Most Anticipated Books of 2015 a Retrospect

Happy New Year's Eve

I had a lot of books I was anticipating for this past year, so I figured now would be a good time to take a look in review and see how they stacked up.

Bound by Flames by Jeanniene Frost = 4 stars but did not review

Obsession in Death by JD Robb = 4 stars

Highland Guard by Hannah Howell = 3 stars but did not review

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs = 5 stars

Prudence by Gail Carriger = 4 stars

The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire by Molly Harper = 3.5 stars

Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti = 3.5 Stars

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston = 4.5 stars

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick = 4 stars

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris = 3 stars

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh = 5 stars

The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands = 4 stars

Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle = 4 stars

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews = 5 stars

Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh = 5 stars

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger = 4 stars

Mind Magic by Eileen Wilks (Had neither read nor reviewed at the time this post was created)

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews = 5 stars

Breakout by Anne Aguirre = 5 stars

Beyond Innocence by Kit Rocha = 4.5 stars (Still waiting on Beyond 7 AKA Beyond Ruin)

I had a good run. I read and reviewed most everything I set out to do. I switched over to WordPress which has been more successful for me (please ignore the formatting issues on some of my older posts as they didn’t all transfer over prettily). And I hardly ever was disappointed. Plus, there were plenty of books I loved that I never even saw coming. But you’ll have to check back in tomorrow to see what those are.


3 star review

Review – Mine to Protect by Cynthia Eden

MIne to Protect.jpg

He agreed to protect her…not love her.

Victor Monroe left behind a brutal past when he decided to become an FBI Agent. He knows that other agents think he’s too cold, that he has ice in his veins, but he doesn’t care what folks say about him. He gets the job done–always. No matter the cost.

Then he’s blackmailed into guarding…her.

Zoe Peters, ex-showgirl, daughter of a mob boss and drug dealer, a witness who wants to vanish. Zoe is wild, beautiful, and on far too many hit lists. It’s now Victor’s job to keep her safe–a job that Zoe makes damn difficult. But keeping her alive is his mission. It’s supposed to be strictly professional between them. Just another case. Only…

He never counted on falling for her.

Zoe is not the woman he expected. She isn’t cold or hard. She lights up the room when she walks into it, and despite the hell surrounding her, Zoe is good. Probably too good for Victor because Zoe doesn’t know about the secret deal that Victor worked out with her father. Zoe doesn’t know that Victor intended to use her for information and then turn her over to waiting operatives.

Desire wasn’t supposed to enter the equation. The white-hot lust he feels for Zoe should have never threatened Victor’s legendary self-control. But she’s under his skin…melting his ice…getting to him… Soon Victor doesn’t care about the law or about the lines he has to cross for Zoe. She is his priority. Victor will not rest until every threat to her has been eliminated. And then…

Zoe will be his.

I have been waiting for Victor’s book for what seems like forever. He actually crosses between Eden’s Mine series and her Dark Obsession series. As I have said most of these could be read as stand-alones but really, this is sort of a saga of the most villain-beleaguered group of friends and family you will  ever read. Just action packed soap opera and Victor seemed set to be the crowning touch as he’d previously stole the show.

Turns out he’s an effing snake in the effing grass. I could hardly believe it. Sure, he was conflicted about it and all, but he sure wasn’t clearing his mess up any time soon.

Zoe on the other hand, she absolutely rocks, she’s as one character put it, “one hell of a woman”. Kind, compassionate, moral, and a spitfire who rescues herself and others. Probably she’s one of my favorite Cynthia Eden heroines in a while.

Victor though, he’s a snake in the grass almost to the very end. The mystery was nice and twisty though, the story was action packed, and the chemistry between the two of them was fairly combustible. And it was really nice to get updated on some of my old favorite characters. Life is peachy for this villain beleaguered group, and it was lovely to see. It also prompted a re-read so that was nice to.

