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 h...moreFavorite 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.
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.
Natalie Porter has been searching for her birth parents for years. Thinking the expert she hired to locate them has skipped town with her money, she is shocked when she is approached by a sinister sexy man who claims to be an employee of her father’s and that he wants to meet her. In Russia. He basically kidnaps her and whisks her away on a private jet.
Aleksandr Sevastyan, the Siberian, is an enforcer for Natalie’s father. He has been charged with watching her but when the family gets wind the her father’s enemies have learned of Natalie’s existence, his orders are to get her to Russia through any means possible. And what Aleksandr wants-Aleksandr gets. And he wants Natalie.
The sexual tension is at defcon ten between these two. Aleksandr is a dominant highly sensual man whose dark needs war with his loyalty to the family. He knows he can’t have Natalie all the ways he wants her but she pushes all his buttons and he finds himself unable to resist what she offers.
Natalie is surprised to find herself so attracted to a man she just met but her intrigue at the dark sexual desires Alek hints at has her contemplating doing things she never imagined. Though Alek wants, needs, and demands his rules be followed at all times, Natalie is prepared to show him that sometimes breaking the rules is the ultimate fantasy.
The Professional: Part One is the first installment of a serial by Kresley Cole. Each installment is slated to be approximately 120 pages. The premise is a young woman’s search for her birth parents brings her to the attention of the Russian mob. Lust and loyalty battle for ultimate supremacy as these two travel the world and find that the even the most forbidden fantasy of all can be had if you’re willing to submit.
Cole is a gifted writer whose ability to balance humor, romance, and engaging plot lines is what made her a best selling author. The Professional carries all the elements that Cole has mastered but I felt there was disconnection within the story and the characters. The storyline sets up the premise, giving us the cliched good girl and the anti hero who will save her. Cole tries too hard to convince us Alek is a dark damaged individual and Natalie will be the one to free him from the chains that bind him to the past. We are only given the bare bones in their backgrounds so there was no justification to validate any of this. We aren’t shown how bad Alek is or how good Natalie is. We’re just told.
The sexual tension is off the charts and Cole writes some incredibly hot erotic scenes but I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them. They barely know each other and I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling that their connection was merely a plot device. Even knowing the next installments will probably build their relationship emotionally, I found myself unsure of their ability to go long. Alek’s emotional blockage became annoying, especially when he gets jealous after repeatedly telling Natalie they have no future. I did enjoy that Natalie isn’t a pushover though I wish she wasn’t so perfect. Beautiful, rich, a hard worker, ect…she has no flaws that we see as of yet. She is a strong, happy passionate, and not prone to overwrought emotional whining. Her humorous internal /external monologue added some laugh out loud moments.
Regardless of my reservations, I enjoyed the suspense and drama Cole weaves into her story and meeting Alek, Natalie, and the secondary characters. Natalie’s relationship with her father is well done and I enjoyed the easy camaraderie Cole builds between them. I have always been a fan Russian mob stories and I enjoyed the details and description that Cole incorporates into the storyline. I look forward to reading part two and seeing if Cole can convince me that Natalie and Alek really do have a future together.
Favorite Quote: “What is a Max?” “She is…unique. And she is about to kill you.”
At the end of Crimson Wind, Max found and brought her family back to Horngate and is now fulfilling her obligation to the demi god that Gisele promised her to, Scooter. We open up with him ruthlessly forcing Max to open herself to a magical power she never knew she had. He needs her skills and magic to recover three vital parts of himself or he will die. Once they arrive in the Shadow City, Max finds herself fighting for their lives against an enemy of unimaginable evil. Losing is not an option. While Max is off helping Scooter, Horngate finds itself at the center of the apocalypse. They are slowly losing food sources, they are having to shelter orphaned witches and humans, a fury has risen, and they are being watched by something much larger and stronger than they. As they work to find away to defeat the fury, they suddenly receive some help from n unexpected source.
Shadow City embodies the reasons why I love urban Fantasy so much. Dark and gritty; the world building constantly evolves to offer new and exciting challenges within the arc without sacrificing the integrity of the story lines or the characters. Thrilling, fast paced action, ripe suspense, and charismatic characters keep you glued to the the pages as you watch these incredible personalities fight, love, and laugh their way to the end. This series personifies love, loss, betrayal, and sacrifice-driving the points home with a sledgehammer. Shadow City is an emotional roller coaster that turns a pivotal corner in the series. Max and Alexander are finally dealing with issues that have been eating away at them. Max begins to let go of her hatred and need for revenge. Not to say she has forgiven Gisele because that’s not going to happen any time soon-but rather she has decided to stop giving it so much control over her life and opens herself fully to the people who love her. The Blades are her family and Horngate is her home. We see growth in her character, especially towards Alexander.
“Why was it so hard for her to take what he was giving? What was she waiting for?”
Alexander also goes through some growing pains of his own. He and his Prime have been at odds since arriving at Horngate. He has never been accepted there and now the Blades need him to lead them since Max left but her leaving has emotionally crippled him. It takes a traumatic event and a new friend to break him down to nothing and then put him back together whole.
I love that the Blades and Gisele are in the forefront here. That was one issue I had with Crimson Winds-the lack of interaction we had with them. The supporting characters are still as vivid and dynamic as ever. Each one fully capable of carrying their own story. I like that each have distinct, separate personalities; ensuring they are never overwhelmed by our protagonists. We are privy to some personal emotional dialogue that allows us to see how deep the connection between one another is. Gisele is more “human” in here and while she is still the character I love to hate most, she is beginning to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the cruelty and betrayal she bestowed on Max.
“This is our new start. Phoenix from the ashes. Let’s do better this time. No, that’s wrong. I’ll do better this time. Like I should have done from the start. I always knew this place was suppose to be different, but I followed the old rules anyhow.”
We make some new friends and re visit with some old ones. I really want to see more of Valery and Holt and get their full story. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humor in here. Max and the gang have grown into their snark and it balanced with the seriousness of the storyline beautifully.
There are two main conflicts that run simultaneously and interact towards the end. Each one a full bodied expose in tension, suspense, and action with multiple subplots running throughout: guaranteeing us that this series will only continue to get better. Our villains are appropriately evil and vicious which only further enforces the darkness of this series. The conclusion comes at us hard and fast with a climatic nerve racking finale. The ending is conclusive and satisfying yet leaves the door open wide enough to ensure we haven’t seen the last of our demi god nor his friends.
A splendid addition to this series and I look forward to spending more time with Max and Horngate in the future. I recommend this to every reader who enjoys a kick ass heroine and dark adventures set in a lush urban fantasy world.
Favorite Quote: “May feel like you’re fallin’, Tabby, but remember, I’m at the bottom, waiting to catch you.”
Tabitha (Tabby) Allen, princess of the Chaos Motorcycle Club, has always had a family of brothers to fall back on, but she has always wanted more from one brother- Shy Cage. Fate has conspired through the years to keep them apart until a tragedy brings them together and Tabby intends to make Shy realize that he is the one she was born to love.
Shy has always been aware of Tabby’s crush but thought nothing of it until one fateful night when he decides to teach her a hard lesson and in her goodbye to him, she kisses him and the taste of her permeates his skin and remains on his tongue for years. When she makes it known to him that he is the biker boss for her, Shy considers himself the luckiest man on the planet, but Tabby being the Club president’s daughter makes her off limits. Shy is ready to take on the world and his brothers to claim Tabby for his own, but will fate allow them this ride or will they crash and burn?
From the first introduction in Motorcycle Man, fans have glommed on the possibility of a romance between the reigning princess of the Chaos MC, Tabitha Allen, and the sexy Chaos biker, Parker “Shy” Cage. When it was announced that the first of a spin off series, Chaos, would give the readers just that, a happy squeeeee was heard around the fandom of Kristen Ashley.
I wasn’t sure at first how this would work because both were rather young in Motorcycle Man (Tabby is 17 and Shy is 22) and I wasn’t looking forward to watching Tabby continue to have her heart broken by a VERY promiscuous and seemingly clueless Shy as we saw in MM. However, I should just learn to trust Ashley because it does work.
Own The Wind picks up with Tabby in college, working towards her nursing degree. We watch as her and Shy’s life intertwine through a series of events that spans approximately six years. The story is told in increments, skipping a month or so through time, bringing us back each time at pivotal moments. Fast paced with a solid story line and well plotted scenes. The focus of the story remains solely on Tabby and Shy’s romance. We watch as they go from dislike to friendship to eventually love. It’s not a perfect love story. Shy and Tabby bring plenty of baggage with them to the relationship and their personalities are a guaranteed fight waiting to happen. Also, Tabby’s crush on Shy was seen through rose colored glasses. Once she gets to know the real Shy, she realizes that while she may be a princess, he is not her white knight, and this is not a fairy tale. Both have some maturing to do and the journey is rocky for them.
There is a genuine sense of realism in here that isn’t as prevalent in the previous books. What makes Ashley’s books so cracktacular is the overall fairy tale sense of romance and the dreamlike men incorporated into her contemporaries. She has given us the alpha hero. Strong, gorgeous, intelligent, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He takes what he wants and gives his all to the woman he loves. It’s swoon worthy romantic. It’s panty wetting romantic. It’s also not real and most of us would bury a man who acted like Ashley’s heroes in a shallow unmarked grave in real life. Tabby and Shy are a realistic couple in that Tabby was raised in Shy’s world. She knows his lifestyle as well as he does. There is no introduction or training of the heroine to accept the man and the world she has chosen to enter. She is his equal and there are not a lot of Ashley’s heroines like that. Dusty, Nina, and Sylvie are a few who are also equal to their respective mates.
Tabby and Shy’s relationship is slow and steady as they struggle with preconceived notions and outside negativity. One impressive point in this story is that their romance is used to facilitate a new generation of bikers. We see some of the stereotypical biker attitudes being challenged. Shy doesn’t hold to the mentality of controlling his woman as some of his biker brethren does and makes that quite clear.
“Tab and I don’t play that way. You want to order your old lady around, do what you do, not for me to say. I asked her to go, she didn’t go. Not gonna make her. But you try, you’ll deal with me.”
“You’d give up your brothers for a woman?” “ Abso-fucking-lutely.”
Tabby is also dealing with being seen as a woman and not a child. I have to say her day of reckoning was epic and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some arses get spanked, by her, for the way they reacted to her and Shy dating.
“You don’t get to think. Dad doesn’t get to think. Big Petey. Dog. Brick. Boz. Natalie. All you all…don’t get to think. I live my life, no matter how much you or Dad or anyone loves me, or how much I love you all, you don’t get to live my life for me, tell me how to live it or judge me for the decisions I make.”
The growth in here is evident, both character and arc wise. The secondary characters are as vivid and personable as her protagonists.We see many old friends from the Chaos world and meet a couple of new ones who guarantee that we haven’t seen the last of our beloved MC. As with most of Ashley’s books, we are given our HEA and a glimpse into the future to assure us that our couple is truly happy.
As with Raid though, I did find the missing additional external sub plots and descriptions to be discouraging. In her early books, the individualism that Ashley imparts to her characters was one of the reasons I fell in love with her stories. Each character had a life that existed beyond the romance. We are given a look into the mundane and it gifted her characters with a four dimensional aspect. We learned Tyra liked yoga and movies in Motorcycle Man. We learned, in depth, about Tessa’s baking ability in Wild Man. Gwen’s romance writing in Mystery Man was a large part of the story line. In here, it seems that Shy and Tabby had very little individualism. Very few scenes do we see Tabby or Shy alone, doing something that doesn’t involve each other. There is very little interaction from other series characters. I was very surprised in one scene where Elvira appears and tells us that she knows about a fight between Tab and Shy. In an earlier book, we would have seen a scene involving Tyna and her crew, giggling and discussing Tab and Shy’s romance and the fight. We don’t even know what kind of car Tabby drives. That was disappointing. While I’ll always love Ashley and the different worlds she has opened up to me, the mainline streaming of her work is cutting into the very aspect that made her stories so different and addicting.
Regardless of my misgivings, Ashley continues to be an auto buy author for me and I dread the day when everyone’s story has been told and we reach the end.
The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis #1) by Sandy Williams Urban Fantasy Paperback October 25, 2011 Ace
Favorite Quote: “I dedicated my life to my king. I should have dedicated it to you. “
McKenzie Lewis is a Nalkin-Shom-a shadow witch. She has a special gift that allows her to see and track the Fae by “reading” the shadows they leave behind when fissuring (teleporting). This gift has cost her family and friends; they believe her insane. From the time she was 16 years old till now (she’s 26) she has been in service to the King of the Fae, working to help track and capture the rebels who are bent on overthrowing the realm. She has also spent the last 10 years in love with the king’s sword-master; Kyol. She knows nothing can come of it, relations between humans and fae are forbidden yet she holds on against hope that someday they can be together.
McKenzie has been toying with the idea of retiring and begins taking collage courses to prepare herself for a normal life. When she is kidnapped by the fae rebel leader, Aren, that dream is shattered. He begins to show her the lies and half truths she has been told by the King. She finds herself starting to question everything she has ever known about the fae, it’s king, and her beloved sword master. When the war threatens to spill into the human realm, McKenzie has to choose who’ll she stand by during this devastating war for power.
Sandy Williams packs a powerful punch with her debut urban fantasy Shadow Reader. An energetic, explosive story that takes our world and intertwines it with fantasy. Our heroine McKenzie isn’t your average UF heroine. She has a gift but no special life saving powers or skills. She is an average human among a stronger and more deadly race. I admired her strength in the face of her gift. It couldn’t be easy to face the daily ridicule she experienced because of her ability to see the fae. The fact that Ms. Williams is able to develop her into an appealing protagonist instead of a victim says much about her characterization skills. The world building is fantastically complex with it’s political manipulations and geography make up. Though we only get a small sample of the territory, I look forward to peeling back the obvious layers and exploring what this world has to offer.
