Book Review Tour for “The Penton Legacy” series by Susannah Sandlin


For those of you who enjoy paranormal romance series with unusual twists, this is one worth checking out.  It revolves around vampires who have created a kind of safe haven town called “Penton” where they can live in secret with their human familiars.  It doesn’t stop there, though, because there is a reason they’ve secluded themselves.  To find out more, check out the novel information below and my reviews of all three books.

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The Penten Legacy Tour banner.

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Redemption book coverREDEMPTION

Book One Penton Legacy series
By Susannah Sandlin

Book Description:

Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.

Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.

But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland.  Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars

To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.

Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.

Susannah Sandlin’s REDEMPTION is the first in the Penton Legacy series. Book two, ABSOLUTION, will be out September 18, and book three, OMEGA, on December 18.

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Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Book Depository

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EXCERPT:

Krystal Harris pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road—highway was too grand a word—and punched the button to turn on the old green Corolla’s dome light. She counted to five before thwacking it with the heel of her palm, and a dim light blinked as if considering her demand. It stayed on—this time.
The car was a dinosaur, but it was a paid-for dinosaur.
She dug a folded Alabama road map from beneath her briefcase on the passenger seat, smoothing the creases to make sure she hadn’t driven past Penton, which she suspected was no more than a wide spot on a narrow road. She didn’t want to get lost out here in the boonies.
Yep, County Road 70. The highway to Penton just looked like the express lane to nowhere.
A gust of wind rocked the car, sending icy air around the loose door seals. Maybe the chill of this night was an omen that she should take this job if they offered it, just so she could buy a more respectable form of transportation. Still, doubts nagged at her. What kind of clinic conducted a job interview at nine p.m.? She should never have agreed to it, but the Penton Clinic administrator had waved big bucks in front of her huge college and med school debts, and she’d trotted after them like a donkey after a carrot.
“You had the goody-two-shoes idea of practicing rural medicine, plus you’re already here,” she chided herself, clicking off the overhead and pulling back onto the road. “And you’ve gotta admit, this is rural.”
Another omen, and not a good one: she was talking to herself. Out loud.
A couple of miles later, her headlights illuminated a battered wooden sign covered in peeling paint: Welcome to Penton, Alabama. Founded 1890. Population 3,275.
Twenty years ago, maybe. Krys had done her Penton homework, and that was the boomtown population, when the mammoth East Alabama Mill still churned out threads and batting. It had wheezed its final belch a decade ago, and the town had suffered a slow death by attrition even before the pandemic. The most recent listing Krys found online estimated a population of three hundred. She was surprised they could afford to hire a doctor, much less pay a more-than-competitive wage.
But this was what she wanted, right? A place to practice medicine and be her own boss, to find a community where she could belong? After growing up in Birmingham—the wrong side of Birmingham—she hated the grime and crowds and noise of the city.
Lost in thought as she approached the outskirts of town, she thought she saw an animal in the road—a deer or a bear, maybe—God only knew what wildlife lived out here. But it was a man. He wore a long coat that flapped in the wind and was backlit by a lone streetlight in front of an abandoned convenience store. She’d have blown past him if he hadn’t moved into the middle of the road when the glare of her headlights hit
him like a spotlight.
He stood with his hands in his pockets, feet planted apart, watching calmly as she floored the brakes. The Corolla’s old tires squealed, stinking up the air with the smell of hot rubber and stressed brakes.
Good Lord. Was he nuts?
She got the car stopped and took a deep breath, hands frozen to the wheel, her muscles jittery from the aftershock. The man walked around and tapped on her driver’s side window, motioning for her to lower it.
Krys’s foot hovered over the accelerator, indecisive. Should she drive on and get the hell out of here?
No, by God, she should not. She’d at least lower the window enough to tell the jerk how close he’d come to ending his life as a hood ornament on a green Toyota Dinosaur.
He held up his empty hands in a gesture of peace. Right. Like he was going to hold up a sign that said Beware of Murderous Backwoods Whack Job.
She snaked her right hand to her purse in the passenger seat, wrapped cold fingers around the handle of a small pistol, and slipped it into the pocket of her suede jacket—after she was sure the man had seen it. The .38 Smith & Wesson snub-nose was her security blanket, and she knew how to use it.
His only reaction to the gun was a raised eyebrow. “I have a man injured here.” His voice was deep and melodic, and he had a trace of an accent, as if he’d grown up not speaking English but had been around a few too many Southerners. “You the doctor coming to Penton for the interview?”
She lowered her window an inch and stared as he knelt next to the driver’s side door, putting his face at eye level. And damned if it wasn’t one of the most beautiful faces she’d seen since…maybe ever.
He’d pulled his dark hair into a short ponytail except for one wavy strand that had pulled loose and blew against his cheek. The streetlight cast enough illumination for her to see the dark lashes fringing blue eyes that reminded her not so much of summer skies or robin’s eggs but of the richness of an arctic sea flowing
over darker depths. They appeared to lighten as he studied her with an intensity that almost robbed her lungs of air. He had a strong jaw, full lips, and a slight cleft in his chin.
If he was a serial killer, he was at least a pretty one.
He cleared his throat. “Are you Dr. Harris?”
Krys caught her breath. Good Lord, what was wrong with her? She’d been practically drooling through a half-open window as though he were Adonis personified. He could be Charles Manson’s separated-at-birth, unidentical twin.
Except he knew her name.

