I have no idea what to rate this book. In order to decide, I am doing something I don’t think I’ve done before while rating a book from a long-running series: I am going to Goodreads and looking at how I rated past books. While looking at each book’s rating, I am asking myself “Did I like this one more or less than that one?” Hopefully with that, by the end of this review I will have a rating I feel comfortable sharing.
The King is the twelfth book in JR Ward’s hugely popular Black Dagger Brotherhood. This series has been called ‘crack’ because of it’s addictive qualities but I am left to wonder if many will ‘get clean’ after this book and settle on a non-BDB life. I am telling you now, I am not one of them. I will read the next book, but I may skip some scenes because there are a few characters that I really don’t care about. They are unlikable and flat in my opinion and I just…don’t care. This is also one of those series that people either love with a passion hotter than the summer sun or hate with the same passion. A good example of this: I once asked Jason to read the first book, Dark Lover, to review it for the blog. I thought it would be amazing to get his point of view on it. Well, he never made it past the first 6 pages! Couldn’t get into the slang and found it too violent. *snort* But I, after discovering this series shortly after the release of Lover Avenged (book 7), stocked up on boxed meals for my family the day a new BDB book came out so I could just read read read. The butterflies the morning of a new release were intense!
And because there is tons to talk about in this latest book, this review will be long. Just a heads up lol.
The tone of the book. Let’s start here. This is a very different book for this series. There is some fighting, yes, but it’s minimal and not extra exciting. That means the tone is not as ‘high-octane’ as most of the other books. I actually didn’t mind that. I was starting to feel like the fighting was getting the same from book to book.
“Advertising”/name-dropping. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to fancy brand/designer name things so most of Ward’s ‘product placement’ went way over my head. But it was there and it was abundant. I know the reason is to make us see that a) these guys are wealthy and can get whatever they want and b) to make the World even more vivid and real. Easier to relate to and envision. But there is a limit and Ward pretty much reached it by the 50% mark of this book.
Plotlines. This time we have the Warth and Beth and the kingship thing, we have the Trez and Selena and the Shadow queen’s daughter thing, we have the Xcor and Layla thing, we have the glymera and Band of Bastards doing annoying things thing, we have the Assail and Sola and her kidnapping continuing from the last book thing, we have JM and the seizures thing, we have the Wrath’s parents thing and to top it off, we have a little bit of iAm and a little bit of Lassiter. *takes deep breath* So yeah…just a few things going on. (see 573 pages)
The slang. I didn’t find it as annoying this time which is a good thing. Except for ‘abso’. Do people actually say that instead of ‘absolutely’? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. Maybe it’s a U.S. thing…
The prologue. I was quite confused at first but then the twist is revealed and bam! I found it quite smart.
Now, let’s get into characters. Let’s start with one that actually surprised me -
Wrath. I have always liked him but I can’t say I ever absolutely adored him. But after this book, he has grown on me a lot and the reason is that he has finally matured as a character and grown up. I loved watching him evolve. Were some of these scenes a bit boring? Yup. But the end result was great. I am actually looking forward to seeing if he sticks to this ‘new Wrath’ in the next book because this is a good guy and a great king.
Beth. She’s cool. I like her. She is a good match for Wrath – I have always found this.
JM. What. The. Heck? He is in quite a few scenes and something is happening to him but it is never revealed WHY! Why not? Why have him go through all this only to drop it completely by the end of the book. Didn’t get that. At all.
Saxton. I really like him. A lot. I wasn’t even a huge fan of his in past books (I was indifferent I suppose) and I even thought he was being mounded into a problem-guy but all thoughts along those lines are gone. I like him.
Layla. I like how she has grown balls but she still has a way to go for me. Not sure how I feel about her and Xcor (still) but by the end of this book, I like how he is with her. I’m curious to see if he will continue to soften and if she will continue to un-soften. Maybe then I’ll actually picture them as a match.
Xcor. He is actually the subject of my ‘giggle worthy quote’! Who would have thought?! Also, he makes a decision at the end of this book that I’m happy with because really, it was getting tired. Hopefully he will stick to his decision and that it won’t just become someone else’s thing. Someone such as…
Throe. *sigh* Not sure I’m liking where his character is going. This worries me.
s’Ex. Yup. She went there. He’s…nothing new for this series. All sex and evil but is he really…you know the drill. He is undoubtedly be in the next book and I can’t seem to care either way. But ‘s’Ex’. Really?!
Assail. I just don’t care about this guy. He interested me a bit in the last book but in this one, not at all. I don’t understand why people are so in awe of him. And I don’t understand why Ward has him snorting up the coke. It cheapens him as a characters, if that is even possible. I like that he goes all macho alpha when around Sola, that is one thing about this series that makes me giggle in a good way, but after two seconds I’m over it and I’m back to ‘I don’t care’.
Sola. Same really. I don’t dislike her but I don’t enjoy her either. Can’t seem to find the love here. All I am curious about here is how Ward will make her and Assail able to have a HEA. I don’t care how they will get there, just how she will become immortal seeing that she is human now. And I like her grandmother. She’s fun.
Trez. I do like that he is maturing by the end of the book but…*sigh* I have always liked him in past books but in this book I didn’t feel much for him. Maybe the next book will change my opinion seeing that it’s about him and his brother.
Selena. Very curious about this one. I was wondering how Ward would make her different from Layla and we see how in The King. I find it very interesting and I’m glad that in the next book we’ll see it all play out.
iAm. OMGILOVEDHIMINTHISBOOK!!! There wasn’t much of him but when he was on the page, I paid attention. I smiled more for him than I think any other character in this book. And his scenes with Beth, aww….
“Goddamn Cat”. LMAO! Love it!!!
Lassiter. As usual, his scenes are memorable and hilarious. I didn’t like him much originally when first meeting him in this series because I found him to be just another character who was too full of himself but he has grown on me.
The scene which involves Lassiter. I can’t say much else without giving anything away, but let me tell you, this is the scene that made me both remember why I used to love these books so much and why I don’t seem to be feeling them as much anymore. The answer for both is the same: the Brother’s camaraderie. The Brothers and how they interact with each other, their loyalty and respect for each other, is what made the first few books in this series go great. That chemistry is hard to beat. In this scene with Lassiter, you see that friendship and bond again and it totally made my day. But it also reminded me how we don’t really have that anymore in this series. In order for this series to grow and keep going, Ward had to, of course, introduce new characters. Some, such as Qhuinn and Blay, fit it perfectly where others, such as Assail and the Band of Bastards, not so much. And the reason in my opinion is that these new characters – and their sidekicks – don’t have the same chemistry as the Brothers do. So that magic is missing from the characters that are carrying this series forward and that means from the books themselves.
So there you have it. My looooong review of The King. I didn’t dislike the book. I was not as cranky as some after reading it – but I didn’t love it either. I had to put it down once in a while, you know to eat and sleep and such, and found it was quite easy to put down. I remember reading Lover Mine and refusing to stop reading for anything. And I remember going to see Jason after I was done with it sobbing because the book was so great and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Not so much this time around.
I will read the next book, The Shadows, but I will be honest with you: if I read a scene or two with Assail and Sola and find them as meh as in this book, I am skimming their scenes. And when I skim a book, it’s an automatic ‘less than 3 star rating’ from me. And I really hope it does not come to that because it would make me sad and I would miss this series if it gets to the point of feeling like work to read it and I’d have to give it up.(less)
Really enjoyed this one. Great and almost steamy chemistry between the H/h. Loved the Norse mythology and the twist Rinda put on it and the pace was f...moreReally enjoyed this one. Great and almost steamy chemistry between the H/h. Loved the Norse mythology and the twist Rinda put on it and the pace was fantastic. Quite the ride too! Full review to follow :)(less)
Just One Night is the third book in Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love & Stiletto series. When I requested this title from NetGalley, it did not state that this was a book three. When I started reading it, I immediately noticed that there was some backstory to a few couples and thought to myself “it seems like these guys have already had their stories told”. I went to Goodreads to check and yup, the friends who are said to be madly in love had already had their books published. But finding this out didn’t make me feel lost or upset, it made me curious about how these friends’ HEA happened because I was drawn to the secondary characters in this book. They seem genuinely friendly, sassy, loyal and happy. And other than the ‘happy’ part, I felt the same way about Sam and Riley, the hero and heroine of this latest book.
