A WOMAN OUT FOR BLOOD Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .
A VAMPIRE OUT FOR REVENGE A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever. *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: Ever since I picked up my first Ione book, I’ve been hooked. I’ll admit I was a little leery about the new vampire series (because I’m just a little burnt out on vampires), but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book. I picked it up after I put the baby to bed, and found myself shutting down my eReader at 1 in the morning. The characters were so engaging, the world was so unique, and the romance was tumultuous, to say the least! I can’t wait for more in this series!
E: I have been addicted to reading about vampires since elementary school or junior high. I was attracted to the danger, the menace, the air of the forbidden, the subtle or overt sensuality, extra senses coming into play during “critical moments”, paranormal powers, and I could keep going but lately vampires appear watered down, missing their umph. I still have my favorite authors whose vampires still inspire the combination of fear and attraction but I have become increasingly wary of trying new ones out of disappointment. I have read her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series and really enjoyed the spin she placed on demons, shifters, angels and the like so when I found out that she was starting a new series and that it involved vampires I had to give it a try. I am so glad that I did because Ione brought back everything that was missing and then some! I was so engrossed in the story that anyone who wanted my attention had to physically touch me because I didn’t hear or see anything that was going on around me. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2.
Has: When I heard that Larissa Ione has started a new PNR series featuring vampires, I was very intrigued. I think she’s one of the best authors who writes in the genre and like E I was feeling a bit tired on Vampires. But I loved the rich and gritty tone of the Demonica series, I knew BOUND BY NIGHT would hopefully live to my expectations and it certainly did! The setting and premise behind the vampire mythos that Larissa Ione created was different and fresh and I loved how she set up a world where vampires were enslaved due to their abilities by humans. I felt this brought a fresh take to the mythos and I really liked how that was developed throughout the book, especially how it tied in with Native American mythology.
MinnChica: I absolutely adored Riker. He was strong and sexy and yet totally vulnerable at the same time. Dealing with the guilt surrounding his mate’s death was so wonderful to see, especially as Nicole had to deal with some of the same issues. I loved the way they started as enemies, that they were hesitant around each other, and gradually started a friendship, a partnership, and then so much more. The romance was absolutely brilliant, and the characters fabulous. Plus, Ione knocked it out of the park with the secondary characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
E: Riker was a lot of fun. His thoughts, memories, guilt, and how he punished himself for years was very intriguing. I also liked how Nicole had her thoughts, memories, guilt, and fear of him personally not to mention as a species to deal with. Their interactions together were never quiet and peaceful yet each had a reluctance to permanently damage the other. I loved the scenes when Nicole decided to step up and either take what she wanted or to make a stand once and for all. One of my favorites was the “Thank you” scene. Like MinnChica I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. Not only am I looking forward to the next book but I really want Myne’s story. He was such an ass in the beginning but by the end of the book I was cheering for him.
Has: Oh man that scene *fans self* it was definitely up there in my favourite scenes in the book! I also really liked Riker, he stood out for me as a hero and I liked he didn’t have the hole element in the alphahole. Even though he was on opposing sides with Nicole, who was human and the company that she owned was responsible for the enslavement and torture of the vampire race – Riker never became unlikeable or overbearing when he interacted with her. And I liked how loyal and protective towards his clan but still hung-up over the death of his mate. It was a nice twist on the tables with Nicole who chases him and I really liked the scenes when she unapologetic seduces him and is open with her sexuality. That was so refreshing!
Nicole also really surprised me because I thought she would be more passive in dealing with the aftermath of her abduction. But I loved how defiant and smart she became especially when she learned of the truth of her family’s involvement with the company and its secret experimentation towards the vampires. She never fell into the TSTL pitfalls or being too whiny with the fate she ends up with. She focuses on the things she could change especially when she learns how badly the vampires are faring due to humans and helps them with her scientific background.
One of my favourite scenes in the book, is when she took charge in the lab where they were torturing the captured vampires and surprised Riker who let her lead. It cemented the romance for me because even though it was early days in their relationship, but I liked how Riker admired Nicole which helped to overcome his suspicious feelings about her and her past. Although I do think they fell in love a bit too quickly, their sexual and emotional chemistry was sizzling and vivid! And their love scenes – and I have to salute Larissa Ione over the Thank You scene was very very memorable!
MinnChica: All in all I thought this was such a wonderful and fabulous new series by Ione. I loved the world, the different take on vampires, and the cast of characters are so vibrant, that I can’t wait to read more. While I love all the Demonica books, I think this new series may have surpassed it in my mind. The world building is so fun and unique and I’m anxious to see how the clan resolves all their ongoing issues. The romance was so well done, each and every character was one I fell in love with even more, and I think I’ve found a new series that I’m going to be chomping at the bit to get! I give Bound by Night an A
E: I really enjoyed reading Bound by Night. Ione’s vampires had their share of suitable evilness, menacing ability, and sexuality yet they also had a caring side. I also enjoyed how the humans were portrayed from the vampire perspective. Both sides had some preconceived notions about the other which were in turn reinforced by behavior on both sides. As mentioned earlier I enjoyed the interaction between not just Nicole and Riker but also between the secondary characters. Ione has created a very fascinating world and characters that I am excited to continue exploring. I give Bound by Night an A.
Has: The supporting characters were also vibrant and colourful, such Myne and Hunter, as well as the eerie and scary leader of the ShadowSpawn clan who gave me the chills. The world that Larissa Ione was gritty and dark, and I loved the idea of the enslaved vampires and the conflict it brings when they try to break free from their enslavement. But the rich characters and mythology especially on the origins of the vampires made this a fantastic start to the series. I was left wanting more especially towards the end which promises to be a fun followup with Hunter, the leader of the vampire clan as the main lead.
Bound by Night for me was a great start for a brand new series. I felt that Larissa Ione’s take on vampires in this book, was different and added a new twist to the genre. But it had her trademarks of fast paced action, memorable characters, sexy chemistry and rich world-building. This is a new winner of a series for me!
Publisher: Berkley Intermix Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
After spending another family wedding fielding questions about her non-existent love life, Kelsey Noble decides she’s tired of waiting around for things she could go out and get herself. What Kelsey wants is a baby, and she doesn’t see any point waiting for a husband she’s not even sure she wants. But a mix-up at the fertility clinic lands her with a hassle she didn’t count on. A big, muscular hassle in a Stetson and cowboy boots.
Cole Mitchell is shocked to discover that a grand gesture from years past has come back to haunt him. Now, thanks to a clerical error, a woman he’s never met is having his baby—and there’s no way he’s going to walk away and forget he has a child.
Trying to make nice with the unexpected father of her baby lands Kelsey in Silver Creek, Oregon, dealing with the kind of small town life she left behind years ago. Even worse is dealing with the burning attraction she feels for Cole. She knows adding sex to the mix is a very bad idea, but she’s not sure how long she can resist falling for the last man she ever expected… This blurb came from the author’s website.
After reading and enjoying, Unbuttoned, the initial novella in Yates’ Silver Creek series I knew that I wanted more. So I made sure to grab a copy of Unexpected when I saw that it was available. The only thing that connected the two stories was that they were both set in Silver Creek even though Unexpected spent more time outside the town than inside. I also thought that some of the issues addressed in this story, while still serious and touching, were significantly different than ones I have seen in other small town romances. I found the twists that Yates used in the tropes she selected fascinating and certainly a way to continue to keep my interest.
Kelsey wanted a family of her own so she underwent artificial insemination without telling anyone in her family or her best friend. During the early stages of pregnancy when she was having serious issues keeping, any food down there was a knock at her door and she met the father of her unborn child. I really enjoyed Kelsey because she had issues and knew it but she also went after what she wanted in life. She wasn’t content to conform to what her family expected as much as she would have preferred to openly receive their approval. I also liked her because even though the donor was never supposed to find out, once he did she was open-minded and fair enough to take the time to both get to know him and to mutually decide on his involvement. She really didn’t have to do that so her decision made me like her that much more.
Cole, the poor tough guy. He really was having a series of rough years that seemed to culminate with the discovery that his banked sperm had been used instead of stored. I am not exactly sure why, and I don’t think he really knew why, he decided to meet the recipient and future mother of his biological child. I enjoyed how he insisted that he had some sort of responsibility and wasn’t quite sure to what degree but he wanted to find out. I thought his gesture of inviting Kelsey out to his family’s ranch as a guest so they could start to get to know each other and work through how they were going to handle parenting and to what extent was pretty incredible. Even more so given it wasn’t his intention to ever have a child, let alone with someone he didn’t know. Cole tried so hard to do the right thing and live up to his ideal even after he became forcibly disillusioned about that same ideal. He had a very hard time expressing his feelings or even admitting that he had feelings because of the multitude of severe disappointments in his life yet it was evident that he was both a nurturer and a protector as much as he tried to deny it. He was so much fun to get to know.
I really enjoyed not just the interactions between Kelsey and Cole as their romance slowly grew as they became more familiar with each other and with the situation but also the supporting cast and their interactions. Cole’s family dynamic, Kelsey’s best friend and her “thing” with Cole’s employee, and their cross interaction provided a great sense of completeness to the setting and characters. I also thought the stark contrast between the atmosphere and interaction on the ranch compared to the interaction with Kelsey’s family was a deft touch that emphasized how different she felt from the rest of her family. I also enjoyed the arguments because they signified an emotional investment and an attempt to change things, not just a misunderstanding that could have been solved through communication. Both Kelsey and Cole had to make some changes in their point of view with the help of tough love from those they trusted before a HEA looked feasible.
Unexpected provided me with some food for thought along with an enjoyable romance. As I mentioned earlier I really appreciated the twists that Yates took with her particular tropes because her story stayed fresh while I was reading. I also want to thank Yates for not taking what looked like the easy way during a particular scene but forcing the two characters to continue to grow and develop. That technique certainly increased my overall enjoyment. I have high hopes that she will provide a story for several of the characters that I met in this installment because the depth and complexity they showed as supporting characters really made me curious about the rest of their stories.
Publisher: Harlequin Luna Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
The end of her journey is only the beginning…
The Barrani would be happy to see her die. So Kaylin Neya is a bit surprised by her safe arrival in the West March. Especially when enemies new and old surround her and those she would call friends are equally dangerous.…
And then the real trouble starts. Kaylin’s assignment is to be a “harmoniste” – one who helps tell the truth behind a Barrani Recitation. But in a land where words are more effective than weapons, Kaylin’s duties are deadly. With the wrong phrase she could tear a people further asunder. And with the right ones…well, then she might be able to heal a blight on the race.
If only she understood the story…. This blurb came from the author’s website.
Hi, my name is E, and I really love Michelle Sagara’s writing. I have been a huge fan of her Chronicles of Elantra series since I discovered it **mumble** years ago. Following Kaylin Neya’s life and exploits as she just tries to do what she thinks is right provides me with hours of reading and re-reading pleasure. Usually there is a brief break between installments if only to let Kaylin heal and rest before diving headfirst into her next adventure but Cast in Sorrow picks up immediately after Cast in Peril ended. I thought that Sagara had left Kaylin and company in a relatively calm place to rest and recover but I was wrong because the nonstop action continued.
I found it very interesting to see how Sagara highlighted the difference between the Barrani who lived in the city of Elantra, traveled to the West March with Kaylin, and those who never experienced Kaylin before. Their very difference in outlook and strict adherence to formality was in sharp contrast to what she had experienced before, even in the High Halls. Some of that I think is because the West March is so very far away from the High Halls and it is another of those ancient Barrani holdings that exists for a definite purpose. The people and land of the West March were also scarred by the events of Teela’s childhood and its reverberating aftereffects.
