Review: Burned (Fever #7) by Karen Marie Moning

Happy Wednesday!  I am ecstatic to bring this book to you today.  It is part of one of my favorite series and written by one of my favorite authors.  I was able to finish this as birthday present to myself and am happy to bring it to you.  Burned by Karen Marie Moning is a continuation of her fever series.  This book has been burning a hole on my bookshelf for months (pun intended).  The action, steaminess and intrigue continue with this newest addition, but like all the books so far they leave us with lots of questions and only a countdown for the next book.  For my full review keep reading after the book blurb.  Happy Hump Day!  Have a great rest of your week.

12444297Book Blurb:

It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.

When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed.

Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.

Review:

Mac is back baby!  That’s right.  Mac is back and has even more challenges than before.  Mac begins by trying to reconcile with Dani.  The problem is Dani thinks Mac is going to kill her.  Which Mac is actually contemplating.  But, before any of that can happen Dani gets lost in faery.  Mac must now balance her personal search for getting the Sinsar Dubh out of her and finding Dani.  Unfortunately, this very quickly becomes more complicated.  Ryodan and the Nine get invaded by a new problem and only Mac can help.  While helping them she, in her own Mac fashion, causes trouble and encourages some things to go a little sideways.  When things finally start coming together and the nine, Mac, Jada (read to know more) and the Kelters come together for one mission. But as all things go in this upside down faery mash-up of a world things don’t go as planned and losses occur and questions are still left hanging on the tip of Mac’s tongue.

I loved this installment of the series.  Hallelujah! Mac is back.  I knew going into this that it was going to be a whirlwind ride.  I was not disappointed.  I loved the twists and turns with this book.  Just when we think we are going to get answers we get little teasers.  My favorite part in the entire book is what happens to make when she is backed into the corner.  I am only going to only vaguely describe it but it’s so Mac I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before.  But the best part is what she does with it.  With this book Mac has sealed herself as a total badass, among other things.  Barrons as always is sex on a stick along with Ryodan, Lor and all the others.  We really discover more of their world and the world of Chester’s.  Honestly, so much happens in this book it will truly be difficult for me to put it all into words except go and read it.  If you haven’t heard of this series then you need to pick it up ASAP.  The first book in the series is Darkfever.  I guarantee you won’t want to put it down until you have finished Burned.  Then, sadly, you will be like me and be waiting anxiously for next January.  I can’t say enough good this about this book or Karen Marie Moning.  Overall, it is another triumph in the Fever world and it is an enthralling and exciting read.

Author Profile: Karen Marie Moning

This week’s author profile is Karen Marie Moning.  She is the author of two series’ that I read.  She writes the Highlander series and the Fever Series.  Both of these are highly successful and acclaimed.

Before Karen Marie Moning was the acclaimed and successful author that she is, Ms. Moning  went to Purdue and studied Society and Law.  After receiving her degree, she worked as a bartender, computer consultant and insurance specialist.  When Ms. Moning began her career as a writer, she started out writing paranormal romance set in Scotland.  This became her Highlander series.  While writing her Highlander series she became very interested in the Celtic mythology and focused her second series, the Fever series, on the Tuatha De Danaan.  These two wildly successful series have opened many doors for Ms. Moning.  Her books have been translated into over 21 different languages and at her signing events she draws fans from all over.  Ms. Moning is now focused on her new Fever World series that branches out into the lives of some of the secondary characters from the Fever books.

I decided this week to give you two excerpts from my two favorite books written by Karen Marie Moning.  My first is The Highlander’s Touch.  This was my first introduction to Ms. Moning’s Highlander series and I fell in love with the characters.  I love to re-read this book to relive Circenn and Lisa’s love story.  Here is an excerpt from The Highlander’s Touch:

Chapter One
Present day

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” Lisa cried, as the Mercedes zipped around an idling taxi and passed dangerously near the curb where she stood, splashing sheets of dirty water up her jeans-clad legs.

“Well, get out of the street, you idiot!” the driver of the Mercedes yelled into his cell phone. Lisa was close enough to hear him say into the phone, “No, not you. It looked like some homeless person. You’d think as much as we pay in taxes …” His voice faded as he drove off.

