paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review: Haven by Lindsay J. Pryor

Writing a spin-off to a popular series can often seem like a no-brainer for authors.

You’ve created something that your readers just can’t get enough of, and of course, your fanbase doesn’t ever want the series to end, but for some authors, you just can’t squeeze any more juice from the lemon and in some cases, probably shouldn’t even try. It takes a certain kind of world-building to be able to pull it off successfully. And you need to be brave enough to sometimes move away from characters that have become well-loved and to whom your readers have become attached to the point where you have to pry them off with a crowbar.

Fortunately for Lindsay J. Pryor fans, Lindsay is both a brave writer and a proficient world-builder, so they have nothing to worry about with her new release from Piatkus Fiction, Haven, the spin-off from the highly successful Blackthorn series.

With the Blackthorn series, we found a world that already seemed mammoth, despite being mostly set in just one of the districts that Lindsay has created – Blackthorn, the dark and dangerous district of the Third Species and any other low-life creature forced to reside there (for those newbies amongst you, the vamps, lycans and cons). But Blackthorn really is just one part of something much bigger, and if you’re already a LJP fan, and have checked out the ‘About Blackthorn’ section on her website, you might already have an understanding in just how huge this world is and how many possibilities there are to create spin-offs and new adventures to appease older readers and hopefully generate new ones. I remember reading Lindsay’s posts about Blackthorn and at the time, thinking how there was so much more I wanted her to write about, so many more tales I wanted to read, and this is why I’m so happy to see Lindsay investigate the Lowtown district with Haven.

For me, a successful spin-off should be able to stand in its own right and that’s just what Haven does. You can read Blackthorn first, of course (and you should read it anyway because it’s all kinds of awesome), but the first thing you should know about Haven, is that if you’re new to LJP, then you’re not going to have to read an 8 book series before you start on the Lowtown book. Yes, there’s a few references to Blackthorn, but you’re not suddenly going to find yourself in a world without a handy travel guide and spend forever wandering around, trying to work out what the Hell is going on.

Let’s meet Ember and Nate. Ember, a waitress in a cafe, is on the brink of gaining citizenship to the district of Midtown, having been through a gruelling and lengthy process to escape the gritty and brutal confines of Lowtown where she’s lived her whole life. She’s crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s and finally, she’s been given approval to cross the border, pending her final medical. Nate is a vampire, and has been dropping by the cafe for months. A man of very few words, he keeps himself to himself, but his elusiveness and air of danger has sparked some interest in Ember, even though she knows she has to stay away from him. Any involvement with the Third Species could have her application torn up before the ink is dry on the stamp of approval.

Her determination to gain a new life for herself seems certain to succeed, that is until she discovers Nate has moved into the apartment across the hall from hers and she finds him close to death in the stairwell of the apartment block. Helping him could risk her application, and Ember has to make a quick decision whether to be compassionate and save him or be selfish and leave him to die.

When sinister forces set to rip Ember’s world apart and threaten the business and lives of her friends, she finds herself on a mission to help them and the only person who she can turn to is her mysterious neighbour, Nate. But is Nate all he appears to be?

With danger lurking around every corner, and time running out, Ember must fight the demons of her past and her feelings for Nate, if she is to make it to Midtown and start a new life for herself, but it seems as if others have a different path for her.

As with all Lindsay’s female characters, Ember is something to be admired. She’s everything we want to see in a female MC – feisty, independent, compassionate but flawed – and I genuinely wanted to see her succeed. I was rooting for her from page one, right through to the end, even if I didn’t always agree with her decisions. As a reader, I think that’s important. I don’t want to see a perfect heroine getting it right all the time and turning into the Mary Poppins of urban dystopian fiction. I want someone real. Someone that I can identify with. Someone that I want to see win. I definitely found that in Ember, she’s vulnerable at times, but has the capability of great strength, and a protective side to her when it comes to those she loves.

