5 Stars, Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, Charlie Cochet, Ginn Hale, Jordan Castillo Price, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, Reviewed by Lisa, Rhys Ford, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy – Edited by Jordan Castillo Price

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Authors: Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, KJ Charles, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan L. Hawk, Charlie Cochet, Jordan Castillo Price, Andrea Speed, Lou Harper, Astrid Amara

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 509 Pages

At a Glance: With a lineup like this, how could this anthology have possibly gone amiss?

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

Dividers

Review: If you’ve looked at this lineup of authors and thought to yourself that there’s no possible way this anthology could fail…you’d be absolutely right. For fans of speculative fiction, Charmed and Dangerous is a collection of wild wonderment that’s been long overdue. This company of ten of the genre’s consummate storytellers dug into their depthless cache of talent to ensure each of these tales lived up to the challenge presented to them: to create new worlds, to introduce both new and familiar characters within the allotted word count, and to do so without sacrificing a single iota of detail, imagination, or compromising the quality of each tale.

Mission: Accomplished

For me to give you a thorough rundown of every story in this omnibus would take more words than I’m positive you’re willing to read from me, so I’m not going to try. There are enough adjectives of a superlative nature in the English language that I can heap on this collection, and upon the heads of its authors, which could, and does, apply to every story in Charmed and Dangerous. Magical and mysterious, clever and charming, witty and wonderful, each of these stories is filled with curses and hexes and creatures of the mythical and metaphysical sort, and, in turn, the authors have given their characters the outlet to explore each of their worlds: where the impossible is made reality, where these men form a bond against a backdrop of danger, action, suspense, humor, dark and deadly magicks, and are given second chances at love.

Nine of these ten tales share a more common thread in their magic, while Charlie Cochet’s The Soldati Prince (what I feel is the most romance-centric of the collection) is a heartfelt and touching shifter fantasy that adheres to the mate bond theme inherent to that sub-genre. A theme it does share with several other of the stories, however, is sacrifice in the name of love. And may have made me a little teary eyed before its end.

From Rhys Ford’s mayhem-laden, humorous and action packed turn at a sex-cursed statue in an Alt U San Francisco Chinatown (which could have come only from the delectably madcap and marvelous mind of this author); to the post-revolutionary dystopian brilliance that is the genius Ginn Hale’s story of betrayal and salvation, Jack Swift and the Black Dog; to the always marvelous KJ Charles’ foray into hex magic and treachery and the promise of a new love (plus, that first line hooked me!); to the hyper-imaginative Nicole Kimberling’s extra-appropriately titled Magically Delicious, and its Lewis Carroll/Midsummer Night’s Dream world filled with leprechauns, mermaid-flesh dealers, goblins, and a deadly pixie dust mystery; to the extraordinarily talented Jordan Castillo Price and my beloved Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks, and a ghost clown all wrapped up inside a misogynist meninist’s wet dream; to the eloquent and fabulous Jordan L. Hawk’s perfect The Thirteenth Hex, a story for which I’m already begging a sequel because these characters and this world are oozing with everything that makes reading a magic unto itself; to the flawless Lou Harper’s unparalleled and all-consuming mystery One Hex too Many–the story that kept me on the hook from start to finish in not only its imaginative world building but in my love of its detectives Mulligan, Fox and Leslie; to the never to be outdone Andrea Speed’s oddball-in-only-the-best-way, strange-things-are-afoot-at-the-Quik-Mart, Josh of the Damned world where anything goes, from vamps to werewolves to zombies to human-sized lizards to giant animate mustaches…well, you get the picture; to the excellent The Trouble With Hexes, Astrid Amara’s beautiful close to the anthology, a story that’s dark magic and pure emotion and encompasses what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice for the one you love—these stories, each and every one of them, deliver a reading experience that’s meant to be devoured and savored all at once.

Whether you’ve only read one of these authors before, or, like me, you’ve read all ten, Charmed and Dangerous is a spec fic lover’s Wonderland… Or whatever it is you call that place we go during those not-quite-aware-of-reality moments when we lose ourselves in a great book.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Charmed and Dangerous here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Standard
Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, Ginn Hale, Jordan Castillo Price, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, Rhys Ford

Cover Reveal: Charmed and Dangerous Edited by Jordan Castillo Price

charmed-announce-851

Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

charmed-cover-450

Releasing August 25, 2015, pre-order your copy now at Amazon

Dividers

THE LINEUP:

Rhys FordDim Sum Asylum

Ginn HaleSwift and the Black Dog

KJ CharlesA Queer Trade

Nicole KimberlingMagically Delicious

Jordan Castillo PriceEveryone’s Afraid of Clowns

Jordan L. HawkThe Thirteenth Hex

Charlie CochetThe Soldati Prince

Lou HarperOne Hex Too Many

Andrea SpeedJosh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom

Astrid AmaraThe Trouble With Hexes

Dividers

BLURBS:

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Stop for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

Dividers

TEASERS: 

We were just kids,” Jack muttered.

Shafts of afternoon light speared through the blinds, illuminating the hard angles of his lean face. He exhaled a cloud of pale blue smoke and ignored the glare of the well-dressed diners seated at other tables. In a moment a maitre’d would appear and smoothly suggest that he remove himself from the building.

Then, inevitably, David would intervene, flashing his ministry badge and pronouncing Jack’s full name a little too loudly, a little too officiously. A halting apology would be offered and followed by requests for autographs and photos. Behind it all Jack would hear the whispers.

That’s Jack Swift?

God, did you see his hand?

He looks like some ragman from the Bone Ledges.

