River Kingston never wanted to follow in her famous poker player father’s footsteps. Financial security is her game and the only gambling she does these days is in her client’s portfolios. When her older brother Royal gambles his way into debt with the mob, River is forced to come out of hiding and play in the Omega One-a large stakes poker tournament in the Bahamas-in order to pay off his debt. River never expected to come face to face with her teenage crush, the world renowned poker player Alec Throne…nor catch his undivided attention. Now, River has two problems. She has to save her brother from the mob and save herself from a man who has decided he’s all-in to her.
I have enjoy Sarah Curtis’ writing since her debut romance contemporary-Alluring. Curtis has a knack for writing engaging alpha males who aren’t annoying and interesting storylines with unusual elements. With that in mind, All-In wasn’t what I expected. Predictable and formulaic, I was disappointed by the lack of drama and humor that Curtis’ books usually contain. Pretty straightforward plotting leads this heavily character driven story on a one way path towards the happily ever after with very little conflict or obstacles to overcome. Dual points of view help to give readers insight into our main characters though I felt the heroine fleshes out far better than the hero. His characterization is very stereotypical with his possessive dialogue and actions.
Alec Thorne is a rich alpha caveman but for the right person and River seems to be that person. There is a sense of insta-lust on his part as he begins to get all growly and possessive towards her at their first meeting. When he sees her again that same night, his possessiveness comes roaring out-evidenced in his ordering dinner for her and demanding another date the next day. I liked that River wasn’t completely on board with Alec’s high handedness though she gives in right after scolding him.
“I can’t believe you just did that. What, am I two? Unable to think and order for myself?”
River Kingston isn’t in need of saving. She isn’t poor, uneducated, downtrodden, or caught between a rock and a hard place. She’s in a tricky situation but it’s nothing she can’t handle. Intelligent, witty, and skilled in poker, River is more then able to hold her own against Alec.
“First off, I’m quite capable of taking care of myself. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
I liked the idea of River. This no-nonsense financial advisor who is very family oriented, has a dry sense of humor, and plays a wicked game of poker starts out strong. But that River isn’t seen for very long as she is quickly absorbed into Alec’s orbit. I grew bored as she begins to dance around her attraction to Alec. She constantly reminds us and herself that Alex is a known womanizer and she doesn’t want to be another notch on his belt. At the same time, she keeps referring to their time together as a vacation fling and claims to not want any commitments from him. Then she shows jealousy towards pictures of Alec with the same woman numerous time and wants his promise it’s just her (River) in the picture. She gave me whiplash.
The romance is the main focus and builds very quickly as Alec chases after River and she allows herself to be eventually caught. I really wish Alex had been more vocal in his reasons why River was the one for him. We know on River’s end she’s always had a crush on him and spending time with him has inflamed that crush. All we hear on Alec’s end is how she’s the one and she’s so sexy. We know she physically affects him but that seems to be it. The love scenes are hot and steamy but physical based. There is nothing that convinces me this couple is truly falling in love. As all of this takes place in less than a week, it really feels rushed.
All-In is a fast simplistic read that doesn’t tax the reader with overly complicated plotlines or characters. It’s one of a million other over the top romances that takes no risks and does nothing to stand out. I did enjoy the professional gambling element but was disappointed in the weakness of the main conflict. I expected more time to be devoted to it as that’s the story’s premise but we only get two scenes and one of them goes completely off script.
I have been a fan of Lynn Kurland for years. I picked her A Dance In Time on a whim and was instantly hooked. To this day it remains one of my favorite time travel romances and I often reread it. Kurland’s wonderful voice has created a fascinating and convoluted world drenched in medieval charm with delightful narrative, witty characters, and delightful storylines. She is perfect for those who enjoy adventurous romances with hints of mystery and suspense. Another bonus feature of the stories is the air of innocence in them. Even though I do enjoy an explicit love scene as much as the next reader, the love affairs Kurland’s characters embark upon are fun and fit the general theme of this series with plenty of courting and wooing tailored to fit the personality of the woo-ie. And frankly, who doesn’t enjoy a good wooing on occasion? The physical love scenes are almost non-existence yet I don’t feel the reader or story suffers due to those blackouts.
Ever My Love opens in the past to give us a hint of the adventure we are about to embark on. We then flash forward to the present to lay the foundation and from there proceed to travel back and forth between the 21st and the 14th century for the rest of the story. This particular story deals with two modern-day characters who are new to the series-Emma Barton and Nathaniel MacLeod. Kurland uses this couple to explain some peculiarities in the MacLeod family tree and to also close a couple of open-ended storylines from previous books. Remember ‘Father John’ from My Heart Stood Still? Well, he has a connection to the hero and we learn exactly how he ended up in the 14th century and why he’s never left.
Ever My Love is more definitely more energetic than the last few books though the sense of anticipation and wonderment that first drew me to this series remains missing. The same smooth pacing and steady hand is apparent but there was a time when Kurland took more chances. She made her couples work for their happily ever after and they suffered their fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. The heavy inclusion of the previous heroes/heroines now guarantees our couple will get all the answers and help they need with no real sacrifices being made.
Nathaniel (Nat) and Emmaline (Emma) are well developed characters and fun to follow behind on their journeys. Both are intelligent, witty, likable, unfailing optimists whose ability to handle the unknown is admirable. Especially poor Nat who has learned the hard way of his family’s pensity for time travel when he finds himself randomly tossed back into the 14th century anytime a certain number pops up. A number he soon learns has a very interesting history. Both of them have secrets that they are protective and cautious about revealing. I found it amusing but slow going as they each circle around the same subject, trying to determine what the other knows and how to broach it. The middle section of this book drags at times with its chatty narrative and repetitive thoughts and deeds.
The romance is slow burning with a soft but tangible chemistry. This couple doesn’t jump into love or even lust. There is a lot happening to them with Nat’s family and his time hopping issues. Emma has her own problems with her family and an irritating ex-boyfriend. I will admit the whole ex-boyfriend plotline reminded me of A Garden in the Rain. Lucky or maybe not this story isn’t as dark as that one was When Emma gets dragged into his mess, Nat finds himself at a loss on how to protect Emma. Emma does eventually surprise him with her own ninja skills though only after she has a realistic and well-earned meltdown.
Jamie, Patrick, Ian, Maddie MacLeod and various other relatives all come out of the woodwork to offer advice, a helping hand, some weaponry training, and a clue or few. They add to the overall personality and humor of the story. As any fan of this series knows, Jamie is a terrible busybody and his brother Patrick proves to be no better.
The main conflict is pretty standard fare for this series as Nat and Emma hop through time, following and rescuing one another while trying to figure out what their connection to one another is and the reasons for the time loop. The ending is enjoyable with a bit of action and suspense as the story comes full circle and all our questions are answered.
Ever My Love is an entertaining read that shows a spark of the ambition this series has been missing, giving readers a humorous and lightweight romance with plenty of supernatural adventure.