There are two story lines that run simultaneously and dependent upon one another. The main conflict and a love triangle. While I’m not a fan of love triangles, Ms. Williams does a remarkable job of setting it up in a realistic fashion and making it less an angst filled “oh who will I ever choose” and more a serious decision that will not only decide matters of her heart but also her future. Our two “heroes” are Kyol and Aren. Kyol is the king’s sword master. A serious warrior who’s loyalty to the king and his fellow fae is unquestionable. He loves McKenzie but the law forbidding them to interact romantically has him keeping her at arms length. We don’t see much of him till the near the end. Aren is the fae rebel leader. A charismatic, manipulative, chameleon of a man who at first sees McKenzie as a means to an end. He does not hesitate to use and lie to McKenzie but soon sees that she has been nothing more then a pawn in their war. Both men put the war first and use McKenzie in attempts to further their own goals. I will admit that I wasn’t impressed with McKenzie’s choice. I didn’t feel either of them deserved her.
The main conflict is a treacherous path filled with deception, misdirection, and betrayal. You never know who is telling the truth and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Ms. Williams changes direction and you are once again frantically trying to keep up. The ending felt like a roller coaster ride; relentlessly tossing me up and down, left and right as I screamed in both fear and excitement. This book will keep your emotions on overload till the very last sentence. Even though the book ends on a high note with an effective resolution; there is enough left open to allow for a second book.
I encourage all readers with a love of Urban Fantasy to run, not walk, to your nearest book store and get your very own copy. Ms. William’s Shadow Reader is a must read for 2011.
Welcome to the roaring twenties. Illegal booze, speakeasies, and sexual/economic freedom made for golden times as the world prospered after Word War One. Gangsters and G-Men battled in the streets as the public turns a blind eye to the law of prohibition.
Aida Palmer, a beautifully freckled hot tempered spirit medium, works at the popular nightclub, the Gris-Gris, where she entertains crowds with her gifts. Aida is not a fraud or charlatan. Her gifts are true and because of this, she finds herself helping one of the top bootleggers in the city, Winter Magnusson. Winter, a handsome giant of a man, has come to see Aida’s boss, Velma Toussaint, a known witch, when he finds himself overrun with ghosts. Velma sends for Aida and between the two of them, they discover he’s been cursed. Aida gets rid of the ghosts while Velma un hexs Winter but it leaves him still with a huge problem. Who wants Winter out of the way?
Winter hires Aida into helping him rid his home of more ghosts and soon they find themselves entangled in more than just a mystery. Attraction sparks between them and the flames only get hotter as this pair of unlikely lovers chase clues from the seedy underbelly of Chinatown to the glittering homes of the Pacific Heights upper crust. As they get closer to discovering the root of Winter’s problems, they discover that they each have their own personal demons to exorcise if they want a relationship in this world.
Bitter Spirits is the first installment in a historical PNR series by Jenn Bennett. Set in the 20’s, Bennett pays homage to the roaring twenties while adding a unique twist by introducing ghosts, zombies, and magic to the era. Luscious world building paints an intriguing portrait of San Francisco’s landscape during the 20’s while strong well defined characters and an intriguing action packed storyline engages the reader to the end. Humorous banter and a sweet sexy romance blends well with the hint of danger that permeates the story. Our protagonists, Aida Palmer and Winter Magnusson, control the story from the start and our journey begins with a bang.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bitter Spirits. A fun book whose pacing and tempo is spot on. The beginning starts out a little slow but the set up of the storyline and arc holds your attention. Though touted as a PNR, I felt the storyline was decidedly stronger on the romance side than the paranormal. The paranormal aspects are used more as plot devices and elevate the story rather than hold equal footing. What makes the story for me are the characters.
Aida, a profitable medium, doesn’t define herself by her gifts. She is independent, modern, and generally content with life. Her life is filled with friends though she keeps herself emotionally distant at times. She has some personal baggage she carries but it doesn’t weigh her down. Orphaned at an early age, she learned along time ago that the only one she can really depend on his herself. Winter is the same as Aida in some ways. His scarred face hints at a dark past which he hides with his gregarious personality and business. Born into a rich family with strong ties to bootlegging, he continues the family legacy, even allowing them to make some decisions for him which weren’t in his best interest. This causes him to harbor guilt and a distrust of people in general; especially women. But Aida intrigues him from the get go and he finds himself having to do something he hasn’t had to do in a while. Chase a woman. Both are opinionated, jealous, stubborn, fanatically loyal, and will give their lives for the right person. Their scarred imperfections only endear them to the reader.
Their romance builds slowly, allowing for a believable journey and resolution. I enjoyed that Winter and Aida get to know one another and enjoy their time together before becoming intimate. Their playful bickering was fun to watch and made for some laugh out loud moments. As they become more intimate, Bennett writes some wonderfully sensuous and subtly erotic scenes that had me wanting a bootlegger for myself.
A cast of viable well defined secondary characters only serve to further endear you to the story. Velma, Aida’s boss and owner of the Gris-Gris is a bit of a mystery with her magical powers. I do hope Bennett has a book planned for her. Winter’s man servant Bo is a wonderful side kick and I look forward to seeing exactly what parts he will play in the future. Meeting the various other crime bosses and bootleggers makes the era seem even more alive, especially the integration of the Chinese tong. The mystery of Winter’s curser resolves fast and furious with some interesting subplots. My only wish was that the villain had been integrated more into the story. As I stated earlier, the romance is heavy in here and maintains a strong presence, regulating everything else to a distinct second place.
Bitter Spirits is a wonderfully entertaining story in bribed with magic, history, and a charming romance. I look forward to the second installment, Grim Shadows, set to release June 3, 2014, which is the story of Winter’s brother, Lowe.
Favorite Quote: “The next person who tells me to hurry up before I finish my cup of coffee gets a bullet in the ass.”
Police officer Jenna O’Connor has spent her whole life hiding from what her mother called the Others – supernatural beings. Repeatedly told they would kill her because of her hybrid status, she has spent her life staying under the radar, letting no one but her family into her life. No more though. In an attempt to live her own life, she moves to Wilmington, NC and lands her dream job on the SWAT team. She never expects her cover to be blown the first day when she meets Adam McPhee. She instantly knows he’s not human, like her, but figures she can handle anything he throws her way.
Adam McPhee, the smoking hot Alpha of the NC pack, is more wolf than human and now has his sights set on the sexy little SWAT agent who stepped between him and his prey. He knows Jenna isn’t human but can’t figure out exactly what she is and his curiosity to find out more about her, could get them both killed if he isn’t careful.
When a group of violent shifters who are part of an elitist pact that views humans as cattle, storm the town, threatening humans and Others alike, Jenna finds herself knee deep in a world her mama told her to always avoid. As Jenna tries to find her footing, learning new and unbelievable things about herself and the Others, she begins to wonder if her mama wasn’t right.
Fans of Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series will enjoy this. Similar in makeup, Lane has created a world where supes are a normal part of society and plenty of humor, snark, and action play alongside crazy, engaging characters. Heavily character driven, the story is told mainly from our heroine’s POV, Jenna O’Connor, though we have enough dialogue from other characters to get a healthy mixture of multiple POVs. I enjoyed the crisp, fast paced writing style that flows smoothly through the story. Within the pages, humor, action, suspense, and romance all mix together for a laugh out loud story that keeps you hooked to the very end. It’s not completely lighthearted though. Some intriguing subplots balance well against the humorous situations to reveal a serious side to the story.
Lane’s world building is a solid though we only learn what directly affects Jenna. I do love Lane’s unique view on how shifters came to be in existence. Magic aside, she digs deep into the evolutionary chain and gives us a fantastical but almost believable tale that starts with the dinosaurs. *g* T Rex shifters. RAWR!!!!
Jenna is a refreshing protagonist. She is a kick ass heroine with a smart mouth and the skills to back it up. Not to say she comes across as butch or bitchy, she is as girly as the rest of us, but she is an engaging and funny blend of femininity and “take no crap” warrior.
Alex answered her. “You do know that it’s disturbing that you know all that, right? We thought you were some go hard, take no prisoners, don’t-look-at-me-or-I’ll-bust-a-cap-in-your-ass warrior.”
She balled her hands up by her hips and barked in annoyance. “Well, I wasn’t raised on G.I. Joes you know! Mama raised me on princesses and fairy tales, and I just happened to like the swords more than the shoes in the stories. Okay?”
Though kept in the dark for most of her life about her past, the Others and their politics, she jumps head first when a plot is revealed that affects shifters and humans alike. She makes plenty of mistakes and wrong decisions yet doesn’t get emotionally mired down by them. She learns from them and moves on. When pressed to make a very, very important decision affecting her future, I liked that she stood her ground even when battered and insulted on all sides. She wouldn’t let her mind be swayed just because of the good of the pack. She’s loyal and dedicated but not a martyr.
Adam. Nom Nom Adam. An alpha of the first degree. He’s large, in charge, and takes protectiveness to a whole new level. When he meets Jenna, his wolf batters at the tenuous hold Adam has on it, desperate to get to her. To claim her. To make her his in all ways possible. This causes problems for Adam and between Adam and Jenna. Even while being over bearing as only a true alpha can be, he does his best to keep his courtship easy and safe for Jenna. He wants to court his way into her life and bed and I have to admire the restraint he places on his nature in order to achieve that.
Due to this, the romance progresses a slow steady pace. The chemistry between them is apparent from their first meeting, but chemistry isn’t enough for Jenna to throw away all her past lessons for a quick roll in the hay. Especially since everything indicates this will be anything but a one night or even two night stand. The banter between them is hilarious and I like that they both take the time to get to know one another; even if Adam does constantly push the envelope. I do like humorous romances between two strong protagonists. One thing I didn’t like is everyone knows she was raised ignorant of the Others ways, yet they treated her as if she should know everything being thrown at her. They get mad at her for not knowing things but don’t always offer up information until past the time she needed to know.
The secondary characters are just as vivacious and compelling as our protagonists. Adding depth and dimension to the storyline, each holds enough personality for them to have their own stories. Jenna’s uncle provides her with a much needed male father figure while her mother takes mama bear syndrome to a whole new level. We meet two tigers whose slutty antics and snobby attitudes will have you howling. And we can’t forget their grandmother…You will all die when you meet their grandmother. Her new best friend Kent has some secrets hiding behind his cavalier attitude and I look forward to learning his back story.
The conflict is an interesting premise but unfortunately stays deep in the background, overshadowed by Jenna’s introduction to the Other way of life and her romance with Adam. We only get glimpses of what the villains are up to and no resolution. I can only hope that since this was essentially a ‘meet and greet’ set up book, the next one will focus equally on the H/H and the continuing conflict. All in all, Big Bad Bite is steady and action packed with plenty of twists and turns that delighted me. I enjoyed the light and dark aspect that is brought into play-they blend well together. I enjoyed Big Bad Bite and look forward to reading the next installment-Walk On The Striped Side-which releases in 2014. Jessie Lane is definitely an author to watch for those who love zany, adventures, romantic PNR.
Favorite Quote: “..he was drowning in the need to be a better man.”
Stefan Prakenskii is working undercover in a French prison, trying to uncover the location of a secret microchip. He believes his cell mate, Jean-Claude LaRoux, stole the microchip but that’s not what interests Stefan. It’s the hundreds of pictures of a single woman that decorates the cell. A beautiful solitary woman who speaks to Stefan through the photographs. When his mission ends, he is contracted to find this woman and gain her trust in any way possible. His superiors believe that La Roux will contact her and led them to the chip. Stephan believes that his superiors want him in Sea Haven for another reason. Something to do with his brother Lev who died there. He comes to Sea Haven and begins to set his trap.
Judith Henderson lives with her “sisters” in Sea Haven creating her art. A renowned artist, she had an affair with La Roux until she witnessed a devastating crime and realized that La Roux was an insane dangerous man. Her talent over whelmed her,creating danger to all around her, so she fled to Sea Haven and begins to rebuild her life ruthlessly cutting out all emotion. When she meets a man who wants to purchase the gallery she can’t believe the connection she feels to him. Her senses come alive for the first time in years. A single glance binds her to him but she refuses to allow herself the fall.
Spirit Bound is the second in Ms. Feehan’s Sisters of the Heart series. This series is a direct spin off of her Drake Sister series and there is a strong character and arc overlap that is present in the background. You can start with the first of this series but you would get a better overall understanding if you started with the Drake Sister series. Spirit Bound picks up where Water Bound left off.
Judith Henderson is an elemental spirit. She is able to transmit and imprint her emotions on other people. She chooses to now ‘live’ through her art to avoid hurting anyone. In the beginning I found her to be strong and interesting character. I soon realized that she is easily influenced. Once she met and fell for Stefan it was like she was absorbed in to him and while she voiced her opinions and thoughts, he steam rolled right over her and she sighed like a love sick teenager. She doesn’t like conflict which made me want to bang my head on my desk as I watched her gloss over and ignore certain situations. She completely embodied the term that love forgives all.
I did like Stefan in the beginning. Stolen from his family at a young age, he was molded into the ultimate weapon-a human chameleon. He is frank in his thoughts about what he needs to do and why and I respected that. The problem came when he meets Judith. When Stefan acknowledges he has fallen in love with Judith but starts to make excuses for his continuing to lie, omit, and makes decisions for her, all justified because of his love and childhood, I got disgusted. I felt like his love was nothing more then a gilded cage that he builds around Judith. He violates her privacy, lies to her, omits things from her, and at one point does something that completely shocked and horrified me. But what horrifies me more is Judith just lets it go with a tiny slap on the hand and a minor sulk session.
The chemistry is very sensually written, Ms Feehan has a gift for making a trip to the grocery store an erotic experience, but there is a lot of emotional pontification in here that drags the story down. I felt like Ms. Feehan was trying too hard to convince me they were made for one another. Their dialogue, both internal and external, is almost bi polar in its revelations. The plot and main conflict suffer because of this. Both were underdeveloped and completely buried under the romance of the story. We see the main villain once in the beginning, then once in the end. With the build up in the beginning, I expected more of a fight out of him.
The secondary characters were better. Personable with deeply developed characterization, their presence helped to calm the story down and bridge certain areas allowing for comprehension. I loved seeing the sisters, especially Rikki and her husband. The ending comes hard and fast, leaving me feeling like I missed part of the story.
I think the main problem I have with this story and Feehan’s work in general is that her heroes fall into two groups. Always mega alphas, they will either be calm and view their females as an equals, or overly dominate and force their will upon their females. You never know which type you’re going to get from book to book and it makes for uneasy reading. This one fell under the second category of heroes and was disappointing.