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MY REVIEW OF REDEMPTION:

Redemption is one roller coaster ride of a paranormal romance.  There is plenty of action and intrigue.  I really enjoyed the concept of vampires being extremely limited in which humans they could feed from and how this affected their way of life.  Pickings are extremely small after a widely distributed vaccine eliminated most from being viable.  Creating a group of both vamps and non-inoculated humans where they could benefit from each other made a lot of sense.  Aiden is one such vampire master that does just that.  He’s got a good thing going after what I assume is several years of development (this wasn’t entirely clear in the story) and will do anything to make it work–even if that means forcing a human female doctor, Krys, to stay in the town and help his enclave.  Yes, she had every reason to be outraged, but she still had a hard time resisting helping people with her medical skills when it was obvious they needed her.  Krys dealt with it in a manner that I thought was believable.

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The characters in the novel were well rounded.  They had their strengths and weakness without going too far either way.  None of them came off as all that flat to me.  I liked the romance that developed between Aiden and Krys.  Though they had an immediate attraction, they fought it for some time so it wasn’t rushed.  I really could feel the chemistry between them and understand their motivations.  The plot was a good one, but I would have liked to see a less predictable ending.  There are a few holes in the world-building as well, but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the novel.  It’s definitely a great start to the series.  For those who enjoy paranormal romance, this is definitely one worth picking up.  It gets four whips!

WhipWhipWhipWhip

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NOTE- I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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ABSOLUTION-Book coverABSOLUTION

The Penton Legacy, Book 2
By Susannah Sandlin

Release date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Book Description:

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.

A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.

To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Book Depository

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EXCERPT:

What was Matthias thinking, throwing a human woman in the cell with a vampire who’d been locked up and starved for over a month?
Mirren waited on the bench, his back against the wall, his head down. Waited until Matthias climbed the steps, slammed the door, clicked the dead bolt home. Waited until he could get control of the hunger that had begun raging the second the woman stumbled down the stairway. She was unvaccinated, and he wanted nothing more than to take her, blood and body, until there was nothing left.
If he did that, he’d be no better than the version of Mirren Kincaid he’d tried so hard to leave behind. He’d be the Slayer again. His hands could too easily remember the mindless sweep of the sword, the heavy fall of the battle-ax, the controlled back-thrust of a heavy firearm. If the cold darkness ever fell over him again, he feared he’d embrace it.
“Mister, you awake?”
Shit. She would have to be a talker. Mirren hated a talky woman. They always expected you to talk back.
He raised his head slowly and caught his breath. She was young, maybe mid-twenties, and pretty in a rode-hard kind of way.
“Your eyes are silver—I’ve seen enough vampires since I was kidnapped to know when your eyes get lighter, it means you’re hungry. But I’ve never seen any like yours. How long has it been since you ate? Umm…Make that how long since you drank?”
If the stupid woman kept walking toward him, he wouldn’t be held responsible. “Stay where you are.” He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking. How could she help him without sending his need so far over the edge he lost control of it?
She eeked when he shifted on the bench and turned his back toward her. “Untie me.”
She stumbled a little when she reached the bench and sat hard. The woman was stoned out of her gourd. He could smell the drugs on her.
“Your wrists are all torn up. That has to hurt.” She sat on the bench behind him, and Mirren breathed in her scent with his eyes closed. Damn, but he wanted to feed so badly his muscles ached.
She muttered as she worked, her drug-addled fingers slipping off the rope. “You’re so big that I’m surprised this rope could hold you. I should be able to…Let’s see here, it’s too dark. Man, this is funky rope.”
“Stop yapping, start untying.” She had that broad, soft Southern accent he found sexy, but she used it way too much.
“Yeah, yeah, okay.” She tugged harder on the ropes, burning his sensitive wrists with each pull. “Sorry, sorry. Why is it burning your skin like that?”
Mirren growled and spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s laced with silver, and I’m a freaking vampire. Just untie me.” Damn, he had to get himself under control, or he’d scare the woman to death and she wouldn’t finish freeing his arms or feed him either one.
“Well, you’ve got the funny eyes, but I don’t see any fangs.”
God help him, he’d show her some fangs. “I said I was a vampire. Now finish untying me.”
Mirren twisted his wrists and felt the rope give way—the woman had gotten it loose enough that he didn’t need her help.
“But wait, how do I know you—”
She gasped as Mirren pulled his wrists apart, popped the rope onto the cell floor, and shifted around to face her.
“Can you…?” She paused and swallowed hard, edging away from him on the bench. Mirren’s gaze dropped to her mouth. “Can you feed without killing me?”
Mirren nodded slowly. Maybe. Maybe not.

