Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: Cain's Identity

Cain's Identity Cain's Identity by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book kind of completes the series focusing on the “older” vampires before fast forwarding 20 years. I didn’t actually realize this when I started reading, but it makes all the references to the future a lot more relevant.

Cain is a bodyguard with amnesia. He’s been doing his best, working with Scanguards to at least put his mysterious fighting skills to good use. That doesn’t stop his dreams from showing him a life he doesn’t remember. The dreams also star a woman who he feels extremely drawn to. The mystery begins to unravel when a vampire turns up, claiming to be the leader of his guard – the king’s guard. Who knew that Cain could be king somewhere?

Faye, also known as the mysterious woman in the dreams, has mourned the loss of her king and lover for almost a year now. They were all told that Cain was murdered, but she hasn’t given up hope. Cain’s brother, Abel (obviously), is clearly up to no good in this whole situation. While almost blackmailing Faye into accepting his proposal of marriage, he’s also not a very good leader. It takes over a year to allow for a new ruler to be crowned, so it’s a good thing Cain shows up. Between revenge plots, assassins, and not being able to trust anyone, Cain really does a pretty good job balancing his kingly life with re-courting Faye.

While not a very Scanguards-ish book, this one was still really good. It was almost like a road trip novel, where a few characters travel to another place for the length of the book. While Cain wouldn’t have been my pick for such a book, it really worked. I found myself rooting for this mystery man and hoping for a really great ending (and was rewarded with one, too).

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Review: Zone of Action: A Career Soldier Military Romance

Zone of Action: A Career Soldier Military Romance Zone of Action: A Career Soldier Military Romance by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are sexy, sizzling, super fun bite-sized stories that will leave you grinning. In this book, we follow Jake on his journey from super bachelor to inadvertently committed man.

Jake is part of the crew that went out every weekend, hooking up with different willing women each night. This seemed to be the type of life that made him happy until one seemingly normal outing to a bar introduced him to Harper. Remember Harper? If you don’t, you’re missing out on another good story. Harper used to room with Sam (another soldier’s soon-to-be-wife from another book). Sure, they’re still BFFs, but they don’t really get to see each other much due to Harper’s demanding career as a chef. On her rare nights off, she likes to blow off steam in exactly the same way as Jake.

This is where the dirty time begins. Harper refreshingly and bluntly picks up Jake after he introduces himself and they quickly progress to the one-night-stand portion of the evening. So what’s different? They both know there could be more, but ignore it in favor of their seemingly simple lifestyles… until they re-meet at Sam’s party. From there, it was really fun to watch them dance around their growing feelings and altered attitudes. This HEA was particularly satisfying and I’m happy I got to read it.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter

The Unlikeable Demon Hunter The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this book blew me away! There was just the right balance of crass, offensive awesomeness and smutty, paranormal-filled action to make this a thoroughly addictive read. If this is only the introduction, I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

Nava is everything I love in a reluctant hero. She’s tough, independent, and appears to have zero inhibitions. Throw in some truly epic sarcasm and comebacks and I’m in love. Sure, she’s flawed in some truly amazing ways, but that only makes me love her even more. She’s been playing second to her twin, Ari, who was chosen at birth to be part of some super-secret demon hunting organization. It’s all boys, so it was obviously never meant to be her… until things get turned on their head. During her twin’s induction ceremony, it appears that the superpower ends up with her, along with a ring that cannot be removed (no matter how hard she tries).

Since Nava hasn’t been trained from birth like her brother has, she’s got a lot of catching up to do in a short amount of time. Having magic powers only gets you so far when you can’t even tell demon from human most of the time. Oh, and then there’s the sexy, broody guardian she’s assigned, who also happens to be a retired rock god. The sizzle only amps up the building tension in Nava’s life. There is also some big bad demon out to get her because she accidently/sort-of on purpose killed his kids. The stress is high, but Nava manages to keep it together… as much as can be expected.

As I said, this book is just filled with unapologetic rudeness, horrible behavior, even worse choices, oodles of emotional baggage, and one awesome chick. If you are easily offended, what are you doing reading a book with the word “unlikeable” in the title? Seriously, this book is not for someone who doesn’t enjoy a trip into some darker books. That being said, if you are even remotely interested in someone who can backtalk with the best of them while still dealing with her own emotional issues, Nava is definitely your gal.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Destined for Shadows

Destined for Shadows Destined for Shadows by Susan Illene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I should start with the fact that I have not read any of the original series, of which this world is based upon. That being said, I don’t think it hindered by enjoyment of this book. The world was rich with characters who had unique stories and you could tell that there was a history there. It was nice to get thrown right in and meet the awesomeness that is Cori.

