Saturday, June 12, 2021

Savor Me Slowly

Savor Me Slowly (Alien Huntress, #3)Savor Me Slowly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is definitely the best of the series so far. We got a lot of familiar faces from the previous two, but also a healthy dose of smut that was somewhat missing in previous books.

We met Jaxon in Mia's story as the supportive team member, but he is definitely a harder, different man than we previously met. He's been kidnapped when we see him again, and tortured beyond the point where non-agents would have been able to resist. Another torturer ends up entering the room and taking him as her own hostage.

Mishka is an assassin, part-robot, part-alien, unique entity. She's controlled by her "master" and forced to do horrible things. The love story here is closer to fated mates than any sort of romantic tale. These two are mostly trapped together, but become obsessed. There is smut a-plenty, so no worries there, but there were a lot of muddled motivations thrown in along the way. While people are dying from an incurable disease, we are taking time during a firefight to duke it out amongst allies? Really? Visions are infallible, even though that was largely the basis for book 1? The overall story doesn't even wrap up neatly, so I assume we will still deal with the big bad from this book in the next one. While this is a big step up from the previous books, I'm hopeful we get an even more solid installment next.

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Nicodemus

Nicodemus (Stone Warriors, #5)Nicodemus by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love this world, the characters, and most of all the vampires that started it all, but was excited to get to the conclusion and finale with Nic's story. This book was like 3 books in one and I'm sure would be better enjoyed in more bite-sized portions (at least for me).

We get ALL of Nic's story in here. There's time in his own kingdom, then in the past in Paris, then still in the past in other locations, until we finally get the resolution I was dying for all book. This book was very different than the others because it reads as more of a historical mystery than a paranormal romance. We are introduced to the elusive Antonia and shown their earlier quick romance, which leads him on a chase through dimension and time.

Was I ultimately sucked in? Yes. Nic's story is addictive, just like all the others. We get to watch the showdown we wanted, with lots of familiar faces from previous stories. Really, that last part was THE BEST! I'm happy we got there, and I want to dive back in with the vampires.

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Lover Unveiled

Lover Unveiled (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #19)Lover Unveiled by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this book was one of the toughest to get through for me. Yes, we are at book#19, so things are a bit formulaic at this point, but there were just too many subplots for me to enjoy this one. Also, Mae was not my preferred type of lead female. Sigh.

OK, so, it's hard to sum this one up because in BDB style, there are like 10 other things all winding through this one main storyline. We start with Mae, who is trying to use evil magic to save a loved one. We also meet Sahvage, who has a battered past and just want to die. Then we reunite with some other characters from previous books, meet new friends of those people, and there's a meteor. THEN there is a demon, who we met previously, and a book. Oh, and THEN there is the thief from the bastards, who once got electrocuted.

Somehow, all of those things end up winding together, but it takes A LOT. And all of that has to happen while we get on board with the love story between Sahvage and Mae. I just couldn't do it. Mae makes all the wrong decisions no matter how much support she gets from everyone around her. Ultimately, the BDB ends up cleaning things up (mostly), but for me, this one was a miss.

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One Fine Fae

One Fine Fae (Mystic Bayou, #4.5)One Fine Fae by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this world, this town, and all their characters. I would read/listen-to 100 of them! I was shocked to find I inadvertently missed this short story, so dove in immediately.

This short and self-contained story centers around a newcomer, Charlotte. Remember the search for a midwife for mixed-shifter pregnancies? Well, Charlotte is the answer. She arrives in town with her trailer and is immediately immersed in the wonderful world of Mystic Bayou. This includes the wonderfully adorable, but woefully cursed Leonard. As an assistant in the league offices, he's pretty well established in town, and touted as being one of the only non-evil assistants (Jessica is questionable).

These two are cute, though a little rushed, in their romance, but that could be my own selfishness talking. I would love to get even more from these two! The bonus here, though, is that we get to spend less time in the "awkward misunderstanding" phase and more time in the love. While you can definitely read this alone, you should really read all of these books, because they are awesome!

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Darkness Betrayed

Darkness Betrayed (Guardians of Eternity, #17)Darkness Betrayed by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta admit that I have been hopping in and out of this series for a while. While I know the general world, I tend to miss some big events along the way. All of that to say that I don't have trouble rejoining this crew and enjoying each installment.

This book follows Brigette, the previous baddie who was under evil influences. She's punishing herself and trying to perform her own form of redemption when she is suddenly faced with an opportunity. She's a bit damaged and determined which somehow ends up putting her in league with a demon/vampire uprising.

Xi has been tasked with finding out who the new big bad is, as evidenced by a series of strange and concerning occurrences in town. He ends up having to team up with the ex-big bad, Brigette. Obviously these two end up reluctantly attracted to each other in the fated way that happens in this series. They both have their own tragic story, and that lends itself to making it feel less rushed and more romantic than others. I liked their sweet moments, but, as usual, Levet was a highlight.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Idols and Enemies

Idols and Enemies (Amplifier Book 4)Idols and Enemies by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has certainly grown from the first book that I had to drag myself through. Now I am fully on Team Emma, even when the rest of the usual suspects are away.

We knew Aiden would have to open the letter from his father someday, and that's really what this book is about. We deal with the fallout and the larger scheme at play, all while they are also trying to raise a teenage witch and hunt down the rest of the five. Aiden's father, it turns out, is battling something that is killing the great Azar head of household. With no easy cure, they need to have the most awkward family reunion ever.

While I loved the new sorcerer dynamic (who knew I could enjoy Aiden's brother?), the witches were TERRIBLE. I mean, I guess that's great, because I know we were supposed to be put in the position to make some judgments, but still. It had some of those horrible scenes where you know some funny business is going on, but people turn a blind eye to it because... faaaaaamilyyyyyy. Sigh. That aside, by the end of the book, I was surprisingly aligned with the sorcerers who have tried to kill Emma. If this series can convince me to change my mind about them, what can they accomplish next?

