Deadline by Jennifer Blackstream Review

 

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

 

Deadline

(Blood Trails Series, Bk 1)By Jennifer Blackstream
Blurb: As a witch with a dark past, Shade Renard knows the Otherworld isn’t always successful at policing itself. Humans don’t believe in magic anymore, and their ignorance renders them easy prey. So when an FBI contact hires her to consult on a possible haunting in a missing persons case, Shade seizes the opportunity to see justice done. 
Her case takes an unexpected turn when an undead crime lord shows up on her doorstep. A bold thief stole the vampire’s little black book of secrets—and he’ll pay a lot more than an FBI consulting fee to get it back. To collect, Shade will have to confront a rogue sorceress, a vengeful wizard, and a lethally seductive fey, with only her wits, her growing magic, and a sarcastic pixie familiar. 

Success means bringing a killer to justice and taking the first step to redemption. Failure means a war between humans and the Otherworld.

 

No pressure.
Available for purchase at 
Excerpt

 

“Didn’t you say you weren’t drinking soda anymore?”

I popped the top on the can of Coke and took a defiant swig, more than a little satisfied at the squeak of dismay that came from my judgmental familiar as she wavered on her perch atop my head. “I earned this. I killed a eurypterid before breakfast. Two eurypterids. And I almost died. Not to mention, Mrs. Harvesty kept me on the phone for ten minutes talking about that cat.”

“I hate cats.” Peasblossom clung to my head like a living barrette. “Nasty beasties, always try to eat me like I’m a flying snack. Barbaric.”

“I love cats. I just don’t want to drop everything because Mrs. Harvesty claims her furry little child is having an emotional crisis.”

“Emotional crisis?”

“The kitten is refusing to come out of his mummy’s boot.” I held a sip of Coke in my mouth for a moment as if I were sampling fine wine.

Peasblossom snickered. “Puss in Boots.”

I snorted, then swore as carbonated soda shot up my nose, burning like fire. Peasblossom careened off my head in a fit of mad giggles as I ran to the stove and the faded blue hand towel hanging there.

“Blood and bones, that burns,” I wheezed, squeezing my eyes shut as I pressed the towel to my nose.

More laughter made me open my eyes in time to watch Peasblossom fly in a semi-drunken bobbing path to land on the counter beside the stove. Tears of mirth glittered in her pink eyes, matching the iridescent sparkles on her insect-like wings. “Serves you right for drinking a second soda.”

I glared at her for a few minutes as I waited for the burning to stop. When I’d recovered, I replaced the wet towel with a clean one and deposited the soda-and-snot-spotted cloth in the hamper. “If you’re quite finished, perhaps you could run me through today’s to-do list? I want to make sure I didn’t forget anything.”

Still giggling, Peasblossom flew to the large desk in the dining room and picked up a sheet of notebook paper tucked beside the laptop. “Settle dispute between the hamadryads over who’s the eldest,” she read.

“Done. Once they realized the only way to age a tree is to lop off a piece of it, they were happy to call it a draw.”

“Find out if a goblin ate the Roberts’ dog.”

“No. Sgt. Pepper was hiding under the neighbor’s house again. Mrs. Barns just didn’t want to admit it because she didn’t want to hear Mr. Roberts accuse her of trying to steal his dog for the tenth time. Sgt. Pepper went home when he got hungry.”

Peasblossom peered at me over the top of the list. “Find an office.”

I took a long swig of the soda, avoiding eye contact. “Move it to tomorrow.”

“Again,” Peasblossom said under her breath. She put the paper down and hefted a miniature pen she’d taken from a child’s art kit. Sticking out her tongue in concentration, she made a notation on the to-do list.

Aluminum groaned as I tightened my grip. “I will do it.”

“Of course you will. Because you’re going to be a real detective.”

“Private investigator. And yes, I am.”

“Mother Hazel won’t like it.”

I clenched my teeth. No, my mentor wouldn’t like it. I could hear her voice now, telling me to leave the battling to the wizards—witches had more important things to do.