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MY REVIEW OF ABSOLUTION:

Absolution starts off about a month or so after Redemption.  Though it’s possible to have not read the first book, I really think the reader would get a better experience by going through the series in order.  As was hinted at in the end of Redemption, Mirren had disappeared and as it turns out is being held by the series bad guy, Matthias.  It is during this time he meets Glory, a mortal woman with some nifty magic powers (I won’t spoil what those are).  Through a course of events thereafter, they get stuck together and eventually evolve into something more.

For the most part, I liked Glory.  She was independent and didn’t take anyone’s crap, but she still had a kind and generous side to her.  In a lot of ways she was the right type of woman for Mirren.  I think he was a good guy too, but one element about him held me back.  He has the extremely common trait among paranormal romance novels of believing he has done so many bad things in his past that he isn’t worthy of a good woman.  After you’ve read the two-hundredth novel with this personality type it tends to get a bit old, but I liked everything else about him so I mostly let it pass.

The plot of the series moves forward with the Penton vampires getting in more hot water than even the first novel.  There was a nice blend of action and romance without one taking over the other.  I thought the pacing quite well done.  There are still some minor holes in world-building, such as if unvaccinated humans are so difficult to find then why did two of the characters in this book find someone to feed off of within minutes of looking.  Seemed hard to believe since there are constant descriptions of starved vampires running around, but once again I let that slide because other good elements came along to make up for it.  Overall I think this is a good addition to the PNR genre for those who are looking for it.  I give it four whips!

WhipWhipWhipWhip.

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NOTE- I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Omega book coverOMEGA

Penton Vampire Legacy, Book 3
Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: February 5, 2013

Book Description:

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton’s humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal’s vicious leader, Will’s capture could doom the resistance.

Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will’s polished charm and Randa’s guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.

Fans of Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Book Depository

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EXCERPT:

Will stopped and scented the air again. There were two vampires nearby; one belonged to the Penton scathe, and one didn’t.
He ignored both vampires and skirted to the back of the street where the burned shell of his house still smelled of smoke and ash after three days. Aligning his position with the oak tree twenty feet behind what was left of his chimney, he paced forty steps into the woods.
A thorny bramble that had been draped over a small, scrubby bush pricked his fingers when he pulled it back. Grasping the trunk of the bush, he eased it from its loose grasp in the soil, exposing the top of a metal box.
The loud click of a cocked pistol preceded the cold press of steel against the back of his head by less than a second.
He inhaled, annoyed. A rookie mistake. He’d gotten so engrossed in his task he’d let someone slip up on him.
Vampire.
Penton scathe.
Female.
Freaking Randa.
* * *