Favorite Quote: “I gave up on their dreams and the life we had all planned out. And now I was heading home to face the music.”
Liam left everything and everyone behind, without explanation, in order to pursue his own dreams. Known as the golden boy of Beaumont with a promising football career, Liam had his life all planned out by his family and girlfriend but he knew in his heart that music was his salvation and that if he didn’t leave Beaumont, he would die a slow death. Liam achieves his dreams and is now a famous rock star with the tattoos and the reputation to match…but he never forgot the town or the girl he left behind. When he receives word that his best friend has died, Liam knows that it’s time to head back to Beaumont and see if he can make his next dream come true…get the girl he left behind.
Josie knew that Liam would be coming home to Beaumont when he received news of his best friend’s death. When he left ten years ago, she was devastated. He gave her no reason why and she felt as if her heart and soul had been ripped out of her chest. She tried to call him for an explanation but he changed his number and for all intents and purposes, disappeared from her life. Josie picked up the pieces of her broken heart and eventually moved on with her life. She now has a successful business, a loving fiance, and a son whom she cherishes. She isn’t sure if she wants to see Liam or find out why he left her, but she has one very important reason that will force her to confront the man who changed her life with one single word-Goodbye.
Forever My Girl is a modern day love story that speaks of second chances with love, heartbreak, redemption, hope, and of course, laughter. This book stayed with me long after I read the last page. Emotionally plump with a well plotted storyline, we get a ringside seat as we watch Liam and Josie both try to understand and come to terms with what exactly happened to them ten years ago. You want to lay all the blame at Liam’s feet but as the story develops, you realise that you can’t. There were mistakes made on both sides. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the town’s residents lives and develop affection for them. Josie is a wonderful single parent who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and patience. She is scared, angry, and still harbors a deep vein of pain that time has not healed. Her life stopped on that fateful day he left and while she has gone on with her life, a large piece of her never got over him.
“You don’t get to come in here and demand answers, Liam. You’ve been off playing rock star. You’re the famous Liam Page. You left this…You left me. There’s no room for you here.”
Liam is wonderful in that he doesn’t roar back into town, intent on picking up where he left off. He knows he hurt Josie and accepts that fact that he may never get her back into his life as a lover or even a friend. He knows he needs to make amends to everyone, not just Josie, and explain why he did what he did. He too has hurt the entire time he was gone. His dream may have come true but he never forgot Josie and he never gave away his heart to another woman because she has held it since they were teenagers.
“I told her I’d love her forever. I said I love you first and promised to never let her go. “
I found that the story itself is pretty straight forward in it’s delivery. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathe life into this story and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Ms. McLaughlin has created real people who could be anyone we know. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the hard lessons life sometimes hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and each person has issues that need to be resolved. The execution, each chapter alternates points of view between Liam and Josie, flows smoothly and offers a unique view into their mind set. Normally, I’m not a fan of this setup but in here it works. We aren’t inundated with previous chapter recaps as each character gives voice to their thoughts and feelings.
“I thought for sure we’d spend forever together. I thought our love was one of a kind. I would almost be okay if he had met someone else and fallen in love, but he didn’t. He just left. He said he was suffocating.”
Josie and Liam are wonderful together. The chemistry explodes between them from the first time they see each other again. Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t use tired cliches, mind numbing angst, emotional whining to facilitate their romance. Theirs is not an instant re connection and I appreciated that. Their reconciliation is slow and realistic as we are given glimpses into their past together and try, along with them, to understand exactly what went wrong and where. There is something powerful about watching two people who are given a second chance. I really enjoyed how Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t give us an easy fix to their 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 of them. It’s painful at times to watch as these two struggle to learn about each other again and find a way to forgive each other and themselves. Can they work past it all? Well, you’ll have to read to find that out.
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story and add depth to Liam and Josie’s journey. Katelyn, good friend to both Liam and Josie, is the voice of reason as she doesn’t so much champion Liam as she softly encourages Josie to just listen. We learn more about Liam’s uneasy relationship with his parents and how they contributed to his leaving in the beginning. We are also gifted with a potential secondary romance and an intriguing subplot that could destroy them all.
The ending is wonderfully satisfying in that while we aren’t given a HEA, we are given hope for our couple. All in all, Forever My Girl is a must have for lovers of romantic contemporaries with sexy rock stars and the strong heroines they love and has me looking forward to the second installment of the Beaumont Boys series.
Favorite Quote: “We’d only known each other for a total of seven minutes “
How important was your first kiss? How long did the feeling last? A minute? A day? A Year? When seventeen year old Charlotte Davenport received her first kiss from carnival worker Vince Youngblood, nothing came close to replicating that feeling for 10 years. Now, Vince and the carnival are back in town and Charlotte is hoping that the second kiss will be just as good.
Charlotte Davenport never forgot her first kiss from a carny. Now 10 years later, she is still living in the same small town, running the family hotel that she doesn’t want, and has been left at the altar by her fiancé. Charlotte is just barely living until she sees her carny again and life suddenly seems interesting again.
Vince Youngblood has always been part of his father’s carnival but life pulled him in a different direction until his father disappears and Vince chooses to leave a promising medical career to help run the family carnival. When he arrives back in town, he sees Charlotte again and is shocked by this feelings towards her. Older and wiser now, he wants to see where this attraction between them can go.
Brooke Moss has a definite gift when it comes to romantic contemporaries. The Carny is a romantic, delightful, and heartwarming story about love, family, and second chances. Filled with plenty of humor, snarkiness, and eccentric characters; we get a ringside seat as we watch Charlotte struggle with her attraction to a man she only knew for 7 minutes while dealing with her dysfunctional family and their racism. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the lives of these characters and the stories they have to share. Charlotte is a delightful person who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and a lot of patience. Stuck in a home and career she hates, Charlotte’s inner monologue will have you chuckling to yourself as she tries to live her own life despite what her family demands from her.
Vince Youngblood is quite a swoon worthy hero. Gorgeous, sweet, and gentle; he’s an alpha hero with a heart of gold. He has lived a full life, and like Charlotte, has experienced loss and disappointment from his family. He too felt the connection with Charlotte but they were both young and the circumstances just didn’t lend themselves to exploring those feelings. Their romance starts out slowly, intertwining with the main conflict of the story. I love how each of them is intent on exploring and fanning the flames of their attraction to one another.
“For over a decade, I’d been comparing every kiss I ever shared with a man to the lone kiss Vin gave me.” Moss gives them more than enough time to get to know one another. They hit some bumps in the road and there are trust issues on Charlotte’s end and some secrets on Vin’s end to resolve but all in all it’s a wonderfully sweet romance that takes your breath away. The smexy times are off scene but that doesn’t take away from the sheer beauty of this relationship. The only part I didn’t like was Charlotte lack of trust. She jumps quickly to conclusions that could have been easily resolved with a simple question or two.
The secondary characters play their respective roles brilliantly. Charlotte’s family is absolutely horrible. Dysfunctional and racist; you can’t help but cringe every time one of them opens their mouth.
“It baffled me that Imelda continued to show up for work everyday. If my mother were my employer, I would have locked myself in the bell tower with a rifle a long time ago.”
Moss addresses their issues gracefully, allowing Charlotte’s family to slowly see the error of their ways in a realistic fashion. I really liked how Moss examines the issues through scenes to show us and Charlotte that racism is just as prevalent in this day and age. Just because you’re not wearing a white hooded sheet on the weekends doesn’t mean you can’t be racist. Charlotte’s best friend Kate is hilarious with her advice and defense of Charlotte. She is the type of friend we all need-someone who loves us just the way we are. Charlotte’s relationship with her mother and sisters is tremulous and their road to understanding and accepting one another is a poignant aspect of the story. I enjoyed meeting Vince’s family and it was enlightening to see racism from their eyes. I loved Vince’s step mother with her biting wit and sarcasm.
“I didn’t know we were having company tonight, I would have cleaned up, or burnt the place down, or something.”
The ending is heartbreaking yet gratifying as everything and everyone finds their place and settles beautifully. It wasn’t an easy road for these characters but it’s well earned. I love the tiny epilogue added that is told from Vin’s POV. It wraps it all up nicely and left me with a smile.
“Some people live their whole lives wondering about their first love-that person who held their heart when they were young….We got a second chance, and not everyone can say that.“ (less)
Favorite Quote: His feelings for her were as complicated as the history between Heaven and Hell.
Some tiny spoilers from book four.
Reaver, father of the Four Horsemen and bad boy battle angel has a problem. He recently found out that Harvester, a fallen angel, isn’t the evil entity she has been acting like for thousands of years. She did not betray Heaven but was actually involved in a complex mission that required her to act as though she was still working for her father, Satan. After helping to stop the Apocalypse, Satan dragged her to Hell to be tortured for eternity.
Reaver has also been regaining bits and pieces of his memories. Memories that involve his and Harvester’s past. When Reaver makes plans to go to Hell and rescue Harvester, he is in direct violation of Heavenly orders. Getting caught could cost him his wings…and possibly his life.
Harvester knew that betraying Satan would cost her but she had hoped maybe Heaven would intervene. When no help comes, Harvester resigns herself to her fate. She is amazed and disconcerted when Reaver comes into Hell, intent on bringing her out alive. They haven’t had a very congenial relationship-both hating the other for a myriad of reasons.
As Reaver and Harvester struggle to escape Satan’s domain and dealing with the onslaught of memories resurfacing for both of them; they realize that they have been nothing but pawns in the dangerous game between Heaven and Hell. Now, Reaver and Harvester must work together to save the world once again and issue the ultimate smack down to everyone who thought they could bring them to heel.
I am a HUGE fan of Larissa Ione and her wickedly dark, dangerous, and sinful Lords of Deliverance series. Fans have all waited impatiently for Reaver’s story and will be ecstatic with this latest installment. Reaver gives us answers to most that has plagued readers since book one and wraps up the arc’s major storyline while opening the way for a brand new ones.
A true PNR that delivers well crafted characters, machiavellian plots lines, and engaging dialogue that rivals most offerings out there. I love the balance Ione achieves between the high octane romance and the heart pounding action. Though you know the happy ending is coming, the path that you follow is fraught with peril and pain. Ione doesn’t make it easy and all you can do ride it out as Ione weaves her magic around you.
Reaver is filled with anger, betrayal, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice and love. It holds you hostage from page one and doesn’t let go till you reach the last page. Incredible world building only continues to expand and evolve; allowing for easy comprehension of it’s rather convoluted landscape. Filled with intense action, dark violence, humorous snark, and some amazingly poignant scenes, you will find yourself devouring each page, leading us to a stunning conclusion that will have you cheering for joy.
Ione has given us two extremely damaged protagonists in Reaver and Harvester. Betrayed by those they vowed to serve with their lives, your heart breaks as you learn of the pain inflicted upon them by others and each other. Reaver and Harvester have suffered tremendously in their service to Heaven and they are repaid time and time again with deception and betrayal. That is not to say they are purely angelic. *wink* Both are predisposed with nasty tempers and willful natures that lead them straight into temptation time and time again.
“Only a fool would merely consider entering hell without a plan. Only a fucking idiot would seriously intend to saunter into the Prince of Evil’s living room in the very center of hell to kidnap his little girl. Against orders. And without a plan.”
Intense and seductive sexual tension and chemistry saturates the storyline. Reaver and Harvester have a history together that spans the centuries. Hate and love often ride in tandem and that is certainly true in their case. Watching Reaver and Harvester change and grow in this book was heartbreaking at times. Both fighting their own demons and slowly accepting love and help from others was an emotional journey that required sacrifice from both. As their past becomes clearer, Reaver shoulders quite a bit of blame for the pain Harvester has suffered. His actions towards her in the past were selfish and cruel and these revelations hurt him more than any physical pain that he has ever endured.
The pain in her voice flayed him to the bone. [...] All he knew was that he was the source of Harvester’s pain. Every single stitch of pain she’d endured for the last five thousand years could be laid on his shoulders.
An engaging personable cast of secondary characters only serve to further elevate your enjoyment. Each one is fully developed and more than capable of holding their own story. We see so many old friends in here (from this series and the Demonica series) and meet some new and interesting ones. Clues are given to the next hero and heroine and they look to promise much mayhem and laughter.
“I neither work for you nor am I mated to you, so I don’t have to respond to your rudeness. And if I was mated to you, I’d respond with a blade to your balls.”
Nothing and nobody is ever what they seem in here and that becomes glaringly evident as the story progresses. As I stated earlier, this book answers so many questions and contains some rather shocking news. It’s very hard not to spoil so forgive my lack of information.
The multiple story lines are filled with extreme tension and emotion yet flow evenly and smoothly to merge together for a climactic ending that had my heart stopping quite a few times as Reaver defies the heavens to save those he loves. Larissa Ione once again produces a gold medal winner with Reaver. As I stated in the beginning, I am a huge fan of this series and will continue to recommend them to anyone who will listen to me. Though this story has a fully resolved main conflict, I do not recommend reading out of order, as it also resolves a long standing arc that you will miss out on by not starting from the beginning with Immortal Rider.
Favorite Quote: "He terrified her. He terrified her because when she kissed him, when she'd gotten so desperate for him so fast...so fast...she'd had...moreFavorite Quote: "He terrified her. He terrified her because when she kissed him, when she'd gotten so desperate for him so fast...so fast...she'd had been there to...She'd still been there. She wanted him...herself, Chess, not just her body. That desire, that crazy intense need...that hadn't been just physical."
In the second book of Stacia Kane's Downside series-Unholy Magic-Chess Putnam is back and sinking further in her drug induced world. After being poisoned by a psychic con man, she is contracted to debunk a famous actor's claims of haunting. As an agent of the church her job is to expose those who seek to profit off spiritual activities. She has also been "asked" to investigate the gruesome murders of several hookers belonging to her dealer. As Chess settles herself deeper into the haunting and murders, she finds a remote connection that could spell disaster for her and all those involved.
