Favorite Quote: “They want an expert to explain she wasn’t a sociopath, just someone who craved constant attention and wasn’t able to solve her own problems.”
“You just described everyone on Facebook.”
Dr. Sheridan (Danny) Doyle has come back to his hometown to visit his ailing grandfather. A victim of an abusive father and a mentally ill mother, Danny rose like a phoenix from the ashes of his childhood and used it to reinvent himself into a famous forensic psychologist. Now he’s back and involved in a series of murders that all date back to a decades old act of violence that has frozen the town in time.
One Of Us is a mystery thriller that steps off the beaten path by giving us the who, what, when, and where fairly early on and concentrating on the “why.” Humor and horror walk hand in hand through the small town of Lost Creek, PA, as the past and present intermingle to try and explain a recent rash of murders. It pits two former residents against one another in a morbid game of cat and mouse as O’Dell strips away the town’s layers to expose a crime that once set in motion, destroys a multitude of lives as it slowly comes to light. A crime that was ignored due to small town prejudice, fear, and ignorance. It’s only when the true story comes to light do we realize just how much of this town and it’s residents was built upon a single act of revenge that was punished in the harshest of fashions.
Lost Creek is a small mining town whose claim to fame is the century old hanging of a group of miners by the owner of the mines. Referred to as the Nellies, these Irish-American miners were immortalized by the town as folk heroes as men who stood up to the injustice of the mines and the men who ran them. Danny Doyle, a descendant of one of those ill fated miners, has always hated Lost Creek. It represents all of his childhood fears-from the dark mines to his hate filled father. He comes back to Lost Creek to see his grandfather, Tommy, who was his savior as a child against the craziness that surrounded Danny. While out on a run, Danny stumbles on to a dead body at the foot of the town’s most historical and gruesome artifact, the very gallows where the Nellies were hung. The murdered man is a descendant of one of the original men who had a hand in the Nellie hangings. As Danny lends his expertise to the investigation, he begins to realize that the murder is but a single piece in a much larger picture. A picture that leads straight back to his family and sets in motion a series of events that changes everything Danny has ever known.
O’Dell builds the storyline slowly; heavy descriptive scenes and characterization give readers a first hand look at the poverty and mindset of those who live in these small towns where the only way to make a living is often met with death. Though Danny is the main protagonist, the rest of the cast is equally compelling and persuasive in their views and actions. From the eccentric four time divorced town detective who was Danny’s pseudo father figure to the egomaniac mine owner’s daughter whose beauty hides a rotten core; O’ Dell gives us a town rich in history and quirky personality.
Danny is an interesting protagonist. A gentle somewhat facetious man whose job has him looking into the eyes of the mentally insane everyday. There seemed to be two sides of him that fight against one another-the boy who struggles with hating and loving his parents and the man who struggles to keep all that pain buried inside, presenting a well adjusted person to the world. Having the story told in the first person helps the reader settle into Danny’s thoughts and world with relative ease.
Though not a whirlwind of action and intrigue, the story flows at a decent if not slow pace, picking up considerably once Danny begins to put the puzzle pieces together. Plenty of dialogue, character interaction, and armchair analysis helps us to see the multiple connections that O’Dell has been slowly revealing to us. Though the actions of some weren’t surprising (I figured most of it out by the middle of the book) the reasons behind them were.
All in all O’Dell writes an interesting tale of madness and circumstance that entertains while offering a brief glimpse into the history of Irish immigrants who can to America with dreams of a better life; only to find themselves in the same if not worse conditions.
Favorite Quote: “Please. The devil wished he had half my style and a fourth of my schemes.”
Cal and Nikos Leandros are back and this time they face their greatest enemy…themselves. Cal’s monstrous heritage is slowly gaining a foothold, trying to obliterate Cal’s humanity. On top of that, Cal is being pursued by a murderous doppelganger, a psychotic ex, and a band of covert warriors who feel it’s time for Cal to be put to rest…permanently. As the clock ticks down, sending Cal and Niko’s closer to their deaths, it may be Cal’s murderous other half that saves them in the end.
Rob Thurman brings her A game to the table in her ninth installment of her Cal Leandros series. Secrets are revealed and we learn once and for all exactly why Robin Goodfellow has been such a primary figure in the Leandros brothers lives. The story is a bit more chatty than normal but the storyline is possibly one of her best. Presented in duel POVs, you get an in depth look at Cal and Niko’s past through the eyes of an immortal. And their past is far longer and more convoluted than anyone ever imagined. Thurman’s continued use of mythology and religion, twisting and manipulating to her whims, further expands and evolves her world, keeping the series fresh and inventive.