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Enslave Me Sweetly

Enslave Me Sweetly (Alien Huntress, #2)Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In our book club we are working through this series. That might be one of the main reasons we are continuing, because I didn't really see any strong thread holding book 1 and book 2 together. I hear it gets better at book 3, so here's hoping!

This book focuses on an alien race (so, ok, that is a connection to the overall world), but she's not a government agent like the last main character. Instead, she has been adopted by and trained into this world of hired killers. It's good that she can defend herself, because her race was hunted to near extinction for their beautiful skin. So - who is the love interest? Well, there's no magic necklace (WAIT - there totally is!!), but she is somehow drawn to this other agent that her adoptive father pairs her up with.

Lucius is full human, but somehow magically endowed in the strength and stealth categories. They naturally fight, but are also naturally drawn to one another for some reason we shouldn't look too hard at. There "romance" is your typical fated mates story. The twist here is the aliens and some betrayal. Honestly, I was expecting way more horrible things to happen or be revealed, so we got our relatively unscathed in this installment. Who knew the would-be rapist would be a highlight in the character department?

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Wolf's Curse

Wolf's Curse (Otherworld Stories #13.9)Wolf's Curse by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book definitely redeems the one before it. I don't really understand why this couldn't have all been a single book, leaving out the cliffhanger ending. Either way, it was nice to go back to familiar territory - the alpha kids being awesome.

Logan and Kate are definitely the stars here. This installment ties up all the loose ends from book 1 and then some. We get a good amount of twists and turns that kept me fully engaged. We also get to see the teenage struggles that the alpha twins are going through. The little hints at the larger world were much appreciated and made me smile. It a thoroughly enjoyable way to end this set of books.

Now, would I rate the overall set higher knowing where it took me? Probably. Was it worth reading book 1 without book 2 being available immediately? No. So, now that both are out, I would recommend reading both at once or none.

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Mystics and Mental Blocks

Mystics and Mental Blocks (Amplifier #3)Mystics and Mental Blocks by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm rapidly working my way through this spinoff series in the adept universe and loving it more and more. What originally felt a little forced and cold is now a familiar family that I've grown to love.

They poke fun at this in the book series, but this time around it isn't Aiden family drama coming to bite them, it's one of the five. We don't get a familiar face we've already met, of course, and instead we get to meet the telekinetic part of the group. She is just as prickly and tantrum filled as you would expect, but when she arrives wounded on their doorstep (or backyard, as the case may be), even Emma can't turn her away.

This book deals heavily with family, betrayal, and trust. We get to see Aiden and Emma's relationship mature into something more like a family and a home, which understandably pushes Christopher out of his "comfort" zone, yielding unintended consequences. I really enjoyed the ride this book took us on, even if a lot of that time was not really spent in the real world exactly. These books are definitely getting better and better.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Alpha Lover

Alpha Lover (The Alpha Council Chronicles, #3)Alpha Lover by Brenda Sparks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops - I haven't read any of the other books in this series before starting this one. That being said, I think diving in at this book is totally OK and didn't have any trouble with catching up.

Juliette is on holiday in Russia with her friend when she meets Nicholai in a pretty unconventional way. He is a starving vampire who desperately needs blood but doesn't like to feed off of locals. The tourists become his "meal" and he discovers that Juliette is his heartmate. In this world, that essentially means fated mate. In typical paranormal romance, though, he hides his vampire nature and decides to try to "woo" her first.

In parallel, there's a group of demons causing trouble for Nicholai's "alpha council" friends who are investigating killings. This particular element of the story is pretty gruesome and dark, so be warned. This is, however, nicely balanced with the smutty romantic storyline of Juliette and Nicholai. Does it go smoothly? Of course not! There are some dangerous situations, some missed communication, and emotional baggage to be handled, but we get to a HEA (and lead in to another book).

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Bonds and Broken Dreams

Bonds and Broken Dreams (Amplifier #2)Bonds and Broken Dreams by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are definitely growing on me now. While Emma was a bit tough to get used to, I now find myself hoping she finds whatever happy ending she is after.

I was a little worried that each book would involve a different member of the five showing up and us dealing with the repercussions. Surprise, surprise, but this one is actually mostly Aiden's fault. He is still out trying to cure his magic addiction when his brother and ex-"girlfriend" show up at Emma and Christopher's place looking for him. This sets things in motion for his quick return, not that Emma needs protection.

This installment also addresses a loose end from the "job that went bad," that we hear about a lot. The witch that was being used to power the spell (the spell Emma has since been obsessed with cracking) ends up playing a larger part here, and probably in the future. Opal, the witch, and Ember, Emma's lawyer, end up helping or confusing Emma's somewhat reclusive existence with knowledge, or (in Opal's case) some humanity.

There are certainly some twists and turns in this one and it kept me on my toes. I find myself more and more in agreement with Emma's battle strategy to defend her land, her family, and her friends. There was a lot of battle (and goo) in this one, along with some fallout we will certainly address in the future. You've convinced me, Amp-5, to continue reading this series.

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Awaken Me Darkly

Awaken Me Darkly (Alien Huntress, #1)Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of the author and decided to try to fill some gaps in my book experience with her. This series is one of her earlier ones, and I had it all ready to go for a while - why haven't I read these before now?

This story takes place in a sort-of dystopian future. There are aliens and we coexist, with the help of task force that keeps the different species in line. Mia is one such "huntress" who uses her skill set hunting down aliens that are out of control or do things that are frowned upon in human society. She's got a high kill count, a team that would do anything for her, and little issues with killing aliens. She's also got oodles of mental baggage from the way she was raised, which helps/hurts her later on.