I’ve heard he’s a queer.

Lifting his scarred hand, Jack drew the smoke down to ring his fingers. Let the surrounding diners see that the ragman in their midst was a wizard. They didn’t need to know which one. Any wizard was too much trouble for most decent folk.

-Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale

§§§§§

From his square jaw and beefy build down to his dirty blond fade haircut, everything about the guy screamed ex-hardcore military. He moved as if expecting a riot to break out on the upper loft, icy blue eyes scanning each of us, stopping only long enough to mark our presence before moving on to the next cop.

He found me first and then again, last. His gaze pierced through me, assessing and judging in a way that did not say cop. I wasn’t sure what was found wanting, my shaggy mane or my odd ommatidia-faceted pupils, but something made his nostrils flare. I definitely spotted the moment he saw my pupils’ copper-green sheen. His head jerked back a few millimeters and his chin jutted out.

If my new partner had a thing against fae or fae-bred, we were assuredly going to have a problem.

-Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford

§§§§§

“Mr. Kopecky?”

“Yes, that’s….” Dominic began as he lifted his gaze from the paper. Then his tongue tangled, and he forgot how to speak.

The man standing in front of his desk was…well, he’d never thought of a man as beautiful before, but it was the only word that came to mind now. The white of his shirt collar contrasted with rich, brown skin. Silky black locks brushed his shoulders, and wide lips shaped into a rather cheeky grin.

“…You?” the man prompted, when Dominic only stared.

God! He dropped his eyes quickly, willing his reaction under control. He couldn’t forget himself at work, in full view of everyone. As he glanced down, his eye snagged on the badge pinned to the man’s vest.

A familiar? Here?

-The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L Hawk 

Dividers

AUTHOR BIOS:

Astrid Amara
Astrid Amara lives in Bellingham, Washington. She’s a former Peace Corps Volunteer, an advocate for animal rights, and a bureaucrat by day. After work she can usually be found writing, riding horses, hiking, or else sleeping. Her novel The Archer’s Heart was a finalist for the 2008 Lambda Literary Award. http://www.astridamara.com

KJCharles
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.
http://www.kjcharleswriter.com

Charlie Cochet
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
http://www.charliecochet.com

Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist.

Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.

But mostly to the coffee maker.
http://www.rhysford.com

Ginn Hale
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her wife and three cats. She spends many of the rainy days tinkering with devices and words and can often be sighted herding other people’s dogs, bees and goats. Her novel Wicked Gentlemen won the Spectrum Award for Best Novel and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
http://www.ginnhale.com

Lou Harper
Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren’t romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.

Lou’s favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.

Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.
http://www.louharper.com

Jordan L Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.
http://www.jordanlhawk.com

Nicole Kimberling
Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.
http://www.nicolekimberling.com

Jordan Castillo Price
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.
http://www.jordancastilloprice.com

Andrea Speed
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!
http://www.andreaspeed.com

Standard
5 Stars, Andrea Speed, DSP Publications, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Release Day Review: Infected: Paris by Andrea Speed

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Infected: Paris

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 120 Pages

At a Glance: This book is nothing less than a gift to the series’ faithful readers.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Roan is working a frustrating stalker case, with no shortage of suspects and little solid evidence, when he comes across a startling eyewitness living in his car across the street from the scene. A tiger-strain infected, the only one Roan’s ever met, Paris Lehane is a former Canadian golden boy who suffered a breakdown after becoming infected in college.

While Roan’s ex, Diego “Dee” Cole, warns against falling for the infected Paris, a man doomed to die, Roan struggles with his attraction and the knowledge that no happily ever after is possible for them.

But is the knowledge enough to discourage him from following his heart? Roan helps Paris out of homelessness, and maybe a special hospital can help Paris with the infection, but Roan’s got his hands full with this case, and there’s no end in sight.

Dividers

Review: If you’re a fan of this series and have been following it from Book One, you’ve been waiting for Infected: Paris a long damn time. If you have yet to begin reading the Infected series, then consider yourself lucky because you get to start where it all began. And I have to say I almost envy you getting to experiences these books where it started for Roan McKichan and Paris Lehane. Almost…because this book is nothing less than a gift to the series’ faithful readers.

In a present day Seattle where werecats and humans grudgingly and not always peacefully co-exist, Roan, the ex-cop, now private investigator, is working a case involving the harassment of a woman who’s hired him to try and figure out who’s tormenting her. Andrea Speed has built this world around not only Roan’s investigative prowess but around the deadly virus that is nothing like the romanticized concept of shifters found in so much speculative fiction. The humans who’re infected with the werecat virus lose all trace of humanity in cat form. It isn’t always pretty, but it is always a rush to witness as a part of Roan’s evolution. What has happened as a complement to the mystery and Urban Fantasy of the world of the infected is that Speed has introduced a cast of characters for Roan to play off of who reveal him as a smartass, a non-conformist, a loyal friend and the guy you most want to have your back in a fight. And, perhaps most importantly, he is a survivor. Roan is nothing if not an anarchist of the law of probability that says he should be dead by now.

While these books are not romances in what some would consider the strictest definition of the M/M genre, make no mistake the relationship Roan and Paris built is nothing less than romantic simply because of its foreordained path, one that Andrea Speed adheres to without apology and without diverting from her own canon. In this book, though, rather than in hindsight, we get to see firsthand how Roan and Paris met, what brought them together and how Roan really stood no chance whatsoever against Paris’s infinite charms. And, for those of us who know of the life and home they built together, Infected: Paris is a poignant prologue to two men who found a home in each other in spite of the odds against them. It is a reminder of how much they truly love each other and how much they were willing to endure. And how, in the world Speed has created, you live fully or die trying because in this world, today may be all there is.

