Favorite Quote: “You were worth losing everything for.”
The first in the Covington Cove series, Return To Me is a poignant romantic contemporary of lost love and second chances. A classic trope of star-crossed lovers who tried to overcome their social/economic barriers only to be forced apart by the manipulations of family, misunderstandings, and lies. Simmering chemistry and heartbreaking reveals will leave you smiling and sniffling as you watch two former lovers try to find away to forgive each other and themselves for decisions made in the past. Engaging dialogue keeps the story flowing along at a steady pace as a young woman braves her demons to help her first love come to grips with his pain and guilt over the past.
Heavily character driven, the story places a majority of its focus on Cole Covington. Mia fell in love with Cole as a teenager. Her mother was his family’s maid and even though she was repeatedly warned not to engage with the Covington’s, Cole in particular, she was powerless to stay away from him and soon their attraction blossomed to love. When Cole and Mia make plans to run away, Cole’s family interferes and threats are made to Mia. Cole uses lies to push her away in an effort to save her and in a series of tragic circumstances, Cole not only loses Mia but also his older brother. Cole’s guilt pushes him to join the military; not to return until he is injured and receives a medical discharge. In an effort to avoid his family and the world, he purchases the family estate at Covington Cove and disappears inside, refusing to speak or see anyone. Cole’s sister Lacey is determined to bring him back into the world and calls on the one person who may be able to break through the shell Cole has erected.
When Cole sent Mia away, she did everything possible to forget the boy she loved and heal the heart he shattered. When his sister calls her for help, she can’t resist the money she is offered or the chance to see Cole again. Even if for only a little while. But Cole is different. Angry, bitter, and riddled with guilt. Scarred from an IAD and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Cole is not the boy she knew from the past. Seeing Cole again causing cracks in her own shell, bringing back all the pain, sorrow, and anger, especially when new information comes to light and Mia realizes just how much she and Cole lost that fateful night.
Though touted as a romance, there is much more involved than simply rediscovering a lost love. Moran juggles quite a few popular tropes, expertly blending them into the story with hardly a blip. A journey of self discovery, sacrifice, and revelations as Cole learns to forgive himself for the difficult choices he made and the consequences that resulted. Emotionally structured with a strong vein of realism and dry humor, it’s easy to submerge yourself into Cole’s story and feel for everything he has had to deal with then and now. His parents not only took away his choice, they tried to take away his life and replace it with a version of their own. When Mia appears back in his life, Cole is at a loss. His walls start crumbling and no amount of shoring will bring them back to their previous strength. He never thought to see her again and he can’t help but remember how she left…and why.
Moran does a fabulous job of revealing the layers of Cole and Mia, presenting their story in the past and present and letting us see the changes that have been wrought. As I stated earlier, I do feel this is more Cole’s story and the bulk of the flashbacks and emotional catharsis is on his part. I enjoyed Mia and Cole as individuals and as a couple. Mia is a pragmatic, compassionate woman who uses humor and some tough love approach to help Cole through his recovery. Cole has years of self loathing and conditioning to overcome. Though he is initially resistant, he eventually opens up and allows for the changes Mia brings into his life. The friendship and love that was apparent in their past never left and slowly begins to resurface, deepening and maturing due to the time that has passed.
Moran doesn’t give us an easy fix to Cole and Mia’s relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage to their lives and hearts. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off both of them. Moran slowly addresses what happened in their past though she does so in a way that moves them forward. It’s painful as you watch these two struggle to cope with being in each others space again; especially when certain events come to light.
The main conflict resolves in a predictable fashion though the path is an intriguing journey as we watch Cole and Mia reacquaint themselves with the adults they have become. Various subplots also wrap up, giving Cole the closure he desperately needed.
Return To Me is an emotionally moving contemporary that addresses life, love, loss and the power of forgiveness. While this was my first time reading Moran, it won’t be my last. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, All Of Me, which is set to release September 1, 2015 through Berkley.
Book seven left readers shocked when Kate and Curran abdicated their thrones as pack Alphas and Kate was forced to magically claim Atlanta in order to save them all from her father. Now they are trying to get on with their lives in as normal a way as possible for these two. Even with their inability to enter the Keep for 30 days due to the pack laws of separation, that doesn’t keep the pack from coming to them when their help is needed. Ghouls, missing pack members, and an ancient god bent on revenge all fall on Kate’s shoulders when she once again in swept back into the fray with only her sword and her possessive psychotic lover at her back to keep her city and friends safe.
Magic Shifts is the 8th book in Ilona Andrews’s complex and utterly fascinating Kate Daniels series. From book one fans have watched and grew to love this fearless loner whose sense of justice and morality is often indulged at great risk to her own life. We have seen her transform from a stand alone sociopath whose main objective was a revenge based plot orchestrated by her step father into a woman with friends, family, a lover, and unimaginable power. Fans have laughed, cried, shouted in anger, and cheered with joy as this heroine repeatedly steals our hearts with each new installment. The world building and characterization continues to grow and evolve as this dynamic wife and husband writing team begin to tighten up the arc; grabbing hold of multiple storyline threads that have been left unresolved and drawing them in, and transitioning previously thought secondary characters into more solid and important positions as the end draws near.
Tori: I adored this installment. Literally adored it. I didn’t think it was possible that the Andrews’s could improve upon the arc, various plot lines, and characters but they do so with unrivaled skill. What continues to impress me most is the evolution of their heroine, Kate Daniels. She has never lost herself even being eight books in. Kate is a heroine we can all readily identify with. Loyal, determined, and resourceful, she is tempered with compassion and mercy. Even though her life is submerged heavily in the fantastical and supernatural, her actions and emotions concerning her friends and family continues to remind us that she is still human.
I’m amazed how she is able to grow without becoming common place or run of the mill. Even with the requisite conflict and battle scenes, each one has a unique twist that keeps you enthralled. One particular scene hammers home the contradictions between Kate’s ever growing power and her mortality. As readers, we are always assured Kate will win. She is the heroine. She HAS to win. But in here we are cautioned there are ancient beings that Kate’s strength and magic may not work against. It’s a sobering scene that makes you question everything you’ve learned and assumed.
What did you think Mandi? Are you happy with the evolution of the arc and Kate?
Mandi: I couldn’t have said it better myself. I say – read what Tori wrote above – it mirrors my thoughts exactly. Not once in these eight books has the world grown stagnant. The characters continue to grow, experience new things, and impress me. Ilona and Gordon Andrews are amazing storytellers. The action, the creative magical world, the dark violence, the humor – it wraps around me and just makes me damn happy.
We see a kick ass Kate, but we also see a Kate who gets kicked and doesn’t get up very fast. It’s scary for all, and the way it’s handled by Curran and the others is well done. I like that everyone gets a reminder that Kate isn’t bulletproof. Thanks goodness for Doolittle!
With Curran no longer head of the Pack, he has to learn to live like a regular mortal. The horror! It’s a big adjustment, not just for Curran, but for Kate and Julie too. They have their little family, they have their house and business, and they have each other. They have all they could want but of course, danger doesn’t leave them alone.
Tori, how do you feel about Kate and Curran post-pack?
Tori: I found Kate and Curran post pack hilarious. One of the most powerful couples in Atlanta are now living in the ‘burbs and having to deal with such mundane issues as paying bills. grocery shopping, and rabid HOAs. A bored Curran is a dangerous Curran. The scene with the mailman cracked me up.
“Did you see the mailman while doing your rounds yesterday?” I asked.
Curran’s face turned carefully blank. “Yes, I did.”
“Did you do anything to scare him?”
“I was perfectly friendly.”
“Aha.” “Aha” was a nice word. Nonjudgmental.
“He was putting things into the mailbox. I was passing by and I said, ‘Hello, nice night.’ And then I smiled. He jumped into his truck and slammed the door.”
“Rude!” Julie volunteered.
“I let it pass,” Curran said. “We’re new to the neighborhood.”
The former Beast Lord, a kind and magnanimous neighbor. “So you sneaked up behind him, startled him by speaking, and when he turned around and saw a six- hundred- pound talking lion, you showed him your teeth?”
“I don’t think that’s what happened,” Curran said.
“That’s exactly what happened, Your Furriness.”
This installment opens a new chapter for Kate and Curran. They are so much more laid back and far more comfortable with each other. Being the Beast Lord and Consort placed many restrictions on them that it is almost shocking to see them let go and be themselves. Of course, just because they walked away from the pack doesn’t mean the pack is going to let them go gracefully. Even though they are persona non grata at the Keep due to the thirty day law surrounding the transitioning between old and new leadership, Curran and Kate walked away on their own terms. This leaves everything a little up in the air because Jim didn’t defeat Curran for the title. It was given to him so his strength and leadership capabilities have to be proven. Humor reigns supreme as the complexity of the pack and it’s laws come into direct conflict with the emotions and free will of some pack members. Dali, George, and others aren’t ones to automatically bow to the status quo. Friendship and family are strong ties and some refuse to cut their previous alpha and consort out of their lives no matter what the new alpha or the law demands.
“…go back and tell him if he thinks can dictate who I can and can’t treat, I quit. And I won’t be coming back till hell freezes over.”
Mandi, what do you think of the pack’s inability to fully separate themselves from Kate and Curran?
Mandi: I think it made sense. If you had asked me this question a couple of book ago, I would have said what?? No way would Curran be happy living away from the pack. But Curran and Kate have found peace (well, as much as the outside world lets them) and contentment. Curran is still adjusting to “human” life, but he is willing to learn to adapt. Including Julie, they have their family and are looking forward to the future. What made me giggle is how certain members of the pack still need them. Can’t let them go. There is one really cute scene in this book that pinpoints just how much certain pack members want to be close to Curran and Kate.
There is much that stands out about this book. Besides the action of gross insect creatures attacking, a missing friend, a war with a giant, and Roland showing up at Applebees (omg), Kate and Curran are just darn funny and witty in their own dark way.
“Let’s play who can be a better killer. My sword and I love this game.”
Besides, if I’d decided to pull Carver’s spine out of his body, I would’ve done it already.”
“Can you actually do that?”
Curran frowned. “I don’t know. I mean theoretically if you broke the spine above the pelvis, you could, but then there are ribs . . . I’ll have to try it sometime.
