OMG I am shattered! Absolutely shattered. There is no way I can write a review that does justice to what I just read. My best attempt will come later....moreOMG I am shattered! Absolutely shattered. There is no way I can write a review that does justice to what I just read. My best attempt will come later. I, just WOW!
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: 1 Oct How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus. Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view. As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read a few things by Cullinan before and each time I tell myself I need to read more. So when I found out about Love Lessons, I decided this was my opportunity. Those of you who caught my tweets or saw my first attempt at writing a coherent thought, know that I absolutely loved this book, and yet I almost didn’t finish it. When I was first introduced to Walter, I couldn’t stand him. I thought he was a sad self-centered ass and I felt sorry for any of his “Talents.” Then I met Kelly and I really thought this could turn out to be the roommate match that you use to scare incoming freshmen that are forced to live on campus. I was also adrift when it came to their college life. I shared two common experiences – dorm living and dealing with food allergies in a non-supportive atmosphere. However, as I kept reading Walter and Kelly sucked me into their lives.
Kelly was a romantic. He grew up in a loving, supportive, and protective family seemingly too protective at times, but with good reason because Kelly suffered from severe food and environmental allergies. Usually, discovering a serious allergy occurs after a serious reaction. The process of determining the cause or causes can be long and, depending on how bad the reaction is, scary. Once you know what the trigger is, learning avoidance can be even worse. That is when you discover just how many things are hidden in food and how many people do not understand the consequences of contamination. Given that situational background, it was a lot easier to understand his air of innocence. He also grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies and other entertainment that all pointed towards romance. As a result, that is what he wanted and felt he deserved to the extent that he refused to participate in carefree intimacy. Part of what he expected to find in college was acceptance for his orientation, allergies, and a boyfriend. College life didn’t turn out the way he expected but he ended up with a great deal more than he hoped.
Walter on the other hand was a bitter cynical appearing man whose only interests were “Talents,” his best friend’s wedding, and the only professor he felt comfortable talking to. “Talent” was the term he used to describe young men who were out, attractive, and perfectly willing to indulge in a fun encounter or two. The fact that he was forced to live on campus, in a horrible dorm, with a roommate who would have been on the top of his list of “Talents” but instead was an idealized innocent who refused to play around didn’t make him happy. Yet, on the inside Walter proved to be a decent person who didn’t want to hurt Kelly. In fact, he went out of his way to almost protect that innocence. Watching the dichotomy of Walter’s reputation/outside behavior and what he really did when he was around Kelly caused me to decide Walter wasn’t one of those people I detest who only care for themselves.
As Walter and Kelly fell into a mostly comfortable lifestyle and became friends, I loved watching some of Walter’s confidence spread to Kelly and at the same time see Kelly bring joy and innocent pleasure back into Walter’s life. Their slow growing friendship that later developed into a relationship was a treat. Each had to separately come to the realization that the other meant much more than a roommate. Walter slowly seduced Kelly, but whenever Kelly made a move, he had been drinking, so Walker kept refusing to take what Kelly was offering. For all of his teasing ways, Walter remained protective and caring about Kelly, while denying that he looked at him as anything except a roommate.
Rose sipped at her tea, eyes twinkling. “You and Walter are such a couple, and it’s adorable. I know. You’re not dating. Except that you are. It’s almost like you skipped dating and went straight to married.”
“Walter doesn’t date.” Kelly had said this to her before, but it felt like a lifeline right now. Remember that, before you hurt yourself.
Rose had a wicked look about her. “Walter takes better care of you than anyone I’ve ever dated, slept with or simply called a friend.”
But it wasn’t all one-sided. Kelly gave Walter the feeling that he mattered as more than just a sexual partner.
I have picked out two moments that I thought provided great examples of their relationship. One was when Kelly called Walter to get a ride back to school after Thanksgiving and as reluctant as Walter was to let Kelly see the dysfunction that was his family; he agreed. Then promptly set off on a massive cleaning and sanitizing spree that even involved his mother in cooking/experimenting with recipes Kelly could eat. That was a perfect example of how much he cared for Kelly despite his refusal to admit it. The second one happened over Christmas vacation. Walter and Kelly agreed they would each spend half of the vacation with their respective families and for the second half, Walter would visit Kelly and his family. Having learned that Kelly’s mom was losing her job so the family was tightening their purse strings, Walter did a little Christmas shopping. When Kelly realized what Walter did, he warned his family but their honest reaction made me reach for more tissues.
All but Dick [Kelly’s father], who stood at the end of the table with a quiet, reverent look on his face.
Walter watched him, Kelly noticed, and as soon as he did he kept the pair of them in his sights, holding his breath.
Eventually Dick turned to Walter, as if he’d known he’d been watched all along.
Countenance soft but serious, Dick held out his hand to Walter, gave him a small jerk of a Minnesota nod and said, “Well done, son.”
He shook Walter’s hand when he put it there, then pulled him in close for a steady, man-pat hug. Walter stayed stiff for a second then when Dick let the embrace linger, giving Walter space, Walter let himself sag for a moment and closed his eyes in relief.
At that point Kelly had to look away, or he’d start crying.
“I think we fixed his Christmas,” Lisa [Kelly’s sister] whispered in his ear.
In Love Lessons, Cullinan reached inside and pulled out ALL the feelings: fear, guilt, sadness, anticipation, happiness, love, lust, bitterness, loneliness, togetherness, and coming of age (yes that is a feeling, probably combines all of the ones I mentioned previously). As I was sucked into Walter and Kelly’s journey I had to reach for tissues on a few different occasions when things were really touching me. Cullinan left me utterly shattered from the emotional roller coaster which ended on a great book high. I was so emotionally spent and touched that I had to start reading a completely different genre for fear of losing that book high or finding a comfort read suddenly lacking in comparison. Yes, this is a slow growing rather sweet romance but it packs an extreme punch. While sweet and less steamy than some of Cullinan’s other writing, the sexy-times are both touching and detailed.(less)
Publisher: Riptide Books Publish Date: 26 Aug How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own? This blurb came from the author’s website.
**potential trigger warning if you are bothered by discussion/portrayal of mental illness and or attempted suicide you might want to stop reading this review now**
There has been a lot of discussion about Glitterland at least in my twitter feed so I had some pretty high expectations before I sat down and read it. I am glad to say that I think Glitterland lived up to the positive comments I noticed. I found myself moved by Ash’s journey as he ended up realizing that some things are worth striving for. This is written in the first person and if you are at all like me when it comes to having a few control tendencies about the state of your mind, you might find yourself disturbed and slightly uncomfortable with the writing style. Hall used not just the character interaction but the very thought patterns of Ash’s brain to deepen the flavor of his life. Ash is clinically depressed and experiences some manic highs and some extreme lows. The chapters are divided by time, but not time in the discrete orderly sense as in days, minutes, hours but of changes in Ash’s mental state. The times when Ash is in grey doldrums or a depression use very little page space but give the feeling of lasting for a very long time. The times when he is in a maniac high or is functioning well are given more physical space but also seem to move much faster. It was this complete distinction from how I account for the passage of time that both brought me into Ash’s viewpoint and caused me discomfort because it was so foreign. I ended up being very glad for the discomfort because it kept me from judging Ash on my thoughts of “normal” and let him stand on his own in his reality. Even now, days after I finished reading it, I find myself pausing in a slow moment and thinking about it which means not only did I enjoy the book while I was reading but it has made a lasting impression on me.
Even after accounting for the differences in Ash’s point of view, the other people in his life were not exactly the ones I expected to see. Each was offset a bit but together they provided the baseline of Ash’s normal. As such,they were also what he compared and judged himself by. I ended up with mixed thoughts about them. I initially liked Ash’s best friend Niall and then grew to almost detest him as I gained a deeper understanding of the role he played. Another, Amy, who was also Ash’s agent, I enjoyed through most of the book and thought that she was potentially the most centered of the group. I will admit I had my doubts about her initially. Her fiancee’ Max was also another character that I wasn’t too sure about but by the end of the book I enjoyed him as well. As I look back at my thoughts and feelings about Ash’s circle of friends, I find it fascinating how much his own thoughts and feelings about them appear to have colored my opinion. This was another example of how deeply I was sucked into his journey.
Given what qualified as Ash’s normal, the introduction of Darian provided quite a shock. I found Darian’s use of color and his flamboyant open nature combined with his joy in life like a hot fire on a cold dreary day. As the story progressed, he ended up being both a safe haven for Ash and a threat, sometimes all at the same time. He was a safe haven because he didn’t know Ash from before everything went spiraling down. Therefore he viewed Ash as an attractive man with some quirks and foibles instead of someone who had the world and lost it. And yes Darian was also a threat because he upset the status quo. Because he viewed Ash as normal he expected Ash to do normal things such as talk, cuddle, try something new, say what he wanted instead of passively accepting what came his way. From their very first encounter Ash didn’t want Darian to stop treating him as if he was normal so Ash did things.
“So, you need to get everyfing on this list. And make a salad to go wif it.” “Wait – what? You didn’t say anything about a salad!” “Later babes.”
I dashed to the internet to see if any of the local supermarkets had a slot open for same-day delivery. They didn’t.
Shit. Fuck. Wank. I was going to have to leave the house. Interact with people.
Not that thawing Ash was an easy pain-free process, just like re-warming a chilled body part can be painful at times so was the path of their relationship. I had the feeling that Ash was like a spring. He would stretch to a certain extent and then snap back, violently rejecting change and his feelings. Yet he couldn’t remain in the tight coil because he wanted that feeling Darian gave him so he would stretch back out again. Each time a little further and for a little longer but he also continued to recoil. During parts of the story when I could tell that Ash was really struggling I found myself almost holding my breath and urging him on because I didn’t know how much Darian was willing to tolerate. There was one particular scene that was extremely painful and I didn’t know how Ash or Darian would manage to recover from it and then I found out that the aftermath was even worse than I guessed. I had to reach for some tissues at that point but things eventually got better. I do need to thank Hall for providing a wonderful drawn out grovel that gave me hope again for the long-term success of the relationship.
Glitterland is brilliant, moving, disturbing and funny all at the same time. I gained a new appreciation for both how I view the world and how those with different viewpoints manage to navigate through it. I am also extremely curious about the portrayal of Essex and how that portrayal came about because it reminded me of tales of Greenwich Village or off-off-off Broadway, a place that I would love to people watch but wouldn’t quite fit in. Ash was a very complex character and I thought that Darian was a great counterpoint and much more patient then Ash almost deserved. Despite the Essex flamboyance and his chosen profession, Darian proved the more grounded of the two. He forced Ash to come out of his self-centered existence by simply expecting him to be more, yet Ash had to decide for himself if he was going to continue his painful stretch. Given the vivid characterization and the deft word choice in Glitterland I am certainly looking forward to the next story by Hall.
I give Glitterland an A+
BP Note: Don’t forget to check the previous post to see what Hall has to say and for a chance to enter a giveaway. (less)
How I got this book: review copy from publisher/purchased it
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.
Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I’m a newbie to Anne Bishop, so when I heard about her new series, I was excited to finally give her a try. And I have to say that I’m so glad that I did. I’m usually not a very big fan of urban fantasy books without a little bit of romance, however, I really enjoyed this UF book, despite the lack of a core romance in the story.
E: **Hang head** apparently I need to visit Bookpusher refresher training because I am a huge Anne Bishop fan. I was extremely excited to see that she was coming out with a new series and the fact that she was branching into UF made me even more curious about it. I absolutely LOVED reading Written in Red. I loved it so much that I read it twice back to back and have read it a third time since its release date. I mentioned on twitter that I had the same feeling of discovering a great read that I had when I first found Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy. I cannot wait to find out what Bishop will do next.
MinnChica: I thought this story was absolutely amazing. It had a little bit of everything to keep me happy. Engaging characters, a fabulous plot, and a unique and fresh world that pulled me in and kept me flipping pages faster than I could read the words on the pages. I was a little worried that the concept of cutting would cause a little ick factor for me, but I found that Bishop wrote those scenes so powerfully that I wasn’t bothered at all by something that would normally have me a little queasy.
E: Like MinnChica I found that Written in Blood had something of everything. The very otherness of The Others. And yet they were willing to befriend and protect Meg. The sheer ruthlessness of the individuals Meg escaped from and their inability to care about humanity which in some ways made them more alien than The Others. Meg’s self-control and will when it came to cutting and the toll it cost each time. The hints of growing attraction between Simon and Meg but nothing blatant. And the very vividness of the world which seems to be a Bishop trademark.