Before the heavy drugs, the debilitating headaches, before the virus child evolved into the hybrid he is today; before Holden and Dylan and the hockey team who has adopted Roan as friend and brother, there was a genesis to this world, and this is it. The guy who is a cynic about everything but loving and committing to one man begins here. For fans, it’s a 120 page love letter that comes down to the final page, final paragraph… and then we are reminded of what lies ahead.

And yes, I cried, so thanks for that again, Andrea Speed.






You can buy Infected: Paris here:

DSP Publications

DSP Publications

Standard
Andrea Speed, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications and Carole Cummings Present: Genre Talk With Andrea Speed – Infected: Paris

DSP Publications

Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and DSP Publications Author Andrea Speed

It’s Wednesday, which means Lisa has once again allowed us to invade TNA. This time, we’re coming on like a virus with the woman who’s made the word “infected” into something gripping in the best sense of the word. The fabulous Andrea Speed is here today to talk about her DSP Publications upcoming (February 24th) release Infected: Paris!

Divider

infected-parisIn a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Roan is working a frustrating stalker case, with no shortage of suspects and little solid evidence, when he comes across a startling eyewitness living in his car across the street from the scene. A tiger-strain infected, the only one Roan’s ever met, Paris Lehane is a former Canadian golden boy who suffered a breakdown after becoming infected in college.

While Roan’s ex, Diego “Dee” Cole, warns against falling for the infected Paris, a man doomed to die, Roan struggles with his attraction and the knowledge that no happily ever after is possible for them.

But is the knowledge enough to discourage him from following his heart? Roan helps Paris out of homelessness, and maybe a special hospital can help Paris with the infection, but Roan’s got his hands full with this case, and there’s no end in sight.

You’ll find buy links at the end of the post, so sit back and let yourself succumb to this most virulent strain. (See what I did there? *nudge nudge*)

Divider

Carole: The book sounds like a great addition to an already well-loved series, Andrea. For those who haven’t tried it yet, tell us about the genre of this latest.

Andrea: You know, I have a hard time picking a genre for this book. I would guess it’s mystery, with a hint of science-fiction and horror. And I love all these genres! Murder mysteries are just fun to read, at least for me. Same with science fiction and horror. In fact, I will beat the drum for all genre writing over “mainstream” or “literary” writing, for the simple fact that the holds are not barred in most genre writing. Almost anything can happen, and I think that’s amazing. Also, you can talk about contemporary or constant issues, but in coded ways, and it often makes it easier to take for the audience. Nobody wants to be lectured at. But dress it up as, say, an orphan wizard learning his place in the world, and you have something that tastes great, and yet never seems preachy.

Carole: So, why M/M?

Andrea: Why not?

Carole: I know, right?! Okay, so let’s get to the meat of things—tell us about Infected: Paris.

Andrea: This isn’t your typical shapeshifter book. The virus in this story – and there are different strains of cat (cougar, leopard, tiger, panther, lion) – is terrible. You are not consciously aware when you’re a cat, and it hurts. In fact, it ends up killing you, and if you’re really unlucky, you may kill other people as well on your way there. Being infected makes you a pariah. Society is learning to deal with this new thing, and while it has to some degree, it still has a long way to go. Except for the cult that worships the virus as divine, but that’s still not ideal.

And the virus is the only fantastical element of this story. So if you’re expecting vampires or some other urban fantasy stuff, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not. I try and treat the virus as realistically as possible within the context of the story.

Carole: Infected: Paris is being published through DS PPublications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for non-romance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Infected: Paris and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Andrea: While the relationship between Roan and Paris is very much the bedrock of Roan’s humanity and continuing sanity, it’s not really front and center. It’s the spine of the book, but not the meat. That’s devoted to establishing the characters, the world they live in, and the mystery. So while it’s clear they love and depend on each other, there just isn’t any on page sex.

I kind of thought it was odd that Infected: Prey was originally published by a romance publisher, because it isn’t really. It’s an alternate universe mystery, where the relationship is important, but it’s not the most important thing going on. In a way, this is my homage to the hard boiled mysteries of Raymond Chandler (but gay) and the gay mysteries of Joseph Hansen. Although I doubt I belong in their company. But it’s something to aspire to.

Carole: Oh, I think you’re doing just fine. ;) Now tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Infected: Paris?

Andrea: Well, I first started thinking about this story after reading an article about gene therapy. I thought it would lead to interesting complications if someone decided to use a live virus for the hell of it, or to prove a theory, or build a better person. First I thought of werewolves, but I didn’t want to write about them, so I changed it to werecats. Then I wrote the novel, wasn’t happy with it, and set it aside for a year or two. I eventually figured out the story didn’t work because I had the wrong character in the lead. So I rewrote it, and this time Roan showed up, and that was that. I wrote out the plot before I had the character. I’m just lucky he showed up when he did.

Carole: As are your fans, no doubt. So with all that in mind, why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Andrea: Roan is an outsider in many respects. He’s an orphan turned foster child, turned medical pariah, as most virus children – kids born infected with the cat virus – are too damaged to survive or function successfully for long. But Roan was a one in a million, because he was born not physically or mentally deformed, but then no one knew what to do with him. He wasn’t like other virus children, but he wasn’t a normal child either. He had no known family, and the medical establishment wasn’t sure what to do with him. He grew up in hospitals as well as the few foster homes willing to take him (there weren’t many of those), and he was treated like medical waste with a short shelf life. When the character occurred to me, I knew he was gay right away, because of course he would be. His life has been defined by narrow odds, and I have a hard time imagining him being in any kind of majority group. He’s very punk rock, and he learned early on to revel in his misfit role, and of course there’s something in him that just loves to fight. Roan just wouldn’t be Roan if he were straight, or even bi. That would be a different character entirely.