When I started reading, I instantly liked Lauren’s voice. It really suits the genre and it held the fun and light quality – without coming across as flighty or silly – that I enjoy in a contemporary romance. I also liked the idea of this book because who doesn’t like a friends-to-lovers romance story. I think we’ve all been there, either as teenagers or as adults. Close friends with a boy and daydreaming about him one day seeing you in a new light and wanting to profess his undying love for you right then and there because he’s not sure how he held off this long… *dreamy sigh* Er… *shakes head*
But back to the book.
Riley is a writer for Stiletto magazine. She is their sex columnist and is good at her job yet she feels a bit like a fraud. You see, she’s only had sex once in her life and it was years ago. Why has she not been going at it with tons of guys? She is smart and beautiful, so what is the issue? Well, the issue is Sam. Riley has had a crush on her brother’s best friend for over a decade and just can’t seem to want to be with anyone but him. The issue is Sam has yet to notice Riley in ‘that way’. Or has he?… Riley finds out she is to write a story about the ‘real’ her and it sort of freaks her out. She decides to go after what she wants and asks Sam to give her one night so she can write about something real and not about something she made up, which she does not want to do. Of course, Sam says no, then yes, then no, then yes, then… You get the idea.
The idea, even though it is not something new to this genre, is fun. And watching Sam torture himself over whether or not to take Riley up on her offer makes for entertaining reading. Their chemistry is hot and their smexy scenes are really well written. I liked this book very much but…certain plot points did start rubbing me the wrong way after a while.
There is one thing in any book that drives me bonkers is when someone is hiding something from the other person that really does not need to be hidden. And if said thing would not be hidden, if they would just fess up and get on with things, it would make everything better for everyone. Riley hides from Sam that she is practically a virgin and lets him believe that she is essentially a woman who sleeps around a lot. Why? Why why why? This assumption of his hurts her. I didn’t get the secrecy and, for me, it caused unnecessary stress and sadness for Riley.
Sam also has something that confused me a bit and it’s primarily because there wasn’t enough information about him for this to make sense. At least, that’s my thinking. He is starting is own brewery and is afraid of actually getting it off the ground. Why? He’s afraid of failure and his mother is horrible and makes him feel like a nothing but still, why? I feel I needed a bit more elaboration about his decisions for them to make sense to me. And he was doing the whole ‘I promised Riley’s brother, my BFF, that I wouldn’t touch his sister so I have to avoid my true feelings’ thing. A lot. Also frustrating.
Other than that, I did enjoy Just One Night. It was a quick and fun read even with the issues I had with the story. I am very picky when it comes to my contemporary romance books and the issues I had with this book are issues I would have if written by any author in any book. Not just this one. So if the issues I had with this latest installment are things that don’t usually bother you in a romance story, check this book out. The author’s voice makes it worth it.
Night Owls is the first book in a shiny new urban fantasy series by Lauren M. Roy. It can’t be easy writing a new urban fantasy series these days because really, most things have been done. Crazy blood sucking vampires – done. Werewolves who are…wolfish – done. Witches, hunters, fighter, protectors – done. So where authors can’t really find new stuff to include in their books anymore, they do have to find a way to present it in a new and interesting way. I feel Lauren did that in her debut. Nothing is so farfetched that you are left wondering why she went there but they are just unique enough to keep you captivated.
Night Owls is a college area bookstore owned by a vampire, Val. I actually really liked Val and I really enjoyed her Renfield (daytime human helper) Chaz. They have been friends for five years and have grown to depend on each other. There is nothing romantic there (‘yet’ I’m hoping) but their friendship-chemistry is really well written. Val has decided to redefine herself not long ago but what she is not wanting to face may be coming back to find her. She is a strong character, very loyal and with tons of integrity, as is Chaz, and I look forward to reading more about them in future installments.
Elly is the other main lady in this series. She is a Hunter of sorts and in possession of a book that the bad guys, the Creeps, really want. The Creeps are pretty much werewolves and they are not nice. At all. I did feel for Elly and her circumstance but I can’t say I felt much for her as a character. Not sure why, honestly. It’s not that we didn’t get enough back info about her and she wasn’t annoying or anything of the sort. I just didn’t click with her. But I am not against reading more of her so I guess that is a good sign.
Cavale was a very interesting character as well as Lia and Sunny. A warlock and two succubi. They are strong supporting characters that really bring something special to the story. Justin is another supporting character who goes through a whole lot in this book and who I found was well written. In fact, there is a pretty impressive twist or ten that involve him.
As for the story, it was very well paced and interesting. The book Elly has is finally given to the Creeps but there is one thing wrong – something is missing from it. So basically, where did it go and how to get to it once it’s found… You meet people here and there, bad guys and good guys, to keep things interesting as you are brought along from one twist to another. I liked the story, a lot. I thought I was well planned out and felt just different enough to keep me engrossed.
All in all, I was very pleased with Night Owls. An impressive debut that promises at more exciting things to come. The way it ended was not expected and left me even more curious about what will happen in the next book. Hoping it’s release date isn’t too far away.
I had a lot of trouble with this one. Thought about dnf a few times but managed to tunnel through. Too bad because the premise was pretty cool. Review...moreI had a lot of trouble with this one. Thought about dnf a few times but managed to tunnel through. Too bad because the premise was pretty cool. Review to follow. (less)
Before I even tell you why, go to the store (or a bookstore website) and pre-order this book. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. NOW. I’ll be here when you get back. If you have not read the first book, Written in Red, buy that one NOW then pre-order this second one. I will wait while you do that. Go. *hums Jeopardy anthem*
Okay. Let’s get to it then.
Anne Bishop is primarily known for her straight up fantasy. Fantasy writers, in order to be successful, need to be able to build a world that is just as captivating as their characters and their stories. Anne definitely accomplishes that in her The Others series. It’s based on how the Europeans came to North America and captured the Native’s land. But what if the Natives were shifters of the most terrifying sort and didn’t relinquish their lands and resources so easily? What if they controlled everything we needed to make what we need to survive? Some pretty interesting questions come up while you are reading these books. Many times I thank goodness that our reality isn’t the one in these stories. That is the impact this world has on its readers.
The stories are also quite gripping. In Written in Red, we meet Meg and all of the scary and intriguing members of the Courtyard, a place where Others (paranormal creatures) live and handle trades with humans. Meg is a blood prophet, which means she can see the future when she cuts herself. You just have to ask her a question before she does so and you’ll get an answer. A cryptic and weird answer but an answer none the less. We watched as the Others took Meg under their wing and started seeing her as one of their own.
In Murder of Crows, humans are starting to get gutsier, or stupider -however you decide to look at it, and are starting to attack Others. Why anyone would want to purposely incite a war with creatures that see you only as meat is beyond me. Others are vicious. They are animals. Animals who know they are the top of the food chain. There are also Elementals mixed in there. I love these characters. They control the wind, air, fog…name it. If it’s natural, weather related and outside, there is an Elemental that controls it. And don’t tick them off because they are unapologetic in their attacks. You get to see their sheer power in this book and it will for sure make you shudder. You also have sub-plots of how the ‘human pack’ is forming in the Courtyard, the Controller wants Meg back and someone is making drugs that can turn humans and Others alike into either blubbery balls of goo who don’t care what is happening to them or angry rage-filled beings. All of these make up the story in Murder of Crows and all of these plotlines will keep you interested while keeping you guessing until the very last moment.
There is one more little side story line of sorts in this book and it’s one we romance/chemistry lovers are excited about and that is Simon and Meg. I know, there isn’t really a ‘Simon and Meg’ but we ‘love-junkies’ are hoping there will be someday. And we are also hoping that it won’t cause too much trouble for them because they deserve happiness and each other.
Simon is one of the most feared Other. He is a wolf shifter and leader of this particular Courtyard and in the first book, it was very easy to see how people tended to pee themselves at the mere sight of him. He’s vicious and unrepentant. He is wolf, animal, and he has no desire to be anything else. We watch him transform a wee bit by being around Meg in the first book and his transformation continues a bit in this latest book. I love watching his growth. Anne writes it perfectly. He is nowhere near ‘human’ but there are moments here and there, endearing scenes with Meg, where you almost swear there is a little bit of ‘man’ in him. I love watching his struggles to understand human women, and Meg in particular. She has been locked up in an institution before her escape in book one so she is also just learning about herself. Watching the two of them trying to figure things out together really warms the heart.