MinnChica: I absolutely adored Meg. I thought she was such a wonderful and refreshing UF heroine. She had an air of innocence that translated in everything she did, and it made her come across as so sincere. She was sweet and loving to everyone she met, didn’t judge the Others, and was quick to find a friend, regardless of who or what they were. I wish that more UF heroines were like Meg: sweet, charming, loving, willing to bleed for those she loves, and yet knows her own limitations. She was a breath of fresh air.
E: It was wonderful having an UF heroine who wasn’t the all powerful, practically indestructable, and very physically fit. Meg was so the opposite yet her strengths came out as the book progressed. Her innocence and willingness to learn combined with a complete lack of pre-judgement towards anyone was so touching. Yet even with her innocence was an awareness of evil so Meg didn’t come across as saccharine sweet but had a fierce protective streak towards those she cared about.
MinnChica: I hope that we get to see a romance between Simon and Meg develop. I was absolutely blown away by how deeply I was pulled into the stories of each and every character. Simon, Sam, Vlad, Tess, Henry, Monty, Jester, Winter, even the Ponies were all so beautifully written that I couldn’t put the book down. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book where I was immediately drawn into and in love with so many characters after only the first book in the series.
E: Yes the supporting cast was also wonderful. Their various personality quirks combined with their animal or elemental traits. How Other politics was rather cut and dried, one species wasn’t above any of the others so they provided checks and balances and a relatively peaceful co-existence. Watching Simon and Meg interact, how others interceded on Meg’s behalf when Simon’s frustration and confusion about Meg came out as anger. The police in the local town and their efforts to stay on The Others good side. I even found myself wondering what the self-centered spy was going to think to justify her actions and thought that she had a very fitting end. I really enjoyed all of them.
MinnChica: All in all I thought that Bishop created one of the best urban fantasy worlds since Ilona Andrews came out with the Kate Daniels series. Everything comes together to create book magic – an engaging world, well written characters, and a storyline that sinks its hooks in you. I can not wait for the next book in the series to see where Bishop takes us next!
I give Written in Red an A
E: Like I said in the beginning I LOVED Written in Red. This is one of the most enjoyable first book in a series that I have read in a very long time. I am very glad that Bishop decided to branch out into UF bringing the same skills she used in her dark fantasy series. This book took the familiar aspects of UF and twisted them to provide something fresh and unusual that had me addicted from the first page. In fact writing this review has made me want to go back and read it for the fourth time. I can’t wait for the next one.
Publisher: MHP Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Copy from the author
After people polluted the planet beyond recognition, the sky rocks came and reduced the world to rubble. Yet mankind refused to die, and the world was reborn. Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws rule.
1. Procreation is necessary, not optional 2. Women are a precious commodity 3. Harm the earth, lose your life 4. If it can eat you, it will
Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws dictate who lives and dies by the way they treat the land, carnivorous horses and blood trees are accepted mutations courtesy of the sky rocks, and the Impact Zone separates the earth-friendly territories of the West from a more sophisticated, steam-powered East. Women are rare commodities, living in extended families with more than one husband, and children are a necessity in a world where sterility is often the norm, not the exception. Life is full of challenge, romance and adventure. Something one courageous, wounded Amazon will find out first-hand.
Thais (Tay-iss) lost her mother, her queen, and most of her tribe at the hands of brutal foreigners, all while she enjoyed a respite from duty. But the young Amazon with vengeance in her heart refuses to lose anything else. She’ll bring back the queen’s stolen crown or die trying. Life in the Territories has its perils: the Nature Laws, carnivorous beasts, and treacherous men who survived the Time of Dying. One man in particular, a warrior in his own right, has an odd effect on her senses. She comes to desire him, to trust him, and she doesn’t like it. Men are good for war and breeding, neither of which Thais has time for, not when she’s so close to finding those responsible for the crown’s theft. In the course of her quest, Thais finds much more than atonement for her troubled past, but a pure and lasting love, if only she has the courage to accept it. This blurb came from Goodreads.
**Possible trigger warning – violence towards women**
I am a long time Western fan and I also enjoy reading apocalyptic or post apocalyptic romances so when I read the partial blurb included in the review request and it involved words like Amazon Western and new world I had to accept the request. I have read several of Harte’s stories before in a variety of genres so I was very curious to see how this combination would play out. Once again I am glad that following my curiosity led me down a very interesting path.
Harte has created a setting that reminds me of some elements of C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy world, an alternate history earth, and a touch of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar. I happen to really enjoy both Friedman and Lackey so those hints were certainly enjoyed. This story takes place in the New West with some mentions of South America, back East, and countries beyond the ocean. The west is very nature-centric with strict rules regarding what technology, occupations, and lifestyles are acceptable. At least within registered towns that are administered by the United Territorial Offices. The Territorials are supposed to enforce the Nature Laws listed in the blurb above along with good order and discipline. Hinto is a bounty hunter trying to earn enough gold to pay for a trip back east so his ailing father has the possibility of finding a cure. He rides a carnivorous horse and has a few special qualities of his own that would make him a target of the Territorials if word ever got out. He is also a rather blunt man who does not hide from his desires but at the same time would never force himself on a woman because he respects them and their wishes. He first encountered Thais when she had a run-in with the targets of his latest hunt leaving him one person short on the overall bounty. They end up meeting again back in town so Hinto starts hitting on Thais thinking that she is familiar with the laws of the land and therefore agreeing to spend time with him in the local brothel. Thais is looking for someone and not for a sexual encounter. She thinks that the brothel madam will have some information so she agrees to head to the brothel with Hinto. I about died laughing with Hinto’s bewilderment and disappointment when Thais heads back to the madam leaving Hinto to do as he will, without her. The next morning their adventure really began.
Hinto was a lot of fun to get to know. He tended to be the strong silent Alpha type who struggled to understand Thais and her frame of reference. He is physically attracted to her but demonstrates over and over again that she can trust him regardless of the situation. I thought he hunted her quite effectively while tying himself up in the same snare. One of the things I loved about Hinto is that he was confident enough to trust Thais to handle what she said she could instead of rushing to protect the “little woman.” He also remained loyal to his friends and family doing what he could to improve their circumstances without compromising his moral standards. Hinto wasn’t perfect but his character grew as the story continued which just added to my enjoyment.
Thais was also entertaining. Early in her adventure with Hinto I was slightly worried that combination of her perpetual innocence and naivety was going to get on my nerves. Thankfully as Harte unfolded Thais’ back-story I understood how she just did not have a “western” frame of reference when it came to innuendoes or sexual knowledge beyond the extremely basic. Watching her discover that not all men were evil, greedy, and untrustworthy along with the enjoyment that can come with a man and a woman was very refreshing. She had very definite views but was also willing to learn about the New West. Even before Hinto gained her trust, she was willing to work with him and not strike off on her own avoiding the TSTL syndrome. Thais also did some serious emotional growth and recovery from the events of her past so she could enjoy her future.
Watching Hinto and Thais interact gave me several laughs as well as some touching moments. They both slowly came to trust each other and to shift from reluctant co-workers to friends/lovers to more. It took time for that relationship to develop which I loved because I was able to get to know them both individually and as a partnership, which added to the depth of the story. The trust between them was absolutely critical as they dealt with the combination of villains that Harte provided. I really liked that the evilness was spread through more than one person instead of being concentrated in a single individual because that kept the story complex. Speaking of complexity, I also enjoyed how things were resolved, at least the immediate issues for this story because I did not feel cheated with too easy a solution.
Harte has created a very interesting world with some complex rules. A few things seemed contradictory for example mining is a violation of the Nature Laws punishable by death yet the currency of choice is gold. I am still curious about all of the changes caused by the sky rocks and their impact on humans and earth. I am also interested in why some technology just disintegrates in the New West and not others. Hopefully Harte will continue to provide details about this world as the series continues. Even with my quibbles about things that seemed to not quite fit I enjoyed reading Tip of the Spear and I look forward to reading the next one.
I give Tip of the Spear a B.
Links to purchase Kindle (Will be available on other platforms in a few months)(less)
Holy cow! I have been feeling rather dissatisfied with the erotica I have found lately because I wanted plot, world-building, characterization, and se...moreHoly cow! I have been feeling rather dissatisfied with the erotica I have found lately because I wanted plot, world-building, characterization, and sex as an integral part of the story not just because the genre calls for sex. Rocha certainly provided all of that and more.
Full review to come I just have to say that I don't think I need my morning coffee today but I do need a cigarette, and I don't even smoke.
Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author via Netgalley
A dangerous world of sex, lust and violence… All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted is a life beyond–beyond the walls of Eden, where only the righteous are allowed to remain, and beyond her stiflingly restrictive existence as a councilman’s daughter. But only ruins lie outside the City, remnants of a society destroyed by solar storms decades earlier. The sectors surrounding Eden house the corrupt, the criminal–men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. Jas clawed his way up from nothing to stand at the right hand of Sector Four’s ruthless leader, and he’ll defend the O’Kane gang with his life. But no fight ever prepared him for the exiled City girl who falls at his feet. Her innocence is undeniable, but so is their intense sexual attraction, and soon they’re crossing every boundary Noelle barely knew she had. But if she wants to belong to Jas, first she’ll have to open herself to the gang, and to a world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission. This blurb came from the author’s website here.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
E: Jasper was incredible. He was a very tough man who had no weaknesses. His fierce yet loyal nature coupled with his skill at enforcing his words with his actions sometimes violently placed him as the second in command to the O’Kane gang. While the gang had no mercy for those who tried to interrupt their business or threatened their area they also had a sense of decency and strict rule enforcement. When Jas spots Noelle staggering and weaving along the street obviously out of place and notices some scum following her he comes to her rescue and takes her back to the O’Kane headquarters. That started my heart melting. His very strength and control as he waited patiently to get what he wanted and needed from Noelle was absolutely incredible. He refused to take Noelle until she understood what getting involved with him really meant and could decide if that is what she wanted not out of fear but out of desire. While he did act on their mutual sexual attraction, and man did he know what he was doing, he made sure that she was ready for each step. Jas also didn’t shy away from showing Noelle some of the harsh realities of life in Sector Four as an O’Kane and pushed Noelle to stand up for herself. His dedication, patience, strength, intensity and sexuality made for a truly wonderful alpha type who wasn’t too overbearing or protective.
MinnChica: What to say about Jasper… He was Alpha to the core, and a little rough around the edges. But despite that, he was also caring and considerate in his own ways. When he first found Noelle, he wanted nothing more than to protect her. Keep her out of danger. Then the attraction bloomed and he was desperate to claim her as his own. But for a man with morals and values like Jasper had in spades, he also wanted to make sure that when he did make her his own, he did it with her full understanding and desire to be just as committed to him as he was to her. That in and of itself was so incredibly sexy. Add in all the dirty stuff he taught Noelle and wow… Jasper was one sexy hero!
Has: I also loved Jasper! I liked how gruff tenderness towards Noelle especially in the first scene when she’s cast out of Eden. While the other characters in the book, was much more blatant, I liked how subtle and calm but oh so very alpha. I also agree that his chemistry with Noelle was palpable, and striking and their encounters with each other was sexually charged. I also enjoyed his relationships with the other cast of characters such us Dallas, the leader of the O’Kane gang and Ace. There was a great sense of their gang being a family, albeit a nuanced one with lots of subtle power plays which sometimes plays out in a sexual way.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
E: Noelle went from a slightly rebellious mostly innocent girl to a confident woman in charge of her sexuality and willing to do what it took to live life to the fullest. I really loved how she was strong enough even in the very beginning to decide that she was not only going to survive but to live. Yes she was innocent but she was also willing to try new things and didn’t seem caught up in societies trappings of what types of relationships are “right.” At the same time things did sometimes seem to overwhelm her, which added to the three-dimensionality of her character. I was worried at first that Noelle wouldn’t hold her own against the large personalities of the other characters but she did. I ended up thinking she was the perfect foil to the O’Kane rough edges without getting lost. I also loved seeing how she was able to tie Jas in knots as she discovered what she liked.
MinnChica: I adored Noelle. She had this quiet and sweet disposition, all while hiding an inner vixen that could wrap just about any man around her little finger. When she left Eden she wasn’t nearly as disappointed as she expected, and she fit into life in Sector Four better than anyone thought possible. I liked that about her. She had a fighting spirit that proved she wanted more from life than she was getting before, and she was willing to take the risk and grab at the life she wanted with everything she had. Then, watching her explore not only her new surroundings, but also her new sexuality was smokin’ hot. Despite the innate shyness, she embraced the kinky and wild side of life that comes along with the O’Kane gang.
