Friday, December 31, 2021

Dragon Blood (A Novel of the Lupi Book 14)

Dragon Blood (World of the Lupi, #14)Dragon Blood by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not bad for my last book of 2021. I admit to being very angry at the end of Book#13, but I had time to cool down and was ready to dive back in to the World of the Lupi.

This book is one of those that takes place in a moment, but also a few weeks. Confusing timey-wimey stuff is at play, so don't think too hard about it. This book picks up immediately after the previous one ends, making me think I should have just waited to binge 13 & 14 together. Sigh, regrets. At this point, the world is so established, there are no recaps. You don't get any cheat sheets, either. I completely forgot who the random folks are we meet around midway, but it eventually came back to me.

So, Lily has been transported to another world that we learn oodles about during the weeks spent there. All of their gang is still trying to survive but in maybe better situations. That changes as the days move forward. The whole gang is separated, creating a bit of a road trip book, hoping to reunite all the wonderful characters we have come to know and love. Everything you want - it's all right here. Lily using her wonderful mind to plan, plot, and detective out their next steps. Rule being a master strategist and warrior. Madame Yu being... just plain awesome.

This story really tells the hidden side story of dragons, gives even more history, and takes us a few steps forward in the larger battle. Don't worry - not as cliffhangery as the previous book, so I can happily put this book down and wait for the next installment. Are there still dangers out there and questions unanswered? Of course! With the series maybe wrapping up, I've got high hopes for the kind of resolution in the next book, which makes me more forgiving here.

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Ancient Vendetta

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

This book has been such a long time coming! We finally get King and Aurora's story and the only negative is that the book was so quick to read!

King is, as we know, the leader of this new, post-fall New Orleans area. He rules in a fair way that all of the different paranormals appear to appreciate, even the old and prickly ones. It's no surprise to anyone that he's absolutely smitten with Aurora. She's had a rough time, having been kidnapped and horribly abused, but her rock (especially with her sister gone) has been King. He is a very patient hunter and is determined to wait until she's ready.

All those plans get sped up a bit when someone with massive power ends up attacking the city and lets King know that his old nemesis is still alive. This event triggers a domino effect of shocking reveals, twist, and turns. Eventually, don't worry, we get what we are all after. These stories and this world is so wonderfully written that I don't ever want them to stop. I'm happy for Aurora and King, but sad that the pairing has been written and I'm done with it. I hope we have many more installments to circle back and see everyone happy (especially the Lion!).

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Auntie Mags (Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 12)

Auntie Mags (Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker #12)Auntie Mags by Kate Danley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, this book should come with a warning - EXTREME CLIFFHANGERS AHEAD! While this includes a full story, you are definitely left on the edge of your seat for the next one. Almost everyone is left in peril and you don't have warm fuzzies when completing this one.

So, Maggie has become an aunt and it's going just about as well as you'd expect. There was already a little warning that maybe the kid might bring about some badness, but all of that gets magnified exponentially when ... everything goes wrong. As part of Maggie's everyday life, she rolls with the punches and goes on yet another quest with Killian. This time the stakes are.. well... just as high as before? It feels like they are always saving the world at this point.

What's still at play? Killian's got magic powers but we don't fully understand them or what ramifications they would have on his spooky ex's obsession with him and/or his place as possible co-ruler. Maggie or her niece will probably end the world. Maggie's uncle is still creepy and evil, along with the mad "king." And we only have one more book?!?! I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading these because the characters and world are wonderful, but so frustrating!

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Magic Beneath the Mistletoe: A Mystic Owl Anthology, Vol. 2

Magic Beneath the Mistletoe (A Mystic Owl Anthology, #2)Magic Beneath the Mistletoe by Lizzy Gayle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This set can be read with or without reading volume 1 (though volume 1 was great, too!). As far as I can tell, no stories connect between the anthologies, but if you enjoy this one, I'd recommend picking up the first as well.

This set includes a little bit of everything that exists in the paranormal romance genre, and even starts with a story taking place in a more futuristic spaceship setting. While that's not necessarily my cup of tea, I enjoyed each of these stories for their uniqueness. There's a mix of more or less smut, but all of them were great. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will just generally say that if you enjoy any type of paranormal romance, this will be a nice treat for you.

