2.5 star review, 3 star review, 3.5 star review

Review – Harvest Moon (and the rest of the series so far) by Lisa Kessler

Harvest Moon

Some wolves were never meant for a mate…

Dr. Jason Ayers unleashes all of his rage and his frustration through fists and brute force in an underground boxing ring. The werewolf may be the pack’s doctor, but he can’t even heal his coma-stricken father after the Nero Organization’s attack stopped his heart. And as his Pack brothers settle down around him, he still refuses to believe in the fairy tale notion that every wolf has a true mate…

In hiding and on the run, nurse Kilani Akamu is a loose end that Nero is desperate to tie up. She can’t afford to be attracted to a doctor—especially one as unexpectedly hot and complex as Jason. Yet the sexual sparks arcing between them are undeniable…and Kilani’s precognitive senses warn her that temptation is inevitable.

All it takes is one touch to send Jason’s wolf howling. But even if he could protect her from Nero, he can’t protect her from himself…

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.

Have you ever requested something, and then by the time you got it, you didn’t know why you wanted it in the first place? Yeah, this was one of those books for me. I apparently requested it, and then when it was sent to me, I didn’t even recognize the blurb and wondered a bit, “What was I thinking?”. This is book 4 in a series that has a shadow organization and is building up to something. So not a stand alone. So I dutifully picked up the other books in the series so I could catch up. I’ll share some brief thoughts on the first three books before diving into the main review. I’ll try not to say anything too spoilery, but no promises, except this is one of those series that doesn’t immediately take hold, in my opinion, so don’t give up after the first book.


Moonlight

Alternating first person narrated between wolf male (Adam) and jaguar female (Lana) shifters. Wolves and jaguars are mortal enemies in this mythology, though it isn’t initially clear why. It was clearly marked whose head we were in. But it was mostly telling and not showing, the story happening in the respective characters heads. It was a bit clunky though and often dragged. Plus, the secrets and duplicity just left me irked. But the premise was interesting enough even if the execution lacked something. And it left me intrigued enough about the next book to keep reading. But, if definitely suffers from firstbookitis.

2.5 stars

Moonlight (Moon #1)

Hunter’s Moon

This book features another wolf (Aren, the twin brother of the hero from the previous book), and another jaguar female (Sasha a former cop who was turned) with alternating first person narratives. It starts back up right where the previous book stopped with the new couple dealing with the aftermath from the first book. There wasn’t nearly as much ridiculous duplicity, and the two main characters in this one were much more forthright and interesting to me. Both the narrative and the dialogue were much smoother and didn’t drag nearly as much as the previous book. We also learned quite a bit more about Nero, the evil shadow organization. I am pretty sure I have guessed one major thing though regarding the connection to the heroine in the first book. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The second book is significantly better than the first one and I bought these two as a couple more than the previous two.

3 stars

Hunter's Moon (Moon, #2)

Blood Moon

This book features Gareth, a wolf who has been isolating himself in grief and anger over his brother’s murder, and Nadya, sister to Sasha from the last book. At the end of the last one, Nayda was bitten by one of Nero’s mutated wolves and no one quite knows what will happen with her. Gareth really wants to stay out of it, but he can’t seem to help himself when it comes to her.

Holy heck, this one was a ride. At this point in time I am sort of feeling bad for the people who didn’t get into the first one and opted not to continue. I’ll admit, if I didn’t have a goal of getting to the 4th one, I might have stopped myself. This seems to be one of those unicorns, a time when leaping at a mid-series book hasn’t bitten me in the butt. I absolutely fell in love with Gareth and Nadya. And I don’t know if it is just that I’ve gotten used to the first person alternating format, or if I just liked these characters that much, but this time it seemed like a benefit rather than something to overcome. Action, pacing, and dialogue were all much smoother, and the supporting characters were much more fully realized and helped round the story out more. Nero’s back and even more reprehensible than ever, and the enigmatic Sebastian has been hit with something he just can’t ignore. I am seriously hoping we get his book, I don’t know how Kessler would pull it off, but it would be something to see. But the real star of this story is the relationship between the couple, and it was a lovely romance.

3.5 stars

Blood Moon (Moon, #3)

Harvest Moon

And now we are at the main event. I took about a week-long break after my glom of the previous books so I wouldn’t burn out and could come at this one fresh.

Dr. Jason Ayers is riddled with guilt over previous events, weighted with the frustrations of his responsibilities, and quietly imploding where even his pack can’t see him. It is kind of making him a jackass, particularly with Kilani. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Sebastian is at once more visible, and more opaque than ever. The author tells me that his book is the book 8, and the final in the series, and I simply don’t know how I am going to wait any longer.