Okay, then. That was not disturbing. Not at all. “What do you suppose normal people talk about on their car rides?”
“I have no idea.
Tori: The Applebee’s scene is hilarious and also very telling. It gives readers a sense that nothing is ever what it seems and perhaps there will be a way out of this mess. Only time will tell. Kate isn’t one to hedge her bets so I’m sure she will be forced to play the game till the very end.
The intriguing action packed storyline blends well with the subplots and brings a bigger and badder antagonist to play whose ties to the pack offer up an interesting and unique twist. Kate has already been warned that her maturing magic and her father’s increased activity is awakening some sleeping ancients. One has awakened and now she is facing an entity that will test Kate in every way possible, bringing her dreams and fears into sharp focus, forcing her to acknowledge what is coming her way.
Mandi: An excellent mystery and suspense within the story, and this book continues to push Kate towards the inevitable battle with her father, and coming to terms with the claiming of Atlanta. A series that has never disappointed. So impressive. Grade A.
Tori: Magic Shifts is a perfectly balanced mixture of action, adventure, mystery, humor, and a delicious romance. Ilona Andrews only continues to excel in this wonderfully complex and magical series that revolves around a woman, her sword, and her battle to save her small piece of the world.
There was a moment on the drive when I wondered if it was ever not going to be like this. But then I decided I was crazy. It would always be like this, riding to certain death every few months. trying to protect people we would never meet.
Favorite Quote: ”If you come into these mountains with open hands, I will welcome you. If you come holding a sword, you will die by it.”
Pirates, and sea monsters, and princesses…oh my!
Kate Daniels and her mate, the Beast Lord, find themselves once again putting their life on the line to save an innocent. When two pack teenagers start to go loup, Kate and Curran have to negotiate with the European packs for access to the herbal medicine that can save the teenagers from certain death. The Europeans agree to a trade which requires Kate, Curran, and some of the pack to travel to Europe. The Europeans want Curran and the pack to protect an important pregnant shifter until she gives birth. Then and only then will they release the formula for the medicine. Soon Kate and Curran realize there is much more at stake than simple bodyguard duties. Someone wants Kate and Curran separated permanently and are willing to destroy whoever and whatever gets in their way.
Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series remains one of my top urban fantasy series picks to date and I frequently recommend to anyone who'll stop and listen to my fangirling. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in this dynamic duo’s writing. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the ever changing world and vibrant characters that keeps me returning. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. This series is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power and vulnerability. We are not overburdened with emotional angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Plot action and ripe tension is tempered with snarky humor and everyday life.
A strongly character driven series, we share an intimate connection with our protagonist, Kate Daniels. Her pain, sorrow, triumphs, and defeats are also ours. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched her grow from a solitary lonely figure hiding herself and her power to having friends, family, and a lover who is more than able to handle Kate and all her idiosyncrasies. Her growth shines through more and more with each book. She is still scared but she is learning how to trust in herself and others. The world building stays fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel throughout an alternative magical version of our world.
Magic Rises is an emotionally dark and weighted story that opens up new doorways for both the arc and the romance. Centering almost exclusively around our protagonists, the storyline(s) explode in multiple directions, using our lovers as the catalyst.
Kate and Curran are one of my favorite urban fantasy couples. Enemies to lovers has always been a favorite trope of mine and these two have led us all on a merry chase. Starting from book one, they have slowly and somewhat antagonistically carved out a relationship, obliterating anyone and anything that dared to stand in their way. Secure now as Liege and Consort of the Southwestern Pack, Kate and Curran are beginning the delicate process of trying to sustain their love. Jealousy, anger, and sorrow fill this installment as Curran’s over protectiveness and Kate’s insecurities rear their ugly heads.
“I’m so used to watching people for swords, I never saw the knife. You were too close.”
Kate and Curran’s relationship has provided plenty of entertainment throughout the series. It’s not the main focus, but it is a large part of it. Especially as the series has progressed. The plot and romance blend so effortlessly now, it has become a major component of the series without corrupting the genre. I enjoy the dynamics of their relationship and the challenges that they face. Curran admits he is more dominant than most; but he tries so hard to achieve a balance of give and take. Kate is still unsure of how to proceed in this relationship (or any relationship) but she makes remarkable advancements. She still doesn’t understand (or refuses to believe) why Curran loves her. She constantly builds walls to keep him away only to tear them down in her rush to get back into his arms. Curran’s ability to effortlessly and unwittingly hurt Kate, often in his need to protect her, still catches her off guard. That’s not to say Kate is a pushover in her love for Curran. She carries a big sword and fought over twenty two shapeshifters for her right to stand by his side. She gives as good as she gets and is one of the few people who can make Curran second guess some of the decisions he has made concerning her. Curran’s biggest fear is losing her yet by his own actions he pushes them straight towards that conclusion.
“You still don’t get it [...] I trusted you and you used it against me [...] We are not okay.”
Our cast of supporting characters are still a vivid and dynamic group. I’m amazed by Ilona Andrew’s skill at characterization. Each one has a distinctly separate personality that continues to evolve and grow with each new installment. Andrea, Kate’s very first and bestest friend, has always had Kate’s back. Even when Kate pushed her away. She has proven time and time again her loyalty to Kate and their friendship. She and Kate work well together on paper and I always find myself laughing out loud at their playful banters. Andrea is the type of friend who would help you bury a body-no questions asked.
“I hate her already,” said Andrea. “George hates her too, don’t you, George?” “I think she’s adorable,” George volunteered. “We should give her cookies and milk and if she promises to keep quiet, she can sit at the big peoples’ table.”
Kate’s entourage, Barabas and Jezebel, started out as her advisers but are now willing to challenge anyone in their quest to keep her safe and happy. And I do mean anyone. A firm solidarity is presented by the pack towards Kate, which was delightful to see. They can insult and be rude to Kate but anyone else who does it gets their arses kicked. New characters are introduced without any confusion. They fit in as if they were always present. We get plenty of scene time with various other favorites who keep the dialogue hilarious and the story flowing smoothly. There is a scene that may shock readers. Not the event itself as much as the character it concerns. *sad moment*
The main conflict of the story is a whirlwind of intrigue, tension, and heart stopping action as Kate finds herself in the middle of a political catastrophe where being the Beast Lord’s consort works against her. Multiple sub stories race though the book, twisting and turning to close previous open storylines while giving us hints to new ones. Kate learns more about Roland’s end game while being introduced to possible allies who, like her, are not impressed with daddy dearest. Villains galore run rampant through this installment; from hilariously vapid to down right scary. There is one scene that had me giggling like a fiend as they all play “who’s the biggest monster here.”
“You are trapped with us. Give money!” “You have it wrong, dear. We are not trapped with you. You’re trapped with us.”
A series of diabolical events set in motion by the villains ends in a climactic finale that guarantees the final coming battle against Roland and his army will be brutal and deadly.
Magic Rises more then rises to the occasion in this delightfully funny, dark, high octane action packed installment that addresses love, loss, and choices. This series just keeps getting better and better. I honestly can’t think of one single problem I had about this book. The storylines and direction they take are top-notch. The way it ends opens up a new future, and I am sure a new set of troubles for Kate to drag Curran and the pack into. Sure to appeal to all fans of urban fantasy and the mythological world and characters Ilona Andrews has created in their bestselling Kate Daniels series. I do not recommend starting the series here. The arc is long reaching and the characters and storylines bleed over without much recap.
4.5 ZOMG! Fans of Charlotte Stein and Kristin Ashley will be all over this new post apocalyptic series which features some of the most delicious, filth4.5 ZOMG! Fans of Charlotte Stein and Kristin Ashley will be all over this new post apocalyptic series which features some of the most delicious, filthiest, explict sex scenes combined with tough as nails alpha heroes and heroines.
A dark post apocalyptic world where the rich and elite live in walled city surrounded by outcasts who have divided the city in to gang controlled sections. When a young girl (Noelle) is exiled from the city and tossed out to die, she is found by a high ranking gang member (Jasper)and brought into the fold. Her journey to shed her strict upbringing is chronicled as she learns that sex, violence, and love are the corner stones of power and true freedom. ...more
Not sure where to start. Reflected In You disappointed me. I expected more growth and development character wise from our MCs. Instead, we see more jeNot sure where to start. Reflected In You disappointed me. I expected more growth and development character wise from our MCs. Instead, we see more jealiousy, obsessiveness, lies, and sex. I wasn't convinced of their romance in Bared To You but gave it the benefit of the doubt as it was the first book, an introduction and set up. Yet in here, there is still no viable reasons as to WHY they are even together. A strong sexual attraction is understandable but why are they falling in love? What attracts then to one another beyond sex? I don't think Day addresses that in a realistic fashion. There is nothing I have seen in either book that can convince me this couple should be together.
The constant emotional barrage they subject themselves and each other to is exhausting. They are both drama queens. Everything is !!!!!!! for them. Even if I can't understand it, I would have still enjoyed had their story shown some advancement but all I felt was relief when it was all over. While Im still convinced this is merely another version of 50 Shades, I enjoyed 50 Shades more because I actually liked Christan and Ana. There is nothing likable, to me, about Gideon and Eva. ...more
Penny Reid is a guaranteed laugh with any of her books and this one is no exception. An antagonistic relationship turn4.5 laughing my butt off stars.
Penny Reid is a guaranteed laugh with any of her books and this one is no exception. An antagonistic relationship turns hot and spicy when another Winston sibling falls in love. Now he just needs to convince his heroine he’s the hero for her. Everyone always says falling in love is never easy and Reid more than proves this with a couple who fight, fuss, and love their way to their happily ever after. ...more
Favorite Quote: “If she’s the girl and you’re it for her…then you’ll ride steady.”
Carissa Teodoro thought she had it all. A good husband, a nice home, and a baby on the way. Then she caught her husband cheating on her. Now she and her son live in a run down apartment complex with no support coming in and a car that’s on it’s last legs. When a sexy biker stops to help her fix a flat, Carissa has no idea that her past is staring her in the face. And if she plays her cards right, everything she ever wanted in life is her’s for the taking.