Like play psychiatrist to a cat.

I strode over to the desk, put the can of soda down with a determined thunk, then snatched up a stack of Post-its and a black fine-point marker. Peasblossom watched as I scrawled, “Find an office today,” and underlined today three times. I stuck the reminder to the frame of my computer screen.

“You used a hot-pink Post-it. You must be serious now.”

I ignored her sarcasm. I would find an office tomorrow. It was time.

 

 Review

I enjoyed reading it. It is a great start to a new series. The characters are well-developed and the plot is great. There are some great twists and turns to the story. Readers will be drawn into the story from the first page. I look forward to reading more of Jennifer’s books.

About The Author

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Blackstream is…odd. Putting aside the fact that she writes her own author bio in third person, she also sleeps with a stuffed My Little Pony that her grandmother bought her as a joke for her 23rd birthday, and she enjoys listening to Fraggle Rock soundtracks whether or not her children are in the car.Jennifer doesn’t have spare time, but she makes it a point to spend at least one night a week with her sibling binge-watching whatever show they’re currently plowing through (currently Numbers on Netflix), and she ferociously guards quality time with her son and daughter. She cooks when she has the sanity for it—adding garlic to the recipe whether it calls for it or not—and tries very hard not to let her arachnophobia keep her out of her basement on laundry day.

 

Jennifer’s influences include Terry Pratchett (for wit), Laurell K. Hamilton (for sexual tension), Jim Butcher (for roguish flair), and Kim Harrison (for mythos). She is currently writing the series of her heart and her dreams, the series that has been percolating in her brain for the last decade…Blood Trails. An Urban Fantasy Mystery series that will combine the classic whodunit spirit with a contemporary fantasy setting. Expect mystery, magic, and mayhem, with characters that will make you laugh, cry, and probably stare at the screen with your jaw hanging down to the floor. Well, that’s how they affect Jennifer anyway…
You can find Jennifer at 
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Stolen Wish by Jennifer Blackstream

 

The wait is over!
STOLEN WISH, the fifth book in the Blood Realm Series is now available! 

 

Stolen Wish
(The Blood Realm Series, Bk #5)
by Jennifer Blackstream
 
Blurb:
PRIDE MAKES HIM BOLD ENOUGH TO COVET HER
Ali is a notorious thief, skilled enough to steal whatever his heart desires—except what it desires most. Anara. His fellow criminal would never let him get so close if she suspected he knew who she truly was. But a man can only resist temptation for so long…
PREJUDICE CANNOT HIDE PASSION FOREVER
Princess Anara is a tiger shifter obsessed with redeeming her race. With fierce determination, she’s stealing back the sacred objects of her people, the loss of which cost them the ability to safely convert their mates. Nothing and no one will stand in her way—not even a relentless thief who sees more than he should, and says more than she’s ready to hear…
DUTY AND LOVE BOTH DEMAND SACRIFICE
A dark sorcerer inadvertently gives Ali the leverage he needs to demand Anara’s hand in marriage. He’ll get the wife he’s coveted for so many years, and she will get the chance to finally explore the passion that she’s denied herself for too long. But even with a djinn’s magic at their fingertips, happiness is no guarantee. That which is easily gained is just as easily lost. If they want a future together, they’ll have to fight for it…
Available for purchase at
         
Excerpt

 

I’m not alone.

 

Anara slid into the shadow cast by a large pillar, stilling her breath as she scanned her surroundings. Visconti Malik’s cavernous home was empty on this level, none of the current occupants trusted to be in the showroom when their master was away.

 

The cool tile chilled her back through her cloak as she held still, reaching inside herself for her other half. Her beast stirred, a tiger’s soft golden head rising, opening shining green eyes. Three high-arched doorways on either side of her gave a breathtaking view of the city around the hilltop, but she ignored it, focusing instead on the surrounding room. The massive pillars could be hiding anyone.

