Steel Victory Special Edition Available for Pre-Order!

The special edition hardcover version of Steel Victory is now available for pre-order, with a release date of July 15.

The special edition includes:

  • Author’s preferred text for Steel Victory.
  • Foreword by award-winning author and editor Lee Murray.
  • “The Reluctant Master”: A previously unpublished story featuring Victory and Mikelos in the early days of Limani.
  • “Limani: A Brief History”: An excerpt from a longer work by Lady Zhinu Zhuanxu-Wallace.

Buy links:

Join me for a live online launch even on Wednesday, July 15, at 7 PM EST, hosted by AllAccessCon. I will be presenting my in-demand workshop on the alternate history genre with some surprise special guests. More details coming soon.

Review: Slippery Creatures (Will Darling Adventures #1) by K.J. Charles

The bad news: This book does not end with a happily ever after. The good news: Because it’s book 1 of a trilogy! Will and Kim have fabulous and intense chemistry that only enhances the plot they’re embroiled in, and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop throughout the next two books.

As always, Charles does a fantastic job with both her characters and plot. Even secondary characters Phoebe and Maisie and antagonists in the form of War Office officers and secret society madman Libra shine off the page. The story they find themselves in has its roots in early 20th-century pulp adventures. There is enough action and adventure for excitement, but it never becomes contrived or completely implausible.

Also, there’s a bookstore. You can never go wrong with a bookstore.

It turns out I have a soft spot for principled characters whose ideas of honor are on entirely different ends of the spectrum. Together, they solve mysteries! Only it’s not so simple as that, with a healthy dose of fantastic sexual tension and political intrigue. Charles is a “drop everything and read” author for me, and this latest book measures up to that standard.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: From Sir, With Love (K Club #3) by Rachell Nichole

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

In some romance novels, I enjoy the development of the relationship. In other romance novels, I enjoy the development of the characters, and the relationship is a bonus. For this book, I leaned toward the latter. The growth that Evangeline and Leo accomplish would not have been possible if they hadn’t had each other. But ultimately, that growth does not depend on each other, making the happily ever after all the more satisfying.

The plot of this book is terribly contrived if you squint. However, Nichole’s excellent narrative drags you along in its wake so that you never really stop to think about it. Evangeline and Leo need each other. Benton makes it happen. At first, it was a little odd that Benton and Leo are brothers, but the Hastings family dynamic is such an integral part of the plot that it’s another thing you end up accepting as part of the storytelling.

I don’t often mention them, but potential readers should heed the content warnings for this book — disordered eating and implied domestic violence, though not between Evangeline and Leo. That being said, this is a fantastic stand-alone romance with equally epic characters and steamy sex scenes.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk

Now that Hawk has thoroughly established the rules of the Hexworld series, it was time to start breaking them. The events of this book took elements of familiars and witches to new levels, in intriguing ways that made for a mystery that acted as the perfect backdrop for the burgeoning relationship between Isaac and Bill.

We’ve known these characters since the first book in this series, and Hawk has slipped us hints that they belong together ever since their initial meeting. It was lovely to watch them find their way to each other after battling their internal demons, and then resolve to fight for each other, together.

Hawk has set up a bit of a trend with each book involving a new romance, which means that the cast of characters is starting to get a bit sprawling. I hope more stories continue in this universe because I’m enthralled with the background politics and overarching plot lines, and I’d happily read about adventures with the existing characters, even without new romances.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: “For Sir” (K Club #1) by Rachell Nichole

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

This story does an excellent job of introducing prospective readers to the world of The K Club and the types of romance this series provides. The back-cover blurb is a bit misleading in terms of the plot, but the story itself is still solid. I do selfishly wish that this had been a novel because I was intrigued by Syneca and Jensen’s history together and how their relationship might progress as more than just snippets.

If this story works for you, you’re definitely in for a treat with the rest of this series.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Hexslayer (Hexworld #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Every book in this series gets better on multiple levels. Hawk continues to pull threads on the over-arching plot, making it more intriguing and convoluted without losing any of the believability of such events in the world he has created. In tandem, each romance both supports and is affected by the greater events.

I was prepared to dislike Nick as a protagonist based on what I knew of him from previous stories in this world. However, Hawk does an excellent job of delving into his motivations and backstory to create a truly three-dimensional character. I also thought I knew precisely what Jamie would be like from the back-cover blurb, as a veteran with amputation, and I was delighted to be proven wrong.

My favorite thing about this book was learning more about familiars themselves, especially how they’re not merely humans who can turn into animals. Hawk effortlessly expresses this through his characterization details of the familiar characters.

