Interest in Meriel was strongly hinted at by Quinn in the aforementioned book, and it was those minute innuendos that made me really hope they would be the next ones to get a book in the series.
Well, with A Talent for Temptation, Meriel and Quinn have earned themselves a novella. While I was a bit disappointed at first that they didn't warrant a longer story, by the end, I was completely on board with this choice.
Widow Meriel Vyse has been acting as a spy for her brother-in-law for a number of years now. She feels indebted to him for a kindness he did for her. But she's also been alone far too long after losing her husband. When she met Quinn, the relationship they formed is one that she cherishes, for all that it's kept secret from everyone.
Quinn thinks it's time to ask Meriel to marry him. But he's equally tired of all the times she throws him over for something she has to do for her brother-in-law. Determined to show Meriel that he too can be gallant and brave, Quinn sets up a fake abduction in which he'll swoop in and save Meriel and, of course, she'll then agree to marry him. Well, she ends up stabbing him instead.
I think it speaks a lot about Sabrina Jeffries's writing that these two extremely secondary (possibly even going so far as to call them tertiary) characters jumped off the page so much for me in The Pleasures of Passion (without even having any scenes together) that I wanted them to get their own story told.
A Talent for Temptation was a quick read that was satisfying in the fact that it gave two standout background characters a chance to shine and pretty much enrich the world Sabrina Jeffries has already built up with the previous four books (plus an additional novella) in the series. I would have loved the story to be a bit longer, but I think for what we got, we learned a lot about both Meriel and Quinn's pasts, and their affections for one another were thoroughly felt.
Another purpose of the novella, and something that it did quite nicely as well, was bridge the gap between The Pleasures of Passion and the upcoming (and possibly last book in the series) The Secret of Flirting which will feature Meriel's brother-in-law the spymaster Baron Fulkham.
With that in mind, I enjoyed reading this novella, and I'm very excited to see where the story takes us next.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
The fifth book in Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan with Love series, sees twin Felicity "Fliss" Knight facing down her ex-husband Seth Carlyle whom she'sThe fifth book in Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan with Love series, sees twin Felicity "Fliss" Knight facing down her ex-husband Seth Carlyle whom she's managed to avoid since they got divorced ten years ago.
Readers saw Seth pop up unexpectedly in the previous book New York, Actually when Fliss's brother Daniel ran into him at the vet. From that moment the history between Seth and Fliss was clear and intriguing. And as we come to learn, Fliss like to avoid anything like history, so when her grandmother calls and needs help for a few weeks in the Hamptons, Fliss decides now is a perfect time to get out of the city. What she doesn't expect, is for Seth to also be in the Hamptons this summer.
Seth Carlyle has never quite gotten over Fliss. Probably because their divorce was so sudden. They never got the closure they needed. Well, Seth is determined to get said closure so he can finally move on with his life. Thing is, Seth doesn't really want to move on from Fliss. What he wants is the ever closed-off Fliss to confide in him and to start over with her. When he runs into her in the Hamptons, he realizes that fate put her in his path, and he's not going to give her up to easily this time.
Second-chance romances are one of my favorites. I love when couples have history between them, it just makes for such a heated / chemistry filled read, and Seth and Fliss's romance is no different. Not wanting to really give too much away, I'll suffice it to say that I liked the way Sarah Morgan built up their relationship. They way the pieces of information about their marriage are steadily given throughout the book was perfect. Not too much at one time, and not too little that I felt the story was dragging along.
Their history, while heart-breaking, was not the whole defining feature of the story. We know from Daniel's story in New York, Actually that the Knight children grew up in a less than ideal situation at home with a father that was both physically and verbally / emotionally abusive towards his children and wife. We see a different aspect of this abuse from Fliss's perspective. The words her father would spew at her took a much more emotional toll on her that ended up filtering its way into her eventual relationship and marriage with Seth. Sarah Morgan is deft, yet subtle, at conveying that these issues don't necessarily go away with time. The words people speak to us can have a profound effect on us, and this is what Fliss is going / has gone through her entire life. It was also a form of miscommunication between Seth and Fliss which ends up ruining their relationship. In Holiday in the Hamptons we see Fliss take steps towards moving past the damage done to her and I loved it.