But back to the main characters. After the main stumble over honesty, there was a lot of straight up front honesty and disclosure that really helped the relationship move forward. There were things they held off on, but even then they acknowledged there was something that needed discussing, And as an extra bonus, rather than a too stupid to live heroine, we have a too stupid to live hero. Granted, he got a hell of a wake up call, but it was nice to have a nice, sensible, rational heroine. It was a sweet relationship.

We also got some more information on Nero, and the substance of how the skills and personnel of the Pack will come together to defeat that organization is starting to take shape. It was an exciting and heartbreaking installment. If I had to pick a favorite so far, it would still be Harvest Moon, but only by the slimmest of margins. November can’t come soon enough for the next book.

Harvest Moon
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3.5 star review

Review – If He’s Daring by Hannah Howell

If Hes Daring

In a dazzling new novel in the Wherlocke family saga, New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell creates an unforgettable story of intrigue, jeopardy, and desire…Stealing a stranger’s carriage is the second most reckless thing Lady Catrin Gryffin de Warrene has ever done. The first is succumbing to her powerful attraction to the carriage’s owner. Catrin has heard the rumors about Sir Orion Wherlocke’s family and their otherworldly gifts. He’s the one person who can keep her son and his inheritance safe from her late husband’s ruthless brother. As for how to protect herself…it may be too late for that.

Orion is facing the worst danger a man of his ilk can find: a woman he can’t walk away from. Catrin is an intoxicating blend of innocence and sensuality, and for the first time, seduction is far more than a game. But her beauty and fortune have made her a target–one that will dare him to risk everything he’s known–in pursuit of everything he’s ever longed for…

After reading the first five books in the series in fairly short order, I took a bit of a break and here I am on number 6. It was a good break and kind of gave my mind something to think about besides being immersed with the Wherlockes and Vaughns.

It was a fun story, despite some darker moments and incidents. Catrin and Orion are a very comfortable couple. There was travel, and adventure, a handful of adorable plot moppets, and of course, the indomitable Wherlocke-Vaughn family. THere were secrets to ferret out and a villain to overcome, and a family to be made.

Other than that there really isn’t a ton to say about this book. It fits into the mold with the rest of the books in this series, right down to some rather useless interest in another woman at the beginning, and a pregnancy to hide until love has been revealed at the end. If you happen to be happy to step into that mold then you’ll enjoy this one too, as I did.

If He's Daring (Wherlocke, #6)
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4 star review

Review – A Tiger’s Bride by Eve Langlais

A Tiger's Bride

When at first you don’t succeed—turn to abduction.

It’s all in a day’s work when this Siberian tiger meets the woman he wants.

An accidental kidnapping? Check.

A forced marriage? Check.

A virgin bride? Damn. There go his plans for seduction and here comes the pressure into making her first time perfect. Because everyone knows that’s the one she’ll remember, forever. Gulp.

Add in a plane crash as well as hunters out to capture them and the heat is truly on.

Can this Siberian tiger meet the challenge?

This is the 4th book in the series. While book one was something of a disappointment, I found book two and book three rather charming. But I was awfully leery about how Langlais would redeem this particular hero, in my eyes.

Dimitri ended up being kind of adorable. And while he didn’t always have the best of intentions, even when he did it ended up in trouble. Poor Teena, trouble seems to find her no matter how circumspect she tries to be, fortunately for her Dimitri is more than happy to love every troublesome inch of her. After being beaten by her father, plane hijacked, shot at, plane crashed, tobogganing down the mountain, landing on a frozen lake that doesn’t hold (all things that are sadly in line with other events in Teena’s life), only a man as besotted as Dimitri could proudly declare “I think my new wife is good luck.”.

This was a romp, and it was funny watching the virgin take a turn at being predatory toward the formerly suave but stalkerish manwhore who turned rather nervous over the idea of an untouched bride. It is ridiculously cute, and the hijinks were just the icing on the cake.

This was the perfect ending for the series. I seriously recommend it. As for the series as a whole, I say skip the first book. I don’t think you need it to get into the rest of the series, it doesn’t add anything and I think it can detract. But the rest of the series is serious fun.

A Tiger's Bride (A Lion's Pride, #4)
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4 star review

Review – Midnight Fire by Lisa Marie Rice

Midnight Fire

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.

Jack Delvaux is alive Summer Redding thought the blindingly handsome jock who’d loved and left her years ago had died in the Washington Massacre. She grieved for her lost golden boy as the rest of the country mourned their dead—until she comes home to find a very alive Jack Delvaux waiting for her with a devastating secret that turns her life upside down.

