Fractured Souls (Fallen Messengers #1) by Ava Marie Salinger (audiobook) – Narrated by Alex Kydd

fractured souls

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When Cassius Black moves to San Francisco for a fresh start, the angel’s hopes of staying below the radar of the supernatural organizations that oversee the otherworldly and magic users in the city are dashed when he stumbles across a dead body in the sewers. His grim discovery soon puts him in the sights of the Argonaut Agency and Francis Strickland, the bureau director who knows his darkest secrets.

Morgan King and his team of Argonaut agents have been on the hunt all summer for the culprits behind a series of gruesome killings that have rocked the city. Killings that bear sinister hallmarks of human sacrificial rituals where the victims’ souls have been stolen. When Fate puts Cassius in Morgan’s path, he realizes the angel everyone likes to call The Devil may very well be the only person who can help them track down the murderers.

Morgan and Cassius soon find themselves crossing paths with a mysterious warlock whose actions evoke disturbing echoes of an incident from Cassius’s past. Cassius and Morgan must work together to defeat their common enemy and save the city from destruction, all while fighting their growing attraction.

Rating: Narration – B-; Content – B

Fractured Soulsis the first book in Ava Marie Salinger’s Fallen Messengers urban fantasy series in which angels and demons fell to Earth some five hundred years ago. The world the author has created is fascinating, the worldbuilding is really good, and the plot is fast-paced and action packed, but the storytelling is hampered by the introduction of too many characters at once (making it hard to keep track of who is who and who they all work for), and the romance is underdeveloped.

Like all the Fallen, Cassius Black, the most feared angel of them all, has no idea of who he was before. For years, he’s been doing his best to live under the radar and avoid interaction with the various magical and supernatural organisations that have been nothing but trouble for him in the past. Recently re-located from London to San Francisco, Cassius has taken on the job of looking for a missing cat and finds much more than he bargained for when he stumbles across said cat – a demon cat – down in the sewers, hiding from a huge Lucifugous demon that’s snacking on some human remains. After dispatching the demon, Cassius is able to see the disturbing signs of some sort of black magic ritual involving the dead man – clearly the Lucifugous didn’t kill the human. But if he didn’t – who did?

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Stroke of Brilliance (Arcane Hearts #2) by Nazri Noor (audiobook) – Narrated by Zachary Johnson

a stroke of brilliance

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

The fragrance of chaos. The flavor of terror. The color of madness.

Jackson Pryde and Xander Wright are loving a life of hunting and harvesting rare reagents wherever the Black Market travels. But a routine trip to visit Japanese tree spirits turns up something sinister: Two crystal shards, embedded in the bodies of wild animals. They’re familiar, glimmering, violet…like splinters of amethyst.

But that’s not all. Two rival guilds are in strife, Jack and Xander caught in a crossfire of spells and slander. SEER and its hundred eyes are still watching their every move. And then there’s the matter of meeting Xander’s parents, perhaps Jackson’s deadliest challenge to date.

The Chrysanthemyst’s return is the least of their problems.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B+

Nazri Noor’s Arcane Hearts series of snarky, sexy, action-packed urban fantasy novels continues with A Stroke of Brilliance, which picks up shortly after A Touch of Fever ends. In that book, the author did a great job of setting up and introducing listeners to the fascinating and imaginative universe of the Black Market – a dimension that travels from place to place, enabling its inhabitants to go through portals into ‘our’ world – of creating a couple of complex, likeable leads and of setting up an intriguing overarching plotline for the series.

Note: There are spoilers for AToF in this review.

The series’ PoV character is Jackson Pryde, a smart-talking artificer whose parents were killed in an explosion that also destroyed the entirety of the Artificer’s Guild. Artificers are born without much magical ability but with the talent for creating devices that amplify the little magic they have, and Jackson, who still feels his loss keenly but mostly covers it up with layers of wise-assery, is now working on something he hopes will restore his fortunes as well as a more widespread respect for the craft. For years, Jackson has been at loggerheads with his former best friend, Xander Wright, a mage destined for incandescence (a state achieved only by the most powerful); but after teaming up to solve several murders, Jackson and Xander rediscovered their friendship and finally admitted and acted on the frustrated attraction which had been simmering between them for so long.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

White Trash Warlock (Adam Binder #1) by David R. Slayton (audiobook) – Narrated by Michael David Axtell

white trash warlock

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings…including his first love.