Has: I have to say the opening line to this book, with Noelle being kicked out of the city. became one of my favourite openings ever and it really summed up the whole tone of the book, and the sexual and independent awakening of Noelle. I loved that we saw through her eyes on how the O’Kane’s ran their their sector and the gang’s inner relationships. I also enjoyed how she started to explore her sexuality with the other members of the gang and most especially with Lex and Dallas. In a lot of ways, I felt her pairing with Jasper and with Dallas and Lex was much more integrally tied together and I loved how it developed throughout the book and definitely looking forward to see how it is in the sequel. But I thought it was fitting that it would focus on Noelle because she was a perfect character to introduce the reader to this dark, sexually charged and intense world where sexual politics and sexuality is so different to what we are accustomed to.
3. Favorite Scene
E: Oh man, there were so many scenes that I enjoyed. I think I will say her first time in Ace’s tattoo chair. That scene made me want to get a tattoo and I prefer to avoid needles if at all possible. It was intense, sweet, caring, ritualistic and said so much about the essence of both Noelle and Jas. It also talked about the conscious choice to give control to another person instead of having control just taken away without consent.
MinnChica: I always hate trying to pick my favorite scene. Do I go with my favorite smutty scene, or my favorite sentimental scene, or what? There are so many great ones to choose from that it’s hard to narrow down to just one. I think I might have to go with a scene toward the end – in which Noelle and Lex were taunting the men with the sensual strip-tease. It showed Noelle stepping out of her comfort zone and taking the lead in a sexual situation, it tormented all the O’Kane men and had them screaming for more. It was sexy and hot and mostly told from Jasper’s perspective, so it made the scene that much more intense.
Has: I have to say the tattoo scene as well when she was getting her cuffs as well. This was Noelle’s introduction and acceptance into the gang and it was the first time, she was really pushed to open up her boundaries sexually. But I think the best scene in the book, was towards the end when Jasper gives her second gift to her. I totally melted reading that scene, because Jasper understood and realised what Noelle wanted in their relationship and he was willing to give her that. And you got to love the image that presented especially with this hard-arsed biker alpha male doing something so sweet and considerate, you know its true love!
4. Dislike about book
E: I really didn’t have anything that I disliked or any complaints.
MinnChica: I find myself saying this with each and every Moira Rogers/Kit Rocha book I pick up, and that is: the only I disliked is that it ended. Please Bree and Donna, can’t you just write something that never ends?!
Has: For me, I wanted more on the world-building especially on the different sectors and how did Eden City fell to a morally authoritative government and what happened to the wider world. I also felt the ending was a bit too abrupt and wanted to see more of Jasper and Noelle’s relationship, because it felt like it just got going for me especially with their commitment and how that would affect the wider gang and Lex and Dallas. I really hope we get to see more of them in later books, because it feels that this is definitely not a conventional romance even with multiple partners.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: Given that I enjoy their work as Moira Rogers I felt pretty strongly that I was going to enjoy this new voice and I wasn’t wrong. . I tend to prefer my erotica to have a plot and characterization and that is exactly what Kit Rocha delivered. As I tweeted when I finished reading this after staying up late the night before and getting up early to finish reading that this made me want a cigarette and I don’t smoke. Beyond Shame also took care of my need for coffee that morning which was saying a lot. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next in this thoroughly engrossing world. If you enjoy erotica I highly recommend that you take a look at Beyond Shame. As I also said on twitter when recommending this to another person it is wonderfully durrrty – with plot! I give Beyond Shame an A+
MinnChica: All in all I knew this book would be amazing. For as much as I love Moira Rogers, I knew that their diversion into smutty dystopian would be incredible, and I was right. From what little we’ve seen of the world-building, it’s both simplistic and incredible all at once. The characters we’ve been introduced to so far have been engaging, exciting, and the typical characters of Rogers – ones that I can’t WAIT to read more about. The sexy times were hot and absolutely sexy without being off-putting, and for a lot of erotica these days, that’s an incredible feat. I give Beyond Shame an A
Has: I had described this book as Sons of Anarchy meets The Hunger Games meets hot smoking erotica. I adored the world-building and setting, it was unique and refreshing and really pushed the boundaries on sexuality and its politics, which was full of nuance and character and although it definitely pushed my own boundaries because I usually do prefer established and monogomous pairings. With Beyond Shame the sexuality and pairings being explored gelled well with its world-building, and I loved it especially since it also explored Female to Female relationships which isn’t a popular trope in erotic romance, but Noelle and Lex’s pairing was one of the highlight and strengths of the book. I also found this bloody refreshing especially since the popular tropes right now in erotic romance is the tortured billionaire into BDSM which I am getting burned out right now. Beyond Shame is a wonderfully, well thought out erotic dystopian with a fantastic cast of characters.
Publisher: HQN Publish Date: 24 Jul How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Two different classes, One common desire…
Bernadette Marie Burton may be the richest widow in England, but like her dreams of finding true passion, her reputation is deteriorating. Cruel gossip, loneliness and hoards of opportunistic suitors have her believing Society couldn’t be more vile….or dangerous. So when an attacker threatens her life, she finds safety in the most unseemly of places: the arms of a mysterious, Irish-American gang leader.
His fortune stolen, young Matthew Joseph Milton is done playing the respectable gentleman. In the slums of New York, only ruffians thrive. But from the moment he arrives in London and encounters the volumptious Lady Bernadette, he can’t help but wonder about the finer pleasures he’s missing. Or just how much he’s willing to risk — not only to bed her, but to prove his worth… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
***POSSIBLE TRIGGER – attempted gang rape (no actual rape occurs)***
I was browsing Netgalley, familiar words I am sure, and saw this blurb. It intrigued me so I read the little bit extra they have on the website and decided to give this a try. Enough time had passed since I requested this book and when I read it that I had forgotten what the blurb said. Going back and reading it again I was almost tempted to ask if this was this for the same book I read. Not that the blurb is exactly wrong; it just doesn’t do justice to everything that was packed into the story. Yes, Bernadette is wealthy, widowed, and has a poor reputation. And yes, Matthew’s fortune was stolen and he did end up living in the slums of New York, and he did first encounter Lady Bernadette in London and they did share a rather intense sexual engagement. But it doesn’t really mention Matthew’s position in New York and how he came by it, and why Lady Bernadette was in London to begin with. She also lives in New York, and what made him decide he was willing to risk anything at all. Based on the amount of information left out of the blurb I am going to summarize more about at least the beginning of the story then I usually do in a review.
Matthew was Irish-American and the heir to a really prosperous newspaper when their accountant, a former friend, was caught embezzling all of their funds. In a few short days Matthew and his father found themselves living in the slums of New York. Matthew’s fiancée decided she needed to marry someone with money — not the man she professed to love when he lost his fortune. Not long after they arrived in the slums Matthew comes to the rescue of a young lad and as a result takes a few punches, one of which caused permanent blindness in one eye. Embittered by the change in life circumstances and the conditions in which people were forced to live along with the refusal of the Mayor to do anything about it, Matthew formed a gang to bring some law and order to his area of the slums and from there really grew into manhood. Of course bringing law and order also means making enemies so Matthew and his second in command, Coleman, leave New York until the heat dies down and head to London.
Meanwhile Lady Bernadette, who had decided to live life a little after being widowed, left England for the US and finally settled in New York as just Bernadette and as a wealthy widow. She was approached by one of her acquaintances who revealed that he knew about her past and basically blackmailed her into teaching and polishing his daughter to include an introduction to Polite Society for her upcoming marriage. Lady Bernadette agrees to do so and finds herself back in London.
Matthew and Bernadette spot each other while riding one morning but no words are initially exchanged. Shortly after that Matthew stops one of Lady Bernadette’s former lovers from beating her with his riding crop. Lady Bernadette gives him her card with instructions to call on her so she can reward him for his timely actions. During Matthew’s visit they end up indulging in smexytimes and decide that even though Bernadette really doesn’t want to get married again and Matthew is looking for a HEA that they will have an affair. However, Matthew’s temper and his thuggish ways get the best of him resulting in his arrest and trial at Scotland Yard. After Bernadette unwillingly comes to his rescue she kicks Matthew out of her life.
They meet again in New York when Matthew faces an uprising from his gang who has targeted Bernadette. This part of the story portrays men at their most bestial. Thankfully Matthew and a few of his men came to the rescue and were able to save Bernadette. That event shocks Matthew into deciding that he needs to change his life so he can be worth Bernadette. They strike a deal that she will fund the start-up costs of his father’s not defunct newspaper and he will repay her with interest. Matthew also says that she has to agree not to have any physical contact with him until he has repaid the debt in order to retain his pride.
When I first met Matthew I could see him as the hero, then when he reappeared on the page and let his temper get the best of him while in London I didn’t see how Ms Marvelle was going to redeem Matthew let alone convince me that he and Lady Bernadette would have a HEA. Watching him grow once he made the decision to change where his life was headed was pretty impressive. I decided that Matthew was firmly back on my hero side with his first meeting with Lady Bernadette after he finished repaying his debt.
Bernadette was also hit and miss for me. I didn’t really like her very intense drive to “have fun” even though she really wasn’t that happy, but I could see why she didn’t want to confirm to society’s rules anymore. I also didn’t like how she resisted going to speak on Matthew’s behalf after he was arrested given that his actions were done in a way to protect her. Her thoughts while her contact with Matthew was limited to letters only after their bargain were great. That redeemed her in my eyes. I also liked how she had an epiphany that she more then lusted after Matthew and finally proposed to him.
One thing that threw me entirely out of the book and made me wonder if I was reading one of the more erotic PNRs was the smex scene about 93% of the way in. Overall I wasn’t impressed by how they were written bit I was too engrossed in the story to care. This one basically read to me that if Bernadette really loved Matthew she would have anal sex with him. This would allow him to take her virginity, remember she is widowed and her husband could perform. Talk about a WTF moment especially since his spit alone was enough lube, he went from back to front without cleaning or wiping at a minimum, and this was their first sexual encounter in over eight months of frustration.
I liked the worldbuilding, the different historical facts and tidbits that were included. I also liked some of the subplots I just think that the romance theme was overshadowed. I also had some concerns and questions about how certain situations were worked out or started. They seemed a bit too coincidental. That combined with being completely thrown out of the story by a sex scene that was highly anticipated by both the hero and heroine made this one that I will not go back and re-read.
Publisher: Tor Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
A world in peril. A bond deeper than love.
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world – a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
Reincarnated as a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy – creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone – oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love – Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man she loves.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
E: When I read the blurb to Ghost Planet I found it fascinating. The thought of a new world, symbiotic ghosts, and of course a struggle for planet control intrigued me. I went into this without any expectations and I am glad because Fisher took her story in directions I never imagined. The combination of the ghosts, how they were treated due to the Ghost Protocol and what happened if/when people broke the rules was something else. This reminded me of some of the older science fiction exploratory novels of my childhood with the seamless addition of some romance.
Has: I totally agree with you about this book going into unexpected ways and I adored the premise which was refreshing and oh so haunting. The opening chapters of when Elizabeth finds out her fate and coming to terms to it had a stark and sad tone and I felt that Sharon Lynn Fisher really captured the emotions of grief and loss in a bittersweet way. In a lot of ways, this reminded me of a combination of Ghost and Solaris but Fisher injected her own unique twist on this premise and I freaking loved it!
I also loved Elizabeth’s stubbornness and determination in not succumbing into her fate and fading away and despite the melancholy tone which I have to say the setting of a New Seattle really adds to the overall theme of the story – there were also touches of humour, passion and life which helped to balance the book. The start of the romance between Murphy who is the psychologist who created the Ghost Protocol and ends up breaking all the rules to fall in love with Elizabeth was a fantastic and I loved how themes of love, grief and hope was explored via their unusual bond.
E: I agree the way Fisher started up the story with the initial attraction and then all of a sudden the change… I really liked how this was a case unlike most of the others but the logic fit. I also think that Elizabeth’s background was what enabled her to resist what the Ghost Protocol was designed to do. It also gave her a unique perspective that came in handy as the twists and turns continued. One of the early signs of that was how Elizabeth while promising to stop pestering Murphy started talking to other ghosts and reminded them that they were still alive in a sense with the ability to eat, feel, etc. That the ghosts could talk to each other and therefore experience some contact.
Of course rebellion doesn’t come without a price and that price is initially steeper then either Elizabeth or Murphy could have imagined. They got a very good display of how science can over weigh any thought of human decency but then the ghosts aren’t “human.” I have to admit that I thought the way a few scientists used Elizabeth’s knowledge of science and lab protocol against her inspired in a sick sort of way.
Has: And this is why I loved how Fisher explored these themes in the book, because it really delved into what grief and love is about and what if there was a second chance in regaining someone you lost? But it also didn’t have to be someone a person knew well or was very close to. I liked the fact the planet/alien entity also offered potential possibilities and seeing that Murphy and Elizabeth who were almost strangers on earth but had a second chance was interesting and I loved the dynamic they created with each other. It was also ironic but important to see that here is a human colony settling in an alien planet but trying to control and shape it into their ideas and conventions and not respecting or embracing on what it could offer. That message really rang out loud for me and it was important to see how it panned out over the course of the story but without it being a heavy-handed or preachy.
