First up : Iron Kissed.
This is book three in Patricia Briggs's series about Mercy Thompson who isn't a werewolf but a 'walker' who can change into a coyote at will. Mercy owns her own car mechanic business after having been brought up with a werewolf pack. She moved away to be independant but ended up nextdoor to Adam Hauptman, the alpha male of the local 'three cities' werewolf pack in Washington state.
This story sees Mercy trying to prove the innocence of her former boss, Zee. He's a fae, a group of beings shrouded in mystery, but Mercy starts to learn more than she ever wanted to know about them when she's asked to their reservation to use her coyote senses to sniff out the serial murderer of five fae. Zee is arrested but Mercy knows he's innocent. How can she prove it? Add to this the fact that her life is complicated enough as she knows the time is fast approaching when she will have to choose between alpha male, Adam, and Samuel - her childhood sweetheart from her old pack. How this is to be achieved without serious bloodshed, she has no idea.
I can't overstate how much I love this series. I particularly liked this one where more is learned about the fae and their history; Briggs is a very imaginative author and deals with this very well indeed. There's a nice bit of sexual tension in this one too as Mercy deals with her feelings and the repercussions of choosing one werewolf over another. Truthfully, I like the fact that these books are not over sexualised like some of the current paranormal romances; I much prefer tension and hints to graphic descriptions. Book four is already on my tbr pile and there's a new one out in March I believe.
Next up: The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.
A young girl, in a fit of jealousy, wishes her mother dead as she goes out the door to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. The mother dies that night in a car accident and the girl turns off her feelings, thinking that when she wishes something awful, it will come true. The girl and her brother are brought up by their grandmother until she dies, when the brother, Ned, by then moved to Florida, persuades his sister to move from New Jersey to be close to him and his wife. Not long after she moves she's struck by lightning, which causes some peculiar physical reactions. She's forced to join a lightning victims study where she hears about Lazarus Jones who was struck, died for forty minutes, and then came back to life. Seeking him out she discovers a man whose very touch burns anyone who touches him, but depsite this she embarks on an intense love affair with Lazarus. One night, while working alone in the library, she sees her sister-in-law drive up in her nightie and deposit a book in the overnight book-bin. It's a book about ways to die, a subject she has become an expert in, but what is her sister-in-law doing with such a book? Does her brother know about it? And how can she find the answers to these questions and still maintain her ability to feel nothing and love no one?
This book was a random grab from the library. It's beautifully written, almost heart-breakingly so, and in the first person which is a particular love of mine. We never do discover the girl's name and it wasn't until I'd finished the book that I realised it... that's good writing! Interspersed with the beautiful prose are fascinating facts about people who've been struck by lightning. This is a sort of a fantasy book so some will be make-believe I'm sure, but I suspect there's a grounding of truth there too and I found that fascinating. And of course I always love a book about secrets and there are many in this story. Truthfully, it is rather a sad tale but at the same time ultimately uplifting - I cried during the final chapters and not many books give me cause to do that. Superb, and certain to finish among my favourite books at the end of the year.
Has anyone got any other Alice Hoffman recs? All I've read so far is Blackbird House but would love to read more.