Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: Drakon's Plunder

Drakon's Plunder Drakon's Plunder by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books just keep getting better and better. Each time I think I found my new favorite couple, another book comes along and knocks the previous ones out of the top spot. While these books can probably be read as a standalone novel, they are so good and keep building to something that you should completely start from book 1.

Sam is an archaeologist with the gift for finding magical artifacts. It helps that her works tends to put her in their path, but even without her profession she would be drawn to them. After her mentor was murdered, she was exposed to the very evil Knights of the Dragon, who are determined to hunt down these mythological beings and keep them in captivity for their blood’s gift of immortality. While she doesn’t necessarily believe in dragons, she does believe that this organization has murderous plans and would appreciate some justice for her mentor. On this path, however, she’s put herself alongside them, hunting for sunken treasure.

Ezra, who we met previously as one of the drakon brothers, had a very simple plan about sinking the Knights of the Dragon’s research vessel until he found a woman trying to steal something (and being shot for her efforts). That, coupled with the undeniable draw he felt towards her meant he found himself nestling her in his covers before too long. As usual, the Knights are up to no good and fate stepped in to align these two strong allies. Oh, and they also kept another evil book out of the hands of the bad guys. As is to be expected, they don’t exactly embrace their relationship right away, but that doesn’t stop the sexy times! These two positively sizzle while they try to find a way to be together. If they’d both just stop trying to protect one another, they could end up being a formidable team. Don’t worry – we eventually get to our HEA. Bring on the last brother!

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Review: Shifter in Paradise

Shifter in Paradise Shifter in Paradise by Susan Kearney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very short paranormal romance about a different type of shapeshifter and his fated mate.

Ari is a shapeshifter who, after dreaming of his fated mate, shifts himself into the form of her personal pilot and essentially kidnaps her. They end up landing on his secluded island where he is somehow supposed to both convince her to trust him and convince her that she can make herself change forms.

Samantha, rightly so, is not exactly on board with the kidnapping plan. She’s a powerful, independent woman, who does not enjoy being played with. Luckily for them both, nature makes them irresistible to one another, helping her overcome her hesitation in short order. What initially feels impossible is suddenly part of her hopes and dreams. These two are definitely an unlikely pair, and would probably have continued to be without the help of this fated mate “push.”

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Review: Fifty Frogs

Fifty Frogs Fifty Frogs by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an adorable, page-turning read that gave me smiles, laughs, and (of course) oodles of romance.

Poor Vivian. She left for her temporary reporting assignment with a rewarding job that she loved and a guy that could have possibly been the one (if she was willing to settle for stability over spark). When she returned home, she was pretty much homeless and jobless, and to make matters worse, the guy she could settle for was no longer willing to settle for her! Following some sage advice, she decided to explore the concept of having to kiss a lot of frogs to find her prince.

She meets exactly who you’d expect she would when she dives back into the dating scene – clingy, weird, aggressive, etc. Every woman has these stories, which is what would make Vivian’s article so likely to be picked up. As usual, it’s the guys that you never think of that end up being “the one.” In this case, we were introduced to a yummy dream man on Vivian’s way to reaching her goal of kissing fifty frogs.

This was an adorable story that really kept me entertained from start to finish. If you’re looking for a super fun and relatable book for a nice hot summer night, this is definitely worth it.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Defy the Dawn

Defy the Dawn Defy the Dawn by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was definitely a different type of Midnight Breed book. Rather than focusing on the breed, really, it had a lot to do with the Atlantean race.

Brynne, who we met previously, is newly out of a job because of her work helping the breed warriors. She's used to having a very solitary life so when she goes from London to the breed compound, it's a bit jarring to have people in her business 100% of the time. There is also the issue of the very sexy and alluring Zael. These two are obviously the stars of this book and will obviously end up together, but they certainly do not make it easy.

Brynne is filled with secrets and issues that Zael only seems more inspired to tackle. It seem the challenge is even more attractive to him. Aside from their romantic storyline, there is also the ever-present terrorist group who is taking out large scale targets. This escalation and the mystery of the Atlantean crystal eventually take the Order to the doors of an Atlantean colony. Or rather, it takes some volunteers - Brynne and Zael - to the colony. If you thought the colony would have less drama or strife, you'd be wrong. It looks like Brynne and Zael just can't catch a break, but don't worry, we get our HEA.