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Magic Beneath the Mistletoe: A Mystic Owl Anthology, Vol. 1

Magic Beneath the Mistletoe (A Mystic Owl Anthology, #1)Magic Beneath the Mistletoe by Heather McCorkle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has a wonderful mix of just about everything you could want from a paranormal romance anthology. This and the associated volume#2 gave me such joy in nice, easy to gobble up packages that I wish there were more readily available.

As I said, there's nice mix of assorted short stories. There is sure to be something for everyone. All have a common element of romance, with varying levels of smutty goodness thrown in. The book starts with a historical paranormal tale, but that is the only one of that kind. Mostly they are contemporary paranormal romances. Sometimes they exist outside of an existing world (or so I assume), but even those that are part of a larger world are not out of place in this anthology. This can definitely be read as a standalone set of stories to warm you up on a cold winter day.

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Friday, December 24, 2021


Lothaire (Immortals After Dark, #11)Lothaire by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m sure I’ve said this about other books in this series, but this one is truly the least redeemable of main characters. Lothaire has done centuries of harm, murder, and the worst kinds of things that immortals can do. Is he a “tortured soul”? Sure. Does he deserve the wonderful woman he gets paired up with – not at all. The story was engaging, but I really spent most of the time rooting for Ellie to get away from him with piles of jewels.

We know Lothaire from portions of previous books. He’s responsible for the unending drowning of the Valkyrie queen. He’s responsible for the evil baddie that destroys the order’s prison (not so bad), who kills a ton of folks with her wendigos (very bad). He sort-of befriended one weirdo immortal, but that doesn’t being to undo his badness. This “love story” even starts with badness. Ellie is a normal mountain girl who has been possessed part-time by an evil goddess. Lothaire believe the demon woman is his bride (that would make more sense), and vows to cast out Ellie’s soul. This leads to a ton of bad stuff for Ellie, including putting her on death row for the murders her part-time possessor committed.

Lothaire’s capture in the previous storylines slowed him from saving Ellie until the last possible second, giving Ellie even more trauma to survive. And she is a true survivor. She endures tons of verbal abuse and even physical abuse from this dude who really just wants to kill her but save her body (gross). She rolls with the punches, learning about her newly discovered world, continuing to have goals, etc. No matter where we end up here, Lothaire will continue to be the bad guy to me. Ellie deserves much better.

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Night's Bliss

Night's Bliss (The Ancients #3)Night's Bliss by Mary Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta admit that I may not have read all the books that would make me appreciate this one as much as I could. That being said, I enjoyed it and was able to follow the larger implications without issue.

Rey has stationed herself inside the staff for the evil vampire, Umbra. She’s trying to find the cure for the poison that Elias (in his human disguise) has been infected with. Her love for his human parts doesn’t give him a free pass as the terrifying vampire that she categorizes him as, but it’s a good start for their romance. After some steps forward, Elias is driven to save Rey from the evil castle, but there are some barriers. First, Rey is anti-vampire, so Elias takes steps to mask that part of him, while still being awesome and powerful. Second, Umbra is playing the long game, so has a lot of moving pieces on the chessboard. Lucky for us, Elias is a master strategist.

One of the great parts of this book was the strategy. I’m all for smutty good romance (and that’s a part of it), but watching the action and plans play out was just as fun. There’s a lot of players, but it was easy to keep track of the good vs bad. The wonderfully good and unique characters that end up aiding Elias in the end are just… perfection. I wish I had spent more time with all of them before the end, but their heroics didn’t go unrecognized. The ending here feels like a series/world ender, but here’s hoping we get to see some familiar faces in possible spin-offs.

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Dark Swan (Otherworld Assassin Book 3)

Dark Swan (Otherworld Assassin, #2.5)Dark Swan by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, maybe it is because the previous books didn’t tie in nicely or deliver surprises much, but this book was so good! It’s almost the size of a normal book but was apparently part of an overall anthology. We read this in book club to finish up this world and it delivered a nice bookend to the bigger story arc.

Dallas has been the focal point (or at least key contributor) to all the AIR books. He has been through a lot in the form of essentially changing his species to due to an emergency “blood transfusion” from an alien. He has adapted, made good friends, hurt bad people, but has been the perpetual bachelor of the bunch. He attracted the attention of the queen of a race of deadly aliens, but then there was a bunch of hand waving that set her back in the priority of deadlies. Now she’s back, and we even get to learn about her origins!

Lilica is the co-star here, in the form of a sister to the evil queen. There are three sisters in total, all lab created by combining alien bits and birthing these triplets. They are vastly different in ability, childhood, and desires, but are inseparable. After that lab, as predicted, implodes after the “queen” gets infected, the girls are forced into the real world for the first time ever.

