Gathering Storm by Victoria Dannann
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Scifi Romance, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy Romance
Publisher: 7th House
Date of Publication: September 19, 2013
ASIN: To be Assigned (http://victoriadanann.com/GatheringStorm.html)
Number of pages: 364
Word Count: 90k
Formats available: Kindle, epub, paperback
Cover Artist: Victoria Danann
The fifth installment in the Black Swan serial saga. READING IN ORDER STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. That’s why we have a try-before-you-buy-program. The first book in the saga, My Familiar Stranger, is PermaFREE everywhere.
THE NEWSLETTER: Z Team, a.k.a Zed Company, is transferred to Jefferson Unit, which is being temporarily retired as an active hunter facility and converted to a research / training institution. Sol takes his first vacation – ever – leaving Glen in charge with Storm supervising. Rosie is proving to be an extraordinary little girl and Deliverance is in BIG trouble with her mother.
THE SURPRISES: Storm is really not himself. Former members of B Team must reunite to preserve his image and reputation. No one could have prepared for the surprises Rosie delivers, least of all Glen.
THE ADVENTURE: The Ralengclan send a second wave assassination team to Jefferson Unit at the worst possible time, when it’s been left defended by only Z Team, Glen, the Lady Laiken and the trainees.
The Order of the Black Swan is one of my favorite paranormal romance series. It’s fun, full of drama, action, and nail-biting suspense that never fails to entertain. This is a serial saga, with each book beginning where the last ended. I strongly recommend that you read this series in its intended sequence so you are able to understand and fully appreciate the richly developed multiple story threads that consolidate into a creative and complex plot.
This is one of my favorite paranormal series, and I always look forward to the release of the latest book. Plus, Danann is one of those authors who doesn’t keep her fans waiting too long!
Danann has created a fascinating multi-dimensional fantasy world that centers on a secret society of Black Swan Knights who volunteer to serve and protect humans from paranormal beings who pose a threat.
In addition, I enjoy this series because of the depth and complexity of the characters. Protagonists featured in one book don’t get pushed aside or have their storylines dropped once the book ends. Instead, they continue to play prominent roles in the following books as the plot evolves. Danann has created an array of interesting characters who come alive and feel like real people that I would want to spend time with. They are serious about their roles within the organization, yet they are also warm, fun-loving and just down-right entertaining. I’ve become attached to them now, and I care about their successes and failures as they continue to grow and change.
Gathering Storm is the fifth book in the series, and just like all of the previous books, it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, Danann breaks away from her usual pattern of featuring one main couple falling in love. Instead she parallels multiple story threads evenly throughout the book, and romance doesn’t play as heavy of a role as it has in the past.
I interpreted the book’s title to indicate that the focus of this book would be about a central conflict affecting Storm, but I don’t think his situation dominates the book. In many cases, there books tend to have one major plot and one or more subplots. I didn’t see that happening here. Storm, Litha, Rosie, Elora, Glen, and the Z Team all face major struggles that are central to the plot’s progression. Danann uses multiple POVs to develop the plot, and this can be tricky. Too many shifts in characters’ POVs can cause confusion to the point that you can just end up with a muddled mess of a plot. However, Danann skillfully provides multiple perspectives in a way that doesn’t disrupt the smooth flow of the story.
I experienced a range of emotions as I read the book, and if you have been following the series, there are some surprises in store for you.
One of the biggest shockers deals with Litha and Storm’s daughter Rosie. Another shocker is the arrival of Angel, a character who isn’t very likable at first, but I enjoyed watching the physical and emotional changes he experiences in the new dimension he’s found himself in. He certainly turns Litha’s world upside down.
All of the characters stay true to their established personalities; Ram is just as charming as ever with his good natured teasing and beautifully lilting accent that Danann voices so well. He’s still and probably always will be my favorite knight. That may change, though, with the addition of the Z Team, an unruly group of knights who don’t play well with others and have a reputation for going rogue.
Deliverance has also become a favorite character. I haven’t really cared for him in the past. He was always amusing, but in this story, he is downright hilarious!
The danger and action really kick in during the latter part of the book, and the drama is intense! Thank goodness the young knight-in-training Spaz is there to ease some of the tension. I will say that I think he could have a successful career as a DJ if things don’t work out with the Black Swan Knights. He is “The Voice of the Fray” and plays a critical role when danger comes swooping in to the Jefferson Unit. His choice of music is clever (Victoria has a great sense of humor in putting the playlist together) even though it annoys the heck out of the B Team.
There are also some sad moments in the book as well, but I won’t give them away.
Even though I really enjoyed the book, I was disappointed that the romance between certain couples wasn’t as detailed and descriptive as I would have liked. I missed the flirting and descriptive scenes that lead to falling in love. I also wish the Z Team had played a more prominent role in the book, but I expect their characters will become more fully developed, and they will play a more significant role as the series continues.