Kyrin is an alien that happens to both attract and repel her from the start. While Mia is navigating what seems to be a new set of skills, he presents her with a unique opportunity - can she sacrifice her values to help her teammate survive? The answer, of course, is yes, and yields sexy results (albeit, mostly fade to black ones). There are definitely signs that this is the first book of a series, and I hope they get better, but this was enjoyable and a good enough way to build a world.

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Meant to Be Immortal

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)Meant to Be Immortal by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, at this point (book #32) you know what you're getting yourself into. There's no excuse for not expecting a wonderfully quirky fated mate installment. This one was cute, sweet, and exactly what I expected.

Mac is one of the many Argeneau's out there, this one having been a lab employee in the mega-empire that is the family business. After moving in, he is soon set on fire (or his house is), which puts him in a bit of a bad spot with his new small town locals. He's got to mind control everybody, which is how he discovers his life mate.

CJ is in town to investigate a report of police misconduct and is somehow dragged onto the scene of a house fire in lieu of any detectives being around in the precinct to handle it. She meets Mac and they are drawn to one another, even without being saddled as acting for his protection. With only one place to stay in town, they are also forced to share a place overnight. While this is obviously a fated mates scenario, the unique elements of each character made it interesting for me. There's no shocking revelations or insane twists, but this series is always enjoyable.

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Rise of Heroes

Rise of Heroes (Artifact Hunters, #3)Rise of Heroes by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who knew that a series based on a world that took many books to build could be so... light? Fun? Easy? I feel like anyone could enjoy this series as a standalone, but I enjoyed it even more having been on this long and wild ride.

We join Cage and Brigid as they navigate cohabitation, the loss of Cage's BFF, a quest for revenge against a hero, and more backup plans than you could shake a squirrel at. There is no way anyone could *not* love Cage, so it's no shock that this series has gone by so quickly for me. The pages turn with ease and I sink into this familiar world without another thought. I am so glad that we wrap things up neatly for Cage (and company) that I finished this book with a huge smile on my face.

Now - how did we get to said ending? Well, there's the usual mayhem, guts, grossness, occasional stripping, and some questionable blood-letting. Oh, and family surprises! As long as you are open to the antics, you will enjoy every minute, even the ones that get tricky. The characters are quirky and awesome, saving some overly emotional scenes with their sheer oddness. I'd happily recommend this trilogy to anyone even remotely interested in paranormal... anything. Please check it out!

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Beautiful Nightmare

Beautiful Nightmare (Beautiful Nightmare #1)Beautiful Nightmare by L.C. Son
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a huge world-building start to the series that includes any and all paranormals you can thing of.

The main character in this massive world is Damina. She's gone through the loss of her parents at a young age, but was luckily adopted by her aunt and raised along with her cousin. Seems relatively normal until we start seeing signs that she can change the weather with her moods and she has recurring dreams about a tree and wolves. Pretty early on in the story there is an act of betrayal on her wedding night that sends her spiraling into a different world (not literally).

The rest of the book takes place in New Orleans, where Damina finds out her true history and sees behind the curtain of the mundane. There's old historical house restoration work, vampires, wolves, clubs, dancing, sexy times, and more all wrapped in to a hefty size book. There's twists and turns, but even with so many pages, we get a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. While I'm sure this book will suit some readers, I found it difficult to complete personally. There are a ton of characters we meet, so I'm sure the reader can find someone to root for along the way, even if Damina isn't your cup of tea.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Wild Sign

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Anna and Charles. They are a couple I would read 100 books about, so I obviously jumped at this one from the library.

This story starts with a little flashback, of hints of Bran's mate having some secret history. I guess I never realized how much of a mystery it was until this book. It's nice to try to fill in the gaps here and I was eager to find out where she came from. This all ties in to "Wild Sign," a suddenly abandoned "off the grid" settlement, which just so happens to be on land owned by the pack. No pack members were currently residing there, nor was it widely known to be theirs, but the FBI gets involved when the daughter of a settler finds her father missing (along with the rest of the town).

Things are never straightforward, so there's lots of supernatural elements at play here. Oh, and there's even some big foot stuff, too! Without spoilers, there is a lot that ends up being revealed about this history of "Wild Sign" and how it came to be so far off the beaten path. We also get a nice heaping dose of some lesser interacted with characters, highlighting Anna's impact on the pack as a whole. There's a huge fight scene thrown in to wrap things up and balance out the magic and relationship baggage. Overall, this was a good installment to tie up some loose ends.

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Rafael

Rafael (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #28)Rafael by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll add the disclaimer I always add - if you hate Anita Blake books, why are you reading them? These books are not filled with crazy surprises and are generally pretty formulaic, but I enjoy reading them. There's something calming about knowing the world, the characters and the general outcome at the start.

So - this book is probably (maybe?) shorter than the previous ones. It reads a little bit like a standalone novella at times, especially since things wrap themselves up in a short amount of time. These books are always a little repetitive, so I don't fault them for that, but I also don't think you could start here, at book #28, as your entrance to the series. This book, obviously, revolves around Rafael and the rats. His relationship with Anita has become controversial and caused a number of challenges. This particular challenge has a different level of baggage attached.

The story manages to give us a very small window of time, a quick build-up and delivery, but also pushes some larger loose ends along, too. Is there smut? Very little. Is there action? A ton! This book is definitely heavier on the action (and, at time, gore) than sexy times. There are still lots of men, women, and descriptions of their eye color, so don't worry about that. Anita is still a tough woman who is doing the best she can, but at times you want to throttle her for debating things so heavily in the moment. Overall, this gave me a better understanding of the wererats and Rafael, which I think was the point.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Dare

DareDare by Christina Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are fun, cute, and super quick to read. I can't help but smile while reading them, so if you're looking for a pick-me-up, these are definitely it.