We meet a new sort of human/Other in this book. Intuits are humans who have a ‘feeling’ when something is going to go wrong. Very interesting people and I like how Anne added them to her world. We also have Monty and the human police force. They play a very important role in this book. I liked how Anne managed to even add character growth to these side characters. There are many characters in this book and some of them seem to come out of nowhere then drop off for a while only to come back in later chapters bringing with them a pivotal line or scene that just brings everything together. Anne weaves such an intricate story it really is impossible to put the book down once you start it.
Meg has many opportunities to prophet in this book, and thank goodness she does as she manages to thwart many nasty things. Watching Meg and her friends trying to decipher and read a prophet was so interesting. This is just another example of how Anne writes her world with incredible detail.
The side characters, as I mentioned, are abundant but each memorable. Vlad, Henry, Sam…I can go on and on, but I won’t. I’m sure you all don’t want to read a 72 page review ;)
One BIG revelation occurs in this book: we finally learn what Tess is! All I’m going to say is *shudder*
Overall, I absolutely adored Murder of Crows. It is, in my opinion, a near perfect urban fantasy read. It is the perfect mix of endearing moments that make you smile and giggle and moments that scare the poop out of you on a psychological level. It has some of the best written characters I have ever found in Urban Fantasy and storylines that suck you in so completely you try to convince your bladder that no, it does not have to pee right at that moment. The pace is perfect and Anne’s voice is stunning.
Tough to read in the beginning only because Sierra does such a good job showing how Secret is affected by the happenings from the last book. Secret is...moreTough to read in the beginning only because Sierra does such a good job showing how Secret is affected by the happenings from the last book. Secret is damaged and it makes me want to hug her :( But then the usual crazy insane wtf stuff happens and you are left wanting more. Holden has such a moment in this book! Loved it a whole lot. Full review closer to release date :)(less)
Anne: So usually Julie and I have similar views on books, but not always. I LOVED this one. I can’t give all concrete reasons why. Feelings aren’t exactly logical. But it was so good for me.
Julie: And unfortunately, it was not so good for me. We’ll get into the ‘whys’ in a bit but first, let me tell you about the book.
Ghost Seer is the first book in a new series by Robin D Owens. These books will tell the story of Clare Cermak and how she inherited the ability to see and help ghosts move on to where they are supposed to be. She is not a Reaper – her job is to help the ghosts she encounters settle their biggest regret. Some are easier than others and that is what makes the premise of this series and the story in this first installment very interesting.
There was quite a bit I enjoyed about the book. Unfortunately, more irked me than not. I’m going to start with Clare. I can completely understand where she comes from in the book. She is an accountant and therefore loves order and logic. Suddenly having a ghost dog follow you around and ‘talk’ to you defies all logic and therefore Clare comes to the only conclusion she can think of: she is going insane. She remembers her aunt trying to tell her about a ‘gift’ but assumed her aunt was nuts. So now that her aunt has passed away and suddenly Clare sees ghosts, it’s a stretch for her mind to accept that her aunt was actually sane and telling the truth all these years.
I can understand being reluctant at accepting her new reality, but by page 200 Clare was STILL wondering if she was truly seeing spirits or if she was perhaps nuts. Even after she accepted that she saw ghosts, she went back from time to time to question it. That drove me bonkers. Okay. 100 pages would be a decent time to accept things, especially with all she goes through in those first pages, but after a while, enough is enough. You can see ghosts. Deal with it.
Anne: Yes I can understand your irritation. I found it annoying as well. But Clare had more to deal with than just seeing a ghost dog and other ghosts. It isn’t just her education in accounting which gives her a love of logic and order. It’s her defense mechanism to the chaos her parents made her life. Children all love the comfort of a routine, knowing what to expect and she didn’t get that at all. Plus she has the aunt’s estate to settle, the change in her life without a job, and her guilt over not spending more time with Aunt Sandra. Plus the whole book takes place over a week or so, not really all that much time to adjust to many things.
I loved Clare’s analyzing of things, her integrity and caring for others, and her ability to make a plan and adapt to the changing circumstances. I loved her relationship with Zach, because I loved him, even though he hadn’t accepted his own reality months after the fact. But I didn’t like it when Clare expected Zach to accept hers all at once, just because she finally did.
Julie: You’re right. It’s not much time for her but it’s a lot of time for the reader lol. I did like Clare’s character. I loved how she left her job not only because she didn’t need to work anymore but also because she thought someone else who needs a job could get one now because of the vacancy she left. Little things like that made me like her. I just wish she would get out of the denial a bit sooner.
I liked how she was with Zach and I completely understand how she needed to feel a connection to someone after what she was going through. Zach needed that too. But unfortunately their ‘relationship’ is something else that irked me. To me, it didn’t feel natural. I wouldn’t quite say it was rushed but I definitely felt a little bit awkward. I did feel Zach was a good match for Clare and I found they made a great team when doing the ‘investigating’ thing but where the romantic stuff is involved, it was just off. But I am excited to see how their romance develops because I really do believe they make a great match.
Anne: I loved Zach because he is hot and such a guy. He doesn’t want to show any weakness. He is protective. He doesn’t want to open up about his seeing crows or even when he can see ghosts with Clare. He doesn’t want to commit to anything but he doesn’t want her with anyone else. Such a classic guy. Now for some reason, it’s a stereotype which makes me laugh instead of making me annoyed. And really, they have been together such a short time; he shouldn’t be moving in or asking her to marry him just yet anyway.
So, one of the things I love the most about this book is the fact there is a romance. A really hot, satisfying and developing romance. We don’t always get that or so quickly in an urban fantasy.
I can see how you might feel it was too fast. It was fast but they were both alone and it was so right. It felt realistic because of their flaws. Neither one of them was perfect; the situation wasn’t perfect. I think what you felt was off endeared them to me. Real life isn’t always on. I suppose the romance could have been slowed down with more sexual tension. But then would he have been with her when things happened or compelled to work with her as much?
I do love the way Clare and Zach work together. I always love the smart and these two are both very smart, capable and competent. And I enjoy the fact they both want to be useful in their lives even when they don’t need the money. But it’s especially great how they both want to be smart and logical and their world is not. They use the skills they have to do well, in spite of it not being believable to them and so many things not in their control. Their frustration with things out of their control might even have been a further push to get release through their chemistry. Both Clare and Zach and the reader needed it.
Julie: I just don’t see how two people who have been facing such crazy and difficult circumstances would even be open to that intense of a beginning-relationship. That is what felt off for me. It felt too “oh, we’re alone and we need each other so lets”. But what you liked about them I liked too. As I said, I am looking forward to watching their relationship progress. Maybe in the next book it will feel more real to me.
Anne: I think another reason the book appeals to me so much is because it is a mental powers sort of thing and that is my favorite thing in urban fantasy or supernatural world. They both have some, whether they want to admit it or not. The development of those powers and their relationship and the work they do together, with their integrity, makes me so excited for the next book! I don’t expect everything to be smooth or easy, or hearts and rainbows. That wouldn’t be realistic. I expect their struggles with it all to be fascinating, and an emotional ride for me.
Julie: I strongly feel that this is a ‘first book not too strong but the second book will be better’ series for me. I love the bones of the book and the bones of the characters. It’s all in the way it was all introduced to me that felt strange. I think after all of that is done, which it is after this book, the rest will be more solid. I absolutely love where I think this series is going. I agree Clare and Zach will most likely not have all rainbows in their future but I feel they can stand together and face anything.
How I envision this series going is like this: Clare encounters a ghost that needs help. Clare and Zach go about solving the riddles that solve what needs to be done. I really hope the series takes that turn because that is part of what happens in Ghost Seer and that was such fun to read.
Anne: Yes, I think the solving puzzles, with the interest of historical bits against the background of the warm security of a solid relationship will be great. I hope it will be a solid relationship with the gradual sharing of more of their personal issues with each other. Their acceptance and development of their abilities will be trying for them but fun – a great story – for us. And I want them to face it together.
Julie: Loved the historical bits! You can tell Robin knows her Wild West history. I was drawn to the idea that each Seer sees different ghosts, some from the 1900’s and others, like Clare, from the pioneer days and the Old West. I thought that was totally cool. The author’s notes in her acknowledgments were really interesting. Like a mini history lesson.
Anne: So I just loved this, the plot, the historical references, the characters (many we didn’t discuss), the romance against the disturbing changes in the main characters lives, and the promise of more growth in the characters, their capabilities and the relationship, and more historical tales. I look forward to the next book, Ghost Layer, coming out September 2nd this year.
This one is 5 stars for me.