I am a huge fan of this series. Similar to the WB show, Supernatural, the premise is built upon two brothers whose love and loyalty to one another defines their very existence. Heavy on sibling love and the concept that not all family is tied by blood. Each episode in self contained with a long running arc. Well-plotted and cast with characters with dynamic personalities, this series is filled with suspense, betrayal, sarcasm, humor, and some very dangerous antagonists. A fascinating series that continues to captivate and enchant. Thurman does a fabulous job of exploring and evolving the relationship between brothers Cal and Nikos as they fight to protect each other and the clueless humans in the city.
Downfall opens with Cal noticing that he is beginning to manifest some physical traits of his auphe heritage. He fears that the more he starts to look like the auphe, the more he will start to act like one. Cal also has a influx of enemies gunning for him. He is been targeted for death by the Vigil, an organization that works to keep humans unaware of the supernaturals around them. Though he has always been on their radar, his actions in Slashback (book 8) placed him on their hit list. Cal’s ex girlfriend, Delilah, is now head Alpha of the Kin and has decided to clean house…beginning with Cal. Grimm is also back and is going to make Cal play the game of world domination with him regardless if Cal want to play or not.
Similar to Slashback, Thurman tells this story in the present and past but this time uses Robin Goodfellow’s memory to fill in most of the remaining blanks that have existed throughout the series. Robin has been a large part of the series but purposely hid his importance from us. In here we learn the full extent of his loyalty to Cal and Nikos and his intensive and sometimes intrusive manipulations behind the scenes. Reincarnation is the theme and Thurman works it into the ongoing storyline beautifully. We are gifted with a dual narration-Cal and Robin-as they each remember the past. It gives the story a sense of intimacy and depth to hear Robin bear his innermost feelings and actions concerning Cal and Nikos. We feel his pain, sadness, and weariness as we learn he has spent centuries trying to keep Cal and Nikos alive while they charged fearlessly into danger with each new life. It has become an endless cycle that Robin is determined to break.
The conflict is an explosion of violence, sacrifice, and brings about a shocking conclusion that wraps up a open storyline but leaves us with some interesting clues towards the future of Cal and his “family”. Robin definitely rules this installment and shows everyone that he is indeed the ultimate trickster. This series continues to walk on the dark side of urban fantasy as it repeatedly shows us that monsters do exist in the world and sometimes the difference between them and us is nothing more than a degree of separation. Even with each book having a resolvable conflict, I don’t view them as stand alones. The arc is long standing and convoluted as is the evolution of the main characters. I recommend starting from the beginning with Nightlife.
I liked the premise of Takedown but found the story didn’t engage me. There were too many conflicts vying for attention, resulting in none of them...more2.5
I liked the premise of Takedown but found the story didn’t engage me. There were too many conflicts vying for attention, resulting in none of them being explored with any real depth. Grant chooses an interesting approach in this series is written almost like a serial with lots of movement but minimal results. The story only seems to scratch the surface of the emotions we can sense circling within. Certain scenes were introduced then discarded, leaving me wondering the reasons behind their inclusion. The writing is good overall but it switches between 1st person to 3rd person and rapid POV changes adds to the confusion. I think you really need to start from the beginning in order to get the whole story.(less)
Vera Hadley has spent her whole life being a Hadley and all that comes with it. Now poised on the eve of her wedding to a man she doesn’t love, Vera decides to finally live her life on her own terms and sneaks away with the help of two servants. Vera arrives in Round O, South Carolina and soon sets herself up living quarters, a job, and a possible suitor. When she receives a call about an old friend in trouble, Vera has to make a choice on whether she will continue to hide from her father and fiancee or will she finally make a stand and claim her life as her own.
Set in South Carolina during the 1940’s, Palmetto Moon is a southern contemporary about a young woman of privilege whose family’s social and financial ambitions push her to seek her own way in the world. I adore a good bygone era women’s independence story and envisioned a possible mixture along the lines of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Carrie Khoui or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Unfortunately, this story had neither the strong characters nor dynamic storylines of either book.
Disney-fied to the utmost extreme, Palmetto Moon is a saccharine story that has all the elements to be a wonderful journey of discovery, hope, and love but fails to deliver. An interesting premise that never seemed to quite gain a foothold and develop. It is a deliciously decorated package that when opened, lacks substance. The best I can say is that it is sweet. The characters are formulaic and sweet; never emerging from their cocoon to develop and grow. It’s all tell and no show. The plot and subplots are sweet with little to no exploration. There were certainly many openings for our heroine to explore her new found freedom in areas of sexuality and social structures that never panned out. Numerous plot holes and dead ends left me frustrated. The ending is sweet and predictable from the halfway mark. Even the villain(s), who aren’t really villainous, are mere caricatures that hint towards a danger we never see. There is no sense of adventure within the main plot. No standing on the precipice, quivering in anticipation wondering what will happen. There is a faint religious theme that flows under the story, giving kudos to the time and place in which Boykin is writing about.