E: I liked that aspect too. I think it can be important sometimes to remember that just because we have a way of doing things that doesn’t mean that other ways are wrong or won’t work they are just different. One of the other aspects I liked was how Fisher showed things from different angles. We had the more benign side with the Ghost Protocol, then the dark side of the Ghost Protocol and experimentation, and then the ugly side of the flip in power/control that can occur when rage and hurt find an outlet without control. Fisher also showed through Elizabeth that no one had really made any long-term documentation of the results when a settler and ghost were permanently separated for failure to follow the Ghost Protocol. The ghost wasn’t really of concern but the reaction to the former settler was never considered. The long term reaction could have provided some evidence that things weren’t necessarily as the settlers thought they were… It took the combined effort of a lot of different people, ghosts, and outsiders to actually make a difference on Ghost Planet.
I loved how the solution wasn’t a single individual or idea but a combination. As I said earlier this reminded me of the science fiction of my youth. I want to say thanks to Fisher for proving that I still have that love and giving me several hours of enjoyment. I hope she provides more. I give Ghost Planet an A.
Has: Ghost Planet for me was a such a surprise, because although I didn’t have high expectations even though it had an interesting premise. I was surprised HOW much I really liked it because of how it approached themes of love and loss but exploring it in a wonderful way. When a character states “People Die. Love Doesn’t” – this really sums up the book and the characters for me. Despite it being a SF romance, this goes beyond a high tech and high speculative premise because it really examines the full spectrum of human emotions and what it is to be human. And at its heart, there is a fantastic romance, which has flawed but real characters who have been given a second chance at love and by finding it they become truly alive and I loved that message.
This has definitely become one of my favourite books this year and it is a standout debut by Sharon Lynn Fisher who has a fantastic voice. I highly recommend it because it was fresh, and different and it was chock-full of emotions. I want more please!
Entertaining read. Certainly looking forward to more. I enjoyed this better then the last one I read by Erickson so I am glad I didn't match up the au...moreEntertaining read. Certainly looking forward to more. I enjoyed this better then the last one I read by Erickson so I am glad I didn't match up the author's name before reading. The characters were much more fleshed out and while the set-up was kinda out there everything followed along quite nicely. Both the hero and heroine had their groveling scene which I just loved. (less)
Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: ARC from the author
Cats and dogs aren’t supposed to fall in love. Like any wolf, RPD detective Nate Rivera knows this. He can’t help it if the tigress he’s been trading quips with at the supermarket is the most alluring woman he’s ever met—sassy too, which suits him down to his designer boots.
Evina Mohajit is aware their flirtation can’t lead to more. Still, she relishes trading banter with the hot werewolf. This hardworking single mom hasn’t felt so female since her twins’ baby daddy left to start his new family. Plus, as a station chief in Resurrection’s Fire Department, she understands the demands of a dangerous job.
Their will-they-or-won’t-they tango could go on forever if it weren’t for the mortal peril the city’s shifter children fall into. To save them, Nate and Evina must team up, a choice that ignites the sparks smoldering between them . . . This blurb came from the author’s website here.
When I received the request for a review from Ms Holly, I did not have to think twice before decided to accept because as I have stated in previous reviews she is one of my favorite erotic authors. Then when I read the blurb and realized that with this installment of her Hidden series, third after Hidden Talents and Hidden Depths, she was returning to the city of Resurrection I had to start reading immediately. I found it to be a lot of fun to revisit Resurrection and see what was happening with the werewolf pack introduced in Hidden Talents .
In this particular installment things aren’t exactly running smoothly for the werewolves. Professionally they are still working hard as the police force but on a more personal or should I say internal pack level things were slightly unsettled. One of the wolves, Nate, wasn’t comfortable in his pack position anymore. He knew he wasn’t Alpha and didn’t want to try to become Alpha but he kept having issues with the respect he owed his Alpha, Adam, (the hero of Hidden Talents). It wasn’t an issue of poor leadership Nate just had to continue almost challenging Adam every time they were around each other.
After encountering a horrific crime scene and arguing with Adam about pursuing a clue that had nothing to do with their current case he decided to go grocery shopping to let off some steam. Adam is what you would call a metro-sexual if a werewolf could be one. He likes nice things and will save until they are available rather then just get something to fit the needed purpose. And he also likes women, a lot. The particular supermarket he prefers is high-end and affords him with lots of chances to flirt with the ladies old, young, species indiscriminate although he does lighten the message when it involves non-wolves. One of the ladies he usually flirts with is a tiger shifter who happens to run a fire-station. It was interesting to see how the tigers had the fire department and the wolves had the police department. Makes for an interesting rivalry.
Elvina, the tigress, is a single parent raising her twins with the help of her mother. Her son was responsible for providing cupcakes for the monthly birthday celebration in his class so she was making a late night trip to go buy them when she ran into a Nate who was not his usual self. She decided to see what was going on and from there Nate asked her to help him check out the crime scene. Apparently Tigers are good at astral projection and the one who was usually on call for the police was taking a well-deserved vacation. Elvina agrees to help and that really starts their transition to lovers.
I enjoyed both the hero and heroine a lot. They were complete separately and when they finally matched up it was amazing. The supporting characters also helped flesh out the story and were more then just window dressing. The issues with cross-species trust let alone a cross-species romance were also dealt with quite nicely. Things were all rainbows and hearts but took some working and adjusting from all parties. The clandestine investigation that Nate and Elvina were conducting and the investigation that the police department had been working were intermingled nicely within the threads of the romance. They helped to build external and internal conflict.
I can’t say what happened with the investigations, how Nate and Elvina managed to work out their romance, or even how Nate settles his position within the werewolf pack with out some massive spoilers. I will say that this is a romance and to trust the author to make it all work without seeming too convenient. Since this is a book written by Emma Holly the smex will be erotic grin.
Ms Holly is one of a few authors whose self-published works I find to be more polished then a lot of the work coming out of traditional publishing. It makes a huge difference knowing that I will not be jerked from the story due to an error that should have been caught during the editing process. I wish more self-published authors would continue in this trend.
Hidden Crimes is a very entertaining complete story. I loved returning to Resurrection and I hope we get more set in that city. It is extremely complex and each installment has revealed more about this world and its inhabitants. I give Hidden Crimes an A(less)
This was more of a 4.5 star read. I can also say that after finishing it I had to tweet the author and see if she was going to have more in this parti...moreThis was more of a 4.5 star read. I can also say that after finishing it I had to tweet the author and see if she was going to have more in this particular world and she said she was working on book 2 now *happy dance*
Publisher: Carina Press Release Date: Out today How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
This is no fairy tale…
Haunted by nightmares of a black dog, sick to death of my mind-numbing career and heart-numbing fiancé, I impulsively walked out of my life—and fell into Faerie. Terrified, fascinated, I discover I possess a power I can’t control: my wishes come true. After an all-too-real attack by the animal from my dreams, I wake to find myself the captive of the seductive and ruthless fae lord Rogue. In return for my rescue, he demands an extravagant price—my firstborn child, which he intends to sire himself…
With no hope of escaping this world, I must learn to harness my magic and build a new life despite the perils—including my own inexplicable and debilitating desire for Rogue. I swear I will never submit to his demands, no matter what erotic torment he subjects me to…
This blurb came from Goodreads.
Has: I was pleasantly surprised on how much I was sucked into this book and I didn’t expect it to be this dark whimsical and imaginative take on the fae. Jennifer who is bored and unhappy with her life and fiance finds herself in a strange world full of magic and dangerous and seductive fae. She is totally lost and unaware on how things work but she knows that one thing is never to fall into the trap of the attractive Lord Rogue who calls her Gwynn and although she is very attracted but knows is dangerous. She is told that she is a sorceress and holds great power but is untrained and because of the danger she is in, she is forced to bargain for her life to train to gain control over her powers. But it is a huge price to pay which may cost her sanity, soul and body.
It is really hard to explain the feel and tone of this book, because it has such a surreal and dreamy tone which I loved! Although the beginning of the book where Jennifer finds herself in the land of the fae which looks like a darker and crazier version of Wonderland, has to cope with a magical system that involves wishes and even ways of communicating. This felt so refreshing and unique and I’ve read a lot of fantasy based books and this was a great take on the fae myths. Although I did wish the fae world was explained a bit more and how its society structure worked because although the overall tone was dreamy – it did feel a bit choppy and jarring.
E: It has been a while since I have read a dark fantasy romance and I enjoyed diving into this one. The sharp contrast between Jennifer’s real world life and experiences and that of the fae world was really fascinating. She went from preferring work over anything including her fiancee to a world where her mind was her only true ally and yet also an enemy. Granted her introduction to her new world was extremely brutal and rough and she was forced to figure out the best way possible for her survival without very many hints or assistance. Unlike other fantasies I have read where the newcomer is welcomed and honored she was forced to bargain for her life without knowing the rules. I will admit I was rather confused about why she had to bargain with fae outside of Lord Rogue and the healer but I think that was probably due to whatever relationship Lord Rogue had with the other fae and maybe a debt he owed them. Like Has said earlier I wish I knew a bit more about their politics and governing structure along with the alliance structure.
Has: I also didn’t get why everyone kept her calling her Gwynn instead of Jennifer and she then accepted it and thought herself as Lady Gwynn. But I loved that she used her logical thinking because she was a scientist to solve magical problems or to outwit her opponents when she was in danger. Jennifer/Gwynn was very resourceful and intelligent and she did it with style! I also loved her witty commentary on the fae which I think helped to ground herself by using humour and pop culture to survive in this crazy world. She was definitely an engaging and witty character!
But I think one of the best aspects of this book was the romance, this wasn’t a hawt and heavy lets fall in bed and you are the love of my life thing. Gwynn/Jennifer was wary about Rogue’s feelings and intentions towards her and that was realistic and I liked how she fended him off with banter and her wits. That helped to create real tension although Rogue although I did get frustrated on why he was being so vague and mysterious but it did feel to me he had genuine feelings for Gwynn/Jennifer.
E: Oh the romance was certainly interesting. I can almost see why he called her Gwynn because it sounds like a more elegant version of her name but to “know” her as he said and continue to use a different name struck me as different. I also enjoyed her mental snarky comments regarding the fae and how she heard what they “meant” not what they said. That added a whole new layer of meaning to any conversation she had. I also liked how she managed to develop allies from unexpected areas, not to mention enemies, and how they helped her survive within the limits of their abilities.
One of my favorite things was how she managed to come up with magical means to carry out what Lord Falcon requested without giving him exactly what he had in mind. I also liked how she survived her extremely brutal training period by locking away her personality and enduring until she was set free again. Her extreme intelligence is what I think allowed her to survive and still be herself instead of a pet in reality that wouldn’t give Lord Rogue what he really wanted. Thinking back on this I wonder if Lord Falcon intended to basically ruin Lord Rogue with the implementation of his bargain with Jennifer/Gwynn. Again more questions about fae alliances and friendships.
Has: Oh yes!!! And this is why I really enjoyed the book so much because of it was so multi-layered and cerebral as well as dreamy. And in a lot of ways when Gwynn/Jennifer undertook that training which had overtones dominance and submission that touched on BDSM but she never really submitted and in fact made her stronger. I really liked the emphasis on the emotional and psychological aspects especially on how it touched on sex, and that was wasn’t that heavy or overpowering which I liked because that can sometime overpower the story or characterisation.
Another aspect I loved in the book was the supporting characters like Darling the cat, who becomes Gwynn’s familiar, he really lived up to his name! What I really liked about the supporting characters is that they were such a rich tapestry of different types from the cooly deranged to charming and cute and they were all so fleshed out and memorable.
E: The supporting cast was good with their various personalities within their respective roles. They were extremely stratified but didn’t always stay within those confines. I will admit I felt bad for little Dragonfly but she did grow up in that world knowing the rules. She did provide a good example and allowed Tatiana in all of her merciless glory to emerge. I also hope she gets a chance to redeem herself and regain her wings. Ms Kennedy did pay attention to the psychological changes and effects that can occur in captivity, sensory deprivation and how adaptable the human brain really is. They didn’t come out as a dry lecture or infodump because of Jennifer’s profession and how she recognized the tactics as they were used on her.
