Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of April releases in science fiction, epic fantasy, and YA paranormal. Today’s column examines new releases in URBAN FANTASY and PARANORMAL ROMANCE.
The Symptoms: Devilish demons and vampires with voracious libidos are running roughshod over evil gods and monsters these days as paranormal romance trumps urban fantasy and sends all those kickass heroines packing (and we don’t mean packing heat).
The Diagnosis: Forty-eight new urban fantasy (17) and paranormal romance (31) books steam their way into April, including immortals of all varietiesdemons, angels, vampires, and those unidentified, non-species-specific Breeds and Guardians (otherwise known as demons, angels and vampires).
The Cure: Put your silver bullets away this month and bring out the stakes and holy water. Shapeshifters are hard to find, but vampires just keep fanging around and demons are forever.
Read summaries of this month’s releases. Urban fantasy titles listed first, followed by paranormal romance.
Whenever Corine Solomon touches an object, she immediately knows its history. Now back in Mexico, she’s running her pawnshop and trying to get a handle on her strange new powers, for she might need them. Especially after former ally Kel Ferguson walks through her door. Heavily muscled and tattooed, Kel looks like a convict but calls himself a holy warrior. This time, he carries a warning for Corine: the Montoya cartel is coming for herwith warlocks, shamans, voodoo priests. Anything to terminate troubleand Corine is trouble. Third in the Corine Solomon series after Blue Diablo (2009) and Hell Fire (2010).
In this paranormal cozy mystery, Alison and her resident gumshoe ghost are on their next case when the deceased Scott MacFarlane floats in, worried that he accidentally killed a prominent local woman. Turns out she’s still alivethat is, until she’s murdered in Alison’s house. Now, between the demands of her guests and the arrival of a reality television crew, Alison must find the killer before she sees reality from the other side. Second in the Haunted Guesthouse series following Night of the Living Deed (2010).
What happened to a teenager named Lucy one night in 1966 after a Beatles concert? She rushed the stage, kissed Paul, started home with her friends, and was never seen againuntil cemetery guide and unintentional P.I. to the dead Pepper Martin sees her as a ghost. Lucy’s spirit can’t rest in peace until her body is found and buried. But how will Pepper track down a missing corpse after 45 years? Seventh in the Pepper Martin series.
Jackie Rutledge has seen her share of supernatural killers, but her latest murder case is what recurring nightmares are made of. Exsanguinated human victims, vanishing-into-the-ether evidence, and a city on the edge of panic mean she and her psychic partner, Laurel, are going to need more than just backup. Jackie is fine with any help rugged P.I. Nick Anderson can giveeven if that includes the impish ghost and sexy vampire who make up his team. But Nick is hiding secrets of his own, and Jackie’s investigation plunges them both into a vengeful game reaching back centuries, against a malevolent force hungry for more than just victory.
In the secret lockup of the Authority, the council that decides what can and can’t be done with magic, an undead magic user has possessed one of the prisoners. He wants his freedomand then some. Now Allie Beckstrom and her lover, Zayvion, are the first line of defense against the chaos he’s about to unleash on the city of Portland. Sixth in the Allie Beckstrom series.
Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life. Then Celia is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, she is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper.
Mercy Reynolds is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, but she’s also moreand lessthan human. Half woman, half air dragon, she’s a “draman,” unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy. Now something will put her powers to the test. Mercy’s friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister’s murder. Then a horrible accident claims Rainey’s life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer: If she fails, according to dragon law, Rainey’s soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity. But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target? Second in the Myth and Magic series.
Kitsune. Werewolves. Crane wives. Selkies. Every culture has stories of such strange creaturesanimals turning into humans, humans shapeshifting into animals. Here are a blend of 29 reprint and original stories from Holly Black, Cherie Priest, Maria V. Snyder, Lavie Tidhar, Marie Brennan and others.
