Thursday, May 26, 2011

Magic Bites

Author: Ilona Andrews
Published: March 27, 2007 (Ace)
Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Rating: 8/10

If you love Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, you are most likely going to love Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series. I love me some Mercy Thompson, but those books come out once a year, and I believe the next one doesn't come out until 2013! The world Andrews has created, where magic and non-magic alternate in unpredictable waves also reminds me of Steven R. Boyett's Ariel books (post-apocalyptic world where the Change brings magic back and technology down).

Kate Daniels is a mercenary, taking care of magical problems when official channels aren't ideal. You know, like Hank Lawson of Royal Pains, where some prefer concierge doctors over dealing with hospital bureacracy. She carries old and strong magic in her blood, but nobody can know how she inherited that magic, because her real father would be more than happy to kill her. She's skilled enough to be a member of the very official Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, but didn't want to join because she didn't want her personality to be crushed by their rules and methods.

However, she gets dragged back into the Order's business when her guardian, Greg, is killed in the line of duty. Greg had been investigating the murders of several shapeshifters, and Kate has to deal with Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta. He's the pack leader of all the Atlanta packs, which consist of werecats, werewolves, werehyenas, wererats, and the list goes on.

It seems like solving the murders wouldn't be so bad, what with all her magical powers, but magic's presence in the world doesn't make things easier. Just getting from one side of town to the other can take forever. If your magic-powered car engine ceases to work when the tech hits, you're stranded, and if you're driving a regular gas engine car when magic hits, you're also stranded.

Here's an interesting tidbit: Ilona Andrews isn't a real person. She's actually a husband-wife writing team, Ilona and Gordon Andrew. You can tell it's a real team effort, because it doesn't feel like there are two different authors writing the same story, which sometimes team-written books tend to show. The male-female dialogue and interaction (not sex, you smut-brains!) is amusing and witty, with hint of future romance between Kate and Curran, and extremely well-written action scenes.

If you're looking for an urban fantasy with a brave, smart, kick-ass heroine, look no further. Kate Daniels is it! There are five books in the series so far, with a couple novellas on the side.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Heir

Author: Grace Burrowes
Published: December 2010 (Sourcebooks)
Category: Historical Romance
Series: Duke's Obsession #1
Rating: 8/10

I think I discovered this book in another blogger’s review post and it sounded like something I’d enjoy. The Duke of Moreland wants to secure the succession and have his heir, Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, married off. Of course, Moreland has more than one son, not all legitimate, so this will be a series, probably a trilogy. He winds up falling for his housekeeper, Anna Seaton, a woman of good breeding, but many secrets. Their relationship begins with her coshing him with a fireplace poker, as all great relationships start, of course.

The Heir is not a light, frothy romance. It leans more towards Julia London/Stephanie Laurens style, romance touched with drama. I liked the upstairs-downstairs elements in the relationship between Windham and Anna. Windham has the luxury of falling in love with Anna, despite her supposedly being just a housekeeper, because his father’s so desperate to get him married off. In fact, the duke was so desperate that he was willing to have Windham’s mistress get preggers and force the marriage, despite the fact that said mistress was already knocked up by some other guy. Windham preferred to choose on his own if his father was going to resort to those types of tactics. He knows Anna is more than what she says, based on her education and manner.

However, Anna and her sister are in hiding, and can’t tell Windham why because they’d promised their grandmother they’d never reveal their family’s secrets to an outsider. It did get annoying towards the end of the book, where I just wished Anna would trust Windham, who had already proposed marriage to her, and let him help her, as he offered to do so.

I really enjoyed how their relationship grew, and the things Windham did to be a gentleman, even bringing his meddling father into the mix. The book has been called an “erotic regency,” but I don’t find that the sex is gratuitous or all over the book. I’m excited to read the next entry in the series, The Soldier, which is releasing June 1st.

Note: The Heir is available on the Nook and Kindle for less than a dollar right now!