Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen – Review

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About Kiss of the Spindle

Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a death-like sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date–after a year, it becomes permanent. And the year is almost up.

In a desperate attempt to find Malette–the witch who cursed her–Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett’s private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she’s traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.

Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla’s death-like sleep becomes permanent.

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Review of Kiss of the Spindle

Doctor Isla Cooper is brilliant and determined. It is that determined bit that gets her onto a last minute flight to the Caribbean. Her methods are less than polite and Daniel Pickett’s initial impression is not favorable. However, after he divests her of all her weapons, he begins to feel a little respect/attraction to the good Doctor. And when he learns more about who she is and what she does, the esteem level raises even more. The initial meeting between Isla and Daniel does a tremendous job of setting the stage not only for the forthcoming romance, but also for the adventure and intrigue to follow.

Daniel is aiding three shifter passengers to help them to a better life. Unfortunately, another last minute passenger, the extremely disagreeble Nigel Crowe of the Predatory Shifter Regulations Committee, is going to test Daniel’s patience and his skill as an airship polite. Crowe’s presence on the ship was both annoying and entertaining. Unfortunately, as the journey progressed, Crowe avoided the other passengers, so there were fewer provocative conversations.

Bits of Isla’s background are related in the beginning, but you learn the most about her through her conversations, journal/list entries and her actions. There is much to this very interesting character to get to know. For example, Isla’s experience and skill with shifters will come in handy during the voyage as they face the coming full moon. Yes, there will be a full moon.

The publisher, Shadow Mountain, has a number of ‘Proper Romance’ novels. They are very PG, with some violence, but no horribly graphic violence. There is no intimate sex on the page and anything more is only hinted at. However, romance in Kiss of the Spindle was not lacking into intensity. I would describe it as ‘Proper’-ly complicated and captivating. The initial antagonistic relationship slowly warms to attraction and more, once Isla and Daniel work through all the other intrigue in their lives.

And there is intrigue. Plenty of it. Everybody seems to be hiding something, some more obvious (shifters) than others (Daniel, Isla, even Crowe). And the curse that has Isla dead to the world for 6 hours every night … Well, ending it will challenge everybody.

The fairy tale theme of Sleeping Beauty is secondary to the characters and the story. As I read, I really did not think of the fairy tale at all until near the end. Kiss of the Spindle is the second in Nancy Campbell Allen’s Steampunk Proper Romance series based on fairy tales. The first, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, is tied to Kiss of the Spindle by mention of characters and background history. But they are also completely standalone stories. I would recommend both of these books to anyone who enjoys steampunk romance.

Though Edelweiss, the publisher provided a copy of this book so that I could bring you this honest review.

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Tangled Dreams by Cecilia Dominic – Review

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About Tangled Dreams

When the walls between reality and the dream world crumble, sleeping with the lights on won’t save anyone from their nightmares.

Restaurant reviewer Audrey Aurora Sonoma’s life is like a steakhouse meal: utterly predictable, comfortable, and just exciting enough to satisfy her independent streak. But when odd characters from her dreams show up during daylight hours – were-bats and a vegetarian dragon, of all things! – the menu goes from familiar to fusion. When she learns the job she accepted in her dream is real, well… Who would have guessed the goddess Persephone exists? Finding her – and figuring out why the walls between reality and the Collective Unconscious are slipping – seem to be impossible tasks for a mere mortal.

Damien Lewis turned down promotions to keep his life orderly and predictable. He has enough challenge with real-life hassles like eating regular meals. And forget dating. But after encountering three naked, delirious Jane Does on consecutive nights, he suspects more than drugs are behind their appearances, and he soon becomes much more involved than he’d like.

As the walls between the Collective Unconscious and real world continue to erode, vampires, demons, and, of course, were-bats come through to prey on those who get in the way of the god who is masterminding it all with human help. Can Audrey and Damien face their biggest fears and work together to stop the waking world from being overrun by creatures that no human has dared to dream of? Or will their nightmares become real – and permanent – when the pathways open for good?

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Review of Tangled Dreams

The title of the book is perfect. The is a lot of dreaming and between the dreams and waking life, there is much that could use some untangling!