The combination of Kaylin’s frustration and willingness to ask questions as she tried to learn her role and solve a few mysteries did result in some information about Teela, Barrani culture, and Severn. As a result, I am really curious about the rest of what Severn did when Kaylin left Nightshade so many years ago. But as events progressed it seemed like Kaylin couldn’t do anything right even when the results of her action were positive. It also seemed as if many of the usual laws, customs, and inviolable places within the West March lost their usual effect. The Barrani were besieged by enemies from both outside and within putting much of what made the Barrani themselves as a people at risk. When Kaylin’s pet dragon started demonstrating more of what made him equally feared and coveted I thought the stakes were even higher for Kaylin as the “Harmoniste” than anyone expected.
My review isn’t doing this story justice because so many things developed and some lingering questions from early in the series were finally answered. I loved learning more about Teela, Nightshade, Severn, and the dangers of tampering with things just because. I also found the inclusion of if not love than family loyalty despite all the Barrani said against those feelings played a prominent theme. One of the core elements of Kaylin’s personality continued to shine throughout all of her struggles because she never backed down from trying to protect those she felt deserved protection regardless of her personal feelings towards them. In fact some of her difficulties were caused by that protective instinct. Kaylin learned some serious lessons about what the Barrani will do in pursuit of their own desires. She also learned the importance of developing a strong enough will to hold her own against those who wanted to control her and against a hungry dragon. I think the Barrani and by extension, Elantra will never be the same.
Cast in Sorrow was a multilayered book. Kaylin was forced to make some hard choices. The Barrani had their lives abruptly changed so it will be interesting to see the future effects of the recitation. They also displayed weakness before two humans, which might have some repercussions in the political arena. Kaylin learned some of Teela and Severn’s past which I am sure will come into play in later installments. Nightshade also learned that directing or trying to manipulate Kaylin resulted in a roller coaster ride that deviated from his planned path and ending. After exhibiting some disturbing characteristics, Kaylin’s pet dragon changed into something that was still small and dragon-shaped but with unknown abilities. With everything that happened during this journey I am curious about the state of things with the Hawks and in the Fiefs because I know they did not remain static. Sagara’s storytelling ability continues to keep me hooked on this series.
Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author
The greater the risk… Older. Wiser. Hotter. Months after reuniting with the man who loved her – and left her – a decade ago, Tatiana Belikov is determined not to let their wicked games blind her to the danger of repeating history. If that means biting her tongue, so be it. After all, she does get to bite him.
Wyatt Caine never thought Tatiana would be back in his cards, but he’s not ready to question his luck. Between the sheets he knows exactly how to make her naughty fantasies come true: rough and tumble, with an extra serving of dirty. Communicating outside of the bedroom? Not always so easy.
The city’s bright lights can’t compare to their passion, burning hot enough to singe them both. But when the harsh glare of reality exposes long-inflicted wounds, Wyatt and Tatiana have to decide if they want to play it safe…or risk it all. This blurb came from the author’s http://alisharai.net website.
E: After reading and enjoying Rai’s first installment in Bedroom Games, Play With Me, I was super curious about how she was going to move the relationship between Tatiana and Wyatt forward. When the last installment ended they decided to see each other as often as they could based on the demands of their individuals businesses. Determined not to repeat the mistakes that drove them apart years earlier they spent a lot of energy towards keeping their relationship harmonious and free from any discord. When it was just Tatiana and Wyatt in an isolated bubble achieving harmony was relatively easy however, the outside world and their past had a way of interfering, in this case both were embodied by a visit from Tatiana’s parents.
MinnChica: As someone who absolutely can’t stand reading serials, I was a little skeptical as to whether or not I’d continue to like Tatiana and Wyatt’s story. Thankfully, Rai leaves each installment with a happy-for-now end to these lovers stories. I liked that this installment went back into their past and made them face all the things that went wrong, and what they needed to do to fix it. While I’m not still sold on the idea of serials, I do continue to enjoy Tatiana and Wyatt’s journey.
E: In Risk and Reward Rai insisted that her characters take a hard look at their past patterns and what they wanted for the future. It took the shock of a disastrous dinner followed by a fight, and angry sex for Wyatt and Tatiana to realize they were starting to repeat the same patterns of their previous relationship. I really admired how Tatiana’s parents were not left in the role as the villain but ended up helping the relationship along. In a separate conversation with her mother, Tatiana learned that something not fighting or arguing could be just as bad for a relationship as fighting but never resolving anything. Wyatt, initially hurt and furious when her father accused him of separating Tatiana from her family, had to do some serious introspection about his behavior regarding her family in general. I found it refreshing to see both the hero and heroine admit they needed to work on their relationship in an adult manner. That gave me hope that this second chance at love would succeed. While Rai could end the story here and I would be satisfied, I do want to see what comes next.
I give Risk and Reward a B
MinnChica: There were quite a few things I really enjoyed about this story, but I think the big thing was the way that Tatiana and Wyatt both came to realize how destructive they were being with their relationship. Because neither one wanted to “rock the boat” they were glossing over their concerns and frustrations, and letting things fester instead of discussing them. Tatiana’s revelation from her mom and Wyatt’s quiet contemplation were the perfect way for each character to really get it. I loved getting to meet Tatiana’s parents, and hope we see more of them in the future.
All in all I enjoyed the second installment of this series, however I continue to be just a little bit disappointed at the end of the book. These stories are so short, that part of me wishes that Rai would bundle them together as one novel instead of going on with the serialized format. That being said, I love how sexy and smutty Tatiana and Wyatt are together, and can’t wait to see what they get into next. I give Risk and Reward a B-...more
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
LIFELINE: an elite search-and-rescue squad based out of Banff, Alberta. Specializing in high-risk rescue missions, this team goes wherever the job takes them…
Alisha Bailey left a life of privilege for the dangerous but thrilling world of search and rescue. Denying the lure of attraction to her teammate is another sacrifice she’s made to prove to everyone—including her family— that she’s more than a pretty face or a business commodity.
Since their training days, Devon Leblanc has used the competitive fire between them to hide his fascination with the petite beauty. When a natural disaster forces their rivalry aside, heated passion finally flares between them. Sexual pleasure slowly gives way to a new appreciation for each other’s skills—on the field and in the bedroom.
But when unexplained accidents begin happening to the Lifeline team, their newfound unity may be their only hope for survival… This blurb came from the author’s website.
Put Vivian Arend’s name on something and watch me scramble to get my hands on it. I have been a fan of hers for years through several different series and settings. My only complaint is that I reach the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of her Adrenaline Search and Rescue series, High Risk. One of the things I enjoyed in High Risk was the interaction and tension between the Lifeline members so when I found out that book two, High Passion, was an inner team romance I was super excited. I am equally as happy to say that High Passion lived up to my excitement.
On the surface, Alisha and Devon seemed to be total opposites. One managed to charm everyone, joke about everything, and somehow juggle various short-term entertainments without leaving anyone upset. The other seemed to take everything seriously and outside of working led a solo lifestyle. Put them in the same room without a specific rescue and they rubbed each other the wrong way but on a mission or dealing with outsiders, they were an unstoppable team. Yet, as Arend let me see behind the outer layers, they ended up having more in common then their skill at climbing.
Alisha prided herself on her control and living life on her own terms. She left the rarified atmosphere of her family business and lifestyle because she wanted to be more than decoration. She was proud of her position as a member of Lifeline, an elite search and rescue team, because she earned that on her own without the influence of her father. Therefore, when her past showed up she tried to keep it as separate as possible from her present, even when things became more difficult. I liked that Arend included some flaws in Alisha’s otherwise strong exterior because they made her seem more human and approachable. Given her family I could see why she tended to remain private and put up walls. I do wonder what triggered her panic attack, unless it was the completely unexpected situation combined with her stress over her family. Regardless, it set the stage for so many other things to happen.
Devon also had some unexpected depths buried beneath his life-of-the-party façade. He was fiercely devoted to his job and teammates while harboring what seemed to be a one-sided attraction to Alisha. That attraction caused him to give her a little leeway, which provided the opportunity for them to actually get to know each other. Like Alisha, Devon dealt with a lack of familial understanding regarding his choice of profession, but unlike Alisha’s family they obviously loved and cared about him. His stubborn determination to make his own path certainly helped during his courtship of Alisha. I loved how he had so many different aspects to his personality.
While this story focuses on Devon and Alisha, Arend’s trademark ability to keep both the supporting cast and the overall world moving was evident. The competitive spirit seen in High Risk manifested between Devon and Alisha not to mention some other friendly rivalries. The same care and trust showed throughout the entire team was seen again in micro-detail between Devon and Alisha. With that as a backdrop, watching the extra intensity through smokin’ hot sexy times, tender moments, and times when both applied some tough love made their growing relationship standout.
I will admit that while I was reading High Passion, I thought that the external conflict was completely obvious and I was a little disappointed because I have come to expect more until I discovered that things were more complicated then they seemed. I have to admire Arend’s ability at misdirection because I was so fixated on two things that I think I missed some clues about the real reason. This does mean that I will have to go back and re-read to try to spot them which doesn’t bother me at all. I really should know better by now, tricksy authors.
Reading High Passion provided adventure, family drama, true friendships, and a very exciting and entertaining relationship between Devon, Alisha and their team. I loved visiting the Lifeline members again along with seeing accounts of their environment. I do not have any interest in climbing, but the area around Banff sounds like it is breathtakingly beautiful. Devon and Alisha were glorious to watch as they learned to trust and enjoy each other outside of their profession. Alisha also learned that the team had her back in many ways so she gained a much better family than the one that she left. I also liked how the entire team shared some solidarity at the end and grew closer because of the events of this story. With High Passion, Arend proved yet again why she is on my auto-buy and re-read list. In addition, after reading the excerpt from High Seduction I think Arend is raising the bar once again.
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!
Publisher: Self Publish Date: 13 Aug How I got this book: ARC from the author
A con man. A rancher’s daughter. A wildfire out of control.
Elizabeth Graham spends her days running the business side of the Circle Eight ranch. Her knack for numbers and organization lent themselves to her position in the family. She has just turned twenty-one and doubts she will find a man to spend her life with. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in love, after all, and when she meets a charlatan named Vaughn Montgomery, her opinion doesn’t waver. At first.
Vaughn Montgomery is down to the lint in his pocket and the handsome smile he uses as a weapon. His last con went wrong and he fled west. Now he finds himself trapped in the middle of nowhere Texas. And at the mercy of a hard-nosed woman who wears shapeless dresses and whose tongue can cut blocks of wood.
Unwilling to bend and unable to forgive, Elizabeth and Vaughn get caught up in a web of lies that stretches from Houston to the heart of Texas. She finds herself falling for the man who can’t seem to tell the truth and he can’t get enough of a woman who can only speak truths. Surrounded by danger, they embark on the ultimate con to save the Circle Eight and their lives. This blurb came from the author’s website.
Before I get started on this review, I have to warn you that there will be spoilers for previous books in this series including a major one about what started the story arc. So if you haven’t read the previous books and you prefer to avoid spoilers then please stop reading now. . . . . . . . After I finished reading Caleb, reviewed here, and realized that the search for the missing Graham was complete but Lang still had unmarried members of the Graham family I didn’t know what she was going to do with the rest of them. Then I found out that she was going to continue writing about the Circle Eight which made me happy but I also wondered what the books would focus around given the apparently conclusion of a major element. I found the answer to my wonderings both intriguing and causing me to hope for a spin-off series.
None of the Grahams are exactly ordinary. Their focus on keeping the family ranch going, raising the family together, and finding their kidnapped brother meant they grew up with a variety of abilities, skills, and a willingness to use them. Elizabeth hasn’t had a lot of up front time so it was good meeting her in this story. She did’t like “traditional” female responsibilities and was hurt when her domineering older brothers tried to insist that she fit the mold or ignored how she could contribute to the family in a different way. But she also never insisted on doing something she enjoyed until one of her new sister-in-laws backed her. As the family/ranch bookkeeper she felt more useful but was still unsatisfied with her life. As a result she was ready for her own adventure and it started with a naked man.