Carson Steele was in love with Carissa in high school. He knew the sexy cheerleader and homecoming queen would never look at him twice so he never tried. An abusive childhood forces Carson to grow up early and an incident with his father sends him running towards freedom. Now years later, Carson is now known as Joker and a brother in the Chaos Motorcycle Club. A talented mechanic and artist, Joker’s life seems perfect. Until he stops to help a young woman in distress.
Ride Steady is Joker’s story. We’ve seen Joker throughout the Chaos series though his action has been extremely low-key. Ashley purposely kept Joker’s story in the background because after reading Ride Steady, I realized he deserved an entire book devoted to him. Ashley seems to be channeling her earlier books while building this romance and I for one was very happy. Joker is the quintessential Ashley hero. Alpha to the core, this strong, gruff, silent, and very sexy man lives his life thinking he doesn’t need to settle down but when the right woman comes along, he falls hard.
“She means everything to me. You gotta drag her down, that’ll suck, but I’ll pick her back up. You gotta rip her apart, I’ll fuckin’ hate watchin’ it, but I’ll put her back together. Do what you gotta do to make you feel like you got the bigger dick. But know this, in the end, it’s gonna be her and me.”
I loved this story. Carissa and Joker are a great couple. Both are intelligent, good looking, loyal, and hard working. Though Joker is as alpha as his fellow biker bros, he’s more laid back. Rather like Shy. Not to say he won’t drop hell on anyone who threatens those he loves, but he’s not unreasonable. He never tries to control Carissa. He listens to her and ‘guides’ her into a better life with him. Rather like Tack and the rest of Chaos, he recognizes the gift he has found and will do anything to see his ‘butterfly’ spread her wings.
Carissa is adorable. Sweet and kind, she has an inner strength that is belied by her seemingly fragile looks. She’s been given quite a few hard punches in life but rather than give up, she keeps working hard to provide for her baby boy. Not one for TSTL moments, she knows when to give and when to stand toe to toe with someone. She does have issues that has Joker going overboard at times to show her she is worthy of good things in her life but he does it all out of love and it’s very sweet to watch. And she gives it back to him ten fold.
I let myself feel it. Feel something rare and beautiful and overwhelming. Feel something I knew for certain I hadn’t felt in my whole life. Free.
Though not a true dual POV, Ashley does give us insight into both the protagonists minds-letting us see what they are feeling and how they are dealing with it. Plenty of humor and silly but fun banter keeps the story moving along at a steady pace. The chemistry between them is hawt and just a touch raunchy but in a good way with some very nicely detailed love scenes. Though it seems they fall together rather quickly, we learn in the beginning that these two people have been halfway in love with one another for years-it just wasn’t their time yet. I love how Ashley creates a new romance while dealing with a jerk ex husband, an adorable baby, and a crowd of family and friends who are never shy about giving their two cents worth. It’s not just Joker and Carissa falling in love in here…it’s Joker, Carissa, Travis, all of Chaos, their old ladies, and various other friends.
Fun outrageous secondary characters bring even more life and drama to the story. Elvira continues to steal the show as she lets Joker know that if he can’t handle “the business” then she will bring in Hawk. Big Petey is an absolute doll and so glad we got more of his backstory. Tara, Tab, Gwen, and Tess all come to Carissa when she needs them and prove to her that it’s not always blood that makes a family. Cameos are made by new and former characters-the Nightingale brothers, Indy, Brock, Mitch, even Knight. Whaaaaa? I love that Ashley bridges the multiple series together, letting us see what all our favorite couples are up to at any given time.
“She brought him pie,” “Fuckin’ brilliant.” “Does Joker even like pie?”
Ride Steady is exactly what I have been missing lately from Ashley and MC romances in general. So much time is spent getting past all the roadblocks that prohibits the romance that by the time we jump those hurdles, we never spend much time experiencing the romance. Ashley engages the reader; bringing back the over the top behavior and situations in here. Emotions are thoroughly explored. Objections are addressed and resolved. Issues are given the seriousness they deserve. Part of the appeal of Ashley’s books is she makes her stories about average people. Cops, bakers, hairdressers, construction workers, ect…everyone has a compelling story to tell and everyone is worthy of a fairytale romance no matter their position in life. I find most times it’s much easier for me to relate to this style of romance than the multi-billionaires or 20 something heiresses. I love Ashley best when she goes balls to the wall with the drama and seemingly inconsequential aspects that personalize the story-giving it character and appeal. It’s so very easy to get invested in her characters lives and share in their triumphs and disappointments.
The ending comes at us fast and hard with an action packed finale that resolves the main conflict, ties up the various sub plots, and ushers us into book four, Walk Through Fire-which is High’s story and set to release October 27, 2015.
Aiken manages to outdo her previous works in her 7th installment of her hilarious, violent, explosive, outrageous Dragon Kin Series. Light My Fire wasAiken manages to outdo her previous works in her 7th installment of her hilarious, violent, explosive, outrageous Dragon Kin Series. Light My Fire was fantastic! Best book in the series. Incredible world building, arc expansion, and character dynamics. Aiken hit a home run out of the park with this one.
The most unnatural coupling occurs when a young woman is set up to assassinate the dragon queen but is fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who tells it) is stopped by a laid-back, overly curious dragon of the Queen's guard. Laughter and danger go hand in hand as this couple finds themselves smack dab in the middle of a coming war.
Though the romance has always a low key aspect in Aiken's Dragon series, the balance in here between it and the conflict is remarkably well plotted and revealed. I laughed the entire book. Readers will rejoice as we see many old faces and possible future couplings. ...more
This is why I continue to enjoy Lauren Dane’s erotic romances. The first in her newest series—Ink & Chrome—introduces us to two well developed proThis is why I continue to enjoy Lauren Dane’s erotic romances. The first in her newest series—Ink & Chrome—introduces us to two well developed protagonists whose strong personalities and blazing hot chemistry threaten to set the world ablaze. Add in an engaging storyline, humorous sexy banter, and some smoking erotic love scenes and you have a romance that will hold you hostage to the very last page....more
Favorite Quote: “I love it when you talk homonyms to me.”
John Logan, a star hockey player and junior at Briar University, has no problems getting girls…except the one he wants. She happens to be dating his best friend, Garrett Graham. With his family issues bearing down upon him the closer he gets to graduation and his seemingly unrelenting crush on Hannah, he is surprised by a sexy chance encounter with freshman, Grace Ivers. The more time he spends with her, the more confused he becomes over his feelings for her and Hannah until a thoughtless remark pushes her away. After a summer of calling, texting, and begging for another chance, Logan plans to spend his senior year winning Grace back and proving to her she is the only one for him.
Grace’s freshman year was not so stellar and she is determined to not repeat the mistakes she made last year…especially her mistake with John Logan. Now a sophomore, she is putting herself out there making new friends and breaking out of her shell while trying to ignore the gorgeous hockey player she almost gave her virginity to. She refuses to be another one of his conquests and demands he prove to her he is worthy of another chance. Because this time Grace is calling the shots and she is looking to win.
His Mistake is a sexy, humorous, and moderately emotional new adult (NA) romance that takes us back to Briar University and the four gorgeous and talented hockey players whose ability to score on and off the ice is often complicated by family issues and affairs of the heart. I’ve been a long time fan of Elle Kennedy and her erotic romances. Her voice and obvious talent in creating realistic and personable characters is a breath of fresh in a genre that seems too stagnate at times. While we do see some prerequisite drama and angst, it never tips into melodrama or used as a predictable device to propel the conflict into never never land. She digs beneath stereotypical young adult behavior to give readers an engaging and swoon worthy romance that requires some work and compromise from both parties.
We first met John Logan in book one. Funny, sexy, gorgeous, and far more complex than we first assumed, Logan is a mess of epic proportions. His family situation is extremely sad and he hasn’t much to look forward to after graduation. Similar to the set up to The Deal, Logan maintains a devil may care attitude, sexing his way through the female student population, while silently screaming inside.
I’m totally destined for the NFL. Going pro all the way! I love spending my summers as a grease monkey in my dad’s hop. It’s great pocket money! I’m not lusting over Hannah. She’s dating my best friend!
Lies, lies, and more lies
Best friend to fellow hockey player Garrett Graham, he helped Garrett win the girl but unfortunately developed a crush on her at the same time. This leads to some uncomfortable situations in the first part of the story. Though it directly feeds the conflict that Grace and Logan’s story is based upon, Kennedy resolves it fairly quickly and easily. In fact a little too easy for the depth of emotion Logan seems to have towards Hannah. I can’t believe I’m sitting here saying this, but I wish that plot line had played out a little more.
“I’m comfortable enough in with my hetero status to say if I didn’t play for the other team, I wouldn’t just fuck Garrett Graham, I’d marry him. That’s what makes this a trillion times harder. I can’t even hate the dude who’s tapping the chick I want.”
Meeting Grace Ivers made me feel much, much better. She is the perfect NA heroine. Pretty, sweet, and shy but no pushover. Witty, intuitive and a touch of snark to let us know that she has no problems speaking her mind nor staying true to herself. She is also NOT a hockey fan which just adds to her appeal. She finds it boring, has no issues telling everyone she finds it boring, and that made me love her a little more. While I didn’t feel she fleshed out as well as Hannah as an individual; she doesn’t star in a viable separate storyline that revolves just around her, I do believe personality wise she was more harmonically balanced with Logan.
“It’s funny. Less than a week ago I was bemoaning the lack of excitement in my life and now look at me-sexy hockey players showing up at my door to excite the hell out of me. Fuck it. I’m giving myself an award.”
The romance slowly builds (after the V Day/V Night fiasco) between Logan and Grace, infusing the story with yummy sexual tension and laugh out loud scenes that Kennedy uses to show us and Grace that Logan had indeed changed. I cheered Logan’s grand gestures and attempts at groveling to get back into Grace’s heart. They have such addictive banter and delicious crazy chemistry. In the beginning, it was all about the sex but now, it’s all about getting to know someone you like and propelling the spark between you into a roaring flame. To find out what makes them smile, what makes them happy, what makes them…them. Though the romance is the main theme, Kennedy intertwines it with some mild external plot lines, using them to further elevate Logan and Grace’s romance and guide it along the path to true love.
