Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Enchantress Under Pressure

Enchantress Under Pressure Enchantress Under Pressure by A.C. Spahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love this world. All the magical strangeness only makes it more compelling for me. While you can probably start your entrance to the series here, book 1 was amazing, so you should really start from the beginning.

Adrienne has made a deal with the devil, the leader of the Void Union, to keep everyone around her safe. It has the side benefit of giving her access to some sweet medical treatment, and a bunch of commandos ready to protect her (begrudgingly). She’s still shaping magic around her but things are starting to get… weird. She and her friends are sent out almost nightly to put down what used to be randomly occurring ghosts. It seems like a minor nuisance until she spots someone from her past.

Things escalate quickly from there. Adrienne is forced to make some tough choices, most notably focused on whether she wants to run or fight. With her newly formed relationship and her supportive friends and apprentice, this is no longer a simple decision. There is a mess of mistakes, guilt, determination, and love all rolled in to a tough place for Adrienne. Oh, and maybe the end of the world? Is that enough pressure? I couldn’t put this book down, and am completely invested in Adrienne now. This is a wonderful world to lose yourself in, even if there are some tough outcomes to handle.

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Review: Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic

Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gah – this book was infinitely frustrating. I spent most of my time wanting to wring Jade’s neck or her enemy’s neck. Either way, I am left feeling like there should have been way more death than there ultimately was. Sadly, also, there was a distinct lack of werewolves in this one.

So, we join Jade as she navigates life sort-of dating a dragon. Yes, there’s still cupcake and chocolate descriptions enough to make you ravenous. Yes, we are still on the hunt for the instruments of assassination. Yes, Jade still has her entourage. So what was this book about? She’s been tasked with finding all three of these mystical killing weapons, so we are on to number 2. Also, remember that crazy girl from the previous book? She gets way worse in this one. I am left wanting to throw things at how bad it gets.

Seems pretty straightforward for a book, right? Well, there is a lot of drama, travel, anger, horrible angry koala girls, and stupid dragons in Jade’s way. I’m actually pretty glad to take a break from Jade in the next book and visit with Rochelle. While I enjoy the bakery and all things chocolate related, I am getting a little tired of everything going wrong for Jade.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: The Savior

The Savior The Savior by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta say, it was nice to take a break from the core characters of the BDB. This is so far removed from the larger relationship drama that I honestly think you could probably dive in here and join the series with Murhder’s story. Yes, the names are ridiculous.

This story picks up with the only member to ever get kicked out of the BDB. To reinforce the name of this book, he “took one for the team” by not explaining his motivations and simultaneously covering for his ex. The result is him getting kicked out and essentially exiled. Lots has changed since last he was in this world, but he has started to rebuild him mind after it was supernaturally destroyed. He has also maintained his objective – save the woman who mysteriously showed up in a piece of sacred glass. It’s this woman who finally forces Murhder to rejoin society, if only for help tracking her down.

Alongside this story is Sarah’s tale of lost love and evil research labs. In one such lab, unbeknownst to her, they were experimenting on what turns out to be the son of Murhder’s mystery woman. Here’s where they cross paths, and you can obviously predict these two will end up together. As the required additional story, we get some movement on the larger shadow story, including some bad injuries along the way. That is still shaping up to be the next big bad, but the focus was mostly on the Sarah/Murhder (and some others) story. If you’ve been previously burnt out on the BDB, I invite you to come back for a bit of fresh air. Sure, the romance is relatively predictable, but the characters were a little more developed and separate from our regulars for once.

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Review: Knave of Blades

Knave of Blades Knave of Blades by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this topsy turvy world that the author has created, I often have times keeping the timeline and characters straight. That being said, you can definitely dive in wherever, because my previous experience with the world, while beneficial for recognizing names, is totally not helping me predict any outcomes.

We join Leander, now a sidhe post-Genesis, who is one of the higher-ups in an anti-court “True Kingdom” group. It seems very glamorous, being the rebel fighters of this story, but early on we watch their co-leader try to kill some kids – instant side shift! Now firmly on the side of the courts, or at least people who don’t kill kids, we meet Allene, a scavenger mundane just trying to survive. While checking out the wreckage of the kid-killing mobile, after watching the True Kingdom big bad drag off a court knight, Allene discovers a tarot card. If you’re familiar with this world, you know these are bad (kind-of) news, or at least signal some big trials.

A lot happens pretty quickly – there’s transformation, lots of dirty, smutty goodness, and a mix of betrayal and rejection. Roll all that together, and you’ve got an epic showdown with sexy results! We don’t get a really neat, nice HEA at the end here, either. Beware – there are cliffhangers! I can’t wait to see where this goes next!

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks

The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks by Rob Sheffield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this audiobook, but this was not it. I knew next to nothing about Stevie Nicks other than what I assumed by watching the Fleetwood Mac reunion show and some of American Horror Story. That being said, I now can say that I know a lot more about her, but most of it was a bit redundant. We start with her after she is already set on her path to becoming a rock star. We don’t get much information about her early life, except in anecdotes.

So, why am I “meh” about this one? I’m probably spoiled, having listened to audiobooks read by the person they are about, or by really engaging narrators. This was like listening to a book report on Stevie Nicks, done by a super fan. Sure, I love her music, too, but this was a bit over the top. If you’re looking for a cheap/free overview of Stevie Nicks, this is worth the time invested. I guess I was just hoping for more of a story, rather than a report.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review: Death by Didgeridoo

Death by Didgeridoo Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an adorable, short, quick read. I don’t even think you need to be a fan of mysteries to fully enjoy it. The characters are fun and engaging, the mystery was mysterious enough to keep me guessing, and I’m hooked enough to go right into the next book.

We join Jamie, a lawyer who has recently suffered a tragic loss. Somewhere along the way, she got lost in her own pain and ended up drawing away from almost everyone in her life. Through a tragic event, she ends up being forced to put on her lawyer clothes again and step up to help her special needs cousin. Upon arriving at his music lesson, he discovers his music teacher murdered. This doesn’t stop the cops from charging him, though. Enter super lawyer – Jamie.

She’s thrown back into the game and reaches out to all her old contacts/friends/acquaintances, all to save her cousin. I loved everyone and how they all rallied around her to help wherever they could. If this is where this series starts, I cannot wait to see where we go next!

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic

Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jade, Jade, Jade – you are both enjoyable and infuriating! After Rochelle’s story, I wanted to see who all those visions played out and was on the edge of my seat all the way through!

We join Jade, post-snap (ugh, sorry, I just couldn’t resist, I’m horrible and I hated her sister). She is still holding a super huge grudge against Desmond, but have no fear! Pretty early on in this book, we get a yummy replacement in the form of a dragon, previously stuck in time. That makes our gang of good guys for this book: Kandy, Jade, and Warner (the new guy). We only get a brief visit from Kett that left me missing him for most of this book. There is also, aside from the beginning, an extreme lack of baking throughout. While my waistline appreciates it, it was definitely missed. So, all of that aside, the overall story is one of treasure hunting. We knew that Jade was practicing (although she probably wouldn’t call it that), so it makes sense that it would ramp up into a bigger quest-like situation.