Vaughn really didn’t have much redeeming qualities about him except his charm, his body, and his bedroom skills. Oh and he didn’t intent to swindle the Grahams. I actually ended up feeling a bit sorry for Vaughn. He had no idea how to handle Elizabeth because she didn’t fall for any of his usual phrases yet she was attracted to him. Then when the victims of his last con arrived and Elizabeth, the main Circle Eight house, and Granny were caught up in the mess he started to feel the prodding of regret for his actions. Elizabeth had done nothing other than save his life and now hers was in danger. When she found out what he did for a living and insisted that he make it right he started to see other people something besides a “mark.” That was a huge turning point for him, and I think started his journey as a heroic character. I really enjoyed seeing his mental turmoil and puzzlement at Elizabeth’s behavior and her expectations for people in general.
The physical and emotional journey that both Elizabeth and Vaughn took was significant. Elizabeth learned how to stand up for what she wanted and that she wasn’t actually limited by her circumstances. She also learned how lucky she was to have a family that behaved like a family even when they were overbearing and annoying. Vaughn learned what a family was, not just from Elizabeth but also from the victims of his con. He also learned that actions can have very unintended consequences even when you are trying to do the right thing. While I enjoyed watching Elizabeth and Vaughn together and admired how she was able to adapt to different situations as she worked to get back home, my attention kept drifting to the conned family.
The Gibsons consisted of an old man and several brothers ranging from little boys to grown men. They were loyal to each other but had some issues determining right from wrong and doing things in anger that they later regretted. But the respect and reverence they had for the old man was amazing to see. I would really love to see their journey to redemption **very unsubtle hint asking for spinoff series** because the older brothers started learning some slightly softer aspects of life based on their interaction with Elizabeth. They also demonstrated time and again to Vaughn that family is important and worth doing things you don’t really want to do.
All in all I enjoyed Vaughn. I caught a glimpse of some of the other members of the Graham family and how they continued to pull together as a family. I was introduced to the Gibsons, and I have an idea who the next installment or at least a future one will involve. This was a good transition book I think between the original issue and moving towards a more settled but not boring life for the members of the Circle Eight. I am curious about what Lang will have as the center conflict for the next book.
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Here we go again …
Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.
As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there … This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have been a fan of Estep’s Mythos Academy stories since I found them back in early 2012. Several have been reviewed here on the blog, most recently her e-novella focusing on Logan, Spartan Frost. Given the traumatic events of the 4th installment, Crimson Frost, and what Logan saw during his self-imposed exile I was super excited to read Midnight Frost. Unfortunately a few aspects did give me the “here we go again,” feeling as they were a bit predictable, but Estep also included several twists I was not expecting that greatly enhanced the tension and moved things forward.
Gwen wass still not fitting into Mythos Academy. Granted she wass no longer called a Reaper by her fellow classmates but they switched to whispering and taking pictures ever since word got out about her status as Nike’s Champion and therefore the target of Reaper attacks. The support structure that she painfully built contains a gaping hole from Logan’s absence that was taking its toll on her emotional stability. She also had to deal with the attention of the Protectors who are there to guard both her and the other inhabitants of the school. But a few positive things have remained consistent; Grandma Frost’s love, Daphne’s friendship, the Fenrir puppy, Nickamedes’ snide remarks, and Vic. After an innocent person falls victim to the Reapers, Gwen decided regardless of the threat to her personal safety, she was going to do what she could to save the person.
After the initial Reaper attack, it appeared as if things were going to slow down until Gwen and her group reached the ruins and started searching for the antidote but my guess was sadly mistaken. Estep continued to build on the initial confrontation by adding some unexpected Reaper attacks and some emotional blows for Gwen. Despite the pain she suffered, I enjoyed watching Gwen see that she wasn’t the only “misfit” and that maybe her life wasn’t as bad as it seemed. To me that was an important lesson Gwen needed to learn in order to continue to grow as a character.
Without being too spoilery I will say that Estep included some things that I think readers who have a romantic streak will enjoy **wink** along with Vic’s trademark way of providing some tension release with his running commentary. He really made me start laughing in this particular scene.
The sword gave a loud, jaw-cracking yawn and opened his eye. Then, he started blinking rapidly and moving his mouth up and down and wiggling his jaw from side to side. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m trying to pop my bloody ear,” Vic said. “The change in altitude is killing me, I tell you. Killing me!”
I wanted to point out that the sword was the one who killed things, not the other way around, but I kept quiet. Finally, a minute later, something squeaked deep inside the metal, and Vic’s face relaxed.
“There,” he said. “All better. Now, time to take care of the jet lag. Wake me when there are Reapers to kill.”
His purplish eye snapped shut. I thought about shaking him awake, so he’d be as cranky and sleep-deprived as I was, but I decided against it. I didn’t want to listen to him complain all the way to…wherever it was we were going next.
The more I see Vic the more I wonder about his particular past and how he got his personality.
Despite the mild predictability in a few sections, I think Gwen grew a lot in this particular installment. While she still had a few “why me” moments she stepped up a lot and started to take charge of herself and her circumstances. I loved seeing her actually fight and not just react while attempting to stay alive until someone else could rescue her. She also spoke up to other people instead of hiding in her room or slinking away to sulk. It was almost like her experiences over the past book had put her through the crucible and what emerged showed definite signs of why Gwen was chosen as Nike’s Champion. With Midnight Frost Estep has penned another entertaining read. I almost feel as if this installment is a pivotal transition story but I will have to wait for the next one to find out. And BTW I think I find the “stone” statues just as unnerving as Gwen does and I can’t wait to see what their secret is.
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.
Publisher: Berkley Trade Publish Date: Aug 6th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
THE DALTON BOYS TAKE THE REINS
The infamous Dalton Gang was once known for riding—and playing—hard. Now, as owners of the Dalton Ranch in Crow Hill, Texas, they’re working from sunup to sundown. But one look from the right woman can tempt them back into the saddle…
When a walk on the wild side turned into a nightmare for Everly Grant, she escaped her abusive ex by taking a job with Crow Hill’s small newspaper. Now assigned to write a human-interest story on the return of the Dalton Gang, she soon discovers that Boone Mitchell could give her plenty more than a good interview. As much as she craves safety, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Boone’s dangerous streak. Before she takes the cowboy to bed, she lays down the law: There are no strings attached, and she’s the one in charge.
That’s fine for Boone. In fact, Everly teaches him things no other woman ever dared. Soon they find themselves wanting more than their simple arrangement will allow. But to get there, Everly will have to open up in ways she thought she never could… This blurb came from the author’s website.
Throughout the two previous installments Undeniable and Unbreakable, Boone seemed to be the most grounded. He had a loving supportive family who practically adopted the two other boys and directed them to the Daltons when they needed to work off some excess energy. So, what would cause Boone to take off and vanish, then upon his return keep everything focused on the ranch, only coming into town when unavoidable? I was curious about his reasons for lying low and as the only unattached member of the Dalton Gang, he held a special place in my heart. I was also super curious to find out what type of personality would catch his interest so I couldn’t wait to read Unforgettable, and was really sad when I kept trying to turn the page only to discover I had reached the end.
I loved this story. Watching two people who closed themselves off from everyone else due to a mixture of guilt and fear learn to trust and open up to others. Kent provided their back-story in bits and pieces as they discovered and spent more time with each other. Their slow growing emotional connection was a delight to watch even as they explored their mutual physical attraction. Yes, they had a few misunderstandings but they took the time to work through them. They also discovered that each had some hidden sore spots but due to their past experiences and how they considered the relationship a purely physical one, they were able to ask questions or leave sensitive subjects alone without taking offense at the reaction. The thing I found most interesting was how that same undemanding acceptance fostered their emotional connection and encouraged conversation on those same topics. As they grew more comfortable with each other, both Boone and Everly started opening up to other people. They both learned that the issues, which left the biggest negative mental mark, really weren’t that big compared to what could be after all. I am not going into further detail about the shadows from their past except to say that I think the way Kent resolved or handled them was very impressive.
“There’s something to be said for getting a woman out of her clothes. Not the ones who’ll strip for anyone, but the ones who put that kind of trust in a particular man.”
“What kind of trust is that?” she asked, and he couldn’t tell if she was playing with him, or wasn’t sure what he meant, or a combination of both.
He decided to lay it on the line. “That he’ll do right by her, and in more ways than making her come.”
“That he won’t go talking about what they’ve done together. That he’ll keep her secrets close. That’ll he value what she’s given him, and take care of that gift, because that’s what it is, that privilege. Sharing something like that with one woman only and no one else ever again…”
“You want that.”
He nodded. “Most men do. Those who recognize all the things a woman can offer. Things that aren’t between her legs.”
In addition to Boone and Everly, Kent kept my interest in the town of Crow Hill itself. I saw how work on the ranch was progressing, the character of several of the townsfolk, the lingering ghosts of the past, and a potential attraction. I enjoyed getting a chance to know some of the other inhabitants in what appeared to be a much less hostile environment. The change in atmosphere of the town when they were dealing with Boone or his two friends was striking and served to highlight how a group of friends who caused the same amount of mischief could be thought of differently based on their family life. This just screamed “small town” to me and really brought Crow Hill’s impression of the Dalton Gang members and Boone’s distance in sharp contrast.
Kent had so many different elements in Unforgettable that I really enjoyed. I fell for the slow romance, the character growth, the town, and hints of a romance to come **crosses fingers**. I liked both Boone and Everly and thought their pairing was a lot of fun. This has been one of the most enjoyable western series that I have read in a while. I am both looking forward to and hoping for another installment set in Crow Hill.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author via Lit Connect
Chronicles of Eorthe, Book 1
Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.
An illness is killing Sorin’s pack. As alpha it’s his responsibility to save them, but it’s a battle this warrior doesn’t know how to fight. Then a blue light in the sky brings a creature he’s never seen. She calls herself human, but to him she smells like hope.
Sorin offers Susan a safe haven in return for a cure, but she’s not that kind of a doctor. She’s a doctor of physics, not a physician. Yet as they search for a cure to save a dying people, they find something special—each other.
But even with Sorin’s protection, Susan can’t help but wonder how long she can survive in a world without humans…
Warning: Feral shifters, power-hungry vampires, and a sole human female suffering culture shock. We got this blurb from the author’s website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
Meka: Sorin is alpha through-and-through, ready to protect his pack who are dying off from a strange sickness that he cannot fight with tooth and claw. Reading about his emotional struggle with trying to understand if a Goddess sent Susan to them while juggling the responsibilities of his pack was like a sucker punch to the gut. He was steadfast, didn’t compromise on what he wanted, and was a caring alpha, something that his pack desperately needed.
It was refreshing to read a novel where the alpha hero was not in fact an alphahole and appreciated the insights that Susan had when it came to treating his pack. I felt like I could connect with him and that his struggles were very real. Watching him be so desperate to put his pack back together and prove that he was not abusive like his father made me a little misty-eyed.
I thought that Sorin was very caring and patient of Susan, who just went through the culture shock of her life, and helped her to acclimate to his world. When he found out that he really was falling for her, he was both sweet and tender as well as very protective of her, yet always gave her room to shine.