Thrill seekers Zakary and Gideon Stark travel the globe in search of extreme adventure, but a trip to Venezuela to jump off the world’s highest falls catapults them into a perilous game of life or death where they don’t know the rules. Kidnapped with a woman Zak knows nothing about, the brothers are held prisoner deep in the jungle. A risky, death-defying escape separates them and nearly claims Zak’s lifeuntil his recovery reveals a baffling new sixth sense. Now, to find his missing brother, Zak and the mysterious Acadia Gray will have to out-smart, out-gun, and out-maneuver not just the brutal kidnappers but also a new player who joins the adrenaline game: a ruthless opponent who wants the Stark brothers dead.
Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I. She specializes in cases involving the unusual and unbelievable. When she finds the bodies of five women in the Florida Everglades, Sylvie believes them to be the work of a serial killer and passes the buck. But when the bodies wake and shift shape, killing the police, Sylvie finds herself at the head of a potentially lethal investigation.
Nikki Glass can track down any man. But when her latest client turns out to be a true descendant of Hades, Nikki now discovers she can’t die. She’s a living, breathing descendant of Artemis, who has stepped right into a trap set by the children of the gods. Nikki’s new “friends” include a descendant of Eros, who uses sex as a weapon; a descendant of Loki, whose tricks are no laughing matter; and a half-mad descendant of Kali who thinks she’s a spy. But most powerful of all are the Olympians, a rival clan of immortals seeking to destroy all Descendants who refuse to bow down to them. First in a new series.
After a night of riots and fires, the Boston neighborhood known as the Weird is in ruins. And when a body is found drained of its essence, ex-Guild investigator Connor Grey is drawn into the case against his will. And he has reason to be wary: The case will lead to an explosive secret that threatens to tear apart the cityand the world. Fifth in the Connor Grey series.
Gin Blanco would rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as her feelings. But the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider has a bull’s-eye on her forehead. Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap her. Fourth in the Elemental Assassin series.
When sidhe-blooded Genny Taylor’s friend is murdered and all evidence points to her, she goes on the run. But she’s being pursued by some of the most powerful supernaturals in townand one of them is most certainly the killer. Second in the Spellcrackers series after The Sweet Scent of Blood (2010).
Can’t find a rational explanation to a mystery? Call in the Quiet Council. The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city, and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself.
For 140 years, Nathaniel Cade has been the President’s Vampire, sworn to protect and serve his country. Cade’s existence is the most closely guarded of White House secrets: a superhuman covert agent who is the last line of defense against nightmare scenarios that ordinary citizens only dream of. When a new outbreak of an ancient evilone he has seen beforecomes to light, Cade and his human handler, Zach Barrows, must track down its source. To “protect and serve” often means settling old scores and confronting new betrayals, as only a centuries-old predator can.
Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy, published in 2008, provided a showcase for dark, disturbing fiction. This much-anticipated second volume offers a diverse assortment of stories guaranteed to delight, unsettle and enthrall. It leads off with Joe Hill’s “Wolverton Station,” in which a predatory businessman travels to England, and to a primal confrontation he could never have imagined. Elsewhere, a number of contributors revisit familiar, well-established themes and settings, including Glen Cook, Jay Lake and Kelley Armstrong. Also includes stories by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Steven R. Boyett and others.
While visiting the Scottish tombs of her forebears, American archeologist Isobella Douglas encounters the ghost of her famous ancestor, Sir James, the Black Douglas. The matchmaking ghost seizes on her romantic fantasies, and before she knows it, Isobella and her twin sister, Elisabeth, a doctor, find themselves whisked to 16th-century Scotland, inappropriately dressed. When the dastardly Macleans capture Elisabeth, Alysandir Mackinnon, fascinated by strong-willed Isobella, offers to help her get her sister back.
Feisty witch Maggie enjoys her work as a paranormal law enforcement officerthat is, until she’s assigned to protect a teenager with major attitude and a sleazy boyfriend. A group of satanic Mayans priests has decided Courtney has a drop of divine blood in her, making her just the virgin sacrifice they need to release their God and rule the world. To prevent this catastrophe, Maggie must team up with half fire demon Declan, the proprietor of Damnation Alley, an underground club and busy demon portal. And Declan will be damned if he’ll allow his demon race to be blamed for the malicious acts of some evil Mayans. First in a new series.
