Friday, January 18, 2013

Unwrapping: Reviews of FIRST DATES ARE HELL by Amanda Arista and BLOOD AND WATER by Kim Falconer, novellas from VAMPIRES GONE WILD

Monday and Wednesday, I reviewed the first two novellas in the anthology, VAMPIRES GONE WILD, an upcoming release from Avon Impulse. This anthology will be available to everyone in ebook formats on February 12, 2013 and I guarantee that if you love paranormal romance and especially vampires, you're going to love this anthology. There's not a bad one in the bunch. Today, due to time constraints and because I am only acquainted with one of the two remaining authors in the anthology, I'm going to review both of the remaining stories in one post. I hope you don't mind.

***eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest and unscripted review.

Blurb for book three in VAMPIRES GONE WILD -
FIRST DATES ARE HELL by Amanda Arista:

Valiance's first date in a hundred years is going great . . . until they're attacked in the parking lot and quiet, unassuming Esme turns out to be way more than she appears.

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Amanda Arista broke onto the paranormal scene with the Diaries of an Urban Panther series and hasn't come up for a breath since. Her heroine, Violet Jordan, is the star amidst many and proves she's still got it in Amanda's novella, FIRST DATES ARE HELL. I have followed this series since the first book, DIARIES OF AN URBAN PANTHER, and been a huge fan of Amanda's humor, snarkiness, and her excellent writing using first person - praise indeed from me who is always hesitant when I start reading first person point of view. I do have to admit that I have not read the third book in the series, NINE LIVES OF AN URBAN PANTHER, yet - but plan to whenever a hole in my reading list opens up. I absolutely loved book two, CLAWS AND EFFECT and so only expect equally great things from NINE LIVES. If you're a shifter fan, this series is a must read with Amanda's conjuring of different worlds that exist within our own, and alongside, in which all those stories about faeries, imps, werewolves, and such come to life.

FIRST DATES ARE HELL continues this realm but now Violet has stepped aside - slightly - and handed over the reins of the story to a vampire. Thomas Valmont, now known as Valiance, has not been on a date in a really, really long time - like a hundred years long! He's left his Clade or rather they left him behind in Dallas. On his own, and having teamed up with the Prima of Dallas, Violet Jordan, Val is trying to fit in. When Violet tells him to do something to relax, quilting perhaps or have some fun, go on a vacation, his thoughts go to a young woman he met while buying sheets. Violet suggests he seek her out and ask her on a date. Of course, Val thinks it's ridiculous and possibly dangerous since the girl is only human.

Esme has spent her life going unnoticed, unseen by everyone, and she believes it's because she's dull and unattractive. But when a tall Viking-looking man asks her out for coffee, she's caught by surprise. No one asks her out, no one even remembers her. Unsure if he'll even show up, Esme is delighted when he does. Suddenly, he decides they must leave the coffee shop - conveniently owned by Violet - and fearing this charming, handsome gentleman has decided the date was a mistake, she's almost glad to learn, instead, that he's a vampire. Now, Esme is in the midst of a battle. A battle where the bad guys (vampires from Val's Clade) can't see her, so she does what Val tell hers and leaves taking his cell phone with her. She calls Violet for help and turns to her grandmother for answers. It's then she discovers that all of those fairy tales she'd been told as a child are true and that she's not so human after all.

First dates are filled with enough angst, throw in attacking vampires and you've got the recipe for a date from hell but I love how Esme keeps thinking such things as her ever first date was officially the worst best date ever. Or as Val considered it when Violet asked him how his date was going - Maybe all first dates were like this, minus the kidnapping and bloodletting. Amanda Arista is skilled at bringing life to her characters and with FIRST DATES ARE HELL, she's turned the corner and used third person point of view so that we can experience this hellish first date from both Esme and Valiance's points of view.

If you haven't taken a walk on the shifter wild side with Amanda Arista before, FIRST DATES ARE HELL is an excellent way to venture into the world of Wanderers without risking too much. If you're already a fan of the Urban Panther series - you're going to really enjoy this novella.

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Blurb for book four in VAMPIRES GONE WILD -
BLOOD AND WATER by Kim Falconer

Beneath the waves of San Francisco Bay lives a vampire race that wants nothing to do with the "landers" except to feed on them. But when Stellan sets eyes on Angelina, everything changes.
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Although I'm not familiar with the works of Kim Falconer, this author is new to me but after reading this uniquely different and intriguing novella, I'm certainly going to be searching for more of her work to read. I don't know if this is part of a series or not, so I'm not going to go there but rather confine my thoughts to this wonderful fourth story in the anthology, VAMPIRES GONE WILD.

Stellan is a man of the sea - literally! He's Mar, meaning he's a merman but there's more to him than that. He's come to the surface in search of information regarding the building of a bridge across the bay but first he must stop Salila, and her hunting group, from overturning a ferry filled with dozens of humans, and the most gorgeous woman Stellan has ever seen.

Angelina Ralston is taking pictures of the shoreline for her father who is working with others to build a magnificent bridge that will finally allow crossing the bay by vehicle rather than ferry, saving time and lives, for the bay can be very unforgiving  -  especially when the fog rolls in. What Angelina doesn't know is that the Mar use the fog when hunting 'landers' on which they feed so that they might walk the earth leaving their watery world behind, for a spell.

BLOOD AND WATER by Kim Falconer is a magnificent combination of mermaid/merman myths and vampire myth. It also takes a factual event out of history and uses it as a means to an end for Teeren, the ruler of the Mar, to keep the humans from building a bridge that might destroy their underwater temples and world. It's a paranormal smörgåsbord and I delighted in every minute of it. We experience the ferry disaster and then Angelina's unknown rescue by a handsome stranger whom she only knows as Stellan Fletcher. We watch her as she fights her intense attraction to him even as she is engaged to be married to a stuffy man named Mason Blackwell. We learn the truth of what Stellan needs to walk the earth while Angelina sleeps and dreams.

In the end, we see the power these underwater dwellers can throw at the "landers" walking precariously on soil. I'm not going to say anything more because I don't want to give away any spoilers. You'll just have to read this one to experience its bold creativeness.

I sincerely hope you will read BLOOD AND WATER by Kim Falconer for this is one that I think many, even those who aren't into vampires, will thoroughly enjoy with its sci-fi fantasy paranormal theme. History buffs might get pretty excited about it, too!

In the end, after reviewing all four novellas comprising the anthology, VAMPIRES GONE WILD, I highly recommend this anthology to everyone who loves good stories, exciting themes, creative worlds, and intriguing characters that will make you laugh, make you cringe, make you cheer when they succeed, and make you reach for a tissue when you think things might fall apart. In the end, there are HEAs to be had, to be sought out, and to be worked toward with patience and possibly that second worst best date.

Happy Reading Everyone!

VAMPIRES GONE WILD, an anthology featuring novellas by Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista, and Kim Falconer, Avon Impulse, release date - February 12, 2013, in ebook formats.

                                                                  Vampires Gone Wild (Supernatural Underground) 

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