 

Her nostrils flared, parsing out the myriad of scents that swirled in the wind. The ghost of the night’s dinner still hung in the air in a perfume of figs, pomegranates, goat meat, and barley. Underneath that slept the scent of the treasure the visconti loved so much, bragged of so often. And still below that was another scent. One that did not belong.

 

Masculine. Sand. The sharp scent of clothing dye. And a familiar hint of foolhardy excitement.

 

A smile spread over her lips. She knew that scent. Knew the man it belonged to. Her stomach fluttered in excitement as she remained hidden behind the pillar, waiting for the soft footsteps to pass her hiding place.

 

Ali was silent for a human, she would allow him that. But a weretiger’s senses were unrivaled, and she would have heard the slap of his bare feet on the tile even if he had been moving as cautiously as he should have been. She shook her head, stalking him as he approached the far wall where the treasures glittered on rows of pedestals.

 

“Hello, beautiful,” he whispered.

 

Anara froze, her hand hovering over his shoulder. Irritation furrowed her brow, and she crossed her arms. “How did you hear me?” she demanded in a whisper.

 

Ali jumped, whirling around in midair and nearly dropping the gold rhyton he held in his hands. Blue eyes opened so wide they caught the moonlight, turning his irises into crystal pools of light. The silky black hair hanging to his shoulders framed those eyes, made them all the brighter for the shadows that bathed the sides of his face. Anara dug her fingernails into her palm, resisting the urge to touch a lock of that hair, see if it was as soft as it looked.

 

He exhaled a deep breath, muscled shoulders sagging under the thin material of his caftan. “Habibi, you scared a year off my life. Why would you do such a thing?”

 

Her eyes narrowed. “You were talking to the rhyton, weren’t you?” She drummed her fingers along her biceps and lifted her chin in pretended offense. “What a fool I was to think I was the beautiful one you were greeting.”

 

A grin spread over Ali’s mouth, and he rolled the treasure down his arm, carelessly flinging it to his other hand as he focused on her. The intricately carved head of a ram seemed to flash its disapproval as Ali raised the cup in a mock toast. “Had I known you were here, I would not have wasted those words on a meaningless trinket such as this. You are the true treasure here.”

 

As always, Anara found his smile infectious, and soon she was returning his grin even as she tsked at him. “If you’re wasting your time with baubles such as that, then you are ignorant of the visconti’s greatest wealth.”

 

Blue eyes glittered with renewed greed as he replaced the rhyton on its pedestal. “Oh?”

 

Anara cast a glance around to make certain they hadn’t disturbed the sleeping servants. The large room was open, security depending on the palace’s strategic placement atop a hill and the knowledge that anyone suspected of stealing from the visconti would suffer for a long time before he died. Malik was too proud of his treasures and his wealth to lock it away, and he clearly felt that the level of torture and violence he leveled on would-be thieves was more than enough to make up for his audacity. Anara said a prayer of gratitude for his foolishness as she redirected her attention to the locked door that led to the interior of the home.

 

She took a careful step toward the door, her senses alert for any sound that might mean they were in danger of getting caught. The huge space remained empty, not a hint of sound bouncing off the gold and cerulean tiles that lined the floors, walls, and ceilings. With a wink at Ali, she resumed her original quest.

 

He followed her lead, trailing without a trace of the pride that so often hobbled other men. It was perhaps his greatest quality, his ability to put practicality above pride. A very rare quality.

 

“And what precious secrets is Malik hiding, then?” Ali whispered.

 

“If you would do proper research instead of just grabbing whatever shiny object catches your fancy, then you would know. Now be silent.”

 

The door’s lock gave way under the careful application of the slender tools Anara had crafted herself. Together, they snuck inside and made their way down the short hallway, going left when it came to a T.

 

The scent of rich ink, expensive thread, and the unmistakable mustiness of a space with no windows guided Anara until she came to the room she’d been looking for. Polished tile cover the walls and ceiling as in the other rooms, but this alcove boasted comfortable pillows and cushions for lounging, and expensive silks and tapestries broke up the endless shining tiles. A room meant for entertaining. For impressing.