“We’re same-siding? That’s…” “That’s…?” “Perfectly fine by me.”
A dynamic and rambunctious cast of secondary characters helps keep the story following its predestined path and offer clues to the next possible hero and heroine’s book. We see some new friends made and some old friends left behind as Logan and Grace grow both individually and as a couple. “Lorris” *snort* Laughter is the prime ingredient on which they are developed and they certainly kept me laughing with their advice, observations, attempts to help.
Once again, Kennedy captivated me with her fun, sexy, and playful romance that reminds me why I enjoy her stories so much. While I admit I didn’t get quite the same charge from this installment as I did with The Deal, my love for this one was still quite high. I really, really, REALLY hope Dean’s book is next. He looks to be the dark horse of the group.
Favorite Quote: “This is America. We’re entitled to our opinions.” “Wrong. This is Texas. And my opinion is the only one that counts.”
No real spoilers hFavorite Quote: “This is America. We’re entitled to our opinions.” “Wrong. This is Texas. And my opinion is the only one that counts.”
No real spoilers here but quite a few of my favorite quotes.
Call Me Irresistible is Ted Beaudine’s book. Ted (Fancy Pants & Lady Be Good) is all grown up and the ultimate catch. Good looks, money, famous parents, and a high IQ. Ted is getting married to Lucy Jorik (First Lady). But Lucy’s best friend, Meg Koranda (Glitter Baby & What I Did For Love) doesn’t like what she sees in Ted and feels Lucy deserves better. So Meg, unintentionally, stops the wedding and Lucy hightails it out of town. Meg tries to follow but circumstances have slowed her getaway. Her parents, tired of waiting for her to grow up and become responsible, have cut her off. That leaves Meg broke, homeless, and the most hated person in town. Enter the residents of Wynette.They completely blame Meg for breaking up Ted and Lucy’s wedding and are determined to make Meg pay. And pay she does. But Meg is made of sterner stuff. After all...she IS the offspring of the famous Glitter Baby. So Meg takes everything and then some that the town dishes out so she can get home. Now all she has to do is resist Mr. Irresistible. But that’s easier said then done.
I have been a HUGE fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips for years. My first foray into her world was Fancy Pants. In Fancy Pants we meet the parents of Mr. Irresistible and learn how they came together. In later books, the Beaudine’s make appearances and we watch Teddy grow up. I was thrilled when I found out that Teddy, or Ted as he is called now, got his own book. Following her previous sets ups, we are once again transported to Wynette, Texas (which I’m convinced is actually inhabited by aliens because these people are above board hilariously strange).
Ted and the town do their best to make Meg pay for ruining his wedding. From almost getting arrested to being forced to play “nice” with a potential town investor, Meg has her hands full trying to survive from day to day. As Meg integrates herself into the town and becomes mildly accepted (which is not a compliment by the way) she begins to see that Ted is indeed irresistible. But Ted holds back emotionally and she wants all of him or nothing at all. When mild harassment turns to danger for Meg, Ted’s rigid control finally breaks and his world begins to race out of control.
He had gone wild and she wanted to race into the unknown with him. He was a fallen angel, consumed by darkness, and he took no care with her at all.
The characters of this story do a fabulous jov of keeping you laughing and groaning throughout the story. Well written with an abundance of personality and wit; you find yourself sinking deeper into their lives and becoming heavily invested in their outcomes. Filled with human flaws, Ms. Phillip’s characters are real and react as you or I might. The well plotted storyline entertains and exhilarates as the conversational style dialogue keeps the book flowing smoothly and has you thanking your lucky stars these people don’t live next door to you.
Francine Beaudine says it best:
“Did you know Ted was nine years old the first time he came to Wynette? Can you imagine how many of the local peculiarities he’d have picked up if he lived here from birth?”
I adored Meg from the first time I met her. Even if she is a screw up, her personality and exploits are hilarious and her gift of snark endeared her to me. Everything Meg does is from the heart and that is apparent from the beginning. You’d expect her to lay down in the face of everyone anger but her true nature takes hold and soon she pulls her self up and out from beneath the town and Ted’s thumb. Watching her grow in self respect & assurance is a joy to watch and had me doing quite a few “fist pumps”. She just needed to learn that she is every bit as glamorous and important as her parents.
Ted is an enigma. He comes across as the perfect man. Heralded for his business sense, looks, and talents in bed, you can find nothing wrong with him.
“Lucy neglected to mention that you’re also the mayor of Wynette...in addition to being its patron saint.
He’s a people pleaser, but like Meg, you don’t see any real emotions from him. In the beginning, I didn’t like him very much. Some of his actions come to light and his blasé attitude disgusted me. But as I got to know him, I sensed that there was far more to him then what you see. It’s only really towards the end that the real Ted breaks through and you hear, in his own words, how he’s felt since the beginning. It’s an emotional outpouring that moved me. I did feel though that the story and his characters would have been better served by allowing more of his POV to be seen.
He wanted to make her smile. Laugh. Make her love him again as deeply as he loved her.
The chemistry between Meg and Ted is apparent from the beginning but the romance is slow going. Ms. Phillips lets them realistically fall in love through out the entire book. Watching these two snark at each other, I learned exactly what the phase, “Hate is merely the flip side of love,” really means.
How could Ted and I have a future? He’s the Lamb of God and I’m the town bad girl.
Two things about this book bothered me. One was Lucy. She ran away and left Meg to handle the fall out. I would have liked to have seen more of her then what we did. The other problem I had was how Ms. Phillips chose to humiliate Meg. This is a common theme in her books; usually deserved because the heroine is either phenomenally selfish and self absorbed or like Meg, needs a kick in the pants to grow up and accept the responsibility of their actions. But there were times when the humiliation went too far and went from being funny to cruel. Many times I wanted to reach through the book and pop someone hard in the head for some of the things they did to her.
The ending is predictable but the path to it is emotional. Ms. Phillips never gives her hero and heroine an easy HEA and you find your self crossing your fingers and toes as you watch these two stumble through some pitfalls.
Call Me Irresistible is a hilarious, riotous, engaging romantic contemporary that will have you laughing, crying, and begging for more once the last page is read. I look forward to the next one in this series which is Lucy’s story-currently untitled.
Mandi: First and foremost, and I think this is important – I’ve seen this book marketed as a paranormal romance, more ‘romanReviewed by Tori and Mandi
Mandi: First and foremost, and I think this is important – I’ve seen this book marketed as a paranormal romance, more ‘romancy’ than their Kate Daniels series. I have to disagree. This is urban fantasy all the way. Yes, there is going to be an eventual HEA between Nevada and Mad, but just like with Kate and Curran, things were not all hunky dory after book one. I think there is a kiss in this book, but that’s all. While I think this book is pretty fab, I was expecting a HEA conclusion in this book because of the marketing I’ve seen. That is not the case.
Now onto the good stuff. Nevada and Mad. Oh how intriguing these two are. Nevada works for her family’s investigative agency, and still lives with her mom, grandmother and crazy siblings. (her mother and grandmother are pretty awesome themselves – more about them later). This world is dominated by the wealthy and magic, ranging in five different levels from minor to Prime. Nevada gets forced (by the mortgage company that owns her business) to bring in the Prime who has killed recently using his fire magic abilities.
“Adam Pierce could conjure a fire that would melt a cubic foot of stainless steel. That made Pierce a Prime, the highest rank of magic user. Everybody wanted him – the military, Home Defense, and the private sector.”
Adam is very handsome and famous, he is a charmer and a flirt – besides being extremely deadly. People are equally in love with him and terrified of him. He is brazen and a show-off and his odd villainous ways are very intriguing in this story.
But he is not our hero. That is saved by the oh so sexy, oh so interesting Mad Rogan. Tori, I’ll let you do the honors.
Tori: First off, I want to reiterate what you said in the beginning, Mandi. This is not a romance. It has romantic elements but the marketing of it as a PNR is somewhat duplicitous. This storyline falls firmly into Urban Fantasy and is dark in its make up. This is readily apparent in the first meeting between Nevada and our “hero” Mad Rogan.
Had I known you were going to pull a pretty ribbon out of your sleeve like some two-bit magician, tie me up with it, and indulge your mental torture fetish in your basement, I would’ve shot you. Many times.”
“Men like you enjoy being flattered.”
“I’ve broken Significant mages in this trap,” he said, his voice matter-of-fact[...] I’ll break you.”
“You will try.”
Conner “Mad” Rogan. The Butcher of Merida. The Scourge of Mexico. One of the most powerful primes alive and the head of one of the richest houses. A war veteran whose skills in battle are still talked about, in both awe and horror, to this day. To call him a hero is an oxymoron. Let’s just say he’s not as bad as some and call it a day. He’s antisocial, deadly, slightly insane, and possibly a sociopath. He has no moral constraints and believes the end justifies the means. He can and has killed to achieve his goals. Oh yes…and he’s very, very, very sexy.
He had a sturdy, chiseled jaw, a strong nose, and a square forehead. He looked rough around the edges, from the trace of stubble on his jaw to the short, tousled dark hair. Rough, masculine, and arrestingly sexual. His eyes, smart and clear under the thick, dark eyebrows, evaluated everything he saw with calm precision, but deep inside those blue irises, a cold fire glowed. The same kind of lethal fire you would see in the amber eyes of a tiger, predatory yet irresistible. It compelled you to stare, even though you knew that if you caught his gaze, that icy fire would swallow you whole. He pulled me like a magnet. Every female instinct I had went into overdrive.
Nevada and Mad are like oil and water. As a prime, Mad automatically assumes that he is the stronger of the two but Nevada has skills of her own. The attraction is there but Nevada is no push over; ready to fall on her back and succumb to his wicked wicked ways…no matter how much she wants to. *waggles eyebrows* She doesn’t like him. At all. He has no control over her and that both infuriates and intrigues Mad.
“If you hang up on me again, I will slice your car into small pieces and hang them on your roof like Christmas wreaths.”
“First, destroying my property is a crime, just like kidnapping me is a crime. Second, how exactly is mincing my car into small pieces supposed to convince me to come to lunch with you? Third, if you’re close enough to slice my car, I’m close enough to shoot you in the head. Can you deflect bullets if you don’t know they’re coming?”