In the New Mexico desert there is a secret race on the brink of extinctionthe pure-blood shapeshifters of the Dragonstar clan. Their last hope for survival lies in the hands of Quinn Maguire, the desperate clan healer lost in love with a human female. Second in the Dragon’s Heat series.
Seduced in a dream by a handsome, rugged man, Charlotte Bennett decides to let pleasure and desire lead the way, only to discover her “safe” night of passion has dangerous repercussions. Third in the Dark Magick series.
One the run from the mob, Bronte McBride needs the kind of protection that only the mysterious and handsome bodyguard Darkwyna former Roman warrior turned dragoncan give her. But Bronte’s secrets could endanger both of them. Third in the Works Like Magick series.
Forget what you think you know about who is pure and who is pure evil in this collection of brimstone-hot stories. In “Break,” by Tarra Blaize: To save her brother, Layla is forced to use her computer-hacking skills to go after Gethin, a powerful blood demon who pushes all her sexual buttons. In “Deals with Demons,” by Victoria Davies: Talia’s inborn ability makes her the perfect demon hunter. Yet there’s one demon she can’t banish from her heartdespite the humiliation he caused. In “My Avenging Angel,” by Madelyn Ford: Victoria should be celebrating her birthday. Instead, she’s using her newly emerged powers to summon an angel to protect her from a demon out to kill her.
Lindsay Carrington is a prisoner of his lifefirst in the mundane world, then in the military testing facility where his parents sent him to have his magic dissected, studied and “fixed.” When he finally escapes, freedom comes at great cost. The man who rescues him from near death in a dark alley is far from a savior. He’s a feral mage nearly as broken as Lindsay himself. Dane knows better than to argue with the wind that summoned him to Lindsay’s rescue, but playing nursemaid isn’t the role he envisioned for himself.
Andrei Solace delivers death on silent feet as an assassin for the Phantom Corps. Mercenary Piper Roundtree thought she was over him. But against the backdrop of an impending war, their passion is rekindled. Now the lovers must join forcesin more ways than oneto save the Known Universe before the Imperialist enemy hurls it into irreversible chaos. Second in the Phantom Corps series.
Maddy and Cash work together at a prestigious NYC museum, but not amicably. Charismatic, confident Cash seems determined to get under Maddy’s skin. A painting’s arrival provides a welcome distractionuntil a fleeting touch flings them out of their workshop and into the 1940s nightclub portrayed on the canvas. They’re dressed to kill. So are the mobsters and molls surrounding them.
The women of Lemuria are still in chains. The daughter of an enslaved warrior, brutally attacked by a vicious guard, Selyn has barely survived. Beaten and terrified, she must overcome her fear and trust her life to the only man who can help her: Dawson Buck, one from Earth who has crossed through the portal, a gifted healer. His skills and knowledge renew her body and strengthen her spiritand awaken a compelling passion. Third in the Demonslayers series.
Leonidas has long led his fellow immortal warriors in battle with quiet, unyielding strength. But when Daphne, Oracle of Delphi, confesses to having loved him from afar, Leo finds his stoic shell breaking away. Just as their love ignites, Daphne’s half-brother Ares strips Leonidas of his immortality. Now, it’s just a matter of time before Leonidas is taken from herunless they can find a way to challenge Ares together. Fourth in the Gods of Midnight series.
The Breed guaranteed Mica no harm would come to her, but they never allowed for her sensual fascination with Navarro or his unstoppable need to claim her as his mate, in both body and soul. Twenty-fourth in the Breeds series.
Amalya has spent the centuries using her succubus skills to become one of the most sought-after escorts at a high-class brothel. Seducing and corrupting men to make her quota with her queen, Lilith, has left Amalya jaded about sexuntil a handsome new client triggers her most forbidden desires and delivers an enticing surprise. Levi Spencer, Duke of Ashford, has been offered a deal he can’t refuse in exchange for safely slipping Amalya back into Lilith’s lair. Second in the Sisters of Darkness series.