E: Overall Sorin grew on me. Towards the beginning I found him very much the martyr, almost too self-sacrificing but as the story continued and I learned his backstory I could understand why. He did start thinking and acting more for himself but he still kept his pack towards the front of his mind. Like Meka said, he was a pretty honorable individual who did everything he could to both mitigate and fix the results of his father’s rule. One of the things I liked about him was that he was willing to give a huge exception to Susan because she did not know werewolf culture. That was so completely opposite what she encountered with a different pack who treated her as if she was deliberately violating their norms. I also really liked him when he showed he was willing to work with others, including a rival-ish pack, to help rescue the captured women. He also demonstrated his ability to learn from and trust his formerly abused Omega to play a much greater role then that of a peacemaker. Soren did show a few flashes of assholish behavior but that was more of an anomaly. I did wish I had more time to see him interact with both his pack and Susan in less stressful conditions.
MiscJoy: I liked how Sorin approached being Alpha. He was primarily focused on healing his pack — both physically and psychologically. His personal needs came secondary. It was important to him to build up his pack members self-esteem and he didn’t let arrogance get in the way of seeking counsel from others regarding plans of action. He was secure in himself and his place as Alpha and didn’t feel the need to exert his dominance in a forceful way all the time. He simply was dominant; he didn’t have to keep proving that he was so. It was a refreshing change from how Alphas are typically presented in the genre.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
Meka: Susan made me jump up and cheer, but I’ll explain my main reason for that a little later. Upset about the fact that the military would be using DOUG, the dimensional traveling machine for their own nefarious purposes, she set it to self-destruct. I knew I was going to like her from that point on. She was thrown in to a world where there were no humans and she had no way of getting back home. She went from being calm to panicked and back to being calm again with a few moments of being ready to get the hell out of dodge no matter the stakes, but when she needed to, she held it together. She waffled between wanting to stay and wanting to go home, but I felt like that was a very realistic and understandable response. She was a smart cookie, and it was awesome to see her using her mind and her skills as she fought to acclimate herself to the world.
After the treatment that Susan received from one pack, she was none too eager to experience life with even more shifters, but when she found out the plight of Sorin’s group, she struggled to come up with a solution to assist them. Watching her care about Sorin’s well-being, as well as stand up for what she wanted was refreshing. Even when she had what I call a too stupid to live moment, she recognized it as such and totally owned it. She was sweet, endearing, and was not going to let Sorin pull the ‘I am alpha’ card on her.
E: Susan was more of a contradiction for me, sometimes I liked her and other time she really annoyed me. She was a combination of incredibly brilliant and clueless at the same time. She easily believed in vampires and werewolves but did not have any idea of how to interact with them. She remembered how to make penicillin but wasn’t concerned about the exchange of bodily fluids provided the other person wasn’t sick. Yet I enjoyed how she never really gave in a resigned herself to her fate but continued to struggle to make things the best she could. I also really loved her response to the military/government’s attempted takeover of her project. I just wish I had seen her stand up on a regular basis to someone besides Soren. While her ability to make medicine brought her a huge amount of respect from Soren’s pack, nothing was said about how/if that would transfer to any other pack so her lack of aggression concerned me but she was an interesting character. Full of both strengths and flaws but genuinely caring underneath.
MiscJoy: Susan was smart and resourceful and not afraid to take action. She had to think quick and adapt to an alien culture. I liked her selfless nature and the way she cared for the Apisi pack. On the other hand, she made some rather impulsive decisions that crossed into stupid territory — like running away from the Apisi pack without any planning, supplies or any thought about survival or means to defend herself — that seemed out of character.
3. Favorite Scene
Meka: Not sure what this probably says about me, but one of the most memorable parts of the book for me was early on when Susan was trying to be respectful of the alpha’s wife and ended up getting slapped for her trouble. After a rough day when no one was understanding her and she struggled to get accustomed to the way people expected her to do things only to be attacked, Susan had enough and she slapped the alpha’s wife right back. Not gonna lie, I did a cheer and promptly told my roommate that she needed to get this book when it came out. When the group ran while the alpha’s wife chased them, I laughed, hard. It was so comical and so awesome. It’s definitely one of the more stand-out scenes in the novel that shows Susan is no wilting flower.
E: I was torn between a few scenes but I think I am going to go with the one when Susan and Soren had a few days mostly to themselves out in the wilderness. They had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit and I got to see them interact together. It was by turns sweet, touching, intense, smexy, and a stark reminder of how much Susan will have to adapt to become comfortable in her new home. I wish they were able to spend more peaceful time together because that scene was what brought this story out of the physical lust and into emotional romance for me. It just needed more!
MiscJoy: My favorite scene was when Sorin, Ahote and Peder had to break into Benic’s castle. Peder came up with quite the unorthodox plan and I could only imagine the agony it wreaked upon the shifter’s senses. For some reason, I kept hearing the characters from The Princess Bride calling after them: “Have fun storming the castle!” Tee hee.
4. Dislike about book
Meka: I understand that when a series is starting off, there is going to be quite a bit of world-building that goes along with it. We as readers are just coming in to this world and don’t understand its rules or customs. It was nice in that we got to learn as Susan did, however, this is where the book began to fall apart for me. It was all too much, too fast and it felt disjointed. First we have to learn about the shifters and their rules, and then the vampires, and then incubi, and it just became very confusing to keep up.
There were a lot of great supporting characters, but they seemed to take center stage more than our hero and heroine. Every character had a motive and I cared about their stories. I hope they all get sequels, too. It was difficult for me to believe in Susan and Sorin’s romance because they never really had an opportunity to develop one. Everyone else’s wants, needs, and love lives kept stealing the show.
The book had smokin’ hot sex scenes, but I never felt like our hero and heroine ever got the chance to connect. Every time there was a sweet moment between them, the POV would switch to someone else, and I found it to be annoying.
The climax of the book was so convoluted that I found myself starting to check out. The resolution fell flat, and the epilogue left a lot of questions unanswered. I thought that Susan and Sorin were great together, but I feel like I really missed out on how great they could have been because there was not enough page time with them.
E: I found that Scent of Salvation had some parts that struck me as rather jarring. I thought the world-building was almost too complete for a first book in a series. It seemed like so much world-building went on that it detracted from the character interaction. As a result some of the supporting characters seemed rather formulaic and others at times outshone the hero/heroine. I also thought that having the default language for everyone set as English with only technicial/scientific terms a challenge to explain was a bit of a cheat. If everything followed the history path that Susan theorized I think there still should have been some serious language differences or communication issues among the different species and with Susan. But I did like Susan’s theory and I think it will be interesting to see how/if it plays out in future books.
MiscJoy: I think my main complaint about the book is the lack of depth. We weren’t given much if any focus on the character’s development — they were just presented in the story as fully formed and didn’t really go through a progression based on interior motivations. Plot points and conflicts just sorta happened and then were easily resolved without much consequence. The villain turned out not to be much of a villain. These issues meant the tension fell flat for me.
I thought the concept was interesting and the worldbuilding had promise, but certain aspects just didn’t jive for me. I struggled with the idea that this alternate history branched off from our history and yet continued to mirror our history instead of developing independent from it. Both dimensions spoke English (really?), but yet somehow the written form of it on Eorthe was unrecognizable as such. Time travel was supposedly impossible and yet, the major world events occurring on Eorthe were about two hundred years in our past. If that was the case, then what happened to the shifter’s native culture and why did everyone speak English? Either Eorthe and Earth developed in a sort of symbiotic parallel or they branched off and went their separate ways, but the resulting hybrid of these two ideas here just didn’t work for me.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Meka: Scent of Salvation is a fast-paced book with three-dimensional characters that make the book come to life. There are many laugh out loud moments and a great deal of adventure and emotional punches. With that said, the world building while intricate is entirely too much and other characters had more page time than I felt our hero and heroine did. I was not sold on the romance aspect of this book. It was a fun read, though, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I give Scent of Salvation a C.
E: While I though Scent of Salvation had some flaws I did find the premise and some of the theories fascinating. I have my hopes for the next couple in this series, but I think they will face some serious problems with the vampires and pack politics. I also found that reading this book, especially the beginning, made me want to watch the movie Stargate. Nicholas did seem to take some shortcuts but I think with as much of the world established by the end of this installment, later books can focus more on the characterization. I will admit that I absolutely loved how the vampires plans were derailed and how he realized what his single-minded focus cost him. I also give Scent of Salvation a C.
MiscJoy: I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Sorin and Susan. I liked how Sorin saw Susan’s strength in her intellect and her ability to serve the pack even if he wasn’t sure how the pack would accept her since, as a culture, they primarily saw value based on physical strength and dominance.
Even though I felt the story suffered from an overall sense of depth and some confusion in the worldbuilding, I do think that the writing style was quite readable. The author did a good job at writing an active narrative and kept the story moving forward at a good pace.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
A Novella of the FBI Psychics
Can be read as a stand alone.
Destin Mortin’s psychic gift comes with an ugly twist—she excels at tracking down violent rapists. But it’s rough on relationships. Once, her partner Caleb was her everything: filter, shield, rescuer, lover. The only man who didn’t think her a freak. Then he walked away.
Destin turned her back on the FBI to work for a private agency, but now a particularly horrendous case has come up, and her boss wants her paired with only the best.
For Caleb Durand, leaving Destin was an act of self-preservation. Every time she flung herself headlong into dangerous situations, every time he nursed her through soul-crushing visions, he’d died a little more inside.
Now they are forced to work together one last time. Tragedy has changed them both, but Caleb knows if he lowers his shields for an instant, he won’t have an icicle’s chance in hell of resisting the temptation to lose himself in her wild power.
But to catch the rapist, it’s exactly what he’ll have to do. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read several of Walker’s FBI Psychics novels and enjoyed how she delved into both the cost and benefit of having a psychic ability to an individual. She also explored the hope, anger, frustration, grief, determination, and mingled pride/regret of the law enforcement individuals who go after people who commit a particular type of crime. In each she included a romance built on that quagmire of emotion and danger – grounding her characters in the here and now as they dealt with the fact that they were only human. So when I saw that she had a novella coming out from Samhain, set in the same world I had to try it. I enjoyed reading The Unwanted but I felt like there was a little something missing.
Caleb and Destin had a history, a very involved history that didn’t have a messy drawn out ending but a rather abrupt one. The past relationship and the method of its ending, five years before this story started, still reverberated inside both of them. When they were thrown together unexpectedly on a case tracking down a serial rapist in a small college town each had to face not only their open emotional wounds but the realization that the other person wasn’t as unaffected as they portrayed. While that did mean each had deep feelings for the other so the relationship wasn’t one sided, Walker used that to further explain why the earlier version of Caleb and Destin were unhealthy for each other which I thought was a very interesting take. Their emotional angst and journey provided a good way for me to avoid focusing too much of my attention on the victims. I was glad because the blurb did not exaggerate when it mentioned exactly what type of criminal Destin tracked.
This particular story did not have as much physical danger to the investigators, Caleb or Destin, as other books have with their respective investigators. The majority of the investigation involved Destin’s ability to see, much les detective work. As a result, I felt as if the investigation was a little offset from the story with the focus on the characters’ emotional journey instead of an even balance. I did not feel that that aspect detracted from the story at all because as I mentioned above I needed some distance from the crimes themselves. I thought it was very fascinating that in this particular story both the hero and heroine suffered from side effects of their psychic abilities because it balanced the scales of power between them. To me that was another indication that they completed or fit each other but both had to become mature enough to maintain their own separate identities and not merge into a blurred mess unable to function without the other.