Rating: Narration: B+; Content ; A-

David R. Slayton’s White Trash Warlock was recommended to me a while back (by Gregory Ashe, no less) so when I saw it in the Audible Plus catalogue, I pounced on it  – and I’m so glad I did, because I was completely glued to it for the entire nine-and-a-bit hours of its run-time.  The story is inventive, the central character is flawed, complex and captivating (just how I like ‘em!) and the narration is really good, so it was a win all round.

Adam Binder has low-level psychic and magical abilities that are often more of a burden than a gift.  Aged just twenty, he lives with his Great-Aunt Sue in Guthrie, Oklahoma and is estranged from the rest of his family; his father left when he was young, his mother doesn’t seem to care and he hasn’t seen his brother Robert (now a doctor in Denver) since Robert had him committed to an institution at thirteen because Adam was hearing voices.  Adam got out as soon as he turned eighteen and now spends much of his time tracking down and destroying dangerous magical artefacts and trying to find their creator, a warlock he suspects may be his father.

Given their estrangement, Robert is the last person Adam expects to hear from – even less does he expect a request for help.  Robert’s wife Annie has begun behaving extremely erratically and Robert has seen things in her behaviour that suggest to him that whatever is wrong with her may be something supernatural.  He asks Adam to come to Denver to do what he can to help; Adam is reluctant but he goes.  Whatever is wrong, Annie doesn’t deserve it – and also, he has a lead that points to the artefacts he’s been searching for originating from somewhere in Denver.

The reunion between the brothers – and Adam and their mother – is uneasy at best, but when Adam sees Annie, he realises she’s possessed by some sort of spirit entity.  A visit to the hospital where Robert works reveals a connection between it and the spirit – while he’s looking around, the spirit tries to kill Adam, and when a couple of cops inadvertently get in the way and one of them is killed,  Adam manages to save the life of the other by giving him a strand of his own life-force, making it impossible for the Reaper to claim him and unwittingly creating a bond between himself and the young police officer.

It doesn’t take Adam long to discover that whatever is going on, it’s affecting more than just Annie – the entire magical community in Denver has been affected and its magicians are all dead.  As Adam investigates further, he finds some unexpected allies, learns more about his past and finds himself at the centre of a long-game being played by immortals – who want the spirit dealt with but want someone else to do their dirty work.

White Trask Warlock is a superb piece of storytelling featuring an intriguing and well-constructed mystery plot, strong worldbuilding, a burgeoning romance and a compelling, engaging and relatable protagonist.  When he was young, Adam was wronged by the very people who should have been looking out for him and he feels like he’s broken – but somehow, he has retained his kindness and compassion, and the fact that he’s ‘ordinary’ – he isn’t well-educated, doesn’t have a real job, and his magic isn’t particularly powerful – is quite refreshing.  The bulk of the story is told from his perspective, although there are a handful of chapters told from Robert’s PoV; I thought that was an odd decision when I first looked at the list of contents, but then realised that it was a good way of integrating elements of Adam’s backstory as there were things Robert knew that Adam didn’t or couldn’t know.

There’s a romance in the story although it’s not the main focus – and that works perfectly well in context.  This is a series featuring the same characters, so there’s time for it to develop and I’m quite looking forward to seeing where the author goes with it.

Mr. Slayton skilfully integrates his fantastical world with the ‘real’ one, has devised an interesting magic system and paces the story extremely well, gradually ramping up the tension and the stakes until we’re racing towards a thrilling and exciting climax.

Michael David Axtell – a new-to-me narrator – delivers an excellent performance all round, assigning distinct, recognisable character voices to a fairly large cast, and he differentiates effectively between all of them by using a variety of tone, timbre and accent.  I enjoyed his interpretation of the elven princess Argent, her posh accent, slight drawl and haughty demeanour perfectly conveying her confidence and status, and I liked the way he voices Adam’s love interest, Vic Martinez , who is sweet, grounded and fun.  Mr Axtell’s portrayal of Adam is the real high point though; he perfectly captures every aspect of his personality – his kindness, his humour, his insecurities – and brings him vividly to life.