Kane has written one of the most dark and disturbing Urban Fantasy's I have read in a long time. This story drug me in, striped me bare, then rebuilt me page by page till the end. Enticing and addicting from page one, we are once again submerged into Chess’s life. The world building is fascinating; merging past and present history to create an dark and edgy time. The dialog is intoxicating; its particular cadence and rhythm lulling you into a false sense of security until your feet are ripped out from underneath you and you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole.
Favorite Quote: “…that insane need to consume the other person. He didn’t know what it meant, but he held on to the feeling and put it back in the emb...moreFavorite Quote: “…that insane need to consume the other person. He didn’t know what it meant, but he held on to the feeling and put it back in the embrace.“
Police officer Samuel Briggs came to the small town of Stratton, PA in order to escape his painful past. All he wants is to fix up his house, work his shifts, and find some peace and quiet. He can’t handle another relationship, but finds himself tempted by the short order cook at the Dixie Cup diner.
Rey King lives to work. Cook, handyman, salesmen…Rey does it all. Relationships have no place in his busy schedule. Sam’s strength calls to him though and after a no strings attached night of sex, a cautious friendship forms. But Rey and Sam both have scars from the past that could destroy the fragile foundation they have formed unless they can be honest with one another. And themselves.
A.M. Arthur’s debut, Cost Of Repairs, is a emotionally heart tugging male/male romance about pain, loss, and forgiveness. Smoothly written with a viable plot and interesting sub plots that intertwine and pull together to give us a poignant realistic story. Engaging characters and descriptions add to the overall “small town” appeal that the story’s foundation is built upon.
Our protagonists, Sam and Rey, are tortured individuals. Both have suffered a devastating loss that has crippled them emotionally and chained them in their pasts. Officer Sam Briggs left New Mexico after his boyfriend was the victim of a fatal hate crime. When he finds himself unable to go forward, he leaves his family and friends and moves to Stratton, PA with only his possessions and a devastated heart. Rey (Reign) King is a short order cook who is continuously paying for crime he didn’t commit. He finds himself teetering on the brink of ruin each and every day; buried on obligations he feels committed to carrying.
The author does a wonderful job of introducing Sam and Rey in the present, then revealing their individual pasts slowly to coincide with events happening now. Their layers are peeled back, allowing us to understand where they came from and where they are at now. Sam’s an instinctive protector. He feels the need to help Rey in the beginning and offers him friendship and an ear. As their relationship progresses, he realizes that Rey has become more than just a friend; he has become very important to him. The relationship is taken slowly with plenty of emotional and physical tension. These two men are not easy and it stands to reason that their romance would not be either. They are both scared of loss and are reluctant to allow someone into a position that could hurt them again.
The sexual side of the relationship is sweet and emotionally sticky. In it we are offered even more insight into Sam and Rey. I really liked that their relationship isn’t made a sticky point with the town or the residents. While neither is shouting their sexual nature from the rooftops, they also aren’t hiding it.
The main conflict and subsequent conflicts are used to facilitate Sam and Rey’s relationship. Each problem mirrors a past issue that Sam and Rey are dealing with. The solutions are used to help heal the past. With these problems comes the introductions of the secondary characters who play equally important roles. The staff of the Dixie Cup who love both Rey and Sam to Sam’s buddies on the police force. I loved the easy familiarity of the diner and the support Sam and Rey receive when problems present themselves.
The ending is the dramatic final straw that breaks Sam and Rey and forces them to confront their deepest fears. I admit I didn’t see this particular situation coming but it’s played out with delicious hyper tense awareness that has you wide eyed with shock.
I thoroughly enjoyed A.M. Arthur’s debut romance and look forward to reading more.
Favorite Quote: “I’ve never liked Tom Cruise. He always reminded me of someone’s creepy cousin, who smiles too big before he touches your butt and whispers something gross in your ear with hot whiskey on his breath.”
College sophomore Rory Macintosh has brains and beauty but the social intricacies that most of us take for granted, eludes her. When her roommates find out Rory is still a virgin, they approach local bad boy hottie, Tyler Mann, to help rectify this situation. All without Rory knowing.
When Tyler Mann first meets Rory, he knows that this girl could be his everything, but he feels he has nothing to offer her. She’s pre-med and he’s going for his EMT certification. Her family is like Leave It Beaver and his is a Jerry Springer episode. But he can’t resist getting to know her better and soon her honesty and unusual way of looking at life keeps him coming back for more.
As Rory and Tyler slip easily from friendship to lovers, Tyler’s family finally hits rock bottom and Tyler has to make a choice. Does he stay with the best thing that’s ever happened to him and see what happens? Or does he cut all ties and and let the love of his life go?
True is a sweet, romantic, dynamic coming of age new adult that takes a much needed detour from the usual emotionally draining, overly dramatic offerings that we’ve been inundated with recently. Crisp writing and a smooth flowing story line makes it incredibly easy to become fully invested in this book. Heavily character driven, we are instantly smitten with our hero and heroine from first meeting. Though the story revolves around a common trope-innocent virgin meets tattooed bad boy-the similarities end there. Rory, our heroine, is no shrinking wallflower. She’s not at college, wandering around like a lost puppy, lamenting the fact her bff’s are stunning goddesses and she’s still a virgin. Everything is approached logically. She is strong, intelligent, loyal, and slap in the face honest. She also has a dry snarky humor that sneaks up on you.
“Do you you have a purity ring or whatever?” Now that I was in and the beer had loosened my tongue, I said the first thing that came into my head. “I prefer to call it my hymen.”
I also loved her internal dialogues. She humorously dissects and rebuilds conversations and situations so she can better understand them. She’s a scientist through and through.
Tyler, our hero, may look the part with his good looks, emotional distance, and interesting body art, but his actions show you how wrong first impressions can be. He has a lot of responsibility for a 22 year old. His mother is a drug addict and he and his older brother take care of their younger brothers and keep them safe from their mother’s drug fueled rages. He’s a complicated man whose compassionate nature is compelling. When he meets Rory, he sees an interesting girl who can do complicated mathematics in her head but can’t understand the story line from A Streetcar Named Desire. He sees the real Rory.
McCarthy slowly builds the romance between Rory and Tyler, letting them become friends first and then naturally crossing the line into lovers. She uses their personalities and personal lives to show us that even with their much different backgrounds, they are more similar than we first imagine. Though the romance remains a heavy part of the storyline, McCarthy intertwines it with the plotlines, using them to further elevate the romance and guide it along the path to love.
As Tyler begins to let Rory into his private life, she realises that he is even more remarkable and complicated than she first thought. THIS was the appeal of the story for me. How adaptable Rory was when faced with adversity or difficult situations. In fact, both she and Tyler were remarkable in this aspect. No heavy dramatics or theatrics. No game playing. They both communicated their feelings; letting us and each other know how they felt and what they wanted. Character development is at a premium as we watch Rory grow and become more comfortable socially without giving up the basic qualities that made her so delightful. I liked that she didn’t feel she had to change in any way to appeal to Tyler and I also liked that he felt the same way.
“Our relationship felt like a Christmas gift that you hadn’t asked for and weren’t expecting to receive, but the minute you saw it, you knew it was perfect for you.”
Tyler and Rory’s friends and family add depth, humor, and realism to the story. Though I wasn’t on board with the whole “friends hire someone to take Rory’s virginity”, Jessica and Ellie prove it wasn’t done out of meanness. They are her bff’s and truly care about her. They both have a healthy outlook on life for college students and they provide much laughter in the story.
“A kiss isn’t a promise of pussy.”
I look forward to reading their stories in the future. (Jessica’s is next). Rory’s dad is an adorable dork (as Rory calls him) who has a very hard time acknowledging Rory is growing up. He too is a logical man though balanced by his completely opposite girlfriend Susan. Susan is a great buffer between Rory and her dad, and I like how McCarthy uses her to reinforce how perfect Rory and Tyler can be together. The birth control conversation between Susan and Rory had me howling. Tyler’s family dynamics or should I say dramatics play a huge part in the story and I loved the interaction between them all. What was especially bitter sweet was the obvious struggle Tyler faced between hating and loving his mom.
Overall, McCarthy has written a new adult love story that takes us on a journey filled with love, laughter, growth, and a bit of angst to led us to a sweet if not abrupt HEA. I look forward to reading book two, title and release date to be announced.
William, The Duke of Lamont, wakes one morning only to discover himself laying in an unknown bed, covered in blood. Unable to remember what has happened, he finds himself accused of killing his soon to be step mother, Mara Lowe.
Forced to leave his birthright, a new man rises from the ashes of his former life of privilege. Nicknamed the Killer Duke, William, now calling himself Temple, along with three other disgraced men, operate a gambling hall named the Fallen Angel. For twelve years, Temple has reigned over the darkest parts of London; bare knuckle boxing in penance for his supposed crime. Money, women, and fame drip from his fingertips. But the only thing he wants and can’t have is redemption.
Until she reappears.
Mara Lowe never planned on returning to London but when her brother gambles away her fortune at Temple’s gambling hall, she is forced back into the world she ran from. She never expected Temple to be accused of her murder when she set her original plan in motion. And though she knows her actions caused his downfall, she is unable to feel much regret. With her new life hanging in the balance, she needs her money desperately. She approaches Temple with a proposition. She will reveal herself, letting London and the world know that he did not kill her, effectively restoring Temple’s honor and his place in society if he will forgive her brother’s debt.
Temple agrees but with conditions. He has suffered for twelve years and now he has his revenge in hand to do with what he pleases. Temple wants to humiliate Mara for what she has done to him. He wants her to suffer as he has. As Temple and Mara dance around the lies, pain, and attraction, Temple realizes that the circumstances that led to that night twelve years ago are far more complicated than he imagined. Now Temple must decide if vengeance is worth losing everything he never knew he wanted.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is a dark emotional historical romance that batters at the heart with harsh repeating blows. A story of betrayal and redemption that allows for a realistic journey from hatred to love. Heavily character driven, our protagonists are well defined with quicksilver personalities, passionate natures, and tragic shadowed pasts. MacLean digs deep into their psyches to show us what is really buried beneath the hard exterior they show the world. Two people who have survived the best way they know how.
Temple and Mara both were victims in this story. Born into luxury, you would think they had it all. But as their histories are revealed, you realize that the glitter often hides a rotten core. The wealthier you are, the less control you have over your destiny. Mara was a hard character to like. You can sympathize with her but the choices she made are hard to forgive when you see the impact they had on Temple. Part of the problem is she didn’t seem to show any real remorse for what her actions did to Temple. She knew what she did had been wrong and feels badly but what we see from her is an attitude that suggests that she cannot change the past so there is no need to dwell on it. Once she contacts Temple and offers her proposition, it seems, once again, that she is using him to her own benefit. Just as she did twelve years ago. As you get to know Mara, you realize that she did the only thing she knew to do and there were mitigating circumstances involved. Circumstances that pushed the situation further then it should have gone. Namely, Mara’s brother, Christopher.
Mara was only sixteen when she was essentially sold into marriage to Temple’s father. Sixteen and engaged to a man three times her age, whom we learn is as bad, if not worse, than her own father. Her actions to escape what she feels is a deal with the devil didn’t play out the way she had anticipated and Temple suffered for her decisions. She feels bad for everything that happened but she is honest to herself that she wouldn’t have changed what she did.
“She’d never meant for that charming young man-all muscle and grace and wide, smiling mouth-to become the unwitting victim in her escape. Not that she tried to save him. It was too late for apologies. She made her bed…now she must lie in it”
Mara did what she could as a young girl with absolutely no power or control over her life. She has grown much in her time away from London. She is not the scared little girl she once was. She has matured, gaining in strength and self assurance in her time on her own and that shines through as she now pays her own penance by running an orphanage for illegitimate boys.
Temple is an enigma. Looking like a hardened thug with his large muscular frame and inked skin, his heart is one of a gentleman. Regardless of what he has done over his lifetime, his honor has remained intact-no matter what he thinks. Your heart will break as you learn the extent of what he has gone through. Rejected by society, he was forced to survive on the streets of London, painstakingly climbing his way up from the gutter to the throne he now sits upon. All while having to listen to the whispers and feel the stares at his back…reminding him that the world sees him as a murderer.
“The whispers followed him through filth and sin, marking time. At first he had pretended not to hear the word, but as the years passed, he had embraced it-and the epithet turned honorific. Killer.”
Though he plans to ruin Mara as she ruined him, he finds himself balancing on a precipice as he gets to know her better. He sees her strength, compassion, and willingness to work hard for the sake of others. He cannot comfortably consign her to the role of villain. He wants her in his life but is unsure if he can trust her.
Undeniable chemistry singes the pages as these two engage in a battle of wills. Though no actual physical scenes till the end, the emotional dialogue sweeps you up and places you dead center into the turmoil that directs their lives. Anger, lust, vengeance, and redemption all serve as base to their burgeoning relationship. As their romance slowly develops, Mara shows Temple that she sees him for the man he has always been. She helps him reclaim his title and the life he had before and she also shows him that he hasn’t been as miserable as he professes. Temple, in turn, shows Mara that not all men are users and that he would give up everything to make sure she knows she is loved.
This was the greatest gift she could give him, even if it would take the greatest sacrifice she had ever made.
The one where she gave up everything.
Temple’s friends play a large part in the story. It’s a comfort to the reader that Temple had such strong friendships to lean on. They offer a deeper look into Temple’s life as they have been with him since the beginning and have seen the damage Mara caused. They believe Mara to be the enemy and treat her accordingly, especially as her brother keeps doing things to cast even further suspicion on Mara. It’s only when they see how Temple is beginning to feel for Mara that they start to hint to Temple that a lifetime of possible happiness is worth more than a single act of vengeance. They also provide some humor to help offset the bleakness the story holds. Mara’s boys are a delight and also offer insight into Mara’s emotional state and the reasons behind her actions.
The majority of the book focuses on Temple and Mara’s journey to forgiveness. It’s a dark story that highlights our protagonists internal demons and their subsequent ability to forgive themselves and one another. It’s not an easy story to read and MacLean doesn’t offer the reader any reassurances that either of them will make it out alive- emotionally or physically.