Cori is the best. No, really, she is an absolutely wonderful main character. She’s tough, independent, and has been through an awful lot. It would take a serious strength of character to survive as a regular old human surrounded by massively powerful paranormals. To further prove her strength, she is also determined to pull a reclusive half-angel out of his shell. Bartol was tortured for way too long and now he’s got some pretty big issues with relationships of any kind. He’s built some literal and metaphorical walls around himself to ensure he doesn’t hurt others or get hurt again himself. The only person who seems to ignore them is Cori. She’s using all her considerable talent to try to lure him out.

These two are just… awesome. Sure, Bartol is gruff and stubborn, but I think that’s exactly what Cori needed. He’s the challenge that she’s sure she can rise to and he’s slowly warming to having her in his life. Of course, something forces the issue to the surface when Cori’s supposedly dead ex-husband shows up threatening her life. Who would’ve thought that the good guys in this story had such dark and disastrous pasts? It was kind of refreshing to see some damaged “heroes.” Fair warning, this book does not end with things all neatly tied up. This is clearly meant to be the start of a series that joins this story with the next. I didn’t find it jarring or annoying, just something that was a little unexpected in this world of paranormal romance.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Blood Vow

Blood Vow Blood Vow by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure I completely knew what the next books in this series were going to be like, but I probably should have expected that we will be watching each member of the trainee group get paired off.

This book revolves around Axe, the tough but wounded warrior who is into kinky things in his spare time. We already had a little peek into his mental state during their original interview process, but here we get to hear all about his past. Because of his mother’s betrayal, he obviously has a hard time trusting women. That doesn’t really stop him from falling head-over-heels for Elise when he first sees her. Elise is part of an aristocratic family and is obviously not expected to date anyone like Axe. She is all about pushing her independence, though, especially in the wake of her cousin’s murder. Her degree is almost finished, and she wants to do more with her life than attend parties and plan social functions.

Elise’s father is about a second away from petitioning her seclusion after he finds her sneaking in and out of the house, but they compromise with a bodyguard… who is of course Axe. These two move super quickly! I was a little startled by how quickly their relationship progresses, especially since they really don’t know a lot about one another. This, obviously, leads to a lot of miscommunication and hurt feelings. There’s also a healthy dose of “jumping to conclusions” that seems prevalent in the series. Sure, we end up with a neat and tidy HEA, but what I found myself really interested in was where we go next. We’re going to move on to our favorite “pretty boy” and the toughest trainee, right? I can’t wait to see how that goes!

Gah! I almost forgot about the Rhage storyline! See? Here’s where the books get a little muddled. The side story (or main story? I never know) is around Rhage’s adoptive daughter and their search for her family. There is a lot of pain thrown in here that was sometimes hard to get through. While we get a nice little Christmas for everyone, it was very difficult for them to end up there. I hope we’re done with that drama for a while.

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Review: Buck Naked

Buck Naked Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book throws a newb into the deep water when she realizes that the changes she’s experiencing are completely not normal. While her life is in transition, it appears her grip on reality is as well.

Sadie is starting a new chapter in her life. She’s inherited a secret cabin from her mother and decided to start her own business. Seems pretty straightforward – take advantage of the small town friendliness and begin a new life. Well, it’s pretty clear, after her first few trips into town, that not everyone wants her around. After a lot of floundering, she discovers that she might just be turning into something unbelievable. Of all people, her grumpy neighbor ends up being the one to break the news to her. All of this, however, leads Sadie to some very difficult decisions. Does she trust her heart and dive in, or does she cut her losses and run?

Mathis is trying to keep his promise to his dead wife, but his new neighbor is making it very difficult. Her allure is undeniable and he can’t help wanting to protect her from all the insanity moving through her life. These two are a reluctant pairing but, wow, they seriously light up the pages with their sizzle! Even with their attraction, however, they still have to overcome some traditional rules, some old promises, and some pretty mean cats. We somehow end up with a HEA with lots of room for her twin’s story, too!

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Review: Bitter Thirst

Bitter Thirst Bitter Thirst by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are awesome and make my head hurt at the same time. Having read through all the other books in this universe (and does it still count as the same universe if it has been remade?), there are oodles of connections and references thrown around liberally in Cesar’s story. That being said, I’m sure I’m missing a ton of them, but I still strain to figure out all the links and timeline parallels.

Cesar is still… himself. He’s gruff and chauvinistic, but somehow still loveable. Through no devious plan of his own, he ends up thrown into some gigantic political intrigue that involves the OPA becoming a big player in a bill for preternatural registry. We (or most of us) know how this ultimately ends, but it was still nice to see the inner workings at play. I was particularly entertained by Tate, which is something I might never have expected to say. We get lots of familiar faces and even more backstabbing than before. Cesar just keeps finding new and interesting ways to be screwed in almost all situations (and even in some fun ways, too).

The overall story? That’s a little complicated. While chasing down leads for a senator’s murder case, he ends up tasked with some “off the record” work that leads him back to the evil apple group. Remember them? He’s also forced to confront the lack of any clear good/bad in pretty much all these situations. Oh, and to make matters worse, his family is up in arms about his choices lately. Poor Cesar. I can’t wait to see how his story wraps up.

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