Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review: Hard to Handle

Hard to Handle Hard to Handle by Christine Warren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book might have started a little slow, but the pace increases dramatically towards the end! Each of these books has some battle scenes in them, but each time they tend to surprise me in their abruptness.

This story is a little different than the previous gargoyle books. Rather than a male gargoyle being awakened by a female warden, we have a bit of a reverse. Ash is the first female gargoyle and she's fully aware of her unique status. When she is awakened to fight an evil sorcerer, she immediately jumps into action, after which she appears to realize that there wasn't the typical warden awakening associated with her story.

Michael and his sister encounter the gargoyle with varying degrees of skepticism (admittedly on opposite ends of the spectrum). Michael would be happy to just finish his life hiding his magical ability and tending bar at his pub. That is, of course, not what fate has in store for him. They soon realize that he's the intended participant in this plan to fight evil. Oh, and we get some of my favorite familiar faces turning up to help, too!

I still think the previous pair was my favorite, but this book was not without its romance. If you're picking up the story here, I would highly recommend you start from the beginning to get everyone's individual tale. I'm sure you could enjoy this book on its own, but it's much better as a series.

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Review: The Demigod's Legacy

The Demigod's Legacy The Demigod's Legacy by Holley Trent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had no idea this was a spinoff series, but now it kind of makes sense. There are just so many characters with such intricate backstories that it is logical to assume they all had their stories told earlier. I really don't think it hurt, not knowing the previous books, but it definitely explains a few things.

We join December while she's trying to track down her wayward baby daddy. She's tried reaching out to him before but has not gotten any response. Now that her kid is getting older, she is obligated to at least try to track him down. Tito is not your typical deadbeat dad. Turns out, he's a demigod who moved on to try to save December from ultimately becoming his mate. He's got some baggage from his first wife and child being killed while he couldn't protect them so he's not too eager to relive that.

There are a lot of kooky characters in this story (which Tito calls "the weirdos") and they've all got some crazy backstories that we get a little glimpse of here and there. This makes the insanity of December finding out her daughter has super powers a little bit more... normal. This is anything but your typical fated mates romance. There's also a big bad, in the form of Tito's arch-nemesis, who is more than willing to play out the same scene as last time by killing his soon-to-be-family (as a sacrifice).

Of course, we eventually find our way to a HEA. There was an awful lot of build up to the finale that maybe I would have enjoyed more with a bit more love for Tito. He just kind of rubbed me the wrong way for most of the book. Something about the combination of cocky and arrogant without a ton of redeeming qualities left me feeling like I was rooting for the wrong team. For what it's worth, I did like December a lot, though.

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Review: Saved by Darkness

Saved by Darkness Saved by Darkness by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book can definitely be read as a standalone glimpse into this world. I have read a few in the series, but skipped some before this one and it didn't impact my enjoyment of this story one bit.

Ian is a half-demon/half-dragon shifter who is a little damaged. He's already found his mate, but her family forcibly separated them a few decades ago. He obviously has not moved on, even knowing that she's supposedly mated to someone else (and it's unbreakable). Everything changes for him, however, when the pack he is reluctantly aligned with informs him of her location - right next to their territory. Not only is she nearby, but she is also completely unmated.

Fiona is a woman who is going to great lengths to protect the person her dragon has identified as her mate. She takes the threat her family issued very seriously, and knows if she pursues Ian, they'll do something terrible. Don't worry, though, she ends up breaking all her rules when everyone is dragged into a big conspiracy to wipe out the human race. While working in close company, Fiona and Ian can't but rekindle their romance.

This story was quick paced, engaging, and very well written. Like I said earlier, even skipping a few books in the series didn't hinder my enjoyment. The characters were so enjoyable that I was willing to overlook the standard issue martyr thing (where one character sacrifices to try to "save" the other). The sizzling chemistry was right on and I didn't really expect the ending when it arrived. I'd eagerly read the rest of the series.

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Review: Fearless

Fearless Fearless by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another book that I put off reading for way too long. I love this world (starting from the Zellie Wells series) and the author's voice is one of my favorites. There's just the right amount of grittiness and sarcasm to make me smile almost all the time. Penny's story was something I just didn't want to finish.

In this rather short installment, we really wrap up the retroact storyline. Whenever there is time travel involved, I get a little turned around, but Penny's tale was always bound to get confusing. When last we left everyone, things were looking pretty bad. Penny was hanging out with her younger grandmother, watching a vision that was predicting some awful things. They'd left a trail of dying/possibly dead friends in their time travel wake and everything was up in the air. Luckily, Penny succeeds in getting some help from another time, all while finding some more clues.