Nate isn’t always likeable, particularly to start with. He’s aloof, cold at times, detached, but that is something I like in my male MC’s; one, because it means we root for our heroine more, and two, because again, I have no desire to see Mary Poppins and Bert chim-chiminey-ing across the rooftops of Lowtown, sprinkling magic over the houses and dancing up a jig. I like to feel a little bit torn when it comes to the male MC’s. I want to see tension. I want to see a bit of angst. I want to see two people battling against each other, because let’s face it, it makes the coupling all the more sweeter 😉

I absolutely loved these two. I’m not sure if these characters will pop up again in Lowtown or not, I’m sure we’ll meet new characters along the way, but the important part for me was my connection with them both and that is something LJP always gets spot on. Characters that we love, characters that drive us crazy and make us shout at the pages while reading (yeah, I did that), characters that make us want to keep reading and lament the fact we have to put down the book to go back to our lives/jobs etc (yeah, I did that too). I talk a lot about Lindsay’s skill for world-building, and I hope if you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll just take that as a given now, but we should never forget the power of the characters she creates. The fans all have their favourites (HELLO, JASK!) but there’s something to be said for an author who can change your mind with each book and have you start bumping up new characters to the top of your list, particularly with a spin-off series.

The villains of the book, the powerful and brutal Hordas clan, are a disturbing bunch, seeking out businesses to claim as their own, while crushing, manipulating and abusing anyone who dares get in their way. They’re on a mission to rule Lowtown and their icy ambition left me cold in all sorts of good ways, because let’s face it, we all LOVE to hate a good villain, right? I definitely had all the bad feels when reading their scenes, but again, that’s important, because we shouldn’t feel comfortable when confronted with the bad guys and while I loved Ember and Nate, I hated the Hordas clan in equal measure.

The plot went places I never saw coming and as always, I was left with nothing but admiration for how well Lindsay weaves her web, to the point where we’re never quite sure what path the story will take. The pacing was fast and relentless, the tension was electrifying throughout, the hot scenes were, well, sizzling (as always) and there was mystery and intrigue on every page. It’s been a while since a book got me so hooked that I spent my time in between reading thinking about what might happen next and each time I returned to it, I lapped it up and hoped it would never end. It did, of course and yes, I may have cried a little (although this was mostly due to plot, damn you LJP!).

As always, I’m now left wanting more and counting down the days to a new Lindsay J. Pryor release. This author never disappoints. I love that she never shies away from dark content. I love that she keeps us guessing throughout.

Gritty, relentless and hot as Hell, with new favourite characters to adore and darkness and danger lurking at every turn, Haven is without doubt my PNR top read of the year so far.

If you haven’t yet checked out any LJP books, now is definitely the time to start!

Five stars for this breath-taking, brutal, dark fantasy tale!

Buy Links

iBooks

Waterstones

Amazon UK

KOBO

Amazon US (for eBook)

Amazon US (for paperback)

Amazon ANZ

Barnes and Noble 

Amazon.ca

Indigo 

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paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review Time! Blood Bound – Lindsay J Pryor

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Sequels are tough to write, there’s no doubt about that. Writing a sequel to a successful, well-received, debut novel is even tougher, but when you are seven books into a series? Even some of the most famous writers of the past forty years (I’m naming no names!) can struggle with that kind of pressure, so for Lindsay J Pryor to still maintain the adrenalin-filled, fast-paced buzz of her four-year old debut Blood Shadows is seriously no mean feat.

There’s always something rather wonderful about discovering a new author when they debut, diving headlong into the pages of a book that seems so fresh and exciting and knowing that you have found a new fictional world and characters that will go down on your all-time favourites list, and it’s been an absolute pleasure over the past four years to stick with Lindsay’s Blackthorn series and feel the thrill of an imminent new release. But, to be fair, I could have said that about a lot of authors over the years, because debut novels and new literary voices are always exciting – the difference with Blackthorn, is that Lindsay’s writing just seems to get better and better with each new book in the series. With each book, the tone gets a little darker, Lindsay gets a little braver with just how far she’s going to push her readers and there’s nothing I appreciate more than a writer who is willing to not just push the boundaries, but to hurdle right over them, not to be controversial, mind you – because it has to be right for the story – but to take a story in a more challenging and unpredictable direction.

