Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review: Diving In

Diving In Diving In by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I literally just finished the book and was so moved that I picked up my laptop to write a review on the spot. This book really threw me into an emotional tailspin. I was happy, sad, laughing, smiling, and put my kindle down with such a sense of satisfaction that I had to share my thoughts with the internet.

This book picks up with Liam's sister, Brynn. I don't think you actually have to have read the other book to enjoy this one, but it was also really good, so you should. Brynn is skating through life trying not to make her mom too angry, but still manages to find some small ways to push her buttons. A few years ago (from when the story takes place), she witnesses a horrible accident that she is then blackmailed into keeping a secret. Maybe this event or others have guided her life choices, but where her brother left home, she never really did. She stayed with the "family business" and devoted her life to swim classes for adorable elderly folks and the dry cleaning business.

I think everyone can relate to not meeting someone's expectations, and, jeez, the dialogue in this book was just so... real. Something about how this author writes the quirky and sarcastic characters just reels me in every time. Brynn's carefully crafted (or lazily crafted) life starts to spiral when Gabe wheels into her store. The victim of the aforementioned accident, Brynn should obviously not spend time with him... but she does. Their relationship is everything you could want from a pair of wonderful misfits. I loved every second of their time together - even the struggles.

Sure, this book ultimately delivers an immensely satisfying HEA, but it really makes you work for it. There's love and loss along the way that just resonated so well for me. I hope it does for you, too. If you're looking for a quick ready (I was just going to read a few chapters and ended up devoting my night to it) and want to feel something more than passing entertainment, you should definitely pick this book up. It got 5 stars from me, which means that I'd re-read this again (and tell others to do so!).

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: The Darkest Torment

The Darkest Torment The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are always a guaranteed good read. They’ve got action, adventure, mythology, and smut. What more could you ask for in a paranormal romance?

This book gives us the story of Baden as he struggles to become part of his old life again. He no longer has the demon of Distrust inside of him, but in order to escape, he had to make a deal with Hades. This deal apparently also came with a new resident inside his head/soul. Baden is unwilling to put his family at risk and works pretty hard to separate himself from everyone. It could be a combination of guilt and honor, but the end result is that he is pretty isolated by the time he meets Katarina. With Baden’s deal, he also becomes a participant in a race against Pandora. The two of them are given tasks they must complete for points from Hades. The first task, to obtain a coin from a corrupt man, introduces him to the enigma that is Katarina.

Katarina has been blackmailed into marrying a horribly evil man in order to save the dogs she trains and loves. This dedication to those she loves it what ultimately puts her on the course to help Baden adjust to his new life and reconnect with his old friends. While they end up having probably more miscommunications/assumptions than other couples, they certainly know how to light up a page. The entire struggle is worth it for the reward. On top of the continuing war with Lucifer, we also get nice teasers for the Cameo and Gillian’s stories. Things are not looking good for William, though. I hope we get some resolution for those characters soon.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Starstruck Shifter

Starstruck Shifter Starstruck Shifter by Kim Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was such a fun and entertaining read! If all the books in this series are this much fun to read, I want to read them all!

Mason is a bear shifter, movie star, and philanthropist. Unfortunately, he is getting less and less roles, which minimizes the money he can funnel into his cause. To appease his desperate agent, he agrees to go on a date with his costar in an effort to revamp his image (and hopefully get more work). Soon after, however, fate throws him a curveball in the appearance of his mate. No, she’s not the busty costar – instead she’s the intern with the nerdy glasses.

This adorable love story had me smiling the whole way through. The quirky and adorable personality of Joni (the aforementioned mate) makes this book that much more enjoyable. I could read oodles of books just about these two lovebirds (or bears? Or human and bear?) but will gleefully read the next book in this series. This book can most definitely be read alone and won’t give you a cliffhanger either.

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Review: King of the Asheville Coven

King of the Asheville Coven King of the Asheville Coven by T.S. Joyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read the series that this one spins off from, but I don’t think it was too hard to jump right in. The world was easily introduced and gave a great jumping off point for a new series to begin.

Aric is a firefighter vampire. I have to say, I haven’t read a story that began that way yet, so this is truly unique. He’s the reluctant king of a coven on the run and is trying to stay far away from shifters. One call to a car crash, however, shatters all his hard work. Even more curious, Sadey, the shifter victim, begs him not to out her as being one. These two have instant chemistry that doesn’t quit. They are both on the run from something but are so much stronger together than apart.

This quick and easy read had me completely addicted. Something about this vampire/shifter story made it a wonderful treat to read. If there are more installments to this series, I will gladly devour them as well.