Favorite Quote: “Hey, stop touching my vibe.” […] “You know, you can get your own on the internet. You don’t need to go around stealing them.”
Winnie Masters works at the local library and is raising her younger sister after their mother walked out on them. A recent STD scare convinces her to take a two-month leave of absence from sex. A leave of absence that didn’t even four days before she falls off the wagon at her best friend’s wedding. The next day she does the walk of shame from his hotel room to hers and hightails it home before he even realizes she’s gone. When she is laid off from her job the following Monday and pressed into working at the family law firm, she is dismayed to discover her new boss is none other than her one night stand from the wedding.
Mark Bishop never expected to see the woman from the wedding in his office. And he certainly never expected her to be his new administrative secretary or the granddaughter of a founding partner. A hard working lawyer currently on his way to becoming a partner, Mark knows playing ‘spank the naughty secretary’ with the very sexy and delicious Winnie could get him fired. Though he wants to. Very very much.
Winnie wants Mark but only in bed. Or on his desk. In a car. On their lunch breaks. She doesn’t do relationships. Mark also wants Winnie in his bed, but also in his life. He wants every part of her. But with all the mistakes they are both making in this relationship, he’s not sure either of them will get what they want.
Fans of Elizabeth Brown’s Off Limits series is sure to enjoy her latest couple-Winnie Masters and Mark Bishop- on their bumpy journey down happily ever after road. This humorous and emotional romantic comedy features two strong, opinionated, intelligent people whose intense attraction to one another is highlighted by their initial animosity and complicated work relationship. Engaging narrative, magnetic chemistry, witty dialogue, and a cast of dynamic aka very nosey secondary characters will keep readers on the hook till the very end.
The Mistakes is a journey of growth, reflection, and perseverance as told in dual points of view. Brown’s enticing voice that lends credence and realism to her characters and their actions. Both protagonists flesh out well; Brown unapologetically revealing their flaws and strengths with clarity and conviction.
“You are so dick-centric that you even give your STDs male nicknames. Don’t you see how messed up that is?”
Winnie is a contradiction of snark and strength that sheaths a very fragile and loving heart. She is both appealing and appalling. Winnie struggles to support her younger sibling on her own while proving to her family and herself she is nothing like her irresponsible mother. She likes sex. She likes men. She lives her life on her own terms and makes no apologies for that.
“So what if my new job’s biggest benefit was frequent sex with my boss? I could deal with that.”
Luckily for her, Mark is the most patient of heroes. His playa’ image is corrupted by the love and respect he gives his family, friends, and Winnie. He’s just really a sweetheart whose drive to succeed slowly killing him. Sexy, funny, and forthright, he fights for Winnie both sexually and emotionally. Every roadblock she places in front of them he pushes against them, using any means necessary to strengthen their connection.
“You are all I ever wanted. I need you in my life, so please, just tell me what I need to do to fit into yours.”
Mark and Winnie’s romance is littered with some deep belly laughs and heartfelt bittersweet moments as they attempt a clandestine sexual relationship only to discover to their horror they have fallen in love. I enjoyed watching Mark chase Winnie. She certainly puts him through his paces. He puts up with so much. A little too much at times. I’m all for finding oneself and taking all the time you need but Winnie has what I like call Scarlett O’Hara moments. That is where the heroine or hero just decides not to think about the problems at hand and deal with other things. Though the romance is slow to develop, their chemistry and love scenes blaze bright and hot across the pages. Mark has a dirty mind and mouth to match. *wink*
“Problem?” he asked, looking down at me as he sheathed his perfect erection.
I turned back to the desk and shook my head. “Uh-huh.”
I nodded. “No, it’s fine. I just… forgot how big you are. You sure you wouldn’t rather have a blow job?”
He leaned into me again, his lips against my ear. “Believe me, as much as I’ve fantasized about shoving my dick in your mouth to shut you up, I’m not entirely convinced you wouldn’t bite it off.”
A kaleidoscope of dynamic and interesting secondary characters add even more love, humor, and advice to the mix from a very opinionated grandmother who only wants the best for her grandson to a best friend who not only through Winnie’s issues but also her fears. Family plays a very strong role in here as shown when Winnie’s family’s interference almost destroys Mark and Winnie’s chances at happiness.
The book does slow down considerably in the last 25% as Winnie deals with a game changer and tries to figure out what it is she really wants from life. It felt as if Brown just stops everything and lets Winnie strings Mark along for a while longer to keep the conflict and anticipation alive. < The Mistakes is perfect for fans of opposite attraction and forbidden office romances who enjoy fun, smart, and sexy couples who have to work at their happily ever after. Some may find the stubbornness of the heroine draws out for far too long but it’s an enjoyable romance overall. Though part of a series with previous character cameos and interaction, you can read this comfortably as a standalone.
A Dangerous Age blurb gives off an an older womens’ sex in the city vibe. While there is definitely that vibe, I felt it was more of an insulated journey of discovery for a group of four 40 plus friends whose lives begin to unravel and they must figure out how to stop the flow… and if they really want to. Using current events along with a definite nod towards various designers, establishments, and celebrity personalities, Bensimon gives readers an insider’s view into the ups and downs of being a socialite in a city that celebrates beauty and youth over everything.
An interesting, if not somewhat shallow and superficial, book that brings forth some stunning revelations from the overall dramatic mess of these four women. I enjoy reading dramatic women’s fiction; especially from well-known drama queens. I enjoyed Brandi Glenville’s revenge-fueled divorce docu-comedy and Jenna Jamisons’ romance contemporary was much better than I expected so I thought to give this one a try. As a woman over 40, I can certainly empathize with some of the issues these women deal with in here. The world we live in constantly bombards us with messages that we must do everything humanly possible to stay young and attractive. Exercise, surgery, chemicals, etc…It’s exhausting and depressing. Especially as men are allowed to age with minimal fuss while society treats women as if we broke a major covenant by allowing a wrinkle to grace our face or gray hair to converge on our head naturally.
There is some drag to the storyline and the dialogue ranges from humorous to trite to a grammatical mess. The sheer amount of brand advertising is ridiculous but as this is a book about NY socialites and written by a former Real Housewives reality star so you can’t be too shocked by it. A mysterious subplot involving a blogger just made me laugh. A Dangerous Age is a lightweight ball of fluff that doesn’t require much in terms of thought or commitment. Fashionistas and reality show minions will adore this homage to the gods who keep NY revolving while others will just wonder what the hell these women are talking about. ...more
I picked this up on a whim after hearing Grace Draven lavish praise upon it. Thoroughly enjoyed. A well written pnr with just the right amt of darknesI picked this up on a whim after hearing Grace Draven lavish praise upon it. Thoroughly enjoyed. A well written pnr with just the right amt of darkness and humor.
