3.5 star review

Review – Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Only Enchanting

This is book 4 in the Survivor’s Club series, and I have generally enjoyed the previous entries in this series. The tone of the books is very different from what I usually read, but I have been feeling pretty iffy in my reading lately, so when this popped up on my Overdrive holds I jumped at it. The series is about 7 survivors of the Napoleonic War who convalesced together and maintain their friendships to this day.

Agnes Keeping is a sensible widow but she has such an irreverent love and joy of life, that something about her just strikes me that as very mischievous and romantic in the back of her mind. And Flavian has a horrible past and a debilitating stutter, and of the group of Survivors, he has outwardly seemed the least affected. But as we’ve all surely learned, appearances are most deceiving.

I think what I found so very marvelous about this story, is that it presents a hero who chooses a lady who makes him feel safe. How wonderful and topsy-turvy that is. Yes, he was a dunderhead who didn’t know his own mind, and who didn’t say what he should have said when he should have said it. But Flavian wanting to be safe with Agnes just gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Only Enchanting is absolutely correct, probably the most accurate title I’ve read in recent memory, though this is assuredly not the way the author intended it to be applied. And Agnes was simply so forthright about the whole awkward and tragic situation that you just can’t help but like her.

And here is the odd thing about this particular book, or maybe it is an odd thing about me, but, when I am reading a book, typically I just read the story and I am there with no real clear notice of whether or not I am reading dialogues, monologues, streams of conscious or whatever. I guess what I am trying to say is that my brain doesn’t typically care how the words are being translated into the story for me. But with this book, for some reason I was highly conscious of the dialogue. It was the most peculiar thing and it lasted for the entirety of the book and didn’t matter who was talking. And I don’t think it was the stutter, because Flavian’s speech seemed no more noticeable than anyone else’s

I have no clue what that will tell anyone else about the book, it was just the most notable thing for me.

So it was a perfectly delightful story with characters I enjoyed tremendously, but written in such a way that I was always very aware that I was reading a story. I felt a bit removed from it you could say. So I am struggling a bit with this rating. I enjoyed it immensely, and it was just the right book for the moment, but I don’t really think I will go back and re-read it either. So probably 3.5 stars is the most accurate for me.

Only Enchanting (Survivors' Club, #4)

4.5 star review

Review: Silk and Steel by Kat Martin

Silk and Steel

Earlier this month I was wandering around the Minneapolis/St . Paul airport, trying to waste some time while I waited for my flight.  I found a fairly good-sized book shop and my inner bookworm overpowered my frugal sensibilities and the hunt began.  My first time through, nothing caught my attention,  but on second glance the stereotypical cover art of a historical romance reeled me in! At the time I didn’t know this was the second book in a series, and it didn’t have the feel of a serial. I also didn’t know that this was an older title. I found it on the new release wall (with a new release price), but as I collected the image and link for this post I discovered that it was from the early 2000’s.

I love love love these cookie cutter books. Even though they mostly follow the same outline (ie lady in distress either convinced or entraps an affluent man into marriage ), I enjoy the nuances that each author uses to make their story unique.

Kat Martin’s SIlk and Steel is no exception to this concept. Her character development was well done, engaging and not too cliché. There was sex, but it wasn’t just about the sex. The characters had to learn about each other, and through that emerging friendship the reader gained some insight to the lives of each individual. I would recommend this title, without hesitation. It was a quick read, with a total time of about 4 hours. The total page count is about 370 pages.

Lady Kathryn Grayson has had a bit of bad luck. Her parents have both died, and with no close relatives to act as her guardian Kathryn (and her inheritance) was overseen by her Uncle Lord Dunstan. To keep the money close, and Kathryn out-of-the-way Dunstan has her imprisoned in a home for the mentally ill. This claim of insanity was based on a peculiar hobby Kathryn enjoyed taking part in during the late hours of the night. For nearly a year she suffered at the hands of those that should have protected her; but while she waited, she planned. Once an opportunity presented itself Kathryn made am escape and fell into the world she once had once belonged to…and into the home of Lucien Montaine.