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Review: That Old Black Magic

That Old Black Magic That Old Black Magic by Laurie Carroll-Kuna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is the second in a magical world. Witches exist, but they're hiding. Oh, and there's vampires, too.

Endora we met previously in the first book of the series. She's buttoned up, can shapeshift into a cat, and likes her life to be in order. All of that changes when she receives a summons by the Tribunal. They are the ones that removed the majority of her power as a misplaced punishment for being present at a mass murder. She wasn't alone in her punishment - her soul mate, Marcus, received a similar punishment. Also, they were told to stay away from one another. Now, it seems, the Tribunal wants their help tracking down the real bad guy.

It's a little confusing as to why these two are specifically tasked with this job, and why they won't give them their powers back to do it, but I guess fate is weird that way. These two have some sizzle, but Endora is determined to fight it. You can probably guess how well that works. In the end, this story shows that love is powerful and can conquer even the most evil of villains.

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Review: Drawing Dead: An Urban Fantasy Thriller

Drawing Dead: An Urban Fantasy Thriller Drawing Dead: An Urban Fantasy Thriller by SM Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, wow - this book really surprised me in a good way. If you've never experienced this universe and are not well versed in the mythology, you can probably appreciate this book, but I have read them all and had some... preconceived notions. I honestly didn't like Dana when I met her in the previous books as an adult. I didn't know how I could possibly get through an entire book about her, but I devour everything by this author so I gave it a shot. I am so glad I did!

This story takes place in Vegas, where the Hunting Club is taking shots at the local vampire group while they take shots right back. The cops and the OPA are done turning a blind eye to these activities and have threatened them with an end to both of them if they don't behave. Dana is not really one for behaving and neither are some members of the vampire group. Oh, and then there's the whole issue where Dana just got forcibly turned into a vampire. That kind of throws a wrench into her plans.

Aside from Dana's dramas (which also involve some lovelife issues, of which there appear to be many), we spend a bunch of time in Nissa's head. She's a vampire with empathy who has never actually gotten up the nerve to drink blood. She's in good with her vampire friends but she is also not really a team player. You've always got to watch out for the quiet ones in these books. Oh, and the familiar characters from previous stories. Really, you've got to watch out for them all, since this author loves to surprise you.

While this book was really frickin' entertaining to read, it is certainly not a standalone, wrap-everything-up type book. We get to see into Dana's world and, wow, it is messed up. I can't wait to see what Dana does next, and where we head from here. With all the changes and bad guys we've now met, it should make for a really great new series.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Cougar Bait

Cougar Bait Cougar Bait by Evangeline Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are never straight vanilla and definitely veer towards the darker side, but they still never fail to deliver an unexpected romance.

Samantha is the sister of the previous book’s main character. While we briefly met her at the end, we certainly haven’t gotten to see all she has to offer. I think it would be okay to start reading the series here, but it would certainly help (or hurt) to see Liam as he plays a pretty strong role in book 1. Samantha, even after being locked up and watching Liam essentially threaten her sister with a forced mating, manages to save Liam’s life. As a surgeon, it kind of comes second nature to her to want to help people, but I’d be hard pressed to want to save the man that he was in book 1. He was pushy and almost forced a mating, which I thought would make it hard to get behind this romance. I was wrong. Liam won me over.

Liam ended up in a similar situation with Samantha, where a certain draw keeps him chasing her, no matter how much she insists she cannot be in his life. She has a normal human life, no signs of being a shifter any time soon, and has no interest in throwing her life away for any man. That all changes when she’s attacked and realizes that there might be some secret genes hiding in her somewhere. Their lives take a tumble and suddenly we all end up on Team Liam. I’m not really sure where the series will head from here since we’ve paired up the two main men, but I guess we could see what madness was unleashed from this book and follow it to its conclusion.

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Review: Fierce Obsessions

Fierce Obsessions Fierce Obsessions by Suzanne Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had everything I love – a spunky female lead, smutty goodness, and an engaging mystery.