We pick up with Calla, still queen but also still trying to convince her subjects that she's taking this seriously. Well, as seriously as someone who wants a bouncy house in the castle can take things. There is, of course, yet another big bad for her to handle. This time the big bad comes in the form of a disgruntled null who uses a magical sword to try to destroy everyone. That'd be a big bummer for Calla, since she is queen now (and has a bouncy house), so she and Dare mobilize to stop this latest threat.

Nothing is ever simple, however, so there's some detective work, some flirty polo games, some ley line nonsense, and other assorted Calla-isms, but we ultimately get to a good ending. While these are short, they are packed with fun and adventure. There's always a little mystery and good chase to keep things interesting, and I think we might be headed toward real romance soon, too!

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Monday, April 5, 2021

The Warrior King

The Warrior King (Inferno Rising, #3)The Warrior King by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Third book of this series and the third phoenix - this should be easy and predictable, right? Wrong! This book was surprising and had me unsure of any happy ending here, but don't worry, we get a solid, rewarding ending with some breadcrumbs to the next book.

Meira and Samael are an unlikely pair. Meira may have surprised Samael (and his dragon) in the mirror when they first "met" but it's been even stranger since then. Meira, in some attempt at helping the entire dragon race, agreed to mate with Samael's king, sealing their alliance. The evil red king has been up to no good and needs to be stopped, but that doesn't make this any easier for anyone involved. That gets even harder when things turn upside-down and they end up on the run.

Through this story we watch the timid Meira somehow become a queen in more ways than one. We also get to watch Samael step up and accept the responsibility that his king and his people lay at his feet. It was good to watch the chaos somehow end up resolved into a step forward (maybe a single step, but still a step) into the final battle we expect. It was sad, but satisfying. I can't wait to see where the story takes us next!

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A Wolf After My Own Heart

A Wolf After My Own Heart (BeWere My Heart, #2)A Wolf After My Own Heart by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WOAH - this book took me on a ride! To be fair, I have not read book#1 in this series, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into, for sure.

Lila is... amazing. She is unflappable, super weird, and just one of the best characters I've met in a long time. Sure, she's got a backstory that explains some things, but not everything, which leaves me loving her even more. She's just moved in to town, relocated her very strange business, and rescued a bear cub and, somehow, things just get weirder from there. Oz is drawn to her in a totally not creepy shifter way. There might be fate at work here, but no matter what, these lovely oddballs are perfect for one another.

The cast of characters here is INSANE. Each is so awesomely strange and quirky that how could I not love them all? The larger story here is... pretty twisty turny. There's missing people who are presumed dead but might not be dead. There's mysterious strangers who fly planes for a living. There's possible sabotage and spies around every corner! Throw all that together with some fires and lots of sarcasm and you get the wonderful world that I stumbled into (already in progress). I couldn't put this darn thing down!

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Wicked All Night

Wicked All Night (Night Rebel, #3)Wicked All Night by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a little sad and a little happy that this is the end of this trilogy. I think any and all issues I had with this book stem back to my issue with the series as a whole. Was it nice to visit with lots of familiar faces in the big showdown? Yes! Did I wish this entire series was from Ian's perspective? Absolutely.

When I heard there was going to be a series involving Ian I was super excited. He's the lovable rogue who is a good bad guy and a bad good guy. What's not to love? Veritas being the star here was a surprise, but she certainly grew on me. We watch her grow into her powers, grow into her family (both blood and chosen), and she is really a good match for Ian. This last book takes us through the wild rollercoaster that is Veritas and Ian. Ian is dying at the start of the book. Veritas is married, yet still somehow still betrothed to a god. Things spiral from there and yet somehow end up wrapping up without a flaw.

This book really does end up having a big story about a war that both starts and finishes in record time. While I was OK with a bit of "fast forwarding" for things like summoning spirits, but it really felt like portions of the book went way too fast. Why introduce a war if we weren't going to spend a lot of time in it? Weird. The smut was present, too, but it also felt oddly rushed. So, to summarize, while I am happy where we ended up, this book did feel a little strange. Maybe we will check in with them later? Here's hoping!

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Demons and DNA (Amplifier #1)

Demons and DNA (Amplifier #1)Demons and DNA by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit dragging my feet on this one. I've read all the other books in this world, so this was holding up my "complete" status, but after reading the novella before this I had trouble caring about the characters. I get that they are supposed to be a bit programmed by the organization that created them, but it was an issue for me. This book had me hooked by the end, though, so I guess I'd recommend reading the novella after you take a trip in this one.

Emma and Christopher are on the run, but laying "low" in a small town. Emma has reluctantly adapted and even sort-of made friends by the time Aiden shows up. Since avoiding adepts in any form is rule#1, inviting a sorcerer back home with them to heal is not exactly a smart move. It's the first of many choices that ends up forcing them to confront their past in new and interesting ways.

It's pretty impossible to do a quick summary here without spoiling things, so I would sum up the elements of the book as an action sort-of-coming-of-age type story with paranormal elements. There's a hint of romantic story, but the focus is really on the "broken" engineered kids and how they are adapting to society. I'm curious where this world will take us and if we will cross paths with any familiar faces from the other series.

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Shadow's Lyric (Crossing Daggers, #1)

Shadow's Lyric (Crossing Daggers, #1)Shadow's Lyric by C.A. Worley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow - what a fantastic read! I never give 5 stars unless I would re-read, so that's telling. This book had everything I want in a book: sarcasm & wit, smutty goodness, paranormal twists & turns, and a good romance element. I'm sad book 2 isn't ready for me to dive in!

Lyric has been raised very unconventionally, even for a half-demon. As daughter of the ruling demon, she's endured countless tortures and "training" sessions that have carved her into the tough chick she is today. Her father helps guard the passage between her world and another, more dangerous one that she's been warned to never cross into. All of that goes out the window when she is told of an arrangement her father brokered to send her over there and "give" her to the leader on the other side, Draven.