It’s a topsy-turvy romance, with just enough suspense and drama to keep it interesting. It was a solid read and a great intro to a new writer for myself. I can’t wait to see what else Martin has to offer.

4 star review

Review – Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle

Sirens Call

The dust bunnies are here! Seriously, I adore Jayne Castle’s (AKA: Jayne Ann Krentz AKA: Amanda Quick) dust bunnies and her Harmony world. This is book 12 in the Harmony Series and either book 4 or 5 (depending on how you are counting them) in the Rainshadow part of the series.

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He’s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him…

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame…

I honestly don’t know about that blurb. I mean I guess it describes the book, it just doesn’t describe it like I experienced reading it, if that makes any sense. I don’t think I ever even bothered to read the blurb prior to making this post, because I knew I would be reading this book, because the thing that seems to be frustrating readers at this point in the series, is one of the things I am enjoying about it; you know exactly what you are getting. And right now that just seems comforting to me. And as always there are fun little nuggets for the intrepid reader who go across genres and pen names. And I love digging for them. As Always, you don’t have to cross through everything to enjoy the books, but since I do, I will make mention of a few of the cross-links because those are fun for me, so reader beware.

We are back in Rainshadow this time, with the newly discovered Wonderland catacombs, and freaking alien engineered dinosaurs. Yes, you read that right, dinosaurs. But on Harmony, everything is twisted a little bit, and these dinosaurs cast psychic lures like the Sirens of old Earth legend. Fortunately for Rafe Coppersmith (descendant of the same Coppersmiths from Krentz’s Dark Legacy series), he knows just the Siren to handle the job. Unfortunately, there is some acrimony there. There is also some concern, because even among the Arcane Society, Sirens are pretty typically considered one of the monsters.

With good reason, as reading through past series, they have pretty typically turned out to be villains. But that is one of those switches I appreciate in Castle/Krentz/Quick’s works, she’s not afraid to do some twisting of skills and types within her own framework. She may flip the script, but it still makes sense within her worlds’ logic. I also appreciate the care she takes in crafting the physiological and psychological effects of the talents she designs, they almost never feel like they come from out of no where. Assuming humans had evolved into psychic beings, I can see her talents making sense within that schema.

As for the story, it was just plain fun. And Lorelei with her accessorizing may be the cutest dust bunny yet. Of course I always say that, but it is always true. Siren’s Call has kidnappings, intrigues, double crosses, red herrings and of course two people falling in love. Yes it is a formula, but the difference is in the details and I love how she tweaks the formula for each set of characters and their needs and capabilities.

No it is not groundbreaking, but as I said, it is fun, and I think I’ll continue to enjoy these annual trips to Harmony for as long as she decides to take us there. Even despite the fact that Harmony is getting to be a little filled up with all the old world gangs that came across the Curtain.

On another note, I am still hoping for two books to come out, Quick’s third Ladies of Lantern Street, and Krentz’s third Dark Legacy. I know she doesn’t owe them to us, nor do I think she has promised them, but trilogies just seem to be her thing; one which i have come to depend on, and I think there are circles to be closed here.

Siren's Call (A Rainshadow Novel)

4 star review

Review and Giveaways – Laird Wolf by Vivian Arend

Laird Wolf

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

This is the second book in the Takhini Shifters series which is a spin off from the Takhini Wolves series. The first story in this series, Copper King, was one of the earliest things I reviewed. I liked that story a lot, but my reviewing certainly didn’t do it justice, so I hope I can do better this time. Plus, this time we have fabulous prizes. There’s a massive tour wide contest with plenty of excellent prizes, and a second contest where you can win a copy of Copper King.