All in all, I enjoyed it, it wasn’t my absolute favorite in the series, I think I might have built Victor up a little too much. But it was a solid story and a good entertaining read.

Mine to Protect (Mine, #6)

3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – Altered by Marnee Blake


The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead…except for her.

Only that’s not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He’s fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don’t know is each of them has strange new powers. And they’ll use their “gifts” to survive…no matter who stands in their way.

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.

Post-apocalyptic dystopian is my catnip, and it didn’t look like a series, and I figured with one U.S. Army Specialist Set Campbell-how YA/NA could it actually be? But yeah, turns out I read the blurb poorly and this only affects one town, and it is indeed a series, and the answer to that last question is VERY.

But once I got over my misconceptions, I enjoyed it for what it was. We’ve got a group of late teen/early 20’s kids basically who are on the run after some sort of government conspiracy unleashes a plague that kills most of the town and leaves them with superpowers.

Fortunately for me our two main characters are the grown ups of the bunch. They each have their own hangups for sure, but they aren’t quite as young as the other 3 feel, so once we settled down to the Seth and Blue’s story it didn’t really have a strong NA vibe if you see what I mean.

There is some, but not a ton, of character growth, and the relationship between the two main characters relies more on chemistry and longing than development until the very end. What this book is, is an interesting premise, a government conspiracy, and practically non-stop action.

And those elements were fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters quite well, but the mystery and government conspiracy is the part that really shined for me and I am kind of hooked. It kind of, in a way reminded me of Rebecca Zannetti’s Sin Brother’s series. It is hard to describe, because they aren’t really that similar, but that is what it made me think of, and I think people who enjoyed that series will enjoy this one too.

The story also ends on something of a cliffhanger, not for our main characters, but for one of the side characters who I assume will be featured in the next book. Just fair warning if that sort of thing bothers you. Personally, while it isn’t my favorite trope, I am looking forward to the next book.


3 star review

Review – Some Were in Time by Robyn Peterman

Some Were in TIme

All I wanna do is marry Hank, have 2.5 beautiful little Werewolf babies and live happily ever after while having sex on a very regular basis. Oh…and I still want to shoot stuff occasionally.
Apparently no one got the memo.

Instead of complaining about the price of flowers, cakes and the fact that my gay Vampyre BFF, Dwayne insists on wearing a dress at my nuptials, I’m locked and loaded trying to ascertain who wants my ass six feet under. With Hank at my side and some surprising allies at our disposal, we will take on the bad dudes…one bloody clusterhump of a sucktastic battle at a time.

No one ever said the Werewolf life was going to be easy, but this week we couldn’t catch a break if it bit us in the ass…

The gang is back and more ridiculous than ever. I’m almost sure this book is offensive to everyone everywhere…or is that every were? Anyway, between the Gay Vampyre Dwayne and gender ambiguous, deadly farting, were cows….I just can’t, literally, I can’t. And frankly that doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of the over the top insanity that is this story. There are plot holes large enough to ride a were cow through, particularly when you add this installment to the events to the last one. It is just something you have to go with.

Do I recommend this though? That is a tough one, it isn’t going to be for everyone that is for sure. But if you like the ridiculous, zany, and over the top, this may be the book for you. We’ve got heart warming happily ever afters for a large number of characters, villains were vanquished, mysteries were solved, and I can’t even begin to explain what all else.

Jesus Hesus Christ, where does Peterman come up with this stuff? And where the heck are my happily ever afters for Dwayne, Junior, Dami and Granny? Because I seriously want them.

Some Were In Time (Shift Happens #2)

3 star review

Review – Ready to Were by Robyn Peterman

Ready to Were

I never planned on going back to Hung Island, Georgia. Ever.

I was a top notch Were agent for the secret paranormal Council and happily living in Chicago where I had everything I needed – a gym membership, season tickets to the Cubs and Dwayne – my gay, Vampyre best friend. Going back now would mean facing the reason I’d left and I’d rather chew my own paw off than deal with Hank.