The ending is a series of climatic scenes that show us just how much Mara and Temple care for one another. Mara finally does what she should have done years ago but Temple realizes at the last moment that she is more important to him than his own life. If I had any qualms, it was Mara taking so long to tell Temple what really happened that night and her reasons for why she did it. We are made to understand why she held out for so long but it causes for some dragging in the story and also causes readers to hold on to their ire of Mara for longer. I was also never fully convinced that Mara would have ever made things right if she hadn’t needed her money back.
Regardless, I enjoyed Temple’s story and believe fans of Sarah MacLean and angst driven historical romances are sure to enjoy her latest offering. Temple may very well be her darkest and most romantic hero to date. Chase’s story is up next and I for one cannot wait.
Favorite Quote: “I was always coming back to you. It just took me awhile to get here.“
Army Captain Trent Davila thought he had it all. A beautiful wife, two wonderful children, and a fulfilling career in the military. When he is wounded in combat and almost dies, Trent finds pieces of himself missing. Unable to explain the dark thoughts and the emptiness he feels, he pushes away his wife and family, volunteering to deploy over and over again. It’s during his last deployment that Trent receives divorce papers and learns that his wife has had enough. Now facing a court martial for dereliction of duty, Trent has come home to try and repair the damage to his career and his family.
Laura Davila loves her husband and for the most part has been the perfect military wife, keeping the home fires burning while her husband left her to fight the good fight. But after his near fatality and finding out he volunteered repeatedly to leave her and kids, she can no longer live with the loneliness and heartache. She files for divorce, hoping that she can get on with her life without her other half. When she learns of the court martial, she agrees to portray the loving wife one last time to help Trent but only if he signs the papers and lets her go.
As Trent and Laura spend time together, Laura realizes that her love for Trent never died but she needs more than declarations. Trent will have to prove to her that she and their kids come first this time, or he will lose them for good.
I have waited a long time for Trent and Laura’s story. Throughout the series, Ms. Scott has given us clues hinting at the forces behind this couples downfall. Emotional and heartbreaking, we, like Laura, have been wondering what has caused Trent to shut his family out time and time again. Back To You finally gives us the whole story and what a story it is. We were all able to see that Trent was hiding something but the sheer magnitude of the secrets is overwhelming. Suffering from PTSD and survivors guilt, Trent is functioning on nothing more than a whisper and a prayer. Between Trent and Laura’s POVs, we learn exactly what both are feeling, how they came to this point, and the lengths they are willing to go through to try and repair their marriage.
A better man would walk away. Would release her from the purgatory of their sham of a marriage. But Trent wasn’t a better man.
Scott slowly and expertly reveals and dissects the deep pain Trent has been carrying for years; brought to a head by his near death experience. He is lost. Normality no longer has any meaning for him. All the death he has seen has led him to question his service to the military; especially when he learns of the reasons behind his court martial. Scott’s military experience shows in how she chooses to address Trent’s problems. On the whole, the public cheers the commitment these courageous men and women give to their country but forget that for them, coming home isn’t always a happy situation. They don’t automatically forget the horror they have seen once they set foot on home soil and I think sometimes that is what we expect of them. To basically “shake it off” and continue on with their lives. Scott shows us through Trent this isn’t always realistically possible.
“…Life back in the rear was too complicated, too loud, too chaotic. War was simpler.”
Laura is realistically portrayed as the grieving wife. She grieves the loss of the man she married and of her marriage. Her pain transcends the pages and I like that her feelings aren’t pushed aside or made to seem less important than Trent’s. We are intimately acquainted with what the spouses of deployed military members deal with daily. They take care of everything. The home, the kids, the repairs, the bills, ect…It’s tiring, time consuming, and at times thankless. Her reasons for divorce are valid and Scott gives them the necessary respect they deserve.
“I’m so tired of crying over you”
Passion and pain war together and make for a volatile mix. You never doubt Trent and Laura’s love for one another and their physical attraction is at a prime but I was still unsure if they could overcome this massive hurdle. Some beautiful and heartfelt love scenes add to the longing you feel as you watch these two broken people try to repair the damage done. *sniff*
“The fear came out of nowhere, stealing up from a dark place in his soul, raw and primal, ripping through him like a beast. Promising the loss of the thing he loved more than anything else in the world.”
The main conflict blends well with the second chance romance. Issues that were glossed over in previous books are addressed in full and resolve in an acceptable fashion. Friends of Trent and Laura make multiple appearances and help to facilitate the story lines, offering advice and laughter. I enjoyed seeing Shane & Jen, along with Nicole and Carponti. Their lives are going ahead and we see positive things for their futures.
Scott pours her heart into Back To You and it shows in every word we read. Trent and Laura’s story is at times hard to read but the journey is well worth the heartache. I look forward to reading All For You which releases February 4, 2014 from Forever.
Favorite Quote: “Well…when a boy Theronai and a girl Theronai love each other very much-”
Jackie Patton has been rescued by the Theronai from her captivity and torture at the hands of the Synestryn, only to learn that she’s a potential match for the Theronai warriors who need a woman to literally save their lives. Forced to choose, she unexpectedly selects Iain, a cold-hearted warrior who doesn’t want to be saved. Iain is convinced that it’s too late—that his soul is already as dead as his former betrothed, killed by the Synestryn. Still, he is the only man Jackie feels a measure of peace around and the only one she wants. But is Iain indeed beyond saving? (Goodreads)
Dying Wish is #6 in Shannon K. Butcher’s phenomenally dark and gritty series, The Sentinel Wars. Since finishing Blood Hunt, I have been anxiously waiting Jackie’s story. Jackie Patton was rescued by the Theronai after a long and brutal two year captivity with the Synestryn. Once she is safe, she is informed that she is compatible with the Theronai and has to choose a warrior to mate with in order to save his life. Jackie doesn’t want to choose. She wants her old life back. When she is given no choice in the matter, she makes a deal with the leader, Joesph. She will choose, but then she will be allowed to leave the compound and live her own life. He agrees and she chooses Iain. Iain was the one who rescued her and his cold nature leads Jackie to believe that he doesn’t care if she stays or goes.
Iain was betrothed in the past but when she died, he gave up and allowed his soul to wither and die. Only through deception has he managed to keep this secret form the rest of the Theronai. When Jackie chooses to “save” him, he is angered that she would waste her time with him. He knows his time is almost up so he agrees to her demands to let her go. When demons attack and Iain is hurt, Jackie takes his Luceria and uses it to heal him, not knowing that the promises she makes in return will bind her in a literal sense.
As Jackie and Iain fight against their attraction and bonding, the Synestryn are once again massing forces to take back the females the Theronai rescued. Only Jackie knows of the locations she was kept, so she as she is pulled deeper into a world that she wants no part of, she finds herself having to make choices that will force her to leave her old life forever.
Ms. Butcher continues to deliver an emotionally dark, gritty, action packed story that held me captive till the end. A fabulous blending of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, Ms. Butcher gives us a series that intertwines new and old story lines in a way that doesn’t leave you over whelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge she imparts. A smooth flowing story line and continuing progressive arc engages the reader and sets a fast pace for reading. The premise of this one still revolves around two main characters but multiple sub plots keeps the series engaging and fresh.
This book is an absolute whirlwind to read as Ms. Butcher goes further in depth into multiple character story lines and POV’s, which I loved. We are given more insight in to Thor and Grace’s situation, along with Joesph, Cain, Tynan, and more. I want Tynan’s story so bad now. *swoon* Her characters are rich in depth, development, and personality. Ms. Butcher imparts diversity and individualism into her character dialogue. She has added some humor in the last three books which balances nicely against the over all seriousness of this series. I enjoyed the brief bouts of levity. Her characters continue to walk in a gray area between good and evil, constantly surprising me. The Theronai, Slayers, and Sanguinar continue to use nefarious means to achieve their goals almost as much as the Synestryns. We see lines being crossed, misconceptions capitalized on, and actions being questioned. You never know till the end how it will all play out.
Both Jackie and Iain are extremely strong, protective, yet fatalistic protagonists. They both have seen the worst their worlds have to offer and they have, in a sense, given up. Jackie doesn’t want to save anyone and Iain doesn’t want to be saved. Yet for their somewhat bad attitudes, they both will, reluctantly, do what needs to be done. I will admit that both their attitudes became trying at times. Her constant demands to go home and refusal to see that she will always be a targeted by the Synestryn along with his, “I’m no good for anyone…” and trying to set her up with other men frustrated me. Especially when you realize that they know they are being stubborn. It continues through out the story but the other story lines are compelling enough that you are willing to forgive their overly angst driven scenes. One thing that confused me is that all the mated pairs have gone through this and a part of me wondered WHY doesn’t someone tell our confused couple this. But they don’t. It’s like they all forget that they went through the same emotional turmoil. All Jackie gets is people telling her you owe us. That’s easy to say if you weren’t abruptly dragged out of your world and in to a demonic hell, kept of the verge of death for two years.
“I need you to give these men hope. They’re good men. Whoever you pick would give up his life to keep you happy and safe. Hell, even the ones you don’t pick will.”
“It’s not what I want.”
“I thought I’d made it clear that I don’t give a fuck about what you want. We saved your pretty little ass and kept it safe for weeks now. I’d say it’s time to pay up.”
“I didn’t realize my rescue came with strings attached.”
The romance is slow to develop because they each realize the bonding capitalizes on their emotions and neither wants this connection. Even with their bad attitudes, their sexual scenes are quite steamy and has you hoping that they will realize, as you have, they are perfect for each other. Their relationship reaches a pentacle point when Jackie is faced with the fact she may lose Iain and decides to finally face and accept her true fear-losing someone else she loves. This is where I really started loving Jackie. Once she makes up her mind, she is a powerful force of nature no one wants to go up against.
“…if you think I’m going anywhere, you’re wrong. I’m going to be with Iain every second of his death. I’m going to soak it all in, memorizing every detail, every ounce of fear, every scrap of suffering. And then, when he’s dead, I’m going to to take all of that and find a way to shove it so deep in your brain, you’ll never be able to sleep again.”
The ending is a mixture of explosive action, jaw clenching tension, and a mind blowing conclusion. I honestly couldn’t see how it would end in the way I wanted but Ms. Butcher once again manages to achieve the impossible. The Sentinel Wars continues to be one of my favorite series and I look forward to the next in her series, title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “I knew you would be trouble from the start…”
Katy and her mom moved to Ketterman, West Virginia after her father passes away. Not thrilled to be starting over at a new high school, Katy makes friends with the girl next door, Dee. Dee is wonderful and Katy believes this year might not be so bad; if not for Dee’s twin brother Daemon. Gorgeous, sexy, arrogant, and mind boggling rude, Daemon and Katy are like two spontaneous chemicals that are guaranteed to combust when mixed. Daemon wants Katy to stay away from Dee but won’t give her a reason why. Katy isn’t one to run though so she keeps her friendship with Dee and tries to avoid Daemon. When Katy is attacked, Daemon comes to her rescue and she realizes that something isn’t right about Dee and her brother. As Katy tries to deal with who and WHAT Daemon and his sister are, she finds herself in the middle of an extraterrestrial war that will alter her life forever.
Obsidian made me laugh. Seriously laugh. A paranormal YA that has all the makings of a fabulous series. Action, suspense, intrigue, humor, snark, romance, and two outstanding protagonists whose similarity to Buffy and Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will have you fist pumping and laughing the whole time. Fast pacing makes this story a fun treat to read. Ms. Armentrout finds just the right tone to keep the story flowing smoothly and keep her readers entertained.
Katy, our heroine, is snarky, fun, and more then able to handle her own when it comes to life in general. Even with Daemon blowing hot and cold on her, she gives as good as she gets and watching them bicker is hilarious. She is attracted to Daemon but doesn’t see his “bad boy” persona as a flaw for her to change. She accepts he’s a jerk. She has a realistic attitude and her reactions are spot on when it comes to certain situations. (The spaghetti scene is a classic) The fact she is a book blogger only endeared her to me more. She has a great relationship with her mom and makes friends easily at school. No emo situations where we had the moody, shy new girl and the broody unobtainable hot guy.
Daemon. Our hero. Not sure what to say about Daemon. He is an enigma. The ultimate high school girl’s fantasy. And maybe a few moms’ fantasies too. Dark hair, impossibly green eyes, and ripped twenty ways to Sunday. *clearing throat* He has gone on my book boyfriend list. Maybe top spot. When Katy first meets Daemon he does everything possible to alienate her.
“You know, all I wanted was directions. This is obviously a bad time.”
One side of his lips curled up. “Anytime is a bad time for you to come knocking on my door, kid.”
“Kid? I’m not a kid. I’m seventeen.”
“Is that so?” He blinked. “You look like you’re twelve. No. Maybe thirteen, but my sister has this doll that kinda reminds me of you. All big eyed and vacant.”
I reminded him of a doll. A vacant doll? “Thanks," I muttered and added under my breathe, “Douchebag.”
And that folks, is the beginning and middle for Katy and Daemon. A bantering of insults, name calling, and Katy’s famous finger flipping. There were times when Daemon would say or do something so outrageous I would sit there with my mouth hanging open. He reminds me of a little boy who likes a girl so much that he spends his days tormenting her because that’s the only way he can physically show his affection for her. Daemon has his reasons though for trying to ruin Dee and Katy’s friendship. He is overly protective of Dee and the secret they are hiding could spell devastation and possibly death for them all if it is revealed publicly.
The chemistry between Katy and Daemon is off the charts; especially for a YA. While we do get one semi physical scene, it’s their dialogue and the intense undercurrents that permeate the storyline that will keep you glued to the pages. You never know what he is going to say or do and he keeps us on his toes as much as Katy. Even when in jerk mode though, there is something undeniable about him so you can’t fault Katy for her tiny crush.
When Katy learns the big “secret”, Ms. Armentrout does a fab job of keeping it real with Katy. She’s is shocked, scared, and certain her death is imminent. No thoughts of jumping Daemon’s bones after she finds out, this girl is ready to make a run for the border. I love how Ms. Armnetrout is able to take an overwritten subject matter and make it 100 percent hers. There were times when there were faint hints of Twilight in here. The prom dress buying scene comes to mind. Thankfully, they were far and few between and may just have been my thoughts & feelings intruding on the book.
