Parallel Lives by Karen Klyne

Parallel Lives by Karen KlyneParallel Lives by Karen Klyne by Karen Klyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, what would you do if suddenly you were sucked through a wormhole and ended up in a new, vaguely similar, but altogether different world? Parallel Lives, Karen Klyne’s first book in her Opening in Time trilogy (and first book, period), addresses this topic. I always enjoy series as this means I can get extra invested in the characters, and the parallel universe aspect most definitely appealed to the geeky Whovian in me.

The book opens with a bang. Well, more of a crash. After Kaityln Hewett-Grace crashes her plane and comes to in Caysher, a strange place with marked similarities to and differences from the world she knows, she has to learn about this new place and its inhabitants. She navigates the cultural and societal differences while also providing a bit of her old world to her new friends.

While dealing with some serious culture shock, Kaitlyn also finds herself torn between Tannus, the serious and strong Chief of the community, and Berran, Tannus’ twin sister and second in command. Berran wants Kaitlyn more than anything, but is also loyal to her sister and Chief. Tannus knows without a doubt that Kaitlyn was meant to come to her and that she and Kaitlyn are meant to be together. All three, as well as the community, have to work to adapt to Kaitlyn’s appearance in this new (for her) world and decide how to handle things when Tannus admits to her potentially devastating secret.

The characters are well-developed, even the secondary characters. A little more in the way of internal dialogue than I would prefer, but that’s personal preference and not a reflection on the story itself. The story itself – the premise – and the main characters are what’s intriguing.

Kaitlyn is neither out of time nor out of place, but she’s definitely not in the world as she’s known it. She sells fancy clothes in her world and loves listening to music, but this new world is unlike anything she’s ever known. It’s both familiar and foreign. And while she misses her old world, especially her mother, she also appreciates and embraces the differences.

Tannus and Berran, twin sisters, are both very strong and confident. But where Tannus’ confidence comes partly through her position as Chief, Berran’s hides a resentment borne of being second in pretty much everything.

Though some of the secondary characters felt a bit flat, none were cutouts and everyone introduced had a definite purpose in the story line. I’m hoping to see more of some of them, such as Sostar, the doctor, and Carray, Tannus and Berran’s sister, in the next books.

Overall, the story and characters were very enjoyable. The pace was fast enough to stay interesting, but not so fast as to feel rushed at any point. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and reading more from this promising new author (really – a trilogy to start with? Impressive!).

If you like romance and wormholes, this book is for you!

I received an ARC of this book from Global Wordsmiths in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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The Magistrate by Keira Michelle Telford

I reviewed The Magistrate by Keira Michelle Telford for C-Spot Reviews. You can check it out on the C-Spot site here.

Title: The Magistrate
Author: Keira Michelle Telford
Publisher: Venatic Press

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L-World by Taryn Rose

I reviewed L-World by Taryn Rose for C-Spot Reviews. You can check it out on the C-Spot site here.

Title: L-World
Author: Taryn Rose
Publisher: Ravenous Romance

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Wild by Meghan O’Brien

The only thing that frightens shapeshifter Selene Rhodes more than the full moon is the idea of falling in love.

Selene Rhodes has lived her whole life with a terrible secret: not only can she take the form of any animal at will, but once a month the full moon transforms her into a fierce wolf-creature without a human conscience. Managing her condition means living by a strict routine, and more importantly, abstaining from intimate relationships with human beings. Selene is convinced that love and friendship can only bring her pain.

Forensic pathologist Eve Thomas is well-acquainted with the pain of romantic love. Swearing off relationships after having her heart broken by a cheating ex, Eve throws herself into her work: catching murderers. When Selene comes to her aid after an attack by a masked man in Golden Gate Park, Eve is shocked by how powerfully she is drawn to her mysterious savior.

Shaken by her own feelings for Eve, Selene is even more terrified to realize she isn’t even close to being the scariest monster stalking San Francisco. There is someone out in the city who is killing for pleasure, and his next target is the one woman he thinks might be able to stop him: Eve.

This is the fifth of Meghan O’Brien’s standalone books (she’s contributed to compilations, as well), and her first paranormal. To my delight, she seems to be trying out (and succeeding with) different aspects of the romance genre.

As with her other novels, O’Brien jumps in wholeheartedly with vivid character descriptions. We may not know the details or extent of Selene’s condition, but by the time we do, we are already attached to her strong character. Selene is sometimes surprised by her own condition. But she bears (and wears) it well, and we are witness to a very interesting person who happens to shapeshift. While Eve is not 2D by any means, Selene is by far the most interesting character, even if her protective instincts border on stalking. She’s also clearly the cutest character: “This was definitely the drawback of being a dog. Everyone wanted to rescue her.”

O’Brien doesn’t limit her rich character development to the two protagonists. While we neither pity the killer in any way nor know the genesis of his motives, he is not a stock villain. We get a clear idea of who he is, even if we don’t know why he is. Jac (the cheating ex) could have been a caricature, too.  Jac starts out somewhat flat, but becomes more fully formed—even interesting—as the story progresses. And, while the change in her attitude toward Selene seems sudden, the circumstances warrant such a quick transformation.

For me, though, the most interesting technical aspect of the novel was the switches into the killer’s mind and actions. Too few authors shift successfully between multiple major characters: they write one with more detail or care than they do the other character(s). Each of O’Brien’s characters has a clear voice, and she does an admirable job of seamlessly jumping between three characters.

This novel is well written, well edited, very enjoyable, and pretty darned hot—it’s a keeper. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll see more of Selene, Eve, and Jac.

Title: Wild
Author: Meghan O’Brien
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

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