Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Jan 14th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
In a harsh new world, only she can bring him to life…
Chase Hawthorne is on the run from a ghost. The shooting that took his little sister and scarred Chase’s face and body has left far deeper scars on his brother Tripp’s soul. Driven to pull up stakes and head for the most haunted place in Louisiana, Chase hopes to prove to Tripp there is no ghost of his twin beckoning from the after life.
When he comes upon a young woman fighting off raiders, Chase doesn’t hesitate to help the first female he’s seen in years. And he tries to ignore his instant attraction, hoping Tripp will feel it, too—and emerge from his frightening depression.
Keera has been alone too long, and Chase makes her feel things she never thought she’d feel again. Tripp may be the needier brother, but it’s Chase she wants. Scars and all.
But letting people too close comes with risks. And as they are drawn into the search for a young man’s family, both must accept the possibility that there’s more to life—and love—than simple survival.
Warning: A hero who puts his own needs aside for family. And a woman who’s out to prove there’s no law against a man listening to his body once in a while. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have been addicted to Worth’s writing since I first discovered her Kithran Regenesis series. When I found out she was starting a new post apocalyptic series I had to give it a try. When I finished reading the first installment, After the Crux, I had to ask if she was going to continue writing in this world. When she said yes, I waited rather impatiently for what would come next. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed by my wait.
Gruesomely scarred Chase was traveling with his younger brother Tripp in search of a deserted city trying desperately to find something that would break through Tripp’s worsening PTSD. Out on a foraging trip he stumbled upon a young woman defending herself against some raiders, individuals who banded together and preyed on anyone weaker, and when more raiders appeared he assisted in the fight. After realizing Chase was not going to make a bad situation even worse, Keera volunteered some replacement clothes and fresh food. She didn’t invite them back to her place but followed Chase to his RV to make sure he wasn’t lying. Chase was hoping that Keera and Tripp would hit it off and give Tripp a reason to continue living while Tripp wanted someone for Chase so he would not be alone. The three agreed to drive as close as possible to the deserted city and meet there for the food and clothing exchange. While stopped in the area by the city, Chase, Tripp, and Keera encountered four individuals from the first installment, Sole Survivors Ross, Dorian, Jenna, and Cadmar who were traveling to Cadmar’s home to rescue his family from the Raiders who had taken over their farm. While trapped at Keera’s place due to bad weather MacKenzie, a woman who lived with the raiders, showed up willing to work with them to help rescue Cadmar’s family and the few other decent people.
Worth provided an amazing sense of connection, caring, and loyalty amongst her protagonists. It was incredibly sweet to watch both Tripp and Chase sing each other’s phrases to Keera. Even when it appeared as if Keera had made her decision, Chase was still concerned about how it would affect Tripp. Thankfully, Tripp developed a best friend, Cadmar, so he was no longer drowning in memories and regrets of loss. Seeing the initial group of seven grow closer together and start to fully trust each other and bring MacKenzie into their group was very interesting. There was some suspicion but knowing that everyone had suffered from the Raiders and were willing to share what they had as well as risk their lives to help Cadmar made a huge difference.
I felt as if Worth explored some of the isolation felt by survivors and what they would consider or be willing to risk for companionship. I loved some of the quiet one-on-one conversations that were remarkably open and yet led to more trust. It was almost as if finding another human you didn’t have to fight or fear was enough to break down what would have been learned barriers. I also loved the backdrop of Chase and Keera’s relationship against Cadmar and Tripp’s friendship and the established triad of Ross, Dorian, and Jenna. The varying levels of intimacy, comfort, and interaction all rounded out the world.
Sole Survivors has left me with answers to questions raised in After the Crux but the rescue attempt/fight has left me with several more new questions from hints Worth provided. I am very curious about what is going to happen next. Who will go back with Ross and the others to their mountain home? Now that Tripp has declared he is a MAN, not a boy in most emphatic fashion, how will that alter his friendship with Cadmar. What is MacKenzie’s back-story and where will she go next? What will happen to the non-Raiders who might decide to stay put? How will the newcomers integrate into Ross’s mountain home? I can’t wait for the next installment!
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Nov 18th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Mathias Robichaud is looking for an alliance. The Defiance motorcycle club is a stronghold in the dangerous world that’s become the new norm and he’s driven to prove he’s tough enough to be sworn in as a full member. But when he sees a beautiful, spirited girl abducted by a rival MC, rescuing her jeopardizes all he’s worked for.
Politician’s daughter Jessa Everson knows what’s expected of her—obedience, loyalty and silence—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t fight when she’s kidnapped by the Lords of Vengeance. Having Mathias save her is like gaining an avenging angel in leather and tattoos. But Defiance is known for brutal justice, and she may have just traded one bad situation for another.
Mathias’s urge to protect is too strong to ignore, no matter how much trouble Jessa brings to Defiance’s gates. There’s no room in the post-Chaos world for weakness so if Mathias and Jessa have any chance of surviving, they’ll need to put their full strength behind the MC…and hope that the MC will do the same for them. This blurb came from the author’s website. I read Defiance earlier this year with a few of my fellow Book Pushers and while not perfect I found the idea intriguing, the characters distinctive, and some lingering questions about the events that led to the apocalypse. I was interested in finding out what was going to happen in the next installment since the status quo was significantly altered. I was also very intrigued by the two deserters who were supporting Defiance but had not formally joined. Reading the back cover blurb and finding out that the hero was one of the deserters increased my interest. Tyler answered some of the questions I was wondering and in doing so raised others. While Mathias was the hero in this story, he and Bishop were so intertwined from childhood that he was present in most of the scenes. However, Tyler made a point to demonstrate that Bishop thought of Mathias as a brother and viewed Jessa platonically.
Mathias was on a quest to redeem himself for some of his actions in the past. Even as a young boy he was incapable of walking by when someone needed rescuing. This trait brought him both his best friend, a brother by another mother, and more trouble than he could count. He and Bishop were enjoying time outside during a few of the rare sunlit hours discussing their plans for the future when the peace was broken by a terrified scream. Mathias and Bishop were known for being constantly on the move. Due to their status as deserters and a dislike of those who abused power and therefore innocents, they never remained in one place long enough to put down roots. Their time in Defiance was the longest they had been in one place since deserting the army and they were starting to feel restless. After assessing the situation Mathias insisted on intervening, a decision that changed his life.
Jessa grew up the pampered daughter of a high-ranking politician groomed to make a political marriage and carry on her family’s influence in running the country, or what was left of it. Jessa wasn’t happy in her designated role and when her parents would not listen to her thoughts she rebelled by attempting to kill herself multiple times. After her most recent and most serious attempt she married her childhood acquaintance, the man she was supposed to marry in her father’s political scheme. After trusting him with the politically deadly secrets she overheard, she found herself betrayed by her husband and being sold as a sex slave. Her rescue by Mathias and Bishop was an opportunity to change her life for the better if she was willing to take a chance.
I ended up having mixed feelings about the main characters. I absolutely loved learning more about both Bishop and Mathias. Their story was a mixture of uplifting and sad. The insights into what made them who they were did a lot to explain the decisions each made throughout the story. I really hope their circumstances at the end of this story don’t jeopardize their bond. Jessa, on the other hand, puzzled me. She didn’t fit in her pampered world but also showed far less distress at more primitive living than I would have expected. She also continued to believe her husband even after knowing what he was willing to do. She waffled between trusting and not trusting any of the members of Defiance including Mathias until it was too late. While some of my puzzlement was relieved when I found out her final secret, I still had some issues with her rationale when it came to her husband.
While I thought the world-building and some of the story flow was better, I had a harder time believing in the romance in this installment. I think part of it was my fascination with Mathias and Bishop combined with the difficulty I experienced trying to connect to Jessa. I couldn’t get past thinking the attraction was much more one-sided.
You found out you get to keep living.
He let me digest that for a long moment and then explained, For a lot of people who weren’t in your position, they think it’s about not dying. But when you really think about it, you found out today that you get to keep on living instead. And that’s a whole other ball game.
Mathias was willing to sacrifice an immense amount for Jessa but I never had the feeling that she would be willing to make an equivalent sacrifice. I did really enjoy how Jessa worked to communicate with Mathias without requiring an interpreter. I also thought the way Tyler brought forward the subtleties of body language into Mathias’ interactions a nice way to remind people that entire conversations can occur without a single spoken word.
As I was reading Redemption and catching the expanded pieces of worldbuilding, I found it fascinating to put the pieces together from the opposite perspectives of Mathias and Jessa for the same cataclysmic event. As I filled in the picture I was reminded of an old science fiction duology by Philip Wylie called When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. Only instead of following the lives of the privileged few, the focus was on the non-privileged who dared to make their own living. This helped me visualize the new generation of Defiance and how they were changing the old culture while defending their lifestyle.
I am still curious about what is going to happen next as things look like they are building up to a confrontation of some sort. I have a lot of questions about Mathis and a certain member of Defiance along with wondering about a particular secret. I think I know what it is but I am not exactly sure yet. I also want to see Mathis and Jessa’s relationship grow because I am not exactly comfortable with where this book ended and their HEA.
Publisher: Forever Yours Publish Date: 6 Aug How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
It is the year 2070. Generations ago, the world was annihilated by catastrophic environmental events. The survivors were driven to live in big city centers ruled by the Company. To rebuild the world’s population, the oppressive Company had one rule: all homosexuals must be exterminated.
Commander Caspar Cannon has a stellar military reputation—and a life-threatening secret. When a revolution rips through the territories, Cannon is ordered to escort Company executive Nathaniel Rice to a secure location. For months, the commander has harbored illicit desire for Rice, knowing he cannot act on his attraction. Privileged, polished, and groomed to one day take over the Company, Rice is drawn to the rugged, military man. Yet Rice has his own mysterious agenda, and he knows their love can be as dangerous as the wasteland they must traverse.
