Paranormal Romance review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

StygianStygian by Santino Hassell

Published by: Dreamspinner Press

Format: eARC

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Order now: Amazon

Reviewed by: fabulous guest reviewer, Anna

Get ready for: In Santino Hassell’s Stygian, rural Louisiana serves as the backdrop for four young musicians who are forced to confront conflict both with one another and with the [SPOILER SPOILER] vampires who’ve made them their prey. Read More

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Book Spotlight: Lead Me Into Darkness, a Paranormal Romance Anthology

Lead Me Into Darkness - Ebook SmallEver wonder what happens when Roan Parrish, J.R. Gray, Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, and Kris Ripper have a late night chat on Twitter? Probably some absurd banter, right? Full of jokes and funny anecdotes? Yes! But no one would ever expect that out of something so mundane a book would be born. “What, Judith?” you’re thinking. “A book? That’s a head scratcher. How in the…I mean, how does something like that even happen?” I KNOW!

As bizarre and unlikely as it seems, these authors jumped from Twitter to a prompt to a full fledged book. From out of a conversation about the creepy old world charm of New Orleans and graveyard tours, the idea for a Halloween anthology sprang into existence, taking on a force of its own that nobody could stop. The result is Lead Me Into Darkness: Five Halloween Tales of Paranormal Romance, a FREE read full of romance, spooky happenings, kinksters, and oh yes, cemetery tours… Read More

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Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Publisher: HarperTeen

Format: Kindle edition

Warning, warning (and mainly this is for any of you out there who don’t like those who shall not be named and have had computers/other electrical devices fried by them after negative reviews): THERE BE ANGELS IN THESE PAGES…but you know what? Who cares!? This book is so good that you’ll wonder why you ever doubted them in the first place.

No, I am being serious. Really. Stop reading this review and get this book. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Do you have the book in front of you? What are you waiting for, crazy pants??? Read!

Plot:

After being born and orphaned in a convent in California, Anna is adopted by a single mom in Georgia. She grows up surrounded by love but thinking she’s a little offbeat in that she can read people’s emotions through the colors of their auras. This is strange but she thinks there’s nothing more to it. After going to a concert with best friend, Jay, Anna meets sexy/hot/dreamy/slutty but who cares(right?!) drummer Kaiden and her world is turned upside down. Turns out, she’s not as human as she thought: through Kaiden, Anna discovers that she’s actually a Nephillim, that is a human/angel child and she’s one of the rarest kinds, half guardian angel half dark angel. Each Nephillim or Neph as they’re affectionately called is linked to their dark angel (aka demon) parent and their jobs on Earth are to use their fathers gifts to cause trouble among humans. Lucky Anna is the daughter of the demon of addiction but because of her good angel half has been able to fight off a tendancy toward drugs and alcohol up to this point. Wanting to know more about her origins, Anna travels to California to seek out the nuns who helped at her birth and to meet her father who’s been incarcerated for the last 17 years. Kaiden, the son of the demon of Lust, accopanies her and a fragile relationship blooms between them. Little does Anna

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know that Neph cannot have relationships nor can they have their own lives. They are allowed to act for their fathers’ purpose and nothing more. Anna tries to break free from these barriers but the other Neph she encounters are unwilling to rock the boat and get themselves killed in defying the demon hierarchy. Will Kaiden and Anna get together? Will Anna let loose her addictive demonic side? Will the sequel hurry up and get here already?! Read on to find out.

Review:

