Monday, May 3, 2010

"Inked" by Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn and Eileen Wilks

Four tales of paranormal romance and urban fantasy explore body art that is more than it seems - in a world of magic and mayhem that always leaves its mark....

New York Times bestselling author Karen Chance's "Skin Deep" tells the tale of a war mage in Las Vegas who stumbles across an ominous magical ward that appears as a dragon on her skin - and has a mind of its own...

When New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu's demon hunter Maxine Kiss investigates a grisly murder, she finds herself involved in a conspiracy dating back to World War II - and a secret mission that her grandmother may have carried out for the U. S. government, one that involves the mysterious "Armor of Roses."

In New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn's "Etched in Silver," a supernatural agent is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer when an unexpected - and dangerously seductive - ally comes to her aid, setting in motion a magical ritual that may end up binding them together, body and soul.

When the magically tattooed body of a man is found in a Northern California town, FBI Agent Lily Yu is drawn into the case. Trouble is, the victim wasn't human - and the killer isn't finished in USA Today bestselling author Eileen Wilks's "Human Nature."

Well, three outta four ain't bad.

As usual, Karen Chance totally delivers in her story. I love her stuff, the Cassie Palmer series and the Dorina Basarab books, and her short stories are great, too. This time we have war Mage Lia (who has had two previous short story appearances) searching for her boyfriend, werewolf Cyrus. He's been nabbed by the bad guys and his brother, the pack alpha, wants her to find him before he's killed. Trouble is there's a war being fought, so there's no chance of back-up, including the brother - he and Cyrus have pulled off a stunt making Cyrus a rogue wolf, and that means that Cyrus is lupus non gratis among his pack. The tattoos in this story are protective wards used by the mages, and Lia has recently acquired a new one that seems to have a mind of its own. Good writing, my only complaint being that Chance seems overly fond of interludes from the past (used quite often in the Cassie Palmer series, as she can shift thru time).

Marjorie M. Liu is also great as usual. It takes me a while to get into the Kiss books, as they're not as light and romantic as her Dirk & Steele series, but I always end up liking them. I think it's her boys - the demons that protect her by day as full-body tattoos. There's a genuine love there on both sides; she treats them like her children, and they treat her like their Mother. In this story Maxine goes back in time to help her grandmother. Always an interesting prospect, time travel, and this one has a great scene where not only do Maxine and her grandmother meet, but both sets of the boys meet, too.

The only mis-step for me is the story by Yasmine Galenorn. As much as I loved the story about the selkie in "Never After", I hated this tale about Camille D'Artigo and her mission to hunt down a rapist. She meets a dark stranger who offers her help, and of course they're attracted to each other, and there's a lot of talk of sex (in quite blunt terms, I might add). I thought Camille wasn't very sympathetic, and there was so much, I don't know, just foulness to this story, I kept wondering if it really was written by the same author as the selkie story. Or if maybe this was really the way she wrote, she had someone else write the selkie story. Either way, I wasn't impressed and I definitely won't be reading any books in the D'Artigo series.

I loved the story by Eileen Wilks, and it made me wonder why I stopped reading her work only two or three books into the series World of the Lupi. Human Lily Yu and her werewolf mate Rule Turner have a killer to track down, one who has used magic to incapacitate a werewolf long enough to kill him. The deceased was a friend of Rule's, and unless Lily can prove the foul play, the human police will write it off; werewolves barely have any rights in this world. Great story, great plot, great characters. Makes me want to go get the books I missed, and I think I will - just not right now. I still have a lot of books to get through in my to-be-read pile right now! But yes, I'm definitely planning on catching up with Wilks.

As I said in the beginning, three outta four ain't bad, especially if you like these authors.

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