Hank the Tank Wilson was the six foot three, obnoxious, egotistical, perfect-assed, best-sex-of-my-life, Werewolf who cheated on me and broke my heart. At the time, I did what any rational woman would do. I left in the middle of the night with a suitcase, big plans and enough money for a one-way bus ticket to freedom. I vowed to never return.

But here I am, trying to wrap my head around what has happened to some missing Weres without wrapping my body around Hank. I hope I don’t have to eat my words and my paw.

***This novella originally appeared in the Three Southern Beaches collection released July of 2014. This is an extended version of that story.

I had read and enjoyed the first three in her Hot Damned series, so when this one popped up as a freebie I snapped it up, and it has been languishing on Mt. TBRdoom ever since. It is still free if you are thinking about picking it up.

This is something like a cross between Maryjanice Davidson and Eve Langlais; pure, unbridled, over the top ridiculousness. Essie is vapid and high octane and self absorbed, and when she feels she’s been betrayed by her fiance she sneaks off in the middle of the night to go become become a WTF (Werewolf Treaty Federation) Agent.

So there are a few things that could turn some people off. One is of course the aforementioned ridiculousness (I adored it, but YMMV). The other issues are that this is a fated mates, Big Mis, AND Big Secrets all wrapped up in one over the top package. There is also a bit of time where Essie is a just a twit and overly like a doormat. The rest of the time she relatively kick-ass, so I found it if not forgivable, then at least acceptable.

Which all makes it sound like I didn’t like it, but I did, it was funny. But those were my issues with it. But the characters were hilariously funny caricatures, the mysteries were just too ridiculous for words, and I found myself wanting to read more of their shenanigans. It was simply put, fun.

There is just one description for this story, and that is “over the top”. I had to stop myself from using it even more than I already have. But if you like Maryjanice Davidson and Eve Langlais, and have an hour to read, I definitely recommend this freebie.

Ready to Were (Shift Happens, #1)

3.5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – A Coral Kiss by Jayne Ann Krentz

A Coral Kiss

With twenty-two New York Times bestsellers and millions of readers, Jayne Ann Krentz is one of the most popular romance superstars of our time. Now treat yourself to her deft and incomparable brand of riveting and sexy suspense in her classic tale of a woman, a man, and destiny’s many unexpected twists.

Successful author Amy Slater had a life in need of mending. And Jed Glaze proved to be the right man for the job after the pair hit it off as fabulously good friends. Then one day Jed shows up with a mysterious injury of his own—and suddenly dark, confounding, yet utterly irresistible Jed becomes a lot more than “just a friend”.

Now it’s a time for not only mutual healing and delightfully sensuous nights but for sharing secrets that could prove a little dangerous for them both. On a jaunt to a Pacific island paradise, Amy and Jed will unearth the key to the unsolved murder that has haunted Amy’s nights—and discover how surprisingly and exquisitely fated two seemingly mismatched hearts can be.

Yeah, so reading Secret Sisters prompted a re-read. Luckily it’s available on Openlibrary so I have a good excuse for reviewing it here. (Why I need an excuse, I don’t know. I mean, it’s my blog, I can review what I want. But I never said I wasn’t neurotic.)

In any event, my usual Openlibraryu disclaimer applies, if you’re checking out the book from OpenLibrary, then you need to check out the PDF…unless you enjoy playing the bad OCR game. I can’t verify the quality of the scan because I’m reading my personal copy, but most of the time they do a good job.

Basically, I re-read this specifically because when I was reading Secret Sisters this was one of the books that came to mind when I was thinking “Wait this isn’t any darker, grittier, or edgier than…“. And I remembered liking it. So bear with me, because there are going to be comparisons between the two books. I can neither guarantee that if you haven’t read either book you’ll either understand the review or not be spoiled. I’ll try to be clear, that is kind of the point. And I’ll try not to spoil people. But no promises, feel free to step off the crazy train if needed. Also, I always have a bad habit of not referring to characters by name, and that is much more likely to be irritating here when I am actually talking about two or three sets of characters, mea culpa.