Frankly, the cover, the premise, and heroine were the only good things about this book. I was fully expecting some fun, sexy, and lightweight escapismFrankly, the cover, the premise, and heroine were the only good things about this book. I was fully expecting some fun, sexy, and lightweight escapism. Instead we get a hero who's a complete arse, a cast of boring stereotypical characters, a narrative that flips between somewhat engaging and a bad porn script, and a storyline that had so much potential but fails on all levels. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Any pizza is personal-sized if you believe in yourself.”
Tallulah Corentine expected some down time after cheating death a few times in her last assignment but her employer isn’t the most considerate of bosses. In fact Seth, the God of Storms, isn’t considerate at all. When Tallulah is contacted by the Seattle PD about a body, she’s dismayed to find a child bearing the mark of Seth has been murdered and fears her old boyfriend Prescott, the right hand of death, has had a “hand’ in it. Tallulah soon learns that this is one of eleven murders that span the countryside. All soon to be clerics to the gods and goddesses.
As every cleric and priest in North America make their way to Las Vegas for the annual Convention of the Gods, Tallulah worries that they have all just painted a huge target on their backs. With the help of a demi-god, a teenage stowaway, and a man who just screams “bad luck” Tallulah has to discover and stop this killer before they strike again.
Driving Rain is the second in Sierra Dean’s delightfully dark and amusingly suburban-like urban fantasy series that pairs a smart mouth cleric for the God of Storms with his son, a gorgeous demi-god trying to find his footing in this new to him world. A heavy character driven base fuels the story with snappy wit infused dialogue, an intriguing mystery, and some forbidden romance as it flows smoothly along towards the end. Fans of the show Supernatural are sure to enjoy this series as the heroine, Tallulah, reminds me heavily of Dean Winchester and like Dean, her job is thankless, painful, and often done under duress. Leo, her current unwanted sidekick, is a shoe-in for Sam (Dean’s long suffering brother).
“No, I don’t need sidekick . I don’t need an assistant. I work alone.”
Unlike book one, this installment is pretty low key action wise and not filled with constant danger. In fact, I really felt this installment was extremely calm; focusing on more on emotional internal issues. Tallulah is extremely excited for the annual Convention of the Gods. Not only is it a three-day long party, it will give her a chance to see Cade, the bad luck priest of Audra and a romantic interest, and her twin sister Sunny, a cleric for Apollo. She hasn’t seen her twin in over five years and any attempts to stay in constant touch with her would have drawn unwanted attention to them. Family, companionship, and love are the three things Tallulah misses the most that are denied to her due to the rules for clerics. The gods and goddesses don’t like being second best to anything or anyone so any relationships beyond their own temple are forbidden.
“I felt a pang, thinking of the life my sister and I might have had if not for the stupid marks we’d been born with. I hadn’t even had a chance to imagine being something else because I’d known my whole life this was my fate.”
Tallulah Corentine is the type of urban fantasy heroine I love. Strong, intelligent, loyal, and fallible. Born with a special mark that announced to the world she was a vessel for a God, her future was decided without her knowledge or input. Tallulah is a cheer-worthy urban fantasy heroine. Her love of American muscle cars and 80s hair metal bands give her an amusing and decidedly human edge. Tallulah has been with Seth since her parents handed her over to his temple as a child and while she resents 99.9% of her time spent working for him, there is that 1%-that single moment when her life feels more of a gift than a curse.
“In my whole life I’d never had people cheer like that for what I did. I felt…I felt special. I felt seen.”
A series of plotlines hold your attention while keeping the main storyline flowing smoothly. We learn Tallulah is still dealing with the fallout from her last gig and she has been charged by a God to find the person responsible for killing the cleric. Deans use of time travel in the resolution of the main conflict was surprising (we don’t see much time traveling anymore)but felt a tad lazy in its attempts to resolve a previous plotline. I’m curious to see if Dean writes in a paradox for Tallula to solve in the future.
Dean brings back her dynamic secondary cast to help Tallulah with an introduction of a few new faces to help. One such new face hits Tallulah hard in the heart as she tries to show a teenager that being a cleric is anything but the glamorous and fun money making gig she seems to think it is.
“So it’s a take your juvenile delinquent to work day, then?”
I love the dynamics with which Dean infuses her characters. These well developed entities are so deliciously layered that you aren’t sure what their game is but you can’t wait to find out. This world is so open to more exploration. Dean has not even begun to tap into it’s potential for new adventures and new characters in which to help Tallulah carry them out.
Through Driving Rain takes a different route than book one, it still offers fans the action, suspense, humor, and unpredictability that we have come to expect from Sierra Dean. I do wish the villain had been a bit more involved in the story. The reasoning behind the murders was sad but I felt there was more to it then we were told. Regardless, I loved revisiting with Tallulah, Leo, and the rest of the gang and getting a deeper, more personal look into the emotional side of Tallulah. I look forward to the next book in the series-Highway to Hail-which is slated to release early 2018.
The Temptation of Dragons is an interesting fantasy based mystery that brings together a widowed female priest with an alternate world. Father Penny White somehow “sees” an injured dragon and offers him his last rites as he lies dying. This brings her to the attention of the Lloegyr (supernatural shapeshifters and otherworldly beings) and those who handle the alliance between them and humans. Father White is offered a job as the new liaison and soon finds herself embroiled in a supernatural murder mystery while trying to keep her baby brother from mortal harm.
Growing up, I loved Andrew Greeley’s Father Blackie Ryan mysteries. They were a compelling mixture of family, humor, religion, mystery, and a touch of the paranormal. I think I enjoyed them the most because Father Ryan always preached through a benevolent (female) God and never used the bible to excuse bad thoughts or deeds. When I was offered this for review, I thought this would be something similar, just more fantasy imbibed. Ehhh…not so much so.
The world set up is extremely detailed and well defined. Cymi is knowledgeable on the church and also well versed in fantasy-both of which are a huge part of our heroine’s life. I enjoyed the meeting of various characters of the other world. Snail sharks-LOL. I found it very interesting and odd that Christianity seems to be the supernatural religion of choice. While a fan of fantasy and mysteries, I found myself unable to fully connect with the story or the characters. Extremely verbose, the dialogue far outweighs any action. The religious aspects are a strong component of this story-far stronger than I was comfortable with. I also had issues with the continuous inclusion of various fantasy based tv shows. It was never ending. I got to 30% and realized a majority of what I read was religious instruction/definition....more
Favorite Quote: “Give her hell, Sam Hamilton. And try to look less serial killer and more solid citizen. Smile, why don’t you?” He forced a smile at her. Willie blinked. “Eh, maybe not.”
Sam Hamilton has been feeling about lonely since his best friend found his soulmate. When he meets Ivy Stephens, a young lady who is interested in adopting one of the strays he helps to rehome, Sam falls hard and fast. But Sam has some serious baggage in his life. Baggage that will do anything to make sure Sam’s attention stays firmly on them. As Sam and Ivy grow closer, Sam is worried Ivy may be too nice to fit into his life. But Ivy soon proves to Sam and everyone else that being nice doesn’t mean she can’t get down and dirty when she needs to.