“I’m trying to be reasonable,” he said. “Come to lunch with me and we can exchange information or . . .”
“Or what? My mother and grandmother are right here. Shall I pass the phone to them so you can threaten them with terrible things if I don’t agree to lunch?”
This was a hard book for me to rate. I wrote a post on Smexybooks after reading this-Must I Take The High Road-that addressed a lot of my feelings on what happened in here character wise and the problems I have with this particular trope.
On one hand, I love the world and the characters in this series. On the other hand, this particular storyline left me worried, upset, and angry. I can see where Briggs may be heading but the entire plot line was an exercise in foreshadowing. In my opinion, nothing was done to expand the arc. We see some new characters introduced but no reasons were given or even hinted at for Briggs choosing this path to follow. And I refuse to believe it was only to add relationship conflict between Adam and Mercy.
Adam, the alpha and Mercy's husband disappointed me. And I took it personally. While he's always been a bit underhanded in his dealings with Mercy, it's always been done to protect her. In here, we see a change in him and the reasons shown is his ex wife. Perhaps if I had gotten his POV, he wouldn't have seemed so callous and disregarding of Mercy's feelings. It was if she couldn't be jealous and upset that another woman was invading her home, life, and coming on to her man. She has to take the high road, be the better person. Meh. But, I can guarantee this would have never been the case if Adam would have been upset (and he was) when another man showed interest in Mercy. The over all problem for me was Mercy would have never done anything to make Adam feel inferior but now Adam can't say the something.
Also, some of the pack is starting to irritate me. Sometimes you need to be the voice of reason to keep that many people happy and inline. And sometimes you need to be the hammer of doom and let people know this isn't a democracy.
I did enjoy spending more time with Coyote (crazy nut) and getting hints to the fae situation. I see war coming and that will prove to be an interesting story. Also, I liked seeing more beta members of the pack step up and verbally let the rest of the pack know they weren't falling for Christy's "woe is me" tricks. The conflict in here was action packed and violent per usual but again what was the point of it all? As I stated earlier, this is a book of foreshadowing.
I am positive the next installment will open new pathways and offer more in the way of much needed explanations. Also, we have a new Alpha/Omega book coming which may give offer an outsiders POV to the whole situation. ...more
Moonlight on Nightingale Way is listed as the final book in Young’s adult romance contemporary series, On Dublin Street. Based on a group of friends and family, we have watched this group grow and expand beyond what was first introduced in book one-On Dublin Street. Brimming with sexy men and women, humor, angst, real world issues, and much growth in the world, characterization, and from the author herself, I have enjoyed, for the most part, my journey through this series.
Opposites attract and enemies to lovers are always fun tropes to read in romance. Often starting from an antagonistic base, readers laugh and rejoice as the protagonists learn more about one another and find that spark we saw from the beginning. I admit I was uneasy when I read the excerpt to this book at the end of book five. I really didn’t want another story about woman or man whose baggage is so great they are unable to emotionally or mentally move on with their lives; choosing instead to place all their anger on the shoulders on the one person who truly sees them. Luckily for us, this is not one of those stories.
Grace Farquhar is a quiet, intelligent, studious woman who works from home as a freelance book editor. When she finds a pair of thong underwear drying on the landing between her apartment and her neighbor’s, she expects to make her issues known and leave…in a quiet, considerate manner. Unfortunately, her neighbor doesn’t seem like a quiet considerate man. He’s gregarious, big, gorgeous, obnoxious and immediately takes offense at what he deems Grace’s prude-like stance. From there starts a battle of the wills that left me giggling and smiling non stop.
“For the last three nights I’ve had to put up with the constant loud sex from you and your bloody American. I just want peace and quiet. I want some bloody goddamn sleep!”
“Have you got a glass up against the wall?”
“How did you know I’ve been fucking an American?”
“Because. I. Can. Hear. Every. Word. She. Says.”
Logan McLeod was just released from a two year stint in prison for assaulting the man who beat and almost raped his sister. Working as a nightclub manager; all he wants is to catch up on everything he missed during his incarceration. Namely sex. He uses one night stands to avoid commitment and dealing with his issues. When Grace makes her feelings known over the underwear, the loud sex noises, the constant parade of woman, he feels judged and strikes back.
“You don’t have to be so antagonistic, you know. You should consider removing that stick from your tiny arse.”
“You talk down to me. And there’s that pinchy-mouthed look you give me instead of a smile every time you pass me in the hall.”
Pinchy-mouthed? I sniffed at the insult and turned to leave again, not deigning to give him a response.
“And that. That haughty little sniff is extremely fucking annoying…”
I really liked Grace and Logan. Grace with her soft snarky wit and strong sense of self. She escaped her abusive family years ago and has made a life for herself with the help of some close friends. Watching her learn to trust Logan intimately was delightful, especially after he put a roadblock in their way only to discover he screwed up. MEN! Luckily for him he has an ace in the hole-namely his sister and her friends. Logan delights and confounds with his blatant sexuality and obnoxious charm, making the chemistry between them burn throughout the story. Young does a great job of facilitating the romance amongst the backdrop of their personal issues.
“I know good and bad, Logan, trust me. And deep down you do too. And you know you’re a good man. You know it. And I’m not going to tell you any different.”
Emotionally the overall tone is rather lightweight. A bit more formulaic than usual for Young, this engaging romance contemporary can be read alone though it is part of a series. A delightful journey of love and second chances. The fast steady pacing coupled with the slow burning romance is perfect for the overall tone of the story and subject matters at hand. Young’s witty dialogue and dynamic characterization only adds to the over all appeal.
“The horror. How will you ever get your next booty call?”
The main conflict blends well with the subplots. Young injects tongue in cheek humor to help offset the seriousness of the subject matter. Young slowly peels the lid back on Grace and Logan’s problems and begins to systematically and realistically address them using some well placed secondary characters. Logan learns to let go of his fear and guilt over what happened in the past, accepting he paid the price and can move on. Grace learns that she is worthy in all aspects of her life and that sometimes letting go completely is the best way to move forward.
The ending is a bit serendipity in that Logan and Grace both receive the ‘out’ they need to close the book on their respective pasts. It ends rather abruptly; shifting straight into a brief epilogue that gives us small peeks into the lives all the past couples; gifting us with a fond farewell. While I’m sad to see this series end, I’m sure this will not be the last we see of Samantha Young and her wonderful imagination.
Favorite Quote: What do you want us to do? Write a Dimwit’s Guide to Blood Prophets?
Simon, Meg, and the collaborated efforts of the Others and sympathetic humans have broken the chains of benevolent ownership over the Cassandra Sangue, not realizing the potential harm in releasing the fragile seers into an unknown and frightening world. Meg tries to help her fellow seers adapt though she too still struggles with her new found freedom.
When rumors of a dark faction rising up again the others, sending whispers of malcontent and violence into the Lakeside Courtyard, Simon is once again forced to use Meg and her prophecies, even though he fears each cut hastens her towards possible death.
When the battlelines are drawn and an innocent is placed in danger due to the coming war, the Others and humans will find themselves unlikely allies against a common enemy who if not defeated, could end up destroying them all.
Anne Bishop reaffirms her title as the Queen of fantasy with the third installment in her epic and utterly captivating Others series,Vision of Silver. This multiplexed Urban Fantasy series takes the sensitive issues of racism, discrimination, and abuse wrapped in the disguise of caring, wrapping them up inside a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, heartbreak, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s literary voice continue to astound and enchant.
Using past and present political situations as inspiration, Bishop continues to build upon her compelling alternative world that takes its base from the first explorers to land on the North American continent and the subsequent ramifications of those who attempted to take what was not given freely. Bishop twists the stories and legends, adding a supernatural element that gives the stories more of a serrated edge and a very different outcome.
The story line reads fast and smooth Bishop continues to build and expand the complex arc and character development. Vivid descriptions and rich detailing draws the reader in effortlessly. A more somber and emotion based installment then the previous two, the underlying tension between the humans and the others explodes into the forefront, giving readers no choice but to acknowledge the darker aspects of humanity. Prior actions in book two are compounded upon as payment comes due and retribution is promised, paving the way for book four.
“Let it come. You monkeys have no idea what’s out there in the wild country. But you’ll find out.”
Friendship is the axis on which this story turns. The humans that have been slowly absorbed into the Lakeside Courtyard are beginning to feel the sting of their choices. Discrimination and bigotry has already shown an ugly face in regards to the Others but now it overflows on to the human who choose to associate with them. They soon find themselves being turned away from housing, employment, and some stores under the guise of a humanity saving faction called the HFL-Humans First and Last. This adds another layer to the already complicated relationship that has been building between the human ‘friends’ and the Others when the Others open their doors even wider to the humans they have chosen to befriend.
Meg Corbyn and Simon Wolfgard’s slowly evolving relationship remains a pivotal aspect with special attention continuing to be paid to their differences. Subtle sexual tension and emotional confusion underscores their struggles and is used to highlight the external conflicts affecting them all. Meg is an experiment, along with the other humans who have become under the protection of the Courtyard. The Others acceptance and ability to bond with her and the other humans may be all that stands between the humans and extinction.
“My cousin thinks humans will soon have the capacity to rise up against the terre indigene and lay claim to every corner of this other world. Do you think that can happen?”
“I think that if we were to visit some parts of the wild country, we would find the remains of great civilizations who once thought the same thing-and were wrong.”
Though Meg is free to live as she chooses now, her time spent in captivity still causes confusion as she struggles to understand how to be free. Especially as she now has other newly freed blood prophets counting on her to help their pave the way into this new and frightening world they have become a part of. Having been taught to crave the euphoria that the cuts produce, Meg finds that her new friends aren’t as understanding about her need to release through blood and chastise her when she inadvertently causes danger to the Courtside and some of its residents. She gradually understands their fears but tries to make them understand that she and the others must never have their choices taken from them again.
“She doesn’t want to die.”
“Neither do I, but I want to be the one who makes the choice.”
Simon continues to tentatively feel his way around his feelings for Meg and humans in general. As part of the Terre Indigene, he views himself an animal with the ability to become human. He must protect his pack foremost yet his feelings for Meg and her needs are beginning to change him and the Others around them; causing shifts in the social climate. Common relationship woes have no bearing on either of them as they have nothing on which to base it, yet as Simon’s concern and need Meg grows, it adds fuel to the possibilities of them.