Has: I did feel that although it was too vague at times and an abrupt beginning, this was a fantastic and engrossing read. The world-building such as the magical system was beautifully thought out and unique and it is hard to carry an overall tone which is dark and humourous but it worked! And even though there were a few things that didn’t make sense or I wished that it was explained more, I didn’t really care because I am still thinking of the characters and the story a few days after I’ve read the book and I am definitely lusting after the sequel on what happens between Lord Rogue and Gwynn and that is a great sign for me of a very good book. Rogue’s Pawn is a wonderful entry to a new trilogy with memorable characters in a dark seductive world filled with wit and passion and rich imagination.
I give Rogue’s Pawn an A-
E: After finishing Rogue’s Pawn I had to ask the author if there was going to be anything else in this particular world. To my happiness she said that she is working on book 2 now. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next with Jennifer/Gwynn and Rogue not to mention how Tatiana’s influence will continue to come into play. I did have some niggles about some aspects of the Fae and their world rules but I think that was due to first book in a series/world and I think more information will become known in future books.
This is a very interesting series. The variety of humanoid life not to mention the mystery behind why the planet (Kithra) experienced it's sudden trau...moreThis is a very interesting series. The variety of humanoid life not to mention the mystery behind why the planet (Kithra) experienced it's sudden traumatic event. All of the characters are dealing with a painful past life event that colors all that they do. As part of entering into their HEA that past has to be dealt with. I also enjoy the description of the planet and what it used to provide. I am looking forward to more in this series.(less)
Publisher: Entangled: Covet Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Luciana de Luca has a PhD in sass and gemology–and a problem. Her twin brother’s gambling debts have gotten out of hand, and a mob enforcer is blackmailing her to rob the latest, greatest mega-casino on the Strip. Although Lucy has worked her whole life to get away from her family’s grifter past, to save her brother, she dons three-inch heels and a sluts-r-us dress and struts into Alec’s Gerald’s casino, determined to put her long-forgotten thieving ways to the test again.
Alec Gerald, a shape-shifting dragon, has built the Crown Jewel casino to provide sanctuary for his people amongst the flash and awe of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the sexy little thief trying to rob his gem exhibit turns out to be his mate, and he must woo her before he loses his dragon form forever. With enemies in every corner, and the all-important mating ceremony looming, Alec and Lucy must learn to trust each other, before time runs out for Alec and the rest of the dragons. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I was browsing Netgalley when the title of this book caught my eye. I saw the word “Dragon” and as I have mentioned before I have a serious addiction to dragons. I read the blurb and thought this story had the potential for some laughs, some suspense, some angst, and DRAGONs. In short I thought it was something I would enjoy so I requested it. Unfortunately, things did not work out as I hoped and I ended up having several issues with this story mainly the heroine, the pacing, and how things end with her brother.
I did really enjoy the thought of a huge Vegas casino complete with shows, various entertainment rooms, gambling, gem exhibits, shops, and great architecture. Given the expectation of Vegas adding dragons to the mix in plain sight and chalking it up to illusion/magic made me smile each time I thought about it. I loved how humans were scared and disbelieving at the first sight of a dragon but easily accepted that it was part of the show and not real. Made me wonder how much is out there that we refuse to see because it doesn’t fit our mental image of what we “should” see. Alec does a great job of playing on that throughout the book yet it ended up almost biting him in the rear a few times when it came to Lucy. I also liked his struggle between what his dragon self was telling him and what his human brain was telling him when it came to dealing with his attraction to Lucy. I was not as happy when his dragon self provided the stronger impulse and took Lucy’s role-play as her acceptance of their future together. This led to some easily avoidable issues between the two of them.
Lucy received a much more mixed response from me. I loved the fact that she was a gemologist, knew how to pick pockets and locks, and could stand up for herself against Alec. But, that did not outweigh the things I found about her that I did not enjoy. In my opinion, she took an extended journey in the TSTL category when she continually tried to help her brother, Joel, and his schemes with the Vegas mobsters. This was after a lifetime of him using their childhood misery as a prod to convince her to join in. He seemed to tell her several times that he was never going to stop trying to gamble or get rich quick illegally. Yet she kept telling herself that he would stop after each one when instead he dragged her deeper and deeper. It seemed like Lucy was a smart intelligent individual but when her brother came around she started drinking stupid water and didn’t stop until he left. Even when she was committing or planning to commit crimes for him, she knew it was wrong and it wasn’t going to fix things. Lather, rinse, repeat. I had hopes that when she called Joel begging for his help and he refused that she would see the truth about him but she didn’t. It took the threat of losing her memory about dragons before she finally started believing that she needed to stop enabling Joel and his schemes. Because of her extended stay in TSTL territory I was unable to actually like Lucy as the heroine. I am not upset at her family loyalty and trying to help her brother but what really bothered me was the extent of her help into illegal actions whose consequences threatened her dreams, not those of her brother.
I mentioned earlier that I had a problem with the pacing of this story. The bad guy, major source of external conflict for both Alec and Lucy, was killed about two thirds of the way into the story. This meant for the last third, the action and emotional suspense was powered by internal conflict with a sprinkling of Joel on the side. This part really did not work for me because I felt the internal conflict was a result of not communicating and Lucy’s obsessive misplaced loyalty. Both of which dragged out for far too long. Alec never accepted responsibility for his portion of their lack of communication and even when Lucy did make her decision to stop assisting her brother, she did it very quietly and subtly while leaving the door wide open for him to come back into her life without cleaning up his act. Even though he almost ruined his sister’s life he got away with the possibility of his own HEA, no punishment, and no lessons learned. This offended my sense of justice because I felt that he would continue to try to coerce his sister the next time one of his schemes started failing.
Scott built a fascinating world with the dragons and their structure. Each extended group had different abilities corresponding to the different elements and had matching colors. They also tended to live in separate parts of the earth but Alec was trying to unite them in one safe location. I also found it fascinating that only at certain intervals in a certain ritual could dragons find their mate. Male dragons without a mate eventually lost the ability to shift into a dragon while female dragons did not suffer from the same problem. I thought this was very interesting and allowed the women to determine how things would go not the men. I was curious about the interval between mating ceremonies, if it was with the same partner each time, if a partner died during the interval what happened to the survivor, and a few other things. I was also curious about the reasons behind some of the supporting characters and their search for a mate or avoidance of a mate. A few of Scott’s characters also mentioned magicians and magic and hinted at the possibility that magical abilities of a sort were in the blood of both Lucy and her brother Joel but nothing more was said about it. This also left me wondering.
Luck of the Dragon has a neat premise and a fascinating world. I think Scott has a wide range of characters and possibilities to continue writing in this particular world. However, I found that her characterization and pacing to be problematic so I was unable to enjoy this story as I had hoped. Given how the blurb hit several things that I tend to enjoy and the result of my reading, I am not sure if I will pick up another of her books without reading some reviews first.
Publisher: Harlequin Publish Date: Jul 24th How I got this book: ARC from the author
England, 1817 JUST WHO IS LADY DEBORAH? I am the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, and I have enough secrets to scandalise you for life. I will never reveal the truth of my soul-destroying marriage – some things are too dark to be told. But at least no one can guess that I, a famously icy-hearted widow, am also the authoress of the shamelessly voluptuous romances currently shocking the ton…! Only now I have a new secret identity, one that I will risk my life to keep – accomplice to Elliot Marchmont, gentleman, ex-solider and notorious London thief. This adventurer’s expert touch ignites in me a passion so intoxicating that surviving our blistering affair unscathed will be near impossible… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I read and enjoyed Rake With a Frozen Heart by Marguerite Kaye a few months ago. As a result when I received an e-mail from Ms Kaye asking if I would consider reviewing her newest Historical Romance Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah and included a link to an excerpt on her website I had to take a look. After reading and really enjoying the excerpt I decided that I would give the rest of the book a try. I did have a few quibbles but I found it to be an interesting entertaining read.
The heroine is a widow who writes a series of rather erotic tales about a woman who takes what she wants, indulges in all sorts of adventures, and also controls not just her sexuality but that of her male partners. In short her main character is exactly the opposite of Lady Deborah and her life to date. Then she has a chance meeting with a rather peculiar housebreaker, Elliot Marchmont, and then the fun begins. Deborah was a very complex woman who secretly wished she was as daring and confident as the heroine that she writes. Her wish is to be able to live independently of the annuity she received from the estates of her deceased husband so she could be free of her unpleasant memories of their time together. After meeting Elliot for the second time she realized that she starts to feel alive around him. Between that and an editorial comment made by her publisher on her last manuscript, Deborah decides that she needs Elliot to take her on one of his housebreaking trips. The mental struggle between Deborah’s intense attraction to Elliot and her memories and feelings about the utter failure of her married sexual life were almost heartbreaking. It was like seeing someone who had been abused for years relaxing and then encountering a trigger. Even with that I did find her back and forthing tiresome after a while because she didn’t seem to show mental growth in that direction. Deborah did redeem herself at the end and I loved how she went about doing it. Deborah had to decide in the end what she was going to do with her talent for writing, if she was going to let her deceased husband and his odious family run the rest of her life, or if she was going to actually live life.
Elliot was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed his relationship with his sister and brother-in-law. I thought he was extremely patient and determined when it came to working with Deborah. While bewildered and concerned about Deborah’s swings between intimacy and stark rejection he didn’t take his frustrations out on her, which I found to be pretty wonderful. He decided that she was the one and did what he could to make that a reality. As I discovered along with Deborah why he chose his targets it made him such a deeper character. Then seeing how he was treated at the former hospital by the staff and occupants my heart just melted. ***part of that might be due to my real life occupation*** I also have to say that his actions when he tries to convince Deborah that he loves and wants to marry her were certainly enough to make me tear up. Then when he had to courage to leave knowing that she had to decide what was going to happen next all I could think of is how much that showed the depths of his love for her.
Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah took bits of some of my favorite story elements; Robin Hood, The Pink Panther, Suddenly You and combined them with two wounded lead characters. Their growth separately and together was good to watch. While I did get annoyed as some of Deborah’s mental anguish as I mentioned earlier and thought that Elliot should have been a bit more upset with her actions sometimes, not just her hot/cold, but in her profession as a writer I enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed the mental musings of Deborah’s publisher as he came to terms with what she wrote and also his wife’s opinion of what she wrote. He gave me several good laughs.
I give Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah a B-(less)
Publisher: Riptide Publishing Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
First rule in this line of business: don’t sleep with the client.
My name’s Kate Kane, and when an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince came to me with a case, I should have told her no. But I’ve always been a sucker for a femme fatale.
It always goes the same way. You move too fast, you get in too deep, and before you know it, someone winds up dead. Last time it was my partner. This time it could be me. Yesterday a werewolf was murdered outside the Velvet, the night-time playground of one of the most powerful vampires in England. Now half the monsters in London are at each other’s throats, and the other half are trying to get in my pants. The Witch Queen will protect her own, the wolves are out for vengeance, and the vampires are out for, y’know, blood.
I’ve got a killer on the loose, a war on the horizon, and a scotch on the rocks. It’s going to be an interesting day. This blurb came from the author’s website.
After reading and enjoying Glitterland by Hall, I heard he had a paranormal mystery series with some interesting twists so I added it to my list of things to read. I found I was more comfortable with Hall’s voice in this story because it went back to my early loves of fantasy, murder, and mystery. As I was reading, I pictured the scenes primarily happening in black and white with the unexpected splash of color like Bogey and Bacall.
Hall created a very different world populated with interesting characters. He took everyday sights and sounds coupled with ancient history and applied a touch of magic to either explain their presence or to give them animation. I traveled to exclusive clubs, isolated boardrooms, wild forests, treacherous sewers, and several other not exactly pleasant places following Kate along her murder investigation path. Along the way Kate dealt with vampires, werewolves, witches, and the occasional other supernatural creature who didn’t necessarily have Kate’s best interests in mind.
I found Kate a very compelling individual. She was smart, tenacious and did not have the best taste in relationships. Kate had a complicated background. She wasn’t exactly human herself and the side-effects of her parentage were not exactly predictable or always controllable even when they gave her what could be perceived as an advantage. Her former partner was killed a few months earlier and Kate thought it was her fault. As a result she spent her days and sometimes her nights wallowing in her office trying to drink her woes away. Then a new client, a vampire walked in. Kate normally avoided vampires because she had a complicated past with them but she couldn’t turn down this particular case.
One of things I enjoyed in this story was how Hall flipped gender expectations around but retained the same title terminology so until you met certain characters you did not know if they were going to be male or female. This added to the difficulty of determining not just who the murderer was but also why the murder occurred. Kate’s investigation was hindered by interspecies rivalry and her own attraction to the powerful, deadly women who ran a few of the more powerful groups. It was at this point I felt the gender of the individuals involved really impacted what happened next.
