5 star review

Review + Blog Tour – Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

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From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating — harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss and Tasty Book Tours, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review. And the usual Ilona Andrews disclaimer applies, I bought it anyway. +Giveaway!!!

I will admit, I have become a little obsessive over this series.

Wildfire Readings

Wildfire

I post that to show you that it is barely possible that I might not be entirely reasonable when it comes to this series. Seriously, I just want to squee and squee for days over this delightful confection. It has the best of both urban fantasy (clear and intricate world building and action and crazy sauce) and Paranormal Romance (magic and tightly plotted relationship with happily ever after).

This is however the third book in the series and it is definitely not a series you can read out of order. Think of this as one giant, epic fantasy book that just happens to have been released in three installments, and read accordingly. That being said, while I will attempt to not spoil THIS book, spoilers for previous books are highly likely. You have been warned.

The Hidden Legacy series is in a divergent world where in 1863 we discover a serum that unlocks untapped magic potential. Shenanigans ensue and the world decides this is much too dangerous to be let loose and so put a lock on the serum. Of course, there are all the people who have already had the serum, and these traits are passed down genetically to their offspring; so magic, and thus power, prestige, and money are concentrated into the hands of these families, known as Houses.

That is how it all starts, so seriously pick up this series and read it, I doubt you will be disappointed because there is a little something in it for most fiction readers.

On to the show. Those genetic connections however bring both pitfalls, and opportunities, and Nevada bears the brunt of both. She is riding the crest of a vast and catastrophic conspiracy hoping to untangle it before everything goes to hell. Meanwhile she has two sisters and two cousins, a mother and a grandmother who are also subject to the decisions she may make.

We’ve seen Nevada in hiding from the world of power, and Nevada making her initial hesitant entrance,  now we get to see Nevada stepping up to make her own place in this world, on her own terms. She rocks and is one of my favorite all time heroines. She doesn’t wander through the world as some sort of Mary Sue with the intrinsic knowledge that her basic (but humble) perfection will change the world to suit her, nor does she bust up the world order just because she can. She walks the balance.

Meanwhile in relationship land, Nevada and Rogan struggle to navigate their personal relationship in the midst of all this trauma and drama. Genetics, and boundaries, and competing relationships oh my! That sounds ridiculously cliched and soap-opera-esque, but it really isn’t.

But when you boil everything down, it all circles back to relationships and the people in ones life. Do you want something for someone in your life that current circumstances dictate they can’t have? Do you want something for yourself, and others are trying to stop you? It all really boils down to those desires and impediments and Ilona Andrews navigates through these competing desires in complex individuals to build a compelling tale. And that is what makes this so good and so much more intricate than your average romance novel, the rest of the people aren’t just stage dressing, they are as much real characters as the main protagonists. And they have real consequences and real effects on the story trajectory, whether the initiating event came from Nevada or themselves. It makes it, as I said before, compelling.

And while this arc is categorically concluded, there is a nice wide door to continuing further adventures in this world, which I sincerely hope happens. Leon, Bern, Cornelius, Catalina, Arabella, Victoria Tremaine, and a few others too spoilery to even speak of right now…all I could see could easily support more stories. Hell, I would even read some NA/YA in this world.

Buy Links: AMAZON | B & N | GOOGLE | ITUNES | KOBO

Author Links:   WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER GOODREADS

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4 star review

Review + Blog Tour – One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis

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It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.

Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.

They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.

I have been digging on this series for a bit now, and it was a surprise since contemporary doesn’t always do it for me and YA/NA (which this has a flavor of) is even chancier, but this group of friends I just can’t wait to keep hanging out with. And yeah lucky readers, there’s a giveaway that will give you a chance to get hooked up with the first two in the series!

Link to Follow Tour

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

Author Info
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill’s latest, SWEET LITTLE LIES on shelves and e-readers now, and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

Visit Jill’s website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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

I think it is possible to read these as stand alones, I just don’t know why you would want to. Part of the joy to me in this series is the group dynamics. We met Rory in the first book in the series, and she got a little more present in the second and we got a peek at touch of her background as one of Willa’s adoptees, connections made of those who did not grow up with a stable home life.

But now it is Christmas, and Rory figures it is time to finally take grown up stance in her life and mend some familial breeches. Which puts her into contact with Max, the one guy that she just cant settle her feelings with, and apparantly the one guy she has some sort  of mysterious history with.