“I wasn’t in the street!” Lisa yelled after him, tugging her baseball cap lower on her head. Then his words sunk in. “Homeless?” Dear God, is that what I look like? She glanced down at her faded jeans, worn and frayed at the hems. Her white T-shirt, although clean, was soft and thin from hundreds of washings. Maybe her slicker had seen better days, a few years before she’d bought it at Secondhand Sadie’s, but it was durable and kept her dry. Her boot had a hole, but he couldn’t have seen that, it was in the sole. The chilly puddles from the recent rain seeped into her boot, soaking her sock. She wriggled uncomfortable toes and made a mental note to duct tape her boot again. But surely she didn’t look homeless? She was spotlessly clean, or at least she had been before he’d come whizzing by.

“You don’t look like a homeless person, Lisa.” Ruby’s indignant voice interrupted her thoughts. “He’s a pompous ass who thinks anybody not driving a Mercedes doesn’t deserve to live.”

Lisa flashed Ruby a grateful smile. Ruby was Lisa’s best friend. Every evening they chatted as they waited together for the express shuttle to the city, where Lisa went to her cleaning job and Ruby sang in a downtown club.

Lisa eyed Ruby’s outfit longingly. Beneath a dove-gray raincoat with classic lines she wore a stunning black dress adorned with a string of pearls. Strappy, sexy shoes displayed French-manicured toenails; shoes that would feed Lisa and her mom for a month. Not a man alive would let his car splash Ruby Lanoue. Once, Lisa might have looked like that, too. But not now, when she was so deeply in debt that she couldn’t fathom a way out.

“And I know he didn’t get a good look at your face.” Ruby wrinkled her nose, irritated with the long-gone driver. “If he had, he certainly would’ve stopped and apologized.”

“Because I look so depressed?” Lisa asked wryly.

“Because you’re so beautiful, honey.”

“Yeah. Right,” Lisa said, and if there was a trace of bitterness, Ruby tactfully ignored it. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone.”

“But you could. You have no idea what you look like, Lisa. He must have been gay. That’s the only reason a man could miss a woman as gorgeous as you.”

Lisa smiled faintly. “You just never give up, do you, Ruby?”

“Lisa, you’re beautiful. Let me doll you up and show you off. Take off that cap and let your hair down. Why do you think God gave you such magnificent hair?”

“I like my cap.” Lisa tugged at the faded bill of her Cincinnati Reds cap protectively, as if she feared Ruby might snatch it away. “Daddy bought it for me.”

Ruby bit her lip hesitantly, then shrugged. “You can’t hide beneath that hat forever. You know how much I care about you, and yes”—she waved away Lisa’s protest before it even reached her lips—”I know your mother is dying, but that doesn’t mean you are too, Lisa. You can’t let it defeat you.”

Lisa’s expression grew shuttered. “What are you singing for your opening number tonight, Ruby?”

“Don’t try to change the subject. I won’t let you give up on life,” Ruby said gently. “Lisa, there’s so much ahead of you. You’ll survive this, I promise.”

Lisa averted her gaze. “But will I want to?” she muttered, kicking at the curb. Her mom, Catherine, had been diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. The diagnosis had come too late, and now little could be done with the exception of making her as comfortable as possible. Six months, maybe a year, the doctors had advised cautiously. We can try experimental procedures, but… The message was clear: Catherine would die anyway.

Her mom had refused, with unwavering determination, to be the target of experimental procedures. Spending the last months of her life in a hospital was not how either Lisa or Catherine wanted it to end. Lisa had arranged for home health care, and now money, which had always been tight for them, was even tighter.

Since the car accident five years ago that had crippled her mother and killed her father, Lisa had been working two jobs. Her life had changed overnight following her father’s death. At eighteen, she’d been the cherished daughter of wealthy parents, living in Cincinnati’s most elite, private community, with a brilliant, secure future ahead of her. Twenty-four hours later, on the night of her high-school graduation, her life had become a nightmare from which there’d been no awakening. Instead of going to college, Lisa had gone to work as a waitress, then picked up a night job. Lisa knew that after her mother was gone she would continue to work two jobs, trying to pay off the astronomical medical bills that had accumulated.

She winced, recalling her mother’s recent instructions that she be cremated because it was less expensive than a burial. If she thought about that comment too long she might get sick right there at the bus stop. She understood that her mom was trying to be practical, seeking to minimize expenses so Lisa would have some small chance at life when she was gone, but frankly, the prospect of life alone, without her mother, held little appeal for her.