Blood Bound starts where we left off in Blood Instinct, with the war mounting between the third species and the effortlessly twisted Sirius Throme, who seems to know just how to outwit his enemies at every turn. Forced to try and find a way out of Blackthorn via the tunnel system and now faced with another potential threat much closer to home, Eden, ex-Curfew Enforcement Officer and angel envoi Jessie embark on a mission that threatens to tear them apart forever.

I’ll admit that of all the Blackthorn pairings, Eden and Jessie were never really my favourite, having had my heart claimed already by Jask and Phia (swoon Jask!), but I have to say that Lindsay really turned my head with these two in Blood Bound. At times, the imagery that exploded out of the pages was hard to ‘watch’, particularly with the short, choppy chapters that Lindsay uses so well that you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a movie, seeing the action switch back and forth at speed between the characters, but I realised partway through that I was wincing and shifting uncomfortably in my chair much more than I would usually, because I’d grown to really love Eden and Jessie as characters. I saw depth here that maybe hadn’t captivated me the first time round in Blood Deep. I felt connected to them in a way that hadn’t been obvious to me before and it wasn’t long before I wished I could reach in and save them both, even if it was strangely and morbidly fascinating to witness all the trauma and horrors that both were forced to experience.

In all honesty, I had thought to myself prior to reading Blood Bound, that to have Eden and Jessie as the focus in the penultimate book was possibly going to be hard work for me, but as usual, in her own inimitable style, Lindsay has once again pulled me in and reminded me just why Blackthorn is still my favourite PNR series of all time.

The hot scenes were hotter than ever. The action scenes were gripping and edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster rides. And just when you think Lindsay can’t surprise you with any more plot twists, you get hit between the eyes by some new, jaw-dropping revelation that has you reeling because you just never saw it coming. Seven books into the series and I am still, completely and utterly addicted to Blackthorn. That, my friends, is testament to great writing and that is why you should all pick up this series today and fall in love just as I and many other Blackthorn fans have.

Blood Bound is a heart-racing, soul-pounding instalment and thoroughly deserving of five shiny, sparkling stars!

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review time! Blood Instinct by Lindsay J Pryor

Logging onto my WordPress blog in what was simply forever, I couldn’t help but smile when I realised the last blog post I made was a review for Lindsay J Pryor’s last instalment of the deeply delicious Blackthorn series. I should, of course, blog here more often, but if I only ever venture into the world of WordPress to review Lindsay’s books, then that’s totally fine with me and well worth the visit. 

So in my last review of Blood Dark, I made a point of declaring that it was Lindsay’s best work to date and that no doubt, I’d be saying the same thing for the next release and guess what? Yup. I was right. I’d love to say that I hold some supernatural psychic abilities to predict the future and THAT’S how I knew the sixth instalment in the series would be the best yet, but I’m afraid it has more to do with Lindsay’s talent and far less to do with my superhero spidey senses. The plain facts are that Lindsay is to writing, what Helen Mirren is to acting – a freaking do-no-wrong goddess!!! 

Having been a fan since Blood Shadows, I don’t think I could ever have predicted just how the story would unfold. For me, it’s gone from a dark and gritty paranormal romance set in the dangerous backstreets of a fictional world, to something that has reached epic proportions, where the sizzling relationships between our characters sits alongside key themes of social inequality, segregation, prejudice and supremacism. Now I know that might seem a little heavy for your average PNR, but the facts are that Blackthorn has NEVER been your average PNR and I believe, it’s part and parcel of what has kept me desperate for more after each release. What’s intrinsically powerful about Blackthorn is that it creates incredible empathy and passion in its readers – the world that Lindsay has created in Blackthorn, with its devilish politics, power plays and twists, had made a massive difference to the allure of the series and Lindsay’s world-building skills, in my opinion, are not praised nearly enough. Yes, we know she can write captivating characters. Yes, we know she can write hot scenes to rival JR Ward. Yes, we know she can inspire FEELS by the bucketload. But it’s the world that she has created behind all that, which provides the whole backdrop to the story – this is what makes it so blooming REAL. Quite frankly, open up a Lindsay J Pryor book, and you’re opening up a three-dimensional feast for the senses and if you’re going to step into that world, well, you’d better be prepared to start running because the action in Blackthorn never stops. 