Our heroine, Vera, comes off strong in the beginning of the book. Boykin’s voice slowly draws the reader in as Vera tells us of her dreams, desires, and fears. We learn that she had been planning to run away from her autocratic family for sometime now and has been stealthily putting things in motion to facilitate her escape. She is scared but determined to take her fate into her own hands. Once she arrives in the small crossroad town of Round O however, the story begins to fail for me. Everything just falls into place. She arrives and within 24 hours she has a place to live, a professional job which she has no qualifications for, a handsome suitor, and a new best friend. Vera is perfect. She is beautiful, soft spoken, and well educated. There is very little adversity or moral dilemmas for her to overcome; both which are key components in a coming of age trope. She is the quintessential heroine who triumphs in the face of…no danger.
A variety of secondary characters only to exist in order to tell Vera’s story. They aren’t viable sustainable characters of their own. Frank Darling is a handsome diner/store owner whose dreams were shattered when he was denied entry to the armed forces for a health defect. Stuck in this one horse town, he self flagellates himself for his supposed failings. Once he meets Vera, he falls head over heels and his life mission focuses solely on getting Vera to marry him. We have the stereotypical nasty busybodies that only the southern small towns seem to breed. But Vera is able to put them in their place with a well heeled insult and arched brow. Vera’s fiance and parents are here today-gone tomorrow. Clare, Vera’s new best friend, is a young widow with three adorable small boys. She can’t leave the boarding house because…widowed women can’t live on their own? I didn’t understand that part. She is being pressured to marry one of the older gentlemen boarders but of course, Vera will swoop in and save the day *sigh* Various other characters offer vague humor and depth but as I stated earlier, they are place holders and their issues all fall by the wayside as the main conflict blows through.
The ending comes at us fast and is really the only true obstacle that Vera faces. A small obstacle that is easily and painlessly rectified. And we don’t even see that. We learn of it after the fact. Everyone is made happy in the end and our leads live happily ever after. All in all it wasn’t a bad book. It’s well written with a smooth flow that makes for an easy simple read. I just expected more and was saddened to see it didn’t deliver.
Cordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, lea...moreCordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, leaving Cordie devastated not only by his death but with the news that her mother is alive and didn’t die in a car accident as she was told, she decides this is the perfect opportunity to let go of the past (her crush on Aiden) and move forward with her life. Her first goal is to find out why her mother left her and her father so many years ago.
Aiden Madison is a workaholic. Main controller for his family’s chain of hotels, Aiden is forever wheeling and dealing with his cell phone glued to his ear and his laptop always open. He has known Cordie for years and firmly placed her in the friend zone. An impromptu and very steamy kiss shocks Aiden into opening his eyes and seeing the beautiful woman standing before him.
When Cordie tracks her errant mother to Sidney, Australia, Aiden is steamrollered into going with her and soon the two of them find themselves involved in a mystery involving a wealthy family who will do anything to keep their secrets buried. Multiple attempts on Cordie’s life send Aiden into a tailspin and makes him realize that he may lose the one person he never knew he wanted.
I have always been a fan of Julie Garwood’s historical and romance suspense stories. Her wonderful balance of humor and structured chaos has kept me entertained for years. I was pleased to see Cordie and Aiden getting their own story after seeing them in Murder List (2007). Recently though, I’ve noticed her last few books haven’t had the same spark and enthusiasm they previously held. The romance seems one-sided and the conflicts lack depth, action, and intrigue.
Fast Track is a friends to lovers story that starts out with high intentions but falls short of the mark. I saw a lot of similarities between this book and an earlier release, Sweet Talk. Both books contain a beautiful, loyal, intelligent woman who fall for an emotionally constrained alpha who treats her like a booty call. Also, similar to Sweet Talk, the hero’s work/family comes first. In fact, in Fast Track, our hero spends approximately 85% of the book working. The other 15% is having sex with the heroine and trying to keep her safe from her mother’s vindictive family.
A large part of my dissatisfaction with the story is that we don’t see any real interaction between Cordie or Aiden growing up. Yes, they did appear in previous books but that doesn’t help new readers or those like myself who don’t exactly remember what happened seven years ago. In here, we see one scene showing when Cordie first meets Aiden and decides “he’s the one” but beyond that, everything starts in the present. We don’t know why Codie is attracted to Aiden or what happened in the years leading up to this point to facilitate her crush lasting so long.