This week Catherine had taken an irrevocable turn for the worse, and Lisa had been slapped in the face with the inescapable fact that she could do nothing to ease her mother’s pain. It would stop only with death. The gamut of emotions she experienced lately was bewildering to her. Some days she felt anger at the world in general; other days she would have offered her soul in exchange for her mom’s health. But the worst days were the ones when she felt a twinge of resentment beneath her grief. Those days were the worst because with the resentment came a crushing load of guilt that made her aware of how ungrateful she was. Many people had not had the chance to love their mothers for as long as she had. Some people had far less than Lisa: Half full, Lisa, Catherine would remind.

As they boarded the shuttle, Ruby pulled Lisa into the seat next to her and maintained a stream of bright chatter intended to lift her spirits. It didn’t work. Lisa tuned her out, trying not to think at all—and certainly not about “after.” Now was bad enough.

How did it come to this? God—what has happened to my life? she wondered, massaging her temples. Beyond the glass and steel panes of the express shuttle to downtown Cincinnati, the chilly March rain began to fall again in uniform sheets of gray.

The second excerpt will be from Darkfever.  This is the first book in Ms. Moning’s fever series.  This was also the first book I read by Ms. Moning.  It was yet another treasure I got from Barnes and Noble’s Free Friday selections.  I fell in love with Mac and Barrons and can’t wait for their next installment.  Here is the excerpt from Darkfever:

Prologue

My philosophy is pretty simple—any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in
my book.

I haven’t had many good days lately.

Not since the walls between Man and Faery came down.

But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.

Before The Compact was struck between Man and Fae (around 4000 B.C. for those of you who aren’t up on your Fae history), the Unseelie Hunters hunted us down like animals and killed us. But The Compact forbade the Fae to spill human blood, so for the next six thousand years, give or take a few centuries, those with True Vision—people like me

who can’t be fooled by Fae glamour or magic—were taken captive and imprisoned in Faery until they died. Real big difference there: dying or being stuck in Faery until you die. Unlike some people I know, I’m not fascinated by them. Dealing with the Fae is like dealing with any addiction—you give in, they’ll own you; you resist, they never will.

Now that the walls are down, the Hunters are back to killing us again. Stamping us out like we’re the plague on this planet.

Aoibheal, the Seelie Queen of the Light, is no longer in charge. In fact, nobody seems to know where she is anymore, and some people are beginning to wonder if she is anymore. The Seelie and Unseelie have been smearing their bloody war all over our world since her disappearance, and although some might say I’m being broody and pessimistic, I think the Unseelie are gaining the distinct upper hand over their fairer brethren.

Which is a really, really bad thing.

Not that I like the Seelie any better. I don’t. The only good Fae is a dead Fae in my book. It’s just that the Seelie aren’t quite as lethal as the Unseelie. They don’t kill us on sight. They have a use for us.

Sex.

Though they barely credit us with sentience, they have a taste for us in bed.

When they’re done with a woman, she’s a mess. It gets in her blood. Unprotected Fae-sex awakens a frenzy of sexual hunger inside a woman for something she should never have had to begin with, and will never be able to forget. It takes a long time for her to recover—but at least she’s alive.

Which means a chance to fight another day. To help try to find a way to return our world to what it once was.

To send those Fae bastards back to whatever hell they came from.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, ahead of the story.

It began as most things begin. Not on a dark and stormy night. Not foreshadowed by ominous here-comes-the-villain music, dire warnings at the bottom of a teacup, or dread portents in the sky. It began small and innocuously, as most catastrophes do. A butterfly flaps its wings somewhere and the wind changes, and a warm front hits a cold front off the coast of western Africa and before you know it you’ve got a hurricane closing in. By the time anyone figured out the storm was coming, it was too late to do anything but batten down the hatches and exercise damage control.

My name is MacKayla. Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

There were more of us out there than anyone knew. And it’s a damn good thing, too.

We’re damage control.

If those excerpts have wetted your appetite for more by Karen Marie Moning I would suggest going out and picking up one of her novels.  You will not regret it.  Her writing is inventive and wildly imaginative.  She has a unique style all on her own.  I truly don’t know where she came up with her ideas even if they are based on Celtic mythology.  She constructs a world within the bounds of reality, yet not.  I know I look forward to her next novel Iced (A Dani O’Malley Novel) coming out October 30, 2012.