But I also knew that having a human connection was very important for him, beyond even that of your average person. Roan has always longed for a permanent home, but not one made of bricks and mortar. Home to him is a person, someone he could love and trust, someone who wouldn’t let him down as so many people and things have done in his life. So he would have a relationship, and a pretty solid one at that, especially if he found someone he could trust. And Paris is definitely a man he can trust, a man who helps keep him emotionally grounded. Roan is very much a character who needs someone else in his life. Because his fighter impulse could spin out of control if he didn’t have a solid reason to hold it back.

Carole: Sounds great, Andrea, and I know fans of the Infected series are looking forward to this latest addition. One last question before we go. If you could give out only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Andrea: Be yourself. Which is a bland, blah sentiment, but I goddamn mean it. If you want to be a writer, painter, cartoonist, professional knitter or curler, go for it. What’s holding you back? You’ll be ridiculed/you’re not good/there’s no way you’ll make enough money at it … so what? You shouldn’t let that hold you back. Nor should the “everything’s been done” thing either. So what? It hasn’t been done by you – that alone makes it different. Life is very short, and you can’t keep wishing you would do something while putting it off for one reason or another. To hell with that. If you have a passion, pursue it before it’s too late. Do it now!

Carole: Excellent advice, Andrea. I hope all those creative souls out there take it to heart. Thanks so much for being with us today, and best of luck on your upcoming release!

Divider

Author BioAndrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men.

Viva la revolution!

Preorder Infected: Paris HERE.

You can follow Andrea Speed via her website or on Tumblr or 8Tracks.

Divider

Be sure to stay tuned for the March edition of Carole Cummings’ Genre Talk with DSPP author A.J. Marcus.

Standard
5 Stars, Andrea Speed, DSP Publications, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Infected: Epitaph by Andrea Speed

Title: Infected: Epitaph

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 323 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective solving crimes involving other infecteds. Continue reading

Standard
Andrea Speed, Dinner and a Book With Piper and Poppy, Jordan Castillo Price, Piper Vaughn, Poppy Dennison, RJ Scott

Dinner and a Book With Piper and Poppy: The Halloween Edition

tumblr_static_bhbsb4xy1l44gwgcg00gsoksw

Hello, lovely readers. Happy Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or Happy Samhain, if you celebrate! Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. I (Piper) love watching horror movies, seeing all the decorations, visiting haunted houses, taking my son trick-or-treating. Maybe this is in part because Fall is also my favorite season. Changing leaves, hoodie weather, an abundance of honeycrisp apples in stores. This is my happy time. :D

In addition to watching horror flicks to get in the mood, I also like to indulge in rereading my favorite horror or paranormal books this time of year, so Poppy and I thought it would be cool to share some of our favorite books in m/m featuring things that go bump in the night (aside from the heroes ;) ). Continue reading

Standard
4 Stars, Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lynn, Short Story

Review: DMZ by Andrea Speed

Title: DMZ

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Carlo Langlois joined the diplomatic corps to help people, but when his helicopter is shot down in a war torn country, he’s the one who needs assistance. None other than his old secret crush from university, Ky Kinnaird, turns up. Ky may have been an athlete and still has the rugged build to prove it, but he now works undercover for MI-6, in charge of the extraction. If Ky can keep Carlo safe, an old attraction might have the chance to blossom into more. Continue reading

Standard
5 Stars, Abigail Roux, Andrea Speed, Anne Tenino, Anthology, Comedy, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Riptide Publishing

Review: My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales Anthology

Title: My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales

Authors: Abigail Roux, Andrea Speed, and Anne Tenino

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 340 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: A collection of not-so-chilling tales of love and laughter from three of the genre’s masters of pulp.

In The Bone Orchard by Abigail Roux – Pinkerton investigator Ezra Johns and US Marshal Ambrose Shaw have a lot to learn about life—and the afterlife—in their quest to bring a vicious murderer to justice. Fortunately, they’ve got all the time in the world to figure it out. Continue reading

Standard
3 Stars, Andrea Speed, Comedy, Reviewed by Rena, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Andrea Speed’s “City of Monsters” Is A Fun Paranormal Romp

Title: City of Monsters

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 72 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Hunter is a human turned animal shifter in Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. All sorts of beasts reside here, unable to return to Earth, yet still plagued by the same jealousies, rivalries, and needs of any human. Resolving them is Hunter’s job. Continue reading

Standard
Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press

Are You Ready For Your Daily Dose Of Thunderballs?

So they were both crushing on each other, and yet, both were afraid of venturing into dangerous territory. – Andrea Speed

Luke Diaz has his friend Marc and an herbal drug laced health shake to blame for his sudden, and now soberly inexplicable, urge to sign up for an adult dodgeball league. He’s baffled, sure, but now that he’s done it, it’s more curiosity than anything that draws him to the high school gymnasium to check out what kind of people actually take the sport, if that’s even the right word for it, seriously enough to try out for a chance at one of the four vacant spots on the Seattle Thunderballs’ team roster.