This is definitely the case with Blood Instinct. Back to everybody’s favourite lycan, Jask Tao (he’s certainly mine!) and his partner Sophia, we find Jask battling to prevent his pack from being unjustly slaughtered by the powerful political forces at work in Blackthorn, while Sophia is battling forces of a very different kind. I loved the dark turn their relationship took in this book, it was at times difficult to stomach but captivating none-the-less, when being together became far more risky for them – Jask and Phia have always been effortlessly hot, but Blood Instinct takes things to a much darker and more gut-wrenching level. Combined with the ever present threat of the vampire prophecy and the sinister presence of the fourth species lurking in the shadows, the action in this book was so exciting and so thrilling that I almost wished I could strap myself in, just in case I fell off the sofa in shock of it all. In fact, I’m not even sure how I managed to reach the end without turning blue and passing out, because I definitely felt I should be holding my breath throughout!

As usual, I’m not going to say too much else regarding the plot, mainly because by book six, it’s REALLY hard to discuss without hitting everyone around the face with big fat spoilers, so I’ll just say that if you want an intoxicating read that will leave you breathless and reeling for days afterwards, then Blood Instinct is the book for you. 

Just don’t forget the safety harness. 

Five beautiful big glittery stars for this wickedly wonderful read! 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Instinct-Blackthorn-Paranormal-Romance-ebook/dp/B01DWURCFU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1462481615&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+instinct+lindsay+j+pryor
  

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Blood Dark by Lindsay J. Pryor – Review Time! 

It dawned on me while reading Blood Dark – the latest instalment of Lindsay J Pryor’s gritty, dystopian paranormal saga Blackthorn – that this series has become the ONLY series that I jump on as soon as it’s released. It’s the one I count down the days to a new release. It’s the one I devour as soon as it’s published. It’s the one I pimp out to anyone who will listen. In fact, I can’t quite remember a time when Blackthorn didn’t exist. It’s become one of those landmark book discoveries of my life – sitting alongside childhood classics from the likes of Enid Blyton and Judy Blume to my first foray into adult horror from King, Koonzt and Herbert. 

It also dawned on me while reading, that Blood Dark is definitely my favourite of the series so far – and yes, I am well aware I say that every time but this time I really mean it. Now, of course, I have a feeling I’ll be living my own Groundhog Day after the next release, but right now, it’s definitely all about Blood Dark

Why? Because after four books in which Lindsay has introduced us to the world of Blackthorn, its residents, its dangers, its politics, its uber hot heroes (or anti-heroes if you prefer) and kick-ass heroines, book five is where it really all starts to come together! It’s always a mystery to me how Lindsay manages to keep upping the ante each time because quite often sequels (and long-running series in particular) have a tendency to fall a bit flat, failing to recapture that magic of the first book and veering off on a long-winded and slightly disappointing tangent, but there’s never been any fear of that with Blackthorn! Each book is more intoxicating than the last and with each book comes more threads expertly woven together until we have an intricate spiders web of intrigue, mystery, excitement and (yes, yes, yes!) super hotness. 

Blood Dark takes us back to where it all started, with the irrestibly dark Kane Malloy and everyone’s favourite VCU agent Caitlin Parish and I must admit, having falling in love with each of Lindsay’s main men in turn, I was pleasantly surprised to discover my love for Malloy was completely rekindled – sorry Jask (I still love you!). As always with Blackthorn, Blood Dark had me trying to second guess every move and word of Kane and Caitlin, as they try to live with the aftermath of all the revelations of Blood Shadows (Book one). I’m not going to go into detail on the story itself because that’s just going to lead me down Spoiler Street and let’s face it. nobody wants to go there, but suffice to say, as with all the Blackthorn books, I spent the whole time never knowing quite who to trust and rejoicing in the fact that Blackthorn is always so tantalisingly unpredictable. Chuck in the ever present shadow of the sinister Global Council, the ghoulish quality of the chilling fourth species showing up in every nook and cranny and not to mention the chance to get all our Blackthorn boys together, if you haven’t shown your allegiance to Team Blackthorn yet, now is definitely the time to don your fan girl t-shirt! 

Blood Dark gave me everything I could have wished for and more….excitement, chills, cold-shower moments and YES even tears! 