These two were amazing together. I enjoyed switching between the two perspectives and learning how alike they truly were. Draven is tough on the outside but a marshmallow inside. Lyric, for all her fighting and displays of strength, is also a compassionate soul. Together, it makes sense they are drawn to each other, even with the cruel situation they've been placed into. Yes, there's surprises and reveals along the way, but the relationship was great to watch unfold. I would encourage any paranormal fans out there to pick this one up and clear an afternoon, because you won't be able to put it down!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dragon Spawn

Dragon Spawn (World of the Lupi, #13)Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that I finished this book a little while ago, but was so mad that I left this review to simmer.

Now that I've had time to think, I'm still not happy, but can at least review the rest of this. This book? It's like one big battle. We all knew that the ending of the previous book would leave us some loose ends to tie up. This book tries to come back around and tie them up, but we are left with a really huge cliffhanger. Like the type that makes you throw your kindle across the room. We don't know how anyone is left really at the end here, don't know where we are going in the next book and in general it was just unsatisfying.

The road leading up to the cliffhanger? It was good, but very, very heavy on the buildup to this big showdown we were going to get. While the showdown did happen, and I enjoyed the Lily character development, it was a little heavy for me to get through. Something about the balance in this book made me feel like I was reading a separate novella or a different series. For someone who has been eagerly devouring this series, I will probably take a break here to let this settle and then dive in to hopefully finish (?) the series.

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Werewolves of London

Werewolves of London (The Monster MASH #3)Werewolves of London by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was exactly what I wanted in a follow-up book about Petra and Galen. Sure, there was a book in between here, but I'm glad we got here eventually!

As the last in the trilogy, you know stuff is going to go down. Marc and Petra are not in a good spot, the peace is just temporary at camp, and we all know another set of prophecies is coming soon. With all that tension, the occupants of this MASH unit still find time to play pranks, bet random items in poker, and generally be awesome. The first step towards chaos comes in the form of secret missions and refugees. We learn a lot more about dragons in this one.

Throwing Galen into the mix is sure to shake things up, but for Petra it changes her whole world. I was glad to see her step up in this one, taking responsibility for her life and actions. Have no fear - we get a really nice and satisfying HEA at the end of all this. Oh, and in between we get to see some of our favorite characters, which is a nice send-off to the series.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

The Christmas Pact

The Christmas PactThe Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this audiobook up as part of the plus catalogue a while ago and finally had an excuse to start it. I figured it would be a light, silly romance with not much to it. This delivers on being... interesting? But I found the main male love interest to be a jerk at the start and he never recovered in my eyes.

Riley works in a publishing office and has a coworker in a different office with a similar name. She is Riley Kennedy and he is Kennedy Riley. Cute, right? Except he keeps reading emails of hers that get inadvertently sent to him, including his 2 cents, even when it is clearly person. Jerk. They end up meeting at the company mixer and he somehow worms his way into her trip home, offering to "solve her problems" by pretending to be her boyfriend.

I'm a girl who enjoys a good fated mate paranormal romance, so I'm used to skipping the formalities, but the leap here from jerk to "somehow offering to pretend to be dating me" was just too jarring. I never recovered. Is there a reason he's a jerk? Sure. Did I forgive him? No. The story takes you on a journey, but it ultimately left me feeling sorry for Riley.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Tempt the Dragon

Tempt the Dragon: An Afrofuturist Paranormal RomanceTempt the Dragon: An Afrofuturist Paranormal Romance by A.C. Arthur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I did not closely read the description of this book before starting and it took me a little while before I realized this was part of the Legion series and that I had read 1 of those before. I guess this also reinforces that you can start the series at any point, since I didn't have trouble understanding the world, the characters, or the big bad here.

This story belongs to Aiken and Mel. They are both dragon shifters, but they have tremendously different backgrounds. Aiken has always been a fighter - whether in the realm he was born in, acting on behalf of the evil ruler, or in this human world trying to protect innocents. He has also always known that he is a dragon shifter. Mel, on the other hand, has not been so fortunate. Her parents got her to this realm but then left her, unaware of her heritage and her powers. She spent some time in the foster system until she found her chosen guardian. It wasn't until she met and trained with Aiken to be a version of bounty hunter that she was forced to face the facts.

Mel, however, did not accept this easily. In a typical tantrum, she refused and still refuses to accept her dragon half, never shifting or using most of those powers. This baggage is ultimately what broke Mel and Aiken up 80 years ago, and when we meet them again Mel is still holding that same belief somehow. That doesn't stop the big bad from coming out and bringing them back into each others lives, though. The attraction is still there because they are the equivalent of fated mates.

The big bad in this story? Well, there's a lot of evil doers trying to raise an undead army to take over the world. No big deal! Luckily there is a whole gang of folks equipped with special abilities who are ready to dive in, now including Mel. Things aren't very easy, but we do get to a happy ending here for some if not most of the characters. While Mel was completely irrational at times and frustrating the rest, she really stepped up by the end to give Aiken the mate he deserves.

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Friday, February 19, 2021

Mind Magic

Mind Magic (World of the Lupi, #12)Mind Magic by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book takes us back to Lily and Rule, but throws in some new folks, just to keep it interesting.

The large story here is almost comical when put in simple words - the top secret shadow organization that Lily & Rule belong to is under secret attack by a competing secret government organization. So, who's the good guy here? Obviously we are rooting for our team, especially because the other team appears to be kidnapping orphan kids with abilities and using them to murder. Almost at the start, Lily and Rule decide to follow an ancient dragon's suggestion and separate - Lily going to a strange location and Rule staying behind. While this tests all the instincts they have, dragons tend to have reasons for doing the things they do. In this case, it is definitely true in the most shocking of ways.

While Lily does her thing, we also get to meet Danny/Demi who is on the run from the bad guys. She's hiding as a boy but appears to still use she (I think) so hopefully that isn't too offensive. The way she is built has given her a gift, but done nothing to blunt her genius mind. She's somehow managed to evade the bad guys with very little on her side but her own routines and instincts. When these world collide, it was great to watch. Also, it was a great bonus to see more interaction with the pack Rule is now leading.