Now leaving the besieged city behind, the two men embark on a journey that becomes a minefield of sabotage, betrayal—and forbidden passion. But when danger catches up to them, can Cannon trust the secretive man who holds his heart—and his fate?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero#1 (Cannon)
E: Cannon was a very torn and conflicted person. He was raised in a society that considered his sexual orientation a crime punishable by death. His society placed the highest value on those who reproduced with the only people exempt from this requirement were the ones serving in the military. After the death of his family when Cannon was a teenager, he did the only thing he could do to try to give him both a future “family” and allow him to escape the requirement to breed. This did not mean he was safe from persecution if caught, just that he would not be matched with a suitable young woman and forced to validate their contract marriage through witnessed consummation. His only escape is a few furtive moments in an underground rave/sex party for those whose interests violated the Company policy. Cannon was continually struggling with himself caught between his job as a member of the military and what he felt. The survivor’s guilt after the death of his family, constantly hiding an integral part of himself, living with the knowledge that his society would gladly kill him if they knew, and hearing the endless hatred was killing his soul. During one of his escapes from the Company he had an oft-dreamed of encounter that changed the rest of his life. Initially I had a hard time connecting with Cannon but as I continued reading and Warren let me under his protective shell, he grew on me. In this particular case I was glad for the 1st person point of view because I could see both his internal and eternal dialogue which softened a few of his rough edges. I grew to understand his mistrust, anger, and finally his willingness to give his everything.
Has I felt the same way about connecting to Cannon’s character, I found his POV hard to engage in the beginning too. Although I liked how he had to cope with an authoritarian government, especially how they dictated sexual behaviour and other forms of entertainment with sanctioned rules. I also liked how he had devil may care attitude even though I felt something with his character which I could not relate to.
But I did find some aspect of the world-building didn’t make sense, while I could understand the outlawing of homosexuality and other forms of sexuality which is deemed undesirable due to the re-population agenda. I didn’t get the witnessing of the consummation of a sanctioned marriage. The authorities was set up as corporations which took over the collapse of the world’s governments and carved up different areas amongst themselves. The way they ran their cities/areas felt off because while I understood the whole banning of homosexuality the witnessing of a consummating marriage felt very medieval and voyeuristic and I wished there was more on why these corporations came up with these policies.
2. Thoughts on the Hero#2 (Rice)
E: Rice appeared the more open, less complicated of the two men but he proved to have some unexpected depths. He knew what he wanted and was in a position to patiently maneuver things until he had a chance. What I noticed first about him and continue to find admirable was his extreme patience and tenacity. I didn’t get a chance to know Rice as well based on Cannon’s POV so all I could go off of were his actions. And as contradictory as they seemed at times he was always working towards his ultimate goal. I will let you find out what his goal was. Rice was more verbal than Cannon yet for all of his talking he actually said less which I found fascinating. It took an absence of alternatives for him to open up about what was really behind his actions, which, was a demonstration that even those who grew up among the Company elite learned not to trust anyone. I waffled between like him and being very puzzled by him until the end of the story, which is probably one of the reasons I continued reading.
Has: I totally agree with you about Rice, I think his character was more intriguing than Cannon’s and I almose kind of wished we had some chapters in his POV because he seemed more interesting. I would have loved to see his insights on how he worked with the Company elite and living with the strict rules and restrictions especially in contrast with family which was one of the elements of the story that I liked.
I also loved the twist at the end linked with Rice and that took me by surprised and this is where the narrative starting to began to get more interesting for me. While I found the beginning was action packed and pacey. The lull in the middle really dragged for me.
3. Favorite Scene
E: My favorite scene is towards the beginning with the very first interaction between Cannon and Rice. There they both established that neither was submissive but they were willing to exchange give and take. Each challenged the other and rose to meet that challenge but didn’t cross over the line of ending what could be before it really started. This first encounter set the tone for their entire relationship. Rice making the first move but demanding that Cannon match him. Cannon being forces to interact instead of passively accepting or denying what was offered. Rice doing what he could to make Cannon comfortable and show him what could be while Cannon was always the protector and caring for Rice. Not to mention the very elemental method of their joining.
Has: I think for me, the scene towards the end which is a bit spoilery but since this is a romance and it has a HEA.
SPOILER--- I loved the wedding scene. I loved the symbolism and the vows they shared. I thought it was very sweet and it when both Cannon and Rice showed a much more softer side in their relationship which I think was missing in the beginning. END SPOILER
4. Dislike about book
E: I had some issues with this story unfortunately. First I felt that the pacing was extremely slow in some sections. While the first part of Cannon and Rice’s journey did serve to build a bond between the two men I didn’t need a day by day account along with the variety of methods/ways/order of their smexy times. I felt as if that could have been shortened and several of their encounters left out. It almost seemed like it was turning into an erotic story when the sex taking over the plot which was not what I was looking for in this particular read. I also felt that the real growth in both their relationship and Cannon started with their enforced travel pause. To me making a distinction between living under the Company’s control and what it was like to live away from the Company would have clarified how far they traveled not just in time and distance but in ideology.
The other thing that bothered me was that this story seemed as if it was broken into different sections. Meet cute with reason to stay physically close together, travel, change in perspective, danger and so on (more would be spoilerish). I wish those transitions were a bit less obvious or that the tension rise was smoother instead of sudden sharp increases and decreases. With each one I kept looking to see if that was the climax of the book so that threw off my reading flow.
Has: Yes! I also found the numerous love scenes were beginning to overshadow the main story and the plot. I found that after they left the city it began to drag with the pace because it was all focused on them having sex, and daily tasks until they met up with danger. And then this would be repeated in the next act of the book. It made it for very disjointed narrative and I also found Cannon’s POV in the first half especially with the love scenes not that sexy because he was pretty crude. I don’t mind dirty talking heroes, but because I couldn’t connect to him as a character I was kind of put off by him. Although later in the book, when he began to fall hard for Rice, his tone changed to something more warmer and sweeter and this is what kept me on reading because I was very close to DNF the book.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: I found In His Command a very interesting premise with some flaws in the execution. Despite the flaws, Warren has developed a fascinating world and circumstances being what they are at the end of the book I am intrigued to see what will happen next with a few of the characters. She included several twists and turns a few which appeared to be far-fetched but were enjoyable all the same. I also really enjoyed how both men were strong, and mostly dominate instead of having a set top and bottom although one of them did seem to have slightly more bottom tendencies. I did want a more even distribution with the pacing, smexytimes, and plot but it did serve to highlight the brutality faced by those who had any intention of thinking or being out of step with the Company.
I give In His Command a C.
Has: This is a book I would really love to enjoy but I mostly have meh feelings on it. Yes, this had a great premise and the world-building was very interesting despite the issues I had. But overall, the narrative tone and writing style didn’t draw me in and it was a bit of a struggle to read. Although it definitely got better towards the end and I am glad that I did because I did warm up to Cannon and liked how the romance developed in the end. But I wished the book was much tighter in pace and plot and some of the love scenes in the beginning could have been left out because it felt more erotica than dystopian romance and that definitely bogged down the pace. But there are some promising elements in this world and I may be drawn to the sequel.
BP Note: The Book Pushers are huge fans of Dane, Arend, and Rocha so when we found out they were plotting together for a self-published anthology we couldn’t wait. As they continued to work on their individual projects and started tweeting things about how they were blushing as they typed, how this was potentially the hottest thing they had written to date, and how good the stories from their co-conspirators were the wait seemed endless. It was a great relief to finally get our hands on this anthology and see for ourselves if our anticipation was worth it.
ALL THAT REMAINS
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch – the man she loved three years before. While she’s not sure she’s cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up.
Has: Out of the three authors, I’ve only read a handful of books by Lauren Dane. “All That Remains” is the start of a brand new series set in a post apocalyptic world where society has changed drastically. I am a huge fan of post apocalyptic settings, but Dane has approached this premise with a different twist which I liked. It is set a few centuries after a catastrophe and humanity has evolved into different norms and mores, where men far outnumber women due to the calamity. Instead of having a darker edged and tone like The Handmaid’s Tales sort of stories of women being oppressed, it is the other way round where they’re respected and have more agency and power. I really liked how she depicted this new world and the characters who resides in them especially the heroine Summer, who is open and upfront and enjoys and owns her own sexuality.
However one day her tranquil existence is turned upside down with the arrival of two men to her village, and they both challenge her in every way. She is reluctant to embark on a long-term relationship. Hatch and Charlie who are both deeply attracted to her as well being in their own relationship see that she is perfect to form a triad relationship and are willing to put down roots down. But Summer finds the dynamic of being involved with a triad relationship difficult, because of her own issues with a past relationship and her sister’s experience in one which left scars. I loved that Dane has created a true menage relationship instead of just focusing on the heroine, the focus of the romance is very much between Charlie and Hatch. Their dynamics in their relationship was interesting because while Charlie was easy-going and relaxed, Hatch was more alpha and demanding, which Summer found at times hard and there were real problems and kinks to work out within their relationship. It definitely heightened the tension in the romance and I liked how it played out. Although I wished we got to see more of the world-building, which didn’t go into much depth or the backdrop of the big catastrophe. Nonetheless, this was a solid introduction to this new world, with hot love scenes.
E: While I haven’t read everything that Dane has published, I have read a lot. She has several series I continue to love so when I saw she was starting a new series, Metamorphosis, set in an entirely new world I was even more curious. As I gathered, well as Dane released, information about her contribution it started looking like her story was going to hit several of my love to read buttons; post apocalyptic, shortage of women, second chance at love, and an overall slower lifestyle. “All That Remains” managed to eek out a standing as my favorite in this anthology.