Now that we've gotten both Fliss and Daniel's stories told, I guess it's time for Harriet's turn next. Fliss's twin had her own horrible experiences during childhood, but she's come a long way and working with animals has helped. Harry has been such a sweet, often soft-spoken character in these last two books, I was happy when we kind of see her break out of that shell in this book. I can't wait to see how her Happily Ever After comes about.
While the stories in this series are all completely able to be read as standalones, I think the three books that make up this story arc about the Knight siblings are best read together. I think the depth of the connection between Daniel, Fliss, and Harry is best conveyed if you read it from the start, and really this series has been nothing but great romantic reads for me anyway, so I don't think it's too much to recommend reading them all!
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Young Jane Young deals with congressional intern Aviva Grossman who makes the mistake of sleeping with her boss - i.e. the very married Congressman. Comparisons can be easily made between Aviva's fictional story and that of Monica Lewinsky. And Zevin clearly showcases the double standard in a case such as Aviva's where her entire life is turned upside down after one youthful indiscretion, making her unhirable to anyone who is able to do a Google search, forcing her to move and change her name to the titular Jane Young, yet the Congressman gets to continue to be in office and his reputation is quickly back on track.
Zevin doesn't just choose to make this Aviva's story, however. We are given perspectives from the women who are all effected in some way by the scandal. Rachel - Aviva's mother, Aviva - aka Jane - herself, Ruby - Aviva's daughter, and Embeth - the wife of the congressman. I really loved the varying degrees in which the scandal effects these women at different times in their lives and how they each choose to deal with it. Zevin goes a long way no painting any of the females into the role of villain just as much as she doesn't completely dump Aviva into the victim category either. We all make mistakes in our lives, and we are, to a certain extent, defined by how we handle ourselves in the face of those mistakes despite certain standards being forced upon one sex over another in some cases. One person is not necessarily strong than another based on the choices they make, just different perspectives.
I enjoyed this story, and I'll definitely be looking into reading more books by Gabrielle Zevin.
Living in the city had been Jordan's dream for as long as she can remember after growing up in a small town. Now that she's achieved her dream she nevLiving in the city had been Jordan's dream for as long as she can remember after growing up in a small town. Now that she's achieved her dream she never thought she'd end up back in small-town America when her job as a television producer sends her to Lucky Hollow, Montana. The goal: find one Luke Elliott and convince him to be a contestant on her new reality show Jilted. A send up of The Bachelor except the man at the head of the competition is one that has left numerous brides at the altar in the past, therefore making him the ultimate "prize" to whichever lady can win his heart.
Jordan hits a roadblock, however, when is becomes very apparent that Luke is not interested in parading himself in front of the country and opening up old wounds again. Ever determined, Jordan will not let his reluctance keep her from doing her job. With the surprising support of everyone else in Lucky Hollow who believe Luke should give the show a chance in order to get out of his shell, Jordan embarks on finding out exactly what happened between Luke and the three women he alternately left at the altar. Along the way, Luke and Jordan, people from two seemingly opposite sides of the tracks, just may end up feeling more for each other than they're prepared for.
Overall, I liked the idea behind Ready to Run. I liked the underlying theme that not everything (or everyone) is not as it (or they) seem. People are full of layers, and most of the time we're only getting a view of the surface in those we interact with. We definitely don't figure out the full extent of what happened between Luke and his three fiancees until very near the end of the book, but Jordan definitely comes into the situation making assumptions on the most basic level of knowledge about Luke. With Jordan's own past not being fully revealed to readers until after the halfway mark, one would think that she'd ask questions first, and jump second, but it doesn't exactly work out that way. Conversely, we see Luke also making assumptions regarding Jordan just based on how she dresses and conducts herself. I honestly loved seeing the moments when things clicked between Jordan and Luke.