Vivian is giving away one 6” Kindle, along with an assortment of shifter books, AND a wolfie in a kilt!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And to enter to win the digital copy of Copper King, just comment on the blog, either about this story, your favorite Vivian Arend book, or anything at all. Just comment and I’ll randomly draw a winner!

Now, on to the blurb and the review!


He’s a wolf in a kilt. That pretty much says it all…

Pulling off a rescue mission at a remote castle in Scotland should be an easy task for lone wolf Damon Black. He’ll flash some muscle, show a little Alpha power, and do whatever it takes to ease Addie MacShay’s fears. But the woman who throws herself into his arms and cries boyfriend is more intriguing than anticipated. The sexy she-wolf’s got more curves, more tantalizing scent, more of everything he desires.

Addie’s job cataloguing an estate at the Sterling-Wylde Manor is complicated by the ongoing discovery of new wills and the two creepy heirs who won’t leave her alone. But her fake boyfriend turns out to be a far greater threat—not only is he fun and flirtatious, he looks delicious in a kilt. She craves his touch, but with her empathic skills on overdrive, touch is the last thing she needs.

Damon’s fighting his unruly inner beast. Addie’s fighting their incredible sexual pull. They’ll both have to lower their guard to make this more than a Highland fling.

Wolfie in a Kilt, really that says it all, and don’t worry, you find out exactly what (or rather what he doesn’t) have on under that kilt.

On a more serious note, Addie has a photographic memory and an inconvenient quirky legacy from her two Omega parents. When she gets into an uncomfortable situation during her job as an estate cataloger, her best friend (the heroine from Copper King) sends in the calvary. Damon is an unlikely sort of hero, because that is the last thing he ever wants to try to be again, but man does he rock a kilt.

Both of these characters have strong reasons for not wanting to get into a relationship, but the chemistry and personal enjoyment in each other is palpable. And what I really enjoyed with this particular pair, is it WAS NOT an issue of insta-mate. They found out they liked each other, could work together, and grew to love each other, all without their beasts input. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a good insta-mate story, because I do, but that sort of connection just wouldn’t have worked for Addie and Damon.

So, if you think you’d enjoy a story where the heroine doesn’t go all naval gazing over the hero and can stomp him in chess without drooling over him or even interrupting her work day (but really knows how to work the evening, if you know what I mean), a hero who doesn’t get all bent out of shape when he gets stomped in chess by a woman – and knows how to have fun and rock a kilt, and if you didn’t know Highland Tigers are a real thing, then this may just be the perfect book for you.

(BTW, Highland Tigers are totally real, and my life is now complete because I know this. After you read the book check them out.)

Buy links:

Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo All Romance eBooks GooglePlay

Laird Wolf (Takhini Shifters #2)

About the Author: Vivian Arend in one word: Adventurous. In a sentence: Willing to try just about anything once. That wide-eyed attitude has taken her around North America, through parts of Europe, and into Central and South America, often with no running water. Her optimistic outlook also meant that when challenged to write a book, she gave it a shot, and discovered creating worlds to play in was nearly as addictive as traveling the real one.  Now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of both contemporary and paranormal stories, Vivian continues to explore, write and otherwise keep herself well entertained.

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4 star review

Review + Giveaway – The Highlander Takes a Bride



I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Edelweiss through Tasty Book Tours, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.


“A lady does no’ climb trees.”

“Ye’ve told me that three times now, lad,” Saidh responded dryly, shifting her foot up to the next branch and hauling herself upward.

“Aye, but ye’re still doing it, so I thought mayhap ye had no’ heard me,” Alpin said sharply. When she didn’t respond to that, he added, “I could climb up there to pick the apples and throw them down, ye ken.”

“Then there would be no one to catch them,” Saidh pointed out.

“I was thinking mayhap ye could stay below and catch them, as a lady should,” he said, sounding much put upon.