The beginning of their present day romance promises much but fails to deliver. A steamy kiss that makes Aiden notice Cordie and then we begin to see some jealousy on his part. But beyond that we are never given any hint to how Aiden feels about Cordie. Even he muses a few times that he’s not sure what he feels for her; brushing it aside as an inconvenience. We never hear him say anything that would clue us that his feelings for Cordie go beyond physical attraction. Their love scenes are like random hook ups. They look at one another, have sex, and then Aiden disappears for a few days on business. They don’t date; a one time “lunch date” actually ends up being a business meeting for him with a roomful of associates.
The fact that Cordie makes excuses for Aiden’s behavior; never calling him on his “hit it and quit” it attitude, frequent disappearances, or lack of communication made me lose respect for her quickly. Especially since she is so fierce in other aspects. She just continues to talk about moving on with her life though she doesn’t really do anything but make feeble motions.
The main conflict surrounding Cordie’s mom also fails to engage. Her father tells her not to wait on love and that she is finally safe as everything is in Cordie’s name; yet we never see any indication from her mother’s actions that she would want access to the fortune Cordie’s dad left to her. Her mother is worth millions. We meet her mother in Sidney and are assured that her mother wants nothing to do with her. As Cordie attempts to get on with her life, an accident proves to Aiden and Cordie that someone wants Cordie out of the picture. An interesting concept, especially once we learn the reasons behind the attack, but as the ‘romance’ makes up a majority of the story, the mystery gets interjected at random stages, leaving this reader rather ambivalent about the whole thing.
Two small subplots concerning Aiden and his family provide some relief from the drudgery of the story. We get clues to Aiden’s younger brother’s coming story and what looked to be a contender for the main conflict-the land acquisition-fizzled and resolved in lackluster fashion.
The ending is overly dramatic catch all that wraps everything up neatly with no loose ends. Love is instantly realised and we have our happily ever after. I would have liked to have seen more development all around as I felt the entire story stayed on one level without any real emotional depths. I think I have come to my breaking point with Ms. Garwood. While I’ll continue to read and reread her older releases, the new ones just aren’t for me.
When trouble comes to Atlanta, you can always guarantee Kate Daniels is smack dab in the middle of it, swinging her sw...moreJoint review by Mandi & Tori
When trouble comes to Atlanta, you can always guarantee Kate Daniels is smack dab in the middle of it, swinging her sword. And trouble is definitely come to Atlanta in the form of Hugh D’Ambrey.
Being consort to the Beast Lord isn’t an easy job. Between struggling to keep her business afloat and dealing with never ending pack issues, Kate has her hands full. During the monthly Conclave meeting, a master of the dead is murdered and the pack is challenged to find the culprit within 24 hours or the People will declare war. If Kate didn’t have enough to do, Curren is off doing business in North Carolina, the pack has a traitor in their mists, and Kate knows Roland is coming for her.
As tensions build, Kate will have to shuck off the last remaining shackles of her youth and embrace who and what she is if she is going to save her city, her friends, and the only man she has ever loved.
Tori: We here at Smexy Books love Ilona Andrews and their bestselling urban fantasy Kate Daniels. Basically, we love everything that comes from this dynamic writing duo and if they write it, we will read it. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in their writing. Each reread provides me with more understanding of this convoluted world and its constantly changing inhabitants. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the evolving world and vibrant characters that keep me returning. Equal parts of humor and horror merge together to form intriguing stories that drag me in and hold me hostage to the end. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. Thisseries is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power, action, and vulnerability.
After the catastrophic breath stealing events in Magic Rises, the Andrews takes pity on their readers and gives us a story filled with love, laughter, tragedy, and hope. Almost everyone now knows who Kate is and all her reasons for hiding are out in the open. She must take the offensive if she hopes to have a fighting chance against Roland. I find the route Andrews is taking concerning Roland to be unique and also keeping within the theme that has permeated the series. No one in here is decidedly good or bad. There are multiple shades of gray and each person must make their own choices on the path they decide to walk.
I love the evolution of Kate Daniels throughout this series. In the beginning we met a sociopath whose versions of right and wrong are made more poignant once we are privy to her back story. Raised and manipulated by her “stepfather” Voron, Kate is one of the good guys because she chooses to be. Her internal moral compass, while skewed, is strong and generally points in the right direction. We have watched as this solitary young woman has taken chances and learned to trust and love. Though for every step she made she was forced back two…she fought, clawed, and struggled to become her own person and not the instrument of destruction Voron hoped to create. In Kate Daniels we see a woman who against all odds has become a hero. What do you think, Mandi? Has Kate’s evolution been to your satisfaction?