If you would like more information about Karen Marie Moning you can visit her website at http://www.karenmoning.com.  If you’d like more information about The Highlander’s Touch, Darkfever, the Highlander’s series or the Fever series please visit Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Girls Rule…Boys Drool…or not?

A theme I have noticed in a lot of the books I have been reading lately is the development of strong alpha female characters.  There aren’t as many stories that focus on the female character being the damsel in distress. There are a lot of female ass-kicking characters now then there ever were.  But, that being said there are quite a few book series that feature very overly Alpha male characters.  You are hard pressed to find many series that balance the two well.  A series in which both are Alphas and work well together.

Female characters such as Anita Blake, Charley Davidson and Mackayla Lane, to name a few, all have very similar character requirements.  They are tough, witty, strong both of character and physically and yet still very feminine.  They are exquisite examples of Girl Power.

Anita Blake, of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series,  is also known as the vampire hunter.  Her series revolves around her but also include a male counterpart, Jean Claude.  The stories illustrate her strengths, weaknesses and her ability to over come them herself not relying souly on Jean Claude to bail her out. The story between her and Jean Claude also does not lead to them automatically jumping into bed.  She sticks to her guns even though there is definite chemistry there.  She is not the shrinking violet or damsel in distress.  In a fight you wouldn’t mind having Anita Blake at your back.

Charley Davidson, of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson Series, is also known as the Grim Reaper.  She is a part-time private detective who can communicate with the dead because she is the light that spirits must go into.  She is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a long time.  She also has a male counterpart in Reyes.  Now, she and Reyes have had hot, sweaty sex but she still keeps her wits about her and still questions the Son of Satan’s  (Reyes) motives.  Charley is definitely headstrong and no non-sense but very relatable.

Mackayla Lane, from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, is our most human of the three female characters I chose.  She does have special powers but it’s not really something most people would want to have.  She can see the Fae without their glamour.  Which means all the awful and ugly facades come crashing at her.  The only reason she learns of these powers is because she leaves her very isolated Georgia home town to Dublin where the Fae are very prominent.  It is here she meets one of the best Alpha males that has been written, Jerricho Barrons.  Mackayla isn’t always the strong character she develops into.  It is her situation, determination and Barrons incessant bullying and pestering that drives her be become what she needs to be.

Since we have covered the female characters we must give props to some of the very strong male characters out there. But, I find that many of the male characters are parts of groups. The Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lords of the Underworld are some of the strongest male characters that are currently placed on the bookshelves.  They know how to be both sensitive and totally take someone out for messing with their mates.  These men are all Alpha males even though there are leaders in both groups.

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood contains ALL strong characters.  Each one of them must overcome obstacles from Vishous and his need for pain, Rhage and his inner monster, Zsadist and his tormented past and John Matthew and his human past to name only a few.  But, with overcoming these problems whether physical or mental allow for them to grow as characters and still kick ass and show the Lessers who is boss.  These males take care of theirs and no one better ever threaten what is theirs or face the dire consequences.

Gena Showalter’s the Lords of the Underworld are a bit more complicated considering most of them are two entities.  One half is the man and the other half is the demon they house.  These Lords face similar issues like that of the Brotherhood except they are constantly fighting themselves. Most of the Lords must do things like consistently lie, win every challenge or cut themselves or they are in immense pain.  These cursed men fight those who are trying to destroy them while still protecting their mates.  These men, like the BDB, are strong-willed Alpha males.

I have covered both strong female and male characters.  There are only a few series’ that offer partnerships that allow for both to be Alphas or dominant.  Cat and Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s Nighthuntress series and Elena and Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series are two that stick out to me.  Both of these strong couples support yet protect each other.  Both allow for dominance and strength in each other while accomplishing their goals.  This type of relationship is rarely seen in novels.  I believe it’s probably just very difficult to write.  It is much easier to have one central character be the dominant.

All this being said, I still am at a loss to which I prefer.  Whether I like the strong, witty, fun female protagonist or the domineering, overly protective/sensitive male protagonist, I am unsure.  But, if those two get together I know they most likely will have fireworks and really sexy love scenes.  And, who doesn’t like a good sex scene?

What do you prefer, A Female Alpha or a Male Alpha? 

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