The treasure they are hunting is something mysterious, assigned to Jade with very little detail, and puts everyone’s life in danger. Oh, and did I mention there are shadow demon leech things involved, too? Ugh. Kandy is determined to help Jade, even when Jade’s plans are pretty awful. I’m not sure if you would enjoy this book more or less if you read the Oracle book before this one. Knowing the scenes we will encounter without context made for a lot of nail-biting moments. That being said, going in blind is probably a different type of nerve inducing scene.

Each book gives us more insight into the dragons, their world, and their powers, but I admit to being somewhat baffled at the end of this book. The assignments they give Jade just seem… horrible and dangerous. I know that she is unique and talented but I wish she had a bigger support system she could lean on. Will we get Desmond back? I don’t like Warner as a replacement… Will we see Kett again? I miss him a lot, too. Thankfully, nothing happened in this book to make me quit future installments, but it was close!

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Review: The Rookie

The Rookie The Rookie by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 in this world and I’m already hooked! You can probably dive right in here, but, as always, I recommend starting from the previous one.

We join back up with this team of firefighting dragons (weird, right? Yet it totally makes sense). They are still determined to keeping humans unaware, keeping everyone safe from rogue dragons, and continuing to work as a tight-knit team. Aiden, the rookie, is eagerly proving himself on the team. He comes from a different background, and probably wouldn’t have gotten this far without the help from some truly phenomenal people.

In the previous story, we met a winery owner, her kid, and the woman who became the first dragon mate with some weirdness going on in her markings (or lack thereof). This time around, we’ve had some time between books, and Aiden is still just as smitten with the winery owner, Sera. They’ve been sharing steamy dreams for a while, but neither acknowledges that they might be something bigger than fantasy.

There is, of course, a twist. The shadowy feeling around the whole mating process was called into question previously, but this time it is very much in your face. Sera and Aiden have even more drama thrown at them when someone forces her dragon sign, almost kills her and her kid, and makes everyone go on the run. There’s a bunch of action, betrayal, and mystery rolled up in this paranormal romance. There’s a happy ending, but everyone has to trust their instincts to get there unscathed.

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Review: Ignite

Ignite Ignite by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book continues the story of the dragon kings. If this is your first journey into this world – welcome! I think it may be a little difficult to catch up, but don’t doubt that it can be done. There is so much build-up to where we are now, but things are always changing along the way.

This story centers around V. Sure, there is a bunch of side story around Rhi’s building/upcoming war (and ex-boyfriends) and there’s always the bigger storyline making progress, but this was all about doing right by V. Poor guy, he has this nasty habit of causing mass destruction when he wakes from his slumber, so he may be the most out of touch dragon king of the bunch. This time around, as we learned in the last book, he finally found his missing sword and is somewhat whole again. Weird, though, that he still feels like he is missing something. It becomes pretty clear after a few pages of interaction between him and Claire. Maybe interaction is too strong a word as they were almost dancing around one another.

Claire is a woman who just cannot seem to meet the right man. Maybe she’s self-sabotaging at this point, because who could get into a relationship where you could never reveal a secret you’ve kept for years. Claire remembers her time being kidnapped and introduced to the magical world of dragons, evil, and other assorted monsters. She doesn’t hold a grudge, but she actively lied to avoid getting her memory removed. She knows V is more than he appears, but that doesn’t stop her from falling head over heels for the guy. It’s definitely not one-sided and these two ignite (see what I did there?) the pages of my kindle. There was an interesting and possibly heart breaking twist thrown in that I can’t wait to see play out in later books. Bring on more of these awesome dragon kings!

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Review: I See Me

I See Me I See Me by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, what an interesting spin on the series I am now completely addicted to! I’m sure you can probably start here, but having enjoyed the Dowser series so much (and being an insane person who has to read things in order and complete everything), I picked this up after book 3.

We meet Rochelle in this book, an orphan who believes herself crazy. It might have something to do with the fact that everyone around her has been telling her she has a mental problem since she first exhibited signs. Those signs? Seeing visions and then sketching them obsessively afterwards, almost uncontrollably. She’s been kicked around the system a bit, but nothing can get her down, especially now that she’s a legally independent person. Things should get easier, but they take a very strange twist, starting with her mother’s strange necklace and only continuing on when she meets Beau at a rest stop diner.

These two were absolutely great for one another. Beau may be exhibiting signs of his own, if you’re familiar with the other types of people in this universe. This book, to differentiate from the other series, gives you all the smutty goodness that poor Jade misses out on. Maybe we’ll get there eventually. For now, this was a nice change. These two young kids are smitten. If only they didn’t have to worry about visions or packs or magic at all, they could be two lovers on the road to wherever. Unfortunately, there is a lot of magic and mayhem to deal with first. They sadly come in the shape of a familiar big bad. There’s a bunch of hurtles to jump, but we get to leave these new characters in better shape than when we met them. I can’t wait to see where this all heads in the next few books.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Review: Lachlan: Vampires in Europe

Lachlan: Vampires in Europe Lachlan: Vampires in Europe by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So while this was not strictly “in America,” this Vampires in America series continues to deliver solid, sexy stories that will have me committed to this until the bitter end.

This is Lachlan’s story and even manages to cross a little into Cyn’s world, too. Lachlan is a man on a mission of revenge. Sure, it has taken over a hundred years to get there, but he’s just as committed as the day he awoke to find his clan slaughtered. The big bad, in this instance, is the vampire lord of Scotland. So where does his mate come in? Well, Julia is a CIA agent who just so happened to go to school with Cyn. It’s through this connection that she is able to meet up with Lachlan while she’s on her own mission to avenge her friend. Having the same enemy doesn’t exactly make them fast friends, but it does put them in close proximity.

These two are tough, stubborn, and a perfect match. Even if this storyline is relatively expected, they still manage to jam in some surprises along the way. Each mate we meet has different strengths and weaknesses to balance out her vampire and Julia was no exception. Overall, I guess we are leading to Raphael’s total world domination? It’s definitely interesting to see where this larger storyline is headed.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: My Fair Millennial 3: Also a Romantic Comedy

My Fair Millennial 3: Also a Romantic Comedy My Fair Millennial 3: Also a Romantic Comedy by Elle Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are so utterly enjoyable. I’m both happy and sad each time one comes to an end. It seems so strange that this annoying Millennial has still not driven me mad, but I’m completely in love.

