A Distant Magic (Ballantine) by Mary Jo Putney is up first, with the latest in her Guardian series. Captain Nikolai Gregorio is on a quest for revenge, and kidnapping Jean Macrae is just the first step on the way. Her father abandoned him as a boy, and Nikolai has never forgotten it. The need for revenge carried him through years as a slave aboard a ship, only now he's discovered that her father is dead. And Jean is far too forgiving. And attractive. Jean's magical skills aren't enormous, but she believes she can try to assist him in learning to use his own untapped abilities while they're on his island. Then things get even more interesting when Adia, a freed slave, hops through time to them and makes some rather wild claims about what they should be doing. I liked this one, just not quite as well as the last one in the series. The chemistry between Jean and Nikolai didn't seem all that strong to me until later in the story, which was a little disappointing. But the story is compelling enough to make up for that, with the backdrop of slavery and abolitionists, as well as the interesting twists and turns that Jean and Nikolai's magic takes. This one's earned three of Cupid's five arrows.
Scent of Darkness (Signet) by Christina Dodd is next. This one is the first of a new series. A vicious warrior made a deal with the devil a thousand years ago, and now the descendants of that man are in danger, at least one branch. Jasha Wilder's father went into hiding from his family when he fell in love with his wife years ago, and now they have finally tracked him down. Ann Smith is Jasha's personal assistant, and madly in love with him. Until she sees him change from a wolf into his sexy manly form, and then she runs. Of course, he catches her, and then the fun really starts, because someone else is chasing them both, and they're trying for murder. With one big exception, I liked this one a lot, but that exception is Jasha toeing a very thin line where dominant sex begins to look like rape. Yes, Ann is in love with him, but I still think no means no, and he very nearly crosses this line in my eyes. I love a good Alpha male, but this one has some uncomfortable moments for me. Once past that, I liked the story much better. Jasha's family is interesting--curious readers want to know more about his sister--and the series promises to be engaging. This one's getting three arrows as well.
Until next time, happy reading!