It’s all a bit of a weird experience for Luke, and he’s sort of tempted to write it off as a momentary lapse of sanity…until the team’s captain saunters his way across the gym floor, blowing his whistle and clutching that red rubber ball. Oh yeah, Shane Kinrade catches Luke’s attention and suddenly dodgeball doesn’t seem so weird after all. In fact, Shane makes Luke want to try really hard to earn one of those coveted spots on the team, and now it’s not a matter of blaming Marc and that herbal shake for the urge to dodge some balls as much as it is thanking them both for the eyeful of pretty that is the sexy captain. The problem is, Luke has no idea if Shane is gay.

Thunderballs is Andrea Speed’s contribution to Dreamspinner Press’ Daily Dose collection, and if you’ve ever seen the movie Dodgeball, you can probably imagine what was going through my head when I snatched this one up to read. But let me assure you, Thunderballs is much less goofy than the movie (nary a wrench to the face to be found), and Luke and Shane and their winks and smiles were fun to watch as they finally got about the business of getting their flirt on.

You can buy Thunderballs here:

Standard
Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press

Get Swept Away By Andrea Speed’s Infected: Undertow

If you’re reading this… Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is. ― Chad Sugg, “Monsters Under Your Head”

There are so many things that scare me about the “Infected” series. Not the beasties that could eat my face off. No, that’d be too simple. What I’m really terrified of is that Andrea Speed doesn’t fear me enough not to do things that have the potential to make me weep openly. Hey, she’s done it before and could very well do it again, considering that my love for this bizarre little corner of her world is only mildly insane and entirely obsessive.

Roan’s morphing. Again. But you all knew that already if you’ve been following along on this bizarre Rorschach test of a journey that I look at head-on and think, I should really know what that is, but the image is just this side of, “huh?” And I can’t grasp it. Maybe if I squinted and tilted my head a little to the right I’d understand what the lion is doing to Roan. Or, maybe it’s a matter of what Roan’s doing to the lion. I don’t know, but one thing I do know for sure is this is getting good. I also know another thing: the general public, the extremists, and even some of Roan’s own are still bent on punishing him, or deifying him, for his nature.

And then there’s Holden. You remember him; the guy who never met a social more he wasn’t willing to break, or annihilate, until it weeps under the heel of his derision. Holden, the unflappable man-whore who isn’t above a little lying and cheating and doing whatever he has to do to get results…isn’t quite so unflappable anymore now, is he? Because he’s finally met someone, someone who isn’t Roan, who’s willing to take Holden at face value and doesn’t ask anything more of him than to just be himself, which isn’t always easy for Holden, because who he is morphs according to the circumstances and situation. When Holden let’s anyone see the real him, the him behind all the external trappings and affectations, you can believe that person is someone Holden trusts, regardless of whether he’s willing to admit what it could potentially mean. And he’s morphing again, it would seem. Maybe that’s why he and Roan get along so well; they’re both in a state of constant evolution and are just cynical enough of the world and all who inhabit it that it doesn’t matter whether they go out with a bang or a whimper as long as they’re going out on their own terms and are flipping off the bulk of humanity as they go.

Roan, Holden, Dylan, Scott, Grey, and most of the other usual suspects are back in Infected: Undertow, and you know Roan and Holden are throwing around loads of the general wiseassery they’re so good at. But they’ve got a few cases to solve too, which isn’t unexpected considering how good they are at what they do, even when there are seemingly no clues to follow, and the stench of failure clings like a miasma that almost foils even Roan’s super-senses.

There are so many downfalls inherent in loving a man like Roan, but Dylan appears up to the challenge of nurturing his husband along until he finally believes he’s got something, or someone, a lot of someones, actually, to live for. Let’s hope the lion agrees and deigns to allow him a little more life in his years and a lot more years in his life. Roan is not allowed to simply go gentle into that good night. Why? Because even if Roan ever gets only a small slice of normal in this world, at least it’s a slice worth living and fighting for.

I’d say Andrea Speed dialed Infected: Undertow up to eleven, but that’s so passé these days. So, I’ll give it a twelve. Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It is. Honestly, I can’t decide what I’d base my recommendation of this book on, because there are layers to it that keep peeling away as we get closer and closer to the end. The mysteries; the transmogrification of our badass virus child; the pain and conflict he endures not necessarily for being who and what he is but for who he loves and for all that they suffer on his behalf; maybe I’d recommend it for nothing more than the obscure cultural references and witty banter. I’d even recommend this book for Holden’s story alone, so let’s just say, all of the above.

You can buy Infected: Undertow here:

Standard
Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Andrea Speed, Anthony Paull, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Hayden Thorne, J.C. Lillis, Jamie Samms, Lorraine Ulrich, P.D. Singer, Rhys Ford, T.D. McKinney, Terry Wylis, The Year In Reviews

The Best of 2012 – Part Deux

How about some cover art, yeah? Right or wrong, I’m going to be the first to admit I have a hard time not judging a book by its cover. Sometimes a beautiful cover will make me pick up a book I might otherwise not have, and on the other side of that coin, I know I’ve passed on more than a few books that are probably quite good but I can’t get past the images that were chosen to represent the work inside. I’ve read books with covers that were better than the books themselves; I’ve read books that were infinitely better than the trappings they came in.

There are some really great covers I came across as I was compiling my “Best of 2012” list. Some of the best covers are from books that didn’t quite make my list (and maybe some of them should have :-/) but I think they deserved to be recognized here. They aren’t in any sort of order, some are plain some are more elaborate, all are ones I thought were pretty. :)

What do you think? What are some of your favorite covers from books you’ve read this year? Do you judge books by their covers too?