Lizette is giving monogamy a go with Tommy and things are headed in exactly the direction that you’d expect for someone normal (not Lizette). Jason is firmly a friend, but everyone around them knows that that will never last. These two crazies are destined for one another, whether they see it or not. After a quick turn of events on vacation and some relapsing, Lizette is on the fast-track to crazy town complete with impending wedding! Lucky for her, the people around her will not let that happen. I really don’t want to give away too many details, but if you’ve come along on the journey, you will not be disappointed here. I was also super pleased to find out that we are not breaking up with these two and get even more insanity in another book!

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Review: Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic

Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gosh, this book was mentally exhausting! Poor Jade just cannot catch a break. She’s still very much mourning the loss of her sister, even though she is still alive (and very evil), she’s still getting used to the fact that she has found her mysterious father, and, as always, she’s got the weight of the world on her shoulders because of some catastrophic vision the dragons shared with her. Throw all this together, and there are just buckets of bad decisions jammed in this one book. Luck for us all, a sexy shifter is still around to be the best person ever.

If you are not familiar with this series, I suggest you start at the beginning. There is just so much going on that I don’t think you will fully appreciate this series unless you go through this rollercoaster of a couple months with them all. Jade has been training with her father and the rest of the big “goods” to be a weapon against her sister. This sister drama is seriously going to kill me. Lucky for us all, it gets resolved in this one. Jade, who disappeared and was not baking for a few months, has a lot to explain to her friends when they meet up again. That drama aside, she’s also got to track her evil sister down and destroy her. Oh, and save her necromancer friend. Not too tall an order, right?

Well, when I got to almost the halfway point and we were deep in battle, I knew things would not go according to plan. There is a lot of learning involved, but I eventually ran out of patience with Jade. Thankfully, she is surrounded by awesomeness that can make up for her shortcomings. I am still completed sold on this series and will rapidly devour it (and the spinoff that I guess is next?). I wish we got more shapeshifter goodness, but I’m optimistic for some dramatic return.

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Review: Darkness Returns

Darkness Returns Darkness Returns by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve admittedly not been the best at keeping up with this series. I jump in and out, but they are usually easy enough to “catch up” on that it doesn’t really matter. If this is your introduction to this world, then I don’t think you’ll struggle at all. This feels like the beginning of a larger story anyway.

We meet up with Chiron, a vampire who is the owner of some successful casinos. All his undead life, he has been struggling with his master’s death only to come to learn that he was actually imprisoned all this time. Already late to the game, he goes on a journey to try to find him that (for some reason) means that he has to take a weird little gargoyle character who can sense magic. Their path is slowly leading them towards a mysterious “key” to unlocking his master’s prison. On the way, however, they end up at a magical resort for demons.

It’s at this resort that Chiron meets Lilah, who is a mystery all her own. Her overbearing ex-nanny has been helping her take care of the resort for as long as Lilah can remember, which actually isn’t very long. Chiron and Lilah’s relationship really moves quickly, all while Chiron’s partners end up uncovering a larger secret. There’s twists and turns, but we ultimately get to some sort of happy ending for these two lovebirds. Not everything is wrapped up here, though, and if you were trying, you could make an argument that this ends in a cliffhanger.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Review: Tamed

Tamed Tamed by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, I can’t believe that this story hasn’t been told in the background of the other books. I guess when you’re immortal, you can kind of take your time with your relationships? Either way, this story finally gets to the Caleb/Lily love story.

We know that Caleb and Lily have a past, where she chose duty over love, leaving him alone for quite a bit of time. Since the big showdown that made Caleb a prophet (much to his dismay and denial), they have been avoiding one another. Sure, she’s mated (even though her mate is dead), but the mating mark has been suffering the same fate as Cara’s, and now she’s finally ready to get back out there. Re-enter Caleb! These two are obviously destined to be together, so the rest is just icing on the cake.

The larger story revolves around the peace talks that everyone assumes is a trap. There’s a lot of buildup to this meeting, which ends in kidnapping and lots of action. Don’t worry, though, because we get a nice pivot into the upcoming Janie story (which I might re-read, just so I get the full impact). This short story is required reading if you’re looking for a complete picture of this series.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Review: The Mint Julep Murders

The Mint Julep Murders The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are always so enjoyable. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of scariness, and a lot of heart.

Verity is still getting established as a local ghost hunter, but is also trying to solve the mystery behind her ghostly companion’s afterlife. Frankie, a deceased, morally questionable type of guy, won’t get free until he addresses whatever unfinished business he has. It’s a little unclear what his unfinished business might be, but that doesn’t stop Verity from jumping all in. While she ultimately gets things done, her methods are a little bit flawed. In this case, they end up at a haunted house (complete with marketing materials) to visit a ghost world prison. The prison is also coupled with a mental institution so we get all the creep factor of both types of ghostly worlds.

What starts out relatively straightforward – visit the mobster to get more information about Frankie’s death – ends up becoming a scene out of a horror movie. There’s haunted torture rooms, killer ghosts, and even some scientific ghost hunters that crop up along the way. Verity’s boyfriend is put to the test both physically and mentally along the way on this one. I am so invested in their relationship, Verity’s friendship with Frankie, and the well-being of all the ghosts in the house, that I had a hard time putting this book down.

These mysteries always throw me and this was no different. I couldn’t solve it until the end, right along with Verity. If you like a little scare in your mystery, this installment will be perfect for you. Warning: This book contains very little adorable skunk time. Maybe next book!

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Review: Shadowed

Shadowed Shadowed by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been hoping for Jase’s story for a while now and was happy when it finally arrived. Sure, we all knew he was pretty broken after his captivity and torture, but it was truly frustrating how broken he believed he was.

This book might have been the first one where we already knew both characters. Jase was the sunny, friendly jokester of the family who was protected…until he wasn’t. Brenna is the youngest of the witch family that we’ve encountered before in the series. She’s serving as part of the coven nine, but is still recovering (or dying from) her time being kidnapped. Notice the similarities here? Well add in a layer of dirty, dark attraction (morphed from the younger crushes) and we’ve got a recipe for a good installment of this series.

So what made Jase even consider mating? Well, for one, it was Brenna, and he found out she was dying and could possibly be saved by a mating. Even though he plays all dark and damaged, his soul is still good, and he couldn’t let the sexy witch die on his watch. Brenna, who has been hiding a whole mess of drama in her life, only added dying to the list of crap she’s got on her plate. Of course, mating a guy she’s been half in love with all her life doesn’t really hurt. These two played the typical game involving sacrifice, miscommunication, and peril, but we get there in the end. Part of me wants to continue on and re-read the next few books I’ve already been through, but I think I need a break from the drama here. I’ll probably swing back around to satisfy my mind.

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Review: John's Yearning

John's Yearning John's Yearning by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books always deliver a solid story, good characters, and a HEA ending to make you smile. This book was no exception.

We met John in a previous book and he’s got oodles of baggage. He lost his previous mate in a pretty horrible way and now he’s justifiably reluctant to get into any real relationships. He’s become a workaholic to hide from his demons, but this only ends up pushing them back to the surface when he gets assigned review of a kidnapping case involving kids. Savannah is desperate to get her little girl back and John might be the only person who can do that. Even after being told not to pursue this non-supernatural case, John is drawn to protect this poor little girl with the unfortunate name of Buffy.