Randa grinned, enjoying the disgusted look on Will’s face. “If I were your father, I’d already have the silver spoon back in your mouth, Willy. He’d have you trussed up like a rodeo calf by now, hauling you back to wherever it is he lives when he’s not terrorizing innocent people.”
Will Ludlam was the kind of guy Randa Thomas had hated as a human, and she didn’t like him a bit more as a vampire. Less, in fact. Not only was he a spoiled rich boy, he was now a virtually immortal spoiled rich boy. He had probably been a blue-chip jock in school with a 4.0 GPA and a string of girls trailing his every step.
Plus, he annoyed the hell out of her. The consummate smartass.
“No, if you were my father, you’d have slit my throat—not enough to kill me, but enough to make sure I couldn’t fight back.” His voice was soft, calm. “Then you’d hand me over to your sadistic, freakshow of a second-in-command Shelton, who would play with me until I couldn’t take it anymore. Only when I was good and broken would you return the silver spoon to my mouth.”
Good God, would any father really do that? Will didn’t sound as if he were joking. Randa relaxed her stance for only a split second before the world tilted and she hit the ground, landing on her back with Will stretched out on top of her in a full body press. And he had her gun.
“Damn it.” She pushed against him but it was like pressing on bedrock.
He propped on his elbows and grinned down at her. His hat had fallen off in the scuffle and the moonlight glinted off his hair, making it look silver instead of a naturally streaked blond. And he had dimples, as if God hadn’t already rewarded him with enough in the looks department.
“And if I were my father, you would be dead. Or worse. Believe me, with Matthias, there’s always much worse. Give up?”
She squirmed again, but froze when she realized he was getting turned on by her movements. There was definitely more of him pressing on her than there had been a few seconds earlier.
He laughed, a white glint of teeth in the moonlight. “Oh, don’t stop moving, sweetheart. This is getting more and more interesting.”
Yeah, she could feel exactly how interested he was getting. She felt a very un-vampirelike flush of heat as he wedged a knee between her legs. Damn it. She clenched her teeth at her body’s betrayal—which he’d be able to sense. She hated being a vampire; there was no sense of privacy. “Get. Off. Me. Now.”
Will lowered his head and, damn him, inhaled deeply, with his face pressed against the side of her neck. Her carotid artery also thumped in a very unvampire-like cadence. She waited for the smartass comments to start.
Instead, he lifted his head and looked her in the eye. She could swear his heartbeat sped up, although it was hard to tell over the pounding of her own. Well, this was awkward.
He blinked and opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again.
Well, that was one good thing. Will had been stricken dumb, at least for a moment. It wouldn’t last.

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MY REVIEW OF OMEGA:

I must say out of the three novels this one was the most intense.  The story didn’t focus as much on the romance as the previous novels did, but that actually worked quite well.  The plot had evolved so much by the time this one began that it required a lot of attention.   Instead the romance was interspersed in small bits throughout the story in a more urban fantasy style.  The pacing was well done and the action was good.  I really found myself cheering for the Penton residents in the hopes that not all would be lost.  The ending didn’t go quite as I expected, but I appreciated the unusual direction it went.  It leaves room for further books which would be nice because I think there is a lot more that can be done to show how things move on.

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I really wasn’t sure how I’d like Will and Randa as the couple for this novel.  Neither of them inspired enough confidence for me to believe it was possible for a romance to bloom.  Despite that, I found myself growing sympathetic to Will and appreciating the strength he’d had to get through a very difficult past.  He turned out to be a great love interest for Randa.  She’s a tough chick that most people can appreciate.

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Unfortunately my biggest problems with the novel revolved around her.  She’s supposed to be an Army veteran who was turned into a vampire while serving in Afghanistan.  I could blow holes in so much of her background that it irked me how off the details were for a female soldier.  In the book it says she went to basic training at Ft. Benning.  Anyone who has served in the Army can testify that it is an infantry training base and not one where women go (unless they’re attending Airborne school).  There was also the fact that Randa wore what Will liked to call “granny panties”.  These were supposedly issued to her while she was serving and she was required to wear them.  I was in the Army for eleven years (got out in 2009) and never once received a pair of underwear.  They simply told us females to buy cotton panties, which I did—from Victoria’s Secret.  Some women even wore g-strings under their uniforms.

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So the idea that Randa somehow managed to get back to base in Afghanistan after being turned into a vampire, grab all her army issue stuff, and keep wearing these supposedly horrible looking underwear for the next five years just didn’t work for me.  In fact, I had to put the book down a couple of times because there are multiple scenes discussing said underwear and it got me annoyed every time.  The Army does issue underwear to men in basic training (which most quit wearing as soon as their initial training is over) and they did issue me sports bras toward the end of my career.  Those actually weren’t much different from my Nike ones other than the tan color.  Perhaps Ms. Sandlin got bad information, but I can say that no one goes around checking to see what you wear under your uniform and for the most part they don’t care (except during physical training since they don’t want women’s chests bouncing up and down as they run).

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There were some other holes within the general story itself, such as the time it takes to get from one place to another, but I won’t go into those.  They weren’t as big of a deal to me.  For those who are less nitpicky these things may not matter at all since the plot and overall premise were really good.  Despite my reservations about Randa, I did like her and was happy to see her and Will get their HEA.  All the difficulties thrown at them worked out in the end and I was satisfied.  For this book, I’ll give it three and a half whips.

WhipWhipWhipWhip half.

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NOTE- I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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author imageAbout the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

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~ by Suzie on April 15, 2013.

One Response to “Book Review Tour for “The Penton Legacy” series by Susannah Sandlin”

  1. […] romance novels, you can see them and other information including excerpts from the books here.  Today I have an interview for you all with Ms. Sandlin.  As always, it’s fun and worth […]

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