I loved how Summer had rebuilt herself and created a life full of happiness when the life she planned altered abruptly. She had no shame about enjoying men nor did she depend on them for her quality of life. She felt an instant attraction to Charlie but when she discovered he was with her former love she was ready to end what might have been. Somehow Charlie and Hatch convinced Summer to give them a chance. So many times I thought Hatch was going to ruin it by his apparent unawareness of the multitude of levels his actions as a young man had hurt Summer. Each time Charlie was able to smooth things over but it was up to Hatch to prove he had learned, changed, and was someone Summer could trust to stick around.
As much as this story focused on Hatch and Summer’s second chance Dane provided equal attention on the growing relationship between Charlie and Summer. Yes, Charlie was the peacemaker but Summer valued him for more than that role, she liked him for who he was. Charlie also adored Summer for who she was and what she brought out in Hatch as he consciously matured. I also found that the sexytimes between Charlie, Hatch, and Summer regardless of the combination were extremely intense and hot. There was a balance between one on one and the trio as a whole which made me think the individual connections were just as important as the overall relationship.
Since this was a novella, the supporting characters were not as fleshed out as Dane’s novels but some significant time was spent with Summer’s sister, Dulce who was the catalyst for Summer’s fresh start. She has a tragic backstory and I can’t wait to see her find happiness again. With the depth of emotion and complicated world-building Dane provided I really didn’t miss learning more about the supporting characters. I am sure that information will come as Dane continues to write in this world.
Meka: “All That Remains” is a sizzling story of second chances, owning up to what you’ve done, and taking a chance with the idea that your heart may be torn in two. Dystopian novels are not my theme because they tend to be a little too dark for me, but this setting showed a different take. Paradise Village isn’t the gritty, everybody-for-themselves type of place that it could be, namely because we are also about 300 years beyond the fallout resulting from the apocalypse. The beauty of this story is that it focuses on the here and now and relationships that people have with one another.
Summer and Hatch used to be an item before Hatch left. This resulted in Summer having to hold herself together and continue living life without him even though her heart was broken. Four years later, and we see a very different Summer from the type of person that she used to be. I could likely gush on and on about what happens in this particular novella, but I want to focus on some key points.
Lauren Dane can write relationships, whether it’s a romantic one or friendships. She has always impressed me by pulling in the side characters and not allowing anyone to be a lonely island where their world only revolves around their significant other. This makes her writing layered and nuanced, bringing the characters to life in a way that makes me wish I knew these people for real. I’m so glad that Lauren said there’d be a book about Summer’s sister, because I need this in my life like right now.
By the time we meet these characters, summer has moved on as best she can, and Hatch is now in a relationship with Charlie. For me, the beauty of this story was watching them navigate the treacherous waters of someone being betrayed. Hatch was arrogant and knew what he wanted, Summer was passionate and yet cautious, and Charlie was the one who could soothe the both of them. I really loved that Summer could stand up for herself and refused to be run over roughshod just because Hatch wanted everything. She made certain he understood how much his leaving hurt, and that she wasn’t the same person that she used to be.
None of these characters are perfect, but they are all three worthy of love if they can give it a chance. Summer’s resistance to Hatch was understandable. Hatch’s need to get things back to the way that they used to be could be understood too. Both of them could rub each other the wrong way in any moment, but together as a triad, it really worked. Dane writes these characters in a realistic manner and makes me want to delve more in to this new world that she has created.
Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he’s not giving up until she’s his.
Has: I think “Rocky Ride” was my favourite story of the anthology, although the other stories were great, but I was really engrossed with Anna and Mitch’s romance which was sweet but very very sexy. The opening chapters were beyond scorching and the chemistry between Anna and Mitch was on fire. Anna is a RCMP officer while Mitch is a mechanic/biker and even though they’re jobs and roles are poles apart, their attraction has driven them to go on a red hot affair. Mitch soon realises this is much more than great sex and goes on a mission to woo Anna that they could have something more permanent. Although things don’t go smoothly with Anna’s boss, Nick who disapproves of their relationship and her own reluctance to open up.
But I loved that Mitch managed to get Anna to explore more of her wild side, and to break out her inhibitions because of her job and her own reserved nature. It was fun to see her break out of her walls and that was really part of the charm of the romance, also the sexual chemistry was smoking hot which added another layer to the story which I enjoyed immensely. While this story was a spin-off from Arend’s Six Pack series, it was also cool to see some cameos and scenes featuring some of those characters.
Overall, I was left very satisfied with this novella, because even though it was a short-length, the romance, the love scenes and the introduction of series was just perfect. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series because this was a wonderful and sexy start.
E: Arend is another of my auto-buy authors. “Rocky Ride” is the first of her Thompson & Sons series which is a spin-off of the Six Pack Ranch series. I was very excited at the possibility of starting this new series because the area around the Six Pack Ranch is packed full interesting characters. The inhabitants do not shy away from enjoying each other and when they find love, they hold onto it regardless of public opinion. However, Anna as a member of the RCMP did need to maintain a certain level of public decorum and getting involved with one of the crazy Thompsons certainly didn’t seem to match that expectation. So as the story opens Anna and Mitch have an arrangement. They meet, have an extremely enjoyable time, then Anna leaves, and they act like nothing has ever happened but Mitch wants more. He was tired of being Anna’s dirty little secret so he created a plan that would result in everything he hoped for or the end of an enjoyable interlude and a broken heart.
I loved watching Mitch and Anna take things outside of secluded meetings. Anna did have some valid reasons for wanting to keep her relationship quiet because Mitch had a well earned reputation. She was supposed to uphold the law and Mitch had a habit of stretching if not breaking the law. It took Mitch a little bit to realize how to walk the line between coaxing Anna out of her shell and indulging in activities that pushed her away. While Anna was struggling mentally she also had to deal with a partner who seemed determined to make Anna doubt her own judgment. If that didn’t work he was completely willing to use other techniques to keep her doing exactly what he wanted, which was not happy with Mitch Thompson. It was a lot of fun to watch Anna and Mitch worth through their issues both within their relationship and with outside interferences. I think my favorite scene here was a certain nighttime dirt bike race. That scene said so much about Anna’s personality when she wasn’t dealing with fears about her professional future and Mitch’s enjoyment of life. “Rocky Ride” was a great introduction to the Thompson & Sons series and I can’t wait for the next installment.
Meka: I have not read this series yet, but it was not difficult for me to keep track of what was happening. I feel curious about the characters that I have been missing out on and plan to read their stories, because after this one, I am totally hooked.
This novella is not just about a good girl falling for a bad boy, but the vulnerabilities that they both share, and the biases and judgment calls that we make every day about other people. Anna is portrayed as a woman who likes to live on the wild side but is often too afraid to really let that side of her out. When Mitch, the man that she’s been having a fling with, decides to push her a little harder because he’d like more, Anna is nervous but is more than ready for the challenge.
Watching this story unfold was such a treat. Being able to see Anna, a constable and someone who works really hard at what she does, take chances and defend what she wanted was incredibly special. Watching her own up to how she’d been unfairly stereotyping Mitch was even better. Seeing her pal around with his family, go biking, and just totally be with Mitch and give him more of her heart was totally sweet.
Can I keep Mitch? He only wanted the best for Anna and longed to see her shed her inhibitions and just fly. He wanted to take their relationship to the next level, but was also full of vulnerability that we got to see. Oh, and let us not forget absolutely sexy. He was ready to take Anna anywhere she wanted to go fantasy-wise and Vivian Arend pulled no punches in that department.
As they learned to navigate the waters of what they wanted, we got to see a couple truly worthy of their HEA. Anna truly blossomed once she was able to simply let go, and Mitch learned that he had someone in Anna that he could depend on and trust. Even after Mitch did a bone-headed move, I was still cheering for things to work out. And the last surprise that Anna had for Mitch wrapped that story up with a nice little bow.
Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up–and wearing O’Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O’Kane woman always gets what she wants.
Has: I always look forward to a Beyond book by Kit Rocha, and I was definitely eagerly waiting for Emma and Noah’s story which was touched briefly on in the last book by setting up their story. Noah has finally tracked down Emma who he has lost track of the past few years but is surprised and happy that she’s safe and made a real home with the O’Kanes. Emma is happy to be reunited with Noah and their feelings for each other are instantly rekindled although the secrets of their past threatens their tentative new relationship.
I think with each new installment, the Beyond series gets better and better. I love the world-building and the cast of characters which all share an amazing chemistry with each other. In “Beyond Temptation” establishes another tantalizing plot thread which will intertwine with the ongoing arc that was set up in the previous book. But the real focus is on the romance between Emma and Noah which develops beautifully. I was really happy how Kit Rocha maintained the tension between them and their sex scenes were beyond blazing hot which ratcheted their sexual chemistry.
While I loved the romance, I found the plot-line that connects Emma and Noah’s past to the current issues the O’Kane clan will face left me wanting. In a lot of ways this felt like a mini-episode of a huge saga that is playing out and I wanted to see more of this plot being expanded because it was more like a teaser rather than a sub-plot involving them. However I am definitely looking forward to the next installment which promises to be explosive in so many levels.
E: “Beyond Temptation” took two supporting characters with a complicated past and gave them a chance to smooth it out. Emma, now an O’Kane, who was Ace’s apprentice and a generally sweet girl had been in love with her brother’s best friend almost her entire life. When he practically disappeared from her life she never quite felt the same way about anyone else. She had a home with the O’Kanes, and while she shared their love of pleasure, she never paired off with anyone. Then she discovered Noah was still alive. Noah thought Emma was safely away from the sectors and happily married until he received a note saying she needed him. When he found out she was an O’Kane he knew that he needed to get revenge on the woman who lied to him and to see if Emma needed rescuing. He was not prepared to see grown-up Emma who was no longer sweet and innocent. He was also not prepared for the depths of his feelings towards Emma and what more he would do to keep her safe.