Savannah and John were a little bit of a strange couple. Their relationship grew out of this very high stress situation, but became a real thing, even at the end. That and the mystery of the kidnapping were the highlights of the book. Man, I still hate Grayson. Some of that younger generation is super annoying, so I hope we don’t have to spend much more time with them. There were also parts of this book that made it clear I should probably have read the spinoff series. That being said, I was still able to enjoy it all. I’m glad I picked this book up, because now we have some closure for poor John.

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Review: Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic

Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admittedly took a really long time to get from book 1 to book 2, but was somehow able to dive right into this magical, wild world of Jade’s. Warning: Do not read this book while hungry because there is a lot of cupcake and chocolate talk throughout. Yum!

We join Jade, the cupcake maker, 3 months after her world was essentially shattered. Her foster sister, Sienna, went all darkside with blood magic. There were some casualties along the way, and Jade is still working to recover. Between baking for a living, navigating her relationship with her mother, and grieving, she’s finally getting a crash course in all things magical and other that had been withheld from her growing up. The magic in this book was so interesting that it really sucked me in. I love when a book can surprise me with a twist on typical paranormal.

Given the opportunity to make some sort of amends, she dives right in with very little information (which is not really her fault). Throughout the book, we get to watch her magical abilities grow and develop – and we even get to the end of this book with some *serious* answers to open questions. I am completely hooked on this world and the characters within – even the growly ones! If this is how this series continues, I will eagerly binge through them all.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Review: Hour of Darkness

Hour of Darkness Hour of Darkness by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure if these books are something I'll continue with, but the world is familiar and they are easy to read, so I bought this on on audible to listen to while I walk.

We met Cain in the previous installment. He made some questionable decisions but ultimately redeemed himself. Now he's on the road, trying to run from his past. A stay at a swanky hotel, however, ends up putting him right in the middle of trouble. His gift of seeing briefly into the future helps him save the niece of a Russian mobster (essentially). Marina, who believes she is just out for a pleasant swim, ends up being saved from a bullet by Cain. From there, things just continue to spiral out of control.

Cain, luckily, has a safe place nearby which puts him back with his estranged "family." Cain and Marina really seemed like an unlikely pair, but they grew on me as the story continued. Poor Marina ends up pretty wounded in her own family life, so this new extended family helps offer some consolation. Overall, if you want an easy vampire read with a bit of an edge to it, these books are definitely for you. They can probably be read even if you are unfamiliar with the larger world these stories take place in.

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Review: Boundary Broken

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

I'm addicted to these books. Something about Lex is just so compelling. She takes on so much responsibility, is a constant soldier, and yet remains really likable to me. I also enjoy that she messes up in ways I'm not mad at her for, if that makes sense.

Lex is still working as daytime security for the local big bad vampire and trying to juggle a relationship with a vampire, being a great aunt to a null, and fulfill all her other obligations (rescue pets included). A while ago she promised to repay a debt to a somewhat local werewolf. One night he comes calling and it just goes downhill from there. Lots of people die in horrible ways. Evil horrible people return. So much badness goes on and Lex is seemingly helpless to stop it, no matter how amazing her powers are.

Ultimately, a sort of happy compromise is reached and most people get out alive. These books are not kind to characters, but watching them evolve is really wonderful. Even Lex, the perfect soldier, ends up stuck in lots of no win situations here. The witches play pretty prominently in her drama, but she still tries to please them. I feel for her, and am looking forward to what waits for her in the future.

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Review: Twisted

Twisted Twisted by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I was a little mad that after all the buildup to Maggie's backstory and love story, she only got a spinoff short. She has played such a vital role in all the other books, I felt like she really should have gotten the full length treatment. Either way, there was *a lot* of unexpected happening in here. It probably could have used many more pages, but still gave a good HEA.

Maggie, we know, lots her memory prior to her kidnapping and experimentation on by the Kurjans. She's mostly recovered, and can even shift, but she never really got her memory back. After a lot of demanding and stomping of feet, she finally decides to multitask and actually visit Terrent and some wolf shifters. They've suffered some vaccine tampering and she's going to be sneaky and investigate.

Terrent knows all about her sneaking and he also knows way more about her than he has let on in the past. These guys and their secrets! All of it ends of coming out in this story and we finally get some answers. Also, we get a lot more than a steamy kiss shared between these two. Of course, there's some bad guys (more than a few) and some adorable cheerleaders, but they push through all of those obstacles to get to a nice happy ending for all.

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Review: A Phoenix Is Forever

A Phoenix Is Forever A Phoenix Is Forever by Ashlyn Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh no - is this the last book of this series?! I'm sad if it is, because I loved these (mostly) firefighter, shapeshifter, family-oriented guys!

This story deals with the last of the single Fierro's - Luca. Being the youngest, and the only one who was interested in becoming something other than a firefighter (for a girl?!), he was sure to be the last to pair off. He may have been dating a horrible woman in secret, but that has recently ended, and his cop career has just started. After a rough shift, he runs into Dawn, who just so happens to be a bit of a paranormal as well. These two have an odd meeting that rapidly grows into something more.

Of course, all the characters were lovely. I especially enjoyed Dawn and her grandmother. This let us see more of Gabriella, which is always fun! Nothing is truly straightforward in this universe, so we get a good kidnapping, mystery, and HEA all rolled into this paranormal package. I'm happy to see that the entire family (extended and otherwise) gets a real nice wrap-up at the end, but I am so sad to say goodbye to all their quirks. Please, more?

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Review: Playing with Demons

Playing with Demons Playing with Demons by Cally Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a pretty amazing start to a whole new world. This world really pushed the good/evil paradigm and left you questioning your own biases.

Grace has been raised to fight and kill demons. Sounds light a legit calling, right? She is half demon herself, from what "the Organization" tells her, it's because her mother was raped by one. Things all start to get a little muddy when people she trusts end up throwing her literally into hell. Once there, all of her previous understanding is thrown out the window. Oh, and did I mention the hottie? There's ways a hottie, right?

In between fighting for her life, coming to grips with being used, and making unexpected friends, Grace is also navigating the world of dating in the underworld. Not too complicated, right? She is just starting to truly find her own independent voice when we have to end this tale. I eagerly anticipate more from this author and this world. Grace is rapidly shaping herself into a warrior for true good.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Review: Provoked

Provoked Provoked by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I love this world and I am going to keep reading, this one wasn't exactly my favorite. It definitely read a little darker and less romantic than the last few. I guess it was a byproduct of the main character being the self-proclaimed genius.