A cast of appealing and well developed secondary characters rounds out the story lines. Each one a viable presence and able to carry their own story. I look forward to reading more in depth about Dee, Adam, and the rest of the cast and see where their personal stories led. The ending comes at us fast and hard. We are shown what exactly Daemon, Dee and their friends are hiding from and the build up to it is exquisite. Though the main conflict is resolved, we are left with some questions and clues to what’s in store for us in the second installment, Onyx, which releases May 29, 2012.
Obsidian is a strong start to what I predict will be a popular must have/must read series and I am looking forward to reading Onyx when it releases.
Kaleidoscope is the sixth book in Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. We first met Jacob Decker (Deck) in Breathe. Best friends with Chase Keaton, Deck helps Chase get out of the hole he dug for himself throughout the series and win the girl of his dreams. Our heroine, Emmanuelle (Emme) Holmes is a new face to the series. We learn that Deck used to date Emme’s best friend, Elsbeth. Elsbeth dumped Deck and Deck in essence, dumped Emme. Circumstances had all three (Deck, Emme, and Elsbeth) leaving Gnaw Bone and going their separate ways until they meet up again. Deck is surprised by the changes in Emme. No longer overweight and shy, Emme is a knockout who knows her own worth. She is also under investigation because of her boyfriend’s supposed illegal activities. Deck is hired by the police department and “deputized.” He offers to check out Emme, hoping to clear her and from there, he wiggles his way back into her life. As Deck and Emme spend time together, Deck realizes that he has always loved Emme and this time, he’ll do everything possible to keep her in his life.
Kaleidoscope felt like a Disney scrubbed version of a past Ashley book. An ugly duckling turns to swan trope, I should have been in seventh heaven as that is a favorite trope of mine but I wasn’t. Ever since Ashley was picked up by a traditional publisher, I have felt her books have only suffered. The tone, the character development, the conflicts and plot lines have all been whittled down to the point where I no longer hear her voice. The fine sometimes mundane details that made Ashley’s stories so irresistible to me aren’t there anymore. She has gone, for me, from a “must read” to a “I’ll get to it when I can” read. And that saddens me. Her characters no longer have a strong sense of self and lose their individualism once they meet and hook up. I first saw this developing in Own The Wind and it’s only gotten worse. No longer do we see them hanging out with friends and just talking. No over the top drama. No silly drunk scenes or raunchy advice. It’s been sanitized to the point where it’s just another romantic contemporary among thousands. Kaleidoscope was uncomfortable to read. It’s like it was sliced and diced and what was allowed to stay no longer fits quite right.
I was also dismayed to get a story about Deck. I liked him in Breathe but he wasn’t built up to the point where I needed his story right now. I’m still waiting on other characters who I have some serious investment in; Frankie and Bennie from the Burg and Hap and Luci from Heaven and Hell. I hear Ashley is starting a new series. While I think that is wonderful, I’m beginning to feel like a diner who is only allowed to eat a portion of a fantastic meal before it’s taken away and I’m presented with a new course to try.
On the whole, Emme and Deck were okay as individuals and as a couple but they lacked a quintessential element of spark and/or enticement to make them the celebrated Ashley couple readers have come to expect. She’s a giggly yes woman and he’s the definitive alpha male. I did like he wasn't as rigid as some of the other males we’re encountered in her books. Though the constant harping on his geniusness got old after a while. Yes, he’s super smart, we get it. Their chemistry didn't feel natural. It was written in and it showed. The conflict built slowly with some subplots tossed in to heighten the tension but even those fell flat. Any information we received concerning the multiple plot lines were presented in an unaffected manner. In fact, some scenes (when he sneaks into her bedroom to snoop) made me roll my eyes at the sheer unbelievably.
I did enjoy seeing some old familiar faces. Perhaps if they had interacted more with the couple one on one, I would have gotten a better connection and feel for the main characters and the story. As it was, I found my attention wandering throughout the entire book.
The ending failed in my opinion. Everything clears up with minimum fuss as has been the norm for the last couple of books. None of the usual over the top drama or in your face scenes that Ashley normally resolves her conflicts with. I reached the end feeling unfulfilled and rather ambivalent.
Though it pains me to do so, I can’t recommend this book with my usual enthusiasm. I know what Ashley is capable of and this doesn't even begin to showcase her talent.
Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release ofFriends With...moreFriends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release of Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance, book two in her Knitting In The City series.
Reid blends outrageous humor, eccentric characters, and sexy, crazy plots to produce an addictive story you won’t want to put down. Her characters are delightfully flawed and contain a sense of realism that has you thinking, “I know someone like that.” An engaging battle of wits between our protagonists will keep you in stitches as fast paced action, sweet emotional revelations, and some smoking hot chemistry kept this reader hooked to the very end.
Elizabeth Finney has given up on true love when she finds that everyone she loves seems to leave her. When she is reunited with her childhood nemesis, celebrity talk show host Nico Manganiello, she finds herself unable to maintain the "no boys allowed" wall around her heart
Nick has always loved Elizabeth but his way of showing it involved making her miserable growing up. When a series of circumstances place them in long term proximity of each other, Nick realizes this may be his only chance with her. But Elizabeth has already run once so Nick is going to have to be extra sneaky this time around.
Favorite Quote: “Ugh. When had she become that woman?”
Taking A Shot is the third book in Jaci Burton’s hot and oh so steamy Play By Play series that revolves around the Riley family. Before I start this review, let’s take a minute to genuflect at the cover shall we? *happy sigh* Seriously, have you ever seen anything so beautifully lickable in your life? .
Jenna Riley has grown up in a family dominated by sports. She has lived, breathed, and now works in the field, since a child. Since her father’s heart attack, she has taken over the reins to the family sport’s bar, Riley’s, giving up on her own dreams and ambitions. This has resulted in her one and only non breakable rule. She doesn’t date sports figures. Ever. This attitude both intrigues and challenges Tyler (Ty) Anderson. A star pro-hockey player, he has been attracted to Jenna since the first time they met. Unsure as to why she dislikes him so much, Ty keeps coming to the bar and trying to temptJenna into taking a chance with him.
Taking A Shot has all the trademarks of being a Jaci Burton book. Hot male lead, sassy intelligent female, a plausible plot, and some heavy, heavy smexying everywhere in between. I enjoyed the way this story reveals itself to you. It starts out slow as Ty bids his time trying to find away to break through Jenna’s shell. Ty spends plenty of time on the seduction of Jenna. The sexual heat and playfulness in this book make it a fun read.. Ms. Burton has a way of writing intense scenes that are both sensual and raw.
I loved seeing the other Riley’s. Their gregarious nature is offset by the love they feel for one another. They have no boundaries and will be up in your business in a heartbeat, offering advice, encouragement, and the proverbial slap up side the head when needed. Ty fits in so well with the family which only serves to scare Jenna more. She feels pushed and that is a sticking point for Jenna.
As their relationship progresses, Jenna starts to see Ty is more than the stereotypical sports figure and finds herself at odds with the feelings he invokes in her. She tries hard to keep their relationship strictly sexual but Ty has a way of getting under her skin and soon she finds herself wanting more but unable to admit that to herself. We get to know more about Ty and Jenna and the reasons for their attitudes and actions.
Here is where I have problems. Jenna’s attitude bothered me throughout the entire book. She treats Ty like crap and plays games, though unwittingly, with him. When he’s around, she wants him to leave but then gets all sad when he’s not there. I found her reasons for not wanting to date with a sports figure weak and it didn’t reflect well on her. The same for her reasons for not having the courage to go after her dreams. She blames everyone else for her fear of success. Ty comes off more grounded and I enjoyed his easy laid back attitude. He’s a planner and it shows. At times he pushed when maybe he shouldn’t have but you learn quickly that Jenna needs the coercion in order to justify what she feels in giving in. I had to laugh at some of the things he did to make himself look better in her eyes.
Her and Ty’s relationship has its ups and downs and a tension heats up as the story’s main conflict comes into play. With any relationship, we all have the ability to hurt the ones we love the most and Ms. Burton doesn’t sugar coast or pull any punches in here. As we head towards the end, we wait on pins and needles with the rest of the Riley’s to see if the home team will win or lose this most important game. I liked that Jenna FINALLY shows some gumption and and realizes that she can achieve her dreams if she is willing to take the chance but it was too little to late for me.
Though I felt Taking A Shot was the weaker of the three plot and development wise, it is has plenty of romance, sexy men, hot steamy loving, and humor. Unfortunately, Jenna’s attitude brought this book down. I look forward to the fourth in the series, Playing To Win, which features the very sexy Cole Riley. Playing To Win is set to release September 4th, 2012.
Favorite Quote: “Congratulations, you’ve been granted the title of trusted singular. I suggest you refrain from wearing hats.”
For the past three months, Rachel has been providing security for Trent Kalamack while Quen is across the country, regulating Ellasbeth’s visit with the girls. When Rachel’s spells begin to misfire, Rachel thinks it’s a reaction to her deepening feelings for Trent. Soon, spells begin to misfire all over the city, creating chaos and weakening the already tremulous truce that exists between the humans and the supernaturals. As Rachel and her friends dig deeper, they discover a plan that will destroy the master vampires and throw the city into an all out super natural war. One thing will stop the catastrophe coming their way; invoking the wild elven magic. Only, that may do more harm than good where Rachel is concerned.
Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series (also known as the Rachel Morgan series) is one of the top selling urban fantasies series to date and with good cause. Appealing to readers of all ages and genres, Ms. Harrison’s unique blend of sharp wit and whimsical imagination (tomatoes, anyone) has created an alternative world that is filled with never ending magic and mayhem. Ms. Harrison has kept us laughing and weeping since her first book, Dead Witch Walking, released in 2004. Filled with intriguing suspense, non stop action, tense romance, biting humor, and some truly heartbreaking scenes; this intense character driven series continues to enchant readers.
The Undead Pool is the twelfth book and the second to the last book in this series. I am sad to see this series ending. Good urban fantasy is hard enough to find but good urban fantasy with a compelling female lead is even harder to find. And Rachel Morgan, for all her flaws and less than stellar decisions, is a fantastically dynamic and complicated heroine. Perhaps it’s because of those flaws that readers gravitate to the series. It isn’t often we get a lead character who, even gifted supernaturally, doesn’t always win. Rachel has suffered so much throughout this series. She has lost friends, family, lovers, and even her powers for a bit. She fails as much as she conquers and that makes it easy to like her and her band of equally dynamic sidekicks.
Those who have kept up with the series will be surprised and happy by the turn of events that occurred off scene between books 11 and 12. This installment finally addresses the underlying sexual and emotional tension that has existed between Rachel Morgan and Trent Kalamack since their first meeting. From the very beginning, Trent and Rachel have been at odds as they each strived to do what they thought was best for the city of Cincinnati and in Trent’s case, himself. Trent, the perfect anti hero, has used his money and power to thwart Rachel at every turn while Rachel has always managed to turn the tides and hold him off at the last moment.
“You’d better learn your history before you become part of it.”
Rachel and Trent have a long history together that goes back to their childhood. A history that is steeped in deception, betrayal, and violence that left them often on opposite sides of the battle field. We have watched their slow evolution from antagonists to actual friends and perhaps something more. Both Trent and Rachel have grown considerably throughout the series. Starting out as a untried and untrusted slightly flaky witch, Rachel has grown into a mature powerhouse who can more than hold her own against the larger than life players who populate her world. Her friend base has grown and she has finally begun to comfortably accept their help.
“You have amazing friends.” “I need them to stay alive through my amazing life.”
Trent, a rich elven CEO with a finger in every dark and shady pot the country has to offer, has gradually changed from an emotional void, hellbent on conquering the world through what ever means necessary to actually caring about people and how his actions affect them. Through his relationship with Rachel and others, he has finally learned the meaning of sacrifice and why some will give their all with no thoughts to their own mortality.
Though their animosity has gradually lessened and they are now at a turning point in their lives, Rachel doesn’t trust her feelings for Trent. She fears anything deeper between them will only lead to his downfall. And he has a lot to lose. Trent has some hard decisions to make in this book. Decisions that not only affect him, but also others who depend on him in so many different ways.
“You’re halfway to ruining him already.”
Sacrifice and friendship is the base on which this series is built and this particular installment pushes the envelope, acknowledging that Rachel doesn’t always have to be the one who has to sacrifice for those she loves. For the first time in a long time, Rachel decides to take a leap of faith and go with her heart and leave everything to chance.
“Most warriors think with their hearts,” I said, [...] “It’s what keeps them alive through the crap they have to deal with to keep the rest of you safe."
Through it all, Rachel has always had Ivy and Jenks at her back. They too have grown and evolved so much throughout the series; becoming much more than mere secondary characters. Rachel and Ivy have always had a deep loving relationship with hints of a romantic attraction; especially on Ivy’s part. I love how Harrison has never maligned or made this portion of the storyline seem like a dirty little secret. It’s an important aspect in their relationship as Ivy has always felt that Rachel saved her life when no one else cared.
“I almost quit a hundred times,” she said as she smiled at me, eyes beautiful and black. “But you thought I had it in me and I wanted to prove I was as good as you thought I was…”
Jenks. What can you say about Jenks but that he is one of the true highlights in this series. If Ivy is Rachel’s best friend, then Jenks in her soul mate in almost every way possible. They have loved, loss, laughed, cried, fought, and consoled one another. Only death will part these two. His sardonic humor and never ending protectiveness towards Rachel only serves to further entertain as he tells it like it is.
“Watch out, cookie maker, or I’m going to own you.”
Though we don’t get as much interaction with Al or the Ever After this time around, it’s what we do see that is very important and goes far in preparing us for the final book. Newt makes an appearance and as usual, gives us some needed clues in a mash up of gibberish conversation.
The conflict is an interesting action packed juxtaposition as we learn more about the wild magic and the effects it has on the city and it’s supernatural inhabitants. Desperate times calls for desperate measures as Rachel finds herself having to deal with the unfamiliar magic and the results of its unleashing. This has been a long time coming and Harrison lets loose as she strives to make us understand the path on which she has placed Rachel, Trent, and the Hollows. The Hollows are beginning to unravel, as is the Ever After, and soon both worlds will be forced to deal with one another…again.