This book does end with a bit of a cliffhanger. The big bad and the good guys do face off and there is some satisfaction in the good guy wrap-up, but in meeting this organization and the motivations behind it, we get a whole new realm of people that somehow Lily and Rule are in charge of protecting the world from. These folks might be superhuman, but they have *a lot* on their plate now.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Banshee Cry

Banshee Cry (Blood Fae Chronicles #1)Banshee Cry by Jen Katemi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very short read that gave a pretty self contained story. We get a tidy happy ended that was satisfying and can most likely standalone.

Aleah is a banshee who doesn't quite work right. Her voice was injured/hidden when her father was horribly murdered, so while she still feels the deaths close to her, she can't actually warn anyone. To handle this, she's set out to find her own land set aside from most other humans. That doesn't stop her from making reluctant friends, but this story almost immediately starts with her announcing (brokenly) some nearby deaths.

This coincides with the arrival of a vampire investigator (supernaturals are "out" in this world). The horrible deaths in the area are part of his larger investigation, but that gets pretty derailed when he Luc meets Aleah. She has some baggage about vampires, though, so they have some issues to overcome before getting that HEA.

By the end, we get a lot more information about this world and the supernaturals. Aleah's family is further revealed, as is the world that is involved in tracking a bunch of banshee half-siblings that I assume we will meet in future installments. This book had a blend of smut, mystery, and fantasy - so if that's a good genre blend for you, this book is a quick an easy read.

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Wicked Hour

Wicked Hour (Heirs of Chicagoland, #2)Wicked Hour by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I continue to insist that I am only audiobooking through this series so that I can complete this world, but this one really tempted me to stop. I'm a little muddled on where we are headed and who/what we should be hoping for here. That being said, I finished it and it wasn't super painful, and I'll keep going, so...

Here we go - a roadtrip book! Elisa and Connor haven't worked out the kinks in their attraction/dating/relationship world yet, so why not go on a weird road trip to shifter territory where there are problems and drama and it will probably be bad, right? Whereas in the original series there was palpable sexual tension, I just don't get the same feeling from these two. Maybe I'm just jaded? I am more hopeful that we get further development of Elisa and her inner beast than between those two. We do get a new character in the form of a sugar-loving shifter friend to Connor who, for some reason, comes on the road trip too.

The big story here is that the pack they visit is a MESS. There are bad guys all over the place, nobody believes anybody, and everyone hates everyone else. Georgia is an exception to this rule, but even she goes to the dark side for a little bit. Aside from some smooches, we don't get much romantic progress, but this book is certainly laying the foundation for some more characters, more drama, and (I hope) some sort of reveal for Elisa's beast. Who knows, though, because I honestly ended this book with a bit of a shrug. What did we get out of this? I found myself pretty frustrated for most of it.


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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Unbinding

Unbinding (World of the Lupi, #11)Unbinding by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alright, so I admit that I do not at all remember originally meeting Kai and Nathan, but I really enjoyed this story as a different aspect of the Lupi world.

Of course, banishing their enemy from the previous book didn't go down as neatly or as cleanly as they all would have liked. Kai has been working with the victims of the mind attacks and generally living with the wolves. Nathan appears to be enjoying challenging himself with Benedict, which makes everyone involved pretty happy (because they're wolves/hellhounds). The big bad resurfaces, however, and has unknown allies that end up causing, you guessed it, chaos. While Lily and Rule are notably absent from this book, I found it to be OK.

We get a bit of a road trip book here, complete with separation between even the mates. They are forced to show who they are alone and how much they are willing to risk and/or show their true powers. Kai was a surprising superstar here, and I am really glad I pushed through this relative unknown to really enjoy her character. For being paired up with an unstoppable, nearly unkillable hellhound, she ends up being the stronger and smarter of the two. Now I'm even more curious about where this book is headed, since we gathered a lot more magical theory in this book.

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Star-Crossed Dragons

Star-Crossed DragonsStar-Crossed Dragons by Chris Cannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, wow, it took me the entire book before I realized this was a prequel to the other series about dragons by the same author. Woops! That would have helped me prepare for the ending a little bit sooner than when we got there. I guess this proves you totally don't need to read the main series in order to enjoy it.

This world is pretty wonderful. There are dragons, kept separate from society and managed into stereotypical clan roles. The blue dragons, of which Sara is one, are the most uptight of the bunch. They are tasked with managing money and are generally wealthy folks. Their mate pairings are also 100% business arrangements. It might not be so bad if Sara wasn't paired with the worst of the worst. It's while she is trying to hide from this horrible match that she meets Ian. He's a red dragon, so lives more modestly and focuses more on protection and strength. The attraction is instant and they are in serious trouble.

Clans in this world are not intended to mix, especially, but not exclusively, because both are already paired and promised to other people. That, of course, does not stop this Romeo & Juliet couple. Do they make some bad decisions? Sure. But they're so young! As an intro to the world, I think this is a good one. It gives you some good and bad, and even some redeeming Blue dragons, too. While the ending is a little... sad... it should make you want to pick up and see what happens some years later.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ancient Enforcer

Ancient Enforcer (Ancients Rising #3)Ancient Enforcer by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are so addictive. I know that we will eventually work our way through all the unpaired off characters and cannot wait for more.

Mikael is an ancient dragon who was awakened soon before the public outing of supernaturals through a horrible attack. Since then, humans and supernaturals alike have been trying to figure out what this new world looks like. Avery, the appointed "babysitter" of Mikael and his brothers, becomes very valuable after "the fall" due to her construction background and having already known about the things that go bump in the night. Mikael, immediately upon meeting her, knows she is his mate. Avery... she takes some time to get convinced he is even interested in her.