I enjoyed seeing Caleb and Destin grow and heal over the course of the story, but I felt as if some things were left out or ignored. The first piece that I thought was missing started in the initial conversation Destin had with her boss when she mentioned suffering from extreme nosebleeds due to her visions yet I didn’t notice mention of one occurring during the story itself. I also thought the reason why Caleb and Destin were assigned this particular case but did not receive all of the information was a bit too much of a set-up. I thought there were other reasons to not get all the information in the beginning unless it is intended for some other event Walker has in mind for the FBI Psychics world. The last thing that bothered me about this story I will freely admit is probably a personal issue. The huge elephant under the carpet between Caleb and Destin was discussed and left with the acknowledgment that it would be dealt with when they were both ready. I really wanted step one of “ready” to occur in this story completely understanding that the cure would take years. I needed some movement forward because I felt like they were at step zero-point-five but on the other hand I was very glad to see the elephant at least addressed.
Overall I enjoyed reading The Unwanted, this novella provided a different take on the FBI Physics, their interaction, and the personal cost of their jobs. I felt the shorter length meant Walker had to choose between focusing on the characters or the suspense/mystery aspect of it and as a result this installment was much more character driven. I also found a few things that bothered me but they did not keep me from enjoying the story. I am curious to see where Walker goes with this novella format and if future stories will have the same character focus.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from Lit Connect
They just might survive…if they don’t kill each other first.
Once the future Segestriidae maven, Kaidi lived a privileged life. Now she spends her nights haunting cities ravaged by the plague. Spade in hand, she stalks rows of freshly dug graves for corpses…and then she takes their heads.
Her new life is caked in blood and spattered with gore, but it’s hers. At least until—to her fury—she’s caught napping.
A plague survivor by the skin of his teeth, Murdoch risks his neck to solve the mysteries left in its wake. Bodies have gone missing. Guards have left their posts and never returned home.
When he rouses a female dozing among the dead, he’s unprepared for the violence of her response. Or his. Beneath the grime, she’s lovely. Too bad the blood under her fingernails belongs to his clansmen.
He has no choice but to follow this alluring creature deeper into her world of winged beasts and flesh-eating monsters. She holds the knowledge he craves, but the price is high—and they may both pay for it with their lives.
Warning: This book contains one heroine in desperate need of a bath and one hero willing to wash away her sins. Expect threats, swears and general cursing. Love is a slippery slope, and these two are sliding. This blurb came from the author’s website.
In April of last year I was browsing Samhain’s list of weekly releases and noticed a story called A Hint of Frost. I read the blurb and found myself intrigued by the description of the world and the characters. So I started reading and immediately found myself even more intrigued because the characters had some spider-like tendencies among them possessing fully functioning spinnerets. I mean you don’t encounter such characters unless they are the villain normally. I couldn’t put the book down through its various twists and turns and immediately started looking for information about future books set in the same world. Happily Edwards has continued writing because I have enjoyed each installment. As a result when we received the request to participate in her blog tour/review I leapt at the chance. This latest installment has continued on Edwards’ path of keeping me both intrigued and entertained.
This thing called the Yellow Death has spread quickly across the country killing animals and people alike. Although, men and women aren’t dying or even getting infected at the same rates nor is this disease hitting all of the different enclaves with the same force. The remaining leadership has been scrambling to determine causes, prevention, and even cures against what seems to be a losing battle. Add in politics, secrets, tradition, mistrust, events that are so farfetched they must be seen to be believed, and a great mixture of strong personalities and I couldn’t stop flipping the pages.
Kaidi’s life took a very drastic turn away from the life she grew up expecting with the arrival of the Yellow Death and its aftermath. She discovered a secret kept by her promised husband and ran in fear of her life to some distant relatives. As the Yellow Death spread, she also stumbled upon an ugly aspect of the disease yet when she tried to convince those who knew her of the additional problem no one believed her. So Kaidi decided she would do everything she could to save other cities from what she discovered by beheading fresh corpses. As I am sure you could imagine this was a bloody, gruesome lone task and I had the impression that as time passed Kaidi was having a hard time holding onto the memories that she once had a different life. It was so fascinating to see bits and pieces of her personality start to emerge from the horror her life had become yet she never lost sight of what she was trying to prevent and her duty to her people. The way she was able to give on some things and yet continue fighting on others despite her obvious fears. How innocent she was in the game of politics and yet how fiercely she tried to play the game for what she wanted.
Murdoch was also dealing with a lot. He survived the Yellow Death but lives in a city where most of the women died and some of the surviving men are randomly vanishing. He was tasked to solve the issue of the disappearances but based on concerns about raising fear among the populace had to remain very discreet about his mission. I loved seeing this strong man struggle between his loyalty to his rulers, the worsening menace, and his growing attraction to Kaidi. Even when his suspicions about certain things were proven correct he meekly accepted his punishment without knowing how harsh it would be because he had done it for his people and his ruler. Seeing him shift from being so incredibly by-the-book into someone who was willing to take a chance for the greater good and yet pay the price was pretty amazing.
Edwards also threw in some very interesting side characters. I really hope one, well, make that two in particular get their own stories because they fascinated me. Both had some unexpected depths and secrets. In addition to new side characters, some previous ones made their appearance and played some significant parts. I enjoy seeing the stars of previous installments because they add a sense of connection to the world as well as allowing a glimpse into their evolution. Responsibility can change people to a certain extent so seeing the results of that weight on Murdoch’s rulers from their story just showed how Edwards isn’t letting her characters stagnate even when their time under the spotlight is over.
I haven’t really talked much about the plot here because I think discovering the twists and turns in this particular installment are crucial. If I say much beyond the blurb, I think it will spoil the story. I did really enjoy how Edwards introduced a few new aspects and how they seemed to tie into a suspicion voiced by a character in an previous installment. I am curious to see how this discovery will play out and the resulting chaos. I really enjoyed reading A Time of Dying and I look forward to what Edwards brings to this world next.
Publisher: Berkley Intermix Publish Date: 16 July How I got this book: ARC from the author via Novel Sidekick
The Hanover brothers are doing their best to live down the legacy of their con artist father…but they still have a knack for getting in trouble where romance is concerned.
As the lawyer of the family, Beckett Hanover ought to be sorting through the many claims filed against their family estate—which the brothers have recently inherited from their grandmother. But something about the housekeeper, Sophie, keeps stealing his focus…
Little does he know, as he flirts, what else she intends to steal. The truth is Sophie took the job with one purpose in mind: to help her aunt. But she never expected to find a man like Beck or get sidetracked by the handsome hottie’s sweet talk and broad shoulders. Between her secret and Beck’s past, the two are headed for one risky romance. This blurb came from the author’s website.
Earlier this year I did a joint review of No Turning Back, the first of the Hanover Brothers series, and really enjoyed it. I waited a few months and started pestering Dimon about the next book in the series. She eventually gave permission to Novel Sidekick to send me a copy to review. As much as I dislike waiting for things this was certainly worth the wait. It was as if Dimon took everything I enjoyed in the first installment and multiplied it plus added a few more things.
Beck while a straight-laced appearing lawyer, the exact opposite of his father, prided himself on looking at things from a logical unbiased viewpoint. He liked to follow the paper trail until he was able to fix whatever the problem was and right the wrong. However, while the wrongs are staring him in the face he has been unable to find what he needs to fix it. Add that to the stress of living with his brothers again, the inclusion of Leah into the household, Sophie flitting around “cleaning,” and Beck was about to lose his mind. I put cleaning in quotations because the house never seemed to be any cleaner even though Sophie was there every day in just about every room. He was both attracted to Sophie and bugged by the secrets he knew she was keeping.
Poor Sophie, she was torn between her loyalty to her aunt and her growing loyalty to Beck and his brothers. She knew that their father was a criminal who conned a lot of people but she never believed the sins of the father were the sins of the children. While she stood up for them against other people she felt that the information she had could not be shared because it belonged to someone else. I loved hearing her inner thoughts as she tried to remain in control of the situation even though people were accurately reading into what she was or wasn’t saying. I also liked how she tried to tell Beck her secrets once she understood they were a barricade between the two of them and more than a physical connection.
Dimon did a great job of including humor and various types of tension in this installment. I think I started giggling when I was about four percent in and was laughing so loud I was afraid the neighbors would start banging on the walls by the six percent mark. Even though that scene was hilarious, it also ratcheted up the sexual tension between Sophie and Beck while giving the other members of the household something to bring up whenever they wanted to get a reaction. I think that really resonated with me because it reminded me of the teasing that goes on in my family and it showed that the three brothers and Leah were building and strengthening their connection. That same scene also spurred a few arguments between Beck and his brothers as the story continued.
There were so many things I loved about reading this A Simple Twist of Fate, the humor, tender moments, sad moments, smexy times, secrets revealed and kept not to mention the reactions of those involved. I did wish Beck delivered a bit more of a grovel, but I think his grovel will end up being worth a much higher price as the series continues. I am super curious about Callen’s HEA because he is a very complex character. Hard on the outside but soft and squishy on the inside so his heroine will have to be amazing. I also have my hopes for the mysterious FBI dude who won’t leave Callen alone. I mentioned my suspicion about him to Dimon, but I was unable to get her to comment or even hint one way or the other. I really hope that he gets his own story because there has to be so much more to him buried under his rigid surface. I can’t wait for the next installment.
Glad I was finally able to read it. The sparks were very enjoyably. I also loved the snubbing. Wish she had told her friend sooner but given the firstGlad I was finally able to read it. The sparks were very enjoyably. I also loved the snubbing. Wish she had told her friend sooner but given the first book which I read second it was understandable....more
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author
Wealthy businessman Daniel Baker doesn’t have a creative bone in his body, but he knows art and craves beauty. Contemporary dancer Naya Ortiz, his fiancée of three years, embodies both. His protective commitment to her happiness extends to hiring Dominas to satisfy the sexual masochism she craves.
The balance of their relationship is tipped when Naya dances with reckless Cajun choreographer Remy Lomand. His magnetism as a Dom carries over to a backstage encounter that leaves Naya breathless—and Daniel unable to look away.
Remy knows the deal. The fancy people want to play with a disposable boy toy. He’s fine with that…but not with letting Daniel remain a bystander. As their sessions intensify, Remy guides Daniel’s awakening as a sexual submissive. Their no-strings threesome reveals the physical connection Daniel and Naya have lacked—and the emotional depth Remy fears.
When Remy and Naya tirelessly work to found a professional dance company, Daniel is left on the outside looking in. And although he and Naya are ready to submit to Remy for the rest of their lives, the man they call Sir may not want their love at all.
Warning: A sexy-as-hell Cajun choreographer plays slap, tickle, chains and canes with a muy caliente Puerto Rican dancer and her repressed businessman fiancé. What could possibly go wrong? This blurb came from the author’s website.
Oh, the blurb for this particular installment in Club Devant had me worried. I discovered when reading the first book, Lead and Follow, that I really want all members of a ménage to be happy and fully included. My romance heart feels cheated if they aren’t. The fact that this blurb cast doubt on that happened, even though I know it is a romance, kept me on my toes the entire time I read just hoping that things would work out for all three. As I think about that last sentence, I have decided that Porter is extremely devious because I think I fell into their plan without even attempting to escape…
Porter created three very magnetic and different characters in Chains and Canes. Daniel could make money hand over fist, dominate any boardroom, and loved his fiancée so much he did anything he could to keep her satisfied on all levels. He told himself that as long as she was happy, he was happy and he was mostly correct. Daniel also seemed to be the more mentally strong one in that he believed in Naya and her abilities but he also knew her well enough only to encourage and work to ensure that when she was ready opportunities would exist. Naya was a brilliant dancer filled with internal doubts about her ability to move out of the chorus line and to ever have an emotional relationship with a Dom. Naya also needed the cathartic emotional release she received from physical pain to achieve some sort of emotional balance. Yet, she loved Daniel who could not directly give her that release but had to go through a third-party. Then there was Remy, a great choreographer, born on the wrong side of the tracks with the physical and emotional scars to prove it. He believed that anything good was temporary and that he didn’t deserve true happiness in a relationship.