I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
If you’re looking for something new and different in PNR, you’ve come to the right place.
I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of scifi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.
My first book, My Familiar Stranger, was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance of 2012 by the Reviewers’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Awards. Each of my books has remained on the Amazon best seller list in category every day since release. All four also earned the Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK award and have remained on the Amazon Best Sellers list every day since release.
The Order of the Black Swan is a series that is also a serial saga. Each book is an episodic installment in an ongoing story. Join me for the adventure.
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PREFACE Dunkilly, Ireland
Glendennon Catch caught the eye of the bartender who simply pointed toward a back corner. He couldn’t see what the man pointed to, but he nodded and began making his way toward the rear.
He wound through a few layers of standing people who were holding glass mugs and talking loudly to be heard over the music, until he could see a corner snug in the back. It was close to a window so there was enough light to see, even with the smoke, that the bartender had been right in surmising that he was looking for Z Team.
There they were – the farthest thing from inconspicuous. Glen couldn’t begin to guess how they had managed to be successful vampire slayers when everything about them drew attention and broadcasted vibes of this-is-your-last-chance-to-run. It was a message that floated around them like a diaphanous cloud of warning.
The four of them fit comfortably in a snug designed for eight. That was partly because of their sheer size and partly because they had a casual way of draping arms and legs so that they took up as much space as possible. It also communicated disdain for established notions of propriety. Glen knew instinctively that even the word “propriety” would make Black Swan’s infamous misfits laugh out loud.
One of them was wearing a sleeveless shirt that had once been a denim jacket. His left arm had been transformed into a tattooed sleeve by an intricately inked mural of muted colors. It was odd to see bare biceps when it was brittle-dick cold outside, but Glen supposed that if he’d made that much of an investment in ink he might want to show it off too.
Glen’s initial impression of the guy sitting next to Sleeve was that he should have the nickname, Dark, or Black. He wore black jeans, a black metal band shirt that was probably a collectable, and his spiky hair was so blue black it had to have been dyed that color. All that with eyes so pale he could almost get away with going undercover as a vamp. He wasn’t wearing eyeliner, but the contrast between his ice-color irises and those thick ebony lashes made his eyes pop in a dramatic way that probably drew interest from a lot of babes. The Black Knight. Glen smiled a little to himself. He enjoyed his own company and his own offbeat sense of humor.
The third wore a plain gray long sleeve tee that covered his upper body, but Glen could see black ink climbing out of the neck of the guy’s shirt, stopping just below his pronounced jaw line. Either tribal pattern or angel glyph. Hard to tell with just snake tails in view. He had a serious case of bed head going, probably by design, and one eyebrow that was raised and had been since he’d noticed Glen standing there watching them.
He said something to the others. Then the fourth, the one facing away with one long arm draped over the back of the snug, turned to look at Glen, revealing elfin ears. Those ears were outlined by light brown hair with titian streaks. Same curl as Sir Hawking. Had to be Torrent Finngarick.
They looked exactly the way Glen had expected them to look. Hard. Tough. And like they belonged together. He was thinking, So they’re Black Swan knights with a little bit of a nasty reputation. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like me. Right?
It was an inadequate internal pep talk, but he just wasn’t feeling it. He decided to go with Plan A, which was taking life straight ahead, one step at a time. Glen had a reputation of his own for being easy going, but he made an exception for passive aggressive nonsense. He didn’t like it, didn’t like people who habitually avoided the front door, and didn’t mind letting his irritation with bullshit bubble over.
Plan A meant walking straight up to them, stating his business, hoping for the best, but being prepared for the worst. That was the thought bouncing around in his mind as he observed their reactions to seeing him approach the table.
When he was standing over them, he looked around the table and said, “I’m Glendennon Catch.” Then he zeroed in on Torn. “Sorry for your loss, Sir Finngarick.” He said “sir” quietly enough so that only they heard him, but they got the message. It was as good as a secret handshake. “The office sent me with a message from the HR department.”
They left him standing there for a minute without saying anything or changing expression. It was a thinly disguised intimidation strategy to get him to reveal nervousness, timidity, or some other weakness that would register as a flaw in their eyes. That sort of thing didn’t work on somebody who had inherited the dominant werewolf gene. He could stand there all day without flinching or looking away.
Finally, the big guy with the glyphs crawling up his neck grinned, showing dimples which seemed entirely out of place against the persona he’d so carefully crafted. “So go ahead and deliver your memo, Sweet Cheeks. We’re waiting.”
The other three chuckled softly without taking their eyes off of him. Glen laughed openly and good-naturedly, but let the sound trail off ending in a low level growl, incongruent with the smile on his face. The growl wasn’t loud enough to draw attention from the wake-goers, but it was definitely heard by Z Team. They all sat up a little straighter and took another look at the kid. He had their interest, but that was worlds away from respect.