In this new world, there are tons of big bads floating around, and the one from this book just so happens to be tied to both Avery and Mikael in one way or another. Throw in a dragon baby, the building burn between King and his unclaimed mate, and some new dimensions, and you've got a book that is very hard to put down. I really enjoyed the romance here, no matter how long it took to get to the smutty bits. These two are a great match and I hope we get to meet the mystery women that Mikael's brothers are interested in!

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Ritual Magic

Ritual Magic (World of the Lupi, #10)Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm going to put a disclaimer on this book that I would read anything with Lily & Rule in it. I love them, their relationship, this world, and all the characters. As we creep closer to their wedding, I'm like a fan girl waiting for it.

This book throws them another curve ball and takes away Lily's mother's memories for all her years after age 12. This is, of course, a magical mischief scenario, but not one they've encountered before. Since Friar, the big bad, made a getaway at the end of the last book equipped for elven mischief, it's only natural that it would materialize here. Oh, and Drummond is back! Lots of good stuff in here, and while it takes some bad things to gather all my favorites together, we get a ton of characters thrown in.

I really enjoy the way these books address beliefs and the core of a person. This in combination with the methodical way Lily investigates makes these books such a joy to read. I'm not usually one for police procedurals but this world is highly addictive and I'm not sure I could stop if I tried. We get a great happy ending in this story that has me eager to go right back into this world, but I know I will eventually run out of books.

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Wild Hunger

Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland, #1)Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta say, if I didn't just finish the previous and original book series, I am not sure this book would be anything special. Knowing the history and all the supporting characters gave this an extra push for another star, and because I can't seem to stop any series I start, we will continue on to the rest of the books in this series, too.

Elisa is the only child of 2 vampires. Lots of magic and drama got the job done, but she's been raised in one of the most loving and protective environments. Timing-wise, it seems nice that she had built in friends in the form of the son of the shifter apex and the daughter of two super duper sorcerers. Those relationships are both a little different than I (and their parents) probably expected them to be exactly like them. While we definitely get some similar characters (Theo is Jeff 2.0, right?), this doubles down on the political mystery and intrigue angle and focuses less on the "being a vampire" thing that the original series did. Elisa, luckily, is pretty used to being a vampire.

So, what's the main story here? Elisa is in the vampire equivalent of a student exchange program and that puts her in service of the French delegation to peace talks that, of course, are happening in Chicago. That puts her in the place to face a sexy childhood friend in the form of Connor as well as her "secret monster." Both of these will probably end up going hand-in-hand, what with Connor being used to sharing skin with something "other." The big mystery involves someone trying to sabotage the peace talks and some rumblings both literal and figurative in Chicago. I'm interested enough to get where this series will take me. I'm also interested in the budding relationship and the inevitable reveal of all these secrets.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Transylvania Twist

The Transylvania TwistThe Transylvania Twist by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! I did not expect to go where this book took us on this second book in the series. Right from the start, it took a hard left and didn't stop randomly turning until we, somehow, emerged at the other end.

Petra is still the unstoppable doctor, working in her barely passable accommodations, shacked up with her new boyfriend, enjoying some of the benefits of having lived out and survived the 3 prophecies. There's no real peace yet, but it is looking really good! Until it isn't. Galen gets called back for a mysterious mission and from there, things get weird real fast.

Petra's roommates are still the best, her decision making skills are still super questionable, but her motives are pure. There's a whole new round of prophecies, some people seemingly return from the dead to mess up the HEA from last book, and, oh yeah, she's got to stop the end of the world again. I think you may be able to dive in here as your book 1, but it is really nice to have the groundwork from the last book so you can just focus on the insanity that is Petra's life. Can't wait to see where she ends up next!


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Monday, January 25, 2021

Bjorn Cursed

Bjorn Cursed (Forgotten Brotherhood, #4)Bjorn Cursed by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This installment of the Forgotten Brotherhood series can, just like all the others, be read as a standalone, but we get a little more investment if you've been with this crew since the start. There's a slightly larger play going on behind the scenes, so in order to put the pieces together, or guess at motivation, you should start from the beginning (also - the books are great!).

This book handles Bjorn's unresolved guilt and deceased family. As the father of werewolves, cursed by the gods to go on a killing rampage to avenge his family's murder, he's got some baggage. Unlike all the other books, we don't go through the attraction building, misunderstanding phases that seem to be required for these types of books. Instead, Bjorn's dead wife somehow ends up back in the real world unchanged. They dive right into being together again, so we get a double dose of smutty goodness, but no real buildup there.

The mystery here is who is playing against who, why everyone is out to get them, and how they will manage to wrestle some happiness out of a pretty crummy situation. While we don't get all the answers here, we do get the expected familiar faces, some surprises, and a nice ending.

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Mortal Ties

Mortal Ties (World of the Lupi, #9)Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this world, these books, and all the characters contained in them. We even got some new characters along with the usual ones and I think I love them, too.

The big mystery in this book revolves around a theft of a magical device. It's stolen right under their noses and leads to all sorts of twists and turns. We discover some secrets, Rule has to face some assumptions about his past, Lily has to accept her new and improved abilities, and there are, of course, lots of bad guys to choose from.

The highlight here is always the relationships. Lily and Rule are wonderfully flawed but perfect in their own way together. The pack dynamic and multiple mantle issues we address in this book were really interesting, too. It sets up a lot of challenges that they will need to face moving forward, along with the lingering bad guys. I will eagerly read any and all stories set in this world and can't wait to keep going!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

New Year, New Boo

New Year, New BooNew Year, New Boo by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trying to start the new year with exposure to new authors? Look no further! I went into this book with very little experience with most of the authors contained and was pleasantly surprised with a new list of authors to try!