On the other side, however, I also had issues with how many facts were kept close to the chest. Mainly in Luke's case, I thought it actually took too long for him to come clean about everything that happened between him and his fiancees. It was dragged out a little too long for my tastes and ended up making the "big reveal" not so shocking in the long run. Then again, maybe that's an intentional form of commentary on Lauren Layne's part. That we, as individuals, build up the things that we fear revealing the most in our heads when in reality they're not as dire as we make them out to be.
Regardless, I enjoyed watching Jordan and Luke's chemistry lead them to one another and the after-effects when they realize that Jordan's job clashes with their feelings for one another.
Lauren Layne is an author that I've come to count on to deliver good, often sweet, romances with a nice level of heat. After reading Ready to Run, I think this new series will prove to be no different. I look forward to seeing where we go next with Runaway Groom out next month.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Harper Chase has been working toward her goal of running the Chicago Rebels hockey team her entire life. Despite being the daughter of the owner of4.5
Harper Chase has been working toward her goal of running the Chicago Rebels hockey team her entire life. Despite being the daughter of the owner of the team, and NFL legend Crawford Chase, Harper has worked her way up from the bottom to learn all the ins and outs of the business. So when her father passes away and Harper learns the fate of the team is contingent on her and her half sisters successfully leading the team to a season win (which seems like an impossibility considering the Rebels are the second worst in the league) Harper is blindsided by the news. But it's not the first tough time Harper has faced in her life, and she assumes it won't be the last. Her strategy toward meeting the goal set before her rests on the shoulders of Remy DuPre, a talented hockey player almost on his way out. Harper knows with his talent, he could pull the team together, however, she doesn't bank on Remy not exactly being happy about his addition to the team. But as these two clash, they quickly discover an attraction that won't be stifled despite the risk involved if their relationship is discovered.
Irresistible You was one of those wonderful books that I didn't know I needed until I was already engrossed within its pages. It was a nearly perfect read for me, and the set up for more with the characters in future books is really promising.
The attraction between Remy and Harper was built up to perfection. I loved the enemies-to-lovers / "office" romance trope that this particular story deals with. Harper's reluctance to become involved with Remy is completely valid due to events in her past that makes her weary of the complications that can arise with such a hook-up. But it also speaks true to how she, as a woman in what is considered a man's world, would be picked apart by the very industry that she loves with all her heart. The double standard that Harper and her sisters have to deal with is front and center, and it's definitely something that will continue to pop up with the remainder of the books in the series I suppose.
Really, though, Remy was just the best hero to Harper's heroine. His understanding for Harper's situation is great, even though he doesn't want to give outsiders and critics the power to determine he and Harper's relationship status. He tries everything to convince her that the only opinions that matter are his and hers. In an instance where many authors would have thrown in an almost unnecessary conflict between our main characters to draw them apart, I appreciated the way Kate Meader navigated through Remy and Harper's courtship. It rang true for me. I loved it.
Kate Meader is no stranger to highlighting sibling relationships as can been seen in her Hot in Chicago series. Here, it's the only aspect that I wish we got a little more depth on. Half-sisters Harper, Isobel, and Violet have such a checkered past between them, and with the mandate that they all be involved in the team in some way, shape, or form, it's an opportunity for them to get past the issues between them, and grow closer.
As I say I would have loved more depth between the sisters here, but I'll leave off with the caveat that since this is a series, hopefully readers will see them continue to grow together in the remaining books. If that's the case, I'll be satisfied, but as of right now, I'm left wanting more. Which I suppose is not a bad thing.
Kate Meader definitely leaves us with a pretty nice set-up (and one of my favorite romance tropes) for the next book / sister. I wish it was out now. This series is definitely one that has binge-worthy potential.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
If you read The Untamed Vampire you should be pretty acquainted with Saeed who was turned by Mikhail and then promptly swept up in the memories of theIf you read The Untamed Vampire you should be pretty acquainted with Saeed who was turned by Mikhail and then promptly swept up in the memories of the Collective. While looking through the memories of those long since dead, Saeed sees a beautiful Fae woman. Instantly he knows this woman is meant to tether his soul. When he's given information that suggests the fae woman is in Seattle, Saeed quickly steps down as head of his coven, and departs.
