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)

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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 star review

ARC Review – Hoodoo Blue by Katalina Leon

Hoodoo Blue

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.

Book Blurb

Fredi is a passionate witch with a scorching hot secret. Every time she has a sexual thought, green fire blasts from her fingertips. Gus is a gorgeous lycan who scares women away with his wild wolf-shifts. Not the best way to find relationships.

Both have vowed not to date until they get themselves under control, but a witchy friend thinks differently. The pair get tricked into sharing a frosty pitcher of “Hoodoo Blue” and fall prey to a wayward love potion that has them blurting out every lustful thought. Worse, it won’t allow them to walk away from each other. They’re stuck together until dawn under the devilish effects of a time-released hoodoo that makes them do outrageous things. For everyone’s safety, Fredi is forced to take Gus home and tie him to her headboard and only some very witchy lovemaking can calm the storm.

Fredi and Gus might find themselves on the set-up date from hell, but even a hilarious cascade of disasters can’t keep a plus-sized blonde witch with attitude, and a hunky lumberjack of a lycan from seeing the other would be the perfect mate.

This is a fun, snappy little paranormal romance, but instead of a meet-cute, we have a meet-disaster. Neither Gus nor Fredi thinks they are in the right place to date, but a good-hearted friend with a penchant for mischief and spell casting gone awry thinks otherwise. And when the spell goes on, the brakes on the brain and the lips definitely goes off. There’s some rather fun repartee and some sizzling smexing, followed by a sweet happily every after. :Sigh: I just adored Gus, he’s too precious for words. The only reason I am not rating this higher is that some of the dialogue and the inner monologues were a touch clunky and in a few places, repetitive. But overall it is a fun read and I am rather interested in finding out what kind of hi-jinks Estele is going to get herself into when it is her own love life on the line.

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Excerpt

(Fredi and Gus just met in the Voodoo Hoodoo cocktail lounge. Sparks fly. Now they need to get away from each other ASAP)

…Sid stood in front of the booth blocking her retreat. “Leaving? Not so fast. Here’s your pitcher of Hoodoo Blue, mixed special for you. I know that rhymes.” He winked as he set a frosty pitcher filled with what looked like a turquoise slushy on the table and placed two heavy glasses paired with pink straws beside it. “Enjoy.”

“Thank—“ Fredi stopped herself and raised a palm in apology. “I won’t say it.”
Sid smirked and walked away.
Damn Fae. With his sly green eyes, he always looked like he was up to no good.

She stared at the frosty blue beverage with suspicion. There was a lot of drink there—more than enough to get several adults schnockered. No doubt sneaky Sid mixed it strong, too. “There’s no way we can finish all of that. I really shouldn’t stay.”

Gus reached out and stroked her hand with a whisper light touch that brought her to a halt. “One drink. We’ll talk a little and I promise I’ll let you go. I have no business hanging around either. I need to get home, or take a run in the hills….”

“Why run to the hills?”

He heaved a tense breath. “To get a little wiggle room between me, civilization, and full- blown Lycanthropy high jinx. You’re a witch. I’m sure you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.”

She shrugged. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure what you mean. I didn’t grow up around many Lycan. I was raised in San Buena. Wolf boys usually aren’t part of the surf and shore scene. They head for the forests.”

“Wolf men,” he corrected her. “And you’re right Lycans prefer the woods to sandy beaches, but you must have heard something?” He settled his big frame uncomfortably on the vinyl seat.

“No.” She shook her head. “Nothing. I really don’t know much about the Lycan community.”

Gus’s expressive brows drooped. “You must have heard that during a full moon Lycans have a bad reputation for getting a little too aggressive, hairy, and—“

“Horny? Okay, I have heard that. I thought you might offer something a little more obscure, like you had to wear red shoes and skip through the hills searching for four-leaf clovers or something stupid like that.”

“Nope.” He looked terribly uneasy. “Nothing fancy. I have to stay away from the ladies. I don’t want to offend or bother anyone who’s not into Lycans, and it can be a challenge to control myself, especially around a woman like you.” His thick brows creased so strongly they almost met. “Strike that. I should not have said it.”