Mandi: Her evolution has trumped my satisfaction. I’m not sure I could ask more from a heroine. Kate is bad ass, strong, smart, and extremely talented. We can all agree. But she also accepts her faults. She knows she has a weakness for leaving those she claims as hers (pack, friends, family) behind. She can’t just say, ‘let’s sacrifice one for the good of the pack’ – she won’t leave anyone behind. This doesn’t always make a good leader though. And she knows this. She knows when to ask (or should I say finally give in) Curran for help. She is stubborn, loyal, brave and freaking sarcastic. I love her.
I think it’s safe to say that this book is the book we’ve all been waiting for. Ilona Andrews even wrote a note before the book starts basically telling readers to buckle up (and that there are more books to come). Kate has not one but two big, bad dudes after her – Hugh d’Ambray and daddy Roland. This book she gets tested. Big time tested, like never before. I love that this book (and series) is so violent, dark, gritty – but there are scenes like this that make me laugh so hard:
“Hey, Kate? Have you thought of walking up to Hugh and telling him that he’s got the biggest dick ever?” She spread her arms to the size of a baseball bat.
“No, you think it would work?” I asked
“It’s worth a try. Maybe he’ll be so happy you noticed his pork sword, he’ll forget all about trying to kill us.”
Tori, what did you think of the events that take place in this book as it culminates the overall arc this series has been leading to?
Tori: I went through an “evolution” myself as each event revealed itself. The path twisted and turned; once again proving the sheer talent possessed by the Andrews writing team. They plot a difficult emotional path to Kate’s destiny in here, changing the ongoing story line and showing us that regardless of what you think may happen…they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve. What thrilled me the most was the ease in which everything changed and settled back into place. Fans have spent six books with an expectation towards a certain conclusion only to find out, like Kate, that nothing is ever what it seems.
As always, Kate fights for the underdog and all those she feels are under her protection. Parallels between she and Hugh are expanded upon, showing us what she could have been and what she has chosen to become due to a series of events. Introducing new characters and their thoughts/actions gives readers a new “bone” to chew on as we are herded towards the series conclusion. Old plotlines are effectively wrapped up with realistic results while being used to nudge open new avenues for exploration. Violence and humor go hand in hand here to keep readers thoroughly engaged till the very end.
“The other day Andrea tried to explain to me that apparently I am suppose to have a new thing, an old thing, a blue thing, and something stolen.”
“Who the hell even makes up these rules?”
“Even Julie talked to me about it the other day.”
“What did she say?”
“She thinks I should wear black.”
Some events were almost stupefying in their outcome. I love that Kate isn’t omnipresent and gets caught in the crossfire quite a bit. Her ability to survive is half skill and half luck. I love that while Kate will do anything for the pack, she isn’t stupid enough to believe they will do anything for her.
“Honey, we can fill this place with what we know and you don’t.”
Mandi, you messaged me that certain things happened that you didn’t foresee. Did you find them overwhelming or the perfect introduction for the direction we seem to be going in?
Mandi: I was very happy with the way the big events turned out at the end of this book. Honestly, if I had been told what happens before I read it, I would have thought I wouldn’t like it – but as you read, it all falls into place. It’s like Ilona Andrews knows what they are doing or something! *wink* While this closes a large arc, it also opens up room for some new adventure. Very intrigued and excited to see where we go in the next book.
We also get a hot sex scene! Yeah Curran! And I laughed, I cringed, I held my breath – this author is by far the best storyteller out there.
A few of my favorite quotes/scenes:
“What the hell is this?” Desandra asked (Kate).
“This is Cuddles. She’s a mammoth donkey.”
Derek grinned, leaning on the fence. “Do you have any self-respect left?”
“Trapped by a horde of vampires in the middle of a snow-covered field, huddling around a tiny fire on thin blankets,” Curran said. “Drink it in, baby. All this luxury just for you.”
Tori: I second that ‘Yeah Curran!’ Though I was still a little put out by his actions in Magic Rises, I found my love for him hasn’t decreased. The romance, though limited in interaction in here (Curran is gone three quarters of the book) is still as hot and potent now as it was when it first started. This couple has been through the wringer, both externally and emotionally. They have fought their feelings for so long only to give in; which opened a whole new bag of problems. Not many want to see them together, starting with Curran’s own pack. But this couple truly loves one another with the kind of deep powerful that love not only embraces the good but also the bad. Neither Curran or Kate have any illusions to who they sleep next to every night.