I loved how Emma had to push to get Noah to open up to her and prove to him what love meant. She also had to prove she was grown and didn’t need someone to make her decisions for her. Noah had to learn to open up and to trust that Dallas and Lex really did care about the O’Kanes. But when their mutual past resurfaced Noah had to make a hard decision. This was another fun read but it felt more like the installment of a serial instead of a complete story. There was a conclusion but I am hoping more of their story shows up as the series continues because there is a lot hanging on the results of Noah’s decision.
Meka: I could not read this story straight through. At first I thought it was because of the raw sensuality of this dark and gritty world, but now I realize that might not be entirely accurate. It was because we see the stark reality of these characters and practically every scene is intense. We get to feel their emotions, their desperation, their simply trying to live and make a life for themselves. So I had to read this one in fits and spurts, because such stark depictions were hard for me to swallow at once.
I have not read all of the books in this series (a normal occurrence if you know anything about my reading quirks), but I did read Beyond Shame which I loved. In this novella, Emma is an O’Kane and has been inked. It’s four years since she found herself in their territory and she’s a different woman than she was when she lost her brother with no word from his best friend. In the meantime, Noah, her brother’s best friend, is fighting guilt over his death and nursing a need for revenge that has left him room for precious little else.
What he gets is a different Emma, one who is confident with herself and her life. She’s a fighter, someone who can be straightforward and give him everything he wants while demanding her own needs and the truth.
Emma’s life of practically everything and then the return of Noah made this a heart-wrenching story to read. Watching her come to terms with Noah, and then the truth of a secret that he’d been hiding was both devastating and wonderful.
Watching Noah’s reactions to the new Emma through his eyes was a treat. We got to see him slowly open up to her and come to terms with his guilt that life hadn’t gone the way that he had expected it to for Emma. His grief, his anger, his need for revenge were all real things.
Let’s not skip the sex, either. This novella was filthy and I loved every sordid detail. If the Apocalypse happens, I’m finding a Sector Four.
All in all, I cheered for these characters and the ones that I remembered from book one. It was great to see how far they all had come.
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: June 10th How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
Rebelling against her legacy as the MC’s princess, Tru Tennyson escaped the ruthless, male-dominated culture of the Defiance motorcycle club. Three years later, her newfound freedom is ripped away, thanks to a massive hybrid storm that killed millions. Now, in the post-Chaos world of semi-darkness and near-total anarchy where gangs rule, she discovers the dangerous world of Defiance may be the one thing that can keep her safe.
Tru is at the MC’s mercy when she’s dragged back to her former home … and to the only man she’s ever pictured a future with. Caspar is the bastard son of the club’s leader, her safe haven when life got rough — and her onetime lover the night she left. When Tru refuses to trade sex for power and be claimed by a rival club leader, she also dares to announce she wants Caspar instead, throwing the MC into turmoil.
Tru’s brazen revolt could start a gang war and destroy the club from within. Now both Tru and the MC must wait for Caspar’s response… and the inevitable fallout.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
Lou: When I saw the reveal for this book I was pretty excited as I’m a fan of the MC trope that’s popular at the moment. This also looked different with a dystopian take that looked raw and gritty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book and that’s because of the world building which was quite weak. I also had issues with the gratuitous violence which seemed senseless and over-the-top. And whilst the sex scenes were great, I had a hard time routing for both the hero and the heroine. The heroine had misery heaped upon her time and time again, and after a while it became annoying.
E: I heard a bit about this from buzz on twitter and again at RT so I eagerly leaped at the chance to read it. It was post-apocalyptic, NA, and motorcycle club (MC). I am relatively new to the whole MC trope–having only read one other MC book before, never watched any of the TV shows, or joined in the crack reading of another author. I will admit that for the first book in a series I give some latitude for world-building because it is a difficult balance to strike between the world and the characters. Once I got past my initial worry that the set-up was going to be too close to another series that I absolutely love I fell right into Tyler’s book. I did have a bit of confusion regarding the timeline for the hybrid storm because I failed to read the back cover blurb but overall I really enjoyed reading it.
There was certainly a lot of violence in this book and a significant portion of it was directed towards women but as I continued reading I saw that there was the intent within the club to change the status quo. I did wish that Tru started seeing the underlying politics sooner but given her reasons for leaving and her lack of current insider knowledge a significant portion of ignorance was very understandable.
Lou: The woman were treated as a sub-par species and I the violence and intent towards Tru was awful. It made me a little sick to my stomach and I had a hard time routing for the book because of the world-building. I wish we saw more details and background on the world and the hybrid storms. Instead it was briefly mentioned and it didn’t play a part in the way the novel was shaped which disappointed me. It was all character and no world-building and if you’re gonna have a dystopian setting, it needs to be showcased. I think the romance between Casper and Tru was the strongest point in the book and I enjoyed reading about their relationship and the smexy times. Casper was a very hard-nosed character, and the reasoning for behind the way he acts made sense during the reveal later on in the book.
I mentioned the violence and I had a major problem with how it was played out, especially at the beginning of the book where Casper murders people in brutal way that almost had me DNFing right there.
E: I was more focused on the human dynamic then the hybrid storms. Yes I am hoping that Tyler expands that in future books but I didn’t need them to be the center of this story. I was extremely leery at the beginning when it appeared as if Tru was going to be forced to marry someone she despised and he would determine if she lived or if she died a horrible death. I liked how she gambled on a very old friendship but had to hope and trust that somehow things would work out. Unlike you, Lou, I liked the beginning when Casper decided to eliminate several people. To me they deserved it because of their treatment towards women. We, women, can do a huge amount but in my opinion in some societies we also need men to push for the same changes and that was Casper making a statement towards change. In their particular society, violence is the ultimate argument or emphasis on a verbal statement. After that particular scene I sat back to see how far this change would permeate.
I also enjoyed Casper and Tru’s relationship and their smexytimes. It was fascinating watching them connect the past with the future and try to bridge the gap between them. Both Casper and Tru had their secrets which made me enjoy reading their interactions even more.
Lou: For me, rather than the case of whether or not they deserved it, I thought with the unique setting it would be a change of scene of extreme violence and violence against women. I just felt there was no escape from it. The positive was Casper wanting to make a change in the club and he had to do it inside and by waiting patiently for so many years. I enjoyed the romance but I soon got exasperated by the misery that was heaped on Tru. Her story got worse and worse and by the end it lost authenticity to me because I wanted to see Tru become a strong character without all these horrible events happening to her that heaped upon the sympathy.
E: Interesting perspective. I actually liked seeing how Tru was able to rise above her past and try to manipulate her future by bending the rules. I also liked how she never gave in and accepted “her place” but continued to fight and encourage others to stop tolerating the status quo. Like you, I really enjoyed how Casper waited patiently gathering strength and support so when he made his move to change he would be able to make it stick. I found it fascinating to see the divide between some of the old crew and those who had a different dream for the future. Yes, the old crew kept them alive and gained a place of power but I really didn’t like their methods.
I am also super curious about the two ex-military guys who showed up. Yes Tyler gave us a taste of them but I want more **grin**.
Lou: Despite my criticisms for most of this review, I am looking forward to future characters and hopefully the world-building can be expanded on in future books. Sadly for me, Defiance didn’t work and I had hard time engaging with the characters, despite the romance, and I didn’t like the violence that made me put the book down on several occasions. I give Defiance a C-
E: Overall I enjoyed reading Defiance. There were a few things that bothered me but I was caught up in wondering how Tru was going to survive and if Casper was going to achieve his goals. I do hope that Tyler does provide more attention to the causes of the apocalypse because I think has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing where Tyler goes with her next installment.
Short interesting take on a post-apocalyptic future earth complete with Nasties. Humans that have been infected and are now hideous primarily nocturnaShort interesting take on a post-apocalyptic future earth complete with Nasties. Humans that have been infected and are now hideous primarily nocturnal creatures who vastly outnumber the humans and hunt them down. Intriguing enough that I bought the sequel to read. ...more
I really enjoyed reading this. The neat twist on "shapeshifters," the world, a potential solution. I really hope that Harnois continues writing in thiI really enjoyed reading this. The neat twist on "shapeshifters," the world, a potential solution. I really hope that Harnois continues writing in this world. I really liked the little twist pulled in at the end *grin*...more
Oh those pesky Gods interfering with people like we are toys. Interesting read. I liked the take on lightening and how the Gods both help and hinder.Oh those pesky Gods interfering with people like we are toys. Interesting read. I liked the take on lightening and how the Gods both help and hinder. I did think things were cleaned up a bit too neatly....more
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author
Nate Powell lived one full life as a world-class inventor before a disaster born of magic and science returned him to his prime—and turned him into a half-vampire, half-bloodhound abomination.
He’s finally stopped yearning for death, but he’s a long way from being excited about life—even if his newly virile body is very excited by the latest arrival to Iron Creek.
Diana is another creature that shouldn’t exist—a female bloodhound. While the males of Iron Creek accept her as a fellow warrior, Nate seems torn between a desire to study her and a need to protect her. Diana’s urges are a lot more carnal.
When they learn that a rogue hound is selling women across the border, Diana and Nate are chosen to infiltrate the vampires’ capital city. But before long their inner bloodhounds feel the mating pull—and a hound never outlives their mate for long. In a fight to keep each other alive, they could both end up worse than dead.
