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Review: Their Dark Reflections, by Amanda Meuwissen

Book Title: Their Dark Reflections

Author: Amanda Meuwissen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Genre: Dark Paranormal M/M Romance

Trope/s: Friends to lovers, vampire/victim, boss/employee,thief with a heart of gold, hidden agenda, kind but vicious vampire

Themes: Self-discovery, finding light in the darkness, embracing one’s darkness, love against all odds

Heat Rating:  4 flames     

Length: 70 096 words/204 pages

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

Personal assistant Sam Coleman can do it all: housekeeping, groundskeeping, bookkeeping. The catch? It’s a con.

Ed Simon, his newest millionaire boss, doesn’t know Sam Goldman is a Robin Hood for hire who targets rich jerks. Sure, Sam keeps the money for himself, his crew, and his real employers, but at least they only steal from bad people.

Until sweet, fumbling Ed, who doesn’t seem to have a single vice. Too bad the people who hired Sam won’t let him back out. They want Ed’s money, and they’ll hurt Sam and his friends to get it.

For years Ed has kept people at arm’s length, but Sam’s charms wear down his defenses—just as he learns their budding relationship was an act. Sam isn’t who Ed thought he was, but Ed has a dark secret too: he’s a vampire. And someone is framing him for a series of bloody murders.

When the real villains force their hand, Sam and Ed must choose: work together, trust each other, and give in to the feelings growing between them… or let what might have been bleed out like the victims piling at their feet.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Everyone has a second face. 

Excerpt 

Sam was exhausted, probably because he hadn’t slept well in the past two days, but when he was ready to call it a night and looked around for Ed, he was surprised to find him outside, already in the pool. Sam was usually gone before Ed took his swims.

The tricked-out radio by the patio doors was blasting loud enough to carry outside, playing Blue Oyster Cult and making Sam smile. He didn’t fear the reaper so much himself anymore either.

Ed wasn’t doing any complicated strokes, just floating serenely on his back, arms gently moving to keep him up while he gazed at the stars beginning to glitter above him. He’d left the doors open as if to invite Sam to watch, so it was easy to do so without calling much attention to himself.

Ed didn’t look like a predator while swimming, his trunks clinging to him, chest bare. Sometimes it was hard for Sam to accept that dissonance—this version of Ed compared to the swift, brutal one—but then, wasn’t a lion capable of seeming like a housecat even if it was always dangerous?

“Would you like to join me?” Ed called without turning to look at him. “I have an extra suit upstairs.”

Sam wondered if that made him the lion tamer.

Enjoying the way Ed’s eyes fixed to his mostly bare body when he descended from upstairs in the spare trunks, Sam took his time walking to the edge of the pool, set his clothes on one of the lounge chairs, and stepped off for a simple, smooth drop into the water. He shook the excess from his hair and face when he resurfaced, seeking out Ed at the other end.

“Tell me,” Sam said, lifting up to float lazily on his back, “even without your telescope, how many of those can you name?”

“The stars? Or constellations?” Ed lifted as well, both watching the sky as they orbited each other.

“Does it matter?”

“No. I can name most of them.”

“Then where am I?”

Ed navigated to drift up beside Sam, tracing over invisible lines in the sky. “Gemini. Sort of like two stick figures holdings hands.”

Sam chuckled. “And you?”

“Pisces is there.” Ed dragged his finger the other direction. “See the way the ends connect and then it makes a sort of tilted V?”

“Doesn’t really look like a fish.”

“We had to be more creative back then.”

Blinking as what Ed was implying sunk in, Sam righted himself, not sure if he could ask, “You mean…?”

“I’m not that old.” Ed grinned. He didn’t clarify how old he was, however.

“You know, one of these days, I’m going to get you up on that roof to use your telescope properly.”

Ed scrunched his nose. “I wasn’t lying about not caring for heights.”

“I figured. Any particular reason?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because there weren’t as many tall buildings in my time.”

“Which was…?” Sam tried again, but Ed glanced away.

“Is this our first date?”

“If it was, would you tell me?”

“I said my age wasn’t a first date reveal, so….”

Sam read Ed’s hesitancy and didn’t want to push. “I don’t think this counts.” He smirked when Ed looked at him with a start. “We need to leave the house for a real date.”

“We’ll have to start thinking about our rain check, then.” Ed smiled back at him.

Drifting closer, Sam slid his hands around Ed’s waist to finally connect and pull him in. Even in the heated pool, Ed’s skin felt bracing. “I guess we will,” he said and started to lean forward.

“Sam.” Ed wrapped his arms around Sam’s neck, but his hands fidgeted, and he held back from letting Sam reach his lips. “You’re not only pretending because you think this is the only way to be safe from me, are you?”

“What?”

The idea that Ed still expected treachery surprised him, but then, Sam almost had betrayed him again, scared as he’d been. Ed was the most powerful and deadly creature he’d ever met, but he was still vulnerable, still so human.