This is a sort of snowed in trope, though they are driving, and it is a Big Mis. SO there aren’t a lot of interactions with others and they have some solid time to work out their issues. And since this is novella length, it works out for the best that they have both history and the extended alone time, and that every disaster (and there are several) gives them each the time to size each other up in a new light. And they are almost painfully cut with each other, and there is plenty of saucy banter. It is good stuff.

But, on the neg side, it is almost too short, and the age and theme skew even younger than the other books in the series. It is also a happily for now with glowing possibilities for the future, which actually does fit better my idea for two such young (to me kids) and the short format, so for me it isn’t a negative, but I know it could be for others. So take that into account.

Overall though, it is a good, quick, happy  read, perfect for the upcoming holidays and I do recommend it, along with the whole series.

And whoohoo for me, I have the 3rd full book in this series in the queue, so drop on by in January and see what the gang is up to next.

One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay, #2.5)

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4 star review

Review +Giveaway – Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

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With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynn Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynn is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…

Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley and with Tasty Book Tours, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review. Additionally, there is a giveaway associated with this book blog tour, scroll down to the bottom of the review to find it.

            She fumbled in refastening her shirt. “I’ll teach you everything I know about the illness, and you provide temporary protection and one kill.” The mere idea she was contracting a murder banished the desire humming inside her and replaced the heat with a lump of cold rock.

            A veil fell over Jax’s eyes. “What makes you think we don’t know everything you do about the illness?”

            She shrugged, wondering if he knew what kind of information he might have stored away just from his ransacking labs. “The Internet went down fast, much faster than anyone would’ve thought, and the news and television thereafter. No way do you know what I know.”

            He watched her patiently, as if waiting to strike. “The Internet went down because of a guy named Spiral.”

            She blinked. Wow. So Jax Mercury had some seriously good intel. “True. He was infected with the illness and then reacted by creating a world-class computer virus. Figured if bodies died, so should technology, since it got us in this fix in the first place.” Her instincts hummed. Underestimating Mercury would be a colossal mistake. Suddenly, and for the first time in way too long, hope struggled to unfurl within her. “I still know more about the illness than you do.”

            “Probably.” He studied her for a few moments longer before cocking his head to the side. “What else?”

            She cleared her throat. “I assume you’ve scavenged the area you control?”

            His chin lifted. “So?”

            She swallowed, her body stilling. “Did you scavenge the emergency CDC outpost on the southeast side of L.A.?” Her blood pumped so fast she could feel a vein in her neck bulging.

            “Yes. Why?” he asked softly.

            The softness contained a deadly intent that rippled a shiver down her spine. Her fingers fidgeted. “They had the most recent research, and combined with mine, we might have hope.” They also had intel on where Myriad, the ultrasecret lab, might be located.

            He studied her. “We raided the CDC outpost and took all medical supplies and paper records. Our limited medical personnel went through the files looking for cures, but I have to be honest, none of them are researchers with your background.”

Lynne leaned forward. “I’m happy to go through all the information and decipher it for you.” Oh God. Maybe the risk of heading into Mercury’s territory would actually pay off . . . if she could find Myriad. “Could I look through the data?”

            He leaned back and studied her. “Sure. Are you telling me there may be a cure?”

This is the first complete book in Rebecca Zanetti’s new series The Scorpius Syndrome. The intro novella is in On the Hunt which I didn’t manage to get my hands on before reading this. However, I did read her Sin Brothers series, so I knew I liked her writing style. Plus, I am a sucker for post apocalyptic dystopians.

And this is a rather good one. A plague, plague ridden zombies (the science and the effects on this one are pretty novel and interesting) the scientist plague bringer, the rugged special forces former gang member hottie (who likes to cuddle), the government conspiracy, it all adds up to a compelling tale.

Analyzing my love with post-apocalyptic dystopians, I think part of why I enjoy it so much is that it gives a reasonable and concrete explanation for short cutting typical social mores, in a way that just irks me when it comes to contemporaries. Romances novels often take short cuts to feelings, but it feels irritating and contrived in contemporaries, whereas when the world is ending it just feels more reasonable. I don’t know, but it works for me, and Lynn and Jax are crackling together right from the start.