Saidh plucked the apple she’d been climbing to and glanced down to see where the boy was before dropping it in his direction. Once Alpin had caught it, and set it with the others they’d already gathered, she started to climb down and asked, “Just how old are ye, Alpin?”

“Nine,” he said proudly.

“Hmmm,” she muttered, easing down another branch. “Ye act ninety.”

“Laird MacDonnell says the same thing,” Alpin announced with disgust.

“Then we are in agreement,” Saidh said cheerfully, easing down another branch.

“I suspect the two o’ ye would agree on a lot o’ things,” Alpin said sounding annoyed.

“I suspect yer right,” Saidh said with a laugh and jumped to the ground. She took a moment to brush her hands together, then released her skirt from where she’d caught it up and stuck it through her belt for the climb, then beamed at the boy and said, “Is that no’ nice?”

“Nay,” Alpin assured her heavily. “I’m thinking ’tis a bad thing.”

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Why is that?”

“Because ye both just go about doing as ye wish with little regard fer how a laird or lady should behave,” he said firmly. “Someone needs to take the two o’ ye in hand and teach ye—What the devil are ye doing now?” he interrupted himself to ask with dismay when Saidh moved over to the apples, caught her skirt up and knelt to begin placing the apples in the bag-type affair she’d made of her skirt.

I have been anticipating this book ever since I read To Marry a Scottish Laird, and then Lynsay Sands answered my question on Goodreads Ask the Author. Saidh Buchanan has 7 brothers? Count me in! Between the characteristics she showed in the last book and the rough and tumble life she’s led, she sounded like a fun character reminiscent of Seonid from The Chase.

And now having read it, I can absolutely say I was not disappointed. Saidh embodied my recently discovered term/tag “competence porn“. And she was very like Seonid, but without the angst about herself.

What can I say about Saidh? She was always a bit of a tomboy, but when her mother dies when she is a child, sher father and her brothers raised her almost as if she was another one of the boys. She rides, she shoots, she sword fights, and she’ll brawl with her brothers. Basically, she’s nothing like other ladies and she’s happy with herself even though she suspects she’ll never get married (she’s fairly content with that too).

This particular story starts off back at the Sinclair’s celebrating the birth of Campbell and Joan’s first child. So we get a quick peak at the previous book’s hero and heroine’s continuing happily ever after, and a slight bit of sequel bait for the next book (I can’t wait to see what Sands pulls off for fainting Murina), and then we’re off to the current story. Saidh sets out to solve a mystery that she thinks her former actions to save one woman may have precipitated. As I said, she’s competent, she gets in there and gets things done, and that is highly appealing to me.

Greer, the hero of the story, is the new Laird MacDonnell. He’s a former mercenary, a truly good man, and he never expected to end up the laird of a clan. Naturally, he is instantly captivated by Saidh. All the things Saidh figured made her un-marriageable are just the things that appeal to Greer. He feels like he can be himself around her, and he accepts her. Granted, this is a bit of wish fulfillment, because it is unlikely that any man of the time period would have felt that way, but this is fiction, and it worked for me. I enjoy having main protagonists who genuinely like and appreciate each other, who respect each other, and when there are no Big Misunderstandings. That is my catnip, and Sands delivered in spades.

The book is also really humorous. Greer’s notions of honor are very strong, but his ideas of how to hold to them are kind of ridiculous. There was a very “only a man” sort of moment that had me in stitches. And this of course brought Saidh’s brother’s into play. I can absolutely picture her manhandling, and just handling them. Really, it was masterful. There’s also kind of a plot moppet in the form of a Greer’s Squire, that is a cantankerous old man trapped in a child’s body, and he provides some humorous elements as well as furthering the plot and opening Saidh’s eyes to other people’s perceptions.