OH. MY. GOODNESS. Ellen’s going to kill me, guys, cause I love

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me a book about Angels! This was so good that I don’t even know where to start. First off, the mythology is one we all know if we’ve had any exposure to the Bible. Angels fell from heaven and became demons. Fallen angels liked to get the hanky panky on with humans. Nephillim are the result of all that, etc. Wendy Higgins takes a mythology that is dry and overused and makes it oh so interesting by setting it in the modern world. Her depictions of demons are exactly what I’ve imagined and are just awesome to read. Nothing devolves into a blame game, bible thumping romp either. Following Anna’s awakening as a Neph, we’re presented with the demon/angel mythology and left to decide for ourselves what’s good and what’s bad. At times, the Neph are presented as reveling in their demonic natures and at others we can see they truly despise what they are. I really applaud Wendy Higgins for writing about angels and demons and not boring me. A lot of her descriptions of Anna could have become schmaltzy and holier than thou as this half angel/half demon girl wrestles with learning her true nature. But they never do. Instead Anna is presented as a mature teen who must decide for herself if she wants to embrace the dark or the light. She is extremely astute in her observations but she’s ultimately a teen so the way she flounders when handling emotions or certain situations is just spot on. Then there’s her relationship with Kaiden which just confuses things all the more. The son of the demon of lust, Kaiden’s work on Earth is to sleep with women. No joke. And when he sets his sights on Anna, I was about to implode from the fire! It’s done so tastefully though that nothing ever felt tawdry or as if the author were using sex to sell her book. In fact, Anna and Kaiden never do the deed because she wants to wait for a committed relationship. Again, this could have been represented in so many ways (so many boring ways at that!) but unlike many other books where the heroine saves herself for marriage, this one didn’t make me want to roll my eyes and gag. Anna is not averse to the sexy times, but she wants it to happen with someone she cares for and who cares for her in return. With all the rampant sex running through YA lit these days (and you know me, I’m not really complaining about it!), it’s refreshing to see a heroine make a commitment to herself. That’s not to say that she doesn’t waver in her decision and I liked that about Anna. It made her more relatable and appear as if she were truly battling the two halves of her nature. You really get to see her grow as a character and discover things about herself in a delicate and realistic manner. As we all know, that’s my absolute favorite part of YA fiction (beyond the cheesy love stories and hottie love interests of course), the transition away from child to adult by the teen characters; the act of maturing over time and learning to deal with incredible situations whether they be paranormal or otherwise. And oh my god it was pitch perfect here!

I do have one caveat: there are a ton of crazy names in Sweet Evil: Kaylah, Marna, Ginger, Blake, Kaiden, Gerlinda, Kamapo…the list is unending but I gotta tell you, it didn’t bother me one bit. a) because we’re dealing with mythological creatures and b) because almost everyone human has a normal name. Props to you, Wendy Higgins, for using the wacked out names in a logical way.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 10. Anna is truly one of those rare YA characters that has convictions but doesn’t harp on them or seem like a virgin, goody two shoes. I really believed in her decisions and her way of handling herself. She was honest and mature and exceedingly loyal to her friends. As she goes through a huge period of self discovery over the course of the book, it would have been so easy to delve into the negative side of her nature. She does have some forays into addiction under her father’s eye but never revels in them, instead finding the experiences crude at best.

How much did I like the love interest: 10. Kaiden is sex on a stick! This sums up his entire character for me: he and Anna are kissing and he asks her when her mom will be calling. She tells him in an hour and his response? “That is definitely not going to be enough time.” Uhhh, sign me up for that, son of the demon of lust! I am more than okay with your brand of hedonism.

How believable is the plot: 10. Setting aside all that you think is real and come on, this is a paranormal book so you’ve pretty much already done that, this plot is rocking! It is fast paced and interesting, even when it has long passages explaining the whole angel/demon mythology. I could really see a lot of the scenarios Higgins’ describes with people wavering over agonizing decisions and getting nudged by angels and demons on both sides.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Wendy Higgins has one of those styles that lacks in adjectives but still opens up a whole world to us. I like to call it terse in that she gets to the heart of her meaning without beating around the bush. It’s fast paced, fluid, and exceptionnally well written. The dialogue is fabulous and the characters are flawlessly described and introduced. I want more from this author!

How much did I want to keep reading: 100000000. There’s going to be a sequel but who knows when! Wahh! I wonder how I can be one of her beta readers…cause I need more of Anna stat! I don’t even need more Kaiden (who am I kidding? I do!) but I want to learn more about the Neph and Anna’s role in their world so bad.

Final Score: 10/10. Love love love. Can’t say it enough. Get this book and if you don’t believe me, send me an email and we’ll discuss why you should: iloveyafiction at gmail.com

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