Julie: Oh how I wish I could give it a strong rating too but because I just didn’t feel the same ‘click’ as you did with the characters or how their circumstances were presented, I am not. There were just too many things that made me cringe. Even how the chapters finish mid-thought threw me off. But I do believe I will read Ghost Layer because the bones of this first book were solid. As you said, Clare and Zach show promise for growth and the history and mysteries are great. Ghost Seer is an interesting start to a series with potential that has not quite been reached yet.
Primal Temptation is the fourth book in Sydney Somers Pendragon Gargoyles series. This is a solid series with good story telling mixed in with very interesting twists on mythology. It also has a very interesting mix of paranormal creatures – some you don’t tend to see in paranormal romance books.
This installment focuses on Briana and Lucan (Luke). Briana is a cat/gargoyle shifter and Luke is a wraith. Both have been cursed by Rhiannon after Arthur died. Yes, Arthur and the Knights of the round table…that Arthur. Like I said, the twist on mythology in this series is incredible. All the Knights have been cursed because they failed to protect Arthur. Others were also cursed pretty much for the same reason. And some characters who were cursed led some pretty interesting lives ‘before’…such as Merlin and Lancelot! But you don’t know who they were before until all is revealed! So cool! Sydney does a fantastic job with the world in these books.
To break the curse that has been set upon them, Pendragon’s must find their mate. Briana actually found her mate ages ago but didn’t want to share that information with her overly protective brothers (the heroes from the previous books) because of who her mate is. He is not well liked by pretty much everyone in this paranormal community and not because he isn’t a decent guy but because he can’t help the hunter he is cursed to be and he pretty much scared the bejeebus out of everyone. Except for Briana. Even Luke does not know he is her mate, and let me tell you, that scene is good. :)
Briana and Luke have a more complex history than I imagined and the way Sydney wrote their time together and blended it with flashback was great. It really shows you just how long Briana’s journey to ‘happiness’ has been and how right these two are for each other. Of course, Luke has been fighting his attraction to Briana for centuries and sometimes watching him struggle with his feelings was a bit frustrating (meaning you may find yourself yelling : “just take her already!”) but seeing what he is, it is all mostly understandable.
Briana has spunk and I like that and Luke is quite yummy and I like that too. *grin*
There is much more to the story than just Briana and Luke. War is coming and a tradition of sorts before war begins is that there is some version of immortal Games. These are called the Gauntlet. Well, Briana and Luke have been chosen to compete. The Games themselves were very interesting and I enjoyed reading the different tasks the players had to overcome. Sydney’s imagination really works here. The Games were fast paced and really fun to read. You will definitely sit a little bit on the edge of your seat while reading the Game scenes.
There are some side characters that were interesting and who have chemistry that rivaled Briana’s and Lucan’s. Nessa, Mac, Vaughn and Elena are all characters to watch in this book.
Overall, I was very happy with Primal Temptation. It was nice to finally get Briana and Luke’s story as well as catch up with heroes and heroines from the past installments. Sydney had created such an interesting world, it’s difficult not to be in awe as you read these books. I know that the ‘original’ siblings have all found their HEA but I’m hoping that the new and interesting characters will provide enough inspiration for Sydney to continue the series.(less)
Julie: Once in a Lifetime is the ninth book in Jill Shalvis’ hugely popular Lucky Harbor contemporary romance series. The series is pretty much divided into three sets of three. This latest trio focuses on three “best” girlfriends and how they each fall in love with one of three guy best friends. I place the word best in ” ” for the girls because the gals in this trio didn’t really start being close until later in the seventh book, if that.
This latest book is about Aubrey and Ben. Ben is a mysterious character that comes back to town in the last book and Aubrey…well, she’s the bitch. When you meet her in It Had to be You, she is cranky and has an overall bad attitude but you could tell, there was something about her attitude that didn’t quite click. It’s almost like when someone’s smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes. Aubrey is being bitchy but is that really who she is or is it just a façade that she has built up over the years?…
I can’t say I was a fan of Aubrey after reading books seven and eight but I knew that if someone could make me like a rather unlikable character, it was Jill Shalvis. And I was right. Aubrey ended up being endearing and awkward and completely charming. And by the end of Once in a Lifetime, I actually considered her one of my favorite heroines in this series to date.
Anne: I always felt Aubrey was hiding. And with everything life threw at her, she just sucked it up and did the best she could. That’s why she’s my hero. She isn’t any better or worse than anyone else. She’s made mistakes like everyone does. Her mistakes have just been highlighted, all the time, in the worst possible ways. She doesn’t just curl up and die; she works to find ways to make things better. I can totally relate to her, especially on the holding in true feelings. She is also much harder on herself than she is on others.
Julie: She totally is. She has trouble understanding why people enjoy her company. She really is stronger than she gives herself credit for. And Ben was such a good match for Aubrey because he could see through her bullsh*t. He was also very good at helping her see she is not really the horrible person she thinks she is.
Ben has a sad story but not as much of a sob story as I was expecting – which was good. I find too many heroes now a days have a story that is almost over the top. Jill does a great job with her heroes. They have just enough baggage to give them room to grow or mature. Ben’s back in Lucky Harbor to face his past and to start a future. He is honestly curious about Aubrey and you can tell immediately that he cares for her even though she’s not the easiest person to like. And day-um is he sexy! He’s sexy in that understated strong and smouldery way.
Anne: I fell in love with Ben in the last book because he was so funny. I adore funny. Oddly, it took longer for me to warm up to him in this book. I mean, really, I don’t want a relationship. I don’t really want you unless someone else does or someone hurts you. *Eyeroll* I came around as he did. He got me with his interest and support for Aubrey, also his stepping up in the community plus his heart-melting way with Pink and Kendra. He went out of his way to help them. I enjoy the well rounded parts of the story, where there is more than just a romance here.
Julie: Ben’s scenes with Pink and Kendra were so sweet! I love how Jill writes. Like you say, it’s a whole story and not just a romance.
As for Ben, you make a good point. I guess I knew he’d come around so I was not as bothered by his reluctance. But his being more cautious did suit his character. It showed his loss affected him deeply and if it hadn’t, then he’d be an asshat in my book and I would not be drooling over him as I am now. *wipes drool* But if he’d been in denial longer than he was, I would have not enjoyed the book as much.
However you feel about Ben, you can’t deny he is sexy and that his chemistry with Aubrey is really well written. The two of them just being in the same room together, doing nothing but talking, smolders up the pages!
Anne: oh yes, Ben may not want a relationship but he certainly wants Aubrey. And more than that, he treats her better than many relationships would, spending his time with her, supporting and encouraging her, as well as making her feel beautiful. That’s sexy! His messy hair may be having an effect on me as well.
Julie: Oh that messy hair… Speaking of messy hair, let’s chat about the animals in this series. Jill often chooses to add dogs to her stories – I’m not even a dog person but I love how she writes them into her stories – but this time around, we have a cat. A cranky cat that has sort of adopted Aubrey and the bookstore she is fixing up as his home. This cat had such a personality! All of the animals have great personalities in this series. They manage to really add to the story without overwhelming it.
Anne: Well, I’m more a dog person, since I’m deathly allergic to cats. It is funny how the cat chooses Ben over Aubrey, but as in everything, Aubrey keeps trying. But my favorite is still Kevin! – as long as he lives with Jack. My favorite giggle worthy quote includes him. Something about this quote just cracks me up every time.
Jack rose and snapped his fingers at Kevin.
Kevin squeezed his eyes tight and pretended to be asleep.
Ben found a laugh after all. “Leave him.”
“He ate chili at the firehouse tonight.”
“Take him.” Ben said.
I have to mention Aubrey working so hard in an “My Name is Earl” way to try to improve her karma. It’s not easy to say you made mistakes and try to improve things with people who mostly don’t like you. It’s even harder when it is someone you like, who HAS been good to you.
Julie: Just another reason why I loved Aubrey so much in this book!
Let’s talk a bit about Lucille. She has been in each and every book in this series. She is the ‘nose in everybody’s business little old lady’ of Lucky Harbor. I liked her a lot in the first books but then I found she was becoming a bit too much of a ‘nosy-betty’. In this book, I liked her role. She went back to being the hilarious old lady with tons of very insightful things to say.
Anne: Lucille was wonderful in this book. She really made a difference in putting things right. I also loved the support Ali and Leah gave to Aubrey, as well as the support for Ben from Jack and Luke. That is one of the best things about stories set in small towns. One gets to know the people and their friends. The “town” continues to play a role in every story.