Tangled Dreams is the first in the Dream Weavers and Truth Seekers series to feature a romantic couple as the heroine and hero. Since I really like the romance aspect in most of my reading, this is very appealing.

The couple, Audrey and Damien, don’t know they are a couple for, well…. It will take them a while to really work that out. Which I like. Love at first sight doesn’t usually trip my trigger. But love after a lot of denial, constant adventure and some soul searching – that hits the spot.

In the meantime, Audrey and Damien have so much to keep them busy. Both are dreamers. Well, of course. That is what the series is about. But Audrey learns she is also a Dream Weaver. What does that mean to her? She can use her dreams to accomplish things, in the Collective Unconscious (CU) and in the real world. It will be an educational adventure for Audrey.

Damien seems to be unlucky enough to get caught up in the whole adventure. He doesn’t think much of this CU theory and believes some of the crazies he has found out on the street are just plain crazy. Not refugees from the CU. Damien is going to learn a whole lot in these pages too!

Someone is causing the walls between the CU and the real world to erode and this does not bode well for humanity. There is some evil masterminding going on and that person will use as many tricks as possible to accomplish the big plan. Including drugs. Which means there must be a drug supplier and and dealer. This is beginning so sound crime syndicate-like.

There are quite a few colorful characters, human, gods, vampires, demons, fairies, dwarves, and a few others I couldn’t readily identify. Lets just say, it is very strange nobody noticed them at Java Lemur, the coffee shop that is both a magical hot spot and the place where Audrey and Damien first glanced each other.

Aphrodite and Cupid are a couple of my favorite god-characters. Their roles are appropriately understated, unexpected and key to the story line.

Readers of the series will recognize Margaret of Cornwall (aunt of King Arthur) and Madame Lucia. Margaret had a staring role in Truth Seeker, but Lucia’s role has always been smaller. Personally, I really like Lucia. She is mysterious yet helpful. I really hope to see more of her in the future.

I’ve been reading this series from the beginning: the prequel (Perchance to Dream), book 1 (Truth Seeker), and now Tangled Dreams. The Dream Weavers and Truth Seekers series continues not only to expand, but also to evolve as a good series should. Consider leaving the real world behind and check out the Collective Unconscious in this series. Sweet Dreams!

The author provided a copy of her book so that I could bring you this honest review.

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Darik: A Badari Warriors Scifi Romance Novel (Sectors New Allies Series #4) By Veronica Scott – Guest Post with Excerpt

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Are you among the number of readers that has been enjoying Veronica Scott’s Badari Warriors Novels?  If so, you are in luck.  Today, Ms. Scott is back to introduce her latest addition to the series: Darik.  Welcome Veronica Scott!

Thank you so much for having me as a guest today! (And thanks for your support of scifi romance too…)

I’m having fun with my first ‘real’ series, the Badari Warriors, about genetically engineered soldiers of the far future and the human women who love them. It’s been interesting to write each book and keep the storyline fresh, plus advance the overall arc of the series itself but my Muse seems to be enjoying the challenge so far. And equally importantly, the feedback from readers has been so encouraging.

My hero this time, Darik, is really a self-confident guy, which is understandable since he’s 7’, with fangs and claws and muscles, and a lot of military training and experience. I mean, who or what is going to tangle with him? Well actually, as the story progresses, it turns out a Badari warrior doesn’t necessarily always have the upper hand. Darik is in for some rough times.

The heroine, Nicolle, is a tough human woman (because I really can’t write any other kind of leading lady – sorry not sorry) who doesn’t realize how strong she really is in her own way. She also has some unexpected attributes that help her and Darik as the action unfolds.

And then there’s MARL12. Readers of the series know that in book one, MARL a stranded alien Artificial Intelligence who was around 10,000 years old was discovered. Grateful for being rescued from his predicament, MARL decided to throw his lot in with the humans and Badari as they fight the alien scientists. Now in this book Darik has been ‘honored’ by being sent on a mission with the first ‘mini MARL’, to see how well they can work together. Problems of course ensue!

The blurb:

Nicolle James is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped by alien scientists to be the subject of horrifying experiments. Her only hope might be a mysterious soldier she’d glimpsed outside the laboratory fence. She’d managed to sneak a few words of conversation with him when her captors weren’t watching but now the aliens were taking her inside the lab to begin the experiments.