Arabesque by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek

Mechanical Magic by Lorraine Ulrich – Cover Art by Anne Cain




Desmond and Garrick Books 1 & 2 by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek




The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings – Cover Art by Anne Cain







The Rare Event by P.D. Singer – Cover Art by Anne Cain

Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed – Cover Art by Anne Cain




Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet – Cover Art by Charlie Cochet

Dark Soul: Volume One by Aleksandr Voinov – Cover Art by Jordan Taylor




Stained Glass by Jaime Samms – Cover Art by Paul Richmond

Outtakes of a Walking Mistake by Anthony Paull – Cover Art by Kyle Cross




Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Cover Art by Chloe Foglia, Mark Brabant & Sarah Jane Coleman

Dirty Secret by Rhys Ford – Cover Art by Reece Notley




The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux – Cover Art by Reece Dante

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis – Cover Art by Mindy Dunn and Andrea Sabaliauskas




The 7th of London by Beau Schemery – Cover Art by Beau Schemery

Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney & Terry Wylis – Cover Art by Trace Edward Zaber

Standard
Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Amelia C. Gormley, Amy Lane, Andrea Speed, Anyta Sunday, Astrid Amara, Ava March, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Cornelia Grey, Dani Alexander, Diana Copland, Eden Winters, Edmond Manning, Elyan Smith, Ethan Day, Ginn Hale, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, J.C. Lillis, J.H. Trumble, J.P. Barnaby, Jennifer Cierra, John Goode, John T. Fuller, Jordan Castillo Price, Josh Lanyon, Joshua Martino, Kaje Harper, L.B. Gregg, M.J. O'Shea, Maria McCann, Marshall Moore, Mary Calmes, Missy Welsh, Nicole Kimberling, P.D. Singer, Paul Alan Fahey, Piper Vaughn, Rhys Ford, S.A. Reid, The Year In Reviews, Violetta Vane, Z.A. Maxfield

2012 – A Year In Reviews

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of year when we all wonder where the days and weeks and months have gone, the time to reflect on some of the great books we’ve read throughout the year, the time of year I scratch my head and wonder if I’ll ever live long enough to read all the books I want to read (The answer? Pfft. No.), the time of year I wonder how the flip I manage to read as many books as I do in an entire year, and then wonder how I’m supposed to compile a list of favorites that doesn’t include more books than some people read in a year’s time. Top Ten? Piffles. I can barely pick the top ten in a single sub-genre, let along manage it for an across the board list. So, do I get a little creative in my selection methods? Probably. Is it honest? Definitely. Do I feel badly for leaving some amazing books off my list? Certainly. But I have to draw the line somewhere. ::sighs:: And for that I apologize to all the very deserving authors out there who should be recognized and celebrated for their brilliant work.

Quite a few of the books that made my list this year weren’t even published in 2012; that’s just when I finally got around to reading them. ::slow:: There is one book, however, that was published in 2012 that has managed to make me do something I’ve never been able to do in three years of putting together a year in reviews list: name a top pick for Best Book of the Year. Yep, that’s a first for me.

And since I’m always looking for the “next great read”, if there are books you’ve read this year that didn’t make my list, leave a comment and share so I can add it to my ginormous reading pile. :)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of Favorite Books of 2012:

Category One: Best Contemporary by a New To Me author

1. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
2. A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
3. Aaron by J.P. Barnaby

*Honorable Mention: Inertia and Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley*

Category Two: Best Contemporary by a Favorite Author
1. Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux
2. Sidecar by Amy Lane
3. Acrobat by Mary Calmes

*Honorable Mention: The Rare Event by P.D. Singer and One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea*

Category Three: Best Historical – 20th Century
1. Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov
2. Protection by S.A. Reid
3. Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet

*Honorable Mention: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

Category Four: Best Historical – 19th Century or earlier
1. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
2. When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller
3. The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

*Honorable Mention – His Client by Ava March

Category Five:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Contemporary)
1. End of the Innocence by John Goode
2. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
3. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

*Honorable Mention – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz*

Category Six:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Fantasy and/or Historical)
1. The 7th of London by Beau Schemery
2. The Winter Garden and Other Stories by Hayden Thorne
3. (In)visible by Anyta Sunday

Category Seven:Best AU/UF/Fantasy
1. Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed
2. Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price
3. A Token of Time by Ethan Day

*Honorable Mention: Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale & Astrid Amara*

Category EightBest Short Stories/Novelettes – All Sub-Genres
1. Clouds’ Illusions by Hayden Thorne
2. Bounty Hunter by Cornelia Grey
3. Zones by Elyan Smith
4. Portside by Elyan Smith
5. The War at the End of the World by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
6. Same Time Next Year by Eden Winters
7. Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters
8. Oscar’s Soul by Missy Welch
9. Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra
10. The View from 16 Podwale Street by Paul Alan Fahey

Category Nine: Best LGBT Non-Romance
1. Fontana by Joshua Martino
2. The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore

Category Ten: Best Series – AU/Fantasy
1. The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings
2. The Rifter Series by Ginn Hale
3. The Infected Series by Andrea Speed

Category Eleven:Best Series – Mystery/Suspense
1. The Cut & Run Series by Abigail Roux
2. The Cole McGinnis Mysteries Series by Rhys Ford
3. The Romano and Albright Series by L.B. Gregg

Category Twelve: Best Series – Erotic/Kink/BDSM
1. The Dark Soul Series by Aleksandr Voinov
2. The Bound Series by Ava March

Category Thirteen Best Series – Contemporary
Tied for First place: (Seriously, I can’t choose)
1. The St. Nacho’s Series by Z.A. Maxfield
1. The Johnnies Series by Amy Lane
1. The A Matter of Time Series by Mary Calmes
1. The Tales From Foster High Series by John Goode



And now….




