Hey everyone! I'm so excited today to have both Melanie from Hot Listens and Lorna from Rabid Reads on here today! Both of these women are amazing and they both happen to co-blog on two great blogs so if you haven't checked out their blogs yet, definitely do. They always have something for the fantasy and paranormal lover to discover, I know I've found a lot of great series and authors to try because of these two. Plus, Melanie reviews a lot of audiobooks so if you are interested in those, definitely check out her reviews, they are fantastic!
First up Melanie's books and recommendations!
Five Most Underrated (or Unknown) Books/Series
The Order series by A.C. Donaubauer
A clumsy step, the wrong branch to hold on to and a bump on the head to leave her unconscious – no more than that causes Eryn’s life to turn upside down and to suddenly find herself in the capital city as a prisoner to the king.
She is determined to keep her magical abilities a secret in a kingdom where magicians have only ever been male as long as anyone knows. That doesn’t work out that well, though. The Order, the governing body for magicians, and the king seem to have their own plans with her, none of them caring in the least that she just wants to leave that blasted city behind and return to the peace and quite of her profession as a healer.
And then there is Enric, a high ranking magician in the Order thanks to his considerable strength, who seems to find watching her struggles an amusing diversion.
This is a fun fantasy series. It is set in a world without technology, but many of the people have magic. The kingdom's military is run by a magical group called The Order. Only men in the kingdom have magic, that is until Eryn's cover is blown. This series is filled with fun characters and some good banter. The stories are long, but I get lost and the stories and forget about the book's page count. The characters are really amazing. There are so many of them I love. There is fun banter between them too.
Gifted series by Jenna Black
Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.
Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
I think this series doesn't get the credit it is due because it is very difficult explain the story. The story in this series is very complex and told from several POVs. People in this world are given gifts by the Anima (the Force in Stars Wars is my closest comparison). The Anima is a group of spirits of ancestors who are deemed worthy. There are political plots, murders and other great suspense in this series (which currently consists of two books, not sure if more are coming). The characters are very well developed and really kept me rooting for some and against others.
Megan Chase series by Stacia Kane
Megan promises listeners to her new radio call-in show that she'll "slay their personal demons," and they believe her. So do the personal demons... although she doesn't know it, Megan is the only human without a demon on her shoulder! Megan and her allies -- a demon lover who both protects and seduces her with devilish intensity, a witch with poor social skills, and three cockney guard demons -- have to deal not only with the personal demons, but a soul-sucker, ghosts of Megan's past, and a reporter who threatens to destroy Megan's career!
Stacia Kane is best known for her Downside Ghosts series. Prior to that series, she wrote a fun trilogy about a radio psychologist who wants to help her listeners purge their personal demons. Little did she know that personal demons are an actual thing and that she will become their leader. This series has some really fun characters, my favorite are "the brothers", Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud, who surprisingly end up being Megan's stylists. This is a fun Urban Fantasy series that will make you laugh and is also full of sexy steam.
Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman series by M. Terry Green
Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom isn't exactly part of the drill. When Olivia Lawson wakes to find one towering over her, she panics. A Hopi god visiting the real world isn't just wrong-it's impossible.
Or is it?
Soon Olivia learns that the kachina is the least of her worries. As she struggles to save her clients, clashes with other shamans, and fends off the attacks of real-world vigilantes, Olivia finds herself in the destructive path of a malevolent ancient force intent on leaving the spiritual realm to conquer this one.
Left with few options, Olivia is forced to defy centuries of shaman prohibitions. As she and her allies risk everything in their bid for survival, Olivia ultimately learns that the rules are there for a reason and that breaking them has a terrible cost.
I read the first book in this series back in 2012. I read a wonderful review from Red Hot Books that convinced me to try this series. I really enjoyed this new take on shaman (which is not something that I've read a lot of). Livvie goes into the Underworld to bring souls back to their bodies. She really likes to help people and she generally helps people who no one else can help. This world is full of gods and another world, separate from the one we live in. The story is also full of great characters. As I was researching this post, I realized that I've read the first three books, but I didn't realize that there are now five books in this series. I will have to start at the beginning, but they are now available on audio, so that will make it fun to revisit this series and finish it this time.
Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas
Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. He's far too beautiful to be a monster. Combined with his lack of violence toward her, this has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity.
Told in the first person from Emily's perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a story about consensual BDSM. This is a story about “actual” slavery. If reading an erotic story without safewords makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent.
This book isn't for everyone. No one wants to be in the position that Emily finds herself in. At no point the author make you think you should want to be in the character's position. Emily is a motivational speaker. She is at a conference and then she wakes up blindfolded and tied to a chair. This story takes us through the psychological aspects of Emily's captivity through her own eyes. The story is all the more intriguing as the capture doesn't ever speak to Emily. He shows her what he wants through facial expressions, touch and sometimes even in books that he gives her. I've read this story several times and each time I continue with that same amazement. If you like psychological thrillers and don't mind detailed written sex scenes, this is a great story for you to try. This isn't a romance. There isn't going to be a romance HEA, but I think in the end, Emily gets what she wants.
Thank you so much Melanie for all the fabulous recommendations!!
Up Next, Lorna's picks:
Thaleia Llorente isn’t afraid of the dark, and doesn't believe in the supernatural, but when an incident during a party on Halloween night sends her fleeing into the woods in search of seclusion, she’ll come face to face with one of the creatures she had thought lived only in myths and legends.
Bitten, she’ll need the protection and the help of Icarus Quirinus, her newfound and loathed alpha, to guide her through her transformation and descent into the dangerous world of lycan. Despite his constant need to dominate her, she feels an irresistible and undeniable attraction to him, but can they look past their differences, or will the secrets he holds and her refusal to cede, drive them further apart?