A five star read all the way – in fact, if I could, I’d give it a gazillion more! 

Now all I have to do is wait for the next instalment …..*sighs* 

  

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Lycans, vampires and serryns – oh my! Review Time: Blood Torn by Lindsay J Pryor

So this review has been a long time coming!

And when I say a long time, I mean eight months to be exact, a fact that I feel quite ashamed of as there really was no excuse not to shout this book from the rooftops as soon as I finished reading it. But as usual, I was distracted by life in general and this review is now LONG overdue, so I hope Lindsay will forgive me.

I’m a huge fan of the Blackthorn series, I just happen to be terrible at writing reviews so I’m just glad to be finally getting around to reviewing Blood Torn, the third book in the series and the one I was probably most eagerly anticipating, which is a little strange seeing as I’m not a huge fan of Lycan books. I’m a vampire girl and with the exception of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, I’ve never really delved into the world of the fictional Lycan.

But this is Blackthorn, after all, so Lindsay could probably throw me a B-movie zombie and I’d be happy, plus of course, there was the teeny tiny matter of the main character Jask having been inspired by my favourite Followill, Kings of Leon’s Caleb, so for me this was always going to be a no brainer.

We start out where Blood Roses left off, with Sophia, the AWOL sister of Leila and Alisha, who also happens to be a member of The Alliance, the human vigilant group intent on destroying the third-species underworld rule of Blackthorn, captured by Jask, leader of the Blackthorn Lycans and having to explain just why she’s been found with two dead vampires at her feet.
With Leila’s serryn powers switching over to her sister when she fell in love with the vampire Caleb, Sophia now finds herself prisoner of the hot-tempered, fierce Lycan who just so happens to be one of the very underworld figures she should be hunting.

Taken back to the Lycan compound with its fifty-foot barb-wire topped fences, Sophia decides to use her incarceration to her advantage, learning what she can about the Lycans and about the mysterious Jask himself. What she learns is far more than she ever bargained for: a leader fighting to keep his pack alive, despite imminent threats from the Lycan Control Unit and the Third Species Control Division, a leader fiercely loyal to his pack and yet strong enough to punish those who step out of line and a Lycan who she can’t help but be fascinated by, despite the fact as she is a member of The Alliance, Jask is the one person she shouldn’t be interested in. What ensues is a battle of wills between the feisty, strong-willed serryn and the tough Lycan, with both trying to second guess the other and both vying to be the one who ends up on top.

As always in Blackthorn, the twists and turns will have you eagerly turning each page in anxious anticipation and Lindsay’s canny ability to have you guessing right up until the end is very much evident in Blood Torn. Lycans might be the minor third-species in the dark, grimy streets of Blackthorn, but Lindsay makes them stand out, worthy to sit side by side with the vampires in a way that makes them completely believable, utterly engaging and always intriguing. For me, the vampire girl, I fell completely in love with the Lycans struggle, their intra-pack relationships, their fight against those who would wipe them out and let me tell you, it definitely surprised me, because as much as I knew I would love the book, I never thought I would love the Lycans.

So am I converted? Yes okay, I admit, I’m a Lycan-lover. Just don’t tell Caleb Dehain or Kane Malloy that I said that, okay?

Five stars for this wonderful third Blackthorn instalment!

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paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Blackthorn Does It Again!

Sequels so rarely hit the mark. I remember reading books two and three in the Blackthorn series and wondering how on earth Lindsay had managed to successfully pull it off. But to reach book four Blood Deep and to find it is even better (if that’s possible?!) than the first three? Surely it can’t be done?

But yes, I’m VERY pleased to say that Blood Deep is very much the crowning glory of the series so far. Before now, we’ve seen Lindsay weave the threads of her plot very expertly throughout the first three books, although she always maintained each could be read as a standalone and not necessarily in order (although I’d urge you to ignore that and go for the sequence read!) and now, in book four, it still amazes me how she can still surprise with each new turn of event, each new twist, whilst also adding into the mix completely new characters who keep the reader hooked from the word go.