Author Info

Katalina Leon is an artist and author who can’t commit to a single genre. Her favorite playgrounds are historical, Sci-fi, contemporary, and most of all paranormal realms. Katalina brings a sense of adventure and a touch of the mystical to erotic romance. She believes there’s a daring heroine inside every woman who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.

Author Links

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4 star review

Review – A Christmas Dance

A Christmas Dance
By Alissa Johnson



This was a novella recommendation from Nalini Singh’s blog. It sounded so cozy it seemed a perfect read for what has turned out to be the dreariest day so far this year.

William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury sets out to find a wife with his usual military precision, but the quarry in question manages to continually elude him. Right when he thinks he has her cornered, he finds out her companion has some unusual proclivities. No, it’s not dirty, but it is one of the most humorous and novel openings to a story that I have had the pleasure to read. I simply adore a military man with a sly sense of humor who only thinks he knows what he wants. Patience is a plain woman, of limited means, advanced age for her time period, and even more dismal family lines. Not at all the sort of woman an earl would choose. Fortunately our intrepid hero doesn’t continue to pursue the wrong woman out of stubbornness, and in relatively short order a lovely sort of silly and romantic relationship blooms. Of course it had to bloom in short order, this is a novella, which means that there are very few conflicts than can be capably handled, and in this case it was the BIG SECRET. It isn’t my favorite trope, but with the secret in question, I can understand why it was kept.

A Christmas Dance was an altogether lovely novella that brightened my dreary day right up.

4 stars

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4 star review

ARC Review – Delirium

Delirium
by Erin Kellison

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is the 6th story in Erin Kellison’s Reveler series. I am not entirely sure how I missed this for so long, as it came out in January, but I am glad to get it.

1.  Darkness Falls
2.  Lay Me Down
3.  Darksider
4.  Night’s Deep Hush
5.  Bring Me a Dream

As I have previously said, I cannot in any way, shape, or form guarantee a spoiler free review. These are not stand alones, they aren’t even interconnected novels, this is a serial.

This is the second entry covering Marshall Harlen Fawkes and Sera. There isn’t a ton of growth in their relationship, though there is some, but this sixth novella really drives the story arc, the relationships, and it brings back Steve Coll. I still love the premise and the world building, I still love the characters, and I absolutely need to find out what is happening with the Sandman and with the Scrape (those are also the titles for the upcoming stories according to Kellison’s website). Shared dreaming and lucid dreaming are such fascinating concepts and the way this is executed in this series is enthralling. What I am still not fond of is the price, and the way this is being dragged out. Assuming there will be a total of 8 novellas, and assuming the first one remains free (not things I am entirely sure you can assume any more), you are looking at $20.93 to buy this story. I am just going to reiterate, as much as I really enjoy these stories, if I had to buy them, I don’t know that I would do so at this price point. I am hopeful when Ms. Kellison has completed the serial, she’ll put them all together into one book and sell at, what I would consider, a more reasonable price like Ms. Brook did for the Kraken King, because the story itself is excellent.

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3.5 star review

ARC – I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas

I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
by Molly Harper

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a novella set in the Half Moon Hollow series, which is a spin-off from the Jane Jameson series and in the same world as the Naked Werewolf series. While you don’t need to read the naked Werewolf story (or vice versa) to enjoy these, the Jane Jameson ones are somewhat required as far as I am concerned.

This particular novella is actually kind of interesting. It was initially released as an audiobook LAST Christmas, and is now being released in ebook form. If you do the Audible audiobook thing, it is actually free at the moment. Considering Charlaine Harris recently did something similar, with the audio releasing before the print, I kind of wonder if this is some sort of new experiment. I know some people love the audio, but since I just can’t stand it, i hope this doesn’t become too common, or I’ll end up very frustrated.

Molly Harper’s strengths have always been her humor, and the relationships her characters have with everyone, not just with their hero/heroine. There’s no romance in this story, but considering Harper’s strengths, that really isn’t a problem. It is a happy holiday story that lets us get caught up with beloved characters (without eating into another main character’s story) and gives is helpful time spanning information without dragging down the main romantic story. It’s Gigi’s first Christmas since her sister Iris became a vampire, she’s getting ready to graduate college, and she’s looking for a future job. All very entertaining for a hold over novella, not something I would want in addition to the main book, but definitely something to whet the appetite for The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire. 3.5 stars

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