Julie: You are right about the support. Aubrey had not always been the friendliest to Ali and Leah but to see them understand and want to help Aubrey in making things right was very nice.
And the town of Lucky Harbor really does play a role in these books. It’s a place I would definitely want to visit.
All in all, I really liked Once in a Lifetime. Aubrey blew me away, Ben was yummy and there were plenty of scenes that either warmed the heart or made you giggle out loud. I am thinking especially the scenes with Ben and the kids at the center and Aubrey with, well, herself. Jill always does a wonderful job bringing her characters to life and making them feel as though they could be your next door neighbor. I was really pleased with this latest installment.
Anne: I more than really liked this book; I loved it! It is one of my favorites in the series. Are we going to agree on the rating?
The Sharpest Blade is the third and final book in Sandy William’s The Shadow Reader series. (Once upon a time, Goodreads listed this as the McKenzie Lewis series (and I did doo). Don’t get confused – it’s the same series. I find the title The Shadow Reader series suits this better :))
I hope this doesn’t come across wrong because I don’t mean it to but in case, just remember that this is a compliment to the series and to this book. I opened this book and was pulled in immediately. Then before I knew it, it was finished. It’s not that this book reads quickly or easily as lots of stuff happens but it’s the sort of book that is smooth and that is written in such a way that the story doesn’t need prompting. What I mean is that is instead of experiencing ups and downs and lulls and peaks as with other books, this book (and the second book) just sort of happens. That is not to say that there aren’t exciting events in the books – there is tons of action and sweet romantic moments too – but it’s almost as though the story just tells itself. I’m sure Sandy did not feel that way while writing this book but it reads that way and that is very good.
Okay, now that I’ve confused you all a bit, let’s talk story.
Lena is the only fae who, by blood, deserves the throne. But she has yet to be named queen and is still being challenged for it by those called ‘false bloods’. This latest ‘threat’ to Lena is causing all sorts of trouble. Add to that a serum that makes humans able to see the fae and you’ve got one hell of a story. Those are the main storylines in this book but there is a very strong romantic sub-plot as well.
McKenzie is the main heroine in this series. She is human but has a special ability to not only see the fae but she can also read their shadows. (When they fissure, travel through the realms, she can see where they go. Very handy to those trying to find criminals and other shady characters in the Realm.) She is spunky but a little lost at the beginning of the series. In the last book, McKenzie ended up bonded to a boy. I won’t tell you which boy but let’s just say it added tons of confusion to McKenzie’s already befuddled heart. I liked how Sandy wrote the emotions traveling through the bond and how it also saved McKenzie’s butt more than once but I didn’t love how often this bond or the emotions traveling through it were mentioned. It was a bit much for me at times. But honestly, that is the only beef I had with this book – and it’s just a little one.
Speaking of boys, let’s talk Kyol and Aren. OMG could Sandy have written two more delicious men?! Yes, while reading this series I have wanted to smack both of them and in the same breath, I have wanted to smack a kiss on them. Sandy managed to write two characters that are well matched for our lead heroine and also managed to make it very difficult to come up with a decision on who is best made for her! Now before you roll your eyes because you are now seeing that this series involves a love triangle of sorts, let me explain a bit further.
From the very first book, McKenzie has been in love with Kyol. In fact, she’s been in love with him for ten year. Yes, ten. If you are not a fan of love triangles, don’t dismiss this series. Yes, there are multiple interests in these books but this is a love triangle done differently and it is done extremely well. I always liked how Sandy approached this in all the books. Since about the middle of the first book, McKenzie has known who she wanted and even though she has moments of doubt, she pretty much stays true to her heart through the entire series. Now whether or not she ends up with her heart’s desire is something you will have to read the book to find out. (As if I would tell you that ;))
By the end of The Sharpest Blade, McKenzie has not only finally earned that sword she carries on the book’s covers but she is now completely comfortable with herself and her life among the fae. I loved watching her transformation from the very first book. Kyol and Aren have also matured during this series and all for the better. Each metamorphosis matches the character which is important to me when reading urban fantasy. This genre is often about the main character and her closest allies becoming the people they were born to become and Sandy writes that theme beautifully in The Shadow Reader books and especially in this latest intallment.
The world in these books is nothing like I’ve read before. The details in the lands and also in the politics are incredible. If you like books that go into details of such a matter, definitely give this series a try.
I feel it would have been easy for Sandy to try to write more than three books in the series and even though I’m going to miss it, I’m glad she didn’t. This series is tight and feels complete. Sometimes authors try to add more books and it just ends up diluting the storylines and the characters. Here we have strong characters and a strong and exciting story that is wonderfully entertaining. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for other works by this author. Sandy has a wonderful voice and a vivid imagination – a great combination for an author.
As for The Sharpest Blade, it really does finish off the series beautifully and I’m sure I will be re-reading these books in the future.
Taken With You is the eighth book in Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series. This time around we follow along as a close friend of the family meets her ‘meant to be’. All of the Kowalski clan have had their HEA and now Shannon is writing about their friends and folks who like in their town. I like that idea. We have met many of these people throughout the series so it’s nice to see them also get their own HEA. Taken With You is Hailey’s story, the town librarian. She’s forty years old and has yet to meet mister right. She doesn’t even believe Matt is mister right until there is no denying it anymore and it’s that twist made for an entertaining and cute read.
Hailey is not shy about letting people know that she is tired of looking for the perfect man for her. She is also a little envious of her friends who have all found theirs. She is not cranky about it or anything; she only wishes she were in the same boat as them. Hailey and Matt’s ‘meet-cute’ is very funny. Matt loves the outdoors, a good trait for a Game Warden, and is at the tail end of a two week outdoor vacation, in all his smelly unshaven splendor, when he comes across Hailey and Tori lost in the woods. Hailey thinks he’s gross…but is still intrigued by him. Matt thinks she’s frustrating…but is still intrigued by him.
They have some pretty intense chemistry. I absolutely loved Hailey and Matt’s scenes together. Great dialogue and rapport. In fact, the scenes where the two of them were alone and just hanging out were my favorite in this book. And the romance progresses rather slowly but it works. I actually found the romance in this book to be one of the best written of the series.
Matt was yummy. I liked his sense of humor and how he was with Hailey from the beginning. The fact that he loves the outdoors and Hailey does not at all added an interesting spin on things. The only time I was disappointed in Matt was when he let something an ex-girlfriend did to him affect his time with Hailey. That is not a plot point I like to read because it often because it can be more frustrating than anything. At least it didn’t last long.
Back to Hailey for a quick second. I really liked her. She has a slight klutzy streak that makes her completely endearing. I loved how she was open and willing to try some of Matt’s favorite activities even though they were way out of her comfort zone. She not once whined. I also think is wonderful how much she loves the library and the town makes her really special. I think you will all really like her.
Overall, this book was a very enjoyable read. Fans of the series will be very pleased with this latest installment. I am really looking forward to the next book, Falling For Max. Max is somewhat of a mystery and Tori is a spitfire. Together, they should be awesome. That next book is hitting shelves July 29th 2014.
As for Taken with You, fans of contemporary romance books should definitely check it out. You don’t necessarily have to read this series is order but it’s not a bad idea to pick them all up. These books are sweet and cute and they always leave me with a smile on my face. After you read them, you will be smiling too.(less)
After the Storm is the eighth book in Maya Banks’ KGI series. This is a series that follows a group of brothers and their teammates as they go about saving the world one mission at a time. Okay, they may not save the world every time but they do take on some pretty dangerous and impressive missions. They are all have military or police backgrounds and take on the jobs that other agencies may not be able to take care of.
This is a romantic suspense series which means that every book focuses on the happily ever after of one specific couple. This time around it’s Donovan’s turn to find his lucky lady.
Donovan is one of the Kelly brothers and someone we meet in the very first book. He is also one of my favorite characters. He is sort of a geek and has a big heart yet he is still total kick ass and super sexy. I love that combo. He is also not afraid to tell people what is in his heart which is a good thing…but this time around??? I’ll touch on that a bit more a little later. I will call that paragraph “So let’s talk about the schmaltz”.
Eve is a brave and strong woman…at first. She is running from her step-father with her two younger siblings. Dad is a creep and the reason they run away is completely valid. I admire her intentions and she seemed quite strong when we first meet her but suddenly, after meeting Donovan, she changes to someone who almost needs carrying. I really felt for her and her siblings; my heart going out to them on many occasions as I was reading. But even though I felt for them and liked Eve, there was something keeping me from completely clicking with her. Maybe I need to see her in a later book, more comfortable and at ease with everything.