The ultimate ending here is Penny's decision. She's got god-like powers essentially, so she has to choose what she wants the future to look like and how she'll get there. And, of course, it'd be nice if she got a teensy bit of her own HEA. Even reluctant heroes deserve a happy ending. All in all, I was happy to see where things ended up, but wish I got even more of Penny.

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Review: Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls Darkness Falls by Keri Arthur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that I took a rather long break in between books of this series before diving into this one. That being said, the author throws you right in the nonstop action that is Risa's insane life. You're forced to catch up quickly in order to follow along, but it wasn't that difficult.

The world is the same futuristic/paranormal/urban fantasy setting that I've enjoyed for a few series now. It was nice to visit with the familiar faces and also get everything tied up in a neat bow. As this is the last book in the Dark Angels series, there are a lot of things we have to deal with. There's the fire elemental in her friend, the evil sorceress who can change faces, the search for the last key, and Hunter (the evilest of the evil characters). Along the way, even more drama and chaos invades Risa and Azriel's lives. Don't worry, though, they take some breaks to get down and dirty (you know, for recharging, right?).

Overall, by the time we reach this point in the series, we are just ready to kill off some big bads. I was willing to accept that this would be long and drawn out, but it was divided nicely between two sections of bad guys. There was an element of betrayal, magic (of course), and Risa (and her sword) kicking some major butt. Azriel pulls his weight, too, but he's becoming more and more human-like as the series moves along.

This book also gives you a million reasons to hate Hunter more. That made the finale even more satisfying. And if you're worried about things not being wrapped up with a wonderful HEA, don't worry. I finished the book with a smile on my face and happy for all the characters I've grown to enjoy.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Frost

Frost Frost by Kaitlyn Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a totally unique blend of titans, vampires, mystery and YA romance. I love all those things, and couldn’t stop flipping pages on this one until I reached the (somewhat cliffhanger-y) end. I guess this is a spinoff? I didn’t realize until I went to review, so it obviously didn’t matter much.

Pandora is on the run from her past. She doesn’t remember the exact thing that triggered her running (that was removed with her becoming a vampire) but she knows she can’t let the titans catch up to her. She’s making a pretty good living for herself as a sort-of robin hood, freeing vampire prisoners (and sometimes expensive things) from master vampires and donating the proceeds. Her powers make her a highly prized commodity – she can become invisible. This same power is also what made her an outcast among the titans. Most people shunned her, except for Jax.

Jax is also the titan that has been tasked with hunting her down. Pandora believes herself unfeeling until confronted with the face of the love of her life. These two struggle to figure out Pandora’s future, and how she will confront her past. There’s also a little mystery around who this random dude Pandora keeps seeing in her shadows is… The ending left me hanging, but the mystery will drive me to read more!

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Review: Feversong

Feversong Feversong by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I’m really done now, right? These books are always a rollercoaster of emotion, with turns coming out of nowhere and very few “safe” characters. I have to say that the body count was significantly lower than I expected, but I guess since she’s writing more books in this world (WHAT?) she had to keep some familiar faces around.

We join the cast exactly where we left them. Mac is possessed, Jada/Dani just got saved by Mac’s sacrifice, and the world is still going to end. The books are not at all split evenly so things go in a bit of a disjointed path forward. We spend a lot of time dealing with Mac/Book (ha) and trying to get a solution. We spend absolutely no time in smut-land (through the entire book!). And we get some quickie resolution for book 1 which frees up the “gang” to troubleshoot the whole world ending thing. During it all we have the budding romance of Dancer and Dani, the reason for which is because the author hates us (sorry, cynical).

Sure, there are the typical twists and turns along the way with lots of time spent getting introduced to more fae aspects, but not a whole lot gets wrapped up. The author admitted this. Don’t expect to know the fate of pretty much anyone outside the immediate crew. There better be a whole series devoted to the Highlanders just to wrap that mess up. Everyone, in their own way, gets to say goodbye to their loved ones as they all prepare for the end of the world. Some leave the world or prepare to, while the core fighters gear up for the “ultimate showdown,” which was actually pretty relaxed.

We meet or re-meet some characters, seemingly only to watch them die. This frustrates me, but I guess I should expect that in this world. I bet there are 100 different versions of this book in which things take a different turn (and maybe involve some smut?), but we are stuck here. Even the ending gave a kind of “meh” feeling for the survivors. I guess I just… want more? Is that weird? The plot always makes me crazy but I can’t stop coming back. Maybe I’m just looking for closure.

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Review: The Turn

The Turn The Turn by Kim Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really conflicted about reviewing this book. In retrospect, maybe I should have just left the series finished in my mind and never re-entered the world of the Hollows. Sure, this book takes place before the start of that series, but the collection of magical creatures still persists. The characters, however, are so… young!