As usual, I look forward to reading the next book in this series, which is always the highest praise I can think to give.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Dragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this book for full price.

Once again, DeCandido has blown me away with his knowledge of genre tropes and how to bend them to his will to create a fantastic story. This time, he combines the magic of police procedurals with high fantasy (via table-top role-playing game conventions) to craft a unique and satisfying mystery.

Readers who have played table-top RPGs will probably appreciate the world-building of this book the most, but any fantasy or mystery readers will find something to enjoy. Personally, as a reader who has always loved “lower decks” tales, this visit to the realm of town guards, who are generally just bit players or unnamed obstacles in a played RPG, was a huge treat for me.

Every character in this book plays on familiar stereotypes from multiple genres; because of this, every character in this book is unique and contains hidden depths. The plot/mystery/storyline itself also employs this “best of both worlds” method of writing with the bonus of a completely unexpected twist.

I could have done with a bit less of the literal depiction of dialect in the book’s dialogue, but that’s also a fantasy trope that just happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Certainly not enough to stop me from looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Eye Spy (Family Spies #2) by Mercedes Lackey

Overall, this was probably the best new Valdemar book I’ve read and enjoyed in years. That’s not to say that it has no flaws, but overall, Abi is a great, solid character with some truly excellent and original adventures.

I’m not going to lie: Part of my enjoyment might be because this is the first book in a long time that doesn’t include Mags as a POV character. I like him, but I was a little done. He’s fulfilled his character arc (and then some), and I was ready to move on. Abi filled that void nicely, as a character that embodies a lot of what I love about this series. Lackey introduced us to a new Gift when that source might otherwise be tapped out, and in doing so, let me revisit one of my favorite groups. I’ve had a soft spot for the Artificers since the Mage Storm trilogy, and Abi fit in nicely with them on multiple levels.

In addition, I’m always thrilled to travel outside Valdemar. Lackey wrote herself into a bit of a corner with Vanyel’s final spell, and I love the way she’s returned to incorporating magic into this series.

Alas, the downsides: Abi is really freaking perfect. Like, if she wasn’t so nice, it’d be really annoying. This book also doesn’t really work well as a book. Instead, it reads more as a two-part series linked by the character and slightly less so by the villain. I was especially disappointed that Abi’s Gift doesn’t necessarily play into a major confrontation in the second half, after the buildup for why she was put into that situation in the first place.

But again, it’s the characters who save this book. The secondary characters, especially Jicks, Stev, and Korlack, shine on the page both individually and with their interactions with Abi. If Abi is perfect enough to basically be a Herald, it was a delight to meet a thoroughly pragmatic Herald in Stev (and a certain jab at Vanyel made me laugh out loud while I read). In addition, Lackey gets some bonus points for representation beyond the obvious.

Highly recommended for fans of Valdemar, especially if you’ve fallen out of the series recently. There are some references to the previous book in this trilogy, but they aren’t necessary to read and enjoy this book, so this is good place to pick it up again.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Wishes, Wings, and Woes (Gods and Demons #2) by Kaye Draper

As usual, I devoured the latest installment of this series as soon as possible and enjoyed every moment of it. Troya continues to grow as a character as she regains more memories of her previous lives and Derek White’s connection to it. Her relationships with her boyfriends grow deeper and more solid. And Draper’s world-building continues to evolve as we learn both about new magics and new paranormal creatures and societies.

But when I looked up after reading…I realized that nothing much had happened. A few minor shifts in existing plot lines, but no major developments. Overall, this story sets up future action and builds a bit on previous drama. It does it well, but new readers to this series should be prepared that not all installments will feature epic action and dramatic reveals.

I still look forward to seeing where Troya, her relationships, and her greater world go next!

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Hexmaker (Hexworld #2) by Jordan L. Hawk

As usual, Hawk excels in crafting unique characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and root for. On the surface, this book is a typical tale of two people from different social strata falling in love and dealing with the barriers between them. But there’s also a bonus police procedural plot and dramatic politics. Any of these three story lines would have made for excellent reading, but Hawk weaves them together in an adventure I didn’t want to put down.

Other echelons of society in this world of magic and familiars are introduced in this series installment, and Hawk uses upper-class society to good advantage in developing his intriguing plot. I enjoyed reading about Owen and Malachi against the backdrop of a delightful and thoroughly twisty murder mystery that concluded with an explosive, dramatic finale. Other characters, both new faces and familiar friends, put their own stamp on the proceedings.

While the first story story and full-length book set in this world were more than enjoyable, Hexmaker solidifies this series as one of my favorite historical fantasy worlds. I look forward to reading the other entries in this world of magic and romance.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.