“Hey, I warned you from the start it would be weird. I sat in that bathtub with you and told you that this was a really bad idea. You said you loved me and stayed in the tub. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve made your bed. You have to lie in it.”
“I’ll lie in any bed as long as you’re in it, but this is still weird.”
A menage of secondary characters, new and old, continue to expand in their roles, each a viable player in this high stakes game of life and death. I readily appreciate the different personalities that are injected through out here. As I stated earlier, no one is firmly “good and/or evil.” Each serve their own higher purpose that may or may not eventually come into contact with Kate’s purpose. I enjoyed seeing Kate and Ghastek interact on a more personal level. They have been frenemies for so long, it was interesting seeing them interact on a more personal level. Once again, the Andrews remind us that Kate has male friends (of sort) that exist beyond her relationship with Curran, further solidifying the growth she has undergone in this series. Of course, we see plenty of Andrea, Barbados, Ascanio, and the rest of Kate’s rag tag entourage who fight beside her regardless of what she says or does.
Ascanio shot me another brilliant smile. “I’m sorry for all this trouble. I honestly was just trying to help. But now that I’m here, I couldn’t possibly go back all alone and defenseless. Unless you want to condemn me to certain death. Alone. In the night. In the freezing rain.”
The main conflict is a multi layered concoction of intrigue, tension, violence, and heart stopping scenes as the rules are once again changed on Kate. Multiple plot lines race though the book, twisting and turning to close some long standing open storylines while giving us hints to new ones.Magic Breaks takes everything we have learned and turns it inside out, leaving this reader reeling with all the implications of what’s to come. This series just continues to get better and better. Magic Breaks is a another appealing installment into one of my top recommended urban fantasy series.
Favorite Quote: “Are you sure I can’t talk you into takin’ an admin position when your probationary period is up?” “Do I still get to Taser people from behind a desk?” “No.” “Then no way.”
Devin McClain is a mega star in the country music business. Gorgeous and popular, he has more than his fair share of exuberant fans. When it looks like one fan maybe taking things too far by attacking a crew member on Devin’s tour bus, Devin’s record company demands stricter security measures, starting with a personal bodyguard for Devin.
Liberty Masterson’s return to civilian life after a stint in the military has been a rocky road until she lands a job with a prestigious security company. When her boss assigns her to play babysitter for a country music star, she doesn’t figure on having to pretend to be the playboy’s flavor of the month. But Liberty is a professional and will do whatever is necessary to keep her client alive and well till the end of his tour.
Close quarters spark some combustible chemistry between Liberty and Devin and soon Devin wants to make this pretend romance a reality. But while Liberty is willing to fully submit to Devin behind closed doors, she isn’t sure their relationship can withstand the demands of Devin’s famous lifestyle.
Lorelei James’s Blacktop Cowboys series has always been a favorite of mine. Her characters are imbibed with so much spirit and personality that they are indeed larger than life. Bold self-assured independent women and flirtatious sexy alpha cowboys has the pages smoking as you follow their rock strewn path to love. Plenty of humor and sex makes these erotic romances a joy to read. Flavorful dialogue keeps the story flowing along at a steady pace. Multiple plot lines are revealed simultaneously, merging together to provide a well won ending for our lovers.
Liberty and Devin have been seen throughout the series and I was thrilled to not only see they would be getting a book, but would be paired together. Opposites attract is a winning trope for me and Liberty and Devin couldn’t be more opposite…or so you think. James does a fabulous job of setting up our hero and heroine, revealing their personalities and their back stories, taking a considerable amount of time letting us get to know them and see the extreme differences between them. Cut throat misconceptions set the stage for a prickly beginning but as the story progresses, James slowly cuts through the artifice and we begin to see that our protagonists are indeed perfect for one another.
Holy mother of God. It was a miracle he managed to keep from drooling. Or cursing at the sky because the fucking universe had a sick sense of humor. Or maybe this was Karma beating you with the stupid stick for boldly proclaiming that you didn’t find Liberty Masterson attractive.
“Do I need to make it clear to Devin again why I am here?” “Maybe. I don’t know. He’s in one of them moods where——” “He needs naked fan adulation to help him through his rough day?”
Devin and Liberty are on fire. Heavy steamy chemistry will keep you enthralled as our couple takes their relationship from professional to personal. A strong sexual connection develops between them, allowing them both to push aside their differences and focus on each other. One constant I like about James’s writing is she celebrates her characters sexuality. No slut shaming or embarrassment for their wants and desires. In a world where we seem to be heading towards a Puritan state of mind, it’s always refreshing to see two adults engage in a sexual relationship that isn’t forced, coerced, or used as a cure for some previous trauma. The physical scenes are very well done with explicit detailing and a heavy dose of erotic fun and romance.