Zero to Sixty is the third installment in Marie Harte’s sexy and humorous Body Shop Bad Boys. This series spins off her McCauley brothers series with its focus lasered on the Webster Garage and the four gorgeous, sexy, commitment-phobic mechanics who work there. There is some character/storyline crossover but it’s mild and not invasive. Each book can be read as a standalone though previous romance storylines carry over.
Harte introduces Ivy Stephens to Sam Hamilton with a bit of a meet cute. Ivy is out searching for a stray puppy (Cookie) she has been taking care of on and off. Sam is also out looking for Cookie. They run into one another and Sam agrees to keep Cookie at his home until Ivy can talk to her landlord about having a pet. Sam decides the best way to get to know this gorgeous woman better is to vet her for Cookie’s sake through a few “dates.”
“Ah, just so we’re clear, we don’t give dogs away to just anyone who wants them.”
“I mean, puppies are popular. We’d have no problem getting him a good home. A friend of mine was asking about this little guy just the other week.” She frowned. “I have a good home.”
“If you’re not busy tomorrow night, we can grab a beer or something. Talk about plans for Cookie.”
I reviewed the first two books in the series- Test Drive and Road Assistance-and thoroughly enjoyed. Harte does a wonderful job of individualizing the characters and storyline so you don’t feel as if you’re reading the same romantic set up with just different names. This installment felt softer and less conflicted than the first two. The same engaging narrative, sexually enhanced romance and endearingly characters are present but Harte chooses to leave the dramatics by the curb and gently walk this couple to their HEA.
Sam is the best friend and roommate of Foley Sangers (the hero of Road Assistance). Also a mechanic at Webster’s Garage, Sam was pretty much raised by Foley’s mom, Eleanor, his own mother an abusive addict. Single, gorgeous, and ripped, Sam is honest to a fault and a total gentleman despite what his size and mannerisms suggest. A bit of a loner, Sam’s relationships with the opposite sex consists mainly of hook ups. The most important things in Sam’s life are Foley, Foley’s mom, and his job.
Ivy is a massage therapist who stays to herself. Intelligent, good looking, and a genuinely nice person, Ivy is also a bit of a loner as her family has all but abandoned her for reasons unknown and her last serious boyfriend used her to get through school then dumped her. Ivy doesn’t carry a chip on her shoulder like Sam does. She is content with herself and her life.
Harte takes Sam and Ivy’s relationship slow, allowing them the time to get to know one another using an appealing mixture of trepidation and awkwardness. Opposite attraction romances are the best and Harte does this one with justice. Fantastic dialogue, dry humorous wit, and a layered storyline allows readers to see beneath the surface and experience first hand the emotional issues they are dealing with. Ivy has pretty much laid her demons to rest but Sam is still struggling with his childhood, his time in prison, and general feelings of unworthiness. Ivy sees Sam and accepts him as he is because she understands the root of his pain. She is someone he has unknowingly been searching for. I love the humor she uses to help defuse his guilt and shame.
“So there you have it. You’re dating an ex-con.”
“Can I ask you something personal?”
“Is it true every prisoner makes license plates? Did you wear black and white striped uniforms? Have a ball chained to your ankle? Break up rocks with an Acme pickaxe?”
“You watch way too much TV.”
The sexual role reversal in here is interesting and works with the overall tone of story. Ivy is the one who not only sets the parameters of their relationship but also initiates the initial sexual aspect. She instinctively understands that Sam has some confusion between intimacy and sex and gives him all the power as she sets out to seduce him.
“You said I can touch you, right?”
“Yeah, don’t stop. Just keep petting me, baby.” He blinked at her once, then shut his eyes and groaned. “I’m gonna sit…right…here.” He shook, then sat unmoving, breathing hard.
“God, you’re gorgeous.” She stroked him from his chest to his belly button, never having been so close to perfection before. Then, because she figured the poor man had suffered enough, and her underwear would never be salvaged if she kept stringing this out, she unsnapped his jeans.
He started, his eyes remaining closed.
“You still okay?”
He swallowed. “Yeah.”
Barely a whisper, but he’d given consent.
Of course, no Harte book would be complete without the antics of the rambunctious Webster mechanics and various other characters from this series. They all step in, unasked, to help Sam deal with these new feelings of his and to explain why Rays wasn’t the right choice for a first date. Harte introduces a few new characters whose personalities fit right in with this bunch and I hope we see more of them in the future.
Zero to Sixty is a lightweight romance contemporary brimming laughter, love, and family. Perfect escapism for the romance lover in all of us. Looking forward to book four, Collision Course, which is Lou’s story. *fist pump* Release date is 10/27/2017.
Favorite Quote: “Ironman sounds suspicious to me. What are the others?”
“There’s Thor, the Hulk,” he began.
“Sounds like porn.”
The 44th case in Lieutenant Eve Dallas’ murder book opens to Eve and Roarke nearly hitting a young lady who walks out in front of their car. Naked, bloody, and obviously injured, they take her to the nearest hospital where they learn her name is Daphne Strazza, wife to renowned surgeon Dr. Anthony Strazza. A quick case of the house shows the husband is dead, brutally beaten to death, and the house robbed. The only clue they can get out the traumatized Daphne is that it was “the Devil.”
As Eve and Peabody investigate, they learn that this one in a string of related crimes where couples are targeted and terrorized by a masked intruder but the first where a death has occurred. They also learn that Dr. Strazza may have been a wonderful surgeon, he was a terrible person and his wife was a victim of abuse before the crime even occurred.
As Eve races against the clock to find and stop the person responsible for these heinous crimes, she must also deal with flashbacks from her own childhood as she realizes the similarities between herself and Daphne Strazza are greater than she first suspected. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting for all the victims in this case. Even the ones who don’t seem to deserve it.
“No matter your race, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, we protect and serve. Because you could get dead.’”
“Even if you were an asshole. We added an addendum on”
I’m a huge fan of J.D Robb’s In Death mystery/thriller series. While in no form or fashion can these mysteries be considered cozies, there is a certain appeal to the familiarity of the world and the characters who preside in it. Eve is a formidable heroine who has captivated readers from the beginning. We have watched her evolve from abused child to top notch cop through her memories. We have witnessed her falling desperately in love with her husband Roarke and eventually learning to not only accept the fact she deserves love but have seen her fight for that love. We have watched her make lifelong friends, develop pseudo family bonds with an older trust confidant, and finally grow comfortable in her own skin.
“The gods, she decided, had opted to mix together all the best elements of warrior, poet, angel-the fallen variety to add some spice-and then deemed he’d love an unsociable, badass murder cop.”