It’s a skill to keep readers interested when you get them invested in characters, just to then switch characters in the next book, but somehow, magically, Lindsay manages to do this and quickly you find yourself torn over which ones are your favourite – personally my loyalties lie with Jask AND Eden, and I just ADORE Jessie. She’s another fabulous female character to bring the men to their knees – as do ALL of Blackthorns’s leading ladies – feisty, strong, courageous and with the right amount of vulnerability to make them believable and real.

It’s never easy to work out just where Lindsay will take us in Blackthorn – more supernatural creatures, new villains, wonderful twists and harsh revelations (not to mention the uber sexy scenes!) but I am more excited than ever to read the next book – bring on Blood Dark 2015!

Well done Mrs Blackthorn – five stars!!

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paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review Time! Blood Roses by Lindsay J. Pryor

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Afternoon bloggers, writers, friends and weirdo’s,

You may recall, a couple of months ago I blogged about the release of Lindsay J. Pryor’s new book, Blood Roses, second novel of the fabulous Blackthorn series. I also promised a review but in true Cinnamon style, I left everyone hanging as usual but in my defence I had a good reason or a half-baked excuse, whichever way you like to look at it. Work was crazy stressful and I also knew I had to put what little time I had into finishing Blood Wars, book three in my Dark Sanctuary series.

But as you know, Blood Wars has reached it’s grand finale very recently and so I can now get back to back-flipping, cartwheeling and body popping around the room in honour of an amazing writer and her wonderful book.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Lindsay and her Blackthorn series. In a world where everyone wants their vampires to sparkle and be, well, just howdy-doody piano playing perfection, the Blackthorn series grabs hold of contemporary vampire portrayal by the balls, rips out its throat and hangs it from the highest building. So let that be a lesson to you all, okay?

There’s no doubt the Blackthorn vampires are sexy, but they’re eternally dark, often cruel and more dangerous than a pit full of angry vipers. You think you’d survive a night in the polluted, sweat-drenched, vampire infested Blackthorn? Leila, Lindsay’s new feisty flame-haired heroine, knows the dangers of Blackthorn only too well and also knows that the likelihood of getting out of there alive is no mean feat, but with her beloved sister Alisha apparently in the clutches of some vamps, Leila has no choice but to venture into the one place she knows she shouldn’t go.

Leila is no ordinary Summerton gal, in fact shes’s not even an ordinary witch, she’s a serryn and that makes her potentially as dangerous to vampires as they are to her, so it’s no wonder that Caleb Dehain isn’t about to let her leave town anytime soon.

Discovered and captured by one very dangerous, dark and most-certainly brooding vampire, Leila soon finds herself embroiled in the midst of Prophecy and in a fight to prove to Caleb that she isn’t the killer he believes her to be. A growing and unwanted attraction to her captor soon means Leila is fighting for so much more than her very precious soul; she’s fighting to keep hold of her heart too and it’s not a battle that she seems likely to win.

One thing that struck me about Blood Roses is that whilst most of the book is set in the confines of Caleb’s lair, rather than restrict the action, this works wonders in building up the hot and heavy sexual tension between our two main protagonists as there really is nowhere for Leila to run to. As the reader, you can almost feel the panic and desperation growing within Leila every minute she is forced to remain in Caleb’s company, not to mention the burning attraction they are both feeling. I could literally feel the hairs on my neck prickling throughout as the fear, panic and tension emanates from each page, until the point where I was almost climbing the walls with them.

Secondly, and what I’m starting to see is one of Lindsay’s great skills as a writer, is that there is nothing predictable about Blood Roses, unlike some contemporary vampire novels where you can guess the plot way before you’ve reached the end. You’re never quite sure who to trust, who to believe in, whether good will out, or whether the characters will force the plot down some dark path. It’s always suspenseful, always exciting and always keeps you guessing right up until the very end and to me, that’s what’s so very special about the Blackthorn series.

There’s always that concern with the second book that it might not match up to the success of the first, but there’s no worries about that with Blood Roses. Lindsay introduces us to new characters, throws us into a new adventure, and gets the reader enthralled in a new story that keeps us just as hooked as Blood Shadows did.

Feisty heroines, dark and sexy anti-heroes and a world we just can’t help getting lost in, Blood Roses has it all. Five out of five!!!