Warning: Contains a badass vampire-hunting heroine who isn’t afraid to fight dirty and a broody half-vampire hero about to discover a reason to live again. Also beware of: bloodhound-on-bloodhound violence, airship heists and some furniture-endangering sex with lots of biting, all in an alternate Wild West. This blurb came from the author’s website.
Put the two words “Moira” and “Rogers” together as the author of a written work and I will trample anyone who tried to stop me from reading it. In other words, I am a huge Rogers fan and look forward to whatever their latest release is. The Bloodhounds series is one I turn to as a re-read when I want alpha men, strong women, smexytimes where the sole purpose is the maximum amount of pleasure possible, vampires, shapeshifters, and people fighting to preserve their freedom. In this particular installment, I got all of that and then some not to mention another increase in tension between the borderlands and the Guild.
Nate and Diana should not exist by the laws of the Guild, their inventors, and everything publically seen in the fight against the vampires. Diana survived a vicious Bloodhound attack and was transformed into the first known female Bloodhound. Her existence has been kept a secret because the Guild would want her as a lab subject. She was struggling to find her place as both a woman and a Bloodhound with all of the build-in instincts to protect and the vulnerability caused by the moon. Nate, once a skilled aging Guild inventor suffered a vampiric transformation that was aided by the blood of an illegally created Bloodhound. He was also trying to find his place as a now young inventor, weakened by the sun, with a requirement to drink blood. Together they decided to face rumors of a rogue Bloodhound selling unwilling humans to vampires for pets.
The events that set up Nate and Diana’s trip are rather disturbing to the order of things. Bloodhounds were invented to protect against vampires not to attack humans, sell humans, or assist vampires in their territory management. However, reports and encounters in the borderlands are making it seem as if the Guild is trying to play both sides. Against that politically charged and dangerous backdrop are two misfits who have to cut through all of their social trappings and find each other in order to survive.
I liked Nate primarily as the man who cared for and taught Satira, heroine of Wilder’s Mate Book #1, but I really did not have a feeling for him outside of that until this story. Rogers did a great job mixing his old man set in his ways habit and mindset with the almost uncontrollable urges of a much younger and vigorous man. He also had to deal with the Bloodhound protective nature and that was focused on Diana. Watching Nate struggle with all of the new aspects of his life especially while dealing with a situation that needed his control and intellect was very entertaining.
I fell in love with Diana’s character from the moment she walked on screen in Archer’s Lady so I was very happy to hear she was getting her own story. Not that I have anything against the male Bloodhounds but I have a not so secret weakness for women doing well in a traditional man’s job while still being themselves. Diana knew how to work with her strengths and biological differences from the other Bloodhounds while efficiently protecting her territory. However, after moving in with Wilder and Satira, she wasn’t quite comfortable in her role there not to mention her growing attraction to Nate.
I had an absolute blast watch Nate and Diana in a situation that practically forced them to deal with their attraction. Rogers did a wonderful job bringing their attraction to the forefront scene by scene. In addition to the attraction and mutual needed trust Nate and Diana had to deal with some unexpected visitors and confirmation that things on the Borderlands are not how the Guild should be operating. Each installment has widened the divide between the Guild and Bloodhounds who are trying to protect the border. I think this is leading up to a split and maybe an internal war of some sort. I was also introduced to a new Bloodhound that I hope will make his way to Wilder’s crew.
Once again Rogers provided an intense enjoyable read. They are skilled at mixing up character roles yet allowing the characters to remain true to their essence. They also continue to move the overall series arc along while moving individual characters along their journeys. The interlocking nature and threads assists in making this series an absolute delight to read. As usual I cannot wait for the next installment.
Alexa Parrino escaped a life of servitude and survived danger on the streets to become one of the most trusted, influential people in Sector Four, where the O’Kanes rule with a hedonistic but iron fist. Lex has been at the top for years, and there’s almost nothing she wouldn’t do for the gang…and for its leader. Lie, steal, kill—but she bows to no one, not even Dallas O’Kane.
He’ll settle for nothing less.
Dallas fought long and hard to carve a slice of order out of the chaos of the sectors. Dangers both large and small threaten his people, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. His liquor business is flourishing, and new opportunities fuel his ambition. Lex could help him expand his empire, something he wants almost as much as he wants her. And no one says no to the king of Sector Four.
Falling into bed is easy, but their sexual games are anything but casual. Attraction quickly turns to obsession, and their careful dance of heady dominance and sweet submission uncovers a need so deep, so strong, it could crush them both.
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I’m always on the lookout for post-apocalyptic romance. When one of my favorite genres meets my favorite writing duo and they add in some super smokin’ smutty themes, it’s a match made in heaven! The second book in the Beyond series is just as hot as the first, and just as sweet. How Rocha is able to combine the right amount of smut with romance to create such amazing stories is beyond me! I was so excited to see the big bad Dallas brought to his knees by Lex, and it was EPIC.
E: Rocha hit all of my right buttons with Beyond Shame, the first book in the Beyond series so I have been looking forward to the sequel. As Rocha provided snippets and mini-excerpts along the way my excitement continued to grow. I am pleased to say that the wait was certainly worth it. Watching the actual dynamics between Lex and Dallas not to mention their continual sexual and emotional tension *fans self* was absolutely amazing. Yet it remained sweet, smutty, and set in a fascinating violent post-apocalyptic world.
Has: I so totally agree! I was looking forward to Beyond Control ever since I read the first book, because I was intrigued on how Lex and Dallas would finally get together despite their tensions over their issues. And I was so pleased this lived up to the promise because this was an intense, angsty and very sexually charged romance which I inhaled in one gulp. While Beyond Shame was like a tasty entree this was like a delicious main dish which delved into the world-building and characterization and with real depth and development to the on-going plot threads.
Thoughts on the Hero
Has: Oh Dallas, is a character who I love to wack something crack hard over his head. But at the same time, he’s such a well fleshed out and multi-layered hero with flaws that he has become one of my all time favourites which Kit Rocha/Moira Rogers has ever written. I loved we got to see his more vulnerable side of him in this book, especially when it involved Lex and how she draws that aspect out of him. It was beyond sweet, beyond passionate and definitely beyond sensual with their scenes together.
I also loved the elements of the political wrangling and posturing Dallas had to be a part of in protecting his people as well as his ambitions which added a lot of nuance and realism to his character.
Lou: I was so intrigued by Dallas in the first book. I wasn’t a huge fan of Noelle and Jasper in their book, but Beyond Control was so damn good. Dallas has an intensity to him that made the book so fraught with tension. He’s wanted Lex for so long but she’s pushed him away. I thought their romance was very romantic and their connection incredible. He had to straddle being the leader of the Kanes whilst treating Lex as an equal.
E: Dallas oh man! Talk about hard, intense, dedicated, controlled and yet lonely and driven. By the time I finished Beyond Shame I really wanted to know what made him tick and why Lex had so much influence on him. Seeing the other aspects of his character both within his relationship with Lex, the political posturing with the other Sector leaders, and how he interacted with members of the O’Kanes was brought into sharp relief. He showed so much about where he got his stability but also how Lex was his major vulnerability.
I really liked how he fought against his instincts to protect Lex through controlling her movements and caging her in because he knew that would only destroy her and any chance they ever had. Even with his insights he was still clueless at times about Lex and how her mind worked. It was good to see that he wasn’t omnipotent and had to learn how to apologize and do some groveling.
MinnChica: Ahhh Dallas…. What to say about the man who has it all, and whatever he wants, is laid at his feet. I love that he is a total hardass, and yet has a sweet side as well. I enjoyed the fact that he had such a depth to him that I never imagined. For all his kinky ways in both the first book and this one, he also had a strict code that he lived by for his partners. I thought it was kinda endearing to him. Plus, given his total badass nature, his willingness to do anything and everything for Lex was so awesome to read.
Thoughts on the Heroine
Has: I loved Lex in Beyond Shame, I love her upfrontness, courage and she did not take any shit from anyone even with Dallas who is her weak-point. She was the perfect foil and partner for him and that she was person who helped to cement the O’Kanes and in a lot of ways, she is their heart. This was such an emotionally intense book and I was exhausted but in a good way reading on how they got together because they played high stakes in a harsh world. And even though it was such a dangerous and stark world they are living in, the romance between Dallas and Lex was truly sweet and vulnerable and I loved how they drew aspects of that and made it a strength because it helped to ground them which is something they both realised in the book.
Lou: Lex is an incredible character. Her confidence about her sexuality was so empowering, and I loved that she didn’t roll over for Dallas. Yet Lex and Dallas were romantics at heart. I’m not a huge fan of menages and orgies, but Kit Rocha has created a world where everything feels natural. Lex has a strong relationship with Noelle from the first book, including a sexual one, but in Beyond Control we see just how much Lex and Dallas care about each other, and how their love is very personal and private. That’s what was missing for me in the first book. I didn’t get any connection from Noelle and Jasper.
E: Lex was so complicated. I really liked how she broke away from her past and made herself into a completely different openly powerful woman. Yet she was also determined to ensure she didn’t leave any reason for Dallas to hold her past over her head. Seeing her go back and confront some key people from that past was also very insightful. I loved how she made the first move and practically dared Dallas to say or do something about it. Of course I don’t think she was quite ready for what he did. Her vulnerability to Dallas and how she gave him as many chances as she could without losing herself was amazing to watch. And then to see everyone bond to her and basically ensure Dallas knew he screwed up showed just how much people appreciated everything she had done for them.
Lex showed in so many ways that she knew what Dallas had to do for the O’Kanes and what she was willing to do to help others. But she also needed Dallas to continue to treasure her as a partner after they became lovers in truth not just as his lover. Watching her start to trust Dallas not just more than any other man but with herself was amazing because so much was at risk. If I didn’t already really like her as a character I would have fallen completely for her in Beyond Control.