Riley is the quirky raven shifter who brought two lovable misfit children to the Phoenix Pack. She and Tao have been dancing around each other since she got there. What might have looked like animosity has quickly grown into a burning desire. These two are *fabulous* together, especially because nothing is ever predictable.

Tao has done his best to sneak up on the raven shifter, but eventually a drunken night and a phone call from Riley’s past puts him in a position to push his luck. Who knew that a trip to Riley’s old home would involve an attempt on their life and the lives of those around them? I guess it should have been expected from this unpredictable duo.

Caught between trying to find a killer and coming to grips with her past, Riley also manages to let Tao in. I can’t say enough good things about this pair! They are now officially my favorite in the series. I wish there was more story from them – I could read a whole other book just for the witty banter.

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Review: Ashes of the Phoenix

Ashes of the Phoenix Ashes of the Phoenix by Jess Haines
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This was a really short, quick, supernatural read that gives a teeny tiny taste of this uniquely magical world.

Lyra is essentially a guardian of magical books. She’s got no magical power to speak of, but she knows her artifacts. She’s also super determined to keep a certain book away from her thieving ex-boyfriend. She might have been a little too blinded by that goal, because she ends up getting duped by an even more evil fellow and turned into a mythical being. Unfortunately the only person she knows who can try to help her also happens to be said thieving ex.

There’s mystery, mayhem, and maybe a little romance thrown into this short story. It is certainly an introduction to this world but felt pretty rushed. I wanted to know more about Lyra, her relationship with her ex, and even more about the magical world that they seem to be a part of.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: Stroke of Midnight

Stroke of Midnight Stroke of Midnight by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another short installment in the Midnight Breed series. While it doesn’t really involve the critical main characters, it certainly takes place heavily in their world.

Jehan is a breed warrior who has been living his own life for many years before getting his family’s summons. Through some archaic mindset, if his family and another do not have a living mated pair, the world will end. When the previously surviving pair perishes, he’s forced to step up to the plate. He fully expects to go through the motions and then leave, but finds himself quickly falling for the mysterious stranger.

Seraphina is just as reluctant, having never even known that side of her world. As a breedmate, she knows the dangers of falling for a breed male, so she’s been avoiding them while trying to save the world in her own way. These two are a perfect match, but it was fun to watch the quick courtship misunderstandings resolve themselves in sexy ways.

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Review: Boundary Lines

Boundary Lines Boundary Lines by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I still love Lex. She’s tough and actually handling all the dramatic changes relatively well. When she aligned herself with the vampires she somehow managed to separate herself even more from the witches. It probably works out better for Lex, though, because all the supernatural factions are going through some issues of the magical variety.

The short story that takes place in between books really sets the stage for Lex’s future run-ins with werewolves, which factor prominently in this book. They really bring home the point that werewolves are just like humans – the bad ones can be bad and the good ones can be good. They all just suffer through the same “curse.” Also, yuck, there’s a really yucky big bad that’s up to no good (as if they need more bad to hunt).

I’m not sure what to make of the romantic element in this story. I much prefer Lex to be independent and awesome on her own without having all these entanglements. Maybe that’s what we’ll ultimately get? I hope so, because I don’t really want another Scarlett situation. I also much prefer Lex’s way of handling strange situations without a partner. Watching her figure things out using her experience and intelligence is more satisfying than the “phone a friend” option, in my opinion.

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Review: The Bite Before Christmas

The Bite Before Christmas The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I'm just now up to 15.5 in the Argeneau series, this was the one I just read and reviewed this year:
FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for Teddy to have his story for a while now. He’s been ever-present as a background character in the vampire-friendly town, but it seemed unclear if he would find a life mate or if he would just fade away. I was hoping for the life mate story, and wasn’t disappointed by his surprise meeting.

This story was pretty short and sweet, but I had some real trouble seeing old Teddy as the match to Katricia Argeneau. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown so accustomed to the matches being human woman to vampire male (or vampire/vampire). Either way, I’m still happy that we finally get to “keep” Teddy in the Argeneau family for the near future. It was very satisfying.