I absolutely loved watching the three of them work together. I thought that Porter did a great job of showing the tension that can exist when relationship dynamics change and those changes spur other changes in the individuals involved. It isn’t all flowers and rainbows but takes work and open communication even when some aspects of the relationship have been established for years. I liked that mistakes were made even if I didn’t want the associated emotional pain for the characters because the reaction once the mistake was discovered was extremely telling. I also enjoyed the different levels of submission. To me that said more about the personalities involved than the words “two submissives” and added a great deal of depth. I also felt it was important to the overall dynamic and in maintaining character consistency that even when involved Daniel seemed to be Naya’s back-up safe word and would break his submission to intervene if necessary. One additional aspect that I thought was crucial was the distinction between their work balance of power and their personal balance of power. That separation allowed me to buy into the overall story and not focus on just one aspect.
Having said all of that I do have a minor issue with this story. Early on there is a scene revolving around the fact that Devant is losing a lot of money and the reason(s) aren’t evident. This was brought up once or twice more throughout the book but no movement was made on addressing the issue. I am guessing that this is a thread, which will grow to become front and center in a later installment but because of its physical placement in, Chains and Canes, I was expecting more development. However, it is a minor quibble.
Overall I enjoyed reading Chains and Canes. Porter provided lots of tension, smoking smexy scenes, power struggles, give and take, and the fulfillment of some dreams. I am looking forward to continuing this series because a certain character from the first book still needs his HEA, a certain individual who likes to watch needs some action, and there is a mysterious continual loss of money that needs solving.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
The righting of an ancient wrong. A future foretold. The bands tattooed around her wrists are laced with a dragon’s green and more, destiny preordained…
Mind Thief. Gift Thief. Feared for an ability to seize another’s thoughts and powers with a touch, San Francisco tattoo artist Etaín is such an elf—and the time has come for her to learn it.
Close to the transformation and about to discover her place in a supernatural world, Etaín once thought intimacy and permanence were impossible. Now she’s bound to Cathal, the son of an Irish mobster. And claimed by Eamon, an Elven lord with powerful gifts of his own.
Eamon is determined to keep her safe—from others as well as herself. But a quest for justice is more than it seems, leaving their future to hinge on choice and magic. On promises made and dangerous bargains. This blurb came from the author’s website.
About a year and a half ago I read the first book in this series, Inked Magic, and thought that the world was interesting, characters intriguing but that it suffered from some flaws. However, I liked the importance of just the right tattoo and it had Elves so I attributed the flaws to the first-book-in-a-series syndrome. My decision was also aided because I have read other works by Strong and enjoyed them. So when Inked Destiny was available for review, I accepted. Unfortunately, I found myself slogging through the book. Inked Destiny takes place immediately following the events in Inked Magic. As a result if you decide to read this I strongly suggest that you read or reread the first one before starting because I didn’t reread and I found myself lost with the connections between characters outside of the primary three. Strong does not include much if any recapping of previous events, which works in some cases but in this particular complex world I needed a few reminders.
Etain, Cathal, and Eamon were still trying to figure out how to make their relationship work. Matters between them were complicated by Cathal’s doubts about sharing Etain, Etain’s evolving power as she changes, and Eamon’s ulterior motives and belief that he knows best. The power struggle was a continual theme even as outsiders tried to exploit the fissures in their bond. Their relationship was set against the backdrop of Elvish and Other politics, gang politics, and police politics all of which were tugging at their loyalties. I felt for a while that they were on an endless circle with Eamon wanting all of Etain and willing to accept Cathal, Etain wanting to be free but enjoying both men, Cathal wanting Etain and not really happy about Eamon. Things would appear to smooth out slightly then something would happen and the trio would revert.
Strong included a lot of different characters from a variety of sources: humans, gang members/leaders, police/federal government agencies, Elves and Dragons. I found myself confused at times wondering who worked for whom and what various characters were. Some individuals seemed to be Elves, or Halflings nearing transformation, or Dragons or something yet to be defined. Add in the various gangs and everyone had their own agendas and wanted to use Etain, Cathal or Eamon to accomplish them. It reached the point when I honestly stopped trying to keep track of the political subplots and just tried to focus on the primary and secondary love relationships. One of which I really hope works out but I am concerned given the latest developments.
I did find some things in Inked Destiny enjoyable. Strong usually provides intense smexy scenes and these were no exception. The relationship between Etain, Cathal and Eamon is M/F/M to this point and does not contain any BDSM but I did not find them lacking. The other thing that really intrigued me was the Dragon that visited Etain’s dreams and knew a lot more then he volunteered, even for a price. However, the things I enjoyed were outweighed by the issues I had with the majority of the story. Some might have been avoided if I had re-read the first book immediately before starting this one but I think I still would have struggled with all of the subplot lines. Given the issues I had with the first story and the fact that I had more with this one, I am afraid I will not continue reading this series.
Publisher: Pocket Books Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author/ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation–which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.
Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning. This blurb came from the author’s website.
E: I read Piper’s iintroduction to this series the novella Silent Warrior which was reviewed by Has and MinnChica earlier and thought the world was interesting and the premise had potential so I was looking forward to reading Caged Warrior. While I think the world is still interesting I found there was something missing. To me Caged Warrior read much better as a fantasy then as a romance. Once I figured that out I enjoyed reading it a lot more but it still seemed unpolished.
Has: I totally agree with you about the premise and setting, I also felt it wasn’t as fleshed out although I had a better idea of the Dragon Warrior and Clan structures but it was also too vague. I also had trouble understanding if the Dragon Warriors were hidden in society or out in the open and I couldn’t understand how humans had the upper hand in controlling powerful beings just by enslaving them with collars so easily. I wished this was explained more.
While I found the world-building much better in Caged Warrior, I have to say I wasn’t that keen in the romance. I just couldn’t warm up to Leto’s character who was a total arse to the heroine although it made sense why because he wanted to toughen her up for the up-coming matches but I think it affected the romance for me. He was too harsh and I felt sorry for Audrey who was an outsider in so many ways. But I did like her character and she was one of the reasons that I kept on reading because I found it hard initially to get into the book in the beginning.
E: I actually felt sorry for Leto. He was born into that particular society and brainwashed to continue promoting its brutality and removal of the Dragon Warriors from all aspects of society. However, even with that said he was a brute that I never bought into as a romance hero which is one of the reasons why this seemed a better fantasy novel. Granted he did come to value Audrey for her own sake and did what he could to help her survive and resist but he needed a lot of redeeming. I was glad that he started seeing the light but I was sorry it took so much betrayal by those he served before he finally realized part of the truth.
Audrey was an interesting character. She really had the rough end of the stick and things kept getting worse. I almost found myself wishing she could mentally go away and not have to deal with anymore torture because each time I thought things had reached their low point something else happened. I will say that despite all of that I did like that she continued fighting and trying to get her son back despite all of the torture and betrayal. I was so invested in her that when she did get a momentary mental break I was worried that her inner self wouldn’t come back.
Has: I felt the same way. It was hard reading the torture and the darkness she was experiencing especially since it was so unfair. But when she was being manipulated and brainwashed, halfway through the book into believing she wanted to be an underground fighter and desiring the approval and acceptance of her captors – I felt there was an interesting dichotomy between her and Leto who finally realises at this point that his life was a lie and everything he strove for was meaningless. I felt this was an interesting contrast but I definitely agree, it took that long for his realisation especially since his existence before hand didn’t have much. It also empathized how the humans had so much sway and control over the Dragon Warriors and that really didn’t make much sense.
I also didn’t understand the whole breeding programme and then permissions to grant warrior clans to have children, especially since it is hard to bear children with the Dragon race. And I felt something was missing with Audrey because she was able to have a son, who was a dragon warrior but was treated like a total outsider and an outcast who fell into the clutches of the Astor family. It does look like the follow-up will focus on the clan leaders who have lost power and trying to regain back what they lost from the humans and their previous status. I really like the premise and world-building, but at the same time I do find it hard to try to figure out because it is complex but at the same time vague although a few of the questions I had in the first novella was answered.
E: Piper included several large pieces of world-building in this novel that were not addressed in the novella. Unfortunately they conflicted with the world view I had previously established so I spent some serious mental effort trying to reconcile all of the bits and pieces along with the series of new characters and their ever changing loyalties and powers together. While I liked learning more about different “families” having different powers there were other aspects that were a bit jarring. Such as undercover Warriors who appeared to be playing both sides, the ruling council and their extreme inefficiency, Dragon King archaic rules that hurt rather than helped, and mysterious powers held by those under the Asters. Separately, I found each to be intriguing but the combination was a bit overwhelming.
I am curious to see what is going to happen to the council, the freed Dragon Warriors and the undercover group as they struggle to regain their place in society so Piper has hooked me. As I said at the beginning I think this works better as a fantasy and even with that it does continue to have some flaws. I hope that the next novel is smoother and fills in some of the world-building details because I do continue to think the world is fascinating. The social structure, power balance or imbalance, and the threads of a revolt are intriguing and have left me with several questions and events to ponder.
I give Caged Warrior a C
Has: I think you summed it up about what worked and what didn’t about the structure of the world-building and the elements that made it up. I think there was just too much happening at the same time, which feels overwhelming. But I definitely agree that the Dragon Kings’ societal hierarchy is an interesting and intriguing premise and I definitely am interested in reading more about about them but I hope the next romance improves because I think Caged Warrior suffered in this one due to the world-building. I also would like to know the reason why the Dragon Kings are called Dragons because they don’t seem to shapeshift although each clan has a power specialty which I like.
Overall, while I think I liked the romance better in the first novella introducing this world, Caged Warrior does expand slightly the premise. I just wished I could warm to the romance but that left me a bit cold and even though I get why Leto was this harsh and at times brutal man, he is definitely no hero or even anti-hero. But on the other hand reading Audrey’s struggle for independence, freedom and to regain her son, was the real highlight of the book, even though it was hard to read at times. And I liked how she reconciled her own identity for being a Dragon King warrior and accepting that status – But even though CAGED WARRIOR had flaws, I did enjoy the wider main plot about the political struggle for the enslaved Dragon Kings to gain their freedom and I hope and think this will evolve to be a very promising series.
I liked it. Actually read this one twice because I wasn't sure what I thought (had some questions) after the first reading. I am looking forward to thI liked it. Actually read this one twice because I wasn't sure what I thought (had some questions) after the first reading. I am looking forward to the sequels. Might review this on the blog so full review to come....more
Publisher: Carina Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author via Novel Sidekick/NetGalley
Travis Yardley thought he had everything he needed, but one look at Andrea Patterson shows him he was wrong. Andie is a gorgeous, curvy, blonde, who moves to town to manage a nearby campground. Seizing the chance to get close to her, Travis volunteers as tour guide and “bodyguard.”
After a bad breakup, Andie is looking to start over and determined to put her heart on hiatus. She’s working on her self-esteem, and she is not ready for the likes of Travis. He comes on strong, with all the energy of a guy almost ten years her junior, which is exactly what he is.
Even as Travis’s troubled past catches up with him, he pulls out all the stops to convince Andie he deserves a chance. And with the spring thaw hitting the Mountain View Resort, Andie discovers her own temperature rising whenever Travis looks her way… This blurb came from the author’s website.
E: I read and enjoyed the previous Holloway stories that were part of two of Carina Press’ holiday anthologies so when I found out that the fourth story was going to come out separately I was really excited. Not just because the earlier stories were good but because I wanted to see what Dimon would do with a bit more room and without including the holiday season. I am very glad to say that once I started reading, I only stopped to turn on the lights when I could no longer see the words on my screen.
MinnChica: I love Dimon, so when I saw the final book in the Holloway series come up on NetGalley, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I couldn’t wait to find out what Travis’s story was, so getting the chance to see him work his magic. Plus, I always love going back to see the guys and gals from the previous books.