Through some twists and turns, we end up seeing Lilica and Dallas meet up and hook up with major complications. Was this the absolute/tie all the things up/perfect end to the series? No, of course not. But this was immensely satisfying to get to Dallas’s HEA. It’s smutty, fun, and gives a satisfying end to this series/world.

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Dreams of a Dark Warrior

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, #10)Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a long time waiting for Regin’s book, I was a little surprised in how this story turned out. We all knew that she had some baggage associated with a certain berserker who kept getting reincarnated into new bodies, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be so… dark.

We join Regin in prison. I have a feeling we are going to see this prison from different angles, or the fallout from this prison timeline in many books to come. Regin was taken captive a few books ago, but now we get to see Declan Chase do it. Declan has a boatload of baggage in the form of not wanting to be touched, controlling everything around him, and hating (that should be in bold) all things that are not human. There’s reasoning behind it, but it essentially made him a horrible person. He’s unable to see reason, even when all his instincts are yelling at him for hurting Regin during her capture.

Regin has a history with all the many incarnations of Aidan the Fierce. She met him when she had just set out to help her friend, but Aidan recognized her as his fated mate even then. Weird? Sure. But what isn’t weird in this world? Things get infinitely darker and weirder here, as she is forced to get tortured in this prison (as we already knew). Declan, I had a hard time getting behind as a “love interest.”” He is pretty evil, and the hand waving at the end to forgive him is a little too fast and general. I get that they are fated and whatever but giving him a free pass for all his deeds for the Order was a little premature. Overall, this book didn’t give me the HEA I wanted, but was a good story.

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Friday, December 10, 2021

Fall in Love in a Small Town: A Year of Love in a Small Town

Fall in Love in a Small Town: A Year of Love in a Small TownFall in Love in a Small Town: A Year of Love in a Small Town by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love bite-sized romance shorts like this one! It's cute, self-contained, you get a little sizzle, and you leave with a smile on your face. Who doesn't love that?

This story is about Jacob, the college roommate of an unlikely single father who lives in a small town. It just so happens that Jacob's research for a book he's writing leads him right into said small town. Liberty is the younger sister and thus off-limits for Jacob to pursue. Everyone knows that's not a thing you can do, but when it turns out that she's the best person to help him with his research, the sparks fly. This short has a good dose of attraction, fun, and history.

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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Demon from the Dark

Demon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark, #9)Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is probably the first of a few books set in this mystery prison situation. At the end of the previous book we watched some paranormals get nabbed by what turns out to be "the order" and kept in a secret prison facility.

Carrow is the party girl who keeps getting arrested. Being a witch that feeds off of good feelings and revelry, New Orleans is a great spot for her. She's got issues with her parents, so acting out checks those boxes, too. She's kidnapped by the order after being released from a short stint in lockup, complete with party outfit and everything. Using her ties to her sort-of niece, they get her to agree to track down Malkom, a vemon who lives in a different dimension.

Malkom has got a pretty good setup, for living in a hellscape. He has taken control over the single source of water in this world and is pretty close to getting his revenge on the one guy left who led to his vemon conversion. Malkom has some parent, friend, ally issues and issues with trust in general, so you can probably figure out where this is headed. I mean, there's sexy times, some issues in communication, betrayal, and then they both end up back on earth. There's a path to HEA, but it definitely took some doing. All in all, this was a pretty good installment and a good intro to the order's facility setting.

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The Dead Don't Drink at Lafitte's

The Dead Don't Drink at Lafitte's (Sam Quinn #2)The Dead Don't Drink at Lafitte's by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm obsessed with this series. It took all my strength not to dive right into the next book and instead take time to digest this one and then savor the next.

We join Sam as we left her - still dating Clive, the vampire leader, and still trying to figure out her witchy skills. I love her as a main character. She takes no BS from Clive and doesn't use her place as his girlfriend to do anything other than feed herself a *TON* of food. She's my type of gal and reading this book definitely made me hungry. So, this book is a little bit of a roadtrip book of sorts. It may start in Clive's lair, but after yet another attack (a remnant from the machinations from book 1) they end up going to New Orleans. Sigh - the food is so good.

