Feb 18, 2013


Stronger Than Magic Book Tour: Review & Guest Post

Welcome to our stop of Melinda VanLone's Stronger Than Magic book tour, hosted by


Tarian Xannon fights demons, like the rest of us. This time, the demon just happens to be real.

When Tarian tracks down a petty magical criminal in Philadelphia as a favor for a friend, she ends up fighting with a demon instead. He steals some of her blood during the struggle, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until she learns that he can use it to siphon away her power and subject her to his will. She’ll be nothing more than a puppet in less than a week unless she can find a way to stop him.

This is bad news for her and for the family throne, a magical object she didn’t want to inherit, but now feels pressured to protect. Nothing could stop the demon from killing anyone in his path once he has the throne’s power.

The demon’s attack on her also triggers the Succession Ritual. Tarian must have sex with three or more men in order to produce a child who will carry a blend of their magic, or the throne can be won in battle by anyone. With a demon ready and willing to fight, Tarian has no choice but to follow the rules of succession, even though she thinks the idea is outdated and stupid.

The pressure of family obligations, combined with the loss of her magic, pushes Tarian to rush in when she should plan, and to make deals that have consequences for her and her future child.
She’s not ready to be a mother, or a leader. But Tarian realizes her inner demons are nothing next to the evil which threatens her life and the throne.


 Melinda VanLone writes fantasy and science fiction, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and furbabies. When she's not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or hovered over coffee in Starbucks.

Website          Twitter          Goodreads          Facebook

The Excerpt

"Tarian took off her jacket and focused her magic on the wound in an attempt to heal it, but after a couple of minutes had to admit it: She sucked at healing. Even if she hadn’t just spent a lot of energy fighting the demon, she couldn’t have managed to heal this. When she tried to handle something as delicate as skin, she felt clumsy and awkward. The headache wasn’t helping, either. The best she was able to manage was a loose scab that she wasn’t entirely sure wouldn’t have formed on its own in a few more minutes. She surveyed the damage. It was angry and in-your-face, and it hurt like hell, but at least she’d managed to make it stop bleeding.

She put the jacket back on and winced as the stiff leather brushed against the wound. The torn section stuck out at odd angles. She tried to tuck it in so it was less obvious, then searched the alley for any scrap the lizard man might have touched. If she couldn’t track her own blood, for whatever reason, maybe she could use something he’d touched as a focus. She found nothing, not even a button or a scale.

“Lose something?”

A man stood on the sidewalk, surveying the alley. A strong magical signature emanated from him, plus a whiff of some sort of spice. She tested the air, ready to throw every ounce of magic at him that she could muster, which wasn’t much at the moment. She relaxed as she realized he wasn’t attempting to focus power of any sort. Satisfied that he wasn’t an immediate threat, she took a good look at him.

He had the kind of strong jaw she loved, and his messy black hair soaked up the afternoon sun. He wore jeans, a black wool coat and relaxed confidence. A shiver crawled down her back and settled in her groin. If they’d met in a bar, she’d have bought him a drink. Or three.

The stranger raised his eyebrows as his eyes passed over the slice in her jacket, then had the nerve to wink at her as his eyes traveled down her leather pants.

“You’re in some kinda trouble. Need help?” His smile stretched up and lit a sparkler in his eyes. “I felt that blast all the way in the coffee shop.”

“I’m doing just fine, thanks. I have a job to do, if you don’t mind.” Great, just what she needed, some magic citizen thinking he was a detective. She needed to finish her original mission and get the hell out of here.

“You’re anything but fine. Whatever job you think you’re doing, you need to have that arm looked at first.” His eyes didn’t lose the sparkle, but his voice took on a serious tone. “It smells wrong. If it’s what I think, you need to have it sealed. Fast. And then you need to catch the guy, quick, before he uses what he got.”

She couldn’t stop herself from putting a hand over the injury. He was right. The wound felt wrong, somehow. The cold inside her wove in and around her internal organs. She didn’t want to think about what it searched for. It pulsed in time to the throbbing in her arm. But surely the healers could handle this when she got home. No big deal.