Jax isn’t remotely a nice man, but for the most part this works in the setting and the situation, but he isn’t a one note bad boy. And even the side characters are relatively fleshed out, enough so that the losses are a punch to the gut, and I teared up more than once. Lynn is a little more opaque to me, a little harder to figure out and empathize with, despite the fact that we spend quite a bit of time in her head. But YMMV.

The actual plot to the story was also pretty compelling. There are several stories going on tied up with one big story about finding a way for humanity to survive. There is also a ton of sequel bait, but it doesn’t detract from this story. And man I enjoyed this story. It has all my favorite catnip components. My only niggle, and it is very minor, is that there were a few places where the story lagged a bit.

It is books like this that make me hate starting a series when it is just coming out. I want to binge, but there is literally nothing but tenterhooks for me to wait on until the next book, and the next one isn’t even coming out until September. How can I wait that long? What if it doesn’t come? What if the series doesn’t continue? I’d be so pissed and despondent. But seriously, this is really good, if you like post-apocalyptic dystopians, action/adventure, and plagues and science, this is the book for you. 4 stars

Mercury Striking (The Scorpius Syndrome, #1)


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Link to Follow Tour

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3.5 star review

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

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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…

Excerpt

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,

Amelia

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.

Link to Follow Tour:  http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/10/the-lady-who-lived-again-sole-survivor.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25219448-the-lady-who-lived-again

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/151338-soul-survivor

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

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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4 star review, News

Blog Tour + Giveaway – Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken

Feel The Burn Banner

I read and loved this so well I jumped at the opportunity to give everyone a chance to win (scroll to the bottom for the giveaway link) copies of this.

Excerpt:

Kachka Shestakova, formerly of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains, gazed blindly over the beautiful lands she’d been living in for near on six months now. Lots of grass and trees and fresh water lakes. Ample food supplies and happy people ruled by a benevolent ruler.

Horse gods of Ramsfor! It was like hell on earth!

And Kachka had no one to blame but herself. She’d given up her painful, harsh life as a Daughter of the Steppes when she’d saved her sister from their mother. It was still a decision she’d make again if she had to, but she’d never thought that her life would end like this. She’d assumed that their mother would have tracked them down and killed them both. Kachka had been wrong. Her mother never had the chance because she’d come face to face with Annwyl the Bloody, Queen of the Southlands.

The royal had killed Glebovicha Shestakova, cut off her head, and ripped the eyes from the skull. All in front of the Anne Atli, leader of the Outerplains Tribes. It had been a bold move on the queen’s part. Or, as those closest to the queen had said more than once, “a completely insane move.” Kachka didn’t know. She didn’t talk to the queen. Or really anyone unless she absolutely had to.

All of Garbhán Isle was littered with dragons in human form. She couldn’t tell one from another without her sister’s help. Kachka didn’t hate the dragons. She just didn’t understand why a human would mate with one as they would a man. True, men were mostly useless, but they served their purpose: trash removal, child rearing, and breeding.

Although in the past few decades, the breeding part had changed where dragons and humans were concerned. The queen herself had a set of twins who were half human and half dragon. And it was because of them—and the other offspring that came after—that the humans’ gods had turned on their worshippers. Leaving them to fight the followers of Chramnesind by themselves.

It was shaping up to be quite the long-lasting war from what Kachka could tell. The Southlanders and the inhabitants of the Quintilian Sovereigns Empire were unwilling to give up their multitude of gods. And those who did choose to follow Chramnesind were unwilling to let the others worship anyone else. Armies were being built. Battle plans arranged.

And Kachka wasn’t involved in any of it.

That didn’t really surprise her, though. She wasn’t of these lands. She was a Rider, and her people’s fighting style and reasons for fighting were vastly different. The Anne Atli and the Daughters of the Steppes did have an alliance with Queen Annwyl and the Southlanders, but it was less about fighting by the Southlanders side and more about not stopping the Southlanders and their other allies from traipsing through Outerplains territory when necessary.

What dug into Kachka’s soul more than anything, though, was that before her sister had returned home with that request to speak to the Anne Atli—the title given to all their leaders since the first Anne Atli wrestled power away from the useless men—on Queen Annwyl’s behalf, Kachka\ had been moving up through the ranks at a nice, steady pace. She would never have been the Anne Atli, but she could have led her own troops into battle. Perhaps sat in on the all-tribes meetings when large decisions were made.

In other words . . . she’d have had a purpose.