Looking at Glyphs, he said, “My briefing didn’t mention that any of you are hard of hearing. If you want to call me by a name, it’s Glen.”
Finngarick’s blue eyes twinkled in a way that brought Ram to mind while the other two laughed at Glyphs being put down by a kid who was years away from growing into his big frame.
“Long way to deliver a message. Would you no’ have a pint with us then? Glen.” He reached out with a long leg, put the toe of his scuffed boot through the leg brace of an unoccupied chair, pulled it up to the snug, and made a gesture of invitation. “You’ll find we’re no’ much on formality. Call me Torn.”
Glen nodded then looked at the others. Torn pointed at the guy with the sleeves and said, “This is Gunnar. That’s Raif.” He raised his chin in the direction of ‘black knight’. “The fella with the questionable personality is Bob.”
“Gunnar. Raif, Torn, And Bob. No way.”
Finngarick’s eyes twinkled with that special elvish sparkle. “Aye. Make no mistake. Name’s Bob.”
Glen shook his head. “Let’s rename him.”
Finngarick looked at Bob and then back at Glen. “What we have here gentlemen is a cool, gloomy Irish day with no place to go and no’ a thin’ to do, but have another pint. So I say we’ll play that game. What would you call the man if it was up to you, young emissary?” Glen shrugged. “Come now. No ideas?”
“Well, yeah, I sort of named him in my head on the walk across the bar.”
“Pub,” Torn corrected.
“Yes. Pub. Sorry.”
Bob raised both brows. “I, for one, cannot wait to hear what you named me in your head on your walk across the… pub.”
Glen looked at him with speculation trying to decide whether or not to tell the truth. “Glyphs.”
While Bob studied Glen, his three teammates studied Bob in turn, like they were trying it on for size. Bob lowered his eyebrows and rolled his big shoulders in approval.
Finally Torn nodded as if to say he’d reached a conclusion. “Right you are. Now that you point it out, I can see he’s no’ a Bob. Glyphs suits him fine. Congratulations, trainee. You just named yourself a knight.”
Torn Finngarick called for a Guinness Extra Stout to be served to Glen, who wasn’t used to alcohol at all and certainly wasn’t ready for Irish black beer. He took a manly mouthful, thinking he had arrived, and promptly spewed it all over Torn in a spectacular demonstration of human fountain power. The other three members of Z Team laughed so hard they had to wipe tears.
“That was almost as funny as the night that Chokarzi stripper puked half a gallon of half-digested Cuervo in your face in the middle of a lap dance.”
Glen borrowed a wet bar towel and offered it to Finngarick with a blush. “I’d offer to clean you up, but your file says you prefer to get personal with women.”
Torn took the towel without a word, but with a glint of amusement in his eyes. When he was as clean as was possible without a shower and fresh clothes, he handed the towel to Glen. “Go get yourself somethin’ else. Drinks are on me. Milk maybe?” he teased.
When Glen returned with a mug of root beer, no one asked him what was in the glass. Torn simply motioned to the chair. Glen sat.
“You’re needed at Jefferson Unit. You’re to accompany me to Fort Dixon after the funeral. Your things are being gathered and moved as we speak.”
As Glen looked from one to another, he saw no discernible reaction. They were a cool bunch. He’d give them that.
Glyphs shrugged. “New York’s no worse than any other place. Maybe better than some.”
Finngarick looked at Glen like he was a lab specimen on a microscopic slide. “Would you be happenin’ to know why we’re needed so urgently?”
Glen thought about it for a minute and decided there was no reason to withhold the truth. “Yes.”
A ghost of a smile seemed to cross Finngarick’s handsome elven face. “And would you be sharin’ with us then?”
Torn glanced at his teammates as if the four could communicate telepathically. “See. The thin’ is, we’re accustomed to hearin’ The Order needs to sweep us further under the rug. No’ brin’ us into the light. We would no’ be the least surprised if you came to say we’re bein’ transferred to Antarctica. But this? Naturally we’re curious, you understand.”
“Of course I understand. But I’m not at liberty to say.”
Torn nodded thoughtfully. “Well, then. Might you be at liberty to say why you were sent to escort us?”
It took Glen less than a second to process whether it might be problematic to divulge that information. “The Jefferson Unit sovereign is retiring. I’m being given a try-out for his job. He sent me to get you.” Z Team stared at Glen as if they were waiting for the punch line. Finally, he said, “No. Really.”
Gunnar cleared his throat. “So. You’re saying that, at some point, we might be calling you boss?”
Glen responded with a shit-eating grin so big, it begged for comeuppance. Gunnar swept his gaze around the snug before it came to light on Glen with a chilling mix of challenge, mischief and amusement.
Torn leaned forward. “Seems we have limited time for the application of a right proper hazin’ then. Glen.”
Four sets of eyes darted to the movement in Glen’s throat when he swallowed
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