In the end, I really did not catch the villain until it was laid out for me, and the red herrings were rather credible. I also believed in Saidh and Greer’s romance and their future. I look forward to the next books in this series. The Highlander Takes a Bride is sweet, satisfying, wish fulfilling catnip with a mystery plot that prevents the main characters from meandering into excessive navel gazing territory. 4 stars

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Grand Prize is a Print Set of All Three Highlander Romances and Winners Choice Scottish Stole.  Five (5) Runners Up will receive a Print Set of AN ENGLISH BRIDE IN SCOTLAND and TO MARRY A SCOTTISH LAIRD.  (ALL US ONLY)

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Buy Links:   Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo  

The Highlander Takes a Bride

Author Info

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at www.lynsaysands.net.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

4 star review

Review – Beware of Me by Cynthia Eden

Beware of Me
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

I have read and reviewed the previous titles in Cynthia Eden’s Dark Obsession series; Watch Me, Want Me, and Need Me. And FINALLY, Ethan’s book is here. As I have mentioned before, these things are like crack to me, and all the heroes have been John McClain from Die Hard in my mind, so I was insatiably curious what Eden would do with the anti-hero of the series.

And Ethan doesn’t disappoint, though he certainly isn’t John McClain. I am not sure who he is like, but he seems very individual, and maybe that is because we’ve had several books and several different people to get to know him through. We also have a connection to Mine to Have, and Victor, the prospective hero who stole the show in that book, so really there’s double the alpha hottie goodness in this particular book.

Carly and Ethan have some traumatic history together that spurred Ethan’s rise in his business. He let her go once because he thought it was best for her, but when their shared history puts her back in danger, he’ll do anything to protect her. There is a very satisfying, and creepy mystery. Plenty of red herrings to get lost in and I was never quite sure who the real villain was till the very end. This is a couple that is willing to fight everything for each other. Plus, the smexy times are very hot and well and sensitively done. (Content warning: the heroine is a rape survivor, this is mentioned as are the later ramifications but it is not graphically detailed.) There’s nothing quite like a mad, bad hero who is putty in his heroine’s hands, and a right bastard to the rest of the world. Ethan made a wonderful hero and Carly was an excellent foil for him, sweet and compassionate but no sensitive damsel in distress.

Cynthia Eden continues her string of crack-tastic romantic suspense that I just can’t stop reading. And as an added bonus, Victor is finally getting his own story in Mine to Protect, and it is “coming soon” according to the author.

Beware of Me (Dark Obsession, #4)

3.5 star review

Review – Diamond Dust by Vivian Arend Book 3 Takhini Wolves

Diamond Dust

The best laid plains don’t always turn out how you expected them to. Book 3 in the Takhini Wolves series is the culmination of the bear politics that have been woven through this series so far. Caroline Bradley has had a hell of a time lately. She schemed (lovingly and with good intents for all involved, but still she schemed) herself into a position of power as the lover of the Takhini pack alpha in order to straighten out his problems and to help establish a safe place for her sister. Only, it turned out her sister didn’t need that kind of help, and now the alpha has sniffed out his mate. She certainly isn’t sorry about that, because all they have ever been to each other is very good friends, but still, it puts her at loose ends.

And the Bear Convocation has rolled into town bringing with them mayhem and one hunky bear shifter. Tyler Harrison, owner of a wildly successful diamond mine and other financial interests is looking for ways to take leadership of the bears. Only he can’t do it alone. But Caroline, a human who is more like a shifter than most but ostensibly neutral to the bears, is perfect for the job of liaison and assistant. She’s also perfect for him, not that he is willing to admit it at first.

For some reason, bears are at the top of my list when it comes to shifters. Unlike wolves, everyone seems to do them a little different. Maybe not as different as honey badgers (still my favorite shifters), but still they tend to be a bit unique in every shifter author’s universe. So I really enjoyed exploring the differences with this particular group. Change is in the wind and sometimes it takes an outsider to see a way out, and Caroline, caretaker that she is, is completely prepared to step right in and resolve the matter. So it could have been disastrous, she could have been stuck in just a political game (and damned if these aren’t the most political bear shifters I have ever read of), but Tyler pulls it off to a satisfying conclusion. For all his clout and his political lacumen, for all his alpha dominance and power, he was really just a sweet old teddy bear when it comes to Caroline. How do you take care of a woman who takes care of everyone else? This bear has it right, you listen. He could have “beared” his way in, but instead of taking or pushing, he just let her take what she needed, express what she wanted. And Arend did a delightful job of making this seem like an integral characterization even in such a dominant and alpha individual. That is no mean feat.