“Make me feel it.” “Feel what?” “That first thrust. Don’t be sweet. Don’t go slow. Slam into me so hard I feel this big cock of yours in the back of my throat. So I always remember this moment.”
The main conflict is a mixture of past and present, building a solid storyline. James addresses issues and creates an engaging read that fills you with strong emotions as you watch Liberty and Devin work to build a time sustaining relationship that will last past the tour. James writes with such intimacy that we are instantly drawn into their lives. Multiple subplots intertwined with the romance. Emotions run the gauntlet as old wounds are reopened and allowed to heal.
Dynamic secondary characters add even more flavor and depth to the story as we get a behind the scenes look at what is all involved in touring with a major music star. Subplots involving family and friends show a prime need for communication. Getting involved with the other band members and roadies shows us this lifestyle isn’t for the faint of heart. I enjoyed seeing old faces from previous books and see what they have been up to.
I did feel the main conflict wasn’t as developed as it could have been and was overwhelmed by the romance. Plus, while I enjoyed the slow ride of Liberty and Devin’s romance, at times Liberty’s stubbornness became a hindrance. Regardless, this series continues to entertain and I recommend it to everyone who wants an erotic romantic contemporary series with realistic characters, emotional romances, strong friendships, and interesting lives that will keep you waiting for each installment. Even though each book in the series can be read as a standalone; some characters and situations bleed over.
Favorite Quote: This is your life. This is your destiny. You must wrap you your feelings and fears and tuck them away in a box.
Night’s End is the last book in Yasmine Galenorn’s wonderfully dark and decadent urban fantasy series-The Indigo Court. *SOB* Fans of the series have watched in awe as Galenorn twists and manipulates supernatural legend and lore into a well crafted story of love, loss, betrayal, redemption, and destiny. Heavily character driven, strong and dynamic characterization have uplifted this series from a run of the mill urban fantasy into something unique and wonderfully entertaining. Smooth writing combined with dark world building immediately engrossed me into the storyline and the characters that inhabit it. The world that Galenorn originally introduced to us has evolved in leaps and bounds; extraordinary in it’s simplistic yet complex layout.
Night’s End picks up where Night Seeker leaves off. Cicely and Rhiannon each wear the crown to their respective kingdoms-Rhiannon holds the reign of Summer while Cicely holds firm to Winter. Myst has recovered from her last defeat and is rising swifty, destroying everyone and everything in her path. Queen Cicely and her allies know that this is their last chance to destroy the Indigo Court and it’s Vampiric Queen for good.
As the Queen of Snow and Ice, Cicely has grown remarkably in the series. A child forced to survive on the streets, caring for her drug addicted mother has become a woman more than worthy to wear the crown. Galenorn has chronicled Cicely’s journey in a remarkable manner, allowing her to make mistakes and and gain knowledge (sometimes at a harsh price) on the path to her destiny. I adored Ciecly. She is the perfect balance of strength, intelligence, and wit with a strong vein of vulnerability within her. She is trying so hard to be the strength her court needs and demands while controlling her own fears. Her tightly wound control is almost broken in here when Ciecly gets her first test as monarch when a traitor is discovered in their mists and Cicely must make some harsh decisions in uncovering them. Decisions involving her friends that shows Cicely how much her life and the choices she makes are no longer her own.
The romance, while always a low key but important aspect of the storyline, unravels itself out with her marriage to Grieve. I loved the reincarnation storyline used to explain their unbreakable bonds. Grieve is perfect for Cicely. His quiet strength, inherent goodness, and warrior status makes for a wonderful grounding agent against Cicely’s more interchangeable nature. Cicely needs someone as strong as she is to stand beside her but also someone who loves her all her sides.
“You’re my shooting star…my my dark queen in the middle of the night sky.”
Lannan Altos, Regent of the Crimson Court, has also played an important part in Cicely’s life and in here we understand exactly how and why. Though their relationship has been a long road filled with pain and humiliation, there is an aspect of his personality that allows Cicely to show her darker nature without any recriminations. Lannon understands her need for pain as it mirrors his need to inflict it. Lannon has also been experiencing some growing pains of his own that in sense, mirroring the changes Cicely is experiencing.
“Lannan fed the darker side of me, the side I didn’t want Grieve to go near. If Grieve stepped into those shadows, then my rock would vanish and I would be fully swallowed up by the abyss.”