“According to you,” Sam said, “I’m putting myself in more danger by being with you. You gave me an out, Eddie, and I chose to stay.”

 

 

About the Author  

Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author, with a primary focus on M/M romance, and works in marketing for the software company Outsell. She has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed Creative Writing major from St. Olaf College, and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and several other titles through various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga, and can be found at www.amandameuwissen.com.

 

Author Links

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Review:

I generally thought this was pretty sweet. I enjoyed how Ed could go from bumbling cutie to cold killer and how Sam liked that too. I liked the side characters, especially Gerry, who struck me as a little bit of a himbo. And I appreciated how Ed’s vampirism isn’t glossed over. He’s a killer, will always be a killer, and struggles with those same instincts even with his ‘love.’

I did think the plotting a little shallow, with things just happening and then being set aside until convenient again. (This was especially true of the police investigation.) The book also felt overly long and the pacing was inconsistent, tending towards dragging on occasion.

All in all, however, I enjoyed it and would read more of Meuwissen’s work

 

Giveaway

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

 

 

Review of Frost Burn (Fire and Ice #1), by Erica Stevens

I received and Audible code for a copy of Erica Steven‘s Frost Burn.

Description from Gooreads:

After years of running, Quinn has finally found a town to settle down in while she searches for the man who tore her life apart. Despite her every intention not to, she’s started to put down some roots and make friends. However, the small bit of solace she’s found is quickly shattered when a group of vampires walk into the bar where she works and turn her life upside down.

Looking only to stop for a few nights and have a good time, Julian never expected to stumble across someone like Quinn. Determined to keep her free from the vampires looking to use her as a weapon, Julian is stunned to discover himself starting to care for the mysterious woman with a dark past she’s unwilling to reveal. It doesn’t take him long to realize that the vampires after her are only a part of the problem. This quiet little town is hiding a violent secret of its own; a secret that not only threatens the town, but Quinn in particular.

Review:

(slightly spoilerish)

Honestly, I just didn’t like this. I thought Julian was an arrogant a-hole and Quinn a bit of a limp rag. It’s not that she was a weak heroine, there just kinda didn’t seem to be much to her. I didn’t feel their relationship grow and I was often annoyed.

What’s more, the book starts with the mystery of Quinn’s origins and why vampires are after her. Then, it immediately swerves off into an unrelated and immensely less interesting human investigation. The fact that these two end up being related is merely luck on the part of the characters and felt like nothing more than a manipulation of the plot on the part of the author.

I do want to address the fact that this is the first book in a spin-off series. I have not read the original series, but the author assures us that we don’t need to have read it to enjoy Frost Burn. I call BS on that. Yes, I could follow Frost Burn. But the characters and events of The Kindred Series are so often referenced that I 100% felt that I was missing out on vital information. What’s more, Julian so often reminded the reader that he’d been a bad man that I believed him. That’s part of why I didn’t like him. Maybe if I’d read the previous series and seen his moral transformation I would feel different. And there is absolutely no character development of side characters. I assume that is because they are known from the previous series. So, I recommend reading The Kindred before this.

Lastly, I think I have to give in and accept that I don’t like Meghan Kelly‘s narration style. That’s not to say it’s objectively bad, just not for me. I’ve listened to several of her books and while they are competently done, I find I just don’t like the way she voices people.

All in all, just about nothing worked for me about this book.

Midnight's Daughter

Review of Midnight’s Daughter (Dorina Basarab #1), by Karen Chance

I borrowed an audio copy of Karen Chance‘s MIdnight’s Daughter through Hoopla and my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir-half human, half vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.

Now Dory’s vampire father has come back into her life. Her Uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula), infamous even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare to put him back there.

Vampires and dhampirs are mortal enemies, and Dory prefers to work alone. But Dracula is the only thing on Earth that truly scares her, so when Dory has to go up against him, she’ll take all the help she can get… 

Review:

I’ve got to be honest and say I didn’t love this. It felt all over the place, Dory randomly running from one fight to the next and meeting characters who play no further role in the book. Ironically, I also felt like there were fights we should have seen (because they were more relevant to the plot) and we were only told she blacked out and woke up having killed everyone. In the end, she didn’t even fight Dracula, as the blurb suggests, but some other random villain, while someone else took Drac. (Actually that’s a perfect example of the book, the focus slipping off somewhere else with the important stuff happening in the background.)

Further, the way the book set up the evil family and then tried to redeem them didn’t work for me and I was bitter that the whole thing basically came down to an “Oops sorry.” 

I did appreciate that men were sexualized and victimized. I know that seems an odd thing to praise, but usually it’s ONLY WOMEN who get this treatment and it was nice to see a little parity. And I can also imagine some of the problems of this book being because it’s the first in a series and had to set everything else up. Despite not liking it much, I might be willing to give book two a chance to see if the things that annoyed me so much don’t carry over.

I did think Joyce Bean did a fine job with the narration.