Kachka needed a purpose. She needed a goal. She needed to make a name for herself. Their mother had never liked Kachka or her sister, but Kachka’s skill and willingness to throw herself into battle couldn’t be denied.

Where did that leave her here?

Of course, she could join the Queen’s Army, but marching in formation and taking orders from mostly men . . . no.

Never!

She was a Daughter of the Steppes, not some sheep blinded to the decadent life offered in these Southland territories.

Which left Kachka . . . where? Exactly?

“Um . . . excuse me? My lady?”

Kachka cringed at the ridiculous moniker these Southlanders insisted on using. She’d gotten tired of correcting them, so she let out a breath and snapped, “What?”

“Margo”—the leader of the kitchen staff—“was wondering if you could perhaps, if you’re not too busy, round up some meat for us? Some of the Cadwaladrs will be attending dinner tonight and the butchers don’t have enough to feed them all. You know what hearty eaters dragons are. So she was just—”

As the sheep went on—begging—and Kachka stared her in the face, she raised her bow, an arrow already nocked and ready, and shot the first thing she saw from the corner of her eye. The bison cried out once before dropping to its knees and bleeding out from the wound on its neck.

“Anything else?” Kachka asked.

The woman was pale now, her head shaking in answer.

Disgusted—hunting was not a challenge for a Daughter of the Steppes; it was more like breathing—Kachka turned away and started walking.

“Kachka?” She stopped and looked over her shoulder to see her sister.

“Fuck,” Kachka muttered as her sister walked over to her.

“You can’t be nice?” Elina asked in their native tongue.

Kachka’s sister wore a bright purple eye patch where her left eye should be. It had been the last thing their mother had taken from Elina. Over time, she’d grown accustomed to the loss, her skills at using her bow improving day after day. But the eye patches . . . this ridiculous purple one could have only come from that idiotic She-dragon, Keita. Her obsession with what Elina wore bordered on the disturbing. Wasn’t it bad enough the Shestakova sisters had already become decadent and lazy? Must they also become pathetic as well?

“I was nice,” Kachka replied, but when Elina pursed her lips, Kachka threw up her hands. “What more do you want from me, sister?”

“How about not terrifying the staff?”

“You mean the sheep?”

“And stop calling them that! You know they hate it!”

Seriously, how can you not love these women? I adore and re-read the entire series often.

Link to Follow Tour:  http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/10/feel-burn-dragon-kin-8-by-ga-aiken.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23453137-feel-the-burn

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/62647-dragon-kin

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

Author Info

Originally from Long Island, New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken has resigned herself to West Coast living, which involves healthy food, mostly sunny days, and lots of guys not wearing shirts when they really should be. Writing as Shelly Laurenston, she is also the creator of the wickedly funny Pride series for Brava. For more info about G.A. Aiken’s dangerously and arrogantly sexy dragons, go to www.gaaiken.com.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads
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3.5 star review

Review + Giveaway – Winter Secrets by M. Limoges

Winter Secrets

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

Patience is a virtue…a lesson Stephen Dorsett has learned over the years, wooing his mate. He loves the prickly woman with all his heart, but he’s keeping a secret from her—one that will soon change the entire dynamic of their relationship.

Kate Matthews has a secret of her own, but she’s reluctant to share her surprise with Stephen. With her mate spending too many long hours and late nights at work recently, Kate begins to second-guess Stephen’s commitment to her.

One simple misunderstanding, fueled by insecurities and doubts, is all it takes to throw Kate and Stephen off course. Will they allow their secrets to pull them apart, or make their love stronger?

I picked this up because it sounded cute and holiday. And then I looked at the backlist…good googly moogly, there are 33 books in this series. Granted, they are by a handful of different authors, but still, I am picking up book 33 here. Ok, so no matter how I love reading an entire series before reading and reviewing a current book, that just wasn’t possible here, so I went back and picked up number 8, Taming His Mate, which is when these two crazy kids got together.


Excerpt

Kate Matthews gaped at the small, plastic stick she clutched with a death grip. The frantic drum of her heart beat against her ribcage while her stomach churned in discord. A swift influx of panic, elation, disbelief, and fear bombarded her all at once, dragging the air from her lungs in a noisy whoosh.

Pregnant.

“Oh, shit.”

Reeling from the revelation, she stumbled backward to drop onto the toilet lid before her weak knees buckled. Unfortunately, she miscalculated the distance and fell in between the sink and toilet with a surprised squeal, landing in a squished heap and banging her head on the wall in the process. Temporarily rendered stupid, she simply sat there, wedged in the tiny space, gawking at the little strip of plastic glaring the truth at her.