The first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable the dialogue felt in this older novel. That could be due to a couple of reasons. One, it could be due to the fact that I have read this before, maybe it feels more comfortable because I am more familiar with it. Or two, it could be because these characters already have backstory, which then the other component may be that it was a purposeful stylistic choice she made in the newer novel in deference to the fact that they don’t have as much backstory.

The second thing I noticed was how much more of the focus was on the characters and their thoughts and feelings in the older novel, compared to a greater focus on events and dialogue in the newer novel. I agree with Krentz’s assessment that the focus IS different in her latest novel. The older is more romance with suspense whereas the newer is more suspense with romance. Let me try that again. The older novel, the main focus is on the relationship, and while there is significant suspense and mystery, much of it is couched in how it affects the characters, their perceptions of each other, and their relationship. The newer book is more about the mystery and the twists and turns, and the relationship is more along for the ride, it wasn’t that is was merely appended, but that their relationship wasn’t the lens through which we viewed the mystery.

There are significant similarities between the two books though. For instance, both heroes are super masculine, highly capable, associatied with governmental investigations that give them negative views of the world, AND they each have one softening feature that leavens their character and that they rely on to ease the stresses of their lives. The newer book utilizes cooking while the latter has the hero make fancy bird cages as a hobby. Of course the older book the dialogue seems a little snappier and makes me giggle snort rather than it feeling defensive.

“When I decide to get an agent, I’ll consult you. In the meantime, no more sneaking around behind my back buying birdcages without my permission, understand?”

I don’t know, it just made me laugh.

As for our two heroines, they both have had traumatic pasts that impact their lives. I suppose one could say that having terrible events happen in childhood, as Secret Sisters does, makes it darker, but that isn’t my perspective. The thing that strikes me though, is how much more agency the character in A Coral Kiss had, she does creates action she does effect (or affect) the outcomes. The heroine in Secret Sisters has things happen to her and around her, but she does comparatively little to shift the events of the narrative. So while the more current heroine is nominally written more feminist, it seems more surface and window dressing. And the heroine in the older novel is written much more feminine and nurturing outwardly, but that again is more surface when underneath it all I’d say the older heroine is actually the stronger character, in this respect. It is an interesting dichotomy.

But here’s something remarkably, I don’t know, “meta” from A Coral Kiss. The heroine is a writer and the hero is thinking about her book.

“The tone had seemed darker than the others, not as adventurous and lighthearted in its dealing with the perils faced by the hero and heroine. In a way it had been a better book, richer in detail and characterization, but there had been an uneasy edge to it that set it apart from the others.”

How’s that for some sort of cosmic sign that I picked the right book to compare Secret Sisters to?

Things were going asking swimmingly, and I came to a screeching halt. How did I not notice this when I read it previously? How did I not remember it? The heroine slaps the hero because she’s pissed at him. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t mind the somehow dated sex scenes and dated man/woman interactions, but that’s almost a deal breaker. I guess my perspectives have changed, which in this case is all too the good. So I reminded myself this thing was published in 1987, so almost 30 years ago, a lifetime in the publishing industry, and was on my merry way.

In any event, bottom line, I disagree that there is anything darker in the new one. I think this is classic Krentz, the sort of thing she does so well, maybe with more emphasis on the suspense, but the overall bones are the same.

A Coral Kiss

3.5 star review

Review – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Secret Sisters.jpg

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same.

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants.

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

I almost always read Jayne Ann Krentz (and her pen names) immediately, and this one was no different, despite the author’s foreboding words about how different it is from her usual stories. She described it as darker, grittier, and edgier. I don’t mind any of that, but I was wondering how much of my Krentz fondness was due to nostalgia and comfort, and how much was her ability to weave a story. I mean, we like what we like, and it is often remarkably tough to parse out WHY we like or dislike things.