Just a quick note about Rusty and Sean. Rusty and Sean are two other characters we meet in the first book. Sean is the town Sherriff and Rusty is a runaway teenager the Kelly parents take under their wing. I always found it odd that Rusty was coddled the way she was but I know it’s because it is meant to show us how big of a heart Mrs Kelly has making us all understand how her children are just the most amazing human beings ever. In this book, Rusty is a college student and Sean is still Sherriff. These two have sort of been groomed to become each other’s HEA but with Rusty being a teenager earlier on in the series, that was a bit too ew-worthy. But now that she’s an adult… There was a ‘moment’ between the two of them that really surprised me but it also made me hope that the hints are true and that, in fact, down the road, these two end up together. I think watching them come into full realization of their feelings for each other would be great to watch. But will I read it???
So let’s talk about the schmaltz. These books are full of it. There was quite a bit in the first few books and they are getting worst and worst. What I mean by ‘schmaltz’ is the ‘OMG I love you so much, I don’t know how I survived without you and I’m saying all this even though I’m a super strong man who has never been able to speak of his emotions before as I am a very very broken person…’ I love a tortured hero but there has to be more to him than his ‘torture’ and his words need to match this characters. Donovan is a naturally emotional person so I figured the schmaltz would not bother me too much in his book as it’s more character appropriate than it has been in the last few books but somehow it was almost worst this time around. *slight spoilers ahead* The moment Donovan meets Eve, he is hooked. She’s in trouble, that much is obvious, and he has a weakness for children and women in trouble (something that is mentioned WAY too many times in this book to be normal). So he wants to help and yet there is a part of him that already thinks of her and her siblings (15 years old and 4 years old) as his. HIS! After…minutes of meeting them! Then days later, yup, days and not weeks or months, he tells the kids that he loves them and wants them to stay with him forever. Um…the little girl is 4! Don’t you think this is something that should not be bomb-dropped to the girl in front of Eve but rather to Eve alone and in private somewhere. At this point, Donovan still has no clue how Eve feels! He’s talking about all of this like it’s a done deal! Soon enough, of course, Eve realizes she feels the same way but whoa… She is stressed and running for her life only to meet a man who claims to want her for ever NOW. I totally get love at first sight – that’s what happened to me and Jason, we met and married in less than a year – but c’mon! Donovan is a very smart man and he should not have handled things with the kids that way and he should have handled things with Eve differently too. A friend of mine who also read the book said it was almost creepy how it all went down and I tend to agree with her.
These books before were almost movie-like in their plots and their romance in the earlier installments which made them not realistic but very entertaining. And even though I found myself reading this book very quickly as to find out what was to happen by the end, it felt so far from real, it lost me. I am really wondering whether or not I will be continuing with this series after this installment.
These books and their missions usually take place in faraway places but this time around we stick to the US, close to the Kelly’s compound/home. It was actually a nice little break and we really had a good chance to catch up on everyone from the previous books. We also got to see a bit of the new characters that were introduced in the last book. This was good because if this series continues I’m sure that means that they will each have their own books someday too.
Overall, this book was entertaining but I rolled my eyes a whole lot, wanted to shake one of my favorite characters from the series more often than I should have wanted to and didn’t’ completely click with the heroine. Definitely not my favorite installment to date but I am happy Donovan found his HEA.(less)
Searching for Someday is the first book in Jennifer Probst’s Searching For series. This is a series that revolves around a group of best friends, three of whom co-own a matchmaking business. This time around we follow Kate, the one with the hoodoo magic.
Let me explain.
This is not a paranormal romance book but, like in Jennifer’s previous Marriage to a Billionaire series, there is a small paranormal element. Kate has the ability to touch two people and know whether or not they are soulmates, but other than that, there is no hocus pocus going on. I liked Kate. She is a virgin…and I’m still not sure why it was important for her to be a 28 year old virgin… but she is so there you go. She is strong and I enjoyed reading her. I also really liked reading her struggle over Slade and wondering whether or not to trust her instinct or trust her head. This ‘should I should I not’ made sense in this case because she is privy to information about Slade that other women would not have. She knows what he is looking for and knows that she is not it. But what to do when she zaps him and knows they are supposed to be together?! So she’s torn. I get why she would be and I was happy it was her going through all this and not me. And now that I’ve lost you all a little bit, let’s talk about Slade so you will stop being confused. ;)
Slade is your typical overbearing alpha male…or is he? *da da duuuuummmm* His sister has a history of depression and he is very protective of her. Basically he wants her sheltered and with him forever but she won’t have it. She decides to go to Kate’s matchmaking business to find her special someone and Slade thinks it’s all fake so he signs up to prove that it’s not real. So he meets with Kate and tells her everything he wants in a potential mate. Oh, and he’s a divorce lawyer which adds a whole other level of ‘I don’t believe in true love’. Slade seems like a bit of a bully and comes across as not overly likable at first but you know there is more to him. And you are right when later on you find out just what a good guy he really is. He made me giggle and watching his struggle with Kate being right for him was just as interesting as watching Kate’s struggle.
There is one scene in particular that I found very cute. It’s the hot yoga scene. I won’t say more about it but if you read it you will undoubtedly agree with me. You will smile and giggle and laugh through that scene and it will show you a lot about Slade and what sort of person he really is.
I enjoyed reading Kate’s friends. I am glad they are each getting a book as each seems to have an interesting story to tell. Kennedy is up next in Searching for Perfect. That one is releasing in April 2014. Her hero is a genius in need of social/women skills and a makeover. Sounds cute.
Fans of Jennifer’s Billionaire will enjoy seeing characters from those books in this one. They are in one scene, which was cute. Kate’s friend is the heroine from the first Billionaire book’s sister. (At least I think that is how it works out…)
I find Jennifer’s voice continues to improve and that her style is taking shape. She is a writer with tons of potential. And as for Searching for Someday, I found it to be a charming read that made me smile. Kate and Slade make a great couple and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.(less)
I normally enjoy checking out what books show up on Goodreads’ annual reader awards lists. I found that often the readers of Goodreads have similar tastes to me so I also like to vote. That sort of changed last year when Fifty Shades Freed won for best romance book. I have not even read the book but I know that almost everyone that I know that read it did NOT agree with its victory. This year when I saw the nominations were up, I went to the site to check things out. When I got to the romance category, the category I would normally read the most, I only recognized one book. Yup. ONE! What the hell happened?! Am I seriously out of the loop or am I just not as in tuned to the readers of Goodreads as I once was?!
I found I had an available spot in my review schedule (how that happened, I’m not sure) so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to read one of the many books on Goodreads Best Romance list. I read the blurbs and I read what my friends had to say about each book and I decided on this one: Tangled by Emma Chase.
Honestly, there is nothing new about this book. The story has been done. The characters have been done. The quirks have been done and the ‘obstacle to the couple’s love’ has been done. “Okay then Julie,” I hear you all say, “why did you not rate this book lower then?” Well my friends, it’s because of this: The book is written in the first person from the hero’s point of view…and his voice was exceptional. A POV written like that, I had never seen done before.
The hero is Drew. When you first meet him, he strikes you as a bit of a douche. He’s very sure of himself and beds a different woman pretty much every night. But none of them have the delusion that more will come of things as Drew has no interest in an actual relationship. As I said, been done. But even though he’s nothing new so to speak, he is still a very likeable character. Watching him fall in love and watching it not only knock him sideways but also scare the poop out of him is a lot of fun.
When Emma writes Drew, she has him ask his audience questions. Things like “See that guy over there? That’s me.” It really draws you in, making you feel like you actually are a part of the story. She also has a no-nonsense tone to him that makes him really funny. I loved his honesty and his wit. Did I want to smack him sometimes? Of course! It’s part of his charm. But I loved witnessing his transformation and how he came to truly care for Kate.
Kate is a very good character and she is a perfect match for Drew. She is smart and ambitious and doesn’t fall for his expert charm. She sees through him and that is what Drew needs.
If you enjoy contemporary romance books I can’t see how you would not enjoy this one. Well, I suppose there would be one exception to that: if you don’t like Drew’s voice. What I would suggest is checking out Drew’s blog site. There he answers reader-sent topics and you get a really good idea of his voice. (You can also peek at the ‘giggle worthy quotes’ at the end of my review.) If you giggle at what Drew is saying and you like his ‘no bullshit’, ‘say it like it is with a smile’ tone, give the book a try. You will laugh a lot and really enjoy your time reading it.
Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Tangled. I am not sure if I will read the next book as it will be told from Kate’s POV after she feels the need to separate herself from Drew for a bit. You see, I am not a fan of authors adding new tension to a contemporary romance couple who has already overcome obstacles to be together. Once they are together, I like them to stay together. I know that is not reality but I don’t want reality in my contemporary romance books. I want the fairy tale. But that is just me and my taste. Then again, if my friends read it and tell me it’s cute, I may just cave and do as they did. But I will for sure check out the third book, Tamed. That one will be told from Drew’s friend’s POV, Matthew. It should be lots of fun.(less)
Wow. Just...wow. This was an absolutely amazing novella. I did not read like a novella, at all. Fast paced, amazing character development, surprised a...moreWow. Just...wow. This was an absolutely amazing novella. I did not read like a novella, at all. Fast paced, amazing character development, surprised and an incredible ending. If you read this series, read this novella when it releases. You don't have to be caught up in the series - as long as you read book one, Red, you need to read this one. I'm telling you...wow. Full review to follow :) (less)
This was definitely a different style for Julie James but awesome just the same. Sidney and Vaughn make a great couple. The romance felt very natural...moreThis was definitely a different style for Julie James but awesome just the same. Sidney and Vaughn make a great couple. The romance felt very natural and I smiled through the whole book. Full review closer to release date :)(less)
Archangel’s Legion is the sixth book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. If you have been reading this series and love it but sometimes think to yourself “Hmm…these books are still amazing but there is something missing that I just can’t put my finger on…” you will absolutely love this latest installment. It feels and reads like the very first book. It’s pacing is perfect, the characters have grown so much they are even more captivating and the story draws you in completely.
Elena has really come into her own and I for one am super happy about that. In the first book, she was a perfect example of a kick ass chick, but after gaining wings and being thrown into the immortal world, she started losing her confidence. I understand why she would and it did make sense for her character to feel inadequate especially after experiencing what she did but I missed the Elena I adored in the first book. She is feeling more at ease with herself and her place by Raphael’s side. She is still vulnerable and dealing with nightmares from her past but she is getting past them and that is what makes me happy. She is such a thorough character. Nalini has written her so well, you truly feel as though you know her. And in this book, she really shines.
Raphael. OMG he is so freaking sexy! I love how Elena has affected him. He is still himself yet not. I don’t dare use the word ‘softer’ for him but I really can’t think of a better one to use. He is dealing with his mother’s waking and his powers growing. I am very curious to see what exactly his new talents will be. We learn about some in this book but I’m sure we are just scraping the surface where he and his powers are concerned. Really cool.
Speaking of powers, it was very interesting to learn what the other Archangels are gaining as far as strengths caused by the Cascade are concerned. We don’t see all of the Archangels in this installment but we definitely hear of all of them. Of course, as we expect and hope, we also hear of Raphael’s Seven.
I really love his Seven. Seven members of his entourage who he trusts without question and who would die to protect him and what is important to him. Who wouldn’t want that?! What Nalini has done recently is sometimes bring the series away from simply focusing on Raphael and Elena and giving some members of the Seven their own book with their own HEA. So far, we have watched both Dmitri and Jason fall in love and learned what made them tick. While reading Archangel’s Legion, I thought I was convinced who the next book would focus on. Aodhan is very intriguing and we see quite a bit on him in this book. But then, Naasir was brought up so I thought maybe the next book would be his? Then, of course, we see a lot of Illium. I would LOVE for the next book to be his. I just love his character! But I feel Nalini will make us wait a bit longer before giving us his story as I know he is many peoples’ favorite. So all that to say that I am not sure who the next book will feature buy my best guess would be either Aodhan or Naasir.
There have been quite a few little plot points that have been thrown out there but have not really gone anywhere over the past five books in this series. Well, this is the book where many of them get brought back to light. There were some I’d completely forgotten about but they’re really good! I no way mean everything has been tied up in a nice bow, but things are rolling and I hope they are mentioned again in the next book because I am very curious to see how they turn out. Especially the story involving Vivek.
There are few ‘main’ storylines in this book. War is imminent so we witness preparations for that. We also actually see some fighting and let me tell you, those are some very exciting scenes! But along with the war, we find out that there is a disease that is affecting vampires (who are NOT supposed to be able to get sick) and Elena, the Tower and her Guild Hunter friends are trying to find out the what, where, who and how behind this nasty sickness. Very interesting stuff.
Speaking of interesting, there is one part during the fight scene near the end that totally made sit up straighter in my chair. There are a slew of new characters that just popped up and I am dying to know more about them!
Hmm…that just made me realize that maybe all of these things can’t be taken care of in a book about one of the Seven. Maybe the next book will be yet another Elena and Raphael book. Dang. And here I thought there was a good chance I knew who the next book would be about. Oh well…
The only thing that sort of rubbed me the wrong way was Lijuan. I am sort of getting tired of her. She is a creepy nasty annoying evil character and Nalini writes her very well but all her craziness is starting to feel old for me. I want her gone but that won’t ever happen because she is pretty much invincible but still, that is my wish. But my feelings come from her being written so well so really, my slight bug about this book is really a compliment to the author ;)
All in all, I was very happy with Archangel’s Legion. I loved the overall story and the character growth. Nalini’s voice is stunning and it really suits the extraordinary world she has created. Elena and Raphael are so perfect together, each bringing to the table qualities that the other needs. They are a great example of how a paranormal romance couple should be written and how they should evolve. I strongly recommend this series to fans of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance alike.
When I wrote my review for Magic for a Price, the last book in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, I started my review by saying “Now THIS is how you write a final book in a series!” And let me tell you, Stone Cold deserves the same acclamation. It is the last book in this short series but it finished it off perfectly.
Stone Cold is non-stop so make sure you have time to sit and just read without interruptions when you are about to crack it open. It is very difficult to put down and with the twists and turns you meet, you won’t want to.
Shame. OMG Shame! I thought the guy had it tough in the first book! Shame is going through some pretty intense sh*t. The worst of it is that there doesn’t seem to be a precedent for what is happening to him so he has no clue how to help himself, or Terric. But where Shame is dealing with Death magic and all that that means, Terric is dealing with Life magic. Now, you might think that’s not as bad as Death but it’s still pretty extreme.
Terric. I love him! Shame, I loved him the moment I met him in the Allie books. Terric had to grow on me a bit but now I adore him. He is the perfect friend to Shame and extra awesome in his own right.
Dash is amazing. That is all.
I’ve always loved how magic is portrayed in this world that Devon writes. You pull magic and infuse it into a glyph you trace and some are faster at it and better at it than others…it’s all very exciting. And even though magic has been ‘tamed’ since the Allie books, Shame and Terric still manage to be neck deep in it and the awesome power that very few can channel.
Eleanor. I really liked her in the first book and I like her even more in this one. I love how she handles Shame and her own situation. She is a great character put into very interesting situations. She fit perfectly in this book’s plot and I am very happy with how Devon wrote her.
Allie and Zayvion fans will be over the moon with this installment. We see them a little and hear about them a whole lot and what you hear will definitely bring a smile to your face. Okay, maybe not all of it, but what you see and hear by the end of the book will put a smile on your face. The other stuff will just stress you out but seeing that you are fans of their books, you are used to it by now ;) There is tons of Davy and Sunny action too. Sunny did drive me nuts a bit but seeing her situation, I suppose it’s all justified. Cryptic much?… *grin*
The villain is so nasty in this series! I have absolutely no sympathy for him this time around and just kept hoping that Shame or Terric or, heck, anybody would give him a miserable ending that involved quite a bit of pain. Devon wrote him very well. Every last maniacal inch of him.
I went into reading this book with a certain expectation when it came to the ending. I didn’t necessarily like the ending my mind conjured up but that was still the ending I expected. Boy was I wrong. Devon completely took me by surprise with how she wrapped this book up and looking back on it once I was finished reading, I found that she really did write the best ending for Shame and his story. My ending was just dumb. Hers was glorious. Yet another example of why I am not an author.
More glorious writing from Devon’s part came in how she wrote Heaven. I am not going to tell you why we see Heaven or who goes there but I will say that Devon’s version of it is fan-freaking-tastic.