“You all right in there?” her mate, Stephen, called from the other side of the door. No doubt he’d scented her distress.

Alarm whipped through her bloodstream, and the pregnancy test flew from Kate’s trembling hand to clatter on the floor in front of her. When he twisted the doorknob, she bolted from the floor and snatched the small stick from the bathroom tiles.

“I’m fine,” she exclaimed. “There was a spider.”

He twisted the knob again, and she sent up a quick prayer of thanks she’d had the foresight to turn the latch.

“Why’d you lock the door?” A mix of irritation and concern tinged his deep voice.

Frantic, she stashed the plastic strip in a box of tampons in the cabinet under the sink, certain he’d never look there, and then darted for the entrance. Once she fumbled with the lock, she tugged the door open and came face to chest with Stephen.

“I must’ve locked it by accident when I came in.” The excuse sounded weak to her own ears. Surely, he would think the same. They never locked the bathroom door, if she could get him to close the damn thing at all.

A frown creased his golden features. He watched her through narrowed blue eyes—attempting to decipher the obvious lie and cow her with his probing stare at the same time.

Drop it. Drop it. Please, for the love of God, drop it.


These are short stories or novellas (I seriously struggle with the distinction) and while I am sure there is a certain continuity throughout the series, these can definitely be read as standalones. In fact, if you aren’t already fans of the series, I don’t know that I suggest reading these two back to back as I have. With as many as 25 different stories between these two, I bet the impact would be different.

Because dear lord do these two need to learn to talk to each other. For two people who have known each other almost their entire lives I just don’t get the secrets, I sincerely don’t.

But, the writing is well done, the characters are engaging, and while the tropes used don’t usually work well in a longer story, they are very effective here with the shorter format. We have fated mates, brother’s best friend, Big Secret, and Big Mis. Which makes it sound like it is trope salad, but it isn’t. Because I genuinely liked the characters (even when they were pissing me off) and cared about their stories.

What the Black Hills Wolves seems like to me, is a supernatural soap opera in book form. Each episode has it’s own conclusion, but the threads are ongoing, and within each story are threads of other episodes. SO this series seems ideal for both the binge reader (seriously, so much binge), or the reader who likes to pick through story threads and just follow the ones that interest them.

And much like soap operas, I think this stuff could be addictive. There are a few story lines I really feel the need to go back and read, and the foreshadowed one that might be next in the series is truly tempting. I struggled with the rating on this, because I really did like it, and I am very likely to go on (or go back) and read more, but I don’t think I will ever go back and re-read this, so I am sticking with 3.5 stars. But I am definitely recommending this for reader who like the short, sexy, and soap opera-esque.

About the Author

Melissa Limoges lives along the Gulf Coast with her OCD cat, Mr. Tibbs. Tax assessor by day, romance writer by night, she enjoys anything coffee related, traveling, and reading happily ever afters.

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Taming his Mate (Black Hills Wolves, #8)

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3.5 star review

Review + Giveaway Shattered by Cynthia Eden

shattered

Shattered

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.

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden’s latest novel featuring the Last Option Search Team (LOST), one agent is forced to face her past as she uncovers secrets about the man who may be the key to her future.

Criminal psychologist Dr. Sarah Jacobs is all too familiar with the kind of bad boys who belong behind bars. But the dark, dangerous man she meets in the New Orleans underworld is a new kind of ruthless, and all too irresistible.

Jax Fontaine doesn’t claim to be a good guy, but he’s loyal to his own code and brutally honest about what he wants. He and Sarah may be worlds apart, but when they’re skin to skin, nothing matters but the heat between them.

And when a deranged killer targets Sarah, Jax will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

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Excerpt

“No judgment,” he murmured. “There’s no anger in your eyes, no rage or disgust at me for being a cold bastard. No pity for the kid I was who got beaten in a dirty alley and left to die.”

“Don’t be too sure you understand what I feel.”

“Why not? I actually think I understand you very, very well.”

Sarah backed up a step.

A faint smile curved his lips. “It was there from the first time I saw you. That instant connection. Doesn’t happen often. Actually, it’s never happened to me before. I looked up, saw you, and thought—”

Sarah pretty much ran for the door.