This is one of Robb’s darker mysteries with a healthy dose of suspense and intrigue. I want to note that there are triggers in here that may distress some readers. Per usual, Eve and her team use their skills and knowledge to try and find a serial rapist before he strikes again. The pacing and dialogue flow at a comfortable speed and I enjoy the ease at which Robb flows between Eve’s personal life and her professional one. As the nature of the crimes committed speaks personally to Eve, we see the connections made and the flashbacks that plague Eve. She forms a personal connection with female survivors; especially Daphne Strazza.
“You came here. You asked to help someone. You are no weak sister. “
Old friends along with some new ones take readers through a gauntlet of emotions-making us laugh, rage, and shed a few tears as Eve hunts her prey. Eve’s continued mangling of familiar sayings only adds to the feelings of comfort and familiarity. The softer storyline allows readers to spend more time with the NYSPD and the family style atmosphere only further enhances how much the story and characters have grown. The romance and chemistry between Eve and Roarke is still blazingly hot and Robb doesn’t cheat readers out of their private times together.
The ending was intense but predictable. I figure out early on who the villain was and everyone knows Eve ALWAYS gets her ‘man but regardless the journey was a solid read. Echoes in Death is a welcomed addition to the series, giving readers a suspenseful mystery to help solve and a dynamic couple whose love affair continues to capture our attention even 44 books in. I love visiting NY with Robb and look forward to the next installment.
I picked up Mack Daddy on a whim. The title and cover caught my eye and I am a sucker for a good second chance romance. Mack Daddy tells us thGrade: C
I picked up Mack Daddy on a whim. The title and cover caught my eye and I am a sucker for a good second chance romance. Mack Daddy tells us the story of Mac (McKenzie) and Frankie. College roommates whose friendship turns to something much more but circumstances made it impossible for them to be together. Now 8 years later, Mack and Frankie are given another chance at love but again the circumstances aren't quite right. Will they let this opportunity pass again or will they finally seize their destiny?
Ward begins the story in the present while giving us the background of this couple's relationship using the past. Ward's humor shines through and I found myself quite amused for the first 1/2 of the book. The second half wasn't as entertaining. The pacing slows down dramatically and I found Mack and Frankie's reconnection extremely verbose and somewhat repetitive. The leads seem to get stuck in a rut. I was put off by Ward's attempts to describe someone with OCD. The last 10-15% introduces a huge twist that is nothing more than a plot device to help smooth over any lingering feelings of dislike over Mack and Frankie's emotional/mental cheating and I really felt it cheapened the story.
All in all an okay story but definitely not one of Ward's better endeavors. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Nothing ruins a dinner party like expertise.”
Edward (Ward) Reeve is a wealthy inventor and the illegitimate son of an Earl. He has recently gained guardianship of his two younger half siblings (Lizzie and Otis) after his mother passed away. Due to the children’s unusual upbringing, they were raised in a traveling theater troupe, Ward needs a governess immediately in order to get their education up to par and prepare them for their entrance into society.
Mrs. Eugenia Snowe is a widower who chose to open a business centering around governesses after her husband passed away. Her registry has a waiting list that spans months and her governesses are much in demand by the ton. A lady by birth and marriage, Eugenia is not nor has ever been a governess and does not care that she is looked down upon by certain members of society for her “work.” She is content in her life.
After a Snowe governess deserts her post at the Reeve household, Ward comes to the registry and mistakes Eugenia as a former governess, assuming no lady of rank would ever run a business. He sets out to seduce her into coming to work for him. He wants her for his siblings and his bed.
Eugenia agrees after some amusing sexual persuasion and a minor kidnapping and soon finds herself falling for Ward. But Ward’s own scandalous childhood has him demanding only the best for Lizzie and Otis. He will do whatever it takes to keep any more taint and scandal from darkening their lives. Even if it means giving up Eugenia.
I have long enjoyed Eloisa James’ historical romances. Her penchant for writing strong, intelligent, forward driven heroines and heroes who often buck the social norms of their time makes her stories an absolute delight to read. I also enjoy reading about the offspring of previous favorite characters all grown up and ready for a romance of their own. Fans will be pleased to see Seven Minutes in Heaven reintroduces us to Eugenia Snowe and Edward Reeves whom we met as children in the original Desperate Duchess series. As always, James’ pens a charming adventure that brings together two intelligent, spirited, and witty protagonists for a swoon-worthy romance.
Eugenia and Ward are a joy to get to know both as individuals and as a couple. Their chemistry sparks at their first meeting and only flames higher the more time they spend together. Though an unlikely match, their relationship flourishes and deepens as they become further acquainted with one another. While Eugenia’s beauty and widow status are what initially attracts Ward, it’s her charm, passion, intelligence, and genuine caring of his siblings that soon captivates him. He gradually realizes that the face she presents to society only serves to hide a complex woman. Ward is also not what Eugenia initially thought him to be. He has a strong sense of convention, conviction, and compassion behind his devil may care attitude that only strengthens her attraction as she uncovers his many facets. As she spends more time with him, she realizes that he may be exactly what she needs.
This wasn’t making love. This was making fun.
Amusing and tantalizing love scenes are used to tease the reader and show deepening affection that is slowly building between them. I do adore a couple who can have fun in and out of bed and this couple excels-the french letter scene is hilarious. They have a romantic sensual way about them that reassures the reader that they could very well have a very happy future together.
Had she just promised to be indecent with him at a later time…out of the carriage?
His wanton grin confirmed that she had.
“Just a minute,” she said hastily.
“I would wait a lifetime for you, Eugenia.”
The main plotlines are pretty low key in terms of conflict. Grief is the base on which this story is built. Everyone in here is mourning something. Though Eugenia has been widowed for seven years, she deeply loved her husband and still grieves for him. I like that James did not vilify him in order to facilitate her relationship with Ward. The children grieve the loss of their parents, acting out in unusual fashions as children often do. Ward himself not only grieves for what the children must have gone through (he knows what their mother was like) but also for his own childhood that never let him forget he was a bastard.
You’re wretched nuisances, but you’re my nuisances.
I admit a part of me was irritated at the hamfisted way the main source of conflict was handled. One conversation-one sentence-would have resolved the whole thing but James chooses to continue with the misconception and drags it out far longer than necessary.
A personable cast of secondary characters round out the story, adding depth and a sense of continuity. Lizzie and Otis are delightful and James’ does an excellent job of allowing us to see the damage done to them and Ward’s attempts to help them heal. He truly loves them and even though he makes some mistakes, everything he does is out of love. I enjoyed seeing cameos from previous characters (Mia, Villiers, India). It’s always nice to see where everyone is at in their lives after their initial stories are told.
The resolution wrenches the heart but James quickly sets our hero straight with some outside help. He does an excellent job of groveling and Eugenia stays true to herself and her heart to the very end.
Seven Minutes in Heaven is another winner from Eloisa James that gives readers a joyful and heartwarming story of love, laughter, forgiveness, and family.