Finally, it comes down to my choice for Best Book of 2012, which goes to the brilliant and beautiful King Perry by Edmond Manning. I can say, with all honesty, I’ve never read a book quite like it in my entire life. Simply put, it is the reason I read and read and read, because every so often I find a book that leaves me both speechless and wanting to shout its praises from the rooftops at the same time. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Soon. Like maybe right now, soon. :)


Now it’s time to get to work on adding to my list for next year!

Standard
Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press

Lesser Evils: Infected Book Six by Andrea Speed

Monsters are real … They live inside us, and sometimes they win. – Stephen King

Cliffhanger! The lemon juice to my paper cut. I kind of love them. Not paper cuts. Cliffhangers.

If you want Holden Krause to have his own book, please raise your hand. ::raises hand:: Okay, maybe it’s just me, and maybe I don’t even want him to have his own book because then he wouldn’t be Roan’s cynical, pragmatic, ultra-scary smart, ethically flexible, wickedly loyal, human/hybrid doppelganger anymore. Maybe I just want him to have more page time in the Infected series. Maybe I love him like Donald Trump loves his crispy-dried-comb-over. Yeah, I love Holden a lot.

And yes, Holden’s all human…in a matter of speaking. All human from the standpoint that he doesn’t transform into a big, scary cat every month, but there’s still something about him that’s evolved into a rather animalistic quality. He is utterly feral and adaptable to his environment, and will viciously defend his territory, and is dangerous when provoked. He’s also self-aware that he is two entities living in one body, and most everyone underestimates him and dismisses the fact that neither of him is someone you want to mess with. And Holden’s got Roan’s back, which is good for both the Lion and the Fox because it keeps them both human in an oddly connected sort of way, because Roan’s got Holden’s back too. And now there’s Scott Murray, of the Seattle Falcons Murrays, and where the hockey puck does he fit into Holden’s life? That’s a very fine question. Clearly neither of them is boyfriend material. Or are they? No. No? I’m watching and waiting…

Roan’s definitely not all Human, though. In fact, it’s looking like he’s becoming more lion with each passing day. He’s caught in the cross-species crosshairs of the cross he bears, and in this installment of the series, his burden just got a whole lot heavier, emotionally, physically, psychologically. The question now is not if he’s going to survive it (Andrea Speed couldn’t possibly be that mean!), but how he’s going to survive it. One thing appears certain; Dylan, as much as he is torn by his love for Roan and his own sense of self-preservation, will be there every step of the way. Yes? Yes. Gods, I hope so.

There was a lot going on in Lesser Evils, not only with the big cases Roan took on, cases that threatened the foundation of his special breed of people, but also in the health and welfare and wellbeing of my favorite biology-bending shifter. Damn, he’s got some enemies, both from within and without. But he has some amazing friends too. And while they all seem to have an opinion about Roan, no one has any answers about what to do for him or how to fix what’s drowning him in his own virus-laden gene pool. Maybe that’s for the next book. I’m watching and waiting…

If I had any niggles where this book is concerned, they are small and they would be this; there were times when I felt there were too many characters involved in the great Roan opine, and that, at times, bogged down the pacing of the story for me because everyone seems to be of the same opinion that the guy’s in some deep doo-doo. So yes, that got a bit repetitious, but that’s okay. I still love him, love that he loves so fiercely and so fiercely protects the people he loves. And I love that he has people who want to protect him right back.

Next.

You can buy Infected: Lesser Evils here:

Standard
5 Stars, Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press

Infected: Shift (Infected #5) by Andrea Speed

No. No, no, no. A book cannot just end like that.

Okay, apparently it can, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Okay, apparently that’s not true either, because I loved it, which I suppose means that I more than liked it. ::sigh:: I think I get too involved with the characters in the books I read, which may or may not be entirely normal. The jury’s still out.

Is it just me, or does this series keep getting better? Roan McKichan keeps getting more complex, even as what he is and how (or if) he’ll survive it becomes more questionable. The love of his life, even in death, is still so much a part of him that Paris emerges as Roan’s conscience/subconscious/the light in Roan’s shadows to force him to confront and decipher what he feels. Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but it helps to have a subliminal voice and conscious presence that aren’t afraid to swat you on the nose from time to time for your hubris and shortsightedness. Roan may find he needs that more and more as he evolves.

His boyfriend Dylan is so much a part of Roan that he keeps him tethered to what makes Roan human—his ability to love and the need to protect and to be connected to someone in a tangible way. The most difficult aspect of it to puzzle out at the moment is what does Roan want more: to die and be with Paris or to live and be with Dylan? Not only is Roan a hybrid of species, he’s also a hybrid of existence, balancing between life and death, conflicted by whether he’s a man with lionesque tendencies or a lion with human tendencies. The scales seem to be tipping toward the latter, but only time will tell if he will be able to find some symmetry between the two. Dylan and a growing circle of friends who have lain claim to Roan, a circle of friends who want to protect him in spite of how capable he is of protecting himself (maybe they’re protecting him from himself) may be the greatest equalizers. That is, if the noose that is Roan’s virus doesn’t yank the chair out from under him first.