The Undead Pool is an eclectic mixture of everything I have come to love about this series and Urban Fantasy. Action, suspense, emotional revelations, romance, humor, and heartbreak. I can easily see it becoming a much beloved re read in the future. Fans will rejoice in it’s reveals and revelations. My only qualm is now I have to wait a year for the last book. *shakes fist at the injustice of waiting*
Mandi: A lot of things worked for me in this book, and a couple of things didn’t but overall I really enjoyed this one. This time Samantha Young gives us a lighter, less broody hero in Nate. When he was eighteen his one true love died of cancer, and now many years later he is still hung up on that relationship. He sleeps around…a lot…but never commits because he is still in love with Alana. Included in his group of friends (who are those from previous books – Braden and Joss, Cam and Jo) is Olivia, a librarian who is best friends with him. They’ve never crossed the romance line. Olivia’s mom was really sick when she was in her prime dating twenties, so now she feels awkward and embarrassed around men. She has no confidence when it comes to flirting or dating so she turns to Nate for help. She asks him to teach her how to flirt, kiss and eventually have sex. While I usually roll my eyes at this trope, I think it works really well in this book. The scenes become quite intense and emotional. Tori, do you feel the same way?
Tori: I agree wholeheartedly. While the first two installments were decidedly more emotional and darker, this one was lighter; in both the storyline and the characterization. Olivia and Nate were fun-as individuals and as a couple. I loved their “Which would you…” game. They had wonderful dynamics and dialogue. Olivia’s inner rants were hilarious and Nate’s cocky bad boy attitude was acceptable because you could see from the beginning he cared for Olivia. I admit I had some problems with Nate’s fears concerning attachment and commitment. It was unbelievable for me. I’ve always been vocal that pining for someone for 10 years is a bit ridiculous. I had a problem with Joss for the same reasons. The past can shape your life but when it takes it over, I find it hard to believe you can’t move on. I did enjoy how Nate and Olivia react to one another once they decide to carry out Olivia’s plan. Their chemistry almost made my e reader combust. There is a good balance between the physical and emotional. Speaking of Joss, is it just me or is she getting more irritating? lol
Mandi: First Nate – I had a hard time believing he would be SO caught up in a dead past love, especially when it took place when he was so young. Maybe I just needed more about that story to make it stick. I can see Nate a player, but not so forlorn over the past relationship.
Tori: Yes, perhaps if we had seen that relationship, it would have been easier to buy into Nate’s reasons. As it was, I didn’t see Nate pining for anyone. It felt like an excuse.
Mandi: Now Joss – I’m so not a fan of Joss. I guess I liked her in book one but man she is prickly. I’ll give credit to the author – she sure writes her consistently. But if she wasn’t in anymore books I’d be fine with that. Speaking of supporting characters, I just love the group Nate and Olivia hang out with. Cam, Jo, Braden, Joss *mutters*, and it looks like we get Hannah’s book next. I like that this author continues the story of her previous characters and that we get to see the hero and heroine hang out with friends, not just with each other. It feels more like a full, well rounded story.
Tori: I don’t mind prickly but Joss has always felt like a bit of drama queen to me. As in, “Let me make it all about ME…” But yes, kudos to Young for making her constantly irritating. :P Seeing a strong presence of previous characters adds a nice flow to the arc. We aren’t left wondering what everyone else is up to. I really liked that Olivia and Nate had such supporting parents. Olivia’s dad and both of Nate’s parents maintained a strong presence in their lives which helped to guide them over the hurdles they encountered in their relationship. I am looking forward to Alex and E’s wedding and of course, Hannah’s story. Poor Hannah. lol She will have a rough time falling in love with all the protective males in her future. Also looking forward to Cole’s story. Who IS his mysterious friend and why can’t they be together?
Let’s talk about the lurrrrvvveee scenes. Woo wee. Nate may not have being in a relationship down pat but he certainly has the physical parts well covered. I enjoyed watching him learn right along with Olivia. Some of their scenes left me feeling a bit… flushed.
Mandi: Yes, the love scenes are so intense in this one. For as laid back and flirty as Nate is, he is one sexy beast. I love how he builds up Olivia’s confidence in the bedroom. I really, really wish we had gotten his point of view in this book. I needed to be in his head at times, and I was disappointed that we miss that. I feel as though only having Olivia’s point of view didn’t work for me as well as in the previous books.
Overall, I think this is a sexy book and Samantha Young continues to write well done contemporary romance.
Tori: Agree. This book wasn’t just Olivia finding her groove, but also Nate making peace with the past and moving forward. I too would have like his POV. It felt a little unbalanced as though one main character was mute. I too would have loved being in his head, especially after his penis head moment.
Samantha Young’s winning streak continues with Before Jamaica Lane and I look forward to reading more from her. Her enchanting couples and delicious romances make her books an auto buy for this reader.
Tori’s Favorite Quotes: "Don’t hide from me." He bent his head to whisper over my lips. "Ever."
" I like him, but I sound like Rain Man every time I try to talk to him." Nate made a choking noise in the back of his throat. "Are you laughing?" He cleared it and answered shakily, "Never." He was so laughing.
Mandi’s Favorite Quotes: “It’s a manwhore miracle.”
“My mum always said if you can’t say something nice, say something memorable.”(less)
Hanna Boudreaux lives in the small town of Willow, Colorado and has spent her life crushing on the gorgeous larger than life hometown hero, Raiden Ulysses Miller. Raid left Willow at age eighteen, joining the Marines and returned a little quieter and a lot more dangerous.
When Hanna finally decides to stop “stalking” Raid and begins to live her own life to the fullest, the changes are instantly noticed by all…especially Raid. But Hanna can’t figure out Raid’s sudden interest. Is it her new look? Her new outlook on life? Or does Raid have more sinister motives?
I’ll tell you all right now, before I go any further, I am a HUGE Kristen Ashley fan. When a blogger friend told me I had to read Sweet Dreams and read it RIGHT NOW, I balked at first but eventually broke down and a crazy stalker fan girl was made. I glommed her entire back list in about one week. I emerged stinky but triumphant. Regardless of the overblown, drawn out descriptions, and larger than life premises and characters, Kristen Ashley has a gift for storytelling. Her books are a cracktacular beautiful addictive hot mess adventure that suck you in, hold you hostage, and leave you feeling rueful when the journey is over.
Raid is the third book in Ashley’s Unfinished Hero series. Even though it’s shorter than her previous books, you still get Ashley’s trademark alpha hero, somewhat naive heroine, and a smoking hot romance.
Hanna Boudreaux is a self proclaimed Peggy Sue. She is sweet, cute, and nice. The town loves her and she loves the town. She is everything Raiden is not and she draws him in like a moth to a flame. She has loved him all her life, but it’s not until she decides to stop living her life around “Raid sightings” and actually start living for herself, does he finally see her.
“Home. Warmth. Comfort. Nurture. Love.”
So begins their love affair. Raid takes control and Hanna begins the ride of her life. Raid is an alpha male with a slight caveman mentality.
She deserved a spanking for this shit. But they were new. He had to break her into that.
He is a healthy mixture of some of Ashley’s more dominant heroes. Yet, he isn’t so alpha that he doesn’t listen. He has come back from war, suffering from PTSD and it makes for some tense times in his and Hanna’s relationship. He takes what he wants and he wants Hanna. Her happiness is his happiness. He has a dark side to him that reveals itself in some delish ways. I liked that he was always upfront with Hanna and pushes for the same from her. No going to bed angry with this couple. (nom nom) He reminded me of Ty from Lady Luck. Crude, hard, and temperamental. And, like Ty, Raid knows when he screws up and has no problem owning up to it and saying he’s sorry.
Hanna is the perfect match for him. She grounds Raid. She bathes him in pure light and allows him to see the goodness in life through her eyes. She’s not a doormat though. She gets upset by his cave mannish ways at times and when they have an epic fight, she doesn’t bow her head and accept his cruel words. She gives as good as she gets. Like many of Ashley’s heroines, she knows when to let her man have his way…and when to get up in his face and let him have it.
“I’m a dick,” he whispered into my skin. Men thought they could get away with a lot if they admitted that. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes, like this time, it didn’t. “I crawled across a floor for you and I said one thing out of kindness and concern and you walked out on me, came back, called me a bitch and kicked me out.” “Honey_” “No one calls me a bitch, Raiden. You need to go.”
The story is told in increments, skipping a few days and weeks at a time. Fast paced with a solid storyline and well plotted scenes. Unlike her other stories though, this one doesn’t describe every little detail about external factors. The focus remains solely on Hanna and Raid’s romance. I admit, I missed some of the additional sub stories. There were also some scenes that didn’t quite pan out that way I hoped. The “other woman” scenario that Ashley’s famous for was a small two page scene that was addressed, handled right then and there, and never heard from again. Also, the climatic heroine in danger scene. We didn’t get to see Raid hunt down or extract his revenge. It’s all fade to black.
The secondary characters in here are as vivid and personable as her protagonists. Hanna’s grandma and Spot (Hanna’s grandma’s fat, sadistic cat) play pivotal roles throughout the story. I did like that for once, the heroine has someone at her back at all times. Grandma rocks it in here and so does Spot.
“There’ll be good times, Hanna. Fill yourself up with them, hold onto them tight, ‘cause when the bad times come, You’ll need them.” We also get scenes with Knight, Creed, Sylvia, and OMG… Marcus!!! If you’ve read Ashley’s Rock Chick series, then you know who I am talking about. Even though Ashley has said Marcus and Daisy’s story will not be told, I continue to hope she changes her mind. I love those two.
The ending assures us of our happily ever after and also gives us a lovely look into Hanna and Raid’s future.
Helyce’s Favorite Quotes: “You have me,” she whispered. All of me.
“I love you to distraction, Empress.”
Tori’s Favorite Quote: ”Seduced…she was being seduced.”
Tori: OMG Helyce, so can you believe that we are on number eleven of Ms. Singh’s spectacular, romantic, humorous, super smoking sexy, awe inspiring, addictive Psy-Changeling series? I can’t. Even though I reread the series about once a year, (or more-don’t judge), it always feels brand new and fresh. I think her writing is pure gold with her highly developed characters and well plotted storylines. This is one of a few series that I can honestly say I will be heartbroken when it ends.
Helyce: It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Ms. Singh’s extraordinary books from both of her series. I have not done a complete re-read this year, but I am guilty of grabbing a book and just opening it up to read a random page. Generally, that’s enough to pull me back into the story and I find myself reading through from that point on. My most tattered and dog-eared books are Slave to Sensation, Caressed By Ice and Hostage to Pleasure. Her world building is spectacular and just keeps getting better and better. I cannot even guess where she plans to take us, but like you, I will be very sad when the last book in this series is written.
Tori: Tangle Of Need is in my opinion one of the best installments to date. Highly charged multiple storylines run hand in hand as we learn more about the Psy end game, insight into the Arrows, Ghost, and the nummy Kaleb, and intimate views into the lives of our beloved Changelings. The protagonists of this story, Riaz and Adria, are two lusciously tortured characters whose lives have been shaped by heartbreaking events that mirror each others. Riaz found his mate only to see her happily married to another man and Adria’s mate could not handle the fact that she is more dominant than him. When they first meet they despise each other and the sparks fly. It’s a long hard road for them which I appreciated. Ms. Singh takes the time to reveal to them and us that while the mate bond is both a strong physical and spiritual bonding, it is not the end all. Theirs is a bittersweet story as we watch them mourn what they both lost in order to go forward with their lives. In fact, this lightly plays off Hawke and Sienna’s issues in Kiss Of Snow and re asks the question, “Can you love without the mate bond?” A perfect blending of angst and emotional purging.
Speaking of Hawke and Sienna..I was mighty happy and surprised at the amount of smexy time we got to spend with them.
What did you think Helyce?
Helyce: Hell yeah! There is a lot going on in this installment to move the story forward following the horrific cold fire standoff at the end of Sienna and Hawke’s book. I honestly don’t know how you keep everything straight. Re-reading probably keeps the details fresh in your head Tori, but for me, I struggled a little bit with the first 50% or so of this book. This is not a reflection on the author in any way. Her writing is extremely succinct; it is all on me and my craptastic memory. As for Riaz and Adria, I was unsure of them initially but I absolutely could not discount their chemistry. Two, totally broken souls who can only be healed by each other. When Lisette shows up, I just about had a heart attack.
Tori: OMG!!! Me too. I died.
Helyce: I knew it was inevitable and necessary, but oh the pain! The exploration into the necessity of the mating bond is handled so well with this couple and I was thrilled to watch Riaz fight for Adria. He showed such strength of character; sheer determination.
As for Sienna and Hawke, I was thrilled to see so much of them in this book. I admit to feeling a bit cheated in their book, but Ms. Singh more than makes up for it with all the page time they get here. I also enjoyed seeing Sienna embrace her new role. She’s not just a soldier anymore; she is the Alpha’s mate and with that comes so much more responsibility than she could ever have imagined.
Tori: I agree Helyce. It was extra special to see Hawke and Sienna’s relationship during down times. I love all the changes and developments in key characters lives that are revealed in here. Judd plays an active role with his ties to the Arrows and spending more time with Aden and Vasic has my mind playing over and over all the scenarios that may be coming. I do hope they get their own books. Riley and Mercy get some fantastic news and Drew and Indigo play a pivotal role in helping Riaz and Adria come to terms with the paths their lives are taking.
What revelations had you fan girl squeeeing in here Helyce?
Helyce: I had a few fan girl *squeee* moments, but revelations? For me, any revelations just proved to frustrate me. Everything to do with Alice Eldridge has me at the edge of my seat with wanting to know more about what exactly her existence means and how it will affect, well, everything. Within that we have Amara, still Silent, but can she be trusted? I am just fascinated with this side story.
I am a huge Judd fan, so I loved that we continue to see him evolve from the severely cold man he was. The connection he maintains with the Arrows is very interesting and I can’t wait to see where this all goes. I’m with you on trying to figure out what will become of Aden and Vasic. I liked seeing Aden recognize emotions in others. It was so subtle, but there all the same. But I’m worried about Vasic. Really worried.
I adored the scene with Faith falling over laughing about Mercy and Riley’s good fortune. The hints are delicious, don’t you think? I can’t wait.