So the beginning was dark, as promised. And then we move into meeting our grown up heroine and her hero. Madeline is aggressive and icy and emotionally closed off. But Jack, Krentz paints him as sexy right from the beginning, or at least in my opinion she does, because men who are competent in the kitchen are my catnip. It made him seem softer and was a nice foil to his otherwise rough tough image and was a nice characterization thread throughout.

Anyway, we get into the mystery pretty quick. And, it is hard to explain, but the dialogue is a little stilted. It is like Krentz was trying to wade into unfamiliar waters and she feels unbalanced and couldn’t quite get a feel of what her characters would say, or how they should say it. There is also some kind of Nora Roberts vibe, I don’t know, but the set up with dual couples and the suspense just had something of a Roberts feel.

In any event, once the mystery really got up and running I didn’t mind the slightly awkward dialogue anymore I was just sucked into this over the top dramatic suspense. Except I also kind of wasn’t. I was into it, don’t get me wrong, but if something distracted me from it, it often kept me distracted and I didn’t find myself racing back to the story. It is hella twisty turvy though, and the twists actually make sense and are logical, though our PI hero spends a tad too much time explaining it all.

So here’s the deal, I think I am getting a handle on why I enjoy steampunk, science fiction, paranormal, fantasy and urban fantasy so much more than contemporary. Because people are people and there are really only so many ways to write them, and there are really only so many mysteries, so many motivations, and so many ways to put people in jeopardy. And when you are working within the framework of contemporary you tend to be constrained I think. Other genres I think allow for more creativity. The things you can explore are practically limitless, so you get novel settings, unusual rules to the world, and every now and then it seems like it opens up a different choice or makes the people set in those fantastical settings just a bit different.

I don’t know, I guess I am jaded on contemporary romantic suspense. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this one and will gladly continue reading Krentz, darker or not. She still weaves a hell of a tale, and that hasn’t really changed. But frankly I wouldn’t consider this darker, edgier, or grittier in the least. It is comparative to Silver Linings, Soft Focus, or A Coral Kiss (albeit with some feminist flair that’s glaringly obvious in these older books), all books I have enjoyed. I’d say the story is more detailed, tricky and maybe tightly plotted, but this isn’t groundbreaking to me, it is more like returning to the late 80’s through the 90’s in my opinion. So if like me you enjoyed this previous books, you’ll probably like this one too. I’m giving this 3.5 stars because while I enjoyed it, I guess t didn’t live up to expectations, and I am not sure I’d reread this one, I’d probably reread one of those other three, and I think this may actually prompt a reread.

Secret Sisters

3 star review

Review – The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Improbability of Love

A smart, sweeping novel–at once satirical and moving–about love, a famous lost painting, and a dark secret from the past, set in the London art world.

Annie McDee, thirty-one and recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, is chef for two sinister art dealers. She’s just spent her meager savings on a dusty junk-shop painting for her new, unsuitable, boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show up for his birthday dinner, it becomes hers. And amazingly, the painting speaks–though only we hear “him.” Shrewd, spoiled, charming, world weary, and cynical, he comments, from his unique perspective, on Annie and the modern world, but he also recounts tales of his previous owners: Louis XV, Voltaire, and Catherine the Great, among them. Once it becomes known that Annie has the painting–whose provenance involves the Nazis–she finds herself at the center of a frantic, and sometimes fiendish, scramble among dealers, collectors, and other highly interested parties, for its ownership. It’s a dazzlingly irreverent and entertaining many-layered tale of a devious world where, however improbably, love will triumph.

I received a copy of this book via Penguin First to Read. This does not affect my opinion or the content of this review.

To be honest I don’t even remember requesting this one. It isn’t in my usual milieu. And I am depressingly late in getting to this. Somehow it slipped from the queue and I only just noted I’d missed it. It seems appropriate that this should pop back up now when I have been pondering literary fiction, because this is indeed categorized as literary fiction, though honestly I might have called it upmarket.