No longer the carefree man he was in his youth, this Jack is dark, hard and dangerous; a fifteen-year veteran of the CIA hungry for answers…and hungry for her. The rich, good-looking charmer who broke her heart once before would have been easy to resist, but this man, this powerful man? Summer needs him, and he knows it.

When Jack’s mission uncovers evidence of government involvement in the Massacre—and plans for another attack—he’s primed for revenge. But he has more than vengeance to live for now, and when Summer’s life is threatened, it’s nearly Jack’s undoing. Someone taking shots at his woman? That’s a dead man walking.

This is book 4 in the Men of Midnight series, and book 7 overall of interconnected characters. This author has a very repeatable format that I find really enjoyable and it is comforting for me to read. Man and woman hit deep into some over the top intrigue, close knot clan of former military operatives turned private sector close ranks, hero and heroine save each other (either metaphorically or physically), evil is vanquished, true love prevails, and happily ever is achieved. I don’t think Lisa Marie Rice is glommable, because it might get a little repetitive. But if you are looking for romantic suspense without the angst, she is a sure-fire winner.

Midnight Fire adds a new twist to her format, the second chance romance, so I was eager to check it out. I have a love hate relationship with second chance romances, so I really never know how I am going to respond, but I do tend to favor it in shorter romantic suspense because often you get insta-love in that type of story to make room for the action. So it feels kind of nice for the main characters to have some history together.

And man this heroine is rocking it. Not that previous heroines in the series haven’t been smart or together, especially the last one. But Summer is in a whole different league. She runs the biggest political expose blog and is tapped into all sorts of information. And it is that information and those contacts, as much as her previous relationship with Jack, that gets her sucked into this intrigue.

On the second chance front, Summer might have pined hard-core when he first broke her heart, but she got back out there and lived her own life, dated, created a career she loved, the whole shebang. Jack, while he might not have pined after he left her, admitted what an unthinking man-child he was back then, has been sad and lonely for a lot longer than just this past tragedy, and gets cutely gushy and open with Summer almost immediately as with the 20/20 hindsight he recognizes what he missed out on. It struck enough of a second chance balance for me to enjoy it,

And for those of you, who like me are on condom watch, while there isn’t explicit contraceptive use, there also weren’t any thoughts or conversations about being willing to risk it etc. So it was, I don’t know if better is the right word or just less irritating. I can handle characters who don’t even think about it better than I can characters who consciously make what I consider a stupid decision.

The suspense though, that was a mix of ripped from the headlines and over the top espionage CIA thriller movie-esque action. Think Live Free or Die Hard. There really isn’t any mystery, we even spend some time in the evil villain’s head. The question is just how is Rice going to shake this one out. But it was engrossing seeing how it all fell apart and came together. And I always enjoy it when the heroine saves the day.

Honestly, I found Midnight Fire to be a delightful little treat for rounding out my evening. A nice way to go through a second chance romance, especially for those of us who like a little Bruce Willis-esque action in our romance. And while the hero didn’t grovel, he got nicely gooey over the heroine in short order and did apologize.

Midnight Fire (Men of Midnight, #4)
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4 star review

Review – Devoted in Death by JD Robb

Devoted in Death

Book 41 in J.D. Robb’s (AKA Nora Roberts) In Death series is more police procedural than mystery or who-dun-it. We get to meet the villain right from the start and then the rest of the story tracks how Eve her husband Roarke, and the rest of the team solve the case and catch the killers.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be to keep things fresh 41 books into the series, but die-hard fans like me are likely to find this one kind of cozy. As opposed to Obsession in Death, Beloved characters aren’t really threatened, there isn’t a mystery for the readers since we already know the who and the where, we are just along for the ride to find out how. So yeah, despite horrific deaths etc, this one is cozy. We spend time with most all our favorite characters and see them interacting.

This particular story added some interest though with the inclusion of a new temporary character, a southern cop who was a nice bit of enjoyment. I wouldn’t mind him popping in again. And Robb just continues to push, or let DeWinters try to push herself into the group, so we have what looks like a new permanent addition. We also had the (relatively) happy situation of having victims that can be saved, which is something i always enjoy and which lends a bit more urgency to the story for me. We also had some fun with Eve being temporarily banned from coffee and a new marriage rule.

It is another solid entry for die-hard fans, but I can see where the bloom might be off the rose for some people. For myself, I am perfectly content to keep dipping into Eve and the gang’s lives. But I do sometimes wonder, am I content still because I am a re-reader? Would a person who isn’t a re-reader be more likely to be disaffected by this point in the series?