Cross My Heart is a sweet and sweet quick read that focuses on Liam Cross and the woman who steals his heart-Isis. Told from Iris's point of view, IriCross My Heart is a sweet and sweet quick read that focuses on Liam Cross and the woman who steals his heart-Isis. Told from Iris's point of view, Iris and Liam meet at his brother Lee's restaurant though his being a cop makes her instinctively weary. Homeless, she does the best she can and keeps to herself though the Cross family quickly recognizes a fellow survivor and slowly begins to absorb her into their family. Well written with engaging dialogue and a plausible storyline, Cosway takes her time fleshing out Iris and building the romance between her and Liam. A hint of steam gives the story some heat and Conway is sure to end the story with an HFN and hints to the last book and brother-Trevor. ...more
Favorite Quote: “This is so good. Thanks for making me shower.”
On the heels of Higgins’ entertaining and thought-provoking If You Only Knew, Higgins revisits her sleepy little town of Cambry-on-Hudson, New York in On Second Thought. Using the dysfunctional O’Leary family and the timeless topics of love, loss, family, and second chances, Higgins builds a story on the relationship between two half sisters who, despite their murky history, find themselves growing closer as they bond over their mutual losses and unknown future.
Kate O’Leary wasn’t looking for love when she met her husband. At 39 years old, Kate played the dating game for years only to discover as she got older being single wasn’t a death sentence. She meets her husband Nathan while photographing a wedding and after a brief courtship, they marry. Four months later, Nathan dies in a tragic accident. Kate is utterly shocked by how fast she found and lost at love and now is unsure where to go from here.
Ainsley O’Leary has been with her boyfriend, Eric Fisher, for eleven years. She has loved and cared for him through the good and bad times and fully expects him to finally pop the question at a party they are throwing to celebrate his being cancer free for 18 months. After her brother in law’s accident, she is stunned when Eric uses Nathan’s death as an excuse to move on. Without her.
Lost and homeless, Ainsley moves in with Kate and attempts to help her cope with losing Nathan while trying to understand herself how the man she loved for so long could toss her away like trash. As Ainsley and Kate both stagger through the stages of grief in their own way, they learn more about themselves, each other, and the people around them.
I have been a fan of Kristan Higgins’ writing for years. Her entertainingly flawed characters, small town eccentricity, complicated romances, and underlying base of realism provides a wonderful sense of escapism for those who enjoy a hearty laugh as they watch these characters navigate the pitfalls of love as they struggle to find their footing in the world. I like this new direction that Higgins’ is taking in her writing though I can’t place it firmly in one genre or the other. Higgins’ focus on Kate and Ainsley’s life learning journey together into the next period of their lives harkens to women’s fiction while the various romances that decorate the story are a nod to the contemporary. Either way you choose to view this story, it is a must read for all fans.
Alternating the narrative between Kate and Ainsley, we flash between the past and the present, gaining insight not only into their personal lives but also the relationships they have cultivated along the way. It’s interesting to see certain scenes from both perspectives and the different ways they chose to respond. Both have adopted certain coping mechanisms as adults in response to their chaotic childhood; Kate is somewhat reserved, using her camera as a shield while Ainsley is a people person who chooses to be as indispensable as she can in order to prove her worth.
Higgins layers Kate and Ainsley’s feelings with plenty of laughter, sorrow, pain, and honesty. You can feel the range of emotions these women are experiencing and share with them every step of the way. Kate is furious at Nathan for dying so suddenly and feels guilty for that anger. She’s not only mourning the loss of his life but also the loss of her own. She gave up almost everything tangible in order to be with him and now he’s left her alone in a life she only felt a part of because of him. She struggles to stay connected with his family only to realize that grief is the only thing they have left in common.
Ainsley’s is not only mourning the loss of her lover but also her relationship with his parents. Her own mother died young and she was raised by Kate’s mom and her dad. Her father was not around much due to his job, her siblings were much older, and she always felt like a burden to her stepmother so Eric’s parents became the family she always wanted. She is angry at all the time she invested into the relationship, the things she took for granted, but mostly with Eric’s careless treatment of her. He broke it off with no warning and then blogged about it for the whole world to see. She was humiliated and hurt by his actions.
Kate and Ainsley’s journey is bolstered by a strong and vibrant cast of secondary characters contributes their own stories, adding the necessary pieces to the puzzle until the full picture evolves. We meet friends, bosses, exes, and family members in casual, seeming innocuous settings only to be shown later their impact and how much the past can affect our futures. I loved meeting the people who had a hand in creating the women Kate and Ainsley are today and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces from If You Only Knew.
Once again Higgins’ thoroughly entertains and delights while tugging at your heartstrings as she invites readers to share in her latest release, On Second Thought.
Fans of the hit show Empire and deliciously outrageous soap operas will gobble up Lisa Marie Perry’s latest erotic offering like it’s their last suppeFans of the hit show Empire and deliciously outrageous soap operas will gobble up Lisa Marie Perry’s latest erotic offering like it’s their last supper. Featuring a hip hop record company on the brink of failure, a pair of siblings reunite to take back the company that was stolen from them by their so called friends and lovers. Though the romance is a strong element, readers will willing ride this crazy train through all the drama of heartbreaking betrayal, firefueled revenge, blistering hot erotic sex, and a crazy cast of characters who you will love to hate and hate to love....more
Favorite Quote: “Well, you know how we Americans are. Rebelling against the crown since 1776.”
Crown Prince Colin Sinclair and his royal siblings are forced to flee to to the United States after a coup in their country results in the assignation of their parents. Settling in Charlotte, NC Colin becomes the official caregiver with some help from friend. When their cover is blown and plastered all over the tabloids for the world to see, their country offers Colin a deal. Marry a princess of their choosing and the Sinclair family will be allowed to return home. But Colin is tired of being at the mercy of his country’s government. Taking matters into his own hands, he proposes marriage to the one person who has held his heart for ten years.
Della Hughes may have met the Sinclairs under less than happy circumstances but over the years she has grown to love them all, especially the oldest, Colin. Della doesn’t believe in fairy tales or happily ever afters but when she learns her prince charming is REALLY a prince, she is shocked. Willing to do anything for this family, Della agrees to a marriage of convenience but when the honeymoon goes from fake to real, Della isn’t sure she can walk away at the end, Or if she even wants too.
Royal Scandal is the first book in Marquita Valentine’s Royals in Exile series. Set in the US and the Isle of Man (a real country-part of the British Crown), the story revolves around the Sinclair family and their fight to regain their heritage. I’ve been enjoying the new trend of royals falling for commoners romances that have been trending the last few months. It is for me the ultimate modern fairytale. Lightweight and humorous, this friends to lovers romance is relatively low in angst and conflict with a surprisingly bite of heat. Valentine focuses on Colin’s and Della’s romance foremost but effortlessly blends in the history of happened to their parents and the cause while advancing each sibling’s story to prepare them for their own stories.