As someone who rooted for Trent and Al in the later series, this story was so hard. Trent is firmly in his jerk phase, even more spoiled and arrogant than I could even imagine (and I watched him grow through the Hollows series!). It was pretty frustrating to have to deal with him in that timeframe again, but Trisk was a bright light in all that yucky darkness. Trisk was a great addition to the story, and I found myself rooting for her even when I knew where her research had to end up. This book was definitely cringe worthy in that respect. There has to be a trigger for the world of Rachel Morgan, so you know that for every happy moment we get to see, an even bigger sad moment is on its way.

Another highlight was the cameos from characters we know and love. It definitely messed with my timeline when I saw their relative ages and mannerisms, but supernaturals are always tricky that way. I expected this book to end with everyone lined up to take their ultimate places from the start of the Hollows series but that is definitely not the case. Don’t expect this book to answer all your questions or leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings for… anyone. Except maybe Orchid. Like I said, this is a hard book to review because on one hand I want to know what happens so I’ll eagerly devour all the books set in this world. On the other hand, it’s painful knowing everyone’s futures and having to suffer through it all slowly.

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Review: Midnight Curse

Midnight Curse Midnight Curse by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow – this book was such a great read! A few chapters in, I started to figure out that this is a spinoff of a more developed world, but I can honestly say that it didn’t stop me from absolutely loving this book.

Scarlett is a null who is tasked with cleaning up after “messy” supernaturals. She has clearly led a very busy life in previous books, which makes her current work look a little slow. The upcoming Vampire Trials (ooooh, ominous) end up changing her world. While it is actually a little bit like the People’s Court for supernaturals, the Vampire Trials end up pushing a big bad into taking a big step against Scarlett’s old bestie – Molly. Scarlett, being the amazingly well-written and awesomely sarcastic ball of righteousness she is, can’t stand by to let Molly be falsely accused so she begins her own investigation.

The plot of this story has its fair share of twists and turns, but what kept me coming back for more what the characters. I’m sure the author had several books to fully develop them, but even as an outsider just joining the story, they were amazing. Between Scarlett’s boyfriend and her estranged partner, there is no shortage of drama. I am absolutely convinced that I must go back and start from the beginning, if this is what I can expect being built up. Even with a not exactly happy ending, I am 100% committed to reading all this world has to offer.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: Maximum Force: A Career Soldier Military Romance

Maximum Force: A Career Soldier Military Romance Maximum Force: A Career Soldier Military Romance by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was yummy and completely fun to read. I was in a bit of a book rut – you know when you just can’t seem to get back into reading? Well this quick read really got me back on the wagon! I couldn’t stop reading until the last page!

Max is a career soldier who has some pretty strong opinions about the people who protest against them without walking in his shoes. Of course, he ends up running right into a damsel in distress, who just so happens to be one of those yucky protesters. Samantha was raised to always stand up for what she believes in, no matter what. All of her ideas are challenged when she finds herself inexplicably drawn towards a soldier who has direct reports tied to an incident in town.

These two are sizzling hot! I loved every second of this story and was pleasantly surprised when we found our way to a mutually beneficial happy ending. I would read 100 of these short stories and cannot wait to see what comes out next from this author!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Wolf Unbound

Wolf Unbound Wolf Unbound by Lauren Dane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read the previous books in this series, I was super excited to see Tegan's book come up. She's always been in the background, but I knew she definitely had more to say.

This book gave an awesome connection between two characters we've met before. While the rest of the pack appears to interact with Ben Stoner, Tegan first meets him when she escapes her solitary life for a visit to a bondage club. This particular club caters to paranormals, but since Ben is already in the know and looking for a new sub, they are paired up almost by accident. The chemistry is super hot and leads to a more solid connection than I think either of them anticipated.

Tegan and Ben's families, of course, are a little bit harder of a sell, particularly since Tegan lost her previous mate and has been mostly solitary since then. These two, however, manage to bring out the best in one another (when their stubbornness is not getting in the way). Oh, and the smut is awesome! Along with the unexpected romance, we also get some progress in the overall storyline. While we don't get a super duper happy ending with all plotlines tied up, we are still definitely making progress (especially for Ben & Tegan). I will happily read as many installments this series puts out!

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Review: Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon Wolf Moon by Lisa Kessler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first book from this series, but I think diving in here was just fine. The story was easy to follow and gave me lots of good intro along the way.

Luke is the last unmated member of his pack. To try to avoid the constant reminder, he set off on his own to find himself (sort of). While out and about one day, he couldn't help stopping to offer assistance to a woman in a broken down van. Raven was forcibly turned into a werewolf by her then boyfriend now abuser. Inducted into a pack formed for the sole purpose of attacking others, she's desperate to escape. On her escape attempt, however, her van ran out of gas, putting her in the direct line of sight of Luke.