Devoted in Death (In Death, #41)
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3 star review

Review – When an Omega Snaps by Eve Langlais

When an Omega Snaps

Leo is the calm guy. The nice guy. The one nobody screws with. So could someone explain that to Meena so she stops driving him insane—with desire.

When Meena literally throws herself at Leo and declares he’s her mate, his first reaction is to deny—and run far, far away. This lion/tiger mix doesn’t do drama and chaos. Problem is, once he sets eyes on her, he can’t help but want the vivacious blonde with plus-sized curves, perfect for a big man like himself.

He wants her even if it breaks all his rules when it comes to women.
Wants her even if she destroys his serenity.
Wants her more than a perfectly grilled piece of steak with a dash of garlic, pepper, and salt.

Thing is, someone else wants her too.

This poor omega is about to have his world turned upside down, which means everyone better watch out because when Leo experiences love, jealousy, and frustration for the first time, he doesn’t just snap—he roars!

This is the 3rd book in Langlais’ Lion’s Pride series. Whereas When an Alpha Purrs just irked me, and When a Beta Roars made we want to stand up and cheer and then sigh a happy little sigh, this one just made me smile.

What’s a big accident prone lioness to do when she finds her mate, a luscious giant of a liger with a stick up his butt? Why chase him, chase him till HE catches HER. Seriously, this book is just a ton of fun, though I’ll admit that if the hero acted the way the heroine did, constantly invading his space and making declarations and manipulating him into situations, well I probably wouldn’t like that hero much at all. But that is a double standard to unpack for another day.

Meena has always been a walking catastrophe. She’s a big girl and quite missed out on the usual feline grace. But whatever catastrophe life throws her way she meets head on with can do take one day at a time attitude. And despite her brash attitude she has a big, soft heart, as well as other parts which serve to make her irresistible to our hero.

Leo is zen. Very zen. As the Omega of the pack it is his job to keep everyone in line, something he isn’t afraid to back with fists on top of his voice. He is very proper, and buttoned up, and stick up his butt sort of hero. Until the heroine prompts him to let loose with his wild side. In that he kind of reminded me of Nalini Singh’s Riley. But he is absolutely determined to treat her with respect and like she is his dainty princess. Adorable!

This is a cute, sexy, short story, and yes it absolutely made me smile. There is no real conflict or mystery, just two very different people seeing just how right they are with each other. It will be interesting to see how Langlais “redeems” Teena’s (Meena’s twin sister) mate Dmitri, which exhibits all the characteristics I just said I would decry in a male, because right now, I am just not seeing it.

When An Omega Snaps (A Lion's Pride Book 3)
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3.5 star review

Review – When a Beta Roars by Eve Langlais

When a Beta Roars

Hayder’s met his mate, there’s just one little problem, she’s allergic to cats.

How degrading. Stuck babysitting a woman because his alpha said so. As Pride Beta, he has better things to do with his time, like washing his impressive mane, hunting down thugs for fun, and chasing tail–sometimes his own if his lion is feeling playful.

But his babysitting job takes an unexpected turn when the woman he’s assigned guard duty over turns out to be his mate.

A female threatened by an outside wolf pack.

A woman he wants to call his own.

A mate who doesn’t fall for his charm.

Usually Beta’s leave the roaring to the Pride’s alpha, but in this case given his level of frustration, he might have to make an exception. And if anyone doesn’t like it, they can kiss his furry tail.

I’ve been putting this one off after the relative disappointment that was When an Alpha Purrs. I just couldn’t handle the relative disappointment. But I shouldn’t have been worried. This story was freaking adorable.

Bear with me, I am going to be doing a bunch of comparing to the previous book in the series. It was just such a 180 change. Arabella didn’t start out feisty and then devolve into a wishy-washy dish rag of a heroine. She started out a cringing mess as the result of past abuse and being on the run from her previous pack but came out of her shell with a vengeance. And Hayder, rather than being the obnoxious alpha trying to smack her back, reveled in every bit of it determined to help her let her wild side loose. And there was virtually no navel gazing, Plus, since they are both shifters, there was none of that awkward finding out and dealing with it mess. ANd, the lionesses of the pride really shine in this book.

Basically it was a cute, sweet story, with enough madness and mayhem thrown in to make it entertaining. And Arabella gets her own back against her former pack, and then some. It was purely a joy to read.

I’m truly looking forward now to the giant liger Beta’s story.

When A Beta Roars (A Lion's Pride Book 2)
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