The mystery aspect was also fascinating. I was initially concerned Hall would solve the murder early in the story but as the events continued to unfold what appeared rather straightforward became a tangled mess stretching over the ages and through a variety of worlds. Kate did have some assistance while she was investigating but I think my favorite was the animated statue and her skill with inanimate mechanical objects. She provided a lovely bit of comedic relief and I hope she is an enduring character in this series.
I said at the beginning that this book reminded me of Bogey and Bacall but there was a crucial difference. The Kate at the end of Iron & Velvet isn’t the same Kate I met in the beginning. She learned a lot about herself and made some decisions that will have repercussions on her life. A few of those were starting to develop as this installment ended. There were a few characters I wished were more developed but I found Kate and the world fascinating. I enjoyed seeing a different side to Hall’s writing and I look forward to exploring this particular incarnation of England in future installments.
OK I no longer like playing with Shadows...Can't wait for the next one!
The world-building was very interesting and intricate. I did have a few questio...moreOK I no longer like playing with Shadows...Can't wait for the next one!
The world-building was very interesting and intricate. I did have a few questions about how Jules and James initially started their working relationship but I really enjoyed how things unfurled. The combination of danger, personal secrets, crazed scientists, and mutual attraction was great to see. Rai did a good job of building up the suspense and increasing my doubt that things were going to turn out ok at least for the moment.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: Review copy from author
Analyst James Bennett has spent the years since humankind fell victim to the Illness living underground. Part of an elite group of survivors determined to save their race, his only interaction with the blood-drinking Shadows roaming the Earth is through surveillance technology carried by his team of search-and-rescue agents. Scarred by vicious events, he has no desire to leave the safety of his bunker for the dangerous world outside—until he recruits a tough, haunted young woman clear across the country.
Former gang member Jules Guerrero learned two things early on: the value of loyalty and never backing down from a fight. Both of those teachings come in handy now that her job description includes protecting humans and kicking Shadow ass. But it’s hard to keep her mind strictly on her mission when all she can think about is the man whose voice keeps her sane through the depths of each dark night.
When Jules is captured and threatened by a rogue organization even more bloodthirsty than the Shadows, James must draw on all of his courage to fuel a furious cross-country chase through the lawless land…before the Jules he loves is destroyed forever.
Product Warnings Contains a hero who would fight monsters for his love, a heroine out to save the world, a treacherous wasteland, poetry as foreplay and flesh-eating enemies. *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: One of my favorite genres that I have a hard time finding books in is post-apocalyptic romance, so when I put out a call for suggestions and recommendations earlier in the year, I was sooo glad to hear Rai was in the process of writing this, and couldn’t wait to read it. I love Rai’s writing, she does such an amazing job of building unique worlds and keeping up with the sexy times. I loved everything about the ShadowLands world, and am so excited to see where else this series takes us!
E: I have to say from when Rai first mentioned this during MinnChica’s call for suggestions until last week when I was able to read it I have been looking forward to Night Whispers. The wait was worth it and now I am waiting for the next installment. Her world, the details included in it, the Shadows and not to mention mad scientists made for a very captivating read. There is so much left for us to discover and I am looking forward to the journey, from my nice, safe, sturdy, secure well-lit house.
MinnChica: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the romance plot, especially since our hero and heroine spent the first half of the book (or so) separated from each other. Hell, they hadn’t even MET each other. It’s hard to really get invested in a romance when the two main characters are so divided and apart, and yet Jules and James were able to make it work, they were able to still form a stable bond, and pull me into their romance from their first conversation on the page. It wasn’t something I was expecting, but was so glad it worked out that way!
E: That was really amazing. But if you think about it with on-line dating today and the internet people do develop relationships before they physically meet each other. I have always had a hard time buying that in books or movies I think because it didn’t seem plausible given the rest of today’s technology but how Rai set it up was just wonderful. And then the lengths they would go through to make a day special for the other *melt*. Not to mention a hero who loves books There aren’t enough of those in the romance world!
MinnChica: Although James and Jules were the perfect hero and heroine for this story, I have to take a minute and point out all the fabulous secondary characters Rai brought into this world. I am so excited to see what happens with Erik, and how or if he will come to Raven and be a part of the fight. I loved Gabriel and his reluctance to be the figurehead of the new country. I hope everything with Carrie works out… God, just the secondary characters alone were enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could read.
E: Oh wow those secondary characters were amazing. They never stole the spotlight but I can’t wait to find out what happens with them. They were so complete which is refreshing to see in the supporting cast. Each of them has had their lives turned upside and shaken in ways that most people would never recover from yet they are still living and fighting. I am not going to try to figure out who I want to pair up with whom I just hope they all have HEAs because a life that hard certainly needs one. Rai has opened up such a can of worms in my head over everything I want to know in her Shadowlands world.
MinnChica: Back to Jules and James…. There was so much I enjoyed about each of them. James was this shy and quiet hero who was so scared of the big-bad-world and yet he sucked up his fears and anxieties and went out in search of Jules when she needed him most. He was a beta hero to the core, and although I’m usually not a huge fan of the beta hero, he wormed his way into my heart and had me falling in love. And Jules, poot Jules. With her screwed up childhood and desire to right every wrong she ever did, the poor girl was tortured. I loved that everyone teased her for having a hero complex, because she absolutely did, and it worked for her. I loved these two together, their personalities were night and day, and yet they complemented each other perfectly. I hope we see more of them as the series progresses.
E: James was the best beta hero I have seen in quite a while. He cared about those he worked with and around but never wanted to take charge. But when Jules needed him he came through with flying colors. Courage isn’t the absence of fear it is being scared and doing it anyways and James had it. He was the perfect counterbalance for Jules and her hero syndrome. She needed someone to take care of her and he needed someone who needed him for who and what he was with all of his scars exposed. Like MinnChica I hope we get to see glimpses into their relationship as the series continues because they were so wonderful together.
MinnChica: All in all I am happy to add the ShadowLands series and Alisha Rai to my recommended reads in post-apocalyptic romance! Jules and James were so wonderful to read, the cast of secondary characters proves this series has so much more to live up to, and the world is engaging and exciting with all the twists and turns. I’m so anxious to see where Rai leads us next, and hope she works on writing faster! I give Night Whispers a B+
E: This has certainly landed on my re-read status. I do have a few questions about how Jules and James initially started in their roles but that certainly didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. Rai has set up a world and characters that I can see providing me with hours of entertainment as I explore it through her writing. Night Whispers hit all of my post-apocalyptic romance buttons without seeming like something I have already read. Again like MinnChica I think Rai needs to write faster! I give Night Whispers a B+ (less)
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: April 24th How I got this book: ARC from the Publisher
Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, never met a predicament he couldn’t charm his way out of. Then a tryst with a government official’s wife during a bit of casual espionage in France condemns him a decade in a dungeon, leaving him a shadow of his former self. Yet his greatest challenge may be the enigmatic spy sent to free his body—the only woman who might heal his soul.
Half English and half French, Cassie Fox lost everything in the chaos of revolution, leaving only a determination to help destroy Napoleon’s empire through her perilous calling. Rescuing Grey is merely one more mission. She hadn’t counted on a man with the stark beauty of a ravaged angel, whose desperate courage and vulnerability touch her frozen heart as no one ever has. With Grey, she can become the passionate woman she has long denied. But a spy and a lord are divided by an impassable gulf even if they manage to survive one last, terrifying mission….
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
Ms Putney is one of the authors whose historical romances I will usually read. I started with Thunder & Roses the first of her Fallen Angels series and proceeded to seek out all of her other books. I started reading the Lost Lords series when the first one was released. Then life got in the way and I fell behind in the series. When we were offered a chance to review No Longer a Gentleman I eagerly accepted for a couple of reasons, first I wanted a historical romance fix which I knew I would get because I had to catch up on the story I had missed and second Ms Putney’s stories usually provide me with a combination of intrigue, strong men and women, and lots of vivid details. Unfortunately this installment fell slightly short of what I expected.
I was really intrigued in the mystery that is Cassie as I was able to spend some time with her in Nowhere Near Respectable. She knew how to play all sorts of different roles while blending in and becoming almost invisible. Yet she had a very deep old hurt which kept her from settling down or revealing what she really looked like. She was also extremely driven to end any chance Napoleon had of ever ruling Europe. I liked Cassie as a person and found the unveiling of her story fascinating and tragic at the same time. It was good to see how she had overcome her past to create her present. She was a strong woman, mentally and physically and used everything she had to accomplish her missions and remained mostly self-contained.
I didn’t know as much about Grey except for the memories his classmates had of him because he had been missing (imprisoned) since before this series began. Grey seemed to be much harder on his former self than any of his friends or family could ever be. I wasn’t sure if that was a result of solitary confinement or if it was because he was forced to grow up suddenly and face the fact that if he had made one choice differently he wouldn’t have been in that situation or a combination of the two. I found it admirable that after Grey snapped out of the shock of going from golden charmed man without a struggle in his life to being brutally mistreated and imprisoned that he did what he could to regain and preserve his strength and sanity. I also really liked how Ms Putney handled the PTSD Grey experienced when he was suddenly freed. His freedom didn’t mean a switch was flipped and he returned to the lighthearted Grey he had been before. In fact she even brought up that Grey would never be the same person.
As much as I liked the two characters individually and their non-romantic associations with each other I had a few issues with their romance and HEA. I understood Grey’s need for physical closeness and to celebrate that he was free in a very elemental way but I did not understand Cassie’s motivation to have sex initially. After their first encounter well it was obvious * wink *. But even with their sexual attraction and compatibility I was not able to buy Grey’s love as anything other then a rescue fixation. My other quibble is hidden behind the spoiler tags, click at your own risk.
[spoiler} I also think the timing and reason for a quick marriage, while probably accurate, was a bit too convenient. [/spoiler]
I found that No Longer a Gentleman was much more focused on the characters rather than intrigue. The bad guy’s method to draw Grey back into his reach I found to be extremely obvious and very predictable. My only question was at what point of the book it would occur. Given the book’s focus, the fact that I never bought into Cassie and Grey as a HEA couple lowered my enjoyment of their story. I liked them individually and as they journeyed on their path of lovers to friends but I wasn’t ready for HEA. It was also good to see some of the other early characters get closure in regards to Grey while continuing to assist as they could the war against Napoleon. I am looking forward to seeing what Ms Putney comes up next in this series.
Publisher: Berkley Sensation 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…
Rebecca James was once revered for her devil-may-care attitude and backcountry survival skills. But ever since she lost her partner in a fatal accident, patches of her memory have been missing. And until she can recall those final, tragic moments before the accident, she can’t move on.
Since Marcus Landers was permanently injured during a mission, all his energies have been focused on his Lifeline team. When Becki—whom he had an intense affair with seven years ago—arrives in Banff, he’s inspired to reignite the spark they once had. Their mutual ardor slowly awakens Becki’s dormant, haunting memories.
New truths surface until Becki must at last confront her greatest fear. Remembering the past might mean a future without the man she loves… This blurb came from the author’s website.
As you might have noticed if you are a regular visitor on the blog, I am a huge fan of Arend’s writing. When I received word that she had signed a contract with Berkley for some contemporaries based on Search and Rescue (SAR), I knew that I had to get my hands on them. I have climbed three times in my entire life, once with family, once with a significant other, and once because I HAD to for my job. I decided after the first time that I was done so as a result three times is about four too many. What I did gain was an appreciation for the equipment, commands, danger, and the combination of strength and skill required to climb let alone climb well in a variety of conditions. Add in the requirement to provide emergency first aid, lug packs, maneuver people who can’t assist with a clock counting down and you have some pretty impressive individuals who do SAR. Arend has taken a group of those individuals each with their past experience prior to or while doing SAR and placed them in close proximity and let us watch the fallout. I am certainly enjoying the view.
Rebecca is a haunted woman. She is an expert on climbing, teamwork, and getting the most out of people but she is suffering from PTSD and partial amnesia caused by the death of her SAR partner and lover during her last rescue. She has returned to Banff, to the training facility and school that certified her years ago as an instructor trying to regain her sense of self. While there, she encounters Marcus, a former instructor/fling who is dealing with his own wounds from life. I enjoyed Rebecca. She was strong mentally and physically. She did not back down from anyone yet she could also admit her weaknesses and allow someone else to care for her when she needed it. I also liked how she kept pushing Marcus and refused to let him take his angst out on her yet she also cared for Marcus and allowed him to nurture and care for her. No she wasn’t perfect because she did leap to conclusions sometimes, had a hard time in helicopters, and believed the worst about her missing memories far too easily. Her faults simply helped me enjoy her character so much more.