 

Anara kept her eyes on the tapestry at the far end, its vibrant threads depicting a majestic Roc holding one of its precious eggs, its wings turned to burning red embers by the glorious, intricate stitching of a setting sun. She stepped around the various seating arrangements, her heart beating faster as she approached her goal.

 

Her fingers had just brushed the wall-hanging when Ali’s body heat washed over her back. Anara blinked and paused, her nerves tingling with the pleasant awareness of Ali’s proximity. It wasn’t the first time he’d invaded her space, and once again she reflected that if he knew that the veil she wore was not just a means of hiding her identity during her nocturnal activities, but a means to prevent anyone from looking on the face of the sultan’s daughter—he would never dare to stand so close to her. No man did.

 

But he didn’t know. And he must never know.

 

“Have you forgotten what you’re looking for?” he murmured.

 

The words were another curl of heat into the air, and he shifted closer. Anara realized she was holding her breath, concentrating on the gentle press of his chest against her back. The tingling in her nerves turned to a crackle, and she quickly snuffed it out.

 

“I have not forgotten. I am waiting for you to realize your complete disrespect for my personal space.” She kept her voice light, gently recriminating.

 

An inhale right next to her ear startled her, and she jerked her head to the side, prevented from seeing him by the hood of her cloak.

 

“You smell good.”

 

She pressed her lips together and turned enough to face him, narrowing her eyes at the wicked smirk on his face.

 

“You smell of wine. Perhaps you could refrain from breathing on me so at least one of us can keep a clear head?”

 

His blue eyes darkened and he stepped forward, crowding her and prompting her to tilt her face up to keep meeting his eyes or else step back in retreat. Her tiger raised its head, eyeing the man before her with burgeoning interest. Ali leaned closer, filling her senses with his unique scent. Her pulse throbbed as he stopped with his mouth an inch from her ear.

 

“Am I making it difficult for you to keep a clear head? Perhaps you’ll join me for a drink so I can…apologize?”

 

 

The Blood Realm Series
About The Author
 
 
Jennifer Blackstream is a USA Today bestselling author of fantasy/paranormal romance. Urban Fantasy will soon be joining her repertoire, and if she doesn’t get hold of the insidious roving gang of plot bunnies, there’s going to be steampunk sprinkled in there too…
To date, Jennifer has two series:
BLOOD PRINCE SERIES (COMPLETE):
Book 1 – Before Midnight
Book 2 – One Bite
Book 3 – Golden Stair
Book 4 – Divine Scales
Book 5 – Beautiful Salvation
Bonus Adventures in the Blood Prince World:
Book 2.5 – What Big Teeth You Have (free when you sign up for mailing list mentioned below)
Book 4.5 – The Pirate’s Witch
Book 5.5 – Dead to Begin With (available only between Thanksgiving and whenever Jennifer takes her Christmas tree down)
BLOOD REALM SERIES (IN PROGRESS SPIN-OFF OF BLOOD PRINCE SERIES):
Book 1 – All for a Rose
Book 2 – Blue Voodoo
Book 3 – The Archer
For news, new releases, and a free copy of What Big Teeth You Have, sign up for Jennifer’s mailing list.
Jennifer has unfailing affection for the authors who have influenced her, including Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, and the sorely missed Sir Terry Pratchett. Her books include humor, romance, and action, with enough darkness to keep things very interesting.
When Jennifer isn’t writing, she can be found re-watching Boondock Saints, Noises Off, or Gross Pointe Blank. With one of those classics in the background, she might also be searching Amazon for something she wants, but doesn’t need (Is there any such thing as a kitchen gadget that isn’t an absolute necessity? And don’t even get me started on office supplies…).
You can find Jennifer at 
 
         
Giveaway
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Bear with Me by Jennifer Blackstream

 

Bear With Me

(The Blood Realm Series, #)
by Jennifer Blackstream

 

 

 

Blurb:

Betrayal. Redemption. True love.