The secondary characters are dynamic building blocks in this unfolding saga as each one has had a secret destiny waiting to be revealed, adding suspense and tension to the story. An engaging plot line and multiple sub plots feed upon one another as each revelation brings us closer to the end. Galenorn digs deeper beneath the surface, answering questions from the beginning and placing Ciecly exactly where she needs to be, despite her doubts.
Night’s End and the series as a wholeis a captivating urban fantasy that will appeal to both readers who love a strong female protagonist, non stop action, tense plotlines, and a bittersweet romance that leaves you astounded with each delicious installment. An altogether satisfying read that reaffirms Galenorn is a multi-talented author. Though sad this series had to end, I am left secure in the knowledge that there will be more fantastic adventures from Galenorn to come.
Favorite Quote: “Oh come on, I’ve seen you two together. It’s like watching a nature documentary on scientists trying to get the two most socially awkward people in the world to mate.”
Deacon Whitney, software mogul and billionaire, hires a group of professionals to come to his private island and renovate his family estate. Known as the Crane’s Nest, this family jewel, nestled along the New England coast, has been the focal point of murder and mystery since the death of Catherine Crane; supposedly at her husband’s hands.
Nina Lindon is hired by Deacon to landscape the estate and jumps at the chance to use this job to jump start her business. A victim of a malicious co worker, Nina has had to start again from scratch and this is her chance to get herself back on her feet.
Upon meeting, Deacon and Nina gravitate to one another; he sees a woman not after his money and she sees a man who will be careful with her bruised heart. Though, they may not get a chance explore their attraction when it becomes apparent that the house and it’s ghostly inhabitants have something against true love. Unless Deacon and his makeshift scooby gang can figure out how to lay these angry spirits to rest, these star crossed lovers may learn the true meaning of “till death do us part…”
I’ve always enjoyed Molly Harper’s writing. From her contemporaries to her paranormals, Ms Harper writes rich snark filled hilarious stories filled with strong females and slightly strange but smexy men. Better Homes and Hauntings is a delightful paranormal romance filled with tongue in cheek humor, endearing characters, and some crazy shenanigans. Her characters are hysterical and provide much eye rolling and snorts of laughter as you slip smoothly into their lives. The storyline is a wonderful mix of love and suspense with an easy flow and an enjoyable conversational writing style.
A naturally shy, unassuming, and slightly geeky woman, Nina has a well hidden streak of wickedly funny sarcasm and one liners. She zings them out of nowhere, startling giggles and outright snorts from the reader. A landscaper by trade, she was taken advantage of by her former partner who became vindictive when she left to start her own business. He systematically destroyed her reputation and her life. Down, but not out, Nina is struggling to recoup what she lost and try to rebuild her life and business again one job at a time.
Deacon is the perfect geeky beta. Smart, funny, and handsome; he has a boyish charm to him that appeals to NIna’s gentler nature.An action figure fan to boot- he delights, intrigues, and frustrates Nina to distraction. I found his social awkwardness utterly delightful; especially in his attempts to “woe” Nina.
Deacon snapped her out of her reverie. “You’re actually doing me a favor, you know.”
“If the whispering among my staff is any indication, this dance is probably serving as the office pool breaker for “Is Deacon asexual?’”
“That’s kind of insulting. How is that helping you?”
He shrugged. “I put fifty dollars down on ‘not asexual’”
“They let you bet?”
“Well, I bet under Vi’s name.”
The slow evolution of his and Nina’’s relationship is a fun journey filled with humor, snarkiness, and lots of steamy chemistry.
The supporting characters are just as eccentric and fun as our main protagonists. From Deacon’s flighty cousin who is determined to out the Whitney family secrets once and for all to Cindy, the head of Cleaning service. They have some wonderful banter between them.
“Sweetheart, I’m going to insist that you ride that man like a pony. [...] For the good of all mankind, technological advancement, and America’s place in the world wide economy. Think of the gadgetry he could come up with if he had a little stress relief.”
“You are all class, my friend.”
Cindy and Jeff (Deacon’s bff) have some past history which leaves you in stitches as they bicker and trade insults on their way to romance.
The conclusion of the conflict and sub plot was a action packed and engaging though I had figured it out fairly early in the story. The mystery of Deacon’s ancestors is finally laid to rest and the romance(s) flourish; delivering to us our happily ever after but with a few twists that adds to the overall enjoyment.
If you’re looking for a funny, sexy paranormal romance with a dash of mystery and suspense that will leave thoroughly entertained then I highly recommend picking up Molly Harper’s newest stand alone, Better Homes and Hauntings.