May 6, 2013

Spotlight & Review: "Werewolves be Damned" by Stacey Kennedy

Werewolves Be Damned
Magic and Mayhem, Book One
Stacey Kennedy

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date of Publication: April 15, 2013
ISBN: 9781622661046
Number of pages: 267

Book Description:

Nexi Jones—part witch, part guardian, and wannabe kick-ass warrior—can’t throw a punch or conjure the simplest magic. But that doesn’t stop her from hunting the werewolves who slaughtered her human family. She’ll have her revenge, but only if Kyden, the elite guardian, would get the hell out of her way.
Kyden can’t decide if Nexi wants to get herself killed or if she just has no clue what she’s doing. But her father made it clear: keep Nexi safe…or else. Of course, the more Nexi runs toward revenge, the more she needs Kyden’s aid, and as she grows into her power and confidence, so does his desire to protect her. The only problem? She’d rather he dropped dead.
But when a vampire paints a bull’s-eye on Nexi’s back, she’s hard-pressed to deny Kyden and the help he’s offering. Even if it means getting her revenge will be a little bit harder. At least it will still be as sweet.

I’ve found you, fur ball.

Nexi peered from behind the large oak tree and spotted the small log cabin nestled in the thick forest. The porch light cast a warm glow into the night. Fog settled over the lush grass, and the night was dark, eerie.

Stepping away from her hiding place behind the tree, she strode forward and gripped the dagger tightly in her hand. Keeping the silver blade pointed outward, she climbed the cabin’s porch steps, taking each one slowly to avoid detection.

Once she arrived at the front door, she wrapped her hand around the door handle. Rich hunger for revenge burned in her veins and made her intent on one thing: to slaughter the werewolf who escaped the night of her parents’ murder. Not caring what awaited her, she stormed inside, dagger pointed, ready to kill.

The simple cabin had two large brown couches near a wood-burning stove, a kitchenette behind the living room, and a quilt-covered bed resting in the back. And that was it; there were no other rooms to investigate. No secret hiding places she could see.

No damned werewolf.

She cursed, shut the front door behind her, then trotted down the steps to return to her hiding spot. On her way across the yard, she glanced at the space to the right of the tree, which looked much like a heat wave, indicating that the portal to the Otherworld remained.

In some places around the world—or the Earthworld, as supernaturals had called it—there were permanent portals to the supernatural realm. This portal had only appeared because Nexi had travelled to this cabin from the Otherworld. Once she passed through the portal again, the gateway would vanish.

Magic had its perks. Quick travel was one of them.

Nexi shook her head at how normal all this magical stuff seemed now. Just over a month ago she’d never believed in anything that went bump in the night. Now she knew all those things existed, and in fact, she was one of them.

To her horror, she had learned that her birth mother, Tillie, had been murdered by a power-hungry vampire, Lazarus.  All those years ago, her birth father, Drake, had protectively decided to block Nexi’s supernatural abilities. He had planned for her to live and die as a mortal. Now with her return to the Otherworld and the removal of the block on her true identity, there was no going back.

She was no longer plain, human, Nexi Jones.

She was Nexi Jones, part guardian, part witch.

Looking away from the portal and to her hiding spot until the werewolf returned, she hurried her steps. She wasn’t ready to return to the Otherworld yet. Not until she had the werewolf’s head as her wall ornament would she dare go home.

Just as she neared the tree, a woodsy scent that had nothing to do with the forest mixed with the citrusy aroma of aftershave. A blink of an eye later, the dagger she held was now at her throat, a hard body closed in on her back.

“You smelled lovely when you arrived.” The low voice by her ear held a faint English accent. “But I never imagined you’d be so pretty.”

The blade pressed into her skin, not drawing blood, but implying that if the werewolf chose, she’d be destined for the grave. “I’m…”

“Going to explain yourself.” He lowered the dagger, took hold of her arm, and jerked her forward.

In a few short strides, the werewolf tossed her through the threshold of the cabin, and slammed the door behind them. He sauntered to the couch, sat down, and regarded her. “Now then, darlin’.” His olive skin was stunningly flawless, and his chocolate-colored hair was spiked tall. “Why would a pretty lass like yourself plan to attack me?”

“Don’t move.” That charm wouldn’t fool her. “Stay right where you are.”

“My mouth is the only thing moving.” His slanted amber eyes raked over her. “Would you like me to stop talking?”

“No.” She hesitated then added, “Only your mouth can move. Nothing else. Tell me what you know.”
He gave her a long look. “I’d be glad to tell you anything you’d like, love.”