Sam and Clive are determined to work together, no matter how one or the other fights it. Sure, there's some usual martyr scenes, but they resolve quickly enough that I forgave the book for them. In general, they are definitely getting better at compromise and Sam is certainly learning a lot. She's making new friends of different paranormal species, stretching her witchy muscles, and being a real hero in this book. I love her more and more as these books go along, so look forward to the next one even more, now!

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Magic Dark, Magic Divine

Magic Dark, Magic Divine (Warrior of the Divine Sword #1)Magic Dark, Magic Divine by A.J. Locke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was fantastic! I'm so glad I took a chance on an author I didn't know and read this book!

This universe is one where magic used to exist, but, due to a big bad, lots of sacrifice, and no other choice, they had to stop the flow of magic. The result is that people are no longer born with magical abilities, but they know the history of magic and its traits. Penn, our main character, comes from the time of magic. Due to some bad choices on her part, she ends up sleeping through the apocalyptic fight that stops magic and wakes up many years later to find a world she doesn't recognize. Oh, and she also the only magical person left, she figures out.

This discovery and her journey to adapt to the new world leads her to become a pretty closed off person, only befriending two people really. Even those two people have no idea she is a "shaper," someone who can magically shape objects. Her secret, however, is busted wide open when magical evildoers resurface, putting everything in jeopardy. I don't want to spoil a second of this book because it was so captivating, but there is also a parallel romantic story to satisfy the PNR reader in me. Callan, one of Penn's coworkers, ends up drawn into the drama too, leading her to re-assess her assumption that he's a jerk (I mean, he kind of was). Their romance was like a breath of fresh air - coming at it as equals rather than a damsel scenario.

I can't say enough good things about this book. It really checked all the boxes for me in truly unexpected ways. I can't wait to see where the series goes next, having gone through all the trials of this first installment.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Jingle Bell Wolf

Jingle Bell Wolf (Wolff Brothers #2)Jingle Bell Wolf by Terry Spear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a nice, holiday read, even for those of us who pop in and out of these sets of books. I'm one of those people, so I appreciate that these books can be read as standalone or as part of the larger world.

Gabrielle has some unresolved issues around snow, but she has been convinced by her gal pals that they should all go skiing as their yearly trip. She arrives first and ends up breaking some rules. Her addiction to swimming doesn't stop her from entering the pool after it's closed, sending Landon her way. He's part-owner of the lodge and usually swims after hours himself. From first glimpse, he is smitten. Being that they are both wolf shifters, and the town itself is shifter run, it's no surprise to them that they are able to easily chat. It evolves from there, with lots of smutty goodness and all that comes along with it. Oh, and lots of skiing!

This book made me wish for the holidays and a nice ski trip, complete with all the hot cocoa I could drink. As Gabrielle slowly starts to think about a more permanent trip here, her gal pals are working a possible murder case that keeps them away. There's a lot of scheming and plotting, but everything (including the murder mystery) works itself out for a nice HEA.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Catching Hell

Catching Hell (Jinx McGee, #1)Catching Hell by D.B. Sieders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting and unique start to a new series! I'm no stranger to PNR, so it's always nice to see something completely new.

Jinx is the black sheep of the family. Normal folks might blame her unconventional crash pad with tech savvy nerds, or her fashion taste, but the real reason is that she is demon possessed. She has been possessed ever since she was young, and when she was old enough got pulled in to the world of demon hunting. Having a demon working inside your body makes you specially qualified to hunt down the "bad ones" and make a good living, too. On a normal hunt, though, things take a turn for Jinx.

I have a lot of open questions, but most of them are about D. He's Jinx's possibly, almost boyfriend who grew up in her closet. He's a demon and disappeared on her at a pivotal moment, leaving her alternatively believing he abandoned her or was dead. Surprise - not dead! They have some sizzling chemistry when he reappears, but bring more questions than answers. This story and its extensive cast of characters end up having to face a lot of twisty-turny betrayal and reveals. At the end, while we get to close one chapter, there are several more (books, hopefully!) left for the band of misfits to address. I can't wait to see where this goes!

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Love Binds

Love Binds (Tails from the Alpha Art Gallery Book 4)Love Binds by Cynthia St. Aubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had spunk, sarcasm, and so much relatable inner monologue that I was nodding along the entire way. I'm sad I am joining at book#4, but happy to have met these wonderful characters.

So, as I said, I'm joining this series already in progress and a lot has happened. Turns out that Hanna is some head honcho in the shifter world, but not everyone is on board with that. She's got to convince them that she can shift (which she hasn't been able to do), that she is fit (not in the non-cheese eating sense), and that she has the heart needed to do the job. Oh, and she needs to go to some big event, too.