Marcus was a bit more of a contradiction but still a lot of fun to get to know. He and his brother David were bedrocks at the Banff training facility even though Marcus took his climbing skills in a different direction. When Marcus is injured on the job he focuses his attention elsewhere and forms an elite SAR team, Lifeline, able to handle air insertion, water rescues, and the usual land-based climbing rescues. The press recently spotlighted Lifeline and as a result, of the publicity they have become bit complacent. David mentions that Marcus should ask Rebecca to help train his team while she waits for the next course to start. Marcus really likes the thought of getting close to Rebecca again now that they have both matured. He had some extremely fond memories of their time together and decided that this time their relationship would not end.
I absolutely loved the character interaction if it was Rebecca and Marcus, Marcus and David, the internal Lifeline team dynamics, Rebecca and the team, you name it I liked it. Not that all of their interactions were happy ones and more than once I felt for Rebecca as she dealt with her nightmares and nebulous fears about her actions and their result on the profession she loved. I also felt for Marcus and he dealt with his own trauma and intense need to help Rebecca, which sometimes backfired. The occasional flashbacks Arend included for their previous relationship and their lives over the years since served to really flesh out their characters while providing me a glimpse at how they had changed over the years.
Rebecca and Marcus’ interactions were always intense. From the first glimpse of their mutual sexual attraction through their time together at the end of the story. I was completely sucked into their arguments, laughter, tension and I thought the smexytimes were smoking. I also liked how Arend worked within the limits of Marcus’ injury during those times and both did not allow it to hinder him nor did she allow him to cheat. I found myself rooting for their relationship just as much as I rooted for their individual healing. I think they will continue to deal with the lingering affects of their traumatic life changing events but they will also continue to refuse to let that limit them.
I really enjoyed reading High Risk and I am seriously looking forward to the next installment. The sparks continue to fly on Lifeline and I am a hooked observer. Arend delivered everything I could ask for in the first book of her Adrenaline series and I am confident that she will continue to provide the same high quality story in the installments to come!
In the nineties, Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes were the most beloved sitcom child stars in the world. Then they grew up and left Hollywood behind…
Whatever happened to Abigale Applegate?
She’s been wondering the same thing.
With her Hollywood dreams long gone, Abigale now has a nice, neat, uncomplicated life—until the day her perfect fiancé needs to talk. Dumped, a little more than shattered, and totally confused, Abigale turns to Zach, her best friend since forever, to help her pick up the pieces. He does it with a gift—a copy of Wreck This Journal. She can vent her frustrations, and sketch out a new plan. Zach just hopes he’s part of it. Because he’s been in love with Abigale his entire life.
When the journal falls into Zach’s hands, he discovers Abigale wants a new man. And fast. Nothing more than a hot distraction. Zach has a strategy, too. He’s going to be that man. It’s his last chance. Abigale might be out to shake up her life, but Zach’s out to reinvent it. Now, all he has to do is convince Abigale that life can go as planned.
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: This story holds a very special place in my heart. First of all, I was with Walker at the Tucson Festival of Books the weekend that she found the WRECK THIS JOURNAL and this story was born. Second, it takes place in my hometown, Tucson, and I love the fact that my city is so wonderfully portrayed. Third, this is a friends to lovers story, and one that is done in such a way that I found myself falling head over heels for both Zach and Abby from the very first moment they stepped onto the page!
E: Like MinnChica this story is really special to me. I was lucky enough to watch Walker come up with the seeds of this story during the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books. Starting with those seeds then months later reading the finished novel was an amazing glimpse in both the skill and the art of an author. Walker combined several things I enjoy – friends to lovers, life and how it doesn’t always follow your plans, a great cast of supporting characters and memorable main characters to create a wonderful read. I had a blast following Zach and Abby’s interactions through WRECKED.
MinnChica: I am a huge fan of friends to lovers stories, and I thought that Zach and Abby had such a beautiful story. Although their friendship didn’t exactly start like a normal childhood friendship, they had some pretty intense bonds holding them together. A childhood in the spotlight of Hollywood, and Zach’s ability to always save Abby from her overbearing mother. I could feel how difficult it was for them to start a romantic relationships, and especially for Abby, having to deal with enough change as it was. Plus, watching Abby discover who she really was through the journal was so sweet!
E: I really liked how Walker highlighted the fact that child stars have just as many if not more issues then children who grow up without the spotlight. Zach was always a ground source for Abby yet she had him stuck firmly in the friend zone. I really felt for Zach as he tried to be supportive of Abby in her previous relationships because he didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship. The sacrifices he made were just amazing. I also felt for Abby as she struggled to deal with the wreckage of her life’s plans and to put the pieces back together again. Although for someone who decided to stop planning she certainly didn’t stop with the lists **grin**. Like MinnChica I really enjoyed watching Abby discover herself with a lot of hard work and some assistance. While Zach’s growth wasn’t as spectacular on screen he certainly made some hard decisions and risked his entire future. It was also lovely to have a hero that wasn’t all grrr Alpha and had a loving family behind him who had already opened up to Abby. Granted not everyone understood but that just added to the depths in their story.
MinnChica: Although it seemed like we didn’t spend a lot of page time with the secondary characters, I really enjoyed reading about Zach’s brothers and family. They added a certain balance to the book, and a great external conflict for Zach and Abby. I liked that they were divided about the growing relationship, and that although there were some jerky attitudes, it was an abrasive show of love for Zach. I don’t know if Walker has plans to continue writing in this “world,” but if she does, I would love to see Zach’s brothers get their own chance at love. Especially if we get to see Zach and Abby a little more.
E: Like you I loved Zach’s family. There was so much love and sibling rivalry between them that I enjoyed every second they came on screen. I have some serious hopes that Walker will continue write in this world because I would love to see them spotlighted individually along with their family dynamic. It was really good to see the mix of acceptance and anger over Zach and Abby’s relationship over the years because it showed that they cared instead of just disliking Abby because she was Zach’s girlfriend. They also provided a great contrast to Abby’s family over the years and helped show that a HEA was possible.
MinnChica: All in all I thought that Wrecked was a wonderful contemporary romance. I love the friends to lovers stories so much, and I thought that Walker did a wonderful job with these friends. I hope that we will get to see more stories from this group of friends and that we will be able to see Abby and Zach getting to enjoy their ever after. Contemporary romance fans definitely need to add this book to their To-Be-Read stack!
I give Wrecked a B
E: Wrecked has been one of the best new contemporaries I have read lately. Yes it holds a special place because I saw the initial seeds but that also meant I had high expectations for the end result. Walker certainly met those expectations and made me hope for more in this particular world. I enjoyed all of the characters as well as catching a glimpse of familiar territory. Like MinnChica I certainly recommend this those who enjoy contemporaries or friends to lovers.
Publisher: Ace Books Publish Date: April 3d How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time. Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can’t choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn’t trade their unusual relationship for anything. Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she’s been telling about her life have turned into lies she’s telling herself… This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have read and own at least one copy of everything Ms Shinn has published with Ace Books so when I heard she was coming out with a new novel I was extremely interested. Then when I found out that it was the first of a new series called Shifting Circle I was even more excited. When we were offered a copy to review I could barely interrupt my happy dance to ask for it. I started reading The Shape of Desire during my lunch break and had to be reminded to go back to work. After I got home from work my plans to cook dinner quickly turned into eating leftovers.
Ms Shinn’s way of painting a picture with words was fully evident in her latest work. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of the picture I was getting because unlike her previous novels this one seems more firmly set in “the real world” despite its elements of fantasy. I don’t think I was expecting that. Yes, real-world themes do tend to wind their way through fantasy but the very elements that make it fantasy also create a sort of a cushion for the reader. That cushion was nonexistent for me. The heroine had an actual life with a job, friends, family and her lover for 15 years that she has to keep secret from everyone. Unlike “traditional shapeshifters” who are human most of the month Dante is in his altered state most of the month so he has lost the ability to really function in normal society. Not to mention that one of the reasons he loves Maria is that he knows she will never give away his secret. But then a string of mysterious deaths by what appears to be wild animal attacks occurs in the general area when Dante is off wandering.
Dante himself is very secretive. Yes he loves Maria and has bit by bit told her some about his shifting but he has never appeared to her in a shifted form. He doesn’t like to talk about where he goes, what he does, or even what shape he is in. He also refuses to completely depend on Maria but shows up starving, dirty, slightly feral, and usually with healing wounds. His secrecy, especially when a death hits rather close to Maria, makes it hard for her to continue to have faith that she isn’t lying to herself about Dante and his innocence.
The unfolding of their past relationship through flashbacks interposed with their present day life together sold me on their love and trust. I also got the hint that while shapeshifters were rare, more exist than people think. Like Maria I have my suspicions about a certain 4-legged visitor she had. I enjoyed how Dante and Maria worked through their issues in a rather believable way. This book really made me think more then most do as I was reading it. It wasn’t the type of thinking that interrupted my enjoyment or my reading but it was a deeper resonating book that I think will stay with me for quite a while. Like I said earlier this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from Ms Shinn but the journey she took me on was a good one. As an aside even though I think the woman on the cover appears younger then Maria felt to me, I really love how the cover speaks to the story.
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 th...moreI 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.(less)
Ladies and Gentlemen, It is time for another retro romance review. This is one that I read shortly after I discovered The Bride. In fact it was the second adult romance I ever read. I had to be a little more careful when I was reading this one because it wasn’t on the bookcase, it was in a cubby in my parents’ headboard of their bed. This meant one of them, I was sure it was my mother, was reading it. And if you look at the cover, I wasn’t sure I was ready for them to see me reading something like that. So I could only read it when my mom wasn’t home. My reading was further complicated because I had to ensure it looked exactly the same each time I was forced to pause so I couldn’t use a bookmark. Then I had the fear that before I finished reading the book would disappear. Lucky me I was able to finish because it has become one of my favorites. As a funny sidenote I was talking to my mother about romances the other day and she insists that before I started pushing to her she had only read romances by Julie Garwood so I don’t know if she ever finished it or if she was even the one reading it…
Publisher: Avon Books Publish Date: 1982 (Out Now) How I got this book: Borrowed from my mother’s bookshelf, now purchased
Debt-ridden Avery Fleming is determined to find a wealthy husband for his beautiful daughter, Erienne, so he can pay off his mountain of debts. Erienne, however, has refused every one of the old men her father has picked for her consideration. When she meets dashing American merchant Christopher Seton, she cannot deny her attraction to him, despite the fact that he wounded her brother, Farrell, in a duel, crippling him for life. However, when Seton asks for Erienne’s hand in marriage, both she and her father refuse him. Instead, Erienne’s father auctions her off to the highest bidder–the mysterious Lord Saxton, a man whose horrifying scars are hidden by a mask and cloak. Erienne comes to know her husband as a kind and gentle man, but when Christopher Seton returns to town, she cannot fight her attraction to him. She finds herself torn between her duty to the man she has wed and the call of her heart. This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have continued to read and enjoy Ms Woodiwiss’ books but this is one of a couple that I read often. When I was re-reading for this review I realized that Ms Woodiwiss, while writing in the era of “bodice rippers” took some different tactics. Her heroine was rather strong-willed and intelligent. She didn’t sit around waiting to be rescued but tried to rescue herself and make the best of her situation. She was also extremely loyal. Sometimes I thought she was too loyal but her actions made sense given her character. Even when she was married and her husband, Lord Saxton, had a monstrous appearance, Erienne continued to remain faithful. I do not tend to like infidelity so I loved it when then heroine decided that she was going to consummate her marriage despite her fears of his physical deformities. Yes she was encouraged by the behavior of a certain individual but she made the choice to go to her husband. It would have been so easy for Erienne to take the other route so the small snippet below is just one of the many scenes that I love with her.
“Tis Erienne, milord.” She loosed the belt and dropped her robe, then leaned a knee upon the bed. The waiting silence continued, and drawing up her other knee and climbing onto the mattress, she sat back on her heels. Her voice trembled as she spoke her reason for coming. “My lord, I am less afraid of what you are than what I might become I you do not make me your wife in full. ‘Tis my plea that you take me to you so no further questions might be involved in our marriage.”
I didn’t fall in love with the hero, Christopher Seton, for quite some time. First I had my doubts as to how he was going to become the hero. Erienne’s father forbade any interaction between the two since he was the person who wounded Farrell and being a loyal daughter Erienne placed all the blame for her current list of very undesirable suitors on him. Then Erienne was auctioned on the block and married to Lord Saxton so her father could pay his outstanding debts, some directly owed to and others bought by the same Christopher Seton. Prior to the marriage auction, Mr. Seton made a habit of not just pursuing Erienne but also rescuing her from events that might not have happened just yet if he hadn’t been involved. I liked him for all of that but then after the marriage when he continued his attempts to seduce Erienne, which is when I decided that he needed some redemption before becoming a worthwhile hero. Lets just say that Ms Woodiwiss was able to make me believe in Mr. Seton as a hero.