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Review: Mind Mates

Mind Mates Mind Mates by Mary Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

While this book is clearly part of a series already in progress, you could probably read it as standalone. Since I took a little bit of a break between books, I had to essentially re-introduce myself to the whole world (which is truly fabulous). This story deals with another shifter/witch couple in the form of Emma and Gabriel.

I loved this story from the start. Who wouldn’t love to read about the geek who is secretly a wizard prince and the tech support worker who is secretly a shifter? They are both completely adorable and they both have oodles of different layers to their personalities. Sure, they can both be timid, but they can also be fierce when the things they love are threatened. In typical paranormal romance fashion, both of them have been pining over one another for a while. Unable to act on it (especially since they work together), it takes Emma being attacked and Gabriel’s sister being kidnapped to force the issue.

Did I mention the chemistry? It’s outstanding! These two practically sizzle off the page. We encounter some typical misunderstandings, but the payoff is totally worth it. There’s a bit of mystery, adventure, prophecy, and lots of surprises along the way. All of this works together to grab you from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Magical Ties

Magical Ties Magical Ties by J.M. Levinton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was definitely something different. It didn’t quite fall into the paranormal romance category and it didn’t quite fall into the straight fantasy. I’m glad I stuck through it, though, because it was definitely a deviation from my typical books.

Emily and her sister Christa have always been tight. On the day after a horrible breakup, Emily turns to Christa for something to distract her from the typical. Lucky for her, Christa is doing her dissertation essentially on magic. Handing her a list of ingredients, she pushes her out the door to pick up supplies for a spell she may or may not believe will fail utterly. Either way, the tasks would occupy Emily’s time, so it seemed like a win/win situation. From there on out, however, things take a bad turn. Emily and Christa learn firsthand that there’s a magical police force, and it presents itself in the form of a stubborn, enigmatic wizard.

After some demon involvement, negotiation, and sentencing, Emily ends up working with Thomas as an apprentice. Sexual tension abounds!!! That really needed all the exclamation marks because while the two of them remain utterly clueless, the latter half of the book might as well be their courtship. It is, of course, masked in the appearance of Emily’s life being in danger, her sister going off the rails, and a big bad trying to steal power. All of this rolls into a much more satisfying end than beginning to this book.

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Review: Love Me Deadly

Love Me Deadly Love Me Deadly by Alycia Linwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book put a unique spin on hunter/vampire lore, throwing in a mystery to keep the pages turning. The mystery was solid enough that I didn’t solve it until the characters did.

Destiny is night owl who begins the story at a club with her BFF. A simple enough party for some famous model, Enrique, turns into a challenge for the vampire/model. Consent, while clarified between the two of them later, is super muddy at this point, and was not something I enjoyed. Circumstances, however, force Destiny to end up being his first vampire made. We get to watch Destiny come to grips with her new reality, filled with a lot of politics that dampened the enjoyment of living forever.

Nat, a bartender she met at the same important party, ends up being on the opposite side of the conflict Destiny finds herself in. Together, however, they really try to do the Romeo/Juliet thing. I can see a love triangle in her future, but we don’t get that delivered just yet. The ending to this book wrapped up most everything, and I’m happy to leave it that way.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: Bound

Bound Bound by T.J. Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book set up a Romeo & Juliet type story with werewolves and witches. It had some smut, some action, and a little bit of magic.

Liesl is a pretty underwhelming witch who leads life half in the human world and half in the witchy world. Just about the only witch responsibility she takes seriously is protecting the world from evil. One night while out on “patrol” in a bad neighborhood, she interrupts a demon summoning with evidence of shifter and witch involvement. Determined (against her aunt’s wishes) to track down the culprit, she flings herself into the pack’s club/den. There is already tension between shifters and witches and Liesl’s poking around doesn’t seem to help much.

One good thing does come out of her detective work – she meets Axel. While he has already been introduced to her from afar, this up close and personal introduction immediately tells him he has to have her. To do that, though, he has to essentially remove her from the human world and throw her into his. These two dance around each other a bit, but in the end we get resolution to the mystery and the romance (sometimes in a little bit of a rush). I kept watching the time remaining decrease on my kindle and was on the edge of my seat hoping that everything got resolved. While it ultimately did, there were a few outstanding questions (no cliffhangers).

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: The Golden Pack Alphas

The Golden Pack Alphas The Golden Pack Alphas by Laurel Cremant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was a collection of “parts” that could have been read as individual short stories or a nice compilation. I obviously chose the whole set and it reads as a nice story arc.

Georgia is a witch-were hybrid who is trying desperately not to open herself up to anyone. She’s been hiding herself for years, so it should come naturally at this point. Marcus, however, seems to be the only person who throws her into a tailspin. He seems to have eyes only for Georgia and is not turned off at all by her constant refusal. He started his time with the pack simply filling in as beta to Georgia’s alpha father. That has slowly grown into a more permanent situation when it became clear that Georgia was his.