A beautiful bard looking for her voice

After witnessing her mother’s murder left her blind, Leta had to put away her sword and her dreams of becoming a bard. Now she is resigned to a calm life where the best she can hope for is a good marriage that will take the burden of her care from her father’s shoulders. When her father claims the gods have sent a man to be not just her husband, but perhaps her savior, Leta has to take a leap of faith…and hope she falls in love.

A handsome prince trapped in the body of a bear

Torben is a bear shifter struggling to pass a test laid on him by his power-hungry stepmother. Bound into his beast form during the day, able to be human only at night when the darkness hides him, he must find a wife. She can know him only as a bear and a bodiless voice in the night. For one year, she must let him keep his secrets, trust him as a wife should trust her husband. But what woman will climb into bed with a bear and trust it is a man waiting for her?

Even a blind woman can see when something is worth fighting for…

Available to

Excerpt

 

 A hand settled on her fingers. Heavy, and a little rough, it engulfed her entire hand. She swallowed hard, took in a slow breath, and raised her teacup with a shaking hand, trying not to spill it in her haste to take a sip. It smelled like the tea her aunt had concocted for her, and if the gods were kind, it would have the same effect. She just needed her body to calm down, to stop shaking, and blushing, and everything else. Then she could think. Then she could be logical.“How are you feeling?” Torben’s voice was gentle, his baritone soothing in its increasing familiarity. He gently lifted her hand from his shoulder and cradled it in his.

The warm liquid flowed down her throat, and a tingling rush of magic spread through her body, working into her muscles, seeking out tension and melting it away. She took another large sip, swallowed before taking a deep breath. Her hands stilled and the burning in her cheeks ebbed, leaving her clearheaded, calmer. “Better.” She allowed herself a moment to gather her thoughts, then turned her head in the direction her aunt’s mentor had spoken from. “Mother Strongoak?”

“I’m right here, child.”

“Could you hold my tea?”

“Of course.”

She couldn’t tell for certain, but Leta thought she heard a smile in the witch’s voice. As Leta had asked, she took the teacup, freeing Leta’s other hand. Torben was close enough that his body heat pressed against her like a warm summer day, and she had no problem discerning his direction. “May I touch your face?”

A flicker of tension passed through him—surprise, perhaps. Then he took her other hand and put both of them on either side of his face. It was much higher than she’d expected, and the muscles in her arms pulled as she stretched to keep contact.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

He shifted beneath her hands, slouching so she could reach him more easily. His head was large, combining with everything else to paint the picture of a very big man. The tea in her belly held her in a protective bubble, letting her mind chew over that information without her body’s panicked input. She ran her thumbs over his cheekbones, appreciating his strong bone structure. His face was rough with the beginnings of a beard, and she smiled a little as it tickled her palms.

Her smile seemed to inspire one of his own, and the muscles of his cheeks flexed beneath her hands. She feathered a finger over velvety-soft lips, then slid her hands over his jaw, up the back of his head.

“Your hair is short.”

“Does that surprise you?”

“It does.” She furrowed her brow. “I’m not sure why. I suppose I just expected you to be more…”

“Shaggy?” he suggested dryly.

She cleared her throat. “Er, yes. I suppose.”

She toyed with the short strands of his hair a bit, then slid her hands back down the sides of his face. His neck was thick, and her hands barely made it halfway around. She’d just opened her mouth to comment on that when her hands fell to his shoulders. She froze. Seconds ticked by as a piece of information surfaced in her mind, conveniently forgotten until just now. The bare skin she’d touched. She suddenly knew with absolute clarity he was not wearing much, if any, clothing. Emotions battered against the wall of tea protecting her from physical reactions.

“Leta? Are you all right?”

“That wasn’t your hip I touched,” she croaked. “That was your shoulder, wasn’t it?”

A tiny laugh exploded into the air, followed by a snort from Mother Strongoak. Leta thought she heard Torben growl, but the sound stopped before she could be sure.

“Torben?”

It took him a moment to respond, as if he were glaring at the room’s other occupants and was reluctant to stop. “Yes?”

