October 31, 2013

Braine Reviews: Cursed by S.J. Harper + Giveaway

Series: Fallen Siren 1
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Format: Mass Paperback
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Roc
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s cursed. He’s damned. Together, they make one hell of a team. Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them.

Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.

I'm a Siren - one of three. We were banished by Zeus and cursed by Demeter thousands of years ago for failing to protect her daughter Persephone - for failing to rescue her before she was dragged by Hades to the Underworld. it's for this I atone. For this I pay.
CURSED is book 1 of the amazing writing duo, S.J. Harper, from their brand new series, Fallen Siren. CURSED is a procedural urban fantasy story that involves a missing persons case which features the usual menagerie of otherworldy creatures starting with vampires and werewolves coupled with unforeseeable complications. Things get hairy when you throw in a plastic surgeon, a cursed Siren and an underground farm where human organs are harvested for various transplants all in the name of science and humanitarian purposes, into the mix. 

The setting is present time San Diego and humans are still unaware that supernaturals exist as the lot of them are assimilating inconspicuously in our society. Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong are such an example, they are case partners working on an artist's suspicious disappearance. And these two are more than case partners. Emma and Zack have a shared (steamy) past and it's quite obvious that the fire is still burning and being case partners is doing nothing but fan the flame of their growing attraction for each other. 

What I liked about these two is that Emma didn't play hard to get and isn't snarky like other UF heroines. She knows what and who she is and isn't in the business of trying to prove something. Zack stayed decent and didn't puff up and beat his chest up like other Alphas. Quite refreshing if you ask me. Now the lack of sexual tension and verbal foreplay was little disappointing with a heat level of a modest 2 out of 5. Which I find ironic considering our heroine is a skilled and gifted seductress and our hero is a passionate werewolf, pheromones and mating calls is a given but remained undelivered. I haven't read any of S.J. Harper's books so I don't know if they want to keep things wholesome and leave the more intimate parts to their reader's imaginations (like their fellow Roc author, Kat Richardson and her PG series Greywalker). I can respect that, I guess they want to keep the focus on the plot over the romance still the irony of the premise didn't escape me. 

Aside from the lukewarm smexiness, CURSED wasn't as thrilling as I expected. After all, this is an UF series with law enforcement agents for heroes. It was rich in mystery and suspense but there wasn't an array of hair raising, heart pounding action to keep my adrenalin rushing through my system. It was very investigative probably because the "bad guys" weren't hardcore villains so things didn't get down and dirty. It did however leave us with a few things to think about which sets up the next book quite well. 

Digging deeper, I do love the drama and emotional dilemma Emma faces on a regular basis because of her curse. She's lived several millennia, met interesting people, but forbidden to love otherwise she risks the wrath of Demeter. Sounds like a lonely existence if you ask me. A note though to those who've read the book already, I don't want to make Demeter the villain right away, when the book ended I have a feeling she's softening a bit and is challenging Emma in a positive way to pay her dues so she can release herself from the curse. Maybe.

Now whilst CURSED was a quick read, I do hope that the next book will have more danger and sexual tension. I want my urban fantasy to keep my heart pumping for different reasons. But even if CURSED fell short on some parts, it did give us a great peek at Emma's world and future conflicts, both romantic and otherwise, which we'll know more about in the next book. CURSED may not have wowed me but it was good enough to make me follow the series and read the next installment.
A Siren never begs, I can have any man at any time. I've conquered kings, seduced holy men and rakes, driven the famous and infamous to desperation with want.

Purchase Cursed

S.J. Harper is the pen name for the writing team of Samantha Sommersby and Jeanne C. Stein, two friends who met at Comic-Con in San Diego and quickly bonded over a mutual love of good wine, edgy urban fantasy, and everything Joss Whedon.

Samantha Sommersby left what she used to call her “real life” day job in the psychiatric field to pursue writing full-time in 2007. She is the author of more than ten novels and novellas including the critically acclaimed Forbidden series. She currently lives with her husband and cocker spaniel, Buck, in a century old Southern California Craftsman. Sam happily spends her days immersed in a world where vampires, werewolves, and demons are real, myths and legends are revered, magic is possible, and love still conquers all.

Jeanne Stein is the national bestselling author of The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. She also has numerous short story credits, including most recently the novella, Blood Debt, from the New York Times bestselling anthology, Hexed. Her series has been picked up in three foreign countries and her short stories published in collections here in the US and the UK. She lives in Denver, CO where she finds gardening a challenge more daunting than navigating the world of mythical creatures.

Stalk S.J. Harper
Samantha: Facebook | @samsommersby

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  1. Rocking review Gorgeous. Loving the mystery mixed in with the uf elements.

  2. Good to hear that she was a unique character

  3. This book sounds really good, I don't care much about the romance in urban fantasy, so I think this will be perfect for me.

  4. I have it and I really need to read it, I'm so curious!

  5. Awesome review Braine! I've never read a book in which a siren was the main character, so I'm very intrigued! Also, I totally agree with you about the whole sexual tension and danger thing; that's something I need to have in a book as well. =D

  6. Fantastic review my friend. I love romantic suspense and like the sound of this. A siren as the main character has me totally intrigued, and I can deal with the romance on the side if the case is good.

  7. For some reason it is hard to find a really likeable UF heroine. Emma sounds great.
    Nice review!

  8. I've got this one on my tbr pile :) I need to get back into urban fantasy. Used to read it all the time then just had to take a break. She really does sound like a great heroine. I am so in need of those lately.

  9. Thanks for sharing, really like the sound of this book


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