He wasn’t human. Would never be human. And Meg didn’t expect him to be. But feeling her hand in his, maybe he could be human enough.
A dry and sometimes horrifying humor flows through the storyline, adding a nice reprieve from the overall seriousness. Bishop’s attempts to tease out the misconceptions and general differences between the Others and the humans and their efforts to understand each other are met with laughter.
Humans. Couldn’t be satisfied with being considered not edible, they also wanted to talk to him. And talk. And talk.
Personable secondary characters walk side by side with our protagonists; each more than able to hold their own against the powerful dynamics that make up Meg and Simon. Bishop adds new faces to the already eclectic bunch she has gathered. A group whose personalities and individualism only serve to heighten the appeal as Bishop digs deeper into their relationships with themselves, and those around them. We see more of the Lakeside Courtyard members acting as individuals and making more independent decisions; showcasing the growing humanity in them.
The ending isn’t a dramatic action packed undertaking but more of an emotional one. The lines have been drawn and one false step could spell the end for everyone. Once again Bishop has taken me on a journey that not only entertained but absorbed me to the point where I never want it to end.
Anything But Broken by Joelle Knox (aka Kit Rocha aka Moira Rogers) is an NA romance contemporary that deals with little sister crush, second chan3.5
Anything But Broken by Joelle Knox (aka Kit Rocha aka Moira Rogers) is an NA romance contemporary that deals with little sister crush, second chances, and some serious subject matters. Two strong well developed and likable protagonists build a sweet and sexy romance while discovering some uncomfortable truths about one another, themselves, and their combined pasts. Angsty, broody, and wonderfully romantic with some delightful supporting characters whose humor and support adds some lovely lighthearted moments to break the serious overtones. All in all enjoyable NA, I did have a couple of issues. One, I found Hannah hard to relate to for most of the book. Knox did such a good job showing the readers how emotionally disconnected Hannah was I never felt we really got to see the real Hannah till almost the end. Also, I felt the ending came hard and fast with too little resolution for the serious of this couple's issues. I am looking forward to the next book as this looks to be the start of another winning series for this dynamic and prolific writing duo.
Favorite Quote: “You have no idea what it does to me to see you put things into your mouth.”
What happens when a mouse meets a T-Rex?
Blurb: Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.
And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.
Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.
If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on. (Goodreads)
Rock Hard, the second installment in Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series, brings us an engaging contemporary romance that can be read alone though it is part of a series. We are taken on a delightful journey of love and second chances when a smoking hot and deceptively sweet alpha contrives to win the heart and hand of his shy mild mannered employee. Fans of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series may see a resemblance between Gabriel and Lucas-the hero in Slave to Sensation who remains one of my top fictional alpha males. The fast but steady paced unveiling coupled with the slow burning romance is perfect for the overall tone of the story and subject matter at hand. Singh’s witty dialogue and dynamic characterization only adds to the over all appeal.
We first met Charlotte Baird (Charlie) in book one-Rock Addiction. Best friend of Molly Webster, we learned some of the reasons behind Molly and Charlie’s long-term friendship. Hints were given that Charlie had suffered a traumatic and life altering event in the past though it’s in here we learn the true and heartbreaking extent of it all. Charlie now works for a dying company that has been bought out by a former rugby star and ruthless business man-Gabriel Bishop. Scared of the rumored layoffs and restructuring, Charlie is working late to cement her position in the company when they meet in a rather unusual manner.
“I just met my new boss,” she groaned into the phone. “Or more specifically, I threw an industrial-strength stapler at his head.”
Gabriel Bishop is used to getting what he wants, when he wants it, and normally isn’t attracted to nervous shy woman but in Charlie he discovers an enigma. He soon finds himself fascinated by this changeling who has trouble looking him in the eye but is brave enough to overcome her fears when the situation calls for it. He recognises her vulnerability and guesses at the reasons behind it, realizing that he will have to play this very carefully if he wants her to trust him. Gabriel hires her as his personal assistant and begins an intricate dance of playful seduction as he gently pushes against her shell, instinctively knowing the woman hiding inside is exactly what he has been looking for.
An intriguing mouse was Ms. Baird.
Gabriel found himself interested, and he’d never before found a mouse interesting.
As Charlie and Gabriel get to know one another better, Charlie opens up, her personality blossoming. Gabriel attempts to rein in his dominance, respecting her fears, but gently taking her past her boundaries. She in return helps to slow his workaholic tendencies, making sure he eats and takes needed breaks. Charlie isn’t a pushover though. As her trust in him grows, she begins to push back against his forceful nature.
“Ms. Baird, where the hell are you?” came the growl down the line. “Do you not realize I pay you to be available when I need you?”
Charlotte’s hands itched for that jug of ice water. “Yes, I realize that,” she said, managing to keep her tone polite. “However, I did work well beyond my contracted hours yesterday.”
“What? Ermine complaining already?” A snort. “Don’t tell me you’re pacifying your boyfriend when you should be at your desk.”
Charlotte saw red. “Yes, I am,” she said, her mouth moving ahead of her brain. “In fact, we’re about to check into a hotel.”
Once Gabriel decides to take their relationship to the next level, an intimate level, he woos Charlie in a deliciously sweet and swoon worthy fashion with some funny, sexy, and decidedly naughty scenes.
He slipped the spoon into her mouth, the creamy dessert cold, the spoon warm from his own lips.
The intimacy of it made her stomach flutter. “That’s very improper behavior.”
“No argument,” he said, eating a spoonful. “Does it make you uncomfortable?”
Charlotte wanted to say yes, and back when she’d first begun working for him, it would have unnerved her. But he hadn’t talked like this with her then—no, he’d been T-Rex. Now, though she tried to think of him as T-Rex, she saw Gabriel instead. “I can handle it,” she murmured, and when he smiled, added, “Don’t take that as support for further inappropriateness.”
His smile was slow, creasing his cheeks and bringing the silver into his eyes. “I’m afraid it’s too late.”
I really liked Gabriel and Charlie; not only as a couple but individually. Charlie with her soft snarky wit and strong will to survive. Watching her learn to trust Gabriel; overcoming her fear of him and the intimacy he wants with her is a sorrowful joy to behold. Gabriel delights with his smoldering sexuality and obnoxious charm, making the chemistry between them burn throughout the story. Singh does a wonderful job of facilitating the slow moving romance amongst the backdrop of their personal issues. Legitimate concerns are addressed and nothing is skimmed over or rushed in an effort to add forced drama or conflict to the story.
The main conflict blends well with the subplots. Singh injects her trademark humor to help offset the seriousness of the subject matter. Singh slowly opens the lid on Charlie’s and Gabriel’s issues and begins to systematically and realistically address them using some well placed secondary characters. Charlie learns to let go of her fear and guilt over what happened in the past, accepting she did nothing to facilitate it. Gabriel learns that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness and sometimes letting go is the best way to move forward.
Nalini Singh hits a home run with Rock Hard; fulfilling all your contemporary romance needs without overwhelming you with unnecessary angst or drawn out conflict. I look forward to the next in the series-title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “It was my fantasy come true. A Stuckey’s that served shots.”
Mo Wenstein has moved to Grundy, Alaska to escape her over bearing but well meaning mother and an ended engagement. While she expects the snow, the cold, and the eccentric population, she never expected a werewolf. A sexy werewolf at that.
Cooper Graham is an Alpha werewolf living in self exile from his clan. It’s love at first sniff for Cooper, but something is stalking and killing the inhabitants of Grundy and Cooper fears it may be him.
Mo might not know all that much about werewolves...but she knows her man. And her money say someone else is snacking on the fine folks of Grundy. Now all she has to do is convince Cooper.
I adore Molly Harper. From her contemporaries to her paranormals, Ms Harper writes rich snarky hilarious stories filled with strong willed females and prickly smexy alphas. How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf is a delightful light hearted paranormal romance that uses dry humor, endearing characters, and some crazy plots to write enjoyable stories you won’t want to put down. Her characters are hysterically eccentric and provide much eye rolling and snorts of laughter as you slip smoothly into their lives. The storyline is relatively simple and fast paced with an enjoyable conversational writing style.
Mo is wickedly funny with her calm manner and dead on one liners. Raised by somewhat domineering hippie parents; she has strived her whole life for capitalism, government regulations, and processed meat products. She comes to Grundy to “find herself” after her fiancée dumps her and instead finds her place in a quirky town filled with interesting people, a job, and a new love interest. With her quick mind and even quicker mouth, Mo had me rolling with laughter from page one. Her way of dealing with everything is through sarcasm, expensive lingerie, and plenty of fattening desserts.
Cooper is the perfect male Alpha. Over protective, smexy, and exasperating. Gruff and snarly he acts like a 5 year old who shows his love for a girl by pulling her hair and calling her, “poo-poo head.” The laughs just keep coming when Mo discovers Cooper’s secret and decides she can deal with a little furriness and howling in a man. The slow evolution of his and Mo’s relationship is a delightful journey filled with humor, snarkiness,a nd lots of hawt sexy chemistry.
As Cooper sauntered to the door, I saw he was about to make one of his patented oh-so-clever parting remarks, so I beat him to the punch. “You’re still naked!” I called, smiling nastily. “It’s cold outside. Expect shrinkage.”
The supporting characters-from the wild and crazy town inhabitants to Cooper’s insane pack members- add life and non stop humor to the story.
Please, Lord, let me never hear the words “Jager ‘n’ eggs” again. Breakfast should not burn going down.
The ending surprised me as I wasn’t expecting the villain to be who it was. Ms. Harper kept me in the dark very well on that issue.The romance flourishes and ends predictably but with a few twists that adds to the overall thrill.
If your looking for a wickedly funny and sexy paranormal romance that will having you laughing out loud then I highly recommend picking up Molly Harper's How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf.
Favorite Quote: “Nose or cookies. Hard choice. But in the end, the cookies won.“
Meg Corbin is a cassandra sangue. A blood prophet who is able to see prophecies through the cutting of her skin. Held hostage and used for profit, Meg plots her escape from her cruel owner and finds herself in the clutches of an even bigger threat, Simon Wolfgard.