What awaits Saeed is an entrapment that is centuries long. Cerys Bain was captured by the feared mage Rinieri de Rege centuries ago. As a soul thief, Cerys generates enough fear on her own merit, but being under the command of Rin, and people try to avoid her at all costs. It's been a lonely existence for Cerys, but when she meet Saeed and he speaks about tethering, she can't help but draw a little bit of hope about one day being free, no matter how futile this hope may be.
I loved the build up of Saeed and Cerys' story in the previous book. I think that maybe this set me up for certain expectations, and while I still really enjoyed their romance, it didn't quite meet the expectations I had myself set up for.
While, yes, Saeed has been looking for Cerys for months and envisioning her within the Collective, Cerys doesn't know anything about Saeed. So I felt her attraction wasn't as genuine as Saeed's, understandable so of course. I would have like to have seen a little more balance in regards to Cerys' feelings for Saeed. I felt like the action of the storyline moved along too quickly. Really, the story is supposed to take place over the course of weeks thereby giving Cerys and Saeed the ability to get to know one another, but for me, it didn't feel like that. Had it, I think I would have been more on board with Cerys' feelings for Saeed.
I did love the insertion of the fae into the supernatural mix of this series. Of course the vampires take center stage, but I like that it's not just vampire and vampire tethering that's happening. I love that the world has been expanded out a bit more, and this includes Saeed actually leaving LA. True, he doesn't travel too far, but I like that things are growing as the series grows.
One of the big draws for me, and something that Kate Baxter has really executed well up to this point, is the overarching storyline with Ian Gregor and the berserkers. Their backstory, and the history they have with the vampires is very interesting. What's more interesting is Gregor's endgame. How is everything being set into place for the finale? I think we still have a few more set-ups, before then. Besides the Gregor storyline, Kate Baxter seems to have some interesting character romances in the works. I say "seems to" because I never know how these things will end up playing out, but I can't wait to see.
So far, this has been a great series, that keeps getting better. ...more
Wicked Bite takes places three months after the events in Wicked Kiss and the drug Apollo has found itself back on the streets of Seattle. Determin4.5
Wicked Bite takes places three months after the events in Wicked Kiss and the drug Apollo has found itself back on the streets of Seattle. Determined to once and for all find and stop the manufacturer, witch Nessa, formerly of the Coven Nine, has decided to go under cover. Her plan: go straight to the source of the problem (or the supposed source) in Grizzly Territory, in particular the Alpha of Grizzly Nation: Bear. Nessa's plan is two-fold. Besides needing information she suspects Bear has been hiding, she's also promised Bear's sister, Simone, that she would heal him, and hopefully in the process, secure him as a mate to up her own fire powers, which are non-existent at this point. What Nessa doesn't foresee are the many people coming out of the woodwork to collect on a mysterious bounty put on her head. In order to figure out who put the hit on her, as well as who is distributing Apollo, Nessa will have to trust in the Grizzly alpha, but with that trust, Nessa will be called upon to reveal her most hidden secrets.
Bear has never liked dealing with other supernatural factions. He's always been happiest to keep his shifter separate from whatever drama they have going on. But after saving his sister, his health is failing. Despite not liking the surprise of finding a witch in his territory, Bear needs Nessa to heal him. When her plan also involves their mating, he's not sure he's completely on board with that, but he's determined to figure out what else Nessa is really doing in his territory. As the undeniable bond between them grows, and as the danger becomes ever more apparent, Bear will have to figure out if her secrets are enough to keep them apart.
After reading Wicked Kiss, I came into this book very excited to finally get Bear's story. He's been a solid secondary character for this entire series. What I didn't expect was how much I loved Nessa. So much so that I wish we would have gotten more of her throughout the series as well. But, as it stands, the glimpses we did get of her in previous books goes a long way to reinforce the idea behind her character as one that is completely underestimated. She turns out to be quite the kick-ass heroine and completely capable in her own right, to take care of herself. In this same vein, however, I loved that Rebecca Zanetti chose to make a commentary on how it's ok for even the most capable and powerful women to accept help when needed, and when they know that being helped is the best course of action, but also understanding when to step up / step in and offer their own assistance. I would have liked this commentary to have transitioned over into the sex scenes a little more though. Of course we get the hot alpha dominance, but I would have liked if things went the other direction in the case of the pairing between Nessa and Bear. I just don't think it quite hit that mark.
