Monday, April 16, 2012

Unwrapping: A Review of WICKED ROAD TO HELL by Juliana Stone

When I opened this month's goodie box from Avon, I got so excited I literally danced around. Inside, along with other delights, was a print copy of Juliana Stone's upcoming release, WICKED ROAD TO HELL, Book One of the League of Guardian series. WICKED ROAD TO HELL hits the bookshelves and ereaders on April 24, 2012 but I am very glad to give you a little insight into this incredible world created by the wickedly incredible imagination of Juliana Stone.


With the legions of the underworld gathering and chaos close at hand, Sorcerer Declan O’Hara’s deadly skills will be tested. But nothing will sway him from his duty…

Rescued from eternal darkness, vampire Ana DeLacrux owes her life to a mysterious stranger who asks for only one thing—her absolute allegiance. She serves this master without question until Declan, the one man who can make her forget her vow, returns. His magic is stronger, darker…more compelling than ever. His blood awakens a hunger she must resist, or risk deadly consequences.

As Ana and Declan join forces, the streets of New Orleans become a dangerous place for both humans and the otherworld. And the most dangerous place of all is a road Declan’s traveled before…the wicked road to hell.

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For those of you who have read Juliana's Jaguar Warrior Series, you're already familiar with Declan O'Hara and Ana DeLacrux but those who haven't let me introduce you to them.

Declan O'Hara is a sorcerer who has seen his share of trouble. He runs in the company of Angels (Seraphim), Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Shifters (Jaguar Warriors) and other assorted otherworld creatures. Having spent too long in the depths of Hell, he's back and partnered with Nico, a Jaguar shifter (we met him in the Jaguar Warrior Series also). Declan and Nico have been given a mission by Askelon (a Seraph who insists everyone just call him Bill) to hunt down a person of interest but they've been told nothing more. Their search leads Declan to New Orleans, a city saturated with more magic than any one place deserves. Declan knows retrieving his prey may not be easy since he has learned there's a protector involved - a vampire. After recruiting the help of Ransome, an Alpha Werewolf, Declan zeroes in on the location of this stranger. The last thing he expects is to discover the vampire guarding his prey is a past associate who he had seen killed by his own father two years earlier. The vampire is the one person who could twist his heart in a million directions and leave him panting for more, Ana DeLacrux.

Ana DeLacrux died when Cormac O'Hara plunged a stake into her heart two years ago but Bill had other plans for her and so rescued her from the icy fingers of death. Now pledged to serve Bill, she's been placed in charge of a young teen named Kaden who wears a mark signifying him as one of the Mark of Seven. Her charge is incorrigible and powerful but a sweet kid who has never known a real family. Ana has come to care about him like the son she believes she'll never have since she's in love with a man she can never claim, Declan O'Hara. She's a vampire, he isn't. She's of a royal line, he's not a vampire. She can only mate with a vampire and Declan is not a vampire - yet!

Once Declan discovers what Kaden is, he decides to add his protection to Ana's and enlists Nico, Ransome and his pack of werewolves to join the cause. It's after they discover that the Demon Lord, Samael, has already taken two of the other Mark of Seven into the underworld that another Seraph, Cale, joins the cause. When Samael fails to make an aggressive move at taking Kaden, Declan with Cale's assistance meets with Samael and the Demon Lord makes Declan an offer he CANNOT afford to refuse.

Declan has no choice but to return to the last place he ever wants to see again - Hell. His old nemesis, Lilith, has stolen the two teens from Samael and is determined to gather the remaining Marks, including Kaden. Samael has agreed to give the teens over to the care of the League of Guardians which Declan has just learned exists. He discovers that Cale, Samael, and Bill are members of this group of natural enemies whose sole purpose is to keep the balance between Heaven and Hell. He's told that if the members of the Mark of Seven turn out to be good, so be it, but if they turn out to be dangerous to the world as they know it, the League will see them destroyed. Their greatest fear until that time is that either the Seraphim or the Demon Lords will obtain control of them at which time the fate of the Human world will certainly be at risk.

So Declan returns to Hell only to discover that Ana has followed. Now he's responsible for trying to get the two teens, himself and Ana back out of Hell in one piece. Samael gives him a special magick to mask his signature as a Human in Hell but Ana is unprotected even with her vampire strengths. The only solution is for her to feed on him and absorb some of that magick only she gets carried away because of her insatiable desire for him. With Declan on the verge of death she has no other choice, so against her better judgement for she knows the consequences of turning a Human, Ana turns the only man she's ever truly loved.

Declan has what he wants - Ana - but fears when she learns of his despicable past in Hell that she will not want him, vampire bond or no vampire bond. Ana is terrified that when Declan's turning is discovered by the Vampire Council that the Queen of the Vampires will have him destroyed. What will these lovers face in Hell? Will they succeed in rescuing the teens and manage to escape their dangerous journey into Hell? Even if they succeed and survive the depths of Hell, what does the future hold for them since they have broken the very rules that destroyed Ana's relationship with her own twin brother? Sorry, I'm not telling. I've probably given you more than I should but you're going to have to discover those answers on your own by reading WICKED ROAD TO HELL.

Even if you're not a fan of paranormal, Juliana Stone's writing has developed into an incredible force of which I feel everyone should experience. She's truly come into her own with this series and I expect great things to come. She writes with such depth and imagination that it's like watching an artist paint a portrait with an extensive pallet of colors and then have the portrait come to life. WICKED ROAD TO HELL is a journey into a world where the action is dark, gritty, and never-ending. The taste of the underworld that we were given a glimpse of in WRONG SIDE OF HELL is incredibly expanded and enlarged in such a way that you nearly smell the sulfur emanating from the pages.

I was worried that as a reader it would be absolutely necessary to have read at least some of the Jaguar Warrior series to grasp the complexity of the storyline in WICKED ROAD TO HELL but was happily surprised to find that it works excellently as a stand-alone novel. If you're a lover of all things paranormal or are new to it and wish to give it a try. If you love a dark, gritty, action-packed story, you're going to love this adventure into Hell. WICKED ROAD TO HELL by Juliana Stone is an incredibly well-written, expansively character driven, steamy paranormal romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. I highly recommend the wicked, sexually charged, and intense WICKED ROAD TO HELL by Juliana Stone to anyone who loves an action-packed, can't put down once you pick it up, kind of read. I'm eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series which I'm happy to say you get a taste of at the end of the book.

Happy Reading Everyone and please, come back on Wednesday when you'll get to meet the lady herself, Juliana Stone, plus have 5 chances to win in an awesome giveaway!!

WICKED ROAD TO HELL by Juliana Stone, published by Avon, release date - April 24, 2012 in both ebook and print format. Definitely a MUST READ!



The_Book_Queen said...

I really need to read Julianna's books! I've got them on my list, actually won one of her first books last week (anxious to get my hands on it and start!). This new series sounds great, too! :)

Great review, thanks for sharing.

TBQ's Book Palace

Beebs said...

I'm pretty much strictly a historical junkie but I do enjoy these covers. *g*

Amy Valentini said...

Beebs, you might just like Juliana's books ... great characters and the writing is excellent. You never know! : )

Amy Valentini said...

TBQ - her books are awesome. Which one did you win?

The_Book_Queen said...

Had to check first--His Darkest Salvation. :)


Amy Valentini said...

Oooh, that's last in the Jaquar Warrior Series and will give the best lead-in to this new series. You'll meet just about everybody in that book that you'll meet in this one. I think this new series is going to be awesome. I'm very excited about it. Enjoy HDS and then head on into the League of Guardian series. : )