Feral by Anne Berkeley was the first book I thought of when asked to compile this list. I was hooked by the story line pretty much immediately while beta reading. Eighteen year old girl gets attacked and turned by a werewolf and is taken in by a werewolf family of brothers afterwards. She can't go home and as a rare female werewolf, she is either hunted or will be hunted by unscrupulous werewolves looking to sell her to the highest bidder. She falls for the handsome older brother/alpha of the family and he becomes her protector. Shifter book readers will love this story for not only the romance, but the snark and humor involved.
Lois and Clark meet Twin Peaks in this star-crossed twist ...
When Geri McKenna takes leave from her dead end assistance columnist job to go home for her brother's wedding, she thinks its just a happy coincidence that her old teen crush, Sean Eastman, has returned to town after being MIA for eight years. Blinded by his looming height, crystal blue eyes and the guns he's grown since high school, it doesn't even enter her mind that Sean's unexpected reappearance coincides with the mysterious disappearance of a woman in nearby Algonquin Park.
Until Geri travels to Shag Lake to get the scoop on the hottest story to hit the Internet and runs head on into Sean Eastman at the crime scene.
Now he's her prime suspect in an investigation that is leading Geri into the covert world of an alien cover-up. So when Sean knocks down her hotel room door intent on taking her into hiding from men who want to shut her down permanently, Geri must decide if Sean is being honest, or acting on behalf of the organization that wants her dead.
Shag Lake is the debut urban fantasy adventure by Susan McEachern, award-winning author of the young adult Sunset Rising Trilogy penned as S.M. McEachern
Shag Lake by Susan MeEachern is easily one of my favorite reads for 2017. It's full of romance, good characters, action, and paranormal/science fiction elements. It's even very loosely based on a true event that happened in Canada. Aliens, big foot, murderers? It's all here in this amazing book. Even though I am not a big science fiction fan, this book was one I won't easily forget.
Mediator Ayala Storme handles PR by day and kills demons by night. She avoids Mediator luncheons and a fellow Mediator who’s been trying to get in her pants for years. She does her job. She keeps her sword clean and her body count high. But when a rash of disappearances leads her to discover that Nashville’s hellkin are spawning a new race of monster in human hosts, Ayala will be the first line of defense against these day-walking killers.
That is, until one of the creatures saves her life.
Ayala's new knowledge of the hybrids' free will challenges everything she's ever known about her job. Racing the clock while trying to outrun her comrades and enemies alike, she's not sure who will catch her first...
Storm in a Teacup by Emmie Mears was the start of an amazing urban fantasy series-one that never fell below a five star rating for me, for all four books. It takes place in an alternate United States, one that has demons trying to take over. The main character, Ayala, is a demon hunter by night, public relations rep by day. This book blew me away with how different the premise is, as well as how fascinating of a character that Ayala is.
A desire that won’t be denied…
It’s the night of the Masked Ball, one of the most elegant events among London society and a chance for Emily Adams to pretend she’s someone else. Someone who isn’t penniless and hailing from a scandalized family. Someone who hasn’t been told by doctors she has less than a year to live. Behind the mask, Emily can put painful recollections aside and focus on her mission: to find a man to give her a first kiss.
A hunger that can’t be tamed . . .
Malcolm MacRoyce is on a different kind of hunt, one he knows all too well. A ball among English aristocracy is the last place the immortal Highlander would expect to find himself, but tonight he’s in pursuit of one of his kind who’s been terrorizing London—leaving a trail of bloody murders in his wake. Since Malcolm was cursed centuries ago, he has lived by a strict code and has sworn vengeance on those responsible for his transformation, a vengeance that has gone unsatisfied ---until he meets what he has waited centuries for: the reincarnation of the woman he’d once loved…the same woman who damned him.
After a chance meeting in a shadowy garden, Emily can’t deny the attraction between her and the mysterious Scotsman. But can she trust this stranger who looks at her as if he knows her very soul? Or shake the sense that Fate is playing a game with them both.
Some desires last a lifetime—this one is eternal.
Eternal Hunger by Ainsley Evans was another surprise read for me this year. A brooding vampire that hates what he is, meets a young woman at a ball in historical London. She's slowly dying, and all she wants is her first kiss. To him, she is the spitting image of his wife who died centuries before. The story was extremely creative in its world building, as it had a completely new spin on how vampires came to be. This book was both a romance and a mystery/thriller due to the hero investigating murders by other vampires. Non-stop 5 star read for me!
I feel his emotions in living color. As if they are my own.
If he’s angry, I rage with him. If he’s grieving, I do too. When he thinks about the past, I’m right there, walking beside him. I am the window to his soul, and yet, in spite of that, he’s a riddle with no solution.
A puzzle with too many missing pieces.
We always want what we can’t have. All I wanted was some peace and quiet. To fall in love with someone untouched by the magic of Woodland Creek. I craved normalcy.
But not as much as I craved him.
When he returns to town a broken hero, there’s no choice to be made. I will reach him when no one else can. Together, we will face a future he doesn’t want.
Why? Because our love is pure magic.
Dearborn by Jenni Moen was a wonderful five star read for me about a small town waitress with magical abilities and the broken man that comes back to town after fifteen years away. He was once her friend in high school, but now a stint in Afghanistan has done a number on him. Of course it's a romance, and while the romance was the big and best part of the book, I loved the idea of a town full of supernatural creatures sharing space with clueless humans. This one definitely needs a bigger audience as PNR fans would love every minute of the read.
Thank you so much Lorna for all the wonderful recommendations!