“Exactly how…tall are you?”

There was silence then, thick with expectation. Her hands still rested where they’d frozen on his shoulders, and his muscles tightened beneath her fingertips.

“A little over seven feet,” he said finally.

There was hesitation in his voice, a sliver of doubt. Leta pressed her lips together and raised her hands to cradle his face, forcing him to look at her.

“How much is ‘a little over seven feet?’”

His jaw clenched, then relaxed. “Eight foot two.”

It was a tribute to the tea that her heart barely skipped a beat. “Eight foot two? As in…eight feet and two inches?”

“Give or take.”

“Give or take what?” She slowly lowered her hands into her lap and leaned back on the couch. Part of her burned to ask him why he was shirtless, probably pantless, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to make that a part of the conversation.

“Are you all right?”

Something in his voice pulled at her heartstrings. More hesitation, a little shade of fear. He’s waiting for you to be afraid of him.

The thought caught her by surprise, and she sat up straighter. “I’m not afraid of you.”

“I told you,” Mother Strongoak muttered.

Torben made a chuffing sound in his chest that might have been irritation, but she couldn’t be sure. She clenched her hands into fists.

“I know very well what I must seem like to you,” she said calmly. “Feeling about as I walk, shuffling along. Having panic attacks for no apparent reason. Leaping into marriage with a perfect stranger—a perfect non-human stranger.” A glimmer of her old flame burned to life inside her, and she jutted her chin out.

“This is not who I am. Before my mother died, I was going to be a bard. I was going to travel everywhere—alone. I trained for years with different weapons, learned how to survive in the wilderness if I had to. I was very independent.”

“Indeed,” Mother Strongoak agreed. “I did so enjoy seeing you perform competitively as well. Always worth it for a chance that some sore loser would get into a snit, and then lure you into one of those delightful duels.”

Leta waited for Torben to comment on the “duels,” ask if she’d really engaged in combat, but he didn’t. He probably hadn’t even entertained it as a possibility. “This is not who I am,” she said again.

 

Review:

This is a great read. I couldn’t put it down. I really like the characters and world that Jennifer has created. It has some great twists and turns. Readers will definitely want to add it to their TBR lists. I look forward to reading more of Jennifer’s books.

The Blood Realm Series
 


About The Author
 
 
Jennifer Blackstream is a USA Today bestselling author of fantasy/paranormal romance. Urban Fantasy will soon be joining her repertoire, and if she doesn’t get hold of the insidious roving gang of plot bunnies, there’s going to be steampunk sprinkled in there too…
To date, Jennifer has two series:
BLOOD PRINCE SERIES (COMPLETE):
Book 1 – Before Midnight
Book 2 – One Bite
Book 3 – Golden Stair
Book 4 – Divine Scales
Book 5 – Beautiful Salvation
Bonus Adventures in the Blood Prince World:
Book 2.5 – What Big Teeth You Have (free when you sign up for mailing list mentioned below)
Book 4.5 – The Pirate’s Witch
Book 5.5 – Dead to Begin With (available only between Thanksgiving and whenever Jennifer takes her Christmas tree down)
BLOOD REALM SERIES (IN PROGRESS SPIN-OFF OF BLOOD PRINCE SERIES):
Book 1 – All for a Rose
Book 2 – Blue Voodoo
Book 3 – The Archer
For news, new releases, and a free copy of What Big Teeth You Have, sign up for Jennifer’s mailing list.
Jennifer has unfailing affection for the authors who have influenced her, including Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, and the sorely missed Sir Terry Pratchett. Her books include humor, romance, and action, with enough darkness to keep things very interesting.
When Jennifer isn’t writing, she can be found re-watching Boondock Saints, Noises Off, or Gross Pointe Blank. With one of those classics in the background, she might also be searching Amazon for something she wants, but doesn’t need (Is there any such thing as a kitchen gadget that isn’t an absolute necessity? And don’t even get me started on office supplies…).
You can find Jennifer at 
 
         

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