Simon Wolfgard is one of the “others.” A shapeshifter who rules his territory with sharp claws and teeth. He is not comfortable with having an unknown human in his territory, but Meg’s smell and secrets invoke his protective nature, so against his better judgment, he hires her as a human liaison for his people.
Meg soon ensconces herself into the other’s lives and hearts, but when Meg’s secrets come to light and Simon learns exactly what she is and the lengths some will go to control her again, he will need to decide if she is worth the war between themselves and the humans that she has brought to his door.
Anne Bishop has once again shown herself to be the Queen of fantasy with Written In Red. A deceptively complex urban fantasy that takes the sensitive issues of racism and abuse and wraps them in a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s world building skills continue to astound and enchant. I found myself unable to put this down once I started. While the story reads fast and the writing style easy to follow, the actual arc is complex with its multiple story lines and background information. The vivid descriptions and rich details drew me in and made me part of this world. Bishop’s writing style is like a fine wine that slowly releases its bouquet as it slides down our throat. The underlying tension ratchets up the suspense in the story, building to a climactic finale that left me satisfied but ready for the next installment.
I absolutely fell in love with Meg. She is not your usual Urban Fantasy heroine. Meg has none of the qualifications we are used to seeing. She is not a dangerous warrior, more than able to hold her own against greater odds. She doesn’t carry a magical weapon nor use a prickly attitude to warn everyone off. She is, however, courageous, forthright, and intelligent. Her greatest attribute and flaw is her caring nature. She would die to save someone she cares for. Having been raised in a secluded lifestyle with only pictures and lessons to teach her of the outside world, she is human in birth only. She has an innocence to her that gives this story a bit of a YA feel. She had me laughing with some of her reactions and the decisions she makes, trying to adapt to her new life and fit in with those around her.
Simon was a genuine treat to get to know. He is quite a surly and grumpy wolf. Meg appeals to him on many levels yet he is unable to rationalize it in human terms, so he is put out by what he cannot explain. Bishop’s take on shapeshifter culture is unique and unexpected. Bishop takes great pains to integrate their hierarchy, thought and speech patterns into the story. Especially concerning humans.
“It was so much easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff.”
The others are just that; another species. Shapeshifters. Animals first with the ability to shift to human. They look at the world and its human inhabitants through the eyes of predators. Yet, there are sparks of humanity in them; more so in some than others. Due to their predatory nature, they choose to live in their own areas with limited interaction with humans. This is definitely for the safety of humans.
Meg’s interludes with the others is interesting, scary, endearing, and heartfelt at times. They are predators and it shows. Humor and horror walk hand in hand as Meg gets to know everyone and becomes an important part of their lives. In here we meet many secondary characters, both supernatural and human, who are all rich in personality and emotion. Their development and inclusion into the storyline is so flawless and smooth, I soon became involved in all of their lives. Sam has to be the most adorable (with the horses coming in a close second) and I both laughed and cringed at some of his and Meg’s adventures. Meeting the seasons was enlightening and vampires become even scarier when described by Bishop.
While there is a attraction between Simon and Meg, Bishop doesn’t push for an instant romance. The differences between Meg and Simon are just too great right now to allow for that and I don’t believe either of them quite understand the concept or even the emotion of love beyond being protective of a friend. Their attraction builds slowly as they get to know one another and learn to first trust, then become friends. It will be interesting to see where Bishop takes them in the series.
"He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t biteable, but he really did like the taste of her."
There were a few aspects I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Meg’s life before running away. Her reasons for cutting herself and the emotional and physical responses behind it are extremely interesting as were her flashbacks to living in almost slavery. I would have also liked to see more of the villain who held Meg all those years.
The ending is a dramatic, bloody affair that evolves the others from their previous way of life as they give way to their true nature and show us all what happens when one of their own is threatened. I wholeheartedly recommend Written in Red to everyone who enjoys a dark humorous Urban Fantasy that focuses more on the world building and plot lines rather than romance. Word of warning, you will race though this book and want more but unfortunately, the next installment (Murder of Crows) doesn’t release till March of 2014. You have been warned.
Disappointing is the word that comes to mind after reading this. I Do! is a short novella that gives us Sadie and Vince's wedding with a side order2.5
Disappointing is the word that comes to mind after reading this. I Do! is a short novella that gives us Sadie and Vince's wedding with a side order of NA romance. I enjoyed the follow ups to previous characters in the series. Their dialogue was crisp and the storyline flowed like water with plenty of humor. The problem was the romance between Becca and Nate. The artifice screamed at you as Gibson tries to force them together. All Nate thinks about is sex. Literally. Every thought that came out of his head was about how he waned to have sex with Becca or he alluded to having sex with previous women. He never even thinks of Becca as a person, just a set of perfect boobs, the perfect butt, the perfect legs, ect...All Becca thinks about is hair and making it big in the hair styling business. The dialogue between them was stiff and clunky and I couldn't help but feel Gibson just wasn't comfortable making this couple sexual. ...more
**spoiler alert** I just...can't. The blurb was confusing enough but once I started the book, it went from confusion to straight out "are you serious?**spoiler alert** I just...can't. The blurb was confusing enough but once I started the book, it went from confusion to straight out "are you serious?"
First off- I despise euphemisms for sex organs. A penis is a penis-not a sword, love sausage, throbbing hot member, a velvet sheathed lead pipe. It's a penis. Call it a penis. I can only seem to handle the nicknames in historicals.
Second-A pregnant virgin?? What is THAT? How can that even be? Is this an immaculate conception? The whole biological improbability is astronomical. And to have it happen TWICE in one family? Oy vey.
Third- I'm sorry but stupid over the top dramatic characters aren't appealing. I understand fiction grants leeway but there has to be some grounding in reality. None of these characters should procreate. NONE.
I feel it's just best if I and this book part ways. ...more
Obsession in Death marks the 40th installment of the incredible world and dynamic duo that Robb introduced fans to back in 1995. Still going strong asObsession in Death marks the 40th installment of the incredible world and dynamic duo that Robb introduced fans to back in 1995. Still going strong as ever, Robb has turned our lovely Eve from a lonely insecure woman to a woman rich in friends and love. With a gorgeous husband away at her side and a rewarding career that has catapulted her into celebrity status, she now faces the greatest challenge ever-her very own stalker who is eliminating anyone who stands between them and Eve. Fabulous characterization and dialogue intertwines with the fast paced action packed storyline that divulges into the mind of a person who both loves and despises Eve. Friends and foes alike all come under Eve’s scrutiny as she struggles to locate the villain before they strike again....more
Wylde takes no prisoners as she tempts readers back into the dark and volatile world of the Reapers Motorcycle Club. A pOutstanding 4.5 Top Pick Stars
Wylde takes no prisoners as she tempts readers back into the dark and volatile world of the Reapers Motorcycle Club. A potent mixture of love, anger, lust and redemption all collide to form a bomb that explodes as Wylde wraps up a long, ongoing storyline in the series and sets up her bad boys for more exploits steeped in mayhem and chaos. Wylde’s powerful voice and dynamic characters keep this series fresh, addictive, and filled pure unadulterated fun.
Favorite Quote: “The sum of my existence equals you.”
Gray Grayson has it all. A top NFL draft pick; he has the looks, the moves, and the reputation of being a playa but when he is forced to borrow his soon to be agent’s daughter’s pink Fiat for the summer, he discovers the one thing he has been missing.
Ivy Mackenzie is spending a year abroad with her mother. When she finds out her father has loaned out her car to one of his clients, a ranty text turns into something more as a strong friendship develops between them.
Everything is going great until Ivy comes home. Gray doesn’t do relationships and Ivy doesn’t do her father’s clients but the attraction between them can not be denied. Now Gray is going to do everything possible to prove to Ivy that the only zone he wants to be in is the end zone…with her by his side.
The Friend Zone, book two in Callahan’s Game On new adult series, is a sweet, sexy, funny, and emotionally refreshing friends to lovers contemporary that highlights a couple whose journey from friendship to love is facilitated by witty banter, adept communication, and delicious sexual tension. Though not as angst driven as book one, Callihan produces another winning romance with Gray and Ivy.
I adore Kristen Callihan. I’ve been a long time fan of her paranormal Darkest London series and am pleased to see that crossing genre lines and age groups hasn’t lessened her voice or appeal. Callihan is a prolific writer whose true gift is her ability to make her characters realistic and relatable. Her characters aren’t perfect and while we do see some emotional turmoil it’s not eye rolling melodrama used to create unnecessary angst within conflict. She chooses to avoid the stereotypical over the top NA behavior usually presented in this genre and instead gives us smart characters whose actions are genuine in reaction to the circumstances. The essential meet cute through texting is a unique introduction and setup for the romance and I found it really gives readers an intimate and hilarious view into the personalities of Ivy and Gray.
GrayG: So as friends, can I still say inappropriate, sex-related things?
IvyMac: Sure. Think of me as just another guy. With a vagina.
GrayG: A. Shudder. B. Yeah, no. C. I had this dream that you were sucking my 8==> But when I looked down, I discovered it was actually a goat…you know. Then I really woke up because I yelled so hard, I fell out of bed. And now I live in mortal terror of goats.
Gray is a delight with his outward sunny personality and buried complex nature. Having met him in book one-The Hook Up- you can’t help but grow to love him the more you get to know him. Gorgeous, highly intelligent, popular, and very talented on the field, his fear of commitment and loss casts a long shadow. He’s issues stem from his childhood. The youngest son of a famous football coach and three older brothers who play, Gray was forced to grow up early due to his severely dysfunctional family. Befriending Ivy is a revelation for him and it both exhilarates and confuses him. Their texting is the highlight of his year and he is stymied how this one person managed to get under his skin so deep. Something very few have ever managed to accomplish.
I’m about to meet her, and I’m totally unprepared. My heart is racing like it does before a game, that same adrenaline rushing through my veins. I’m no longer thinking about the future, but of Ivy.