MinnChica: I fell for Lex the moment she stepped onto the page in the first book. She was a free spirit, she loved life and there were so many different aspects to her facade that I couldn’t wait to delve in and find out more. As her backstory unraveled, I loved her even more. She was strong and given the way she was raised, she didn’t let life beat her down either. She fought for what she wanted to fight for, and also took every opportunity to help out any other woman in need. She has a soft spot a mile wide, and for that alone I adored her to pieces!
Has: I can’t spoil this scene because it was part of the ending and climax – but like Lou says it was linked with when they made love. But I think this scene really showed, Lex was not afraid to go into the heart of danger and to save people who she promised to protect. It also made Dallas realise how much she was important to him even above the O’Kanes and I think that was a turning point on their relationship.
Lou: My favourite scene has to be at the end where Lex and Dallas make love. There was so much intensity and love between them, and it came across as very romantic. We see Dallas’ vulnerability with his relationship with Lex where he wants her for himself and admits his jealousy.
E: Hmm so many scenes I liked. The love scene that both Has and Lou mention was a wonderful scene. I think the one I will pick for this is when they are having a discussion and Dallas asks if Lex trusts him. She responds that she trusts him more than any other man and Dallas said that he would work with that but he wasn’t stopping with that. To me that cemented exactly how much he wanted Lex not just for smexytimes but as a whole even if he didn’t know what that whole consisted of.
Of course I also loved when a certain individual received what he was due!
MinnChica: Oh man… trying to find just one scene that spoke to me above all the others…. I think I might have to go with the scene where Lex sees her sister again after all the years apart. It was such a sweet and heartbreaking moment. Lex gets the chance to see her family, and at the same time she also opens her eyes a little to just how different life is for everyone. Despite her hatred for the way she was raised, she also sees that the life she left behind wasn’t as awful as she thought. That her sister was happy and thriving. It might not have been until later that Lex really let it sink it, but that moment resonated with me.
Dislike about book
Has: I don’t have any real dislike about the book, because the pacing, side characterisations and the ongoing plot-lines were all solid and developed.
Lou: I suppose my only dislike of the book was involving the secondary characters, where I thought Ace and Rachel were starting to become close, when suddenly a new male character appears, which means triangle. I’m looking forward to their book but I’m unsure of how it’s going to play out.
E: I don’t really have any complaints. I just want more.
MinnChica: Ah man… is too much sex a complaint? No, than nothing here either!
Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Has: I think Beyond Control really cements this series for me. I loved that the world-building which was explored much fully, which was my main gripe of the previous book. But in this book, you had political intrigue and wrangling, a heart-wrenching and tender romance which was filled with sexually charged love scenes (you will definitely need a fan when reading this book) and solid characterisation. I can’t wait for the next book, which will feature Six and Bren which promises to be just as good.
I give Beyond Control an A-
Lou: Beyond Control really delves deeper into the world building, and the romance for me had a deep emotional connection that I could believe in. My problem with the first book was that it was mostly sex without any depth going into the world building. Beyond Control is much different and goes into the details of the gangs and sectors, and we see the different sides to Dallas and Lex.
I give Beyond Control a B.
E: I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond Control. I was able to see into Dallas and Lex who already had a complicated relationship. I also got to visit the other O’Kanes and see how they were progressing as well as some hints for future books. I also liked the glimpse of the other Sector leaders and their personalities. Some clashes coming up I can imagine. Rocha did a wonderful job on this installment and it was well worth the wait. I am looking forward to the next one.
I give Beyond Control an A.
MinnChica: I really enjoyed the second installment of this series. I love the nitty and gritty world that Rocha created, and the chance to see even more if it in this book was perfect. I’m so anxious to see where we go from here, what happens with the new sector under Dallas’ control, and how some of the secondary characters will find their ever after. I love that all the characters stand out as ones I can’t wait to read next, and have fallen head over heels for this series.
Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from author
A woman with no future…
Live fast, die young–anything else is a fantasy for Six. She’s endured the worst the sectors had to throw at her, but falling in with Dallas O’Kane’s Sector Four gang lands her in a whole new world of danger. They’re completely open about everything, including their sexuality–but she hasn’t survived this long by making herself vulnerable. Especially not to men as dominant as Brendan Donnelly.
A man without a past…
Bren is a killer, trained in Eden and thrown to the sectors. His one outlet is pain, in the cage and in the bedroom, and emotion is a luxury he can’t afford–until he meets Six. Protecting her soothes him, but it isn’t enough. Her hunger for touch sparks a journey of erotic discovery where anything goes–voyeurism, flogging, rough sex. He has only one rule: he won’t share her.
In Bren’s arms, Six is finally free to let go. But his obsession with the man who made him a monster could destroy the fragile connection they’ve forged, and cost him the one thing that makes him feel human–her love. This blurb came from the authors’ website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
MinnChica: Oh Bren… you are so sexy and stern and sexy. I love that he is the only one Six has been able to trust from the get-go. Because of that inherent trust she has in him, and only him, and the way he values and cares for that trust, makes Bren more sexy than the vast majority of heroes. I love a strong, silent hero who cares one hundred and ten percent for his heroine, and Bren does that for Six, day in and day out. He takes her feelings and fears into consideration before every decision he makes, and he never pushers her to do or give more. Plus, he’s super dirty like the rest of the O’Kanes, so what’s not to love?!
E: My poor tortured lonely Bren! I started falling for him when Six’s struggles to fight and get away didn’t phase him at all. He just made sure she couldn’t escape. Then when he gave her the opportunity to kill or hurt her primary tormentor I couldn’t wait to see what happened between them next. I absolutely loved how he was patient, truthful, and managed to let her make all the moves despite his intense attraction. He was so sexual that at times his slightest phrase or movement was weighted in layers but he also remained almost asexual until Six was ready. I loved how he paid so much attention to her and gave Six the freedom to find out what she enjoyed without making her feel stupid or ashamed. But he wasn’t perfect, his wild upbringing followed by the brutality of his treatment as an elite soldier for Eden left deep scars. His ability to read, understand and therefore manipulate people if he wasn’t careful could end up harming the very person he wanted to save. I will also say that the man can apologize! *grin*
Has: Oh I so agree! I loved Bren’s quiet intensity which was brimming full of sexual tension for Six but at the same time he was so sensitive towards her past. I also liked how he gave her the time to figure her place withing in the gang without pushing her even though he wanted her so very badly. The buildup in the beginning was just beautiful when they were dancing around with each other, and his yearning for her just made me melt. I also loved the other glimpses of his own past and the reasons on how he joined the O’Kanes, and it definitely added a multi-dimensional element to his character on how he related to Six.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: Poor Six…. That poor girl started life strong, when she never really had much to fall back on. Then when she thought she was going to get the chance to make a difference, she was preyed on and abused. The fact that she still has such a strong spirit makes me love her so much more. I adore the fact that her feelings on Bren are so conflicted, despite the level of trust she has for him. Given her past, I love that she is weary and hesitant to jump into bed with the O’Kanes (pun intended). Despite all that though, when she is asked to step up and help out, she throws herself back into the life she was ready to escape and is finally given the chance to make the difference she wanted to do so long ago.
E: Six, oh man – gritty, strong, abused, determined, and amazing. She was put through the wringer even before she ended up in Sector Three. There after her strength and ability to influence people became evident she was lured into what she thought would be a position to make things better only to find that she was considered a threat and therefore was to be broken. While she was beaten down Six never completely gave up and slowly began to trust Bren and some of what Sector Four and the O’Kanes had to offer. I really admired that after everything she went through in Sector Three she still wanted to make things better for her people, even if she no longer had their trust and confidence. I also just have to say “Fight Night!”
Has: I think I have to say Six is my favourite heroine yet in this series. While I liked the previous heroines, there is something really special about Six, who is tough but also vulnerable. I loved how she grew from being really distrustful and broken but slowly healing from her past and finally being part of a family which grounds her. Overall, I think her romance with Bren is the best yet in this series because of the growth she underwent and I loved that she became an integral part of the O’Kanes for her insights on Sector Three which proved invaluable. I also loved on how she wanted to pave her own identity and role with the gang which helped to heal from her painful past.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: Well, because this is Kit Rocha, I think I’m gonna have to go with a dirty scene. *wink* I think my favorite was when Bren and Six were exploring their wild side, and had a very intimate moment while watching Dallas, Lex, and Rachel have their own intimate moment. It was the perfect combination of down-and-dirty sex, while cutting up the scene with quiet and intensely intimate and private moments for Bren and Six. It was something I’d never read before in any erotic book, and it made that scene so powerful.
E: I will admit that I really enjoyed the scene MinnChica selected but I am going to pick another dirty scene. This one involves Bren, Six, and Ace. Six decided she wanted to learn what pain could do with pleasure and what really worked for Bren. The entire scene from her arrival into the room, to the serious discussion before anything started, to seeing an entirely new side of Ace through Bren’s recover was just amazing. It was tender, raw, sweet, and harsh all at the same time and really captured the complexity of their relationship.
Has: Well, since both MinnChica and E have highlighted two of my favourite scenes in the book, and yes the sexy action was sizzling. I will have to highlight the Fight Night scene which has Six demanding to be involved in a cage fight which was unexpected. I adored the fact, that Dallas and Bren let have her that agency and choice to fight which helped to get over the demons she was battling inside but also to prove that she was a useful and wanted would-be member for the gang. It also highlighted that what made the O’Kanes a coherent and strong group is due to these reasons that they welcome and support their members in every way.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: The thing I dislike about every Kit Rocha book is that it ends.