Luke, of course, can't let this stand and is even more determined to help Raven upon discovering that his old pack's arch-nemesis is planning to come attack and destroy them. They're both forced to make hard decisions to save all the innocent people who have been dragged into this mess. This book was so engaging that I found myself worried about all the side characters, too. Will they each get spin off books? Will I ever find out what happens to them? While totally happy with the unorthodox happily ever after, I still want more!

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Review: Mark of the Moon

Mark of the Moon Mark of the Moon by Beth Dranoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book knocked my socks off! I could not turn the virtual pages fast enough for my liking and yet was still completely sad when I reached the end and there was no more awesome book...

This book introduces Dana and right away, I fell in love. She's sarcastic, quirky, independent, damaged, and super tough. She's an ex-paranormal-fighter turned paranormal bar-bartender who prefers her men with no strings attached. Unfortunately for her, she appears to be the center of some pretty strange happenings. It all begins when her current vampire lover's ex (or current?) lover barges in on some bondage play. While tied up and unable to fight back, Dana ends up with a scratch from the partially shifted cat. This ends up putting her in a shifter hospital, where she meets some even more dangerous and alluring people, one of which pushes all her sexytime buttons.

There's the inevitable love triangle play, Dana's struggle with possibly becoming something she once captured, trying to keep everyone safe, failing to keep everyone safe, failing to keep herself safe, and a crapload of mystery and deception all rolled into one addictive book. I absolutely love where this world is taking me and cannot wait for more - there is more, right? I really want to see Dana's next step into her even more complicated life.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review: Tri Mates

Tri Mates Tri Mates by Lauren Dane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was surprising and dirty in all the best ways. Having already read a few in the series, I was expecting more of the same and was in for a big shock.

If you've read anything else in this series, you know that in this werewolf world you need a mate and an achor. We see that start to play out when Tracy first gets a whiff of Nick. He's an enforcer in another pack, but that's not that big a deal. What ends up being a bigger deal is that her anchor (the pack mediator) ends up... also being her mate! This tri-bond is super rare, but if anyone can handle it, these three appear to have it well under control. Sexy times for all!

The problems arise when Nick's pack appears to be less than thrilled. As we already know, there's badness going on of the werewolf mob variety. It looks like nobody can really escape it. Nick's pack, unfortunately, appears to be filled with issues. Lucky for them - he's now mated to a mediator with a calm head (most of the time). While there are a lot of larger stories at play, the main focus of this book was the romance and it did not disappoint. I was a little worried in the beginning that Tracey had ended up with a controlling jerk, but there is redemption for all.

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Review: Big Girls Don't Bite

Big Girls Don't Bite Big Girls Don't Bite by Nora Snowdon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books! They are fun, silly, and romantic all at the same time. There's even a nice element of surprise thrown into each one!

Remember Anna? Well, if you don't, then this is probably your first book in the series. While you can probably dive right in here, it's so much better to get the build up to Anna's book. Anna is the prickly, adorably gothy, mother-annoying sister of the other two mated dudes in the series. She always seemed like an interesting gal, so I'm glad we get to dive into her head. She appears, however, to be a creature of habit. She's got a bar that she likes and she's a bit shaken when it appears to have a new bartender and he won't serve her without ID.

Sounds normal enough, but these two really hit it off in all the right ways. Ericson (the annoyingly sexy bartender) has just the right blend of alpha man and flirty boy. He is definitely up to the task of taming the crazy Anna. Oh, and they've both got their share of secrets, so it looks like things are perfectly matched between the two of them. All of that explodes when Ericson's past shows up and he's forced to choose either to protect the girl he's rapidly falling in love with or be selfish and possibly put them both at risk.

You can guess how the story goes, but it was still completely satisfying to watch these two kick butt. This might be my favorite pairing of the series so far, but I really hope we get more from Anna's BFF in future books!

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Review: The Fox's Wager

The Fox's Wager The Fox's Wager by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story had all the bells and whistles! There was mystery, mayhem, and whole lot of sizzle!

Sionnach is a really good bad guy. She's a hired thief who can use her rather unique talents to get her into places no one else can go. When tasked with a job from her dying father figure, she simply cannot say no. This, however, leads her into "the hotel," a paranormal place where nothing is really as it seems. Oh, and there's also the small matter of a hunky Irishman trying to hunt her down.

Daeglan isn't about to wait around for his this whole "saving the world" thing to start, so he jumps at the chance to help recruit. This leads him to New Orleans, where the beguiling Sionnach resides. He eagerly follows her into the strangest of places and ultimately finds himself completely smitten. These two are a great couple to watch develop while hunting down the bad guys. Things are definitely looking good for team "save the world"!

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