Ivy was a breath of fresh air. Smart, pretty, funny, intelligent, and snarky, Ivy isn’t in need of saving from anything. She isn’t mired in a dark abyss waiting for her prince charming. She has a pretty good life with a loving family. Like Gray though, she has commitment issues stemming from her childhood. Her father, a former football star turned sports agent, was a walking cliché and his antics off the field soured her on relationships. Having already graduated, she has spent a year in London in preparation to take over her mother’s baking business. Now home for a three month visit, she is unprepared for the feelings invoked by Gray upon meeting him. He became her best friend through those texts and the fear of losing that connection is a conundrum she really doesn’t want to face.
From early on, I’d put him firmly in the friend zone, not wanting to develop deeper feelings for a guy I know is a player and treats me like his best pal. And that was okay, because I want Gray’s friendship. I cherish it.
Callihan does a wonderful job of slowly but steadily taking Ivy and Gray’s relationship from friends to lovers. Gray and Ivy have some pretty intense chemistry that explodes between them from the first time they meet. The sexual tension is at defcon twelve as they feint and parry, not wanting to destroy the platonic relationship they have already built. I appreciated the time and effort Callihan gives their journey she expertly fleshes out their fears along with their desires. Sexually, Callihan puts a nice bite in the romance, giving the story some faint erotic overtones.
I don’t know what to do with this feeling. It’s equal parts longing—yes, fucking longing—and rage. I want to hear those words again. It’s a kick in the pants to realize that I want to be loved, like I’m worth something to someone. Not for what I can do for them, but just for me. […] My anger is plain ridiculous and irrational. But there you go. I’m now Irrational Gray. Confused and Grumpy Gray. Horny as All Fuck Gray. Nice to meet you.
Through trial and error she shows them and us that they are the perfect couple and should they choose to drop their shields, they have a phenomenal chance at happiness together. Gray’s inherent protective nature and Ivy’s ability to see beyond what Gray chooses to show the world only further proves they are meant for one another.
What I feel? It isn’t comfortable. It’s so intense and so enormous, sometimes I fear my soul can’t contain it.
We see old and new faces; each one an important part of the storyline. Drew and Anna are recurring characters in the book as is the rest of the offensive team. We see exciting possible set ups for future storylines and are given a plausible epilogue for Gray and Ivy. A small plot device pops up towards the end that is used to push Ivy and Gray into making the decision they have been avoiding. While it’s not a favorite author twist of mine, Callihan presents it with compassion and didn’t leave this reader feeling manipulated.
Callihan’s writing continues to entertain and delight me with each new endeavor. I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a contemporary new adult series with fun, realistic characters, witty banter, smexy romances, and strong friendships that will keep you waiting for each installment. Even though this is part of a series, it can be easily read as a stand alone.
**On a cute note, both Callihan and Elle Kennedy (The Mistake) have added a little easter egg to their respective books alluding to each other’s books so keep your eyes peeled.**
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, leaCordelia (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.
Mandi: Fans of this series have followed the quiet bass drummer Ben through the first few books of this series. Up to this book, this has been a fun, sexy, funny rock star romance series. However, Deep felt different and didn’t do it for me. I never really felt like we got to know Ben all that well and Liz overall annoyed me. With too many other supporting characters muddling up the main couple, I’m disappointed.
Tori, let’s first start with Liz. I found her to be a little on the whiny side. We get a flashback to her and Ben first hooking up, and she seemed a little desperate to get it on with Ben. I’m all for getting it on with a rock star *wink* but I guess her flirtation seemed too forced and not genuine enough. What did you think of their initial attraction (which leads to the baby)?
Tori: I agree 100%. The first three books were the perfect blend of humor, romance, and just enough angst to keep it real. I laughed, I teared up, and I couldn’t wait to get the next band member’s story. This installment is the weakest one in the series. Minimal character development and an onslaught of contrived plot devices used to create conflict(s) left me feeling rather meh about the entire story.
I never developed a connection with Ben or Lizzy and by the halfway mark, their eventual happily ever after didn’t even matter. Lizzy, in the previous books, really seemed like she had herself together and like her sister, had her feet firmly planted on the ground. In here, she regresses and we see a different and not so attractive side to her. She likes Ben, wants more from him, and pushes aggressively hard for a relationship with him despite him telling her repeatedly he doesn’t want more than friendship. She pushes him, he pulls away, she gets her feelings hurt… rinse, lather, repeat. Ben isn’t any better in that he gives some heavily mixed signals and tends to disappear when he doesn’t feel like dealing with things.
The baby plot device was the first of many and it was irksome. The way it’s used to force Ben to mature and ‘man up’ irritated me because I really didn’t think there was anything wrong with him in the first place. Just because a one night stand results in baby doesn’t and shouldn’t automatically mean instant romance. If the chemistry between them had been there in the beginning I may have bought it but since it wasn’t, it felt forced. What do you think, Mandi?
Mandi: Ben has always intrigued me. That quiet intensity that I couldn’t wait to unravel. Maybe it was the surprise baby plot. I like how it was just blurted out at dinner, but then the rest of the book felt forced. It didn’t feel romantic. It felt like everything had to do with the baby, some sex thrown in and every other couple in Stage Dive thrown in. I don’t think enough focus was put on the actual romance between Ben and Lizzy. Totally agree with your thoughts regarding Lizzy. She was too wishy-washy for me. I felt like it was forced conflict.
While I think there was too much focus on the other couples, darn it, Mal still makes me laugh with his manic self. And now we’ve met Vaughan from their warm-up band – I’m assuming we might start venturing into that band now?
Tori: I have heard this is the last Stage Dive book and I have heard that Scott’s next series will be a spin-off, revolving around a family owned bar-The Dive Bar series. Vaughan will be the hero in the book, title and release day to be announced.
Mal is and remains an utter delight no matter the role he is designated to play. He always makes me laugh with his outrageous exposition and overly dramatic attitude. The secondary characters did play a far larger role in this book; at times overshadowing the protagonists. This isn’t helped by the fact Lizzy and Ben spend a remarkable amount of the book separated. When matters forced Lizzy into Ben’s world, Ben suddenly does an about face and he’s ready for them to have a relationship. Jealousy plays a large role in that-another plot device. This is a common theme but again, it fails to ring true in here because it’s clear that if Lizzy hadn’t become pregnant, none of this would be happening.
Mandi: Ooooh a bar series – that might be fun. I love Kylie Scott’s voice so I’m glad she is going to write a new series.
Now that I know this is the last book, it makes more sense. I agree that Ben and Lizzy spent a lot of time apart – and so much time spent with the other couples. It was like everything was wrapping up, to the expense of Ben and Lizzy.
Tori: Yes! Exactly. Lizzy and Ben’s story is forced to share the stage with every other couple as Scott wraps the series up and it takes away from them. It just all moved so fast. Regardless of my issues, I did enjoy parts of the story. Lizzy is smart and practical and once she becomes pregnant, the desperate quality in her fades and I saw the old Lizzy. Her natural humor shines through and provided some funny laugh out loud moments. Her rhapsodies to Ben’s beard are funny as is her increased sexual drive due to her hormones. The defining conflict moment made me fist bump but again, Ben does the right thing, but we never know why. I think it being told from Lizzy’s POV is what caused a majority of my issues. Not getting Ben’s thoughts leaves a lot unknown. Even though I heard this is the last book in the series, the epilogue gives clues it may not. Perhaps Martha (Ben’s sister) will cross over into the spin-off series. I thought the epilogue was super cute. “I feel so bad for me.” LOL I remember feeling that way in labor. What did you think of the epilogue, Mandi?
Mandi: The epilogue is cute and it wraps up the story well. I definitely think Martha has a story to be told in the future.
Overall, not a fan of the pregnancy storyline and I needed to get to know Ben a lot better. And I wanted more romance darn it. Love this series, but this one is not my favorite.
Tori: Though happy we got Ben and Lizzy’s story, it wasn’t as fresh or robust as the other three. I definitely feel the characterization wasn’t as defining nor unique in terms of storyline and development. Neither Ben nor Lizzy had anything “special” about them that set them apart and that hurt the story. Like you Mandi, I will enjoyed the series and look forward to reading more from Ms. Scott but this story was not a favorite either.
Solving for Nic is an adorably steamy and humorous small town southern romance featuring a young brilliant math geek and a ‘worldy’ slightly jaded plaSolving for Nic is an adorably steamy and humorous small town southern romance featuring a young brilliant math geek and a ‘worldy’ slightly jaded playboy who discover that love has no definite rules. Fans of this series will remember Lizzie and Nic from book one-Sweetened With A Kiss. Too young to pursue when they first met, Nic waits until Lizzie is legal and then sweeps her off her feet. A few small misunderstandings provide some conflict but on the whole, Nic and Lizzie are intelligent, honest people who don’t allow the outside world to dictate their relationship. Callahan updates us on various other characters and I’m intrigued by the clues she will attempt redeem Madlyn. Can I add that I REALLY hope Angie does NOT get an HEA with Rogan? She’s an immature, whiny, cruel little girl who needs a few hard smacks from the reality brick....more
The Slayer slays the heart in Moon’s 2nd book of her Untamed Hearts series. Love, hate, family, betrayal, hope, and redemption all blend together to bThe Slayer slays the heart in Moon’s 2nd book of her Untamed Hearts series. Love, hate, family, betrayal, hope, and redemption all blend together to build a lush and heart wrenching love story between a former gang banger, Chuto, and a preacher’s daughter, Aliane. If this sounds trite, it’s anything but. The brilliance lies in the characters who live in this story. Life is never easy and sometimes the hardest blows come from those you love the most and nothing even begins to prepare you for the blows this couple has to take for their love and happiness. Dark and forbidding at times, Moon doesn’t try to explain away the criminal element that permeates Chu’s life in order to give him a happy ending. Rather, she uses it as a learning guide, giving us the readers a chance to see the real man behind the deeds. Using the past and the present, Moon slowly shows us Chu’s life from the beginning and the friendship that has built between him and Aliane over the years. We learn the reasons why Chu has tried to stay away from her and the lengths Aliane will go to be with him. Fan will adore the heavy interaction with our favorite Italian boys-Novo and Tino; along with inclusions of past couples. Moon rips out out your heart and soul with The Slayer but in an exceptional fashion, she hands it back to you stronger than ever....more