Divided into two separate books, Shift and Bloodbath, the stories involve unrelated cases but are unified by the continuing storyline of Roan’s relationship with his Self, his virus, and with those who care so much whether he lives or dies. The contingent of those who’d like to see him dead seems to be growing, evidenced by the fact that they’re becoming bolder—much to their own idiocy. But the list of those who want to see him live is growing too, much to Roan’s benefit. Now he just needs to believe he’s worth their efforts. I can’t help but believe that the more people who want Roan to live can only make him want to live more. Either that or it’ll make him want to push them away for their own good. Roan’s stubborn like that.

There’s an Arabian proverb that says, “Death was afraid of him because he had the heart of a lion.” I hope Roan’s happy ending proves that proverb to be true.

I also hope I don’t have long to wait for book #6.

Buy Infected: Shift HERE.

Standard
Andrea Speed, Riptide Publishing

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 by Andrea Speed

I want to see this series animated. Can someone get right on that, please? Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read an Urban Fantasy that begs to be Manga-ized more than the Josh of the Damned series does. It’s like waking up on Saturday morning as a kid and getting to watch Scooby Doo, except without all that pesky pretend stuff. This is real world, people, and jinkies, it’s a far out and unusual place.

From sinister facial hair to Squidwardian sea beasties to the Queen Mother of all butt-kicking, snake-headed mythological she-monsters, Andrea Speed pulled out her trademark snark and poked at my fantasy-loving funny bone in these three short episodes.

But wait, there’s more: Colin the hot vampire is there, and Bobo the lovesick snow monster is there, and Gary, the foul-mouthed, bad-tempered Reverse Tooth Fairy is there too. This definitely ain’t Kansas, Dorothy, so don’t even go there. This is Oz in full and living colorful craziness, and I kinda wanna live there for awhile. Just until the Zombie Apocalypse, of course. Then I want to be far, far away.

Josh finds out some things about his boss, Mr. Kwon, and he finds out a thing or two about himself, too, which causes some doubts to arise over his relationship with Colin. Finding out that you’re kind of irresistible to the things that go bump in the night—irresistible like creature-crack to a strung out junkie monster—will tend to plant a few ideas into a guy’s head. Namely making you realize that the undead lover you jones for might be jonesing for you for no other reason than he can’t help himself. That right there would drive a stake into the heart of just about any romance—but never fear, fans; when the Quik-Mart corporate boys come to play, Colin and Bobo prove to Josh who his real fiends…err…friends are. And humans are safe for at least another day.

I’ll be tuning in and turning on because I’m very much ready and waiting for more madcap monster mayhem.

Buy Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 HERE.

Standard
Andrea Speed, Dreamspinner Press

Infected: Freefall (Infected #4) by Andrea Speed


Title: Infected: Freefall (Infected #4)
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 350
Characters: Roan McKichan, Dylan Harlow
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Urban Fantasy
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Conceived bearing the lion strain of the virus, Roan is the only fully functioning virus child in the country—maybe in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s okay. He’s still struggling with the death of his husband and the guilt of finding new love; his old enemy, the Church of the Divine Transformation, is becoming increasingly hostile; and he’s taken on a tragic cold case involving a long-missing boy.

As Roan fights to control the lion inside him, his world explodes with all kinds of trouble. The leader of the church is ramping up the violence against him, calling Roan out as a traitor to his kind. There’s a loose Infected terrorizing the city. And Holden, male prostitute and Roan’s unofficial assistant, brings him a case involving the suspicious death of one of Holden’s clients, which puts Roan far too close to a murderer for his state of mind….

Review:

Roan McKichan is a man in free fall, his body doing little more than floating along in a gravitational pull between grief over the loss of Paris, and the virus that continues to morph inside him in unexpected ways. He is a man who has jumped from an airplane at fifteen-thousand feet and can’t seem to decide whether it’s worth the effort to pull the ripcord on his parachute. Roan is a man reincarnated—but it seems, at times, he might have forgotten to come back from the dead.

The thumbnail overview of the fourth installment in the Infected series is that Roan’s life is at a turning point, and, honestly, I have no idea where Andrea Speed will take him. Freefall brings the series to an arc in which the focus is on whether Roan can find a reason to keep living, or whether he should just give up and join Paris in the afterlife—and whether his virus would even allow him to do that, as it seems as though it’s becoming its own entity.

Roan’s conflict and the depressive state he currently calls home give this book a rather mournful quality, which works perfectly as a foil to everyone around him—his lover, Dylan; his ex, Dee; his assistant, Fiona; his could-be-good something or other, Holden—who are trying desperately to help a man who isn’t sure he wants to be saved.

Roan is still going through the motions of life, but his private investigating and the cases he accepts in this book take a secondary role to his personal struggle, except for the two instance in which the case and his private life directly intersect; the first being when the Church of the Divine Transformation, the cult that equates the virus with divinity, decides that Roan is a threat that needs to be eliminated; the second being when Holden hires him to investigate the death of a john, which lands Roan in the hospital, for better or for…worse? We shall see.

Freefall leaves some loose threads to be tied up as the series moves forward, not the least of which is what exactly is Roan becoming? And will it be good or bad for him, in the end? Will Dylan be the man who can inspire Roan and convince him that a future is worth fighting for? And how will Holden Krauss fit into the scheme? Makes me wish book #5 was ready to hit the presses, like, yesterday.

In spite of the sense of doom and gloom in this installment, Andrea Speed manages to infuse the story with plenty of her trademark humor—gotta love the fact that, regardless of what Roan is going through, his smartass is always residing somewhere just beneath the surface, maybe somewhere in the neutral zone between the human and the lion. The man truly is a hybrid.

While I can’t say this is my favorite book in the series, to date, I can say that it’s not to be missed.

Reviewed By: Lisa

BUY LINK

Standard