Once a righteous missionary man, Jonah Walker now endures immortality with nothing but a body built for battle and a heart set on retribution. But his last devastating fight left him wounded beyond healingand his only chance for redemption lies with a fallen woman whose passion burns through the shadows. Third in the Marked Souls series.
From the time she was an orphan, Mona Lisa knew she was different. As a Mixed-Blood daughter of the Monère, she rules her domain in the Louisiana Bayou. But she’s about to become the hunted as her mind begins playing tricks, and no one is who they seem. Roberto Carderas, a dangerous drug lord of mixed Monère heritage, arrives in Cozumel to eliminate a rival. But the jaguar-shifter has encountered a much more valuable prize on the island: Mona Lisa, the first female Monère he’s ever metand one especially vulnerable in that she has lost her memory.
Months after her dangerous encounter with the vampire overlord Saloman, Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk is still trying to cope with both the demands of her vampire-hunting bloodline and the desire she feels for Saloman, the immortal she brought back from the grave. But when Saloman’s ancient sword becomes the object of a ruthless race between humans and vampires, Elizabeth must decide between unwanted loyalty or unholy love. Second in the Awakened by Blood series after Blood on Silk (2010).
Raised by the Breed, Nicholas Roman wants to stop the Eternal Order of Vampires from controlling his life, and using other males from his bloodlineincluding possibly his sonfor their vicious reign. Only a beautiful vampire stranger can help him. But what are her true motives? Second in the Mark of the Vampire series after Eternal Hunger (2010).
Regency London loves a Society weddingeven if there are vampires on the guest list. Dimitri, the Earl of Corvindale, should be delighted that the headstrong Maia Woodmore is getting married. His mortal ward and houseguest has annoyed (and attracted) the Dracule nobleman too long, and denying his animal cravings grows more excruciating by the day. Miss Woodmore’s family has a rather complicated history with the immortals, and she herself possesses a keen sensibility far beyond mere women’s intuition. Marriage will give her safety, respectability and everything else a proper young lady could wish for. Everything but passion. Second in the Regencia Draculia series, after The Vampire Voss (March 2011).
Domino Riley hates zombies. Bodies are hitting the pavement in L.A. like they always do, but this time they’re getting right back up, death be damned. Her mobbed-up outfit of magicians may be the strongest in the city, but even they aren’t immune to the living dead. And she’s yet to develop a resistance to Adan Rashan. If she doesn’t team up with the boss’s son, they won’t just be at each other’s throats over control of the outfit. They’ll be craving hearts and brains, as well. Second in the Underworld Cycle series, following Mob Rules (2010).
Vail the Unwanted is a pureblood vampire. But raised in Faery, he has neither home nor peace, and when his aid is sought in the recovery of a priceless diamond gown, his price is information. Specifically, the whereabouts of his accursed father. His goal is revenge, and the supernaturally sexy Lyric, the icy blond vampiress with whom he must work, is a distraction he can’t afford. Outwardly as cold as the diamond dress in which she was kidnapped, Lyric has her own secrets.
When wounded wolf Skinwalker Nick Chien comes under the care of Jesse Healy, she knows it’s her duty as a Dreamwalker to kill him. But there’s something about the handsome stranger that stays her hand. A tense truce forms as they realize they must work together to defeat a commonand deadlyenemy. The Ruler of Ghost, Nagi, is building a spirit army designed to destroy all. To stop him, Jesse will need Nick’s help. Second in the Trackers series, following Dream Stalker (2009).
According to ancient prophecy, there’s only one chance to avert the complete annihilation of the Undead. Twins James William and Brigit Poe, part human, part vampire, believe that they are that chance. In truth, the key lies with the reclusiveand mortalscholar Lucy Lanfair. As Armageddon approaches, anti-vampire sentiment fuels a war neither side can win, driving James to abandon his moral code and draw Lucy into a deadly battle she wants no part of. But Lucy soon realizes that she holds this powerful immortal’s soul in her hands and that it’s her destiny not only to stop a war but to save him from his inner darkness.
Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect herself from the parasitic nature of the dead, she’s always held fast to the rules passed down from her father. But now a haunted police detective has entered her world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept her safe. First in the Graveyard Queen series.
Danger lurks in the shadows and desire shimmers in the sultry heat as leopard shifter Drake Donovan is sent to a Louisiana bayou to investigate a murder. He’s ready for anything except the insatiable hunger that rocks him when he meets Saria Boudreaux, a woman with a compelling motiveand abilityto distract him from the task at hand.
The gates of hell have opened, and one woman will stand in the crossfire as the Dark Breedvampyre, demons, shape shiftersand mankind fight their last battle for survival. Kyana is half Vampyre, half Lychen, and the last of her kind. Determined, dangerous and damned, she has no love for the mortals who have imprisoned and misused her. But when the Order of Ancients entrusts her with a missionto find the key that will send the Dark Breed back into Hell for eternityKyana has no choice but to accept. First in the Dark Breed series.
Druid-born and magic-blessed, Isla is one of the deadliest she-devils ever to serve the forces of darkness. As an immortal Highland warrior, it’s up to Hayden Campbell to destroy her and her kind. Taking her captive, Hayden hopes to avenge his kinsmen who died by Druid magic. But when he looks into Isla’s eyes, he sees the secrets of her past. When he touches her skin, he feels the passion in her soul. And soon Hayden comes to realize that this beautiful, beguiling woman is not his enemy at allshe is his destiny.
For Caillen Dagan, a defiant soldier of fortune, survival isn’t a right, it’s a brutal daily battle. Moving through the Ichidaian universe like a wraith, his brushes with the law and death are legendary. But when an act of rare heroism reveals his hidden birthright, he’s forced into a world much more dangerous and cold-hearted than the bloody streets where he was raisedone of obscene wealth and lethal politics. Ferocious and determined, Desideria serves as an official bodyguard for her queen who will do anything to prove herself worthy of the weapons she carries and the position she’s won by combat. With assassination contracts out on both of them, Caillen and Desideria must learn to fight together or die alone. Fourth in the League series.
As the daughter of a Regent, Sasha has long known about the secret underworld of the Paladins and their work protecting her kind from the dark forces on the other side of the energy barrier. So when she is sent on her first solo investigation, on the path to becoming the first female Regent, she is determined to get the Seattle Paladins in line. But when she meets Larem, she is inexorably drawn to a dark and valiant warrior who is not at all what he appears to be.
A vampire warrior in exile, Marcus Amargi resists the call to return to the ranks of the Guardians who fight the death vamp armies. Here on Mortal Earth, Marcus has another battle on his handsthe seductive lure of Havily Morgan. The woman meant for him. Whose blood he craves. A beautiful immortal, Havily lives in the realm of Second Earth but, in her fantasies, yearns for her winged lover Marcus. Second in The Guardians of Ascension series following Ascension (January 2011).
Born into a magical family, Reggie Scott is content to live out her life as a normal human until the moment she’s informed that she’s a newly appointed fairy godmother. Left struggling to deal with powers the never thought she’d have, Reggie faces a curse, a plot to overthrow the Arcani, and an entirely too enthusiastic motherall in a matter of days. Jonathan Bastion is a man of power and wealth, and a dangerous secret. He desperately hopes Reggie’s new powers will hold the answer to his problem and he isn’t above using her to achieve his goals.
Daphanie Carter is thrilled that her sister Danice finally found her Prince Charmingeven though he’s not quite, well, human. Daphanie is trying to keep an open mind. Which is why she jumps at the chance to enter the hidden world of The Others when a friendly imp invites her to a non-human nightclub. Daphanie’s curious to see how the Other half livesand partiesbut soon, one handsome stranger has her bewitched, bothered, and beside herself.
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson finds demonic romance vaguely unsettling. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.