Kane is the lab geek we have seen as the level-headed brother in previous books. He, of course, has sworn off looking for his mate and is a master at hiding any and all emotions. It generally makes sense, but in practice it was just annoying. As part of their vague strategy to get Jase back (he's been tortured for many years now, yeesh), they are on the hunt for a woman with powers to protect against demons. Kane is sent, for some reason, to collect a suspected such woman, Amber.

Amber knows nothing about his world, much to his surprise. She's never been trained, and her grandmother has protected her from exposure, until her recent injury. Amber and Kane are instant enemies and it only gets harder from there. Luckily (I guess?), she ends up under attack with only Kane to defend her. They are far from a likely pair - she is a vegan pacifist (ugh) and he is a warrior vampire. I found myself more eager to read about what the other characters were up to because Kane was infuriating in his stubborn refusal to even date Amber. Eventually we get there, but this one was a struggle.

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Review: The Mind Thieves

The Mind Thieves The Mind Thieves by Lori Brighton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What would you do if someone told you that your past and everything you believed was a lie?

I read the original book in this series a long time ago and marked this one to read in the future. I guess I didn't realize exactly how far in the future I would be trying to dive right in. Lucky for me, the main character doesn't remember anything either!

We join Cameron after her memory has been erased. She's got lots of magical mind powers, but no recollection of the life she lives as recent as a few months ago. All of that changes abruptly when she is forced to leave her comfortable home and go on the run from some possibly evil but definitely deadly mind readers and their associates. This book was an exercise in betrayal. I felt very much like Cameron, in that I had no clue who to trust and who were my actual allies. I absolutely *hated* some of her relatives and was just rooting for her to kick everyone's butt in the end here.

The end of this book, we need to talk about, even if it is in loose terms. There is a big ole cliffhanger and no real resolution. I was left staring at the last page in shock and disappointment. The rest of the book was interesting and engaging, but I just don't get why I couldn't get *some* sort of answer to... something? I guess the point is to get you hooked on the series, but, as you can see by the time between books for me, that is not really going to work. Sadly, I'll probably say goodbye to Cameron here, and wish her well in her love triangle, amnesia filled, mind power world.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

A Tale of Two Kingdoms A Tale of Two Kingdoms by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the last book I got in a set of 6 from this world and I'm not sure what I was expecting - maybe some grand ending with a big finale? That is not here. Sure, we've had a lot of build-up to Duff and Aelsong's romance, but it felt almost like a novella when you compare it to the previous stories in this series.

Duff is Fae and, thus, is expected to mate a Fae, especially since he is the heir. Aelsong, while not leader, is part of the royal family of the Elves. Elves and Fae, while descended from the same relatives, hate each other because of some long forgotten drama. Elora (because she's involved in all drama) ends up helping these two eventually make their escape. There's romance in the air, but can they overcome all the years of hatred?

Short answer? Not at first. Their families took varying degrees of convincing and PR to convert to this new way of thinking. As a bit of a side story here, we get to see a slightly deeper look into Rosie and Glen's relationship (spoiler alert: it's not good). I guess we'll see more of that in books to come, but it's just a little hint for now. This book ends up getting wrapped up with the help of an "angel," and some reluctant class project students. Weird, but I would expect no less from this series.

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Review: Blood Bond: 1

Blood Bond: 1 Blood Bond: 1 by Helen Hardt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a quick, short read that introduces us to the strange, scary world of the Blood Bond Saga.

We join Dante immediately after he makes his escape. He's been held captive and nearly starved of blood. As a vampire, he tries to balance his hunger with his need to not kill innocents. This, of course, leads him to a blood bank, where he's discovered by Erin. She's a nurse and is instantly drawn to him.

These two dance around one another, each jumping a few steps in the dating ritual, creating a more intense relationship than you'd expect having just met each other in very unusual circumstances. Dante's family life was also unexpected. As an intro, it definitely gave just enough info to have you wanting more.

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Review: Enchantress Undercover

Enchantress Undercover Enchantress Undercover by A.C. Spahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is definitely the most unique world I've encountered in quite some time. I read a lot of paranormal romance and this was so refreshing and interesting that I absolutely could not put it down. As the start of a series, I'm 100% committed and cannot wait until the next book!

Adrienne is an enchantress - someone who constantly attracts and channels magic. Sounds cool, but she must always be alert to the amount of magic she accumulates, because too much is dangerous. She had a pretty traumatic childhood, and that has led her to avoid sharing all of herself with others. Things are relatively "normal" for her, working in her craft space with her BFF and her possible love interest/landlord. One fateful day, however, thing get all turned upside-down. Now there's Voids, people who police her kind (and are immune to magic), after her, assuming that she is the nasty enchantress using magic for evil deeds.

Lucky for Adrienne, she has somehow surrounded herself with the best allies a girl could want. The mystery and action is filled with wonderful magics and interesting spells. I don't think I can stress how interesting and unique the magic in the book was. Channeling magic in this world is so intricate, it's like a work of art. Adrienne ends up figuring out how to survive this madness with her mind intact, but she's forced to make some tough decisions. I eagerly anticipate the next installment in this series to see what other surprises this world holds.

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Review: My Fair Millennial 2: Still A Romantic Comedy

My Fair Millennial 2: Still A Romantic Comedy My Fair Millennial 2: Still A Romantic Comedy by Elle Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 and I'm still in love! Lizette Clary is everything that should be annoying and horrible, but somehow has forced me to fall madly in love with her. It's magic of the most awesome kind!

We join Lizette after making some big progress on the "Jason Moon Diet" - she can now essentially function as a working adult. She's still wild and crazy, but without the insanity that was getting in the way of her producing stellar work. Jason Moon is still hovering right at the edge of being in a real relationship with her, but they are so maddeningly in denial that it seems it will never happen. They are working hard to balance the muse/photographer relationship, the co-editor relationship, and whatever their dom/sub relationship ends up being. Sure - what could go wrong?

Well, for one thing, Jason's ex-muse resurfaces in the worst way. Also, Lizette's current/ex/whatevers end up being in the same place at the same time. Pop all of that in the blender with some organic kale, and you have a snippet of the lives of these two unlikely companions. There's a bunch of drama that happens (obviously), some dark and horrible turns, but in the end, I put the book down with a smile on my face. Did I mention I pretty much read this in one sitting? These books are seriously addictive. Give me more!

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Review: The Witch of the Prophecy

The Witch of the Prophecy The Witch of the Prophecy by Victoria Jayne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a relatively short, start-up story to kick off this series. As the title indicates, we get to meet the “witch of the prophecy” but we also learn about all the drama surrounding said prophecy.

Divina is a fortune teller who shared a brief, romantic time learning about her magical gifts with her then boyfriend. This boyfriend also just happened to be a vampire, and the person she believed was the love of her life. Turns out, however, that he was more interested in jump-starting some epic prophecy, and was not so interested in Divina’s heart. The witches dragged the vampire, Rori, back into their drama by informing him he needs to mess with Divina’s life some more.

