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Book Review: Pure Healing by Aja James (Paranormal Romance)

Pure Healing by Aja James is a paranormal romance. It is initially very slightly confusing in that the book starts with Sophia, the Queen of the Pure Ones, as narrator but she soon becomes a secondary figure in the rest of the book as the relationship between Rain, the healer, and Valerius, an immortal Protector. There has been sexual tension between them for over a decade but finally Valerius asks to become her consort and help regenerate her powers by allowing her to feed on his blood and his body. But he is not to fall in love with her. Valerius suffered brutality in his youth and is full of self-doubt and handicapped by his resulting fear of intimacy. Rain also is constrained by her past and who she is but somehow between them they achieve fulfillment. The counter-plot runs alongside centred on Sophia, a student at Harvard, who makes friends with the mysterious Ere, a teaching assistant, but you have to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye. And in the background is an impending war between vampires and the Pure Ones. Vicious attacks by vampire assassins are taking place all too often.

This is a very intense, gritty book that really grips you. The author creates an intriguing yet overtly dangerous world. As with all series starters, there is quite a lot of groundwork to cover to set the scene for all the action that is to come, in this book and later ones. However, Aja James keeps the pace moving and keeps our appetites whetted. Plenty of questions are raised and issues touched on that are still to be resolved. In summary, you’ll be hooked!

 

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The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu

The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu injects originality into paranormal fiction. St Michel appears to vampire Xavier and sends him on a quest. Xavier’s emotionally turbulent lover and fellow vampire, Thomas, is uneasy about this, and rightly so. Xavier encounters his dying friend Anne who has supernatural powers. She is dying and beseeches Xavier to free her enslaved grandson. As Thomas says, Xavier is ‘the vampire that cared about the world and the people in it’. He will do anything for his friend, even though this particular action is against the vampire ethic. The ethic means vampires can feed off evil humans, but can’t otherwise interfere in human events. Transgressing vampires ace the ire and punishment of the Vampire Council if they disobey. Thomas fears for Xavier and so gets Anthony to help him, another vampire and friend. Can they keep Xavier from facing the terrifying consequences of his loyal actions.

Damian Serbu himself describes his writing as gay horror. There is darkness and violence in the novel, certainly, but it’s not too disturbing. This is writing that’s hard to categorise. This is a modern novel, although it’s set in the last century. The author’s love of history adds an extra dimension to it too. It’s brutal but also tender. I hope the gay element won’t put off any readers since the love between Xavier and Thomas is moving and powerful and always sensitively described. The relationship is strongly in the background but the focus in this book is on friendships – those between Xavier and Anne, between Anthony and Thomas – and also on the sibling love betwen Xavier and Catherine. Loyalty is tested. There are many layers in this absorbing and richly constructed book.

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Risking Eternity by Gwenan Hayden – An Outstanding Paranormal Romance Novella

A fantastic cover too

This is such an incredibly good book! Risking Eternity follows cop Hayden Farrell as she begins to investigate the murder of a young prostitute whose blood-drained body is left outside a church. She’s being watched at the murder scene by a mysterious figure, whose thoughts about her we share. Is he the murderer? Certainly the murders seem personal to him, but he also appears to have some sort of tie to Hayden as well.

Hayden distrusts the supernatural. Her mother was a fake psychic who involved her in her deceptions. Hayden likes concrete facts and ends she can tie up. She prefers to live in the real world. While her friends are happy to watch handsome heroes and beautiful heroines making out in films, Hayden would rather be taking part in the action!

The brooding figure of vampire Valentin both scares and attracts her. But they need each other. Valentin can help Hayden solve the murders and she can help him wreak revenge on a killer from the past who has resurfaced. But need becomes exploitation…

This is a fascinating, dark paranormal romance. The characters are rounded and complex, flawed and believable. There is simmering sexual tension between Valentin and Hayden from the start, even though he’s adamant at first that she’s ‘not his type’. You simply can’t predict what will happen next in the story.The plot is original and ingenious with skillfully created suspense and a denouement that smacks you in the face.

This intelligent, atmospheric, sexy novella is the first in the new Timeshifter series from this amazingly talented writer. Do put this book on your ‘to read’ list. If not, you’re missing out on a very rare treat. I for one will be reading everything from Gwenan Haines, now that I have discovered her.

 

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Fate’s Design by Lola James

Fate’s Design by Lola James is an intricately woven paranormal romance that it’s hard to put down. Twins Megan and Morgan travel to Italy after Morgan wins a prize that brings them to fashion school in Bologna. The girls are very different personality wise, but very close. Later in the story a further link between them emerges. In Italy, Megan literally bumps into a mysterious, handsome stranger, Alexandros DiPiero, that she has seen in her dreams. Her visions, though, become increasingly nightmarish and feature threatening, frightening figures. Is this fate, or is someone somewhere pulling strings? The romance element of the story is very well handled. So too is the paranormal, with vampires, dhampirs (half-human, half-vampire) and guardians. The story takes many original and inspired turns and flits between locations in America and Italy. It is complex but never overly complicated.

Pararnormal romance is probably the hottest genre in fiction at the moment, and books like this illustrate why. There’s the fun, curiosity and escapism of the supernatural combined with human emotion and a cracking good plot. Lola James creates rounded, fascinating characters who grow and develop, and places them in a recognisable, modern world. There is clever dialogue, some steamy sex scenes and never a dull moment. Danger and evil lurk, but there is fun and a lighter touch too. James includes deep issues with her choice of of fate, destiny and predetermination as themes, but handles them in a sensitive and intriguing way. This is an ambitious book but extremely successful and definitely work reading.