It was a perfect, though perfectly surprising conclusion to this particular story arc.

And if you have made it with me so far with my journey with the Takhini Wolves in preparation for Wolfie in a Kilt (review and giveaway to come 07/28/2015), you might enjoy taking a step back into the past in my blog to my review for the conclusion of this particular series, Moon Shine, where you can meet one of my all time favorite Vivian Arend heroines.

Diamond Dust (Takhini Wolves, #3)

3.5 star review

Review – Silver Mine by Vivian Arend Book 2 Takhini Wolves

Silver Mine

This is the second book in the Takhini Wolves series and it continues the overall plot of the Whitehorse pack and the bear convocation. But, it is set further in the bush, and not terribly involved with the pack itself, and it turns out that is not a bad thing at all.

Chase Johnson is a cougar wolf crossbreed and one of the few who can shift to either beast, making him something of an outcast. But he has found his place in the wilds with others who are a bit different themselves. Shelly Bradley is every bit of an outcast herself, as a wolf who can’t shift and with a human sister who is more shifter than she is, she is still trying to find her place.

A chance encounter throws this somewhat unlikely pair together and needs beside the personal keep them in proximity allowing two people who aren’t inclined to let anyone close, to fall in love. The usual shifter mate dynamics are impossible for each of them, and so they forge their own way through some rather tricky situations.

I enjoyed seeing the dynamics for another, different sort of pack and it helped to flesh out the world and the people. They aren’t all brash and boisterous and secure in their animals. It added layers. Add in some more bear politics, some other shifter politics, and a life threatening plague, and it made for a rather exciting book. Plus, the reason for the title, Silver Mine, has absolutely nothing to do with actual mining, and was pretty funny. That is a heck of a nickname. 😉

And a very happily ever after for Shelly, who finds just the right place for herself, tops the whole exciting adventure and sweet love story off in just the right way. Heartwarming and happy – 3.5 stars

Silver Mine (Takhini Wolves, #2)

4 star review

Review – Ether & Elephants by Cindy Spencer Pape

Ether Elephants

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

This is the 8th and final book in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles. I got into this series after reading Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas. It was so refreshing and different that I had to find more like it. Somehow in that mindset I missed the “different” aspect of it. Needless to say, I read some abysmal steam-punk, some mediocre stuff, and then I found Gaslight/Gaslamp and this little gem of a series. The series presents a unique spin on Gaslight with the inclusion of a Knights of the Round Table mythology, vampires, werewolves, fey, and steam punk elements. It sounds overly busy, but it isn’t, it is just a wonderfully engaging world and the different aspects are very well blended.

The first book in the series, Steam & Sorcery, sets up the world building and the main characters for further books. It may not have hit the peaks that The Iron Seas did, for me, but it was pretty awesome and so I devoured what was available and have kept up with it since. And THIS is the book that I have been waiting for since the beginning. There have been some hints and then some stumbling blocks along the way, but man have I been longing for this book. This is NOT, in my opinion, a stand-alone, and I strongly encourage reading the series in order.

Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives—but sometimes love doesn’t conquer all.

Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom’s hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.

Tom claims he hasn’t seen his wife since the day of their marriage…yet he fears the missing student could be his son.

The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers—including a second chance at love—but only if all of British Society isn’t destroyed first.