Full of magic, supernatural creatures and likeable characters, White Trash Warlock is an enthralling mix of mystery and fantasy with a slight horror vibe that gets this inventive urban fantasy series off to an exciting start.  I already have book two, Trailer Park Trickster, in my Audible library, but I gather it ends on a big cliffhanger so I’m waiting for news of book three before I listen to it! (Patience has never been my strong suit, however.)  In the meantime, White Trash Warlock earns a strong recommendation and a place on my keeper shelf.

A Touch of Fever (Arcane Hearts #1) by Nazri Noor (audiobook) – Narrated by Zachary Johnson

a touch of fever

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Jackson Pryde was never great at wielding magic. Instead, he works as an artificer, crafting enchanted devices in the Black Market, a shadowy bazaar of wonders. But Xander Wright, the mouthy, pretentious mage next door, hates all the hammering in Jackson’s workshop.

When a chance assignment forces them to team up, they discover a terrifying predicament. Something is driving members of the magical community into murderous rages. Jackson and Xander must combine might and magic to find the source of the Fever and stop it. Can they put aside their differences long enough to end the Fever, or will they succumb to its bloodthirsty curse?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Nazri Noor has penned a number of urban fantasy series, but this is the first book of his to appear on my radar. I confess though, that the main draw was Zachary Johnson’s name listed as the narrator; I’ve only listened to him once before (in Emma Scott’s Someday, Someday, which he co-narrated with Greg Tremblay) but liked his work enough to want to listen to him again, and when this title was offered for review, I grabbed the opportunity.

A Touch of Fever is a fun romp through an interesting fantastical world inhabited by (among others) imps, merfolk, enchanters, dragons, sylphs, fae and a scene-stealing gryphon, combined with a murder mystery and a childhood friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance between (says the blurb) a fast-talking artificer and a snarky sorcerer. Arcane Hearts is an ongoing series (book four is due for release at the end of January) and this story ends on a firm HFN; this is so far the only one of the set available in audio, but I hope the others will follow.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Veiled and Hallowed Eve (Soulbound #7) by Hailey Turner (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

a veiled and hallowed eve

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Death is the last lover you will ever know.

SOA Special Agent Patrick Collins has lived a life full of lies, and it has finally caught up with him. There’s no denying his past any longer, not after giving up the truth to save himself from a murder charge. But truth alone can’t set Patrick free, and time is running out to stop the Dominion Sect from turning his father into a god.

Jonothon de Vere knows survival isn’t a guarantee, but he’s desperate to keep Patrick safe, even as hope slips through his fingers. With the future unknown, Jono will follow Patrick wherever he goes, even to Salem, where a family reunion reveals a bitter secret that was never going to stay buried.

With New York City under control of their god pack, Patrick and Jono must fall back on every alliance they’ve brokered to fill the front lines of a war coming directly to the city streets. The veil is always thinnest on Samhain, and what awaits them on the other side is the stuff of nightmares. For when it tears, all hell will break loose, and the gods will be summoned to face a reckoning the world isn’t ready for.

The stakes have never been higher, failure has never been so deadly, and the Fates have never been kind to heroes. Patrick knows that better than anyone—because everything has a price, every debt always comes due, and it’s finally time for Patrick to pay his.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A-

It’s always sad when a long-running series comes to an end, so listening to A Veiled and Hallowed Eve, the seventh and final instalment in Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series was a bittersweet experience. I’ve been looking forward to the conclusion of this inventive and epic story, the big showdown between our heroes and their mortal enemies, but reaching The End also means saying goodbye to Patrick, Jono, Wade and all the other characters who’ve been with them on their amazing journey. It’s hard to think there will be no more books about them – but I have seven superb stories and audiobooks to re-listen to, thanks to this talented author/narrator duo.