This simple reluctant paranormal romance gets a twist in the form of encroaching rogue forces. The pack must make some drastic changes and Georgia must accept what she’s meant to be in order to survive. There is also the little problem of someone in the pack turning traitor. All of these things combine to make for an overprotective Marcus, a determined Georgia, and a whole pack at risk. This group of characters had a great intro that left me interested in their individual stories. Will we get more? What other enforcers get mates? When do I get to read about them?

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Compelled

Compelled Compelled by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story was exactly the right amount of introduction that we needed to be tempted by the world of Nick Katsaros. If you’re thinking of or have already read the spinoff series, this is a nice glimpse of the backstory and inner workings of the stoic sorcerer. If you’ve read the original series, then you (like me) must feel *compelled* (HAHAHAHA) to read all short stories to complete the set. Either way, this story was a good, solid installment to whichever series you have interest in.

We get to spend time with Cyn and Raphael, which is always a delight. This couple has been through some amazing things and managed to only become stronger. There is, of course, the problem of Cyn’s ego getting her in trouble when she inevitably doesn’t follow one of Raphael’s orders. This story is no different, except that we get to spend some time with Nick, too! Nick gets re-introduced here as the sorcerer we now know he is. The guy who was once a footnote in Cyn’s past is now a formitable ally/enemy to the vampires. We get to take a look at the history of vampires and sorcerers and (of course) it isn’t good.

In an effort to find the missing manacles, these two supernatural masters need to find a way to ignore the tension and work together. Spoiler alert: they don’t work together well. In the end, we get more of Cyn than anyone else (and who doesn’t love that?). We get some good resolution here and even a touch of romantic damsel-saving (if you’re into that). This was an excellent lead-in to the Nick-related books and I really wish I had read this first.

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Review: Born to Bite

Born to Bite Born to Bite by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book contains all the information that I wanted to know at the end of the previous book! If you’re angry about the lack of information, this is the book that gives it to you (thank goodness). Remember Armand, the possibly wife-killing vampire/father of the rogue who could possibly be executed? Well, this book is his story, and even comes with a love interest in the form of Eshe. The timeline for this book overlaps a bit with the ending of the previous, so while the new mates were locked in their cell, Lucian was busy setting up some detective work for Eshe.

Eshe is an enforcer who doesn’t take anyone’s crap. Her mate has long since been killed, so she is pretty much just left with her work and friends. Her latest assignment is to figure out who has been killing off Armand’s wives. Seems like something she could do as simple as reading Armand’s mind, but upon first meeting it appears that they are destined to be mates. Good news is that they can finally have companionship again, but the bad news is that now Eshe might be the killer’s latest target. Sure, I think we are supposed to doubt Armand, but it is pretty obvious that there is a bigger threat somewhere that is determined to make his life hell.

This book was filled with everything that I’ve come to love about the series: smutty goodness, a good mystery, lots of wonderful “check-ins” with the main characters of previous books, and a happily ever after (this time with no infuriating missing information). If you’ve read the other oodles of books in this series, this is another “good one” in that we get good chemistry and page turning story. Who doesn’t want to know who really killed all those women?

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: Summer Court: A Paranormal Romance

Summer Court: A Paranormal Romance Summer Court: A Paranormal Romance by SM Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow – you’ve got to have respect for a series that so seamlessly ties into the many other books already written in this world. To be honest, I never even thought of the stories I’ve already read tying back into this world, but now that it’s done – it kind of blew my mind!

Big things are happening in this final installment. All of the separate storylines are on track to meet up and we get the introduction of the final tarot witch in the form of Samita. Samita is an ex-drag racing, volunteer oriented pregnant woman who suddenly finds herself pretty much kidnapped by the tarot witches. Another startling discovery is the involvement of her sort-of-ex/baby-daddy in this very strange group. Slater (the aforementioned baby-daddy) has had some pretty drastic life changes, but nothing like the shock of having a kid on the way. All of this is happening (of course) as the world careens towards certain destruction.

This group of misfits somehow manages to come together in some super strange ways in an effort to appease an angry god. If you’ve read the other books set in this world, then you know that having deities around are almost never a good thing. In this case, however, we get some good resolution to the mystery of who is leaving the cards, what their purpose is, and how everyone ends up where they… end up. Maybe I wasn’t looking for clues or maybe I just wanted to go along for the ride, but I was completely shocked at where everything ends up. For an urban fantasy author who rarely gives the happily ever after you want, this series certainly left me shocked and smiling. The series was definitely worth the time spent reading and going through the ups and downs of the tarot witches. Also, bonus smut!

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