In the prologue we are thrown into the rarefied world of high end art auctions. We first meet the impoverished earl who has set the whole thing up and is instructing his employees on how best to drive up the bidding. Then we run through a kaleidoscope of snippets of the people who will do almost anything to obtain this priceless work of art. This actually is the beginning of the end.

Jumping back to the start of the story, we then meet Annie in the first chapter, and we meet the painting in the second. It is much odder to have one of your characters be a painting than I’d thought it might be.

Poor Annie is miserable in her new life since her unexpected divorce. Dead end job, worse dating prospects, she buys the panting on a whim for her date. The poor painting isn’t any happier where he’s ended up.

Kaleidesope though seems to be the name of the game. We keep jumping from one character to the next. Getting to know their fears and their dreams. And it simply immediately clear what their connection is to the story.

But we always come back to Annie and The Improbability of Love. Frankly I wish we’d stayed with those two characters more. But that is a particular foible of mine. I tend to prefer the relationship aspects of a book when action is not available. This book for the most part hadn’t much in the way of action, and really it didn’t focus on a single relationship. This book is about people and the relationships, known and known.

Biggest advice I can give anyone looking at this book (which oddly enough I do recommend) is to slow down and dive in. This author has created such a rich and immersive setting, which much like the kaleidoscope I keep mentioning, is a restrictive setting, but filled with innumerable pieces, and you turn the story this way and it forms one picture, and that way it forms another picture. It is fascinating. So just sit back and let the colors and shapes of their lives flow over you, turn the story this way and that to see what fascinating pictures you can make. The author has left us with a wealth of material to work through.

Personally, that is the hardest thing for me. I am inclined to race through books in an attempt to gobble everything greedily tight this minute. But even with my breakneck nature, no matter how I tried to race through, the kaleidoscope would turn and it would force me to stop and take a longer deeper look.

Honestly, I’d say this story has very little to do with Annie at all. She one small piece of the kaleidoscope, the mirror system perhaps, but still just one part. She is the simply the reflection upon which everyone else’s story was told. A story of desperation, greed, avarice, and love. But it wasn’t Annie’s story.

You’ll probably not believe me, but I’ve worked on this review as I read the story, and the kaleidoscope metaphor was my own. Turns out the author thought so too:

“While she waits, visions from her life, good and bad, float in front of her like patterns in a kaleidoscope, but when she tries to remember an incident in any detail, it evaporates.”

How’s that for something strange?

What is stranger to me is the blurb. Go back up there and read it again. It sincerely sounds like a romance novel blurb. There’s no getting around it. But it is also categorized as literary fiction. It is in fact literary fiction, there’s no getting around that either.

So what does that mean? Is this really what the author and/or publisher feels describes the book best? I really don’t think it does and I suspect that it is an attempt to tap the romance reader market. The line between genre fiction and literary fiction (though honestly literary fiction is in itself a genre) is a funny one. And it depends very much on how one defines the disparate elements.

Would I have even contemplated reading it with a more accurate blurb? No I probably wouldn’t have. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did. But this isn’t romance, it has a romance happily ever after appended rather clumsily to the end of it, but it isn’t a romance. Would I recommend it to romance readers? That is a more difficult question to answer, I’d say it depends on the reader’s tastes. If I did, I would be sure to carefully note it isn’t a romance, because the one thing most romance readers, whether they also enjoy literary fiction or not, have in common is that they despise being deceived to lied to.

The Improbability of Love: A novel
5 star review

Review – Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Magic Stars

Derek Gaunt has no family and few friends. Scarred, solitary, he is the lone wolf who separated from his pack. When those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched Atlanta. Soon Julie Olsen joins him and what begins as revenge turns into the race to save the city. Their search puts them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

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. But I even bought it, that’s how fantastic this is.

Eeek, she got it out earlier than I had expected. Sorry for the late(r) review.