Overall, the collection has a general theme around starting over, transition, or just a zany new life. The pacing of the stories was something I could appreciate, too. The first story in the collection is more of a jumping off point for a larger series or set of stories - there's gotta be more to a story about randomly turning into animals, right? The last story in the collection has a wonderfully finished ending where you can close the book and feel very satisfied.

In between there are some highs and lows, some stories being less uplifting and more focused on the journey, some giving you a glimpse into other worlds, and anything in between. A standout personally was the chance to revisit some familiar characters that Tawdra Kandle provided. While you don't need to have exposure to any of these books to enjoy the shorts here, I think they add a little wink and nudge to the previous fans. While I'm not usually one for short story anthologies, this was a nice way to go outside your comfort zone and give new things a chance - much like the theme of this set!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Blog Tour: Dragon Revealed by Donna Grant

Dragon Revealed an all new not-to-be-missed Dragon Kings Novella from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant is available now!

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant comes a new story in her Dragon Kings series…

The capture of a Dragon King is cause for celebration. Jeyra never dreamed she would actually face one of the creatures who destroyed her home. But the longer she’s around him, the more she finds herself gravitating to him. All it takes is one reckless kiss that unleashes desires and the truth that has been hidden from her to set them both on a course that could be the end of them.

Varek, King of Lichens, has known nothing but a life with magic. Until he finds himself on a different realm unable to call up his powers. Worse, he’s in shackles with no memory of how it happened. When he sees an enthralling woman who leaves him speechless, he believes he can charm her to free him. The more she rebuffs him, the more he craves her, igniting a dangerous passion between them. Can he protect the woman he’s fallen for while uncovering the truth – or will peril that neither see coming tear them apart?

**Every 1,001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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Excerpt

She came to a sudden halt when her gaze landed on him. Varek had his back to her, and despite what little light was available from the torches, she saw he was naked from the waist up. There was a large bruise on his left side that extended onto his back. Her thoughts quieted when he dumped water over his head, and the sound of the chains rang loudly. She watched droplets run down his back and into the waist of his pants while more fell onto the packed ground and beaded there.

Even as she told herself not to look, her eyes moved to his head. His blond hair fell onto his forehead and cheeks as he bent at the waist. He splashed water on his face before dumping more over his head. Her eyes followed his right hand as it scrubbed at the back of his neck, then down his left arm. His left hand repeated the movements on the right side. He then tossed his head back, spraying her with water.

She barely noticed as her eyes ran over the thick sinew of his shoulders and arms. Varek twisted toward her and raked a hand through his wet locks before wiping a hand down his face to dispel the water.

“Good mornin’,” he said and sat back on a stool.

She frowned at the stool and the bucket of water. Neither had been there the day before. “I see you’ve already had company.”

“Aye,” he replied, not giving her any more.

Jeyra looked around, wondering if someone was in the shadows, watching.

“There isna anyone else here, lass.”

She snapped her head back to him. The retort she had died on her lips when she saw his chiseled abs. He didn’t have an ounce of fat anywhere on him. All the moisture left her mouth, making it impossible to swallow. Then her eyes saw something on his left arm. 

Jeyra wanted a closer look. She moved forward before she realized what she was doing and found herself close enough to touch the bars of Varek’s prison. But she didn’t move away as she took in the artwork that covered his arm.

“Is this what has your attention?” he asked with a chuckle and turned so that she could see his arm. 

“What is it?”

His brows snapped together. “Do your people no’ have tattoos?”

“Tattoos?” she repeated, testing out the word on her tongue. “No one decorates their body in such a way. Why do you have it?”

He shrugged and glanced down at the dragon. “When we shifted for the first time into this form, each Dragon King found one somewhere on his body. We might have always had them, but we didna see them in our true form. We honestly doona know.”

About Donna Grant

Donna is the New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author of over a hundred novels. Her most popular series is the breathtaking Dark King (aka Dragon King) series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.
In addition to her novels, Donna has written short stories, novellas, and novelettes for digital-first and print release. She has been dubbed as giving the “paranormal genre a burst of fresh air” by the San Francisco Book Review. Her work has been hailed as having “deft plotting and expert characterization” by Publisher’s Weekly and “sizzling” by RT Book Reviews.
She has been recognized with awards from both bookseller and reader contests including the National Reader’s Choice Award, Booksellers Best Award, as well as the coveted K.I.S.S. Award from RT Book Reviews.
Donna travels often for various speaking engagements, conferences, and book signings. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at national conferences such as RT Book Lovers Convention and Thrillerfest, as well as local chapters.
Born and raised in Texas, she also has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore. Or buying makeup. And shoes.

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Website: https://donnagrant.com

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Review: Dragon Revealed

Dragon Revealed (Dragon Kings #1)Dragon Revealed by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These stories in the 1001 Dark Nights sets can always be read as standalone shorts, but are also enhanced by some previous knowledge of the world, set in an established series. I am familiar with the Dragon Kings world, though, admittedly, not caught up. That being said, I was slightly spoiled in the book immediately previous to this one, so if you are looking to avoid spoilers, make sure you catch up before diving in here.

Varek was just going about his holiday with a friend and fellow Dragon King when he found himself a captive. There's some missing time, but the shackles and cell are a dead giveaway. The fact that he can't use any of his typically easily reached powers also indicates some bad things. Jeyra is the one who captured him by breaking some rules, going outside her territory and into the areas of her world where magic works, and dragging Varek through to her realm. Motivated, of course, by revenge for the loss of her family by a dragon, Jeyra starts out very proud of her accomplishments, but things rapidly change.

Varek and Jeyra are clearly drawn to one another, even in these crazy circumstances. This world is not so different from the realm where Varek lived through betrayal by humans once before. Using some lessons learned from history, these two navigate the twists and turns of a world full of secrets and lies. There's a lot of sizzle between them, too, which doesn't hurt! It was nice to see some familiar faces and learn more about the yet another realm. I'm interested to see where this new branch of stories goes in the future.

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