“Look, I appreciate the concern, but I’ll be fine. I don’t have time to get it looked at right now.” She resolutely put her hand down and pushed past him. Her target couldn’t be far. She’d only been here for what, a few minutes? He was probably in the nearest bar.

The man put a hand on her good arm to stop her. The warmth soaked into her bicep and loosened muscles all over the place.

“Make time.” The sparks were gone from his eyes. “I’d hate to see someone so fine used by something that foul.”

“Just who are you, anyway?” She pulled her arm away from him.

He put a hand in his back pocket, fished out a card and handed it to her.

Daric Voltain, Private Society Investigations

The address was the building next to the alley they stood in, the home of her favorite coffee shop. No wonder he’d felt the backlash of spell power. He must live above the alley.

“I told you, I’ve had some experience with this. And it’s obvious you haven’t. That arm is bad news. He’s left a mark on you. And if you have some of him, it means he has some of you.”

Her skin turned cold as she remembered the lizard man tasting her blood.

“It’s no big deal.” She put the card in her back pocket and matched his know-it-all stare with a glare of her own.

“I’ll take that as confirmation. The clock is ticking, hun. If he’s a demon, the stronger he is, the faster it will tick. If he knows what he’s doing, I’d say you have a week, maybe less.”

A week before what? Before her arm fell off? She put her hand over the wound again. It didn’t feel life-threatening. Her head pounded. Dizziness threatened to drop her on her ass.

It was as if Daric read her mind.

"A week before he has control over you. Your powers. Everything. You'll be his to command. That would be a very bad thing, for you and the rest of us.” "

My Review

Okay, I did something really stupid regarding this book, and I just have to get it off my chest. It's eating a hole inside of me. Figuratively, of course, but still.

Up until about fifty pages into the book, I was pretty convinced that Alex was gay.

I know, I know, I'm horrible! I can see that now. Maybe it was because he called himself a style magnet the first time I met him and practically strutted his stuff trying to show off his new shirt to Tarain.

And then I got to the whole mating issue part, and I'm like well.... this is awkward....

So yes, I'm really sorry, Alex, for the misunderstanding, but at least I figured it out eventually! I hope there has been no permanent infringement on the subject of your masculinity because I think you've got a pretty good handle on that. I was being stereotypical, and I apologize.

Now that that's over with, let's get on to the actual book.

The thing that I liked the most about it was that it always kept me guessing. Melinda would throw me little crumbs of information at a time that would lead my thoughts in a certain direction, but then I would pick up on another trail that sent me in a completely different one. I wouldn't say that anything was unexpected because my brain had be exploring every option since the beginning, just that I wasn't sure which one would be true.

In a way, I kinda hated having to do that. Not in any way is that a problem with the book, just that I'm not a huge fan of having to question everybody's loyalties. And by everybody, I do mean everybody. Daric, Alex, Calliope, even Tarian's mother at one point in time. I just hated having to consider the possibility that they were actually out to get Tarain.

My favorite character wasn't actually one character, but many: the archivists. At least towards the end when they weren't being bratty and actually decided to help. There was just something so cool about those little guys and how they all shared the same consciousness, even if they did tend to have a bit on an attitude. I really hope they're explored more in later books.

Tarain herself I liked a lot more than I expected to. At the beginning, I was on the same boat as Daric and thought she was a tad spoiled, always used to getting her way and never having to face a problem she couldn't blow right through. I'm not saying that she's some high and mighty pampered princess because that's not her at all. She is just very powerful, and she knew it, so there was no need for her to ever think that she might fail.

But she grew up a lot as the novel progressed, and it was very believable too. She didn't just wake up one morning and say, "Today's the day I'm going to be responsible." No, if she tried that, it would probably last ten minutes before someone tried to shove her in a dress, stick her in a room full of men, and she'd say, "Screw it," and leave.

Instead, she learned through her mistakes, like real people do. She messes up many, many times, and rushes into things without thinking more often than not. But sooner or later she figures it out, and she does start to mature. She grows into her responsibilities as a leader and as a possible mother, without anything seeming too fake. Because, like every else Tarain does, it's done her way, on her terms, and in her own sweet time.

Rating: 4 stars

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey guys! We love to hear from you all. Thanks for reading!

Gabby & Taylor