I'll admit, I went into this book not realizing that it's probably the last in this spin-off series based on how the storyline plays out in regards to Apollo; which has been the major story arc since the beginning. I've felt for a couple of books now, the need for this storyline to finish itself out and Rebecca Zanetti, in fact, does that here and does it in a very clever way that has been wanting to go back to the first book Wicked Ride to look for clues throughout the series. I think the story ended where it needed to end in order to keep from getting too monotonous. I enjoyed that this book brought back my fave couple Simone and Nick from Wicked Burn and gave more closure to their story.
Overall, I've enjoyed this series, and while I'm sad to see it end, I'm happy with how everything finishes. I look forward to reading what's next from Rebecca Zanetti. I would definitely recommend reading the previous books in the series before tackling this one. If you have, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
The Hunting Grounds is the second book in Katee Robert's Hidden Sins series and if you've read the first book The Devil's Daughter, you'll see FBI ageThe Hunting Grounds is the second book in Katee Robert's Hidden Sins series and if you've read the first book The Devil's Daughter, you'll see FBI agent Vic Sutherland take the lead this time around.
Vic has been on the trail of a serial killer. There's been a string of murders in various National Parks throughout the country, and now, the case has led him to Glacier National Park. Now, not only does Vic have to deal with the murders escalating, but he's brought face-to-face again with his former partner Maggie Gaines. Vic has thought a lot about Maggie over the years, especially about how they left things. Vic will have to decide if dealing with their past is more important than dealing with the killer present.
Maggie left the FBI, and her partner Vic, after a particularly awful case. Becoming a park ranger was one of the best decisions she's made since her original dream crashed and burned. But it seems like her past and present are on a collision course, and standing in the way is Vic Sutherland. Vic, who Maggie always had a secret crush on when they were partners, even though he was married at the time. All that will have to be put aside, however, as they try to work together to find the killer.
I have to say that The Hunting Ground was wonderfully paced and the twists and turns about who the killer was were spot on as well. There were a few times where I thought Katee Robert would give us an easy solve to the puzzle, but no, she kept twisting things around until the big reveal at the end, and I really liked that she did.
In this regard, I felt like the serial killer storyline took bigger precedence over the romantic story plot, which I was ok with. Don't worry. There was enough romance between Maggie and Vic, but it never overshadows the mystery which allowed Katee Robert to really do it justice as opposed to giving us that easy solve I mentioned above.
I liked the connection between Maggie and Vic pasts. This speaks to an overarching theme within the story itself: how the past doesn't always stay buried. One of my favorite tropes is the second-chance romance, and while Vic and Maggie's circumstances vary slightly from the commonality of that trope, I still love that there's already history between them. It amps up the undeniable tension between them as well, just makes for some great smoldering scenes.
Overall, with the serial killer plot line and the building romance, The Hunting Ground proved to be a book that I was driven to read whenever I got a chance. I think there were a few more hints this time around about what characters could potentially get their own books in the future, and so far, I'm intrigued by all of them. So far, I'm really loving this series.
Milo is an old soul. In fact, he’s the oldest soul in existence. To be exact, he’s lived 9,995 lives. Milo has yOriginally posted at Vampire Book Club
Milo is an old soul. In fact, he’s the oldest soul in existence. To be exact, he’s lived 9,995 lives. Milo has yet to achieve Perfection, the one thing that would send him along to “The Oversoul” in the “Everything,” but Milo isn’t interested in anything but his one true love Suzie, aka Death. Milo soon learns, however, that a soul is only allowed 10,000 lives. Milo has five more tries to achieve Perfection, otherwise he’ll be automatically sent into “Nothingness” with no chance of being with Suzie ever again. Now, Milo will have to live his last five lives to the fullest looking for that which would make him Perfect, while at the same time figuring out how this can include an idea like Suzie.