I cried like a baby at the end of the first book. It really does take a lot to make me cry for a book and Devon managed to find the perfect formula to make me cry. Did a cry this time for Stone Cold? Yup. Yup I did. I didn’t cry for sadness (much). I cried over all of the emotion my poor heart and head went through while reading this book. The ups and downs and the constant craziness, in the very best way, really took it out of me which really only heightened my enjoyment of this book. But I’m still not impressed that Devon managed to make me cry. Again. (*shakes fist at Devon* Dang you Devon Monk! )
All in all, Stone Cold was an absolutely amazing read. Fans of urban fantasy NEED to check this series out and fans of the Allie Beckstrom books need to jump on these too. Shame and Terric have some of the most impressive on-page chemistry that I have ever read from a non-romantic couple. And Shame alone will break your heart, make you laugh and make you *happy sigh* over and over again. I can’t stress enough that this book is a NON-STOP RIDE! It really is an incredible read, one you should not pass up.
Friends to Lovers is the third book in Christi Barth’s Aisle Bound series. This is a sweet series that revolves around friends who own or work with a wedding planning business. It is a series that reads easily and will definitely put a smile on your face.
I found this third installment to be my favorite. I liked Gib from the very first book but for some reason I didn’t see him as a romance book hero. That probably has to do with the fact that I pictured him much older and uglier than he is actually described in the story. He’s a ladies’ man, the sort who enjoys loving them then leaving them, but the women never lose the smile on their faces. After reading the last book, I told the author how I envision Gib and how I will maybe have trouble clicking with him in this, is own book. Then she referred me to the Pinterest board she made for this book. (You can peek at it here) After looking at that, I thought “so THAT’S how Gib really looks! Yum!” Suddenly, it all clicked. While reading Friends to Lovers, I pictured him correctly and everything worked out for me and my slow brain. And now that I’ve finished reading, Gib is now my favorite hero from this series so far. I love his snark and his wit and I also love how sexy he is!
Daphne was a solid character too. I found her realistic and friendly. Easy to read, I can see how she would be fun to hang around with. I love how easy she and Gib get along and how they truly were best friends for years before she admitted her true feelings. Christi wrote their relationship very well. They were great friends and make a great romantic couple.
What I wasn’t a huge fan of were the ‘conflicts’. Each Daphne and Gib have one and I felt both were a little forced – as though they were put in there just to say there was an obstacle to overcome for each of them. Daphne’s I suppose I could understand (I just didn’t love how it was done) but Gib’s was odd. Came out of nowhere and was left not quite resolved by the end. I love him doing what he is doing in this series and I am wondering if what Christi has him doing next will suit him as well. Thank goodness there is a book four in the works so we can see how Gib turns out and how this newly romantic couple holds up. (A Matchless Romance is due to release February 17th 2014).
I felt the ending came a bit quick but other than that, I found Friends to Lovers to be an enjoyable read. It made me smile and it warmed my heart. Basically, it did what I always hope a contemporary romance book will do.
Julie: The Day He Kissed Her is the third and final book in Juliana Stone’s Bad Boys of Crystal Lake trilogy.
Anne: I love this series with its bad boys, high level emotional issues, and hot sex. With this being Mac’s book, I knew there would be horribly bad history. I just didn’t expect it to be in the present in the ways it was.
Julie: I always found it odd these men were labelled ‘bad boys’. I suppose they could be thought of as bad boys in the small town they are from but it’s not like they set churches on fire or anything of the sort. They were basically trouble makers in their youth and they have all found their way back to the town they grew up in and the label still stuck…even though there is nothing ‘bad’ about them now. All of these men have issues to deal with but none were as weighted as Mac’s.
Mac comes from an abusive household. Dad beat Mom and then turned his fists to his children. On top of that, he feels his mother chose his father over her children since she never tried to take them away from the abuse she knew was happening. Thanks to this, Mac feels he does not deserve a HEA. But really, it just makes him worthy of one all the more. He is a heavy and truly messed up character but Juliana writes him wonderfully. But even with that, I don’t think I have ever read a contemporary romance hero who I have wanted to strangle and shake so much, yet find so amazingly sexy at the same time.
But I completely agree with you where I didn’t expect Mac to still have new issues to deal with and that he was not dealing only with issues from his childhood.
Anne: So it is clear why Mac is not a “relationship” kind of guy. He starts as the alpha man whore as many hot guys do. I mean half the romance books start like this, with a guy who has never actually had a relationship.
I have to say I was rolling my eyes when Lily stays over and he just leaves her after talking to his sister. Seriously, he couldn’t just check in with her briefly or leave her a note or something? I realize he had a lot on his mind but common courtesy would have been nice.
Lily was amazing. For all the difficulties she had with her family, she handled it well. She also was patient and caring with Mac. She really pulled herself together quickly, no matter what life threw at her. Luckily, she also had the support of her good friend, Jake.
Julie: I also had some issues with how Mac treated Lily. His behavior is justified considering what he has been through but still, I think he could have gone once or twice without being such a douche.
Lily really impressed me. She has not had the easiest life either – nothing comparing to Mac but unnecessary drama nonetheless – yet she has done a better job keeping a more positive outlook on things. She too thinks she is not able to do a ‘real’ relationship but she is more open to things once Mac comes into the picture. I liked how she was not whiny or bitchy and I liked how she understood Mac but didn’t just roll over and let him treat her badly. And their chemistry! Holy cow, it was amazing! I think Mac and Lily have the most intense chemistry of all the couples in this series.
Anne: His connection with Lily was great, and that is what it took for him to grow personally. Their feelings for each other, the intensity of their need to be together, forced each of them to grow personally. Lily did a better job of it and more on her own than Mac, but her present and history were not as personally devastating as Mac’s life.
I also loved her strength and willingness to do what Mac needed and make the relationship work. Mac, as all alpha males, took longer to get it but once he did, he started making better choices.
And yes, wow they are hot! I loved it and how unabashed Mac is about it. I’d adore it but also be so embarrassed.
Julie: I’m glad Mac finally comes around and I do like him when he does. The author doesn’t make him sprout rainbows. He’s had a tough life and this ‘relationship stuff’ is always going to be a challenge for him and that is how Juliana writes it. She kept Mac real the whole way through and I feel that is important.
Anne: I really loved this series and hate to think this is the last one. I want to know what happens to them, and to Becca, for example. I enjoyed seeing all the other characters from previous books and their parts in the story. Cain and Jake were both pretty hilarious. Jake was there to support Lily and Mac at various times. We saw more of Mac’s family. I loved the baseball coaching too. These characters, even in small roles, seemed very real to me.
Julie: That is a talent I find Juliana definitely holds with this series – the ability to make these characters very real. And, like you say, it’s in the details. The coaching and the support of friends and family.
There are two scenes I absolutely love in this book and both involve the words “I call bullshit.” Jake has always been a good friend for Mac but in this book, at this time, he is exactly what Mac needs. And Jake’s mom! She really does not play a big role in this series but she definitely helped things along in this book.
Anne: Jake’s parents are more of parents to Mac than his own are. I don’t like Mac’s parents very much. I won’t say his mom is stupid, but she is weak. If some guy hit me, I’d hit back or be out the door in one second flat. It’s one thing to compromise for someone you love; it’s another to sacrifice your health or safety or that of your children.
Julie: I was very surprised by Mac’s mom’s attitude towards his dad and the things he did. Maybe that is a more realistic approach to it and maybe my vision of having Mom hit Dad upside the head with a baseball bat is not. I guess while reading I was assuming there would be more closure where the whole ‘Mac’s mom and dad’ plot is concerned but there really wasn’t. I am still undecided on whether I’m disappointed that there wasn’t much of a conclusion there or if my expectation was unrealistic all along and that Juliana actually wrote the story like it happens most often in real life.
Anne: The parents aren’t the focus of the story, only a side plot. This is Mac’s story. I really enjoyed him even with his issues and am happy he was able to live his own life.
Julie: I think I felt by having mom and dad subplot put to a satisfying rest, then Mac could move on more easily. But by not doing that, Juliana made that Mac had to grow and move on on his own, which ended up building his character. I still wish Mom hit Dad with a bat though ;)
Overall, I was pleased with The Day He Kissed Her, even though it is quite a bit heavier than I usually like my contemporary romances to be. The reason I got hooked to this series is the characters. Juliana managed to write such depth and realism into them that it was hard not to get invested. Cain, Jake and Mac are all wonderful heroes deserving of their HEAs and the heroines are strong, likeable characters who are deserving of our incredible men. Fans of this genre who appreciate emotionally captivating stories really need to check this trilogy out.
4.5 stars for me
Anne: I also recommend this series if you like emotionally based, character driven stories (with HOT sex). I’d like to have more.