Ms Woodiwiss didn’t just deal with the romance but she also included murder mysteries, revenge, highwaymen, a mysterious black rider, lecherous lords and ladies, missing tax revenues and tally books, brutal deaths, unlikely heroes, and gorgeous sounding clothes and jewelry. All of this is woven throughout the story of the romance and also provides some of the impetus for the actions of a few key individuals. The blending of the different threads still seems seamless as I re-read it mumble years later. It still provides me with hours of entertainment since this was also written when novels were expected to have a much longer word-count then now. When I finished reading once again I regretted the shift away from large books because the authors could have a romance span months or even years without losing the reader due to skipped scenes. The characters and settings could also be fully developed without cheating one or the other. I never thought that the story suffered due to a shorter word count.
A Rose in Winter doesn’t include any of the balls, Almacks, stale lemonade, rakes who are reformed by the heroine that can appear to be overused in today’s historicals. If you haven’t tried Ms Woodiwiss yet and you are looking for something that doesn’t fit the formula I highly recommend this one.
Publisher: Pocket Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
The second exciting, romantic addition to the Christie family series!
Esteemed astronomer Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police.
Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man–vital and strong–behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remains at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests–and in a lasting love that conquers all? This blurb came from the author’s website here.
As I have mentioned before I tend to be on the look out for good historical romances. When we were offered a chance to review Starlight I didn’t bother to find the back cover blurb nor did I look to see if this was part of a series. I found that out reading Ms Lofty’s guest post. My OCD would have preferred that I started at the beginning but once I cracked open and read the first page I was too impatient to stop and start a new book.
I haven’t read very many books set in this time period. Not to mention it is hard to find historicals set in Europe that don’t involve balls, lords and ladies, or spies. With Starlight Ms Lofty provided an unusual time period, setting and very distinctive characters much to my enjoyment. I remember studying the different phases of the Industrial Revolution and hearing about the abysmal working conditions – not to mention the fact that sometimes the younger and smaller the worker is the more dangerous their jobs were. I also knew that unions had a lot to do with the work benefits people enjoy world-wide today but that was an uphill battle. Much like the struggle for any improved civil rights is.
I felt so sorry for poor Alex. He really didn’t have a clue how to interact with people, what to do as a cotton mill owner, or what to think about Polly who was about as opposite from his deceased wife as you can get. He was bound and determined to fulfill the requirements of his father’s will so that he could keep his infant son safe from his father-in-law. The father-in-law was certainly a well-drawn villain. He shaped so much in Starlight by his written threats and his actions in the past. Watching Alex grow emotionally, learn about the common man and also discover whom he could be was a treat. Yes, there were some occasions when I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into him but he was staying true to his character, and when it was do or die time Alex performed magnificently.
Polly was another complex character. She was torn between her loyalty to her community, her fears about a former suitor and her growing attraction to Alex. As the unofficial leader of the union and depended upon by many others to improve their circumstances Polly rarely had anything to herself. She was also the target of an unscrupulous overseer from a different cotton mill who had other things on his mind then getting a profit from his mill. While Polly continued to maintain her contact with Alex with the mindset of getting him on the side of the union she also enjoyed her interactions with him and did what she could to assist with his issues. One of my favorite scenes with them was the potluck after church followed by a rousing sporting match/brawl.
I really enjoyed the interaction between Polly and Alex. How they both struggled to do what was right while still enjoying their life. On different occasions each did something they knew the other would not like but if they hadn’t it would have betrayed their individual characters. I also really liked how both characters had to work through their personal issues and trust each other at the very end. I do have to say that I am very curious as to what motivated Sir William Christie to phrase his will in such a way. And that I will be reading the rest of the Christies.
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Jan 28th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Recently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole, and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home—a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony’s top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen. Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy’s latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can’t refuse—her freedom. From the chip, her parole, and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go… Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time? This blurb came from the author’s website.
I was browsing Netgalley (I know this appears to be a common theme) looking for upcoming books when I ran across Caught in Amber I was already reading Rulebreaker, also by Pegau and set in the same world, so I took a look at the blurb. Everything about it just screamed my name so I went ahead and requested a copy. My advice is that you do not start reading this if you have anything you are supposed to do for the next several hours, including such things like sleep, eat, or go to work. After introducing the characters and the set-up, Pegau does not let up on the tension until the book ends.
Sasha was such a complex person. She was paying her dues for breaking the law and determined to do what she needed to live out the terms of her parole while she regained as much of a life as she could. Sasha went from the pretty girl next door to the mistress of a suspected drug kingpin, drug addict, and then ex-convict. Along the way her family decided that she had made her choices so they decided she was no longer part of the family. Sasha was strong enough to leave Guy but not strong enough to resist her amber addiction. She was caught shoplifting in an attempt to get enough money to pay for her next dose. As a result of stealing, when the reader meets Sasha all she had was a few acquaintances, her permanent convict chip and a weekly appointment at the parole office to ensure she stayed off of amber. Amber was the drug of choice for the mining colony and it seemed to possess a mixture of the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. Its name was derived from the signature color.
Nathan wanted one thing and that was to rescue his sister, Kylie, from Guy’s clutches and her amber addiction. Privy to knowledge about Guy’s latest set of mistresses, none of whom were still living, and their physical similarities to Sasha, he deduced that Guy still had an obsession with Sasha that he could use to his advantage. Nathan didn’t want anything bad to happen to Sasha but he also was willing to do and promise whatever he had to gain Sasha’s assistance. I thought he was extremely callous but it was understandable. Heck, he even thought he should be ashamed of some of the things he promised. However, as the book continued and Nathan began to see Sasha as more than a tool his mindset changed. That resulted in my liking Nathan as the hero and not just as a protective older brother.
Pegau had my sympathies for Sasha from the very beginning. Even though she made a series of bad choices she had learned her lesson. Not to mention she developed an iron will and refused to get sucked back into Guy’s world. I was really worried about her as she spent more time dealing with Guy’s obsession and around the temptation of amber while juggling Nathan’s interest. I was continually amazed by her choices and her dedication to get Nathan’s sister out despite the danger to herself, and not just physically but mentally. In fact she was the one who kept Nathan from destroying their chances of success several times. Nathan took a while to grow on me. A few times he verged on TSTL actions brought about by the combination of his sense of protectiveness and guilt at bringing Sasha into the situation. Once Nathan’s viewpoint of Sasha changed, I totally fell for him. He played the criminal so well yet he also felt responsible for everyone. I enjoyed his interactions with his work partner, Natalia Hallowell, and Guy’s personal assistant, Genevieve Caine. He never once treated them like they were less than equals which I thought boded well for his continued relationship with Sasha. My heart completely melted as he honored his bargain with Sasha, gave her the freedom to do whatever she wanted and then asked if she would stay with him.
As I said in the beginning, Pegau continued to crank up the tension as the book progressed. Each time I thought I could take a breather, things got more exciting which increased my reading enjoyment. I really enjoyed the tension build up and how Sasha and Nathan got to know each other. I also liked the supporting characters such as Natalia and Genevieve who had so many layers hinted at but never revealed. Pegau also makes sure that the bad boys get their comeuppance one way or another. While Caught in Amber is the second book set in this particular world you do not have to read Rulebreaker first but it will introduce you to the world and its peculiarities. I enjoyed reading Caught in Amber and I am looking forward to Pegau’s next book.
Interesting historical western romance. Dealt with the issues of a woman, let alone an ethnic woman gaining control of land upon the death of her husb...moreInteresting historical western romance. Dealt with the issues of a woman, let alone an ethnic woman gaining control of land upon the death of her husband. His family thinks she had him murdered and wants her punished plus they want the land and money. They hire a Pinkerton to investigate....
Watching the two of them dance around each other, flirt, start to trust and then have to deal with mother nature and those hidden backstories...(less)
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: Self Published Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: From the author
Successful businessmen Zane and Trey have been a club of two since they were eighteen. They’ve done everything together: play football, fall in love, even get smacked around by their dads. The only thing they haven’t tried is seducing the same woman. Executive chef Rebecca learned early not to count on anyone. She raised her younger brothers by herself—with no adult being the wiser. Her knack for professional cooking kept the boys housed and fed. Now she’s damned if it won’t pay their way through Harvard as well. Add in running Trey’s new restaurant, and her plate is too full for romance. That’s an attitude the bad boys intend to change. Zane and Trey have set their sights on the sexy chef, a female too tantalizing to be all work and no play. When their hearts enter the equation, and when they realize they’re both pursuing her, the committed twosome faces their hardest test of all . . . This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have been a fan of Holly’s for several years. She was my introduction to contemporary erotica and erotic romance and I have enjoyed reading her ever since. As a result, I eagerly accepted the review request and I am glad that I did. Holly provided a very intense m/m/f that actually dealt with some of the emotional issues I could imagine popping up that include jealousy, uncertainty about being loved, and the importance of privacy. Holly handled all of those with her usual deft ability drawing me into her characters and their struggles and providing a satisfying ending without cheapening what the characters have gone through.
Zane and Trey, next-door neighbors, don’t have the happiest of lives when the book opens. They both grew up with only their abusive fathers providing the initial thread that tied them together. The second thread was their individual bisexuality and the third thread was their mutual attraction and compatibility. From there they developed a strong friendship that included attending the same prestigious university and continuing their relationship. Both Zane and Trey enjoyed sexual encounters with women but they never developed a relationship with them and they never involved another man. As Zane and Trey approached college graduation over lunch one day they decided to go into business together as full partners in a venture called the Bad Boys Club that was going to start with a magazine and expand from there. Ten years later the Bad Boys Club had grown into a billion dollar enterprise.
Rebecca also grew up with a troubled home life. After her mother died when she was a teenager, her father walked out and told Rebecca to call the state so they could take her two younger brothers. Instead of doing that, she worked to keep her brothers so they could be a family without outside interference. One of the skills she learned she had one morning was the ability to create really good food, so she became a chef. She was working as a lunchtime waitress when she encountered Zane and Trey as they decided to start the Bad Boys Club. Both men were attracted to her but nothing went further than a very nice tip at the end of the meal. Ten years later Rebecca has quit her job and decided to apply as the head chef for Trey’s new restaurant.
I really enjoyed that Zane and Trey had a complete relationship together without Rebecca. Unlike other ménages that can give the impression that the couple isn’t complete without a third person they just haven’t met yet, Holly did not fall into that trap. Rebecca happened to be the perfect woman for both men but they did not need her to be complete. They had to decide to open their relationship, which meant they had to deal with being human. Zane and Trey had to learn how to be comfortable sexually with each other in Rebecca’s presence. Rebecca also had to learn that she wasn’t displacing or coming in between what the two men already had. They were not able to solve their issues overnight but had to actually work on it over time. To me, the gradual build-up of the emotional side of their relationship added credibility to their ménage.
Rebecca, Zane and Trey also had to deal with having their painful pasts brought up into the very public eye along with their current relationship. While I felt for the three of them and how their privacy was both invaded and violated, I absolutely loved how they got theirs back. It took a concerted effort from all three, plus Rebecca’s brothers and their friends. Those events also had the effect of solidifying their relationship and commitment to each other, which really made my heart melt.
I would be doing a disservice to this review if I did not mention the sexual side of the relationship. While I was not exactly happy with the timing and location of Rebecca’s first sexual encounter with Trey I do like how it was handled afterward. I also agreed with Rebecca’s logic about continuing anything with Trey. I was glad to see that Zane also had his chance with Rebecca so when they initiated their first threesome everyone was on the same level. Holly always does a good job with her descriptions not just of the actions but the emotions involved and conveyed. Even in their sexual encounters Holly ensured that the level of comfort and trust in their emotional relationship was also depicted before, during and after the physical actions. I think the best part of the sexual side is that Holly did not leave out m/m loving because Trey and Zane had a committed relationship before Rebecca. To have ended those encounters would have completely lost my buy-in for their relationship and the chance for a HEA.
As I said in my status update when I finished reading The Billionaire Bad Boys Club, Holly has done it again. She provided me with a very satisfying complete story that had damaged protagonists healing themselves over time. They dealt with their past and looked forward to their future. They also exhibited very human emotional concerns throughout their relationship that provided a solid ground to keep me invested. Holly continues to be one of my auto-buy authors.
Probably 3.5 stars. Sweet romance with a burnt out abused woman and some equally abused horses finding themselves again. Hero seemed kinda wishy-washy...moreProbably 3.5 stars. Sweet romance with a burnt out abused woman and some equally abused horses finding themselves again. Hero seemed kinda wishy-washy at first but then he stabilized. Heroine's brother was a jerk. (less)