The story opens with Colin and his brother Theo trying to console their colicky youngest brother. Valentine gives us the bare bones of what is happening and sets the stage for the romance to come. When one of the family bodyguards informs them they have a visitor, Colin is shocked by a gorgeous and bold young woman demanding to know why her family is being evicted from their home. Colin realizes that his family’s need for privacy is forcing the caretakers out onto the streets. He let them stay and gains a friend in the process. Della Hughes. The book then jumps forward ten years in time which dismayed me a little. We are told of the depth of the friendship Della and Colin holds and everything she has done for the family but I would have enjoyed seeing some of it play out. Della essentially adopts the role of “mother” to the babies and helps Colin with the older ones during that time.
I liked Colin and Della. In fact, I liked all the siblings. Each one is individually fleshed out and Valentine makes sure we see their differences and the possible snags that may hamper their futures. Colin is the oldest and he takes his responsibility seriously. Exiled at age nineteen, he assumes the parental role over all of them (Theo- age seventeen and the twins, Charlotte and Imogen-age fourteen) though the ones that depend on him most are the two youngest Sinclairs. Aiden, age fifteen months and Pierce, age four months who are some seriously cute kids. Though fashioned somewhat as plot devices, Valentine characterizes them in a way that you instantly forgive her. Colin is seriously overwhelmed but I liked that he isn’t portrayed as a martyr. He has fallen for Della hard but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Especially since his future remains uncertain and he has not been completely honest with her about who he really is. Intelligent, understated, loyal, and funny with sexy dominant side that comes out later on.
“Do be a good girl and sit very still while I wash you.”
He tweaks a nipple and desire makes me whimper.
“That’s yes, your highness.”
Della is his perfect match. Also smart, sexy, loyal, and funny, she gives as good as she get and isn’t one to play games. The chemistry is sweet and steamy with some nicely done longing and sexy internal thoughts. The added bonus of their history together only adds to the overall appeal. She too fell for Colin years ago but feels he only sees her as a friend. I love the relationship she has with Colin and his family. It has a separate quality to it that didn’t seem dependant on the attraction between her and Colin.
The marriage is the pivot of the story and its pacing increases two-fold. This couple does a rapid about-face, going from platonic and willing to suffer in silence for their love to full frontal lust filled mattress dancing. While Valentine expands on the romance, she also expands on the somewhat machiavellian plot behind the family’s exile. The two storylines start out running parallel and slowly begin to intertwine. I enjoyed watching Colin and Della’s love for one another truly blossom and grow once they got out of each other’s way and the political machinations were interesting. Unfortunately, the storylines begin to compete against each other. I felt the seriousness of exile plotline cast a small shadow over the romance.
I also had an issue with Colin’s omission of some important details. Some things he remained tight-lipped about for too long while others he allowed Della to make her own assumptions about, knowing when she found out she’d be furious. And she was. I think she deserved a bit more groveling and explanation on his end though overall his reasons were understandable.
The ending gives Colin and Della the happily ever after they both deserve and a nice little epilogue to clue us into the next Sinclair sibling’s story.
Royal Scandals is altogether a royally fun and flirty romance that engages and satisfies despite the few issues I encountered. I am looking forward to the next in the series, Royal Affair, which is set to release March 7, 2017.
Safe Bet takes us back into the lives of this series dream couple-Drew and Fable-with a few additions. Readers of the series will remember WadeGrade B
Safe Bet takes us back into the lives of this series dream couple-Drew and Fable-with a few additions. Readers of the series will remember Wade (childhood friend of Owen’s) and welcome newcomer Sidney. Wade was recently signed to the SF 49ers and Sidney has been hired on as a nanny/personal assistant after her parent’s cut her off for lying about her activities. When a series of random circumstances set off rumors that Drew and Sidney are having an affair, Drew and Fable come up with the ultimate plan-Sidney and Wade will pretend date for a week and set the paparazzi straight. Only, when Sidney and Wade get to know each other better, all bets are off.
This is an adorable romance contemporary with a hint of spice. Little angst and steamy chemistry surround two young adults just starting out-one who questions the legitimacy of his dream and the other who is still discovering theirs. A faint coming of age feel to the narrative blends well with the storyline. I enjoyed the fact that while both characters had a past, neither were judged for it. Murphy spends ample time with previous heroes and heroines-letting us see how their lives have progressed since their stories. Fans may sense the recurring theme of fake relationships and find this HFN just as enjoyable though somewhat short. ...more
The date is 1963 and two elves compete for prestige and honor at a job fair after college graduation. Felecia Eloytrisk Cambri (Trisk) and Trenton Kalamack (Kal), have despised one another for years. An argument at the job fair ends up with both of them chastised and no longer top recruiting prospectives. Trisk is offered a job with Global Industries, a human laboratory. Her job is to monitor the lab tests the humans are running, reporting anything of interest back to the elven conclave. When a fellow human scientist, Daniel Plank, develops a biological virus to be used in war, Trisk uses her skills to tweak it so it doesn’t affect any Interlanders (supernaturals). At the same time, she herself creates a strain of almost indestructible tomatoes to try and help end hunger. When Kal is brought in by the conclave to “check” over Trisk’s work, his ego gets the best of him and we are left with a killer tomato that systemically begins to wipe out the human race.
Fans of Kim Harrison’s epic urban fantasy series The Hollows and its itchy witchy heroine, Rachel Morgan, will want to jump on Harrison’s’ newest release, The Turn. This prequel introduces the world, creating a light background bridge of information for first time readers while giving long time fans a chance to see how it all started and get some answers to lingering questions.
Fans will remember that the decline of the human population, the initial reveal of the supernatural community, and the subsequent chaos that followed for YEARS all boiled down to a virus that was blamed on tomatoes. T4-Angel tomatoes to be exact. The Turn explains the hows, the whys, and most importantly, the WHOs that set all this into motion.
Action packed with plenty of intrigue, mystery, a machiavellian like series of plot lines, and Harrison’s winning dialogue keeps pacing smooth and steady. The genre seems to split between UF and mystery/thriller with a strong dose of corporate espionage. Harrison doles out the information is a manner that instantly draws you in and holds you hostage till the end. Strong characterization and dialogue engages as Harrison builds her cast of players-using new and familiar faces. The balance between the story and the characters is well maintained-neither overpowering nor sacrificing for the other. Fans may be disappointed to see that while a romance does slowly develop, it’s awkward and added more for the convenience of the story rather than an organic pairing.
I loved getting to meet the faces behind the events that made up the basis of The Hollow series and also seeing some very familiar faces. Trisk is utterly brilliant in her makeup and showcases the strong and appealing heroines Harrison is famous for. Kal is an egotistical jerk who you will love to hate. Trisk and Kal’s relationship is very similar to that of Rachel and Kal’s son, Trent. Their antagonism is so prevalent in the story it is the fuel that powers everything. It was interesting to see that Trent got his elitist attitude honestly thought there are some things revealed that will cause some to look at the little cookie maker a little differently. Daniel was a delight and I wish we could have gotten to see what became of him. It was great to see Quen, Cormel, and others who held huge roles in Rachel Morgan’s world. Reading this story really made me miss this series.