Tori: I do. I think the changelings are in for a wild ride. The Psy, Pure Psy, and Changeling political intrigues keep me on my toes as we are directed deeper into the machiavellian plans that everyone is hatching. Sides are being picked and a few players are straddling the fence, playing on all three sides in a dangerous game. Kaleb is still searching the net with a single minded purpose. Who is he looking for and where will they fit into this overall bid for world domination? The Arrows have chosen their side but it remains to be seen how this battle will play out and how great the losses will be. Sienna remains a viable weapon for the Changelings but how far will she go to secure the lives of those she loves? So much going on that I can’t WAIT for book twelve.
What do you think, Helyce?
Helyce: First off, I have totally joined the ‘I love Kaleb’ club. This character continues to surprise while at the same time confound me. Who the hell is this guy? I have too many questions and I guess at the end of the day that’s the big attraction, right? That need to know his big secret. I’m sure the revelations will be worth all this suspense. All this time I thought he was searching for the Ghost in the Net? Imagine my surprise when I learned that wasn’t it at all? I cannot wait for this guy to break Silence…oh yeah, that’s going to be hot!
I found the continued side story with Miane from BlackSea extremely interesting. Their over the top need for security and staying under the radar has me thinking they are hiding something and if that is the case, what? And more importantly why? Since no one is clear as to what forms these shifters take, I found the joke about the sharkshifter very amusing. I mean, can you just imagine it?
Tori: Yes, that was very cute.
Helyce: All fun aside, I agree with your summation. It’s the characters that are straddling the fence that cause me the most discomfort. I cannot even begin to guess what direction Ms. Singh plans to go, but I know some things are inevitable and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Tori: This series just continues to get better and better for me and I can’t even imagine the things Ms Singh has in store for the future. The villains and heroes/heroines remain top notch and true to form. Storylines expand to open new paths and the romances in here are swoon worthy. Lots of snarky humor and engaging dialogue make this a 5 star read for me. I look forward to riding this series to the very end.
Helyce: Though I did struggle with the first half of this book, the second half made up for it in spades. Fellow reviewer May used the word “bridge” to describe this book when we chatted briefly about it and I tend to agree with her here. There is a lot of information included in this book, but I didn’t feel like we got many answers. More questions? Yes, definitely. Am I looking forward to the next book? Hell YES! Ms. Singh certainly knows how to “bring it”. After a rocky start, I did come to love Riaz and Adria. For me, Riaz’s persistence and determination won me over. The author’s descriptive writing covering all the senses was beautifully done. I think I will always associate the phrase “crushed ice and berries” with this book.
I have read but opted not write a review for every story in this anthology.
Stolen Goods by Shannon K. Butcher. In a world poised on the brink of an alien take over, a man hires a renowned thief to help him recover a magical artifact that could spell the end of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands.
Stolen goods is a well written novella with a strong storyline, personable characters, and lots of action. Butcher gives our characters somewhat complicated pasts that are addressed in the story and adds to the faint sexual undercurrents flowing through it. The main conflict is ripe with tension and horror as Butcher gives us a front row seat to what we as humans have to look forward to if our couple doesn’t win this battle. Enjoyable all the way around and I hope Butcher writes more on this couple and their unique skills.
The Girl With No Name by Chris Marie Green. When a young lady awakens in a strange room with no memory and wearing a pair of unusual knee high boots, she finds herself playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she struggles to recover her memory and stay alive.
This is my first time reading Ms. Green but not my last. Green’s incorporation of nature, magic, and the price for using it is interesting, especially when applied to our heroine. The story reveals well as we start out in the unknown and each clue leads us deeper into the mystery that surrounds our heroine’s memory loss and the reasons she is running. Interesting side characters and a possible love interest let us know our heroine isn’t fighting alone. Fast pacing and a kick arse heroine made this a joy to read.
The Devil’s Left Boot by Faith Hunter. Two young witches take a missing person case from an old enemy. Their investigation leads them into the town’s past and into the arms of an insane vampire whose appetite for Christian Louboutin is only matched by her appetite for blood and chaos.
I like Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series so I was excited to read a novella that revolves around the witch family that Jane has a love/hate relationship with. Word of warning, this story exists mid series and may spoil those who haven’t read book four-Raven Cursed. Witches, vampires, and a baby goat provide action, suspense, and humor when these two witches find themselves in a quandary that only Jane can get them out of when they stumble on their town’s bloody past and become more in touch with the dark side of their magic.
High Stakes (Chicagoland Vampires, #8.5) by Chloe Neill. Cadogan House guard Lindsey adores her boss Luc but the chains of her past leave her unable to commit to a relationship with him. When her past comes calling, threatening her family, Lindsey travels back to her beginnings and lays some ghosts to rest for good.
Fans of Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series have watched as Luc and Lindsey have danced around their attraction for years. Luc has done everything possible to make Lindsey his but with no avail. She is too stubborn and scared to give that much trust to one person. High Stakes is a short novella that finally tells us of Lindsey’s turbulent past and seems to hint at good things for her relationship with Luc.
Red Really Isn’t My Color (Black Wings, #2.5) by Christine Henry. The many greats grand daughter of Lucifer isn’t really big on family reunions or her family period but when Lucifer makes a request, she can’t refuse. Charged with recovering a pair of cursed red dancing shoes from the fairies leads Madeline Black into a battle with the Queen of Fae’s top assassin.
Having never read Christine Henry, this short story seemed the perfect way to ease myself into her series. Red Isn’t My Color plays off Hans Christian Andersen’s moralistic fairy tale-The Red Shoes. Mayhem follows our winged warrior as she confronts the Queen of the Fae’s right hand man and finds herself set up as a well shoed sacrificial lamb. Our heroine triumphs but is forced to use a side of herself that leaves her fearful of the consequences. A well plotted storyline with equal parts humor and that resolves fully but leaves faithful fans with hints towards the future.
Snakeskin (Trickster series, #0.5) by Rob Thurman. Making a deal with the Trickster can have unforeseen consequences as a customer learns the hard way.
Thurman’s Trickster series is a favorite of mine, right behind her Leandros series. The heroine, Trixa Iktomi, is a trickster; a semi divine shape shifter. Youthful in appearance and dangerous in reality; Trixa gives her customers what they ask for but often manipulates the results. In Snakeskin, a prequel set about ten years prior to book one, Trixa uses her skills to give a murderous black widow her heart’s desire. Humor reigns supreme as Trixa teaches a valuable lesson on the evils of greed.
Kicking It is a fun anthology that offers readers a variety of kick arse heroines in a collection of action packed stories by some of Urban Fantasies hottest authors to date. Though some stories are stronger then others, the collection as a whole is an engaging read sure to enchant.
Favorite Quote: “Your father told me you were the Guardian.” “I am. She just likes handling my sword.”
When Andrea Gray requests refuge from her pack and an unwanted mate claim, Sean Morrissey claims her as his mate; sight unseen. When Sean finally meets her he knows he has found his true mate, but Ashley has her own agenda and her intense attraction to Sean spells nothing but trouble. As Sean and Andrea begin the intricate mating dance they will be drawn into a conspiracy that will test everything they have-even their lives.
This is my first time reading Jennifer Ashley’s shifter series. I am a huge fan of her historical romances and the urban fantasy series she writes under the pseudonym Allyson James. I found myself curious to see if how her voice would fare in a paranormal romantic setting. Happy to say, I found myself as enchanted here as I am with her others. There are minute differences that I really appreciated. Often an author who writes in different genres and/or under different names has such a strong presence that you hear it in each story regardless. I have found Ms. Ashley has a unique ability to give you a different feeling in each series she writes. As if it’s someone new writing the story.
Andrea is half fae and half shifter. Raised in a lupine (wolf) pack, she is considered an outsider and barely tolerated. When the alpha’s son wants to mate claim her and won’t take no for an answer, she applies to her aunt’s pack for refugee. Since she can’t be grated asylum without protection, the alpha’s brother and Guardian of the clan, Sean Morrissey, claims her as a matter of convenience. When Sean and Andrea meet, the attraction between them in intense. As time goes by, the attraction deepens and Sean begins to want a permanent mate bond with her. But Andrea is like no shifter he has ever met. Her fae half gives her special healing powers and a seeming indifference to the packs hierarchy. This only endears her more to Sean.
As they find their way around each other, they also have to deal with the increasing violence between humans and the shifters.
Our main protagonists,Andrea and Sean are both two heavily developed characters. Each rich in personality, it was enjoyable to watch these two dance and fuss with each other. The chemistry is apparent from the first page and only gets hotter and more sensual as the story progresses.
Andrea is wonderful in that Jennifer Ashley doesn’t succumb to the normal shifter story line by having our heroine cowered by her Alphas. Andrea may be submissive in the hierarchy of the pack, but you don’t see her bowing to anyone. She holds her own against Sean and others; not in a bitchy manner, but rather as a warrior wrapped in diplomacy.
Sean is just as delightful as we watch his wicked humor and oh so good looks slowly win Andrea over. The sexy Irish accent doesn’t hurt either. He is very protective of her but doesn’t attempt to break her spirit. We and she both know it’s the mating frenzy. His job as the Guardian weighs heavily on him (he helps the dying shifters cross into Summerland) but Andrea helps soften his gift and shows him the good he does. They are perfect for each other and it shows.
Our secondary characters are as visible and dominant as Andrea and Sean. I enjoyed seeing Liam and Kat from Jennifer’s first book of this series, Pride Mates, and seeing how their life together has turned out. We get a nice but powerful smaller romance of two important characters within the Austin pride that adds a nice touch to the ending and also opens up an interesting door of opportunity. Jennifer expands the arc by divulging deeper into the lives of the sifters, their town dynamics, and their dealings with humans.
The mystery and suspense factored nicely upon the romance. Andrea is like no shifter seen before. Her fae half gives her special healing powers and an ability to work outside the pack bond. When Andrea begins to dream of unknown bonds trying to bind her; she feels it’s an omen of things to coming. As Ashley dreams become more vivid, she soon becomes the catalyst for the storm that has been brewing.
All in all Primal Bonds is a fast paced very sexy paranormal romance with a bite of suspense and mystery. Well written in a easy going conversational style, you find yourself engrossed in the lives of these shifters very quickly. Multiple story lines co exist peacefully along side each other without any particular one over whelming the other. Intertwining and overlapping until they merge into a fantastic ending that satisfies the main plot and this reader.
Favorite Quote: “It’s Miss. Nice Southern girls use Miss.”
“Then I guess that still makes you a Ms.”
I ADORE Shelly Laurenston and her crazy unpredictable shifters. When I received Big Bad Beast for review I decided to get the first one, The Mane Event, so that I could get an insight into the overall arc. From there I went and got her whole back list and spent the weekend with these crazy, sexy, outrageously funny shifters.
Big Bad Beast is #6 in the Pride series. Filled with Laurenston’s trademark humor and snark, we get a ring side seat to the romancing and mating of a tough and nonsense ex-marine Dee Ann Smith by chef premier and pretty boy Ulrich (Ric) Van Holtz. Plenty of laughter, smoking hot love scenes, and interfering pride members will keep you rolling.
Ric is a wolf shifter and restaurant cook extraordinaire in his cousin’s New York restaurant. He also helps run The Group. The Group is a consolidation of ex-military shifters who are called in to investigate and handle shifter problems. When she-wolf Dee Ann Smith joins The Group after leaving the Marines, Ric thinks his fondest dream has been granted. Ric has wanted the elusive and very scary Dee Ann Smith since he met and gave her a candy bar at age 6 and announced to his cousin Van he was going to “nail her and nail her good.”
As Ric worms his way into Dee Ann’s bed and heart, they are both pulled into shifter politics as Ric has to deal with his narcissistic father, Dee Ann has find out who is kidnapping and pit fighting the hybrids, and they both have to deal with certain shifters who feel that a Smith and Van Holtz should NEVER be together.
One Bad Beast is hilarious from page one. Ric knew Dee Ann was the ONE when he first met her. But fate had different plans for them so they don’t meet up again till about 25 years later. Dee Ann now works for Ric but has no idea how he feels. Ric wants Dee Ann badly and he decides that the best way to do it is to let her catch him and make her think it was all her idea. Once Dee Ann “catches” him, the romance and the antics start. This story isn’t as much about the chase as the others books are but more about what happens after the chase. Dee Ann and Ric get together pretty quickly (though not that quickly because they have been working towards it for 2 books).
Dee Ann is a woman after my own heart. Tough, quiet, and takes no crap from anyone. Most of the shifters are scared of her. She takes after her father, Eggie Smith, as the pride’s unofficial enforcer. Or as her father likes to say, “Time to start the killin’.” Consistently reminded of her “freaky eyes” and her size, she’s always thought she’d be alone.
Ric is fabulous. Funny, sweet, supermodel sexy, and gifted with the kiss of snark, he is perfect for Dee Ann. He doesn’t want to own her or control her-he just wants to be with her. He understands her the way few do and it only serves to make him love her more. *sniff* I need a Ric.
The rest of the gang is all in here to interfere, offer useless advice, and eat them out of house and home. I love that Ms Laurenston adapts past characters into current story lines. The entire shifter nation interacting with one another is what makes these stories fabulous. We see Mitch Shaw who is STILL throwing his brother Brendon under the bus. “Take him!!!”
Blayne is still annoying Dee Ann to the point of murder but it’s so funny you can’t help but laugh as she pings and pongs all over the place. The rest of the Smith pack show up to comment on Dee Ann’s relationship with her wolf.
“Get your suit on. We’re hitting the beach.”
“I just woke up and —”
“Not a request. Just move your ass cousin.”
“I know it’s fine. In fact, it better be goddamned fine.”
“Rich man’s whore.” “At least mine can cook the food he eats. And replaces it too.”
“Now see, Dee Ann Smith. That was just mean!”
What I really enjoy about this series is that while you have a romance and a main conflict, there is no heavy angst involved. Non-stop action and crazy antics keeps this series delightfully fresh and addictive.
The ending is action packed and resolves the main conflict perfectly. Other loose ends are tied up and we get a few clues to who Ms. Laurenston will write about next. If you enjoy non-stop humor and wit in your shifter romances then look no further than Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series. I guarantee you’ll soon be as addicted as I am.