I read and reviewed the Night Huntress story back in 2015:
It always amazes me how quickly the Night Huntress world can suck me back in. All the characters are so engaging and addictive that I put off reading this short and the following book because I knew they were the last in the series. These characters will be sorely missed.

This story is set during the holidays (obviously) where Cat mistakenly believes she can have a nice “normal” holiday with all of their friends. A surprise visit by someone who claims to be Bones’s long lost brother (who also just happens to be a vampire) sets of a chain of events that almost ends in tons of death and destruction. Cat is one of the few unaffected by the mystery man’s mojo that seems to have wrapped all the incredibly strong vampires around his little pinky. She, Denise, and Ian (the most unlikely ally, always) manage to formulate a plan to get their friends and lovers back and out of harm’s way.

I admit, this story was almost as good as a full length book, with the action at extremes and the risks super high. Ian was a surprise highlight of this story and somehow forced me to begin enjoying his company. Who knew? All in all, this is a must read (especially for further connections?) for all Night Huntress fans.

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Review: The Reluctant Vampire

The Reluctant Vampire The Reluctant Vampire by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love coming back to this series. Just when I think they can’t spin the same old story in a different direction, it proves me wrong.

Here we meet Drina, sent to act as a bodyguard to the mysterious young girl with the fascinating powers. Of course, there are games within games in the Argeneau clan, and Drina knows that a fellow bodyguard, Harper, could be her life mate. Since there is a near 100% chance, Drina jumps on a plane and arrives to meet her mate.

Harper, however, has just lost his mate. She didn’t survive the turn and he has been understandably crushed. He’s so absorbed in his own guilt that he barely notices the signs that Drina just might be his mate. If not for their teen charge, they might never have actually gotten together. They certainly would have never been able to get over their own issues.

These books are filled with danger, smut, and an ever-growing world of wonderful characters. I’ll keep reading them until they stop getting written. I’m especially curious about where the teenage vampire will end up and how that will shape things to come.

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Review: Scheme of Maneuver: A Career Soldier Military Romance

Scheme of Maneuver: A Career Soldier Military Romance Scheme of Maneuver: A Career Soldier Military Romance by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books. They are fun, flirty, and full of unexpected romance. While these can probably be read as standalone, it is so much more enjoyable to get the full story. It was particularly satisfying to see Owen meet his match.

Owen is the last man standing. All his other friends have fallen in love, gotten married, had kids – you know, grown-up stuff. He’s still hitting the scene, or at least that’s what he thinks is happening when he sort-of hooks up with a fellow wedding goer named Jacey. Turns out, however, she is way more than he bargained for. He soon finds out that she is related to one of his friends (which is off-limits), but she is an addiction he can’t seem to quit.

This short and sexy read had me flipping pages at light speed. I love the way you leave these books – smiling and content.

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Review: Reborn

Reborn Reborn by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I have no read any of the original “Shadow Falls” series of which this is obviously a spin-off from. That being said, this appears to be a separate storyline following Della and her friends (and drama) so I hope to not be missing too much. There is some missing set up of this world, but other than that, it seemed OK as a standalone read.

Della, the main character, is a vampire teenager who has daddy issues, awesome friends, and an unyielding determination to prove herself worth of school mentor’s praise. Oh, and she’s got drama. Lots and lots of drama. She’s trying to avoid officially dating a hot shifter, even though he’s pretty much bending over backwards to take care of her. On top of that, she’s also in a hate/love/hate relationship with the obnoxious new vampire kid in school. The bigger story? There’s a murder, a weird illness, a missing cousin, and Della wants to find out if anyone else in her family ever became a vampire like her. What gets solved? Not much other than the murder. There are so many starts to stories in here that it’s clear there are going to be many more books to follow them to the finish.

Even with all these loose ends, there was really only one reason I think I’m done with this series – I hate Della. I really tried to like her, especially since we are in her head 100% of the time. She is a teenager who is filled with way too much angst and attitude for one person to handle. She constantly snipes at everyone around her. Sure, there are supernatural forces at play, but that doesn’t give you my “pissy pass.” She is probably the only reason I am not dying to pick up the next book in the series. I don’t think I want to go back into her head… ever. I kept waiting for her to get better or grow on me, but I just constantly wanted to smack her.

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