Fair warning, this is not a comfortable book. There are children in jeopardy, and Nell and Tom had my stomach in knots and my heart in my throat. But that is the mark of a good storyteller, when you empathize with the characters so much they suck you into their emotions, when the pain and the worry is real, and the outcome feels uncertain. Fortunately, this is romance, and I trust Cindy Spencer Pape to give a reliable happy ending (unlike other authors I could mention,) but in the midst of the story it was so easy to see where it could all go wrong,

Tom was a bit of a tough nut. He did some stupid things in his youth, and rather than trying to resolve things, he basically buried his head in the sand and gave up. And I think that is what hurt Nell the most. Nell on the other hand, despite the heartbreak, she grew into herself and found her agency, learning to value herself and demand respect. Tom took a little longer to get the picture, but I respect that Nell kept to her path and didn’t allow him to sway her. I think you can tell I really liked Nell, and once Tom got his head out of it, I really liked him too.

As far as the mystery goes, it was satisfyingly twisty. There was a good bit of sleuthing to be done, and this gave our two main protagonists the chance to really see how they’ve grown, without the blinders of their youthful relationship. But the mystery wasn’t a McGuffin either, it was well thought out and worked for itself AND to further the relationships and emotional connections, rather than just the latter. It kept me engaged so the whole story didn’t feel like over emotional navel gazing. Who says romance can’t also have a real plot, a real story? Not me, that is for sure. There was a bit of wish fulfillment in one element of the story, but I only noticed that retrospectively. And it was such a delightfully happy thing, that I simply could begrudge it.

In the end I believed in this couple’s happily ever after and trusted they had the grit to work through anything together. It was a very satisfying happily ever after.

I’m still hoping the author comes back to this world and we get Jamie and Piers’ stories, but in the meantime, this was a satisfying conclusion to the series and in no way feels as though the reader has been abandoned in series. 4 stars and I look forward to what Cindy Spencer Pape might come up with next.

Ether & Elephants (Gaslight Chronicles, #8)

3.5 star review

Review – Black Gold by Vivian Arend Book 1 Takhini Wolves

Black Gold

Ok, so that cover is not very appealing. Seriously, don’t really look at it. Fortunately for me, this was not my introduction the Vivian Arend, that was Wolf Signs, which enchanted me. This book is the start of the Takhini Wolves series which is a spin-off from the Granite Lake Wolves, to which Wolf Signs belong. Same world and occasional overlapping characters, but a whole different pack.

And I mean this is REALLY a whole different pack; different types of characters, definitely different management styles, and a whole new set of character conflicts. Shaun Stevens is a discontented wolf, although he doesn’t really realize it. So his alpha does what is reasonable (to him), and gets to the root of the problem by getting Shaun all liquored up on moonshine and giving him some pretty good advice. Unfortunately for Shaun, this is when his mate walks right into his life. Gemmita “Gem” Jacobs, is as southern as he is northern, as classy as he is brash, and every bit as dominant of a wolf. She’s not precisely running away, but she is trying to step out from her father’s loving (and smothering) protection. At first these two seem all wrong for each other, but it turns out it is for all the right reasons. And when opposites attract this hard, there are bound to be sparks, and these sparks started quite the blaze.

Overall, this was a really fun story. It was easy to get in the main characters heads, and to like them. Their motivations were clear, and while there were a few small misunderstandings, there weren’t any really big ones. Mostly, this is about two people growing into themselves and finding ways to make their differences into a match that is strong and stable.

There is also a small subplot with the alpha that is used to tie this series together, but it doesn’t over shadow the main romance. And there is a whole section on pack politics and inter-pack politics that serves to set this pack in the wider world and serves as a growth opportunity for Shaun. That sort of stuff I really enjoy, because it makes a paranormal story more than just main characters with a few quirky traits, it sets up a whole different world that I love to explore. And there is a small bit of intrigue that furthers the relationship, but honestly it was a bit of a McGuffin and I just didn’t care because I enjoyed the relationship so much.