His kind face and soft voice wouldn’t trick her. He was a werewolf. She was certain, which was another oddity.

After the block on her supernatural abilities had been lifted, she could identify a supernatural creature as if knowing the difference between a brunette and a redhead. “Tell me why you killed my family.”

“That’s an interesting accusation.” He cocked his head, studying her with a frown. “But I think the more important question is who are you?”

She lifted her chin. “The lass who’s going to cut off your furry wolf balls.”
Werewolves Be Damned by Stacey Kennedy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Werewolves by Damned is a perfect example of the kind of book that I usually fall in love with. It has everything: witches, werewolves, vampires, guardians, badass heroine, and a sexy alpha male character. However, as much as I really wanted to just love, love, love it - I didn't. It was okay. I liked it. But it didn't blow me away.

Let's start with what I did like. I loved Nexi as the female lead in this story. She has an interesting and heartwrenching back story, plus a long, hard road ahead of her. She has been raised as a mortal on Earth, never suspecting that she is actually an Otherworldly mixture of Guardian and Witch. Her real father hid her away with adoptive parents and blocked her supernatural powers from developing after her real mother was murdered. Nexi is oblivious to all of this until the night that werewolves show up at her house and brutally murder her adoptive parents right in front of her. This is where Kyden comes in. *Sigh.* All 6 foot something of him - wearing nothing but a kilt and a six pack. He is assigned to protect Nexi and train her in self defense and how to use her new found Guardian powers. Right off the bat he strikes the perfect balance between overbearing, overprotective jerk, and sensual, sexy, male.
"Now we're doing this my way. You are mine, Nexi Jones. Get used to the idea. We're together now, and yes, that means your safety is of the utmost importance to me...I would give all that I am to protect you. Love cannot possibly describe what this is between's more"
Nexi quickly realizes that she has fallen in love with him, and he with her. When Kyden is put in jeopardy trying to protect her, she realizes that she would do anything for him - including risk her own life. This proves to be the catalyst that allows Nexi to fully discover what power she is really capable of...and to what extent she would go to save Kyden's life.
"I'm so glad I met you. No matter how short our time together was, I don't regret a moment of my life. Not then. Not now. Not ever."
Besides Nexi and Kyden there is also a whole other cast of secondary characters that really enhanced the story. Nexi gets a chance to know her real father, Drake, plus finds a friend and mentor in the witch Zia, who was her real mother's soul sister. Nexi also finds her own soul sister, Haven, who helps her transition into her new world.

Now for what didn't work for me. I don't doubt that Stacey Kennedy is a good writer - in fact I really liked the overall "story" in the book, but her word choices and descriptions were so repetitious that it kept pushing me out of the story. The number one example was how many times it was reiterated that Nexi was new to the Otherworld and didn't understand what was going on. She was constantly confused, or lost, or wishing they would explain in normal person talk. I think this was probably just a way for Kennedy to explain the Otherworld in depth instead of just having paragraphs of exposition - but believe me, it got old really quickly after the tenth time someone said "I keep forgetting you don't know any of this ... blah, blah, blah." It's not that it was badly written, because it wasn't. However, these constant shifts in dialogue kept forcing us away from what was going on in the real story, and it irritated me. The second instance of repetition, though, nearly made me put down the book and walk away. Within a twelve page span there were NINE instances of Nexi hugging someone or being jerked or led around by her arm. That was all fine and good, but the awkward way in which each encounter was described just hit me the wrong way.

Here are some quotes:

"Releasing Finn, she collided with Talon, and threw her arms around him"

"Finn gathered her in his arms. She sank into his embrace and wanted him to tell her that this was another terrible nightmare."

"Without thought, acting on pure instinct, she threw herself into his arms and he caught her, holding her close."

"She approached Calder, and once in front of him, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders."

"Another hand tightened around her arm, and Talon pulled her away from Calder."

"Nexi yanked herself out of Talon's grip, then collided with Haven and hugged her."

"Talon broke the silence as he snatched up her hand and led her away."

"A pull from behind her had her glancing over her shoulder."

"He gathered her in his arms. She rested her head against his chest, accepting the warmth of the embrace."

Keep in mind these were all different people she was colliding with and throwing herself into. The picture that this painted in my head was of a deranged woman walking around a room full of people and just randomly flinging herself into their arms and then being yanked away by someone else. Very distracting in the middle of a story, lol.

Anyway, if you can look past the habitually confused and overenthusiastic hugger that is Nexi Jones, you will probably enjoy this book. The plot is good, and I will most likely read the sequel when it comes out.

About the Author:

Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones.

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