A spirited and compulsively readable paranormal-romance series entry.

THE RAKE IS TAKEN

From the League of Lords series , Vol. 2

A fantasy romance featuring two superpowered lovers in Victorian-era England.

This new installment in Sumner’s League of Lords series takes a secondary character from its predecessor, The Lady Is Trouble (2020), and puts him center stage. In 1855, Finn Alexander, the adopted son of a viscount, has the paranormal ability to read people’s minds, and he’s set up a gambling den that’s become wildly popular among the well-to-do. But his special talent comes with a price, as his mind is constantly filled with the background noise of others’ thoughts. This, in part, leads to his deep interest in the engaged Lady Victoria Hamilton, whose own powers allow her to erase people’s short-term memories and block others’ powers from working. He experiences the latter power firsthand, and the experience is a first for him: “Added to the bizarre circumstance of not being able to read her, being close to her obscured his ability to read others, like she’d dimmed the flame on the gaslamp of his mind, leaving only his thoughts to contend with.” Finn finds himself truly intrigued by her on multiple levels, and he soon introduces her to a clandestine group of similarly superpowered men and women. As in the previous volume, Sumner seamlessly blends gaslight-era fantasy and conventional historical romance. She also perfectly incorporates detailed supernatural elements into her well-researched setting. Her two central characters are compelling and believably damaged; each comes from a radically different segment of society, and each finds themselves in a relationship that they weren’t expecting. Finn, in particular, is a highly rewarding fictional creation—a well-drawn combination of roguery and vulnerability. Readers may be initially drawn to the book for its exciting paranormal aspects, but they’ll stay for the electric dialogue between Finn and Victoria, which includes plenty of comic banter. (Those expecting X-Men–style superheroics, though, won’t find it here.) Overall, it’s a sparkling addition to this promising series.

A spirited and compulsively readable paranormal-romance series entry.

Pub Date: May 23, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Like a popcorn action flick: fun but lacking in substance.

YOU HAD ME AT WOLF

Two wolf shifters must catch a criminal in the midst of hazardous winter weather: Action, adventure, and romance kick off a new series by Spear (Falling for the Cougar, 2019, etc.).

Private Investigator Nicole Grayson has an edge that some of her colleagues don’t. She’s a gray wolf shifter, and her heightened sense of smell makes for excellent tracking abilities. When her latest assignment, investigating a fraudulent life insurance claim, leads her to an isolated ski lodge inhabited by a group of shifter brothers, Nicole realizes that this particular mission is different. Blake Wolff has finally found peace and quiet, as he and his brothers have turned their land into a sanctuary for wolf shifters like themselves. When Nicole turns up at the lodge, sniffing around and looking for answers, Blake volunteers to help. The sooner she wraps up her investigation, the sooner Blake can return to maintaining the calm community the Wolff siblings have built. The suspense never fully delivers despite the setup of dangerous situations and the characters’ ability to shift into wolves. Of course, the bad guys get caught and the good guys prevail, but the stakes never seem terribly high. With corny, on-the-nose details such as having Wolff and Grayson as surnames for gray wolf shifters, it's hard to tell if Spear is in on the joke or if some things sounded better in theory than reality. The brightest spot here, as in most of Spears’ books, is her dedication to writing strong heroines with interesting professions, and Nicole fits perfectly into that box. She’s capable, competent, and a force to be reckoned with in a difficult situation. Blake is happy to let her take the lead without any egos getting in the way, which is something all readers will appreciate.

Like a popcorn action flick: fun but lacking in substance.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9775-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Another brilliant odyssey from Bouchet.

STARBREAKER

From the Nightchaser series , Vol. 2

Tess Bailey and her crew agree to a rescue mission which is practically suicidal, but as they prepare, she discovers deep secrets about her past that may give her and her rebel allies more leverage in their battle for freedom from the Galactic Overseer, though at great cost.

Nightchaser Tess Bailey, her ship, Endeavor, and her rebel crew—which now includes her lover, Shade Ganavan, until recently a Dark Watch bounty hunter—have been given the task of freeing Reena Ahern, a scientist who could save Demeter Terre, a planet that was poisoned by the Galactic Overseer when it stood up to him, killing 90% of its population. Unfortunately, Reena is imprisoned on Starbase 12, “the most secure place in the known universe.” First, though, Tess and Shade have a meeting with her uncle, Nathaniel Bridgebane, second-in-command to the Overseer, during which Tess realizes her uncle is likely an ally. They also meet his lieutenant, Sanaa Mwende, who joins their crew and helps Tess get a clearer picture of the dangerous game her uncle has played all these years. As the crew prepares for their rescue mission, Tess' first love reappears; then the crew agrees to a smaller job liberating some food supplies during a Dark Watch personnel switch and wind up rescuing hundreds of people the Overseer captured for their superblood—which, like Tess', is impervious to disease and heals extremely quickly. The stakes rise as people across the galaxy are about to be tagged and tracked, all in order to find the blood that will be used to create an army of supersoldiers, annihilating any possible rebellion. Help for their mission also leads to more secrets regarding Tess’ past being revealed, setting up more hope and more danger for the next book in the series. The Nightchaser space opera continues with tons of action, romance, pathos, and fascinating worldbuilding.

Another brilliant odyssey from Bouchet.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6716-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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