Awakened (Circle of the Red Scorpion Book Five) by Charlene Johnson is a paranormal romance about a half-vampire half-human warrior who has spent hundreds of years battling an evil vampire bent on torturing and imprisoning humans. Twice throughout the centuries Dominic Rinaldi believed Nicodemus Bartolome was dead, but now he has shown up again, when he attacks a human woman named Chantelle Mallory in San Francisco. But there is something different about Chantelle. As Dominic’s feelings for her grow, will she be able to accept learning the truth about what he is? And will Dominic be able to protect Chantelle from the evil stalking her?
I liked the variety of paranormal beings in this book, and how they worked together to stop magical creatures who harmed humans. I enjoyed reading the sections of the story that focused on the search for the voodoo priestess’s descendants and the romance developing between Dominic and Chantelle. Dominic’s sister, Carmella, was not a likable character when she was first introduced in the story, and I thought the author did a really good job of redeeming her in the end. Some of my favorite characters were the other members of the Circle of the Red Scorpion. I enjoyed the interactions between the team, especially Moses Thorne and Nick Savage, and I liked learning about their different paranormal abilities.
While I enjoyed this story for its emotional connection between characters, I felt that there was an abundance of backstory about various characters at the beginning of the book, along with some flashbacks throughout the story, that slowed the momentum of the book.
With that aside, author Charlene Johnson still tells a dramatic vampire romance story in this riveting fifth entry in her paranormal Circle of the Red Scorpion series. Awakened is a rousing supernatural love story with spellbinding lead characters and a story that will have readers hooked.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B08H14WPR6
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Rise for Me follows a vampire who is forced into a reunion with his soulmate that abandoned him, and she’s harboring another secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The inspiration for Rise for Me actually developed after answering another author’s writing prompt. On social media, he asked his followers to create a fictional story about how we met. That is temptation incarnate for another writer, so I answered with something like this:
We met at the carnival and you were the creepy clown who snuck up behind me. I was so scared, I hit you with my corndog, and got mustard in your hair. You were so angry, we wrestled into the duck-pond booth, and tore it all to pieces. You laughed and I laughed. We both ended up wet, but we’re friends again, and all is good.
Not the best writing, but it was a fun response. That author is a horror writer by the way…lol After that little paragraph, I started thinking what a great vampire story.
Mariah and Roman have a deep emotional connection. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s relationship?
Vampires are almost always fated mate stories, but it’s rare to see a character leave for any extended period of time. Given Mariah’s age at the time the knowledge is revealed to Roman, I felt their separation appropriate although difficult for my hero. As a vampire and gypsy, Roman knows what it’s like to be judged, so he easily empathizes with Mariah’s infirmity. By the same token, Mariah has suffered judgement most of her life, so she knows what it’s like for Roman. This dynamic between them, along with the fact that they’re mates, drives the angst for her return, his forgiveness, and a happily-ever-after ending.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I am disabled from Guillain-Barre syndrome, so I know what it feels like to be different. Because I wear drop-foot braces, I walk a little weird. My mother was born with a hairy birthmark in the center of her forehead that was removed by a cosmetic surgeon later in her life. I’ve seen these things with my own eyes, experienced them, been stared at, and know how devastating they can be, but I also wanted to show the positives. The people of the carnival, including Roman, are accepting and don’t judge anyone. There are people just like Mariah and Roman in the real world, people in my life. Roman never looked on Mariah as anything but beautiful. Different doesn’t mean ugly…it means unique. I think Mariah realized how much more important Roman’s love was versus the healing he bestowed her with maturity and distance. In a world based on beauty, I feel as an author it’s important to put that kind of message in my stories. Mariah suffered real problems. Don’t we all wish for a vampire mate to heal us? Those types of situations draw the romance reader because many can identify. I was a reader, and still am, long before I ever wrote my first book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Seduction by Blood is another fated mates, vampire book that releases February 22, 2021. It deals with an abusive relationship in the beginning, so again, I’m hitting on a major issue while showing the heroine’s inner strength and growth throughout the story. The vampire is old world and is woke by his mate’s blood traveling through the root system on his property. This book is paranormal erotic, cowritten with another author, and published by The Wild Rose Press.