E: Travis is known as having a way with the ladies and being gifted with his words. He also cares a huge amount for the Thomas clan and feels that he owes them more than he can ever repay. As a result they ask and he does. They don’t ask and he still works as hard as he can. Given that reputation his initial reaction to Andie was absolutely hilarious. I had such a blast reading those scenes. I also enjoyed their later interactions and his stubborn determination to make sure Andie stayed safe out on the campground by herself.
Andie was also a lot of fun. She didn’t mind hard work and was determined to almost find who she was before moving to the city. Andie had some definite ideas about what she could see fitting into her new life and Travis was not part of that. She had a multitude of reasons that slowly fell one by one under Travis’ attention. I loved watching her as he continued trying to show that he did fit into her life.
MinnChica: I loved the way Travis became a part of the Thomas extended family, especially given how shitty his family of origin was. I loved the relationship he had with Mitch, Austin and Spencer. And the way he was with Andie, I loved that. He was so persistent in trying to get her to see the kind of woman she really was. I liked the way Dimon dealt with the weight issues, from both Andie and Travis’ point of views. It was so well done, and I was glad with the way she tackled it.
Andie was awesome too. I loved that she make Travis work hard, especially in the beginning. I felt so bad given her history, but was so glad to see that she had such a strong relationship with the other Thomas women. The only thing I wanted from Andie was a quicker acceptance of Travis’ age. Other than that, I loved everything about her.
E: While I loved Travis for his thoughts about Andie and how his brain sometimes couldn’t edit what he was saying until after it had come out he really got to me with his back story and his difficulty believing that the Holloway family felt that he was one of them. It was great seeing that both Andie and Travis had their own issues and trigger points instead of one of them being perfect. Their combined vulnerability really sucked me into the story.
Like MinnChica, the relationship that Travis had with the Thomas men and Andie had with the previous heroines was a treat to see. Too often the hero/heroine just has a wing person or a foil instead of having fleshed out relationships besides the central romance. I enjoy getting the feeling that the characters and the setting are well-rounded which Dimon always delivers.
I really enjoyed reading this and the emphasis Dimon placed on characters who did not fit into the stereotypical mold. The romance, the personalities, the teasing and well meaning friends it all fit together for a wonderful story.
I give Just What He Wanted an A.
MinnChica: All in all, I really liked the 4th installment in the Holloway series. I loved Travis, I thought he was incredible for living through his childhood and becoming such a wonderful man. He was just so sweet and caring and the kind of hero that has me swooning with his sexy and sweet ways. Andie was great as well, I loved everything about her. The romance was great as well, building up slowly overtime and exploding with passion. I hope that Dimon writes more small-town romances, either in Holloway or another town. I think she does it so well! I give Just What He Wanted a B+...more
**SPOILER FREE** Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher and purchased
Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.
From “the alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) comes the most highly anticipated novel of her career—one that blurs the line between madness and genius, between subjugation and liberation, between the living and the dead.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
E: If Nalini Singh writes it I will read it. I have been waiting for this book for years it seems but at least since the hints first started coming out I have anticipated this just as much as I did Kiss of Snow. I am very happy to say that this was well worth the wait and the serious book hangover I am experiencing today! Singh took her trademark skill at connecting the dots and pulled threads stretching from the very first book through this one to provide both a satisfying release to a certain amount of the tension while continuing to raise the stakes for this entire overall story arc. I am in awe at how much information she provided throughout the series to date without giving anything away but looking back the hints are there.
MinnChica: Ever since I first picked up the Psy-Changeling Series I have been addicted to this cast of characters, this world, and this ongoing story arc. This book is probably one of my most anticipated books ever, and I was so excited to see all the secrets revealed that we’ve been waiting twelve books for! Like E, I am totally in awe of how amazing Singh did of tying up loose ends, making sure everything made sense, and putting together not only an amazing story, but also a wonderful conclusion to the current plot arc.
E: When Tangle of Need ended things were at a very tense point. For all practical purposes the Council was nonexistent, dead members had not been replaced. DarkRiver and SnowDancer helped save the psy population of San Francisco and the surrounding areas from a sudden brutal death by defeating a Pure Psy plot. This open cooperation between Psy, Changeling and human spotlighted the shocking changes that have occurred in the world since Sasha’s defection and made other Psy question the actions and motives of Pure Psy’s insistence on Silence. We also learned that Kaleb’s search had ended successfully. On top of all of that Singh was able to both answer lingering questions and spotlight others. A lot was at stake between Pure Psy, the Ghost, Kaleb, the Human Alliance, and the Changeling packs so it was wonderful to see the tension and not always mutually trusting groups of people working towards a different future.
MinnChica: I was so anxious to see where things would go now that Pure Psy seemed to be on a rampage. I was so so excited to see how that whole aspect of the story wrapped up, and how the Ghost and our hero and heroine played into it. I never seem to know where Singh is going in her stories, and I was a little surprised – pleasantly so – to see how the hero and heroine of this story were so profound in bringing about change to the Psy race as a whole. I loved the aspect of Silence, and how it was seen as the saving grace of the Psy race, and yet over time it was seen as something that was hindering the people. I loved the ending and how Singh was able to resolve that aspect of the plot arc. So imaginative and well thought out!
E: Yes! Singh has made every single hero and heroine play a key role in the changes from the current to the future. I also like how all of their various skills were needed at different times and sometimes needed together to protect others. One of the other things I love about Singh’s writing is while the most outwardly drastic changes involve the Psy, she changes the foundations that have separated and confined all three branches of humanity because none of them are truly isolated from the others.
MinnChica: I really liked the romance in this story as well. I thought our hero was so incredible. While I liked Judd and Walker, those two Psy heroes couldn’t hold a candle to this one. He was romantic in his own way, he was thoughtful, caring, passionate. and all around fabulous, all while spoiling his heroine rotten with meeting and fulfilling her every need. As a couple, I adored these two together, and think they might give Riley & Mercy and Nate & Tammy a run for their money in regards to favorite couples in the series.
E: The romance, passion, intensity, and depth of feeling between this particular couple was just amazing. I would have to change my answer to one of the pre-release party questions we asked Monday because WOW. The growth between them. The building connection between them that had its fair share of ups and downs and then some. I have to say that when the men in Singh’s books fall they are just absolutely wonderful to watch because while they compromise they never lose themselves. To me that is just amazing because they are all so strong, respect the strength their heroines’ have and the heroines respect the strength of the heroes. I absolutely love seeing that.
I think this has become my favorite story in the Psy-Changeling series so far. The fact that it was so difficult to write this without spoilers because I just want everyone to enjoy the goodness says a lot. The hero and heroine were great seperately and together. I also enjoyed seeing the inclusion of individuals who have been relatively silent in the last few books. So many things became clear but so many other things are now in question. I can sit and re-read this entire series and each time I spot new connections. Singh has certainly provided a story that was well worth waiting for. I give Heart of Obsidian an A+
MinnChica: All in all I think this is probably one of the best books in the series. The hero and heroine are so fabulous as both individuals, and as a couple. The overall plot of both this book and the series arc was so incredible, in both execution and thought. I loved everything about this book, and can’t wait to see what Singh does next within this world. This series has become one of my favorite of all the paranormal romances series out there. Singh is such an incredible author with the forethought to create some of the most magical characters and settings I’ve ever read. Anyone who has yet to read this series is missing out! I give Heart of Obsidian an A+...more
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.
Publisher: Signet Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
On the run and living for revenge…
Desperate, fearless, and hunted.
For ex-Navy SEAL Dare O’Rourke, Section 8 was legendary. The son of one its missing members, he grew up in the shadow of its secrets. All he knew was that it was a cabal of operatives discharged from branches of the military and reassigned to extremely dangerous, off-the-books international missions. And their handler, who answered only to the president, was as shrouded in mystery as the missions themselves.
Nothing can stop them. Nothing can break them. Now, the handler of Section 8 has given extreme orders: kill any remaining members, along with their families. It’s then that Dare makes a startling discovery: the existence of a long-lost half sister named Avery he was never meant to meet. Determined to fight for their lives and find their missing father, Dare and Avery bring together the last members of Section 8 for one last mission: to avenge their families, and to survive. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read some of Tyler’s work before and found them enjoyable. When I read the blurb for Surrender it looked like it would push all of my buttons in a good way so I requested it for review. I forgot to check to see if any of the other reviewers on our site had grabbed it also until after their review had been posted. You can take a look at MinnChica’s review for a differing opinion. I knew I was anticipating an enjoyable read and Tyler surpassed my anticipation. I found I was trying to read while cooking dinner or should I say I tried to cook dinner while reading because I couldn’t put it down!
Tyler took a very interesting technique of alternating chapters in the beginning as she set the stage by introducing me to her primary characters and letting me see a bit of who they were before they had to interact with the other main characters. I really enjoyed it because Tyler gave enough individual time so I was intrigued while I tried to determine how they were connected and why. I found all of them equally fascinating because they were flawed, could be considered crazy, really didn’t care too much for following society’s rules, and unpredictable enough to keep me guessing about their future actions. In fact the only thing I really predicted was a fight between two of the guys, well that and romance **grin**.
I really enjoyed the mixing and matching of personalities. I found that the two women, Avery and Grace, did not want to depend on anyone to keep them safe. Each had learned some harsh lessons earlier in their lives and knew that they were currently targeted for death. As a result each was determined to be independent and to take control of everything they could. This led to some really interesting discussions and situations as well as increasing the tension among the entire group. The four men all tended to be protective and each had alpha tendencies although a couple of them hid those tendencies better than the others. Yet with their diverse skills and personalities they were able to work together.
While Surrender introduces six people that I think are going to continue to play a prominent role throughout this series the central relationship is between Grace and Dare. It was fascinating watching them go from mutual mistrust, suspicion, reluctant cooperation and then into a relationship. Tyler did a great job of showing their inner conflict and how easily the slightest thing could derail their progress. Speaking of the growing bond between all six people, Tyler threw in two major twists that I honestly did not see coming but that made all sorts of things pull together. I loved their inclusion and had to go back and re-read a portion because I was afraid I had missed a clue.
I thought that Surrender was nicely balanced between the interpersonal and the action. There was a satisfying amount of explosions, shooting, death, mayhem, and destruction. I did think that regardless of the connections and pull the handler of Section 8 had, some of the mayhem would have attracted attention from the authorities. But I was willing to buy the excuse while reading because I was enjoying the flow. I am looking forward to the next installment of Section 8 so I can continue to find out what secrets the other three guys are hiding and if they find someone who compliments their crazy. As I said in the beginning, I enjoyed reading Surrender. This was the perfect book to get me out of a mini-reading slump.
Ah Locke, so big, so patient, so strong, so strangly innocent in a way, so... I am running out of words. Loved reading this story. Full review to comeAh Locke, so big, so patient, so strong, so strangly innocent in a way, so... I am running out of words. Loved reading this story. Full review to come!
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author, blog tour from Novel Sidekick
Sometimes falling in love is the easy part… A Rancho del Cielo Romance.
Locke Jackman is single, childless…and he has a bad case of empty nest syndrome. For years, as he fought tooth and nail to keep his brothers and sisters together after his parents died, his entire life was focused on his responsibilities.
Now his siblings have all moved on with their lives, and there’s no one around to distract him from his overpowering attraction to his sister’s best friend. Their mutual desire is stunning…but then again, so are the secrets keeping them apart.
Susie Packard’s nightmarish marriage taught her what happens when she gives in to her weakness for powerful men. Too bad the big, stoic frowner across the street—the one who sets her bells jangling just by breathing—has her in his sights.