I’m pretty much a sucker for a good love story, and the star-crossed love story of Milo and Suzie in Reincarnation Blues hit all the right spots for me. Technically, they shouldn’t be together. While not necessarily frowned upon, definitely a relationship that cannot, in the end, go anywhere. Yet Milo and Suzie’s determination to defy the odds is endearing, and the stuff great romances are made of.
With that said, however, what really takes the cake in Poore’s Reincarnation Blues are the varying ideas about life and the afterlife. Seeing Milo in all sorts of different situations—from the mundane to the frightening, a simple past to a horrifying look at the future—Michael Poore really makes vivid portraits of belief, yet doesn’t get preachy with it either. It’s very fluid and slightly generic, but in the best way possible. He delivers the ideas about the afterlife in a clear and cohesive way that could make anyone appreciate it and understand it on any level.
For all that there are definitely some lives of Milo’s that are disturbing to read about, for the most part Michael Poore keeps things from feeling too weighted by seriousness all the time mainly by coupling Milo’s quest for Perfection with the love story. The love story, as unlikely as a relationship between a mortal soul and Death is made to appear, represents a thread of hope. You can see this hope transcend not only into wanting Milo and Suzie to be together in the end, but into many of the lives Milo inhabits throughout time. The one thing that keeps people going.
The setting drifts back-and-forth between Earth and the Afterlife, with the latter being, in my opinion, far more interesting. Probably because I enjoyed the conceptualization of the Afterlife more than that of future Earth, which is what is dealt with in the majority of Milo’s lives that we experience. Also probably due to the fact that the times spent in the Afterlife were relatively brief scenes, whereas the Earth scenes tended to drag on a little too much for my tastes.
I’ve been seeing Reincarnation Blues pop up on quite a few sci-fi/fantasy lists lately. Presenting interesting ideas about life and Death as well as a love story that defies time and space, Reincarnation Blues was an overall enjoyable read for me....more
Matrona has always tried to be the dutiful daughter her parents expect her to be. She stays on top of her chores and never complains. She’s even gone so far as to agree to marry the man of her family’s choosing, despite having a long-harbored secret attraction to a younger man in her village. Pretty much she’s living the status quo. There’s nothing really to shake up the comfortable existence that she and everyone else in the village have carved out for themselves.
That is, until one day, on her way home, Matrona decides to pay a visit to Slava, the local tradesman. Upon entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a room filled with nesting dolls. Dozens of hand-carved dolls that strike an eerie resemblance to the people of the village. When she finds the doll that resembles her father, Matrona’s curiosity is too much to keep her from messing with it. The next day, when her father begins acting in a strange and confused manner Matrona figures out that the dolls are more than just decorative; they actually hold some kind of magical force over the village.
As Matrona tries to unravel Slava’s connection to the dolls and what is going on in her village, she begins to piece together the puzzle of the past and visions of a place long forgotten.
I really loved the idea and, frankly, the imagery behind The Fifth Doll. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t familiar with a nesting doll, and to have a whole village’s inhabitants tied so intricately to said dolls gives them this sinister quality that I never would have associated them with until now.
However, the way the mystery unfolds for Matrona, along with readers, was too unfocused for my tastes. The little breadcrumbs that we are given are nothing compared to the big info drop we get toward the end of the book. While the truth behind everything was really intriguing, I would have liked things spread out a little more throughout the story.
As for Matrona, I could really feel her frustrations at living a redundant kind of life, but at the same time her reluctance to rock the boat. This is elegantly played out in Matrona’s attraction to the younger Jaska. The romantic element is definitely a secondary element, but it’s used as a device to get Matrona out of her shell a little bit. I liked the somewhat unconventionality of the relationship, for the time period.
Overall, The Fifth Doll is full of interesting concepts and magics. If the information was paced out a little differently I’d probably be giving it a higher rating. As it stands, Charlie Holmberg has never disappointed when it comes to going off the beaten path in regards to the stories she tells and The Fifth Doll stands up really well next to its predecessors....more