Though tragic in ways that we know can’t be fixed, Harrison offsets the seriousness with humor, love, and shows us that in times of great need, people will rise to the occasion. She leaves us with a viable ending that leads us into world we came to love and I’m thrilled Harrison choose to revisit it one last time.
Boone Price and his brothers are or rather were roughnecks-oil drillers. When they discover oil on their property, the money flows in as fastGrade: C-
Boone Price and his brothers are or rather were roughnecks-oil drillers. When they discover oil on their property, the money flows in as fast as the oil gushes out. Now a billionaire, Boone finds he’s more than ready for the respect that should come with his new found wealth. When it doesn’t, he decides what he needs is some class in his life. Enter Ivy Smithfield. Blonde, gorgeous, and intelligent with legs that don’t stop, Boone has found his trophy wife. But Ivy has a few secrets of her own. And she is positive that Boone will drop her in a heartbeat when he finds out the woman he wants doesn’t exist.
Dirty Money is the first in a romance contemporary series that follows the four Price siblings as they look for love in all the wrong places. This spirited romance requires a definite suspension of belief and some common sense as Clare introduces a rambunctious storyline with some raunchy lovin’ and characters who go all out and then some for love. Boone and Ivy come out strong but soon dissolve into a puddle of misunderstandings and temper tantrums. Ivy’s lying drags the storyline down and I found Boone’s attitudes on money and women tacky as the story wore on. I think the series has plenty merit, I’m just not sure it’s for me.
Favorite Quote: “I can’t believe I’m about to walk a goat. Is this my life now? Goat walking?”
The Unyielding opens up in the past, giving readers an unfiltered history lesson on the sheer hatred the Crows have for all the other clans. We then flash forward into the present and learn that the world is still coming to an end if all the clans don’t start working together and stop Loki from getting free and therefore starting Ragnarök. And it all rests on the back of a single Crow. The most annoying, irritating, pain the arse woman to ever be brought back to life to walk the earth as a Crow.
Helping her is the most unlikely of people-Stieg Engstrom. Steig is a Viking and part of the Raven clan. He’s also an exceptionally angry, anti-social man who avoids most people because they annoy him. And Erin REALLY annoys him.
When Steig happens upon Erin getting shot in the head yet again, he takes her home to recover and ends up getting caught up in the never-ending circus that is Erin’s life.
“You need to tell me what you did,” Stieg ordered.
“And you’ll need to be way more specific than that.”
“You’ve got the Vatican keeping an eye on you. The priests don’t normally do that because they know better. So you need to talk to me.”
“Actually,” Erin said, “I don’t. That is the beauty of being me.”
“You’re hiding something.”
Stieg leaned in closer, their faces nearly touching. “Tell me,” he ordered.
Erin couldn’t help but smirk a little. “Make me.”
Stieg’s frown deepened and she thought for sure that he was going to kiss her.
“Come on, Amsel,” he abruptly whined, eyes rolling in his head. “I don’t want to fight you.” He glanced at Hilda. “Not in front of the goat.”
“Not in front of the…”
As Erin and Stieg fight, fuss, and eventually snuggle their way towards their destiny, the rest of the world waits in awe and horror. Because if this odd couple fails…everyone’s a goner.
Shelly Laurenston is once again leading her readers happily back into the fray of gods, goddesses, warriors, and the occasional pet with the latest installment in her Call of Crows series. Jam-packed with humor, sex, action, snark, outrageous characters, and sheer insanity, Laurenston has created another paranormal world that just screams F.U.N.
Set in present day L.A., this rather complex world is easy to navigate once you learn the basics. Almost every mythology and religion is represented in here, each with its own group of obnoxious, arrogant, loud, petty, narcissistic, men and women who like to bash, stab, beat, and smash their way to victory against their enemies. And none of them get along. Especially with the Crows. The Crows dislike just about everyone and with good reason. Hundreds of years ago the other nine Norse clans kept them enslaved and they haven’t gotten over it yet.
“We don’t forget, Raven. We never forget.”
Erin Amsel is probably one of Laurenston’s best characters to date. She is a delightful combination of every strong, loyal, intelligent, rude, and annoying female Laurenston has ever written. She was killed by an ex and offered a second life by Skuld. In return, all she has to do is fight with the Crows in Skuld’s honor. No problem. Her general unapologetic attitude towards everyone keeps you in stitches. There is a delightful sense of truthfulness and honor in her as she plows through the world, leaving chaos and mayhem in her wake. And the beauty of it is…she knows how annoying she is. She just doesn’t care. Yet for all her issues, you will never have to fear anything when she has your back. She will fight to the death beside you and die to protect you. And she has a very special gift that can do just that.
“You could, however, be a little less cheery. You did just disfigure a man.”
“He started it. “
I loved Erin and Steig. From Steig’s general grumpiness to Erin’s constant irritation of…well everyone, these two will keep you howling as Steig is co-opted into the partnership from hell to help Erin with her mission while trying not to kill her or fall too hard for her. All the while they are both trying to avoid their fellow clan members who attempt to interfere with unwanted advice and their normal general craziness. Watching Steig and Erin try to understand each other is like piecing together a 5000 piece puzzle while blindfolded. They are so obviously wrong for one another that they’re perfect together.
What I truly enjoy about this series and Laurenston’s writing is her skills in creating unforgettable characters and such incredibly off the wall plotlines that you can’t help but get sucked into whatever she has in store for her readers. I love the strong inclusion of multiple personalities who merge seamlessly into the storyline with fantastic results. I’ve noticed and appreciated that each new installment seems to be getting stronger in detail; with more humor, deeper elements, and a better balance between the arc and the subplots.
All the clans are featured heavily in here and are as unpredictable as usual. The snippets of violence between the various clans and each other only add to the overall appeal. They are predestined to mess with each other and it only continues to get worse the more they interact.
“I hate you.”
“Calm. Down. Think of Texas.”
“Texas? The line is ‘think of England,’”
“Why would I think of England?”
“Why would you think of Texas?”
Some may complain that the romance isn’t as prevalent as in most PNRs but I find it balances perfectly with the characterization in general. We get some delightful smexy times but aren’t forced to deal with any heavy emotional angst or work through past traumas. That alone keeps this series delightfully fresh in a sub-genre that tends to take itself a little too seriously at times.
The ending is an explosive finale that shows us Laurenston always has a few tricks up her sleeve. The main conflict is resolved while advancing the arc in a way that guarantees no one will want to miss book four. Some loose ends are tied up, new characters are introduced, and we are given a few clues to who may be the next heroine and hero of the series. The shifter storyline is an interesting development and I look forward to seeing where that goes.
If you enjoy outrageous storylines, no holds barred characters, and comedic narrative then Shelly Laurenston’s Call of Crows series is definitely for you. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Word of warning, the series is ongoing arc wise and not meant to read out-of-order.