I’ve said this before but it probably bears repeating: the books in this series need to be listened to in order so as to fully understand the complex storylines and the development of the various characters and their relationships, so if you’ve not been following the series, then this review will likely make very little sense to you. It’s also impossible to review this book without some reference to the previous ones, so there are spoilers ahead.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Rare Vigilance (Whitethorn Agency #1) by M.A. Grant

rare vigilance

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Former Marine Atlas Kinkaid knows not to ask questions about the clients he protects at the behest of the elite Whitethorn security agency. Just like he doesn’t like anyone asking about his scars—scars left by a mysterious attack that haunts his every waking moment.

Consumed by the need to find out what happened to him, Atlas takes a job providing security to Cristian Slava, the indolent—and gorgeous—son of a notorious businessman. Cristian seems to be just another entitled client, but when nights at the club turn into secret meetings and people start going missing, Atlas realizes there’s more to Cristian—and to protecting him—than meets the eye.

But the same people who are after Cristian have something Atlas desperately craves: they know exactly what happened the fateful night he was attacked—and are willing to tell him everything…

For a price.

Rating: A-

M.A. Grant has been on my radar for a while, but I haven’t yet managed to get around to reading any of her books, so when I saw she was starting a new series, it seemed the perfect time to jump in.  Rare Vigilance is book one in her Whitethorn Agency trilogy and the well-paced, wonderfully balanced combination of action, paranormal suspense and slow-burn romance had me captivated from start to finish.

Note:  This is a trilogy with an overarching plot and this book ends on a cliffhanger, so don’t go into it expecting an HEA or a firm conclusion. 

Former marine Atlas Kinkaid returned from his military service in Eastern Europe with scars both inside and out, the result of an attack on his unit from which he emerged the sole survivor.  He has PTSD and lingering health issues – sensory sensibilities and debilitating migranes which can affect his balance and vision – so finding work hasn’t been easy, but his half-sister Bea, the owner of the successful and rapidly growing Whitethorn security agency, has been able to offer him enough work to enable him to keep body and soul together.  Her biggest client is Decebal Vladislavic – the businessman  and investor who is almost single-handedly revitalising the small previously industrial town of Scarsdale, and who has business interests in pretty much everything in town, from medical facilities, to housing to entertainment.  Recently, Decebal has experienced “complications” with some of his business deals, and he wants an agent to provide security at home. He’s asked Bea to provide someone who is happy working night shifts – which is perfect for Atlas, who agrees to take the job.

Arrived at Decebal’s impressive home on the outskirts of town, Atlas is waiting to meet his new employer for the first time, and hears the unmistakable sound of an argument – not in English – coming from the office he’s waiting to enter.  The raised voices quickly stop and then a strikingly handsome young man emerges, muttering under his breath and clearly annoyed – until he notices he’s not alone and his whole demeanour changes.  Suddenly all effortless poise and charm, the rudeness with which he treats Atlas is clearly designed to make him re-think his desire to work there.   Atlas is, however, undaunted and refuses to be put off; and it’s just as well, because of course this man is to be his new charge – Cristian Slava, Decebal’s son and the heir to his business empire.

Rare Vigilance starts out as a regular-enough bodyguard romance in which the protectee is convinced they don’t need protecting and takes every opportunity to be rude and to give their minder the slip.  Cristian clearly expects Atlas to quit just as his other bodyguards have, but when Atlas proves himself to be surprisingly tenacious and impervious to Cristian’s attempts to drive him away, Cristian starts to gain a reluctant respect for him.  And as Cristian begins to accept Atlas isn’t going anywhere, Atlas gets intriguing glimpses of a different side of Cristian, seeing a quieter, more thoughtful and capable man behind the charming party-boy image – and starts to actually like him a little.

After a few weeks, they’ve reached a détente and have settled into a routine of sorts, but there’s a seismic shift in their relationship – and the direction taken by the story – when Atlas takes Cristian to what is supposed to be a business meeting, but which instead sees them being attacked by – well, I’ve seen other reviews mention it, but I’m not going to because it’s a neat plot twist the author has been carefully seeding all along – and if you’re been paying close attention you’ve probably figured it out by now anyway.

What follows is a gripping, tightly-plotted story in which a dangerous family feud threatens to explode into all-out war and Atlas comes face to face with his worst nightmare – which turns out not to be a nightmare at all, but something very real and utterly lethal.  Secrets, lies, betrayals of the worst kind, mysterious night time deliveries and unexplained animal-like attacks all combine to make Rare Vigilance a real page-turner, and I raced through it in a couple of sittings, unwilling to put it down.

While all this is going on, Atlas and Cristian are growing closer and the author does a really good job with their slow-burn romance.  They have terrific chemistry and there’s lots of lovely UST along the way as the attraction that sparks between them at their first meeting starts to grow into a bond that transcends their status as employer and employee, and Atlas’ competence and protectiveness slowly win Cristian’s trust.  I liked them both; even when Cristian is at his most brattish, there are hints that his brash, cocky persona is an act to prevent people getting close, and there are hidden vulnerabilities beneath Atlas’ stoic, take-no-crap exterior that soften his hard edges and make him rather endearing.  We don’t know much about either character right now, but I’m hoping that will change as the series progresses; what we do get is a good start and a pretty solid foundation in terms of their characterisation and relationship, and I’m eager to find out where things are going to go.

Having Atlas as the sole PoV character means that the reader finds things out at the same time he does, and that works really well here, especially in the early stages of the story were the author creates a real sense of edginess and of something being not quite as it seems. The only negative comments I can really make are that there’s one aspect of the world-building that could have used a bit more detail, and WTF is with that cover? but neither spoiled my enjoyment in any way, and I guess the world-building issue may be addressed in a future book.

Rare Vigilance is a terrific read and a superb start to this new series.  The cliffhanger ending has me chomping at the bit for more, and I’ll be pouncing on book two, Crooked Shadows as soon as it appears.

An Echo in the Sorrow (Soulbound #6) by Hailey Turner (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

an echo in the sorrow

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Forgiveness is a hollow prayer you only hear in your dreams.

Patrick Collins has spent years handling cases as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency, even as his secret standing in the preternatural world has changed. He should have confessed to his role as co-leader of the New York City god pack when he and Jonothon de Vere took up the mantle months ago, but he didn’t. Now, that split loyalty will cost him at a time when he can least afford it.

Outmaneuvered, framed for murder, and targeted by the Dominion Sect, Patrick has to face a past full of lies to regain his freedom. Revealing the truth means he’ll need to give up the life that has defined him. Everything he’s fought to build with his pack is at stake, and losing them isn’t a price Patrick is willing to pay, but some choices aren’t his to make.

Jono knows they can’t cede any more territory if they want to win the god pack civil war spilling into the streets of New York City. But the souls of werecreatures are free for the taking when demons come to town and angels sing a warning no one can ignore. When Jono’s worst fear comes to life, and he loses the one person he can’t live without, the only option left is to fight.

Facing down the demons of their past and the ones in their present, Patrick and Jono will learn the hard way that some sins never wash away clean.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – A-

Note: The Soulbound series features a number of overarching plotlines, so this book is unlikely to make much sense unless you’re familiar with at least some of the previous entries in the series. There are likely to be spoilers for those in this review.

Following their battle royale against a zombie army in Paris, An Echo in the Sorrow finds Patrick and Jono back in New York and facing danger much closer to home. There are two major plotlines running throughout the Soulbound series, one related to the growing tensions between the New York City god pack and the rival god pack led by Patrick and Jono, and the other to the ever-present threat posed by the Dominion Sect, a cult dedicated to destroying the veil between worlds and literally unleashing hell upon Earth.

An Echo in the Sorrow focuses on the first of those storylines as the corrupt New York City god pack led by Estelle Walker and Youssef Khan steps up its campaign to destroy Patrick and Jono and all the were-creature packs that have placed themselves under their protection. Estelle and Youssef don’t care what they have to do or who they have to kill in order to maintain control; Patrick and Jono suspect that they may have allowed demons into their souls, just as they discovered had happened in the London god pack, but even if they haven’t gone that far, they have certainly allied themselves with agents of evil, from the Krossed Knights, hunters of anything supernatural, to the Great Marquis of Hell – and possibly the Dominion Sect itself.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

On the Wings of War (Soulbound #5) by Hailey Turner (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Remembering the dead will always give them life.

The coveted Morrígan’s staff is up for sale on the black market to the highest bidder, and SOA Special Agent Patrick Collins will do whatever it takes to ensure the Dominion Sect doesn’t get their hands on it. Returning the weapon to its rightful owner is another step on the long road toward clearing Patrick’s soul debt, but he won’t walk it alone. Jonothon de Vere won’t let him.

Obeying the gods means Patrick must travel to London. For Jono, it means facing a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His return to England isn’t welcome, and neither is their pack, but Jono and Patrick will face the antagonism together. Politics aside, their priority must be the mission, but the bone-chilling secret they uncover in the London god pack will have far-reaching repercussions no one can ignore.

A race against time takes Patrick and Jono from the streets of London to the bright lights of Paris, where hospitality is thin on the ground, the air is filled with whispered prayers for the missing, and the Morrígan’s staff will end up in the one place it should never have gone – a graveyard.

For beneath Paris lie the long-forgotten dead, and when they rise to walk again, the living can only hope to die.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B+

Hailey Turner’s action-packed, inventive and compelling Soulbound series continues with On the Wings of War, which finds Patrick, Jono and their crew travelling across the Pond as they continue their quest to locate and obtain the Morrígan’s staff, an ancient artefact rumoured to be able to raise the dead and confer godhood on whoever possesses it. It’s another high-octane, rollercoaster ride of thrills and spills, with hardly a quiet moment for our heroes as they’re thrown from one life-or-death situation to the next.

As this book is part of a long-running series with overarching plotlines, it’s unlikely to make much sense unless you’re familiar with at least some of the previous books in the set. And there are likely to be spoilers for those in this review.

t’s become a race against time to prevent the Morrígan’s staff from falling into the hands of the Dominion Sect, a terrorist group bent on destroying the veil between the worlds so that hell and its denizens can reign on earth. Rumour has it that the staff is going to be put up for auction on the black market, and at the end of the previous book, Special Agent Patrick Collins was given an enchanted invitation, although at the time, there was no set time or location. Recently obtained intelligence indicates that the staff will be one of the lots at the Auction of Curiosities and Exceptional Items taking place shortly in London, and although Patrick can’t possibly attend as a potential buyer, he’s going to go to London to keep an eye on things and make sure things go as they should.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Vigil in the Mourning (Soulbound #4) by Hailey Turner (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon</a.

The devil you know is never the one you should trust.

Special Agent Patrick Collins is dispatched to Chicago, chasing a lead on the Morrigan’s staff for the joint task force. Needing a cover for his presence in the Windy City, Patrick is ordered to investigate a politician running for mayor. In the lead up to Election Day, not everything is what it seems in a city where playing to win means appeasing the gods first and the electorate second.

But Chicago brings its own set of problems outside the case: a standoffish local god pack, a missing immortal, and Patrick’s twin sister. Fighting Hannah and the Dominion Sect provides Patrick with a sinister reminder that some blood ties can never be cut.

Left behind in New York City, Jonothon de Vere finds himself targeted by hunters who will go through anyone to kill him – including the packs under his protection. With a bounty on his head, Jono is forced to make a choice that Patrick would never approve of. Doing so risks breaking the trust he’s built with the man he loves, but not acting will give the rival New York City god pack leverage Jono can’t afford to give up.

When Patrick and Jono reunite in Chicago, Patrick must confront the fraying of a relationship he’s come to rely on for his own sanity. But fixing their personal problems will have to wait – because Niflheim is clawing at the shores of Lake Michigan and the dead are hungry.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B+

Note: As this is a series where the books need to be listened to in order, there will be spoilers for previous instalments in this review.

Book four in Hailey Turner’s innovative Soulbound series picks up not long after A Crown of Iron and Silver left off. The whereabouts of the Morrígan’s staff is still unknown, and the leaders of the New York City god pack continue not only to neglect their responsibilities to those under their protection but in some cases to actively harm them, leading more and more of the city’s werecreatures to seek help from the rival pack founded by Jono de Vere and his partner Patrick Collins. A Vigil in the Mourning is a compelling addition to this inventive and unusual urban fantasy series, and it raises the stakes considerably for our heroes and their friends and allies. The potential for a showdown of epic proportions has been building throughout the series, and A Vigil in the Mourning brings it another step closer.

It’s a case of “same shit, different day” for Special Agent Patrick Collins of the Supernatural Operations Agency when he’s summoned to a meeting with the SOA director and is instead met by one of his closest friends, the seer Marek Taylor. Through Marek, the fates tell Patrick he must go to Chicago in order to save the life of the Allfather – Odin – and that the Æsir (the gods of the principal pantheon in Norse religion) will be waiting for him there. Which is just peachy. Because more gods dictating to him and interfering in his life is just what Patrick needs.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Three Fantasies by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews

three fantasies

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Note: The three novellas in this collection – two co-authored by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews, the third by Leta Blake, solo – have been previously published.

Rating: C+

Levity (previously published as Earthly Desires) and Flight (previously published as Love’s Nest) were originally part of a three part series of Gay Fairy Tales, and are, respectively, retellings and reworkings of The Light Princess, a Scottish fairy tale published in 1864, and the more well-known The Twelve Dancing Princesses, as published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.  The style of the storytelling in both works well to create the overall ‘feel’ of a fairy story, and there’s magic and true love and princes, princesses, fae and witches galore.  Oh, and lots more sex than is to be found in either of the originals!


Levity: A Gay Fairy Tale by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews (2012)

Cursed as an infant with a lack of physical and emotional gravity, Prince Efrosin can’t keep his feet on the ground or his head out of the clouds. Laughing his way through life, he’s never been weighed down by love and lust. When his tenuous tie to the earth is severed, he blows away on the wind. Rescued by Dmitri, an equally cursed woodsman, the two men are irresistibly drawn together. But Efrosin and Dmitri must fight free of their curses in order to find their fairy tale ending and live happily ever after.

Rating: C+

Prince Efrosin is cursed to a life devoid of physical or emotional gravity.  Always tethered, lest he float away and become lost forever, he floats – literally – through life without a care in the world, unable to experience any of the weighty emotions, or even to understand them, which often leads to his responding to such things in a completely inappropriate manner.  The only place he’s different is in the water, where his late mother’s magical gift prevents him from floating away and enables him to experience emotions more normally.

Carried away by the wind one day, he’s rescued from a tree by a handsome woodsman named Dmitri, who was cursed by a witch to be unable to ever leave the land in which he lives.  He’s bound to the earth and able only to imagine all the far off places he would love to see.  Thus Levity is the story of how the earth-bound woodsman and gravity-less prince find freedom and love.

It’s all quite silly – it’s a fairy tale! – but it’s entertaining and there’s plenty of hot sex if that’s what you’re here for (although the lubeless shagging on the riverbank… ouch?).  Like most fairy tales, there’s an evil witch putting a spanner in the works, a rescue to be performed and a sacrifice to be made before our heroes can reach their HEA, which – also like most fairy tales – is a sufficiently gruesome one (it put me in mind of Ashputtel’s sisters trying to get the slipper to fit!)  Levity is cute, sexy and imaginative, and, despite the title, not without some heavier themes.


Flight: A Gay Fairy Tale by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews (2013)

There’s no greater mystery in the kingdom than where Prince Mateo’s sisters disappear to each night. The king is determined to discover where they go and issues a challenge to all the nobles to help him learn their secret. Hoping to protect them, Mateo hides beneath a magic cloak and follows his sisters to an enchanted world of fairies and lusty delights.

Ópalo has waited years to finally meet his human lover. But while Mateo soon succumbs to the pleasures of the flesh, he refuses to surrender his heart so easily. As their worlds collide, Ópalo has to risk everything to win his man forever.