On top of all that, she's still navigating her relationship with Abernathy, the rich shifter guy who has a long standing history of loss that makes him a little bit overbearing. All these characters have clearly been well developed when I met them, so I am reaping the benefits of the first 3 books. Almost forgot - there's also the typical ex with a heart of gold (that is pretty smutty, too). He just so happens to be a vampire now, and probably wants to kill Hanna. So, yeah, there's a lot going on, but then there's chapters of them babysitting Hanna's niece and nephew. I'm so sad that this story arc ends here, but happy to have been exposed to the wonder that is Hanna.

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Werewolves Prefer Shortbread

Werewolves Prefer Shortbread (Christmas Cookies)Werewolves Prefer Shortbread by Dakota Issacs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a super quick read that had everything you need (minus the smut) to make a wonderful Christmas read.

Callum has recently become the guardian for a bunch of young girls. Sounds weird, but when you throw in the fact that they are all shifters, all bound to hide themselves from outsiders, it makes a lot more sense. Unfortunately, to Lily, the woman who had her grandmother evicted from Callum's property upon his arrival, it makes less sense. Their feud begins there, and fireworks start.

Lily is the local baker, known for her awesome cookies and whatnot. She's surprised when the evil-doer, Callum, shows up one day and buys some of her treats. Throw in some further misunderstandings, some attraction, adorable kids, and you have the making for a reluctant romance that spirals out of control. The "out of control" part is really what ends up testing them both. I loved this sweet, short story and would gobble up a dozen!

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Pleasure of a Dark Prince

Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark, #8)Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not even sure how to rate these anymore. The stories are all very different, but ultimately have the same pros/cons.

So - what's this one about? Lucia is a huntress who escaped "the devil" and traded her chance at love for her life. Bonus? She gets to be a really good with a bow and arrow. Garreth is a reluctant temporary king while his brother is missing. He's king of the Lykae, but not really engaged. When he finds his mate, however, everything changes. Knowing she can never be with him fully without breaking her vow to a goddess, Lucia takes him on a merry chase. Looking back, it's kind of weird that they end up in the amazon hunting giant monsters, but, eh, these books are weird.

The relationship here wasn't one of my top faves, but still good. There's the usual questionable consent issue that this whole series has in general, but at this point everyone knows what they are in for. Garreth and Lucia's book almost seems like a middle book of the series/trilogy/whatever, because we visit with some other characters, move some big chess pieces around, and set up what will go down in the future installments, all while pairing these two up.

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Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Cursed King

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

I am so sad to see this series come to and end, but it was a truly satisfying ending.

The last sister of the phoenixes still has to pair off, so it's no surprise that the last book is Angelika's. She was not gifted with any special powers when her mother died, so she is not surprised she remains unmated. Her only fascination? Airk. This wounded dragon who cannot shift for fear of going feral has held her attention since they first met. She even offered to mate him but he refused, in true martyr fashion. This stupid man proved pretty infuriating for most of the book, changing his mind at every turn "for the good of Angelika." You know the drill.

These two have serious chemistry and it's insane to deny it, but here we are. It takes a lot of life threatening situations, Angelika's amazing stubborn streak, and finally fate stepping in (in the form of some shocking twists and turns) to get these two together. Do we get resolution with the larger high king storyline? Yes, yes, yes! We also get to see all of our favorite characters return in some form or another. This is definitely the ending to this series that I wanted and needed.

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Awakened (Diablo Lake #3)Awakened by Lauren Dane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved loved loved this book! This series is great and definitely stands out in the shifter/witch/southern/paranormal romance department.

Ruby has returned to Diablo Lake after getting her education. She's a powerful "green" witch with the ability to work with plants and nature. Her family (and dogs) are happy to be on the property again, but a search for a rental ends up putting her face-to-face with her last Diablo Lake boyfriend Damon. He's a shifter and a high ranking member of one of the two shifter groups in town. He is also still carrying around some baggage from his father's secret crime and subsequent execution.

These two are AMAZING! The sizzle, the romance, all of those things and they had me hooked from the start. Damon's southern charm is also a bonus here. On top of the great romance, we also get some mystery thrown in, and some really great supporting characters in the form of Ruby's BFF's and their families. This world is so rich, I could read 100 books set in this town. I was happy that these two ultimately get to their HEA, and the town secrets get revealed, but was so sad to have this book end! Here's to many more!