Squee! We get a Derek and Julie novella! This is an independent project so YEAH for self publishing! But it is an addition to the Kate Daniels World, and while I find her novellas to be very successful for me, that may be because I am well grounded in this world. So if you are a Kate Daniels reader this is a must read, but if you aren’t, I say what are you waiting for, start at the beginning and then read through here.

This is the Andrews’ version of YA/NA, and they’ll tell you it isn’t their best perspective. But with characters like this who are grounded in a larger series, they do a great job. For me at least (knowing my penchant for disliking YA/NA), what makes it work is that while these characters are 16 and 20 years old, they have had hard lives and aren’t very teen-like. Not like they are grown up characters with young ages slapped on them, their lived experiences have just aged them in a believable way, and so the teen drama is largely absent.

Beyond loving these two characters and wanting to know more about them though, this story is KIILLER, just all sorts of nuggets about what is coming up next. Do you want to know what’s happening with Hugh? Yeah, that is in here. Do you want to know what is up with Kate and Julie’s relationship? In here too! Do you want to see Julie put the feminist smackdown on Derek? You’ll have to read the book. Do you have a great and terrible love for bacon? Very funny Gordon and Ilona, that one scene was priceless.

I could keep going on about the things I love and that you need to read, but I won’t because I’d risk spoilers, and no one wants that. But there are myriad reasons to read this, not the least of which is seeing these two work together as a team. Don’t worry, nothing romantic, Derek very specifically closes even a hint of that right now, Julie’s too young. But they are a fantastic team. And damn, that ending, it is just that start of some sort of fairy tale. Of course not the newer fluffier version of fairy tales, no not the newer fluffier version at all.

Just holy hell, this one is not to be missed. I am just flabbergasted. Probably you could read this without having read the rest of the series, but I don’t advise it. What this mostly is, is a great big luscious Christmas present for fans, and a holy hell I can’t wait for Magic Binds. And it is listed as Grey Wolf Book 1 on Amazon, so a Derek series? Oh please I hope so!

Magic Stars (Grey Wolf Book 1)

3.5 star review

Review + Giveaway – The Lady Who Lived Again by Thomasine Rappold



Madeleine Sutter was once the belle of the ball at the popular resort town of Misty Lake, New York. But as the sole survivor of the community’s worst tragedy, she’s come under suspicion. Longing for the life she once enjoyed, she accepts a rare social invitation to the event of the season. Now she will be able to show everyone she’s the same woman they’d always admired—with just one hidden exception: she awoke from the accident with the ability to heal.

Doctor Jace Merrick has fled the failures and futility of city life to start anew in rural Misty Lake. A man of science, he rejects the superstitious chatter surrounding Maddie and finds himself drawn to her confidence and beauty. And when she seduces him into a sham engagement, he agrees to be her ticket back into society, if she supports his new practice—and reveals the details of her remarkable recovery. But when his patients begin to heal miraculously, Jace may have to abandon logic, accept the inexplicable—and surrender to a love beyond reason…


Mr. Piedmont worked swiftly, the sound of crumpling paper filling the awkward silence as he wrapped her purchases and bound the tidy parcel with string. By rote, his freckled hand reached to the nearby jar of candy. Placing a single peppermint stick on top of the bundle, he slid it toward her, then turned to face the shelves lining the wall behind him.

Tears blurred Maddie’s vision as she stared down at the red-striped treat, the simple reminder of who she once was—who she still was, if only one of her neighbors could manage to look her in the eye long enough to see it. She swallowed hard.

“Thank you,” she murmured to the shopkeeper’s back before he walked away.

Maddie left the store and proceeded to her final errand. As she’d anticipated, a letter from Amelia awaited her at the post office. Maddie would wait until later to open it. Their recent correspondence had rattled her to the bone, and she knew any public display of emotion would be ripe fruit for hungry local gossips.

Not that maintaining decorum could help her cause now. People already believed the worst about her. These rare trips to town only served to remind her that nothing had changed.