E: Well my only complaint is that I want Dallas to grovel. I think he got away with doing something that he knew he shouldn’t have done and really didn’t make up for it. Yes, Lex gave him a hard time but in my opinion he damaged something fragile and I don’t think he has mended it.
Has: I am with E about the groveling especially on the reasons why he needed to do so. I also hate the fact I have to wait early next year for another installment, where is that Tardis when I need one!
5. Any other misc. thoughts
MinnChica: All in all I think this is probably my favorite of the Beyond Series books. I loved that Bren and Six were somewhat reserved with their kink, while their emotional connection was so strong and secure. I loved that we got to see more of what is happening in the new sector, and can’t wait to read more about Rachel, Ace and Cruz! This series continues to be one of my favorite erotic romance reads! I give Beyond Pain an A-
E: I have been waiting for this installment since Bren and Six were first on the page together. It was well worth the wait. Seeing Bren work his magic and try to deal with his fear of losing Six because he didn’t deserve her was heart wrenching. I loved watching Six come into her own and the reveal of her name was so touching. I think as this series continues she will be a force for the O’Kanes, potentially even Lex’s second *crosses fingers*. Rocha included so many wonderful things in this story in addition to the connection between Bren and Six. I saw more of Eden’s not so pretty underbelly. I met a few new characters and started trying to match them up. I speculated wildly about the tangled web between an upcoming threesome and wondered what the O’Kanes would have to face as this series continues. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
I give Beyond Pain an A
Has: Beyond Pain is definitely the best book yet in the series for me, the romance which I think has knocked off Lex and Dallas off the top spot, was wonderful. I loved how Bren and Six slowly worked out their issues and their personal demons which damaged them both so deeply. And the love scenes, which was amazingly hot. The on-going arc with the political intrigue also ratchets up a notch and I really like how things are being played out on how Section Three, and the new twists on Eden and the affect it has on the other sections. The is a series which has all the crack elements that I love, and I think Beyond Pain has certainly cements this as one of the best erotic series that I’ve read!
3.5 stars rounded up. Interesting world and characters. Lots of things were brought up about the world that I am looking forward to seeing in more det3.5 stars rounded up. Interesting world and characters. Lots of things were brought up about the world that I am looking forward to seeing in more detail in future novels. This is a bloody violent world with men and women both receiving and inflicting violence. Lots of layers to this. ...more
Publisher: MHP Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Copy from the author
After people polluted the planet beyond recognition, the sky rocks came and reduced the world to rubble. Yet mankind refused to die, and the world was reborn. Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws rule.
1. Procreation is necessary, not optional 2. Women are a precious commodity 3. Harm the earth, lose your life 4. If it can eat you, it will
Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws dictate who lives and dies by the way they treat the land, carnivorous horses and blood trees are accepted mutations courtesy of the sky rocks, and the Impact Zone separates the earth-friendly territories of the West from a more sophisticated, steam-powered East. Women are rare commodities, living in extended families with more than one husband, and children are a necessity in a world where sterility is often the norm, not the exception. Life is full of challenge, romance and adventure. Something one courageous, wounded Amazon will find out first-hand.
Thais (Tay-iss) lost her mother, her queen, and most of her tribe at the hands of brutal foreigners, all while she enjoyed a respite from duty. But the young Amazon with vengeance in her heart refuses to lose anything else. She’ll bring back the queen’s stolen crown or die trying. Life in the Territories has its perils: the Nature Laws, carnivorous beasts, and treacherous men who survived the Time of Dying. One man in particular, a warrior in his own right, has an odd effect on her senses. She comes to desire him, to trust him, and she doesn’t like it. Men are good for war and breeding, neither of which Thais has time for, not when she’s so close to finding those responsible for the crown’s theft. In the course of her quest, Thais finds much more than atonement for her troubled past, but a pure and lasting love, if only she has the courage to accept it. This blurb came from Goodreads.
**Possible trigger warning – violence towards women**
I am a long time Western fan and I also enjoy reading apocalyptic or post apocalyptic romances so when I read the partial blurb included in the review request and it involved words like Amazon Western and new world I had to accept the request. I have read several of Harte’s stories before in a variety of genres so I was very curious to see how this combination would play out. Once again I am glad that following my curiosity led me down a very interesting path.
Harte has created a setting that reminds me of some elements of C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy world, an alternate history earth, and a touch of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar. I happen to really enjoy both Friedman and Lackey so those hints were certainly enjoyed. This story takes place in the New West with some mentions of South America, back East, and countries beyond the ocean. The west is very nature-centric with strict rules regarding what technology, occupations, and lifestyles are acceptable. At least within registered towns that are administered by the United Territorial Offices. The Territorials are supposed to enforce the Nature Laws listed in the blurb above along with good order and discipline. Hinto is a bounty hunter trying to earn enough gold to pay for a trip back east so his ailing father has the possibility of finding a cure. He rides a carnivorous horse and has a few special qualities of his own that would make him a target of the Territorials if word ever got out. He is also a rather blunt man who does not hide from his desires but at the same time would never force himself on a woman because he respects them and their wishes. He first encountered Thais when she had a run-in with the targets of his latest hunt leaving him one person short on the overall bounty. They end up meeting again back in town so Hinto starts hitting on Thais thinking that she is familiar with the laws of the land and therefore agreeing to spend time with him in the local brothel. Thais is looking for someone and not for a sexual encounter. She thinks that the brothel madam will have some information so she agrees to head to the brothel with Hinto. I about died laughing with Hinto’s bewilderment and disappointment when Thais heads back to the madam leaving Hinto to do as he will, without her. The next morning their adventure really began.
Hinto was a lot of fun to get to know. He tended to be the strong silent Alpha type who struggled to understand Thais and her frame of reference. He is physically attracted to her but demonstrates over and over again that she can trust him regardless of the situation. I thought he hunted her quite effectively while tying himself up in the same snare. One of the things I loved about Hinto is that he was confident enough to trust Thais to handle what she said she could instead of rushing to protect the “little woman.” He also remained loyal to his friends and family doing what he could to improve their circumstances without compromising his moral standards. Hinto wasn’t perfect but his character grew as the story continued which just added to my enjoyment.
Thais was also entertaining. Early in her adventure with Hinto I was slightly worried that combination of her perpetual innocence and naivety was going to get on my nerves. Thankfully as Harte unfolded Thais’ back-story I understood how she just did not have a “western” frame of reference when it came to innuendoes or sexual knowledge beyond the extremely basic. Watching her discover that not all men were evil, greedy, and untrustworthy along with the enjoyment that can come with a man and a woman was very refreshing. She had very definite views but was also willing to learn about the New West. Even before Hinto gained her trust, she was willing to work with him and not strike off on her own avoiding the TSTL syndrome. Thais also did some serious emotional growth and recovery from the events of her past so she could enjoy her future.
Watching Hinto and Thais interact gave me several laughs as well as some touching moments. They both slowly came to trust each other and to shift from reluctant co-workers to friends/lovers to more. It took time for that relationship to develop which I loved because I was able to get to know them both individually and as a partnership, which added to the depth of the story. The trust between them was absolutely critical as they dealt with the combination of villains that Harte provided. I really liked that the evilness was spread through more than one person instead of being concentrated in a single individual because that kept the story complex. Speaking of complexity, I also enjoyed how things were resolved, at least the immediate issues for this story because I did not feel cheated with too easy a solution.
Harte has created a very interesting world with some complex rules. A few things seemed contradictory for example mining is a violation of the Nature Laws punishable by death yet the currency of choice is gold. I am still curious about all of the changes caused by the sky rocks and their impact on humans and earth. I am also interested in why some technology just disintegrates in the New West and not others. Hopefully Harte will continue to provide details about this world as the series continues. Even with my quibbles about things that seemed to not quite fit I enjoyed reading Tip of the Spear and I look forward to reading the next one.
I give Tip of the Spear a B.
Links to purchase Kindle (Will be available on other platforms in a few months)...more
Very interesting characterization here. A few things developed a bit too quickly I think but that was probably the short length. I am very interestedVery interesting characterization here. A few things developed a bit too quickly I think but that was probably the short length. I am very interested in seeing what comes next in this world. I mean humans, werewolves, and a sort of vampire...
OK I no longer like playing with Shadows...Can't wait for the next one!
The world-building was very interesting and intricate. I did have a few questioOK I no longer like playing with Shadows...Can't wait for the next one!
The world-building was very interesting and intricate. I did have a few questions about how Jules and James initially started their working relationship but I really enjoyed how things unfurled. The combination of danger, personal secrets, crazed scientists, and mutual attraction was great to see. Rai did a good job of building up the suspense and increasing my doubt that things were going to turn out ok at least for the moment.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: Review copy from author
Analyst James Bennett has spent the years since humankind fell victim to the Illness living underground. Part of an elite group of survivors determined to save their race, his only interaction with the blood-drinking Shadows roaming the Earth is through surveillance technology carried by his team of search-and-rescue agents. Scarred by vicious events, he has no desire to leave the safety of his bunker for the dangerous world outside—until he recruits a tough, haunted young woman clear across the country.
Former gang member Jules Guerrero learned two things early on: the value of loyalty and never backing down from a fight. Both of those teachings come in handy now that her job description includes protecting humans and kicking Shadow ass. But it’s hard to keep her mind strictly on her mission when all she can think about is the man whose voice keeps her sane through the depths of each dark night.
When Jules is captured and threatened by a rogue organization even more bloodthirsty than the Shadows, James must draw on all of his courage to fuel a furious cross-country chase through the lawless land…before the Jules he loves is destroyed forever.
