Monday, January 19, 2015

review || GRAVE VENGEANCE { blog tour }

Grave Vengeance by Lori Sjoberg

Publisher: Lyrical Press (1/19/2015)
Series: Grave, book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Tasty Book Tours // NetGalley
Buy it from || amazon | bn | iTunes | kobo || goodreads

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Handsome and haunted, he's a reaper who prefers to work alone. But Fate has other plans for him and the sassy secret agent who shot him in another life—if their pasts don't catch up with them first.

Dmitri Stavitsky has never played well with others—a Soviet KGB spy in life turned reaper after death, his work of bringing souls to the other side is best done alone. But orders from the top soon place him alongside fellow reaper Gwen Peterson, the American counter intelligence agent who took his life so many years ago.

Now, as a ghost from Gwen's past resurfaces with the power to steal reapers' souls, the two have no choice but to set aside their differences and apprehend the rogue together. But their cross-country mission soon ignites feelings Dmitri thought he was no longer capable of—for the woman who helped destroy him. With an ancient force and a small army against them, he'll have to let go of old grudges or risk his future with Fate hangs dangerously in the balance.

about Lori || Lori was a born a coal miner’s daughter. No wait, that’s not right.  Actually, she was born a carpenter’s daughter. Her mother was a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home mom – whatever the politically correct term is these days.  Basically, she made sure Lori didn’t get into too much trouble, a task easier said than done.

Growing up the youngest of three girls, Lori never had control of the remote. (Not that she’s bitter about that. Really. Okay, maybe a little, but it’s not like she’s scarred for life or anything.) That meant a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. It fed her imagination, and that came in handy when the hormones kicked in and she needed a creative excuse for being out past curfew.

After completing her first manuscript, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at work, and the creative half writing paranormal romance. When she’s not doing either one of those, she’s usually spending time with her husband and children of the four-legged variety.

connect with Lori || website | facebook | twitter | goodreads | amazon author page

{ excerpt } .

People this side of town had a nasty habit of killing each other. Dmitri Stavitsky leaned against the wall of the Gas ’N Grub and hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans. Stores around here closed before dark, with their doors double-bolted and metal gates rolled over the windows. The ice machine to his left made a continuous thunk-thunk-thunk sound that drowned out some of the traffic noise from the county road less than a hundred yards away. To his right, a group of teenage boys played basketball in front of a house no bigger than a two-car garage. The court was dirt and the hoop had no net, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.
The area was a familiar work site for reapers. Things had always leaned toward the dangerous side in the Midway district, but turf wars had claimed twelve lives in the past two weeks and even the police were keeping their distance after dusk. And with so many people dying in the streets, Dmitri had no choice but to rotate reapers into the area so no face would become too familiar with the locals.
Dmitri stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned away from the flashing blue lights. Without so much as a backward glance, he shuffled toward the main road. The police didn’t notice him and even if they did, they would assume he was just another vagrant passing through town. They’d never suspect his true nature, the predator lurking in plain sight. He reached the gas station about fifteen minutes later, the parking lot brightly lit and only one truck at the pumps.
Some sorry excuse for a human being had boosted his pride and joy. He’d left his classic Dodge Challenger coupe parked along the north side of the building by the pay phone, but now the spot sat empty.
Temper flaring, he kicked the nearby trash can. He’d put a lot of work into that fucking car. Last summer, he rebuilt the transmission and reupholstered the interior. It had taken him weeks to find the parts needed to fix the carburetor. Whoever stole it was in for a world of pain when he hunted them down. And he would. It was only a matter of time.
Dmitri retrieved his phone from his back pocket and scrolled through his list of contacts. All of the reapers in his unit were booked solid tonight, but a few were working in the general vicinity. Ruby had an eleven-fifteen down by Walt Disney World, but Adam wasn’t due to his appointment in Lake Mary for another ninety minutes.
Plenty of time to swing by and give him a lift.
He was waiting for Adam to pick up when a familiar rumble caught his attention. His head whipped toward the sound, his blood pressure spiking when he saw his own car swinging into the lot. The Challenger veered around the gas pumps and headed straight to where he stood. With the dark tint he couldn’t make out the driver right away, but as the car rolled closer, the person slowly came into view.
The driver’s side window rolled down, and an unwelcome blast from the past stared back at him. During their mortal lifetimes, she’d worked counterintelligence for the United States government. She’d updated her hairstyle since the last time they crossed paths, but other - wise she looked exactly the same. Same hazel eyes and angular face. Athletic build. Zero makeup. And judging by the condition of her fingernails, she still bit them regularly. Like most creatures of habit, Gwen Peterson abhorred change.
“That’s my car,” he bit out through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, I know. I got bored waiting around for you, so I decided to take it out for a little spin.” After all these years, she still hadn’t lost an ounce of that grating New England accent. The honey-blond nightmare flashed him a grin, and her eyes crinkled at the corners.
She drummed her fingers against the top of the steering wheel. “It’s a really sweet ride, Red. You must have put a lot of work into it. Hop in. We’re late.”
“For what?”
Her grin widened to a smile. “You’ll see.”

{ review } .

I'm not the *biggest* paranormal romance fan, but I've been pretty lucky with the pieces I've chosen in the past few months.

Most of them have the air of PR throughout but this one had more of a romantic suspense feel -- aside from mentions and talking about decades that had passed, it was easy to forget your two main characters were reapers.

Dimitri and Gwen first met as mortals during the Cold War -- when she was with the FBI and he was a Russian spy. When the FBI held him for more than a month, he eventually freed himself before shooting Gwen, who returned the favor, killing him as well. In an unfortunate twist, Fate turned them both into reapers and now, 50 some years later, they're being paired with one another to work a case.
“There is no way. You know our histories. I will not work with that woman.” 
The lights flickered, and the air in the room crackled with barely contained energy. “You will do as you’re instructed, boy,” Samuel said, his voice dangerously low. “Or would you prefer to go straight to judgment?” 
An invisible force wrapped around Dmitri’s body, restricting his ability to move. Pain shot through every nerve, increasing in intensity with each tick of the clock. 
It was meant to serve as a warning. A taste of what awaited him if his soul was sent to judgment prematurely. He’d had similar lessons in the past, but never had he seriously considered damnation over an assignment.
Watching these two bicker and hold their grudges was entertaining. Dimitri has very sound reasons for his dislike and distrust of Gwen... However, what you know isn't always the truth, and what he believed to be Gwen's part in everything... 

Watching them fall in love was just as entertaining -- overcoming the largest of grudges. From annoying pet names (annoying to Gwen, anyhow) that were meant to hackle, to holding nightmares at bay... I really enjoyed their story.

I even enjoyed the last little twist from Fate... Which further leads the romantic in me wondering what that does to the "infertility" rules...

“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never happened. 
It means you’ve stopped letting it control you."

{ giveaway } .

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