Darik, a warrior of the genetically engineered Badari pack, is on a solo recon mission to check out a mysterious new lab high in the mountains. His orders are strict – do not engage. But when he has a chance meeting with the woman who might be his mate, he vows not to abandon her, orders or no orders.

Can he get inside an underground lab, find Nicolle and rescue her without getting captured himself? And when he learns the lab’s deadly secrets, can he get word to his pack about the new dangers?

Because the ruthless alien scientist running the experiments wants to get her hands on him too and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

The excerpt: (MARL12 has refused to disrupt the force barrier around the zoolike outdoor area of the installation so Darik can rescue Nicolle, although he did drive away a huge predator threatening her. MARL12 gets the last word at the end.)

Darik took a step forward, halting abruptly as a harsh buzz emanated from the barrier, as if the power was building to repel or punish him. “I’ll do my best to get you out, I swear.”

Cringing as another wave of torment washed through her nervous system, Nicolle said, “That and a credit will buy me a cup of coffee, soldier boy. I don’t think Dr. Hidamarr is going to give us up easily. She said we wouldn’t ever leave her lab once we were taken inside.” Brushing tears off her cheeks, she stumbled into a clumsy run, heading for the prisoner shelter. Anger, fright, and regret battled for top spot in her roiled emotions. How could he stand idly by, knowing what he obviously did about the Khagrish, and leave her and the others to their awful fate? Darik sounded like a good guy, but his inaction left her livid. Even if the robot or whatever-it-was had authority over his actions, he’d indicated he could place a call to others for help. So why didn’t he? I wish I’d never met him. I wish he’d let the bearbeast kill me.

Darik watched her go, his own adrenaline and anger raging at his inability to help Nicolle. His heart pounded so hard it felt too big for his body and all the primitive battle instincts coded into his DNA urged him to fling himself at the barrier to get to her side. Letting her walk away from him while he stood and did nothing was like a Khagrish lash striking his exposed heart.

She’d obviously been angry and bitterly disappointed over his apparent refusal to help her. She must hate me right now. Even if he’d had time to explain matters more fully, her opinion probably wouldn’t have changed and the knowledge stung. Leaving others to suffer at the hands of the Khagrish ran totally counter to his deepest instincts. His self-revulsion applied doubly to failing Nicolle, for reasons not entirely clear to him. They’d barely exchanged a few words, he knew next to nothing about her. But I want to know everything.

The realization was unsettling and so unlike him that he drew a deep, shaky breath.

The Great Mother could not have been so cruel as to send him the woman who might be his mate under these dire circumstances, could she? But why else would he have this unreasoning, bone deep fury riding him?

He had to fight to keep his fangs and talons from deploying. There was no adversary for him to battle. He turned his head as MARL12 cautiously approached, its overall colors pale green and yellow. Darik bit his lip to avoid swearing at the AI or begging it to make a hole in the force field, enabling him to go after Nicolle. I never expected my ally to become an impediment. The primary MARL unit had willingly accompanied Jill Garrison and assisted her in freeing humans and Badari alike. So what was wrong with unit 12 causing it to constantly refuse to assist him in a rescue?

As he paced into the forest, sticking to the shadows, he pondered. Maybe the smaller units were equipped with a less agile intelligence pack, not as able to recalculate when conditions in the field took a radical change. Oh yes, his final report was going to be blistering, and he hoped he got to confront MARL’s main unit itself.

If MARL12’s recalcitrance cost him the chance to find his mate, then the AI wasn’t going to make it back to sanctuary valley.

But none of these iron hard resolutions would help Nicolle today. Giving up on her was not a choice he could bring himself to make. There was no way he was walking away from her but he had to be cagy if he was going to get MARL12 to do what he wanted.

“I’m going to retrace our path, maneuvering to where we can see the entrance to the lab,” he said casually after a few more minutes passed, and they were quite a distance from where he’d left Nicolle. “I want to observe while the humans are taken into custody, see if I can glean any useful intelligence about the staffing here. More data for our report home.”

“But we will not intervene.”

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About the Author

USA Today Best Selling Author

“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog

Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Find Veronica Scott at:

Blog: https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vscotttheauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronica-Scott/177217415659637?ref=hl