Product Warnings Contains a hero who would fight monsters for his love, a heroine out to save the world, a treacherous wasteland, poetry as foreplay and flesh-eating enemies. *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: One of my favorite genres that I have a hard time finding books in is post-apocalyptic romance, so when I put out a call for suggestions and recommendations earlier in the year, I was sooo glad to hear Rai was in the process of writing this, and couldn’t wait to read it. I love Rai’s writing, she does such an amazing job of building unique worlds and keeping up with the sexy times. I loved everything about the ShadowLands world, and am so excited to see where else this series takes us!
E: I have to say from when Rai first mentioned this during MinnChica’s call for suggestions until last week when I was able to read it I have been looking forward to Night Whispers. The wait was worth it and now I am waiting for the next installment. Her world, the details included in it, the Shadows and not to mention mad scientists made for a very captivating read. There is so much left for us to discover and I am looking forward to the journey, from my nice, safe, sturdy, secure well-lit house.
MinnChica: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the romance plot, especially since our hero and heroine spent the first half of the book (or so) separated from each other. Hell, they hadn’t even MET each other. It’s hard to really get invested in a romance when the two main characters are so divided and apart, and yet Jules and James were able to make it work, they were able to still form a stable bond, and pull me into their romance from their first conversation on the page. It wasn’t something I was expecting, but was so glad it worked out that way!
E: That was really amazing. But if you think about it with on-line dating today and the internet people do develop relationships before they physically meet each other. I have always had a hard time buying that in books or movies I think because it didn’t seem plausible given the rest of today’s technology but how Rai set it up was just wonderful. And then the lengths they would go through to make a day special for the other *melt*. Not to mention a hero who loves books There aren’t enough of those in the romance world!
MinnChica: Although James and Jules were the perfect hero and heroine for this story, I have to take a minute and point out all the fabulous secondary characters Rai brought into this world. I am so excited to see what happens with Erik, and how or if he will come to Raven and be a part of the fight. I loved Gabriel and his reluctance to be the figurehead of the new country. I hope everything with Carrie works out… God, just the secondary characters alone were enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could read.
E: Oh wow those secondary characters were amazing. They never stole the spotlight but I can’t wait to find out what happens with them. They were so complete which is refreshing to see in the supporting cast. Each of them has had their lives turned upside and shaken in ways that most people would never recover from yet they are still living and fighting. I am not going to try to figure out who I want to pair up with whom I just hope they all have HEAs because a life that hard certainly needs one. Rai has opened up such a can of worms in my head over everything I want to know in her Shadowlands world.
MinnChica: Back to Jules and James…. There was so much I enjoyed about each of them. James was this shy and quiet hero who was so scared of the big-bad-world and yet he sucked up his fears and anxieties and went out in search of Jules when she needed him most. He was a beta hero to the core, and although I’m usually not a huge fan of the beta hero, he wormed his way into my heart and had me falling in love. And Jules, poot Jules. With her screwed up childhood and desire to right every wrong she ever did, the poor girl was tortured. I loved that everyone teased her for having a hero complex, because she absolutely did, and it worked for her. I loved these two together, their personalities were night and day, and yet they complemented each other perfectly. I hope we see more of them as the series progresses.
E: James was the best beta hero I have seen in quite a while. He cared about those he worked with and around but never wanted to take charge. But when Jules needed him he came through with flying colors. Courage isn’t the absence of fear it is being scared and doing it anyways and James had it. He was the perfect counterbalance for Jules and her hero syndrome. She needed someone to take care of her and he needed someone who needed him for who and what he was with all of his scars exposed. Like MinnChica I hope we get to see glimpses into their relationship as the series continues because they were so wonderful together.
MinnChica: All in all I am happy to add the ShadowLands series and Alisha Rai to my recommended reads in post-apocalyptic romance! Jules and James were so wonderful to read, the cast of secondary characters proves this series has so much more to live up to, and the world is engaging and exciting with all the twists and turns. I’m so anxious to see where Rai leads us next, and hope she works on writing faster! I give Night Whispers a B+
E: This has certainly landed on my re-read status. I do have a few questions about how Jules and James initially started in their roles but that certainly didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. Rai has set up a world and characters that I can see providing me with hours of entertainment as I explore it through her writing. Night Whispers hit all of my post-apocalyptic romance buttons without seeming like something I have already read. Again like MinnChica I think Rai needs to write faster! I give Night Whispers a B+ ...more
3 to 3.5 stars I think. Interesting. Story and world building made more sense then the prequel novella although I am glad that I read it. Parts seem a3 to 3.5 stars I think. Interesting. Story and world building made more sense then the prequel novella although I am glad that I read it. Parts seem a bit clunky and the pacing was uneven but events steadily moved forward. I did wonder a few times about the intelligence of the heroine but she redeemed herself. Some interesting twists and turns that I did not expect. I am certainly curious about the next one....more
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the author
A woman seeking answers, a younger man seeking love, and an older man seeking revenge must work together to achieve all of their goals…
The Kithran Regenesis, Book 3
Vala Gorun’s family was off Kithra when the explosions happened and although she’s back on her home planet helping with the rebuild, something she saw all those years ago still haunts her. So she hires a Tracker to find the human man she’d once loved—one she thinks betrayed her in the worst possible way. In order to stop the search into his past, Jackson Canfield sends space pirates to kidnap the Tracker. He can’t afford to be found. Not now, when his revenge is almost complete. Unfortunately, instead of the Tracker, the pirates grab Vala and a young Gwinarian man instead.
Trapped on a pirate vessel with Bastian Sithbrun, a ridiculously attractive but younger man, Vala fights her attraction. But something about the twenty-year-old gets to her… But when the pirates leave them the unwilling guests of the very man she’d driven crazy with her teen crush all those years ago, Vala learns Jacks has been in hiding, working to right a horrible wrong.
Now the three of them must work together to reveal the truth behind Kithra’s destruction—if they can control the explosive passion that erupts between them long enough to complete their task.
Product Warnings A tattooed, broken-hearted heroine discovers M/M/F love is crazy hot when not fighting giant alien lizards or worrying about age differences. And when the senses are narrowed to touch alone behind a massive waterfall? It’s scorching! This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have been a fan of Dani Worth since I stumbled upon the first of her Kithran Regenesis series Kithra shortly after its release. I really enjoyed the story along with all of the questions left unanswered, the fate of the planet’s citizens, and how those who survived the disaster were going to handle the longer-term aftermath. As a result I eagerly picked up book two when it was released and let out a cheer when I found out that there was going to be a book three. Not surprisingly, I leaped at the chance to read and review Catalyst. Sometimes eagerly awaited books don’t manage to live up to my mental hype but this one certainly delivered. The Kithran Regenesis is one of those series where each succeeding book builds on information released in its predecessors. I think it is possible to start with this one because some of the back-story is nicely interwoven but I recommend starting from the beginning. As a result there will be a few spoilers from previous books but I will try to keep them to a minimum.
When Vala was 17 going on 18 she had her first serious crush on Jacks, a human visiting Kithra. Jacks viewed Vala as too young for him, so he tried everything he could think of to dissuade her feelings to include having a make-out session with his boyfriend in public. Gwinarians, the variant of human that lived on Kithra, matured at a much younger age than humans and their society did not have any taboos against multi-partner relationships so Vala was perfectly willing to join in. After Jacks caught Vala following him one night he tried once more to tell her that he was too old for her in what ended up being the last conversation they had before the explosions which rendered Kithra uninhabitable and killed most of the Gwinarians. Vala caught a glimpse of Jacks once more after that fateful conversation and based on what she saw, she eventually hired a Tracker to find him. Vala had her suspicions about him because that sighting was extremely circumstantial to the explosions. Jacks found out about the Tracker and hired some people to get the Tracker out of the way, only they grabbed Vala and a young man, Bastian, who had a crush on her. Vala and Bastian found themselves dropped on what appeared to be a deserted planet, not entirely hospitable towards Gwinarians, but during their search for shelter they ended up meeting Jacks.
I found that Worth used a rather interesting technique with this story. Vala had a huge crush on Jacks but he rebuffed her due to her age. Years later Bastian had a huge crush on Vala and she was trying to rebuff him. That situation gave Vala some small sympathy towards Jacks and how he must have felt which I think added depth to her character. She started off a very headstrong immature young woman. It became evident that over the years she had matured into a character worth following. Even though Vala had grown up when she encountered Jacks again she still had to struggle with the combination of years of mixed emotions ranging from love to hatred, to attraction to reluctant sympathy to anger. Watching her go through those swings just brought home how really complicated people and their emotions are.
Bastian, while younger than Vala, showed that he possessed a depth of maturity that she did not have during her crush on Jacks. He was persistent but he also made himself helpful instead of just mooning and skulking after Vala, which I certainly appreciated. He was also old enough to know his own mind and to subtly push his suit. Bastian almost seemed to provide the bridge and sometimes the buffer between Vala and Jacks. I think without his presence it would have been even more difficult to resolve the complicated past that tied Vala and Jacks together.
Jacks… I didn’t get as much of a feel for as I did the other two characters. I understood and admired his reluctance at the beginning of the book because Vala was rather immature. I also understood, after he told his story of the events, why he chose to hide out. I think I wanted both Vala and Bastian to learn more about Jacks because even during their encounters I felt he was still slightly remote.
Worth certainly had me speculating about all sorts of things as she threw in twists and turns. I wanted to know if and how Jacks, Vala, and Bastian would act on their mutual attraction and what the results would be. I wanted to know who was really behind the explosions and why. I wanted to know why Jacks was hiding out and why he tried to get the Tracker intercepted. I wanted to know if and how Vala’s friends would manage to find her. Luckily enough for me Worth answered most of my questions but in doing so she raised a few more. Overall I enjoyed watching Jacks, Vala, and Bastian interact together. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next as the quest for answers continues.