In parallel to this, yet another witch and vampire are living out their own prophecy. Which one is correct? Well, we certainly don’t find that out in this book. What we do see is a poor shifter guy who is tugged this way and that by all these witches and vampires. Poor guy even thinks he found his mate, but nothing is certain at the end of this book. All the machinations that the witches put into motion end up getting thrown up in the air by one determined newbie witch. I give Divina props for setting her own future, but I guess we’ll see where everything ends up at the end of this series.

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Review: Pie Hard

Pie Hard Pie Hard by Kirsten Weiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, admittedly I am joining this series late in the game. I saw this book pop up and who could refuse the title “Pie Hard” (especially when you’re an avid Die Hard and pie fan)? I don’t think it was too hard to catch up and join the series already in progress. It could easily be a standalone story.

So what is “Pie Hard”? It’s apparently a reality TV show that goes into failing pastry shops and uses an expert pastry chef and TV personality to make things all better. Val, an owner of one such shop, is surprised to learn that not only did her employee lie to the production company about them being co-owners, but she also signed them up for this! The camera crew surprises Val on an early morning, which just so happens to be the same morning that a crew of goddess worshippers show up on her property for a retreat (involving a yurt).

Val’s life is obviously crazy, but is made even crazier when people involved in “Pie Hard” end up getting murdered. As the resident, un-licensed detective, she feels compelled to help solve this mystery. I was completely sucked in and absolutely did not guess the correct murderer. Maybe I’m a crappy detective, but this made me feel even more involved and gave this story extra credit for stumping me. I really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the overall mystery and would definitely check out other books in the series.

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Review: Wishes in a Bottle

Wishes in a Bottle Wishes in a Bottle by Allie McCormack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had a lot of heart jammed into a paranormal story with djinn and magic.

Julian started his life as a magically gifted man who only wanted to help people. When his magical wish went wrong, he ended up as a mage/Djinn hybrid, stuck tied to a bottle and granting people’s wishes until a predetermined endpoint. He’s unable to inform his “master” what would free him and is pretty sure his torture will never end.

After a particularly nasty master refuses to save a child and instead wishes for jewelry, he feels like life cannot get any worse. Enter Alessandra – the most selfless woman alive. She splits her time between hospice care and working at a women’s shelter. She catches Julian’s eye, even when he is determined to avoid most human attachments.

These two had a really beautiful start of a romance when he is suddenly sucked back into his bottle, only to reappear as slave to Julian’s wishes. Not nearly as hot as it sounds, they work through it, and they even get a HEA! Alessandra was, by far, the best part of this book. She was a wonderfully beautiful soul and was obviously destined to break his curse. You know what was the worst? Julian’s family! Once you move beyond the horrible people in their family, the story was pretty enjoyable.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: Consumed

Consumed Consumed by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeez, this book has been a long time coming. We’ve known Katie since almost the start of this series and she has finally got her own book! Admittedly, this isn’t really how I expected her story to play out, but it was still very satisfying to get a HEA here.

Katie, as you may or may not know, has been a side character in this series for a while. She’s a shifter who was raised in Jordan’s pack since she was younger, but is 100% in love with him. We’re all pretty sure that he is also 100% in love with her, but in complete denial about it. At first, maybe he thought she was too young, but since her infection with the virus and subsequent loss of her shifting ability, he’s now trying to protect her from a mating that would put her in danger. To make matters worse, he now has a death sentence hanging over his head. Only a few more moons and he’s toast.

As we join these two after a little fast-forward between books, Katie has made a life for herself hunting weres. She’s tough enough, but is willing to throw her whole life up in the air to go with Jordan. With a constant war raging in the background, the progression of the virus looming, and now a brother having been kidnapped (oh, and Katie’s stalker), now is probably the worst time to see a Katie/Jordan romance. Fated mates, however, can’t be denied, and after all this waiting I was so happy to see these two find their muddled way to each other. I’m a little sad that this book ends with more fast forwarding, but I am happy to see where we’re heading!

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Review: Bare Knuckle Bear

Bare Knuckle Bear Bare Knuckle Bear by Kim Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a sexy and sweet short paranormal read. It’s a little bit romantic, a little bit smutty, and a little bit punchy action.

Absolutely a standalone story, this begins in a small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s built around a logging community, which is run by a corrupt and controlling shifter. He hires only shifters, which makes the town essentially shifters only. Grayson was looking for a job and a change of pace, so he took a logger job. Upon his arrival in town, however, he makes everyone either angry or happy. The bar he enters is centered on cage fighting and when he knocks out a generally horrible person (who just so happens to be the logging boss’s son), all hell breaks loose.

Dakota, another shifter transplant, can’t just let Grayson die in the parking lot after paying for winning a fight. Upon touching him, however, she discovers that they’re fated mates. These two are an unlikely pair, and it makes it especially hard to deal with when the boss decides they can’t be together. How does that get resolved? Why, with cage fighting, of course! This was a fun, quick read in a world I would read again.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Review: My Fair Millennial: A Romantic Comedy

My Fair Millennial: A Romantic Comedy My Fair Millennial: A Romantic Comedy by Elle Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I went into this book completely blind. I know the author’s other work and love that, so I figured I’d give this a go. At first glance, this description looks like something I would not enjoy – a millennial girl who has to work with some uptight guy? Wow, was I wrong!

At first glance, Lizette is everything that will annoy you. It looks like she’s a party girl that magically gets through life on her social media skills and fashion sense. If you look deeper, though, there is some true genius to this girl. Jason Moon, a famous photojournalist who has been tasked with being Lizette’s partner in the company’s new endeavor, has the same knee jerk reaction I did to Lizette. She really grows on you, though, and Jason is no exception to her magic. These two were great fun to watch bounce around each other, each trying to stay to their “brand.”

Aside from all the craziness, Lizette was a true force to be reckoned with. She definitely became a bit of an inspiration for not caring what people think and just being who you are. Does she have tough moments? Is she heavily reliant on attention? Sure, but there is a deeper layer to her that is tough as steel. I absolutely cannot wait to see where this series takes me if this is only the beginning!

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Review: Moonsworn

Moonsworn Moonsworn by Amber Renard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was totally unexpected. This had a lot of elements all together, which produced a completely surprising read.

Kel is an independent, tough as nails, heir-to-be of a neighboring pack. She's traveling incognito, with the reluctant blessing of the local pack, who has been told she can't be a mate. Acting as a local vet, as well as supernatural doctor to shifters, vampires, fae, and anything else that goes bump in the night, she is suddenly dragged into a whole mess of drama when the local heir brings a wounded shifter to her door.

Tavis, the heir of a relatively troubled pack, has no choice but to wander into Kel's life when hunters ramp up their actions against the supernatural community. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, but ultimately Kel and Tavis end up needing each other to survive this tumultuous time. OK, the mystery wasn't exactly too hard to solve, but who cares? This book was so addictive that I couldn't put it down! This story is definitely standalone (no cliffhanger) but it is definitely the introduction to this new world. I'm sold! Give me more books, please!