Shoving the letter into her skirt pocket, she headed south on Main Street. To her relief, the band of young hooligans that had taunted her earlier was nowhere to be seen. She hurried out of town nonetheless. Each dreaded trip was a tax on her nerves, and when added to the anxiety of what awaited in Amelia’s letter, Maddie yearned for the comfort of home.

When she reached the outskirts of town, she took the path through the woods that opened to a large field. She welcomed the sound of chirping crickets and birds. As always after she exerted herself with a lengthy walk, her leg was beginning to ache. She slowed her pace, then stopped to rest at her favorite spot on her grandfather’s sprawling property. Sitting on a felled birch log in the broad clearing, she stretched out her leg. The cramped muscles unfurled as she enjoyed the serenity of the surrounding forest, the gentle spring breeze through the swaying trees. The sun felt heavenly, and she lifted her face to bask in its glow.

She’d avoided town all winter, hibernating like a bear in a cave. She’d emerged from seclusion renewed by foolish hopes, but the first outing of the new season had been just like the last. A bear would be better received.

Maddie sighed in defeat, dug out the letter that was fairly vibrating in her pocket, and unfolded its pages. The bold strokes on the delicate cream sheets conveyed Amelia’s confident tone and dramatic style.

My dearest Mads,

I received your response denying my request, but I refuse to take no for an answer. I simply cannot get married without you!

You swore an oath to one day serve as my bridesmaid, and it is time for you to honor it. My deep love and concern for you force me to hold you to your promise.

The past is the past, my dear friend, and you must lay it to rest. Eventually, the town will follow suit. Consider attending my wedding as your first step toward getting on with your life.

We arrive in Misty Lake in three weeks. I look forward to seeing you then.

Forever yours,


Maddie’s breakfast turned in her stomach. How on earth could she attend? No one, save Amelia, wanted her there. Certainly not Daniel. The mere thought of facing her former fiancé and all the others who’d blamed and abandoned her…no. Maddie hadn’t the courage. Amelia didn’t understand. How could she? She was not present when it happened. Nor was she here for the aftermath.

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.

You typically expect doctors to be Mary Stus in fiction (assuming they aren’t the evil villain), but this one is something of a cad and a rake. Jace is also more than a bit of a know-it-all ass. Maddie on the other hand, it is hard to get a handle on her, all puffing, preening, flirtation one minute, soundly grounded and reasonable the next, and flighty as all hell the next one.

But, as we see just how the townspeople have treated Maddie, and how she bears up under it and faces down her fears, you can’t help but learn to like her. She learns to truly live again and we watch her blossom on the page, and it is HER doing, not the love of nay man or the regard of any other person. Frankly I don’t think anyone else besides her grandfather (and their two servants-who aren’t really fleshed out) and Dolly (a minor character) are worth anything at all. And that includes the supposed hero and her best friend.

Frankly I liked her best friend Amelia until she single handedly managed to ruin almost everything there at the end and then blithely went on about her life. And while there was some degree of chemistry between Jace and Maddie, I didn’t really warm up to him until the very end at all.

For all that though, I liked Maddie so well, and enjoyed her journey so much that it bumped up my rating tremendously. I was also interested in the events of the town and how things would resolve. And I am especially hoping that as this series plays out that we get to see Dolly’s happily ever after.

But don’t read this expecting some epic love story, or a woman who gets rescued by the love of a man, because in this case it is almost like the classic video game situation only in reverse. Jace is the princess in the tower with no agency, and he is Maddie’s prize in the end for completing her quest. But for readers who like that sort of thing, of which I am one, I heartily recommend this book.

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The Lady Who Lived Again (Sole Survivor, #1)

Author Info

A three-time RWA Golden Heart nominee, Thomasine Rappold writes historical romance and historical romance with paranormal elements. She lives with her husband in a small town in upstate New York that inspired her current series. When she’s not spinning tales of passion and angst, she enjoys spending time with her family, fishing on one of the nearby lakes, and basking on the beach in Cape Cod. Thomasine is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Capital Region Romance Writers. Readers can find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @ThomRappold.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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