But he caught her. His hands wrapped around her and Jax pulled her back against his body. His hold wasn’t hard or rough. Oddly, it was infinitely tender.

“Do you know what I saw when I looked in your eyes?” he whispered into her ear.

Sarah shook her head.

“You were hurting. Trying to hide your pain, but I could still see it. I looked at you and thought—I never want her to hurt again.”

Tears stung her eyes. “You don’t know me. Or what I’ve done.” Jax thought his past was bad? It was nothing compared to hers. She still had nightmares that had her waking in the night, choking for breath, and begging for help.

Help that hadn’t come. Not in time.

“Tell me why you came to see me tonight, Sarah.”

She sucked in a quick breath and decided to go with the truth. “Because I didn’t want to lie in bed and be afraid. Because I didn’t want to think about the past or the future.” Because she’d felt that insane connection between them, too.

The first time she’d seen him, she’d looked into his eyes and thought—

He can handle all my darkness. He won’t ever be afraid of what I tell him.

Because his gaze had told her that he’d already looked into hell … and hadn’t given a damn about the demons there.

He turned her in his arms. She made herself look up and into his eyes. He was so warm and strong against her. And he made her … want. Yearn for things that she’d denied herself for so very long.

Because she hadn’t wanted anyone to get close. She hadn’t trusted anyone with all her secrets.

She didn’t trust him, either. She’d be a fool to do that. But—she did want him. And every instinct Sarah possessed screamed at her that Jax Fontaine could give her the sensual oblivion she craved.

A few hours to forget. A few hours to just pretend that I’m not the freak in the room. The monster that everyone else fears.

“What do you want from me?” Jax asked her.

Just a night. She’d be leaving New Orleans soon, flying out on a plane and heading back to her little house in the suburbs of Atlanta. They wouldn’t see each other again. So no one else would know about what happened tonight. Just her.

Just him.

Review

This is the third book in the series. While I do think this can be read as a standalone, I have read the previous two and enjoyed them, and I think it does make the characters more meaningful, so I highly suggest reading this series in order. As I have said before Cynthia Eden’s books are like crack for me. They are addictive, with a quick short high, that doesn’t last long, and leaves you scrambling for the next one, often with very little memory of that previous high. Fortunately for us readers, book crack is not in fact actual crack, and so we are free to indulge as we please and as often as we please.

LOST, Last Option Search Team, is a group that finds the missing. All the members have their demons, their secrets, for why they ended up where they are now. Dr. Jacobs secrets seemed to be darker, the way she can put her self into the minds of killers and the hints about her past, and that seeming couldn’t have been more true. I’ll admit though, I was kind of hoping she’d end up with guilt stricken good guy Wade, but this was so much better.

Jax Fontaine has secrets, secrets from those around him, and secrets even from himself. He’s dark, and edgy, and oft times brutal. But he can handle Sarah’s darkness. And from my perspective, he’s sexy and I could just eat him up. However, I am completely unsure who the hell that man on the cover is supposed to be, because it certainly isn’t Jax Fontaine,

So let me get the negatives out of the way first. For those who are bothered, this is sort of insta-love, or at least insta-lust. Granted it started in the previous book, but that only adds a couple of days to their relationship. It worked fine for me, but your mileage may vary. There was also a rather lackadaisical approach to birth control that I was less than pleased with. But that is my particular hot button, so again, YMMV.

But on to the good. This book was a roller coaster of twists and turns. Just absolutely dozens of twists and turns. By the end of it was completely shocked by who the villain turned out to be, and that doesn’t happen too often. I may not completely guess, but they are almost always on my radar. This one just hit me with several blind sides. The chemistry between the two main characters was smoking and sweet. We got just enough glimpses to be sure previous couples were still on the right path to their happily ever afters without it being so much that it overwhelms the current story, or that I think it would be intrusive to new readers. And like I said, the action and the mystery kept me absolutely riveted.

Eden’s romantic suspense don’t usually hit my re-read shelves, they just aren’t that compelling or deep. But they are always consistent and I devour them gleefully because she never lets me down. She’s probably also one of the more prolific writers on my must read list with over 60 titles between her paranormal and her romantic suspense lines, and I haven’t had a true dud yet. So for a book crack dealer, she’s always my best bet. Shattered is great addition for the addicted, and I can’t wait for Victoria and Wade’s respective stories.

Shattered (LOST, #3)
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Author Info

Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.

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