Try as she might to keep her emotional distance, Locke is determinedly knocking down all her walls. But as much as she wants to be the woman he needs, she knows better than most— passion may have its rewards, but every secret has its price.
Warning: This book contains a hot, modern-day Viking seducing his way to the heart of his woman, a stubborn lingerie designer with a world of secrets and a very deep bathtub… Enjoy! This blurb came from the author’s website.
My introduction to Locke came in The Virgin’s Revenge which I reviewed and enjoyed. I fell for him during that book because I have a huge soft spot for the big brother who sacrifices his dreams to care for his family. He chose to grow up much faster and to deal with a large amount of responsibility at a relatively young age. Because of that choice, I couldn’t wait for his turn. When I found out that Tenorio was working on his story I did a little happy dance and periodically encouraged her along in the writing process. I am sure you can imagine how happy I was when we received the review and tour request. I am glad to say that Locke was well worth the wait.
Poor guy, he had a long distance crush on Susie ever since she arrived in town but because she was friends with his younger sister, Amanda, **melt** he resisted. But when his younger siblings all left the house Locke was left without any distractions so he gave in and started trying to get to know Susie a bit better. However, since he put his life on hold for so long his dating and relationship skills needed a lot of work. His missteps were the source of much amusement on my part and frustration to his siblings and Susie. Locke had to learn that he could not deal with Susie the same way he dealt with his siblings if he ever wanted to have a relationship with her. As the story progressed I increasingly liked him because he really did mean well, he was just like a blundering bear. Watching him grow and learn was a treat.
Susie was also an intriguing character. She escaped from a horrific life and was determined to never lose herself again. In her mind, this meant avoiding large bossy powerful men but she never expected Locke’s quiet determination. I thought it was hilarious when she would stand up to him and to see both his shock and her internal glee. As Amanda’s best friend, Susie was already familiar with the Jackson family but watching the dynamics of their interaction change as her relationship with Locke changed was a great example of how Tenorio paid attention to the extended connections throughout the book. She also made some crucial choices when she decided she was going to fight for what she wanted. Like Locke, Susie made her fair share of mistakes in her dealings with him, but she also learned from her errors.
Tenorio provided a very entertaining and touching story with Locke and Susie. Both had to deal with their past and how it altered their emotional maturity. They had to learn to trust each other and that a disagreement or argument did not mean the end of the world. The Jackson siblings also did their best to assist the progress of the growing relationship with mixed results, again a source of amusement for me. The last thing I really enjoyed is how Tenorio increased the suspense and tension towards the end just when I thought events were calming down and provided a very satisfying ending. She took two of my favorite tropes, the responsible big brother and sister’s best friend, and created a great combination.
I give Trust in Me an A-
**BP Note: Do not forget to look at our earlier post today for some great insight into both Susie and Locke**...more
From the authors who brought you Wild & Steamy come three all-new tales of lovers who create their own heat, even when they’re surrounded by ice…
Speed Mating by Jessica Sims – Estrella may be going into heat, but she’s determined to remain in control. Just because she’s ovulating doesn’t mean she has to settle for just any man (or his beast). Her sexy alpha’s determined to find her a tiger to take care of her heat and father her child…but no one seems to look quite as good as the man in charge. Will giving in to her need for her alpha ruin her tenuous relationship with her clan or be a match made in heaven?
Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane – The witches of the world ridiculed and rejected nerdy Veronica for trying to use newfangled computers to enhance old world spellcasting. Well, it’s 1984 now, and she’s perfected her spellcasting computer program. Hey, who needs friends when you can conjure virtually anything…or anybody? So when Veronica makes powerful new enemies, she conjures Max, a pitbull of a cop, to deal with the pesky hitmen who keep coming around. Maybe Veronica can finally get some peace and quiet so she can work on her computer. But tough-guy Max is in no mood to play lapdog to a gorgeous witch.
Wrecked by Meljean Brook – Elizabeth has spent the past five years running from her father; her father’s huntsman, Caius, has spent the past five years pursuing her. But when he finally catches up to her on an airship flying above Europe’s zombie-infested cities, Elizabeth discovers that Caius isn’t the only danger she has to fear—and now that he’s found her, Caius doesn’t intend to let her go…
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I absolutely love and adore all things Jessica Sims/Jill Myles/Jessica Clare. I think I could read the phonebook, if she wrote it. Meljean Brook has created one of the most imaginative and incredible worlds that I’ve ever come across. Mix it in with her sexy writing and I can’t turn down anything of hers either. While I’ve only read a novella or two of Carolyn Crane, I’ve liked what I’ve read so far, and will definitely need to add her books to my ever-growing TBR stack.
Speed Mating was probably my favorite in this book. It was light hearted, sexy and an all around fun read. It was also the shortest, which made me just a teeny bit sad. I love that Sims has a way of finding ridiculous situations for her heroes and heroines, and then a humorous and sexy way of getting them out of it. Poor Estrella was looking for both a father for her child and a man who didn’t repulse her. More than anything she wanted her alpha, and I loved that she was so scared of ruining that relationship by approaching him about mating. I loved the way they finally got together, and how much they were secretly crushing on each other. I can’t say enough good things about Sims writing and just how much I love her stories.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a really unique and different read. I loved the idea of using computers to enhance magic, and how Veronica was able to create a program to help her conjure up anything she wanted. It was a really cool and fun twist on magic that I haven’t seen before. For me though, there was something lacking in the romance between these two. I’m not sure what it was, but I just didn’t find that I was totally invested in the relationship between Max and Veronica. I wanted to be, but there was just a little spark missing, and it caused my interest to wane a little throughout the story.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked was another fabulous novella to add to the Iron Seas series. As I said before, Brook has created probably the most imaginative world I’ve ever read, and I absolutely adore everything she writes within this world. I loved getting the chance to see some of the zombies up close and personal, and getting the chance to see first hand what their deal is all about. I loved the idea of having the cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Caius be the foundation of their romance. I was rooting for them all the way and glad to see them finally find their way to one another. PS: Brook does an amazing job creating some really creepy villains as well!
I give Wrecked an A-
All in all this was another fabulous anthology from these three powerhouse authors. I love getting the chance to catch up with both the Midnight Liaisons and Iron Seas series, and I’m anxiously awaiting both of these authors to release their next books. I can only hope these three continue to write together and give us more in the future!
E: It was a great surprise to see a review request of Fire & Frost appear and since it contains two authors whose writing I absolutely adore I couldn’t wait to read it. I have found that Brook and Sims/Myles/Clare have a way of drawing me into their worlds. Crane is a new-to-me author who provided a very interesting addition to this anthology.
Speed Mating was a lot of fun to read. I found myself laughing often at the sheer incompatibility of prospects, Estrella’s combination of determination and shyness, and the uber patience of her alpha. I adored how Sims included some of the things that are used in society today to meet potential dates and played on how challenging it can be to meet someone who is interested in more than just a quick hook-up. One of the other things I enjoy about Sims’ writing is that she is always includes at least one key friendship so we get to see additional facets of her main characters. I really can’t wait to see what Sims provides for the next installment in this particular world.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a very interesting take on computers, math, and magic. It brought me back to the days when I first started studying computer science and I tried to explain email and the internet to my family. Eventually I gave up and said it was magic. They were quite willing to accept that explanation so I had an immediate connection to the magic aspect that Crane used. Even with my fascination I found this novella missing a few things. I did not understand why the Council and hired assassins were trying to kill Veronica so I spend most of my time reading trying to understand that aspect. The other thing I found missing was, like MinnChica, the connection between Max and Veronica. I think I never quite grasped the romance because this was a snapshot after all of their internal conflict had been resolved so I really didn’t see the emotional attachment.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked is another great installment in Brook’s Iron Seas world. Each story adds more to the world building and explores new aspects while retaining the familiarity of the original set-up. She explores some very fascinating issues here that aren’t completely revealed until the latter parts of the story which I thought was great. This ended up being a great game of chase with each side having information that could drastically sway the actions of the other side. I loved how both Elizabeth and Caius went to extremes to right what they saw as a serious wrong. Without giving away too much, I hope, I absolutely loved the themes of individuality and redemption that Brook wove throughout the story.
I give Wrecked an A.
Overall this was a really fun anthology to read. I hope the three ladies continue to join together for these collections. They are all skilled in creating fascinating worlds and unusual characters who inhabit them. Fire & Frost contains something for everyone from shapeshifters, to computers augmenting magic, to steampunk the variety was refreshing! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next....more
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
The daughter of a Las Vegas hustler, Raven Sabatier grew up trusting nothing and no one—she doesn’t even trust herself to stay in one place for longer than a minute. When her quest to find out the secrets of her past leads her to the mountains of North Carolina, she’s set on a collision course with the one man she thought she’d never see again.
In Appalachia consulting on an archeological dig, Anthropologist Dr. Drew Deveraux comes face to face with the indomitable beauty who broke into his apartment a year ago, tilting his carefully cultivated world on its axis.
Engaged in a fight with their demons, both imagined and real, the last thing either of them expected to find was love. Together, they must unravel the mystery of Raven’s past and her connection with an ancient race of witches, in order to save their future—and all of the souls hanging in the balance.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
I was on twitter chortling with joy one afternoon because my sister gave me carte blanche to buy books for her kindle using her account. When I mentioned my reason for happiness and that I had to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, Lillie_80 who among her many other book related things, reviews for Romance Reader at Heart Novel Thoughts & Book Talk started mentioning titles she thought I should include. One of them was Fire on the Island Book 1 of the Vigilati series. I took a look at it and after reading the blurb I added it to my wishlist. As a result when we received a request to consider Blood in the Valley I eagerly accepted.
I did not have a chance to read Fire on the Island first but Hogan did a good job of providing back-story throughout Blood in the Valley that I was able to pick up the gist of the paranormal thread rather easily. The world that Hogan has created is fascinating. I liked the inclusion of magic, shape-shifters, ancient languages, and studious professors who were not afraid to get dirty. Hogan’s female characters also added a lot of depth and strength to the story and therefore increased my enjoyment.
Raven was a lot of fun to read. She trusted no one and was used to running a con to achieve her ends. Even her day job involved using skills she learned to break the law not uphold it. Raven’s habits served her well with most people she encountered her habits served her well but when she became involved with the Vigilati she had to learn to trust someone or risk losing everything she ever cared about. I loved her attitude, how she kept starting to run but never quit on a job. I also enjoyed how she kept trying to shake Drew’s composure but only succeeded when she wasn’t trying. I also enjoyed her stubbornness and loyalty towards those she felt deserved it.
Drew was also a lot of fun. He had some unexpected depths that reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones. His ability to go from eminent professor/scholar to down and dirty or sulking because someone figured out a puzzle before he did was very amusing. I loved his dedication to his friends and how determined he was to protect not just them but everyone he was around. One of the other things I liked about his character is that he didn’t play the expert at fighting/brawling and instead provided some of the brains of the group. I thought that was a pleasant change from the majority of what I read.
While I enjoyed reading Blood in the Valley I do have some lingering questions that might have been answered in Fire in the Valley or might not be answered until the next installment. I am very curious about the shape-shifters, this third family of ancient witches, and what the final battle/showdown will be like. Based on what I saw in Blood in the Valley it is going to require the assistance of the previous heroes and heroines.
I warned Lillie today that I was blaming her for my new series addiction. I will be going back to get and enjoy Fire on the Island while I wait for the next installment. Hogan has writing a very satisfying second book in the Vigilati series and created a world that captivated me. I found myself resenting every interruption while I was reading because I wanted to see what was going to happen next, with the romantic developments, the archeological dig, and the paranormal aspects. Hogan struck a wonderful balance between the different elements that satisfied both my romance reader and my paranormal/fantasy reader. Thank you Lillie for your twitter recommendation.