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Review: Prisoner of Night

Prisoner of Night Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so confused as to why this is a Black Dagger Brotherhood book at all. I get that these are the BDB type of vampires in that world, but...c'mon, at least give us a cameo if this is at all related. This may as well have been any other book series for all the connections there are. We haven't met this girl before, we haven't met this guy before, and there wasn't even any Shadow crossover (which would have been possible!). All of that aside, it was a good read, forcibly jammed into this existing universe.

We start with Duran, who has a sole reason for living - to kill his father to avenge his mother. While in the final planning phase, he ends up getting dragged from his cult-life to become prisoner of warlord. Fast forward about 20 years and we see Ahmare dragged into this world as well. She's determined to pay her brother's ransom, but it seems there will always be one more thing. This latest task comes with a "weapon" in the form of Duran.

These two become reluctant allies along the way, and, of course, there is a lot of romance along the way. By the end of this short read we end up resolving Duran's revenge storyline, Ahmare's storyline, getting a bonus story of a Shadow, and seeing an overall HEA. I think anyone could read this book, since there is no reason needed to be familiar with the larger world that this supposedly takes place in.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of a future leaders program. That being said, I was pretty thoroughly sucked in immediately. There are a lot of different scenarios that can apply to a lot of different people in transition. Some quotable moments really stuck with me, so I'm sure just about anyone can find something in here that resonates. If you are in transition, this can absolutely assist.

A little side note, I did this via audiobook. Usually the transition between book and audiobook is easy, but there were a lot of tables and figures that were left out. Based on that, I had to also pay for the paper book (after listening to the audiobook). I really think that these things should have been included as a PDF or something. Minor annoyance.

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Review: Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm Gathering Storm by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so conflicted about this one. Is it my favorite? Or is it my least favorite? There are parts that I really loved, but then out of nowhere it would turn dark. I guess it's just too much of a mixed bag to decide, so I'll go with the higher rating here.

The story starts as normally as they all do, except for a freak accident that lands Storm in another dimension with no way home. Litha is obviously pissed at her demon father, who was transporting her husband at the time. Everyone offers to help search, but at the same time, there is the little matter of Storm's daughter. She's aging rapidly and is turning out to be just as exceptional as they expected.

This wouldn't be a Knights of the Black Swan book without another storyline and this one is a resurrection of one I thought we abandoned. Remember when soldiers from another dimension were trying to kill Elora? Well, they apparently still want to do that. They have gone to extremes to find "volunteers" that can make the trip and actually make a good attempt at killing Elora. While all of this is happening, for some reason that I don't quite understand, the knights are training an accidental replacement Storm to pretend to be Storm. Again, not really sure why, especially given his rather dark introduction. At the end of all this craziness, we do get a pretty good HEA with quite a few loose ends tied up (remember Kay? and Z team?). I'm still pretty conflicted, but the ending left me satisfied.

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Review: Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart

Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is only for Tawdra Kandle's story in this anthology

I've read most of the Crystal Cove stories, but this story can certainly be enjoyed on its own. While you will miss the history of these characters, we focus on two new friends and their love affair.

This story was a complete love story from start to finish. We join this couple of longtime friends and new lovers at the morning after. She may be eager to run away but he is 100% all-in. To prove his point, he runs across the country to show her what true romance looks like. There's a lot to overcome, but these two are definitely stubborn enough to stick it out! This was a fabulous standalone story that had me rooting for them the entire way.

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Review: It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology

It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology by L.E. Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is only for the Tawdra Kandle story in this collection.

While you'll undoubtedly enjoy this short read if you've read the Anti-Cinderella story before now, you can probably still enjoy this yummy little gem either way. This is a quick start to an unlikely romance. It starts with a former journalist turned handler for a soon-to-be royal. She's still proving herself amongst the other members of staff, but is finding it particularly hard to be professional around a very aggressive american journalist. Said american journalist might, however, end up being just what she wasn't looking for. This was not an all inclusive HEA romance story, but is instead a really hopeful start. I loved this one!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Jaguar's Mate

Jaguar's Mate Jaguar's Mate by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This quick read is part of a larger series but can absolutely be read as a standalone novella. I’m not 100% sure I remember who anyone is most of the time, especially when there are a lot of side characters flying around in these worlds, and I didn’t lose anything from this book.

Sapphire has some baggage. Having dated a few people who, upon breaking up, immediately found their mates has left her with a bit of a complex. A byproduct of this is her determination to avoid long term relationships. Eli, unfortunately, has unfortunately had to suffer for Sapphire’s misgivings. After spending some time together that he thought was heading somewhere, she snuck out in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. She even used a fake name! After finally tracking her down, he is determined to make her acknowledge the fact that they are mates.

Sapphire has a bigger issue going on other than her love life, though. Her friend has a kid who has stumbled into an abusive relationship. After a lot of discussion and finally discovering she’s pregnant, they’re ready to make a break for it. Sapphire, being the tough chick and awesome friend that she is, offers to help them escape their pack. On her way out the door, imagine her surprise when she is saddled with a partner – Eli.

These two are great fun to watch as their relationship grew. I completely enjoy a self-contained short story that has a little bit of everything. There’s action, romance, adventure, and a HEA. If any of those thing interest you, why are you waiting? Pick this novella up today!

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Review: Dark Alpha's Awakening

Dark Alpha's Awakening Dark Alpha's Awakening by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I have popped in and out of this and the related dragon series, leaving some gaps in my history with the Reapers. This book delivers a story that appears to have been a long time coming – Death.

Death has been leading the Reapers for quite a long time. Her past is a bit of a mystery, even to herself, but she has managed to build a sort of family along the way. With Bran slowly stealing her power, the time is ticking away for her to engage her Reapers and face her hidden demons. We learn a lot of information about how Death came to form her Reapers, how each of the allies out there are progressing in their own individual wars, and where the key players are.

The other large storyline shows the softer side of Death, as she and her lifelong secret love finally address their feelings. What should have been a no-brainer ends up being the best weapon Death has in her arsenal. Have no fear – the battle actually finally happens in this book and it is very satisfying. Even though it was sad to see this storyline end, it was a well-deserved HEA.

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Review: Hunted

Hunted Hunted by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a lot of buildup for the mysterious mate to Connlan Kayrs, I was very excited we would finally address this missing witch. This new voyage into the world of the witches definitely delivered a new twist on this awesome world.

Moira stepped up to help the vampires save one of their pregnant mates, but she is still firmly convinced that she is not ready to be a mate to Conn (and might not ever be). Conn takes the decision out of her hands when he forces his way into her life. She may fight and complain, but these two are awesome together. They are both probably just as tough as one another, though they are determined to protect each other just as much. Moira, being the seventh, is used to fighting fate, so this is not a change for her. Maybe she’s just fighting fate out of habit at this point. After Conn becomes aware of witches disappearing and Moira being targeted, there is absolutely nothing she can do to get rid of him.

