduced to in this book. I recommend the series to lovers of steamy paranormal romance which is also full of humour, passion and action.

Reviewed by Tina

Gena Showalter’s website

Goodreads link to Wicked Nights reviews

Publisher Harlequin’s website

Mulberry (The Organization, Book 2) by SJ Sprague

‘MulberMulberry_WEB.smry’ is the second book of this great crime thrilling series, ‘The Organization’, by SJ Sprague. The Organization series deals with corrupt law enforcement officers who take part in drugs and gun crime, which often involves beatings, murders and cover ups. However, justice can be done and done quickly if The Organization have anything to do with it as long as they have enough evidence. The corrupt officers will do anything to cover their tracks and in ‘Mulberry’ the reader is given a great example of this when they beat Davin Presser, making him comatose.

Mulberry begins with an excellent prologue of an ex-police informant, Sterling Greaves, who had become aware of some officers’ activities – in particular the drug running – and had reported his findings, along with some evidence to the police force. Yet, nothing was done and it left Sterling running for his life, living in the woods for three years, to prevent the dirty cops from killing him. The twist that Sterling has on these cops is the evidence that he has collected and buried in the woods, until he has a chance to use it.  He reaches out to Samantha Biggers, an ‘angel’ in Sterling’s mind, who is now a member of The Organization.

RussellCounty_WEB_FINAL_sm2Samantha Biggers, a widow and previous victim of corrupt police (check out A Presence in Russell County, The Organization Book 1), has now joined The Organization, moving to Holcomb County to be near her trainers, John Hollingsworth and Stuart Crogan. And nothing is better for Sam’s training than a case she can be involved in as soon as she moves to Holcomb.

Unknown to the culprits of Davin’s beating his six year old son, Kale, witnessed the terrible attack. However, it affected Kale to the point where he began to behave in an infantile manner. He began to crawl and became mute. His only way of communicating is by drawing the same picture repeatedly and with the same colour. Will Sam be able to decipher the meaning of these drawings?

Although Mulberry is first and foremost a crime thriller it probably offers the same amount of romance as it does crime, with Crogan’s growing relationship with his chess playing friend and trainee, Sam. It certainly clarifies the reader’s confusion from the last novel in regards to Sam’s lovelife, where the reader at one point believed that Sam and John were to be happy ever after. I think that Mulberry is definitely Crogan’s book as he steals the show for me. I love how he does everything he can to ascertain Sam’s safety and the way how when she isn’t with him he’s thinking of her, and yet he still allows her space for herself. He respects her opinion and treats her as an equal when it comes to The Organization’s work. Crogan is also caring when it comes to his long-term friend, John. He does worry about the relationship he has with Sam and how it could affect John. Crogan is just a really nice guy.

John’s character has the reader sympathising for him in parts as Sam, or ‘Brit’ as he always called her, is romantically quite distanced from him, however at times he does become a little too creepy for me as he is a little persistent and leaves certain messages on Sam’s answerphone that are a little too personal. Maybe Sam is to blame a little though, as she wasn’t altogether clear that their relationship had ended and thus leaving John a little lost and possibly half expecting her to be closer to him seeing as she moved to Holcomb. I don’t dislike John as it has been clear that John is a very strong member of The Organization and he knows how to get things done. The fact that he had an injury whilst serving as a soldier and is now in a wheelchair certainly doesn’t hold him back when it comes to taking down a band of criminal cops. I love his decisiveness and direct manner.

Whilst reading the first novel, A Presence in Russell County, I found that it ended abruptly, however Mulberry ends at a perfect pace and leaving the reader fully aware of where the characters stand and where they are possibly headed. This novel is definitely a five star! My only disappointment was that I missed the character Cap Finch from the first novel and I was hoping for a mention of him as I really like his involvement with the case in Russell County. I always tend to go for the supporting characters and in some cases they don’t reappear in the sequels!

SJ Sprague writes Mulberry really well, making it clear to the reader that the characters have a history from book 1 and have now, especially in Samantha Bigger’s case, made a fresh start with her move, her job and in her lovelife. Therefore, Mulberry could be read as a stand alone. Although I strongly recommend for you to read A Presence in Russell County before this novel as it is fantastic, introducing the characters really well and providing the reader with their background!

Mulberry_WEB.smThe paperback edition for Mulberry is now available on Amazon.com, the paperback edition is currently $13.29 and the Kindle version is $5.11. Also available on Amazon.co.uk , the paperback version is currently £9.39 and the Kindle version is £3.38!

RussellCounty_WEB_FINAL_sm2You can also purchase the paperback or Kindle edition of A Presence in Russell County on Amazon.com ($10.74 for paperback and $4.73 for the Kindle edition) and Amazon.co.uk (£7.45 for paperback and £3.18 for the Kindle edition). Prices correct at the time of posting this review.

All prices are correct at the time of publishing this post, however they are subject to change.

JESSE BUTTERFLY: THE ORGANIZATION BOOK 3 COMING SOON!!

If you would like to contact SJ Sprague you can e-mail the author at sjsprague01@gmail.com.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker