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BOOK REVIEW: 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover & Hex Appeal by Linda Wisdom


What better way to celebrate Hallowe’en than with a newly discovered paranormal romance author? Author Linda Wisdom introduced fiery witch Jasmine Tremaine this past spring in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and readers would be hard pressed not to fall for this kooky witch with her obsession with bath products, her rabid bunny slippers and her on-again, off-again (for 300 years) vampire boyfriend Nick.

Jazz and her sister witches were cast out of witch school for breaking the rules. Unable to stay out of trouble for long, the banishment has lasted over 700 years. Now living in Los Angeles, Jazz makes a living removing hexes and chauffeuring supernatural beings for her ghoulish boss Dweezil. Her sports car is haunted by Irma, a chain-smoking ghost, and her favourite bunny slippers Fluff and Puff have been banned from many establishments for destroying property.

In 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, private investigator Nick has returned to Los Angeles to investigate a number of vampire disappearances. Hired by his former employers (the vampire police force), Nick is determined to get help from his former lover Jazz. Unable to decide if she wants to kill or kiss him, Jazz is determined to steer clear of the sexy vampire. As evidence mounts that the serial killer is a foe from their past, Jazz is reluctantly drawn into the case (demanding payment in the form of a hefty deposit on her Starbucks card), and back into steamy encounters with Nick.

Hex Appeal picks up immediately after the close of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. Jazz has received a new pair of animated shoes, a pair of crocodile stilettos that consume her makeup and flirt with any nearby male. Jazz and Nick are happily exploring their burgeoning relationship when disturbing and violent nightmares threaten their future. Jazz is convinced Nick has bitten her and Nick is plagued by visions of Jazz as a suburban soccer mom. When Jazz suddenly becomes mortal, the two must figure out who has targeted them. Is their enemy trying to break them up or kill them?

My major complaint is the over use of Jazz’s trademark way of closing her spells “Because I said so, dammit.” Given the number of spells featured in the two books, the quirky version of “So Mote it be” quickly became irritating rather than interesting. Linda Wisdom’s books are great fun and if she adjusts the balance on Jasmine’s spells I believe this series will be a hit with readers.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover
ISBN10: 140221085X
ISBN13: 9781402210853

Mass Market Paperback
374 Pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: March 1, 2008

Hex Appeal
ISBN10: 1402214006
ISBN13: 978-1402214004

Mass Market Paperback
368 Pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: November 1, 2008


BOOK REVIEW: Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson


After a toe-curling kiss during the office Christmas Party, Katie Chandler seems to have finally caught her prince. That is, until her fairy godmother, Ethelinda, shows up to lend a hand. Her idea of help is to throw roadblocks in the path of true love in an effort to give Owen the chance to rescue his lady from certain peril. Katie is a modern girl and would rather save herself – thank you very much – and wants Ethelinda to get her wand out of her business so Owen has a chance to repeat the magical kiss.

However, the road to true love never did run smoothly, and Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc.’s arch-nemesis Idris is still up to no good. His girlfriend, Katie’s ex-best friend Ari, has escaped and it’s up to Katie and Owen to recapture Ari and Idris before they have the opportunity to wreak havoc on New York City. Add in a trip to meet Owen’s parents for Christmas, find the perfect outfit for New Year’s Eve, and keep New Yorker’s in the dark about the existence of magic, and Katie definitely has her hands full.

Damsel Under Stress, Shanna Swendson’s third novel in her series of “Fairy Tales for Modern Times,” commences immediately after the events Once Upon Stilettos. Katie, the magically-immune heroine, has barely had a chance to catch her breath and enjoy her budding relationship with Owen when, once again, chaos erupts all around her. Clever writing, indepth plot development and zany fun are what help Swendson’s novels stand out from the pack – and Damsel Under Stress is no exception. Each novel provides just enough hints to illustrate that each is a building block within a larger story arc.

While zany fun is definitely an important part of Swendson’s novels, readers may notice that she has toned things down a bit in Damsel Under Stress. Players who border on being caricatures in previous offerings are explored in more detail, most notably Owen’s friend Rod. Swendson stays true to the nature of her characters, even though they are in magical situations. The budding romance between Katie and Owen is handled respectfully and within the personalities she took the time to outlined re in the first two novels. Katie, a small town girl from Texas, longs for the relationship to develop but doesn’t throw herself at Owen, allowing him to take the lead. Owen, terminally shy and way too handsome for his own good, is at heart an old-fashioned guy and, even when Katie has to stay in his home for her own protection, a true gentleman.

The cover art and “fairy tale” elements may cause some critics and booksellers to dismiss Swendson’s work as just another part of the current paranormal craze. To do so would be a serious flaw – hidden within Damsel Under Stress are all the hallmarks of a stellar writer who has barely found her legs, let alone hit her stride.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0345492927
ISBN13: 9780345492920

Trade Paperback
320 Pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot by Stephanie Rowe


Becca Gibbs is tired of being Satan’s most infamous Rivka and the fun of thwarting his demands has begun to lose appeal. Inspired by her friend Teresa’s zest for life, Becca attempts to tie her life force to a goldfish hoping it will allow her to break free from Satan and still live. Unfortunately for Becca, her plan goes horribly awry when he shows up in the middle of the ritual. Now Satan’s commanded that she train Paige, her replacement, a wanna-be Rivka who seems to be channeling a ditzy cheerleader.

As if training her own assassin isn’t bad enough, Becca has to deal with Nick Rawlings, the sexy Markku who is demanding she help him save his sister from her kidnappers. Their price? The death of Satan – so unless Becca can find a way to break free first, she’ll be one dead Rivka. Luckily Nick is the last of the Markku, the only group of beings who broke free from Satan, so if she can convince him to tell her all he knows about how his ancestors did it, perhaps they can help each other – that is if they can keep their hands off each other long enough to figure out a plan!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot
, the third book in the Goblet of Eternal Youth series, begins shortly after the events in Must Love Dragons, although it can easily be read as a stand-alone volume. Stephanie Rowe writes zany paranormal romances full of delightfully kooky characters guaranteed to make readers laugh. Once again, Satan steals the show whenever he appears. He is the stereotypical, insecure macho man: “And please, come to dinner on Sunday night. We can converse about how powerful and virile I am, and you shall regale me with stories about all the people you met this week who idolize me.”

As events unfold however, readers will quickly discover that despite his bluster, Satan is very attached to Becca and this humanizing aspect makes him a more appealing character. The addition of Satan, Jr. and his conniving mother, provides additional fodder for Rowe’s comedic wit. He Loves Me begins slowly but the action quickly hits a breakneck pace.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.
Read an excerpt here.

ISBN10: 0446619019
ISBN13: 9780446619011

Mass Market Paperback
368 Pages
Publisher: Warner Forever
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn


Exhausted from the media frenzy that has surrounded her since she turned into a wolf on national television, Kitty has retreated to a cabin in an isolated section of San Isabel National Forest in Colorado. Her plan is to have some peace and write her memoirs. Kitty doesn’t expect a warm welcome from the local residents but at least they are tolerant of her presence. So when animal sacrifices begin arriving on her front porch as part of curse rituals and the police won’t do anything about it, she’s surprised and hurt.

Kitty figures life can’t get anymore complicated but fate has other plans. Sexy werewolf hunter Cormac Bennett shows up with her lawyer Ben O’Farrell who’s been infected by a werewolf. Ben wants Cormac to shoot him; however, Kitty hopes she can convince him that he can still have a great life. As if curses and the situation with Ben isn’t enough, a creature of pure evil is lurking in the woods and appears to be hunting Kitty.

Kitty Takes a Holiday is the third in the Kitty Norville series (at one point it was tentatively called Kitty and the Wolf Moon’s Curse). A lovably flawed heroine, Kitty is prey to all the common worries of the modern twenty-something. A new radio host has taken to the nighttime airwaves stealing Kitty’s format of a talk show about the supernatural. “Ariel, Priestess of the Night” gets under Kitty’s skin with each show, driving her to making taunting phone calls to her competition. Even though she is facing the serious fallout of her “outing” on national television, she still spends more time worrying about Ariel. Vaughn perfectly captures the small details to which every reader can relate.

Carrie Vaughn continues to exhibit strong writing in the Kitty Norville series. She has created a solid alternate reality to modern-day America with each novel adding depth to her world. Old religions and traditional beliefs are handled with dignity and while the beliefs may conflict with Kitty’s or be viewed as “backward” by officials, Vaughn doesn’t belittle them. This compassionate treatment of those with outsider status is only one thing which places Vaughn’s work firmly “above the bar.”

Although Kitty doesn’t do one of “The Midnight Hour” shows in Kitty Takes a Holiday, Vaughn continues the tradition of including a playlist. Once again she has plundered the vinyl archives to pull together an outstanding collection of lesser-known gems such as “Animal Farm” by Madness and “Surfin’ Cow” by The Dead Milkmen.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0446618748
ISBN13: 9780446618748

Mass Market Paperback
336 Pages
Publisher: Warner Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2007
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Luscious Craving by Cameron Dean


Sexy vampire killer cum security agent Candace Steele has her hands full at the Scheherazade casino. As the year draws to a close, the No-Limits Foundation Charity Poker Tournament is ramping up with the final game to occur on New Years Eve. When rumours of a con tied to the tournament become more persistent, Candace is assigned to determine just how involved the vampires are in the setup.

When Candace meets Michael, one of the players in the tournament, sparks fly and they quickly become involved. The last thing Candace wants is to become involved with someone; however when Ash reappears in her life, Michael seems to be exactly the distraction she needs. Unfortunately the information she uncovers on the con seems to suggest that Ash may be in danger. Now she is in a race against time to save the man she loves and her job.

In this second installment of her Candace Steele vampire killer series, Cameron Dean raises the bar she set in Passionate Thirst. What makes Luscious Craving so enjoyable is the additional insight it provides into Ash and Candace’s relationship. Dean provides Ash’s perspective on his relationship with Candace and the events of the fateful night in the elevator. By fleshing out Ash into a three dimensional character, Dean allows reader to feel empathy for him and understanding of his motivations. Readers will also understand the extent of challenges facing Ash and Candace, if they ever hope to have a real chance at happiness.

Cameron Dean intersperses this serious relationship development with details of Candace’s life in Las Vegas. It is through these small details, such as information on the type of barriers in front of the casinos or a group of vampires who style themselves as the reincarnation of the Rat Pack, that Dean brings to life the flamboyant nature of Las Vegas. Candace’s friend Bibi and campy mole Blanchard also help lighten the mood. Blanchard inevitably comes out with a line guaranteed to get a laugh, such as his description of Candace: “I swear to God, you have the fashion sense of a fruit fly.” However, it is exactly these types of flaws which make Candace such a lovable heroine.

Cameron Dean has established a solid foundation for future volume in this series. The development of Ash and Candace’s relationship will be fascinating to watch a lovable heroine.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0345492544
ISBN13: 9780345492548

Mass Market Paperback
328 Pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 2, 2006


BOOK REVIEW: Passionate Thirst by Cameron Dean


Candace Steele has a serious grudge against vampires. An undercover agent in a Las Vegas casino, her job is to provide the guests security against vampires. It’s a job she enjoys; seducing them and at the critical moment driving a stake through their hearts.

It all stems back to the love of her life, and the relationship that almost killed her. Ash, an incredibly sexy vampire, was the love of her life until the night a moment of passion almost lead to her death. Not only did the incident leave her scarred emotionally, she now senses vampires when they are near.

Her latest assignment is personal security for Temptation McCoy, the hot singer headlining at the casino. At the welcome party, Candace feels a cold, tingling sensation which means there is a vampire as part of the young diva’s entourage. To make matters worse, Ash is suddenly back in town and Candace finds she isn’t as resistant to him as she had hoped.

Cameron Dean’s debut novel Passionate Thirst is the first of her Candace Steel Vampire Killer trilogy. A number of publishers have started to publish new series “back-to-back” (one a month), presumably since readers are impatient for subsequent volumes and to take advantage of the voracious appetite readers of paranormal romances have for the genre. (Keri Arthur’s debut series, “Riley Jenson Guardian,” is also being published this way beginning in January 2007.) The other two installments in Dean’s trilogy, Luscious Craving and Eternal Hunger, were published in December and January respectively.

Candace Steel is a delightful heroine; she has a troubled fashion sense, she’s grumpy, she can kick serious vampire butt and she’s still in love with her ex – even though she has something special going with Detective Carl Hagen. Essentially she’s flawed yet lovable and readers will quickly be rooting for her to win.

Readers expecting steamy scenes á la Laurell K. Hamilton should look elsewhere. Passionate Thirst balances sex scenes with action and plot development, while never quite delivering as much “steam” as the cover suggests. Dean has provided an interesting introduction to her trilogy and it will be exciting to see how the series develops over the next two volumes.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0345492536
ISBN13: 9780345492531

Mass Market Paperback
301 Pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 31, 2006


BOOK REVIEW: Must Love Dragons by Stephanie Rowe


Booklist describes Stephanie Rowe’s paranormal romances as “blissfully bizarre” and this reviewer must concur. Not having read Date Me Baby, One More Time, I was unsure what to expect in the second volume of the Goblet of Eternal Youth Series, Must Love Dragons. The plot picks up at the end of Date Me Baby, One More Time and continues the development of the love affair between Theresa Nichols (dragon and interim Guardian of the Goblet) and Zeke Siccardi (ex-dragon-slayer turned PI).

Theresa Nichols, stuck in dragon form, is hungry and thoroughly bored. Quincy, who is supposed to look after Theresa and the shape-shifting Goblet she guards, has been rather lax in fulfilling his duties. Zeke, her cyber-sex buddy, is pushing really hard to get her to agree to finally meet him in person. But an eleven-foot dragon walking the streets of New York City is sure to cause chaos but hunger finally drives Theresa out of the apartment and straight into an attack on her life. Desperate to regain her human body, Theresa decides to sell her soul to Satan in return for a favour owing to Satan to be claimed at a time of his choosing. Of course, this decision can’t possibly be a good one and all out chaos ensues.

While the love affair between Theresa and Zeke is fiery and fascinating, the secondary characters in Must Love Dragons add to the blissfulness of the book and in many ways steal the show. The fountain of youth turns out to be a shape-shifting Goblet with attitude known as Desdemona’s Temptation, more commonly known as Mona. Satan is lovesick for Iris, a defrocked Guardian who spurns his attention while she is secretly more than a little in love with him herself. Becca, a hostile Rivka who is Satan’s right-hand woman, is exasperated by most of Theresa’s antics but is intrigued by her zest for life.

The third volume in Stephanie Rowe’s Goblet of Eternal Youth Series, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot, is scheduled to be published in May 2007 and will feature Becca as she tries to break free on her own, away from serving Satan.

Read an excerpt of Must Love Dragons here.

ISBN10: 0446617679
ISBN13: 9780446617673

Mass Market Paperback
384 Pages
Publisher: Warner Forever
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair


Victoria Cartwright, unlike her friends Melody Seabright (The Kitchen Witch) and Kira Fitzgerald (My Favorite Witch), is convinced she doesn’t have a magical bone in her body despite her supposed magical heritage. Upon the death of her beloved grandmother, Vickie receives a key with a cryptic tag “Unlock the wardrobe with the magic inside you and meet your destiny.” According to family legend, her ancestor Lili Lockhart left the key to her female descendants a century previously and only the daughter who inherited her magical gifts will be able to open the wardrobe and complete her spell. When she opens the wardrobe and finds a carousel unicorn, Vickie is flabbergasted.

Rory MacKenzie, hermit and carousel expert, immediately recognizes the carousel unicorn when it appears on an antiques television show. The unicorn was carved by his ancestor Drummond, for the Immortal Classic Zodiac Carousel, and its recovery is key to ending his family curse and the curse on the town of Caperglen, Scotland. Rory heads for Salem, Massachusetts intent on recovering his unicorn but is unprepared for the sparks that fly when he meets Vickie. Will Rory be able to end his family’s curse before succumbing to Vickie’s spell?

The third volume in Annette Blair’s ‘Accidental’ Witch trilogy picks up where My Favorite Witch left off. The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe focuses on Victoria Cartwright and her quest for a knight on a charger. Vickie and Rory make a wonderful pair and the witty dialogue the two fling at each other will have readers laughing out loud. The double entendres fly thick and fast throughout: “Some wooden chargers are specimens of piercing beauty and should be taken for at least one good…gallop…before a decision is made.”

Despite the disparaging view each holds of the other – Vickie is convinced that Rory is a “lack-wit shoddy-mannered Scot” and Rory believes Vickie to be “lady stubborn spitfire” – the heat between the two shimmers off the page. The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe is full of sexual tension but first and foremost it shows the power of love as these scarred individuals find healing.

Blair will continue to write about witches with her upcoming Triplet Witch Trilogy, focusing on Victoria Cartwright’s triplet half-sisters who provided a great deal of comedic appeal in The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The first book, Sex and the Psychic Witch is scheduled for release in August 2007.

Read an excerpt of The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe here.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0425213463
ISBN13: 9780425213469

Mass Market Paperback
304 Pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: December 5, 2006
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Just One Sip by Katie MacAlister, Jennifer Ashley & Minda Webber


Judging solely on the cover of this new paranormal romance anthology, Just One Sip should have been a summer release. All three stories are fun romps filled to the brim with sexy paranormals that, while satisfying, definitely leave you wanting more.

The best known of the three authors is Katie MacAlister. Her story, “Bring Out Your Dead,” fits into the world of her popular Dark Ones. Belle is a tattu (possessing two souls), a counselor for the Society for the Protection of Revenants (zombies) and is now being pursued by a demon lord. MacAlister has introduced some delightful new beings to her universe in this story and this reviewer hopes that Belle, Sally (Belle’s spirit guide) and the revenants, are featured in future works.

Minda Webber’s offering, “Lucy and the Crypt Casanova,” considers what happens when the scoop of your life, which can make your career, is being investigated by the vampire cop who broke your heart. With strongly drawn characters and an interesting setting, Webber’s story holds its own against the better-known authors. Her unique perspective and the crazy characters featured on Lucy’s talk show, help Webber’s playful voice shine.

Of the three stories, the pack leader by a slight margin is Jennifer Ashley’s “Viva Las Vampires.” Her premise is unique; a vampire-themed casino owned by a real vampire in a Las Vegas run by two vampire cartels. Ashley has taken the vampire stereotypes and turned many of them on their head, creating sunbathing vampires who walk around in the Nevada desert. As the lead story in the anthology, her unique perspective is the perfect one to set the tone for this fascinating collection.

New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister writes historical, contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romances (as Katie Maxwell), paranormal thrillers, and historical mysteries. Light My Fire, the next Aisling Grey romance, will be published on November 7, 2006 and Last of the Red-Hot Vampires, the next Dark Ones romance, will be published in May 2007.

Jennifer writes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance as Jennifer Ashley, historical mysteries under the pseudonym Ashley Gardner, and erotic paranormal romance as Allyson James. The Mad, Bad Duke, her next historical romance, will be published in December 2006.

Minda Webber’s first novel, The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein, won Best Historical Vampire Novel from the Romantic Times Book Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The third in the series, The Reinvented Miss Bluebeard, will be published in July 2007.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 050552659X
Publisher: Love Spell
Publication Date: October 3, 2006
Binding: Mass Market Paperback

Katie MacAlister’s Website:
Jennifer Ashley’s Website:
Minda Webber’s Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Light My Fire by Katie MacAlister


Light My Fire, the third novel in Katie MacAlister’s Aisling Grey, Guardian series, may just be her best yet. Aisling, demon lord, Guardian, and wyvern’s mate, has just moved to London to finally receive some much-needed training on the duties and powers of a Guardian. From almost the moment she arrives at her mentor Nora’s house, events just keep getting stranger.

Jim, her trusty demon sidekick, manages to eat the imp king, ensuring Aisling a spot on the imp kingdom’s most wanted list. Drake, the sexy wyvern Aisling can’t resist, has just shown up in London and, in addition to making her pulse race, he tells her that the red dragons have just declared war on them. Dmitri, Drake’s cousin, is challenging him for leadership of the sept and refuses to acknowledge Aisling as Drake’s mate. Then again, Aisling isn’t sure she wants to be Drake’s mate since he’s sure to break her heart for a third time.

Almost from the opening pages, Light My Fire moves at breakneck speed. Aisling exists in a swirling mass of utter chaos, with crazy things happening to her at almost every turn. In the Aisling Grey, Guardian series, MacAlister has given herself ample room to stretch her humour muscles – and she has proven she has a deft comedic touch.

MacAlister carefully balances this series between extremes: the comedy against the blazing passion of Aisling and Drake’s relationship; the exasperation most feel around Aisling against her own determination to gain experience as a Guardian; and the large cast of secondary characters and supplementary plot lines against the story of Aisling’s development into her place in the Otherworld. The result is, in this reviewer’s opinion, the strongest book yet in this fantastic series.

New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister writes historical, contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romances (as Katie Maxwell), paranormal thrillers, and historical mysteries. Last of the Red-Hot Vampires, the next Dark Ones romance, will be published in May 2007.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0451219821
Publisher: NAL Signet Eclipse
Publication Date: November 7, 2006
Binding: Mass Market Paperback

Author Website:
Dragon Sept Website:

Aisling Grey, Guardian Series:
1. You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
2. Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister
3. Light My Fire by Katie MacAlister


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