Rating: C

The longest of the three stories, Flight follows the storyline of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, although in this version, there are eleven princesses and one prince, who has not been included in the mysterious nightly excursions that ruin his sisters’ shoes!  When the King issues a decree that whoever can find out where his daughters are going at night can marry any of his children (including Mateo) Mateo is furious at the idea that he could be offered up as a reward and decides to find out what is going on himself.

Ópalo is the youngest of the twelve fae princes and princesses who await their human brides every night.  His bride has not so far arrived, but his patience is rewarded when, at last, Mateo appears.  For three days and nights (time works differently in fairy land!) Ópalo woos Mateo; unlike his brothers and sister, he warns Mateo not to eat anything while he’s there, as otherwise, he’ll be permanently bound to Ópalo.  Mateo is momentarily outraged at the thought that his sisters have been unwillingly enchanted, but Ópalo is quick to reassure him that they ate the fairy cakes they were offered completely of their own volition.  He knows Mateo is his fate, but wants him to want to be with him; and Mateo makes it clear early on that his heart and his love are his to give, and that he’s determined to make his own decision.

That was the most interesting aspect of the story, and it was kind of a double-edged sword.  I liked the emphasis that Mateo placed on making his own choices, but on the other, his refusal to admit that he and Ópalo are destined – and his insistence on not wanting to love anyone – caused Ópalo unnecessary hurt.  That didn’t stop them from having lots of energetic sex though 😉

There’s a dramatic denouement that sees Mateo forced to make a choice – but even then, he’s not all in with it – and the ending was something of an anticlimax; it just seemed to fizzle out and we never got to see Mateo actually commit.  Flight started well but got a bit repetitive around the middle and the ending was disappointing.


Angel Undone: An Urban Fantasy by Leta Blake (2016)

The Archangel Michael is tired. He fought wars and shoved his brother Lucifer out of heaven all before the Dark Ages rolled around. His role as protector of Israel now encompasses all of humanity, and while he performs his job perfectly, there’s little personal joy in it.

Until one night in a bar when he meets Asher.

Michael isn’t sure what it is about the vulnerable, self-deprecating Asher that calls to him, but something about his restrained depths, gentle smiles, and encyclopedic knowledge of flowers tugs at Michael in a way that can’t be denied. Too bad romance isn’t part of his mission.

Rating: B-

This story by Leta Blake isn’t a fairytale retelling; rather, it’s a modern fable – sort of.  The Archangel Michael is frequently sent to Earth to help or protect humans, and on the night this story opens, he’s been instructed to connect with Asher Rosenthal, a depressed, lonely forty-year-old man who has lost his job and been rejected by his family after coming out.  He’s drinking heavily on the verge of making a decision that could cost him his life; Michael steps in and engages him in conversation, and very soon and finds himself in the grip of an intense attraction, the like of which he hasn’t felt in centuries.  He’s done his job and saved Asher… but for Michael, one night isn’t enough and even though he knows he shouldn’t, he arranges to see Asher the next night. And the next.  Even though he fears his Father’s wrath and being cast out, Michael can’t give Asher up.

Most of this story deals with Michael’s conflicting thoughts and desires, and while Asher is sweet (and there’s plenty of angelic sexytimes!) he’s not especially well-developed.  I enjoyed the scenes between Michael and Lucifer, who Michael asks about what it’s like to truly fall (if this was a movie, he’d have all the best lines (!) and steal every scene he was in). Lucifer never passes up a chance to provoke Michael into rebellion against their Father, but even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy, he does listen to Michael and try to help him out.

Angel Undone ended up being my favourite of the three, and I would have given it a higher rating had it not been for the sudden time-jump near the end.  I’m not sure what the author was trying to achieve – a last minute bit of conflict, perhaps? But whatever it was, it felt off, and I knocked half a grade point off because of it.  I found the premise an interesting one and would have liked it to have been more thoroughly explored, together with more development in terms of the romance and the characterisation of Asher.


I’ve read and listened to several books by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews over the last year or so and they’re both firmly on my radar as authors whose work I enjoy and will always look for. But these novellas, while well-written and imaginative, didn’t quite hit the spot.  I enjoyed reading them, but they’re not stories I’m likely to revisit.