Nothing manages to break these two up, including kidnapping, teleportation, attacks, threats, and evil witches. Throughout it all, there are fun experiences involving mysteries and the ever present disease. Oh – and my favorite little girl! I’m completely obsessed with this world, so I’ll continue to plow through these books in rapid succession. I can’t wait to see where everyone who is still unmated ends up!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: Claimed

Claimed Claimed by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I dove right into this book immediately following book 1 – how could you not? We had left Emma having just been kidnapped and on her way to mate with a Kurjan! Not to fear, though, we get resolution rather quickly and the rest is all the Emma/Dage show.

Emma is everything I think I wanted from Cara. She’s independent, smart, determined, and protective. Sure, she makes some stupid decisions (don’t we all?), but ultimately she’s motivated by a drive to protect… just about everyone. Dage is the king of the realm, so protection feels like it should be his job. Emma challenges him in a million different ways, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any different.

In this book we also get a closer look at the prophets and their role in the realm. There is the introduction of even more characters and I can’t wait to see each and every one of them find their mate. It’s clear that we are steadily building to one of the Kayrs brothers going after his witch in the next book. So, where does this book take us (other than to sexy town with Emma and Dage)? This book was really about this evil virus. It has infected more people and it growing in strength. Through research and determination, they manage to slow it but it’s clearly the big bad (other than the Kurjans).

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Review: Tempted

Tempted Tempted by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a little obsessive when it comes to reading books in order, so right after finishing Book 2 in the series, I dove into this novella. I don’t really think you need to be as insane as that – this short story can probably be read almost anywhere in the series, as long as you are aware of the virus and the adorable little girl.

We met Max earlier in the series when he was displaying his really horrible luck at cards. His unlikely pairing as a bodyguard to the little girl only makes him that much more loveable. I was so happy to watch him get his little HEA here. As a diversion from his day-to-day babysitting duties, Max was sent to retrieve a gifted woman on the run from the “bad vampires.” She was unfortunately thrown into their world when she witnessed a horrible murder. Even more horrible, her half-brother ended up having her sent to a mental institution and is now threatening to take her company away by declaring her unfit.

Sarah was a teacher until all this craziness happened. Now she is cursing her ability to read the history of items by touching them, which ultimately ended her in this mess of being hunted. Max is an unexpected bright spot in her new world, instantly showing her what she may be able to have after all. Who knew she would find love will on the run from murderous vampires? These two are *great* and I was sad this was only a short story. I could’ve read more of the Max/Sarah show and would especially like to see how his little friend feels about Sarah.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Review: Hell's Hinges

Hell's Hinges Hell's Hinges by S.M. Reine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These books are insane! Just when you think you may have a handle on the timeline and storyline in this world, there's another book to throw everything up in the air again.

We left Sophie and Lincoln in kind of a bind. Full disclaimer, if you haven't read any of the previous books - what are you doing? You definitely need to start at the beginning. It's been a while since I read the original books, so I'm sure I missed a ton of references to the original timeline, but it was mostly a separate tale. You should at least know where things end up with James and Elise, because the framework of that is critical to appreciate the changes created here. So, as I said, we start with Sophie and Lincoln along with the Traveler.

The Traveler has kidnapped Sophie to make her pay for something that we are not entirely sure of. That quickly gets explained when they manage to go back in time, back to the same timeline where Elise and James are semi-retired and dance studio owners. Sophie is thrown back into her teenage life, secluded and protected. Lincoln gets thrown into his younger body, complete with an even more flawed decision-making brain than usual Lincoln. Sigh.

So what happens here? Well, they certainly screw up the timeline. Instead of trying to avoid big changes, they make *all* the changes. Sophie ends up escaping her farm, Lincoln crosses paths with Elise and all hell breaks out (or heaven?). Either way, there's a lot of killing, death, magic, and so, so many changes to the timeline that I am so very invested in. I still despise the Lincoln/Elise relationship and will forever be rooting for the Elise/James broken love story. That aside, this story had all the action and adventure that you would expect from this world. Obviously there are a lot of things left undone at the end of this book because there are more in the series, but it wasn't a "smash your kindle" type of cliffhanger. I'm definitely interested in where we go next here, and if we ever get the original timeline back.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: Fated

Fated Fated by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been reading this series from book 7 onwards and finally swung back around to start from the beginning. I’m loving the later books, so I figured this was a relatively safe bet.

Cara is a solitary scientist and single mother of the most adorable little girl ever, who just so happens to see the future. Cara’s not without her own abilities, of the empath variety, but nowhere near as powerful as her little girl. That same little girl ends up warning her when her house is suddenly under attack from a domineering man. Lucky for him, Cara’s daughter assures her that he is the good guy and they set off to a whole new world.

Talen is immediately struck by the fated feeling indicating he has found his mate. That’s only reaffirmed when the mating mark shows up on his hand. I have to admit, this book was a little heavier on the fated/questionable consent to a degree I don’t usually enjoy. Sure, Cara and Talen eventually end up happy and in love, but the path there involves an awful lot of kidnapping and coercion.

That’s all probably beside the point, though. This book introduces a whole new world filled with good and bad vampires, shifters, and witches. There is also the bigger threat of this virus that changes mates and shifters in horrible ways. I’m sure this will persist for a few books and I am especially eager to see Emma and her mate do the complicated mating dance. Even with her side character role here, she was one of my favorites.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: Moonlight

Moonlight Moonlight by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This might be my new favorite of the series. This book simply flew by and had me hooked, excited for the new twists and turns. Sure, there are big gaps in the “larger story” from the last books, but I was happy for a change of pace.

This book has a few parallel storylines going on. The first story is about Litha and her highly unusual demon pregnancy. She and Storm are stressed in different ways about this one, so it plays a pretty big role. Since Litha is essentially the Black Swan’s go-to for high speed travel, she’s pretty critical in their operations.

Speaking of that, the second story is about Stalkson and his werewolves. It has been known for a little while that the werewolves are having trouble producing females, thus making it hard to continue their race. The Black Swans are “looking into it” and by that, it means that they have put a crazy demon in charge of finding them a different dimension that might be more hospitable. Along the way, Stalkson finds himself attracted to a human woman. Here’s where the slightly creepy kidnapping happens.

Don’t worry, though, because things work out, as they always do. The last story in this book (because, sure, 3 stories is acceptable for one book) is about the retirement of the Black Swan’s leader and selection of a new one. As could probably be predicted, our familiar friend Glen gets identified for this and a series of tests is set up for him to prove he can handle it. We are at the start of this story, so I’m sure we’ll see more of it in books to come. Like I said at the start, something about this book really had me hooked this time around. The pacing was just right and I actually cared about Stalkson. There was also a startling little from Elora, which was nice.

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