Hand-Carved Wolf is undergoing a major revision and will be available March 1, 2021, through Kindle Unlimited. This is a fantasy romance that deals with two widowers, and the ghost that bridges the gap between them. It’s unique in that the hero and the ghost are both Native American, my heroine is strong and feisty, and it’s in the current time period. It’s a longer book, 160+ pages, because of the issues that come from losing a spouse. The hero is also a single father and trying to put his and his daughter’s life back together when the heroine barges into his world. The book is loaded with sassy banter and was fun to write. It’s a good story with deep meaning, more of a classic romance about second chances, so I’m hoping romance readers enjoy it.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, Kristal Dawn Harris, literature, love story, nook, novel, novella, paranormal, paranormal romance, read, reader, reading, Rise for Me, romance, short story, story, supernatural, vampire, writer, writing
Rise For Me is a thrilling paranormal romance novella that surprised me with the amount of emotion that is packed into so few pages. Although the vampire romance genre is dense, Rise for Me is still able to remain unique and bring something new to the genre. The story surrounds a carnival run by Roman, our alluring main character, who is the ringmaster, vampire and warlock. Our female protagonist is Mariah, a character with emotional depth, who becomes Roman’s mate after a spell was performed. Although she has kept away, she has come back into Roman’s life and has a personal secret. The two have multiple forces working against them, including Mariah’s father, but they are inextricably bound to each other nonetheless.
Rise For Me is short, but is manages to take readers on a roller-coaster of emotion. Maybe because the story was short, or maybe because I so enthralled with the story, but I blew through story quickly. I read it all in one sitting! Author Kristal Dawn Harris’ writing is easy and keeps the story on the character and the action. Readers feel the pain that both Roman and Mariah felt by being apart all those years and empathize with Mariah as we learn the real reason why she has come back. This story has a great mix of character development and steamy scenes. I found the vampires in this story to be unique enough to stand out in the vampire genre, and I am impressed with how much background on our characters was given considering this story is around sixty pages. There was is a peculiar angst and passion between Roman and Mariah, I wanted more of their story and the way the novella ends only made me want more on these two characters.
I definitely recommend this if you are into vampire romance stories and are looking for a quick read; a long train or plane ride as this story can easily transport you into another world. I just wish we were there a bit longer. Readers easily get attached to Roman and Mariah and their complicated relationship. This is a suspenseful supernatural love story that will have fans raving, and begging for another installment.
Pages: 61 | ASIN: B08RRYSPHY
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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside your favorite video game? Karen Glista’s novel, Embellished, the first novel in The Chronicles of Orian trilogy, takes us on a wild ride with a story about teens who find themselves inside the world of the M.M.O.R.P.G. game, The Battle of Orian. While playing the game during a lightning storm, Bekka, Travis, and Matt are suddenly transported into the antiquated world of Orian. Bekka, a teen suffering from a rare genetic disease, finds herself fully healed from her earthly ailments and rises up the royal rankings. Meanwhile, her brother, Travis, and his friend Matt continually search for an escape back to Earth. Their only hope for escaping this world is finding the only other human from Earth, also trapped in the game, before they’re all killed by dangerous creatures.
Embellished is so much more than a fantasy/paranormal romance with a fair amount of compelling, steamy scenes. Embellished transcends genre boundaries through incorporating elements of adventure, suspense, and gruesome battle scenes. What makes it even more exciting to read is the development of its deeply complex characters and intricately woven plot with twists that’ll leave you gasping.
The novel opens with a group of teens playing The Battle of Orian on a stormy night in Texas, when lightning strikes their home and catapults the teens into the world of the game. Little do they know that their real-life bodies on Earth are rapidly deteriorating. Luckily, they know how to defeat evil spiders, bears, and violent Vadarcs, a sub-human species.
While the novel begins by focusing on Travis, who becomes the leader of the group, the perspective shifts to his sister, Bekka. She starts as a somewhat timid, soft-spoken individual, as her body on Earth was ravaged by the rare Marfan’s disease, but once she begins to find her voice, Bekka truly blossoms into a bold, outspoken, and open-minded heroine. I thought that it made the story so much more compelling to give Bekka these strong character traits, since it added suspense to the decisions she had to make.
Glista does a great job of capturing the inner feelings that any person would have when faced with a love triangle. Bekka befriends Atharia and even becomes betrothed to Atharia’s brother, the devastatingly handsome Vallas. But during a harrowing attack, she and Atharia are taken captive by a belligerent Vadarc tribe. After she meets Zandar, a half-Human Vadarc who exudes masculinity and passionate sensuality, Bekka wonders if she can ever go back to her life with Vallas again. She has the chance to choose between Vallas and Zandar – attracted to the different qualities within both men, she is torn between her desire for passionate, romantic love, or for safety and security.
Glista also masterfully incorporates multiple themes that add multiple layers to the novel. For example, Bekka discovers that there are deeply entrenched discriminatory practices between the Humans and Vadarcs, and after learning the history of the Vadarcs, Bekka begins to preach open-mindedness to her Human friends. I thought this was an extremely vital and current theme to have as it relates pretty directly to racial issues within today’s world.
As the first novel in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy, Embellished provides a bit of closure at the end, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens to Bekka, Travis, and Matt in the next installment.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B01M5BZVQ1
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