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As Above, So Below

As Above, So BelowAs Above, So Below by Jennifer D. Bokal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had a little bit of magic, myth, romance, and adventure all rolled in to a quick read. Is this the start of a series set in this town? I hope so!

Carter is on a mission to find out what happened before his relative died. It takes a bit of doing, but he finally ends up in a town without a map. This town has purposefully made itself hard to find, protected by magic to keep the normal humans out. So why can Carter find it? Turns out, his family has a bit of an interesting lineage.

Fiona, the local bookstore owner and assumed leader of the town (eventually) is suffering from a loss of her magic. While coming to terms with this, she is faced with a man she never thought she'd see again. They shared a kiss when they were younger and then he disappeared. Of course, there's more to the story than just that. There's all sorts of other myth and legend out in the open in this town that Carter is forced to confront and acknowledge after he unwittingly gets sucked in to a town mystery. There is, of course, an element of romance and sexy times thrown in on top of the building adventure/showdown. While we get a good ending for these two, this town clearly has more to address in the final chapters.

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Kiss of a Demon King

Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark, #6)Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books all take a bit of a weird timeline approach, but this one is set in the time pre-car crash from the previous book, to after the end of the previous book.

Rydstrom ends up captured by Sabine, who is sister to his archnemesis. As if that isn't bad enough, it takes him out of the quest for the magical sword forged to kill said archnemesis. That is somewhat forgotten when, of course, it turns out that Sabine is Rydstrom's fated mate. There is a lot of tying up, sexy times, a bit of questionable consent that even includes crying, but then ultimately a HEA. We saw a little snippet from the previous book, and I was concerned I would not be able to support Sabine being matched with anyone, but she really does grow on you.

This book pretty neatly ties up the big Rydstrom/brother drama/quest for crown thing nicely. I appreciate that it took several books to build to this, but the end result was worth it. I still have about a hundred questions, but we have so many more books to go, that I can definitely wait for more resolution than we got. I hope we see some of these characters ultimately get their own books and pair off happily, too. Especially Sabine's sister!

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Black and Blue

Black and Blue (Otherworld Assassin, #2)Black and Blue by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sigh. I guess I knew we would have to somehow redeem Corbin after his entrance in Noelle's book, but I somehow thought it would be less of this. That didn't stop me from enjoying another one of these books. There was the usual set of stuff we didn't need at all that would probably benefit from some editing, but overall, it was a fun chase that ended with a HEA.

Corbin and Evie are frenemies. Her father is Corbin's employer/father figure and it has all sorts of baggage with it. It doesn't help that Corbin has a reputation of being a man-whore around town, cheating on all his girlfriends constantly. It's for the job, of course, but the world somehow doesn't know that. Don't worry, though, these two end up getting identified as spies all over the place, making their future world super suspect (but I'm getting ahead of myself).

So, how do these two people who hate each other end up together? Well, we join the scene of the bombing from Corbin's perspective this time, which gives us a look at his time on the run, which leads him to the only un-bombed part of the team (sort of) - Evie. She is (lucky for Corbin) a surgeon, so she patches him up and they begin their obligatory romance. There's even a big of a mystery (not so big), that ends up putting them both to work tracking down leads and whatnot. At the end of this one, we see everyone reunited and ready for another installment? We only have a novella, though, so I have some doubts that John will get more screen time...

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Orphan Witch

The Orphan WitchThe Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book includes a world and a half! There is a ton of set up and establishing the universe, complete with flashbacks, time shifts, and all sorts of witchy drama.

Persephone has led her life in fear. She was abandoned when she was young and has had a string of weird occurrences around her ever since. Always on the run from the weird mayhem that surrounds her life, she finally encountered a friend of sorts. That friend ends up being the entrance to a cursed island and what appears to be her destiny.

A curse was put on the island that traps the remaining witches there for a time, but will ultimately collapse. As Persephone discovers the true extent of her powers, her family history, and some tough choices (and romance, of course), there are all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. This book is dense and could easily be the introduction of a new universe. It was unique and involved many layers upon layers of information. Persephone ends up making some good decisions that had me rooting for her in the end, but, like I said, there are lots of ways this could have gone very badly for her. The ending is definitely a modification of what you'd expect for a HEA.

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Dark Desires After Dusk

Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark, #5)Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one more than I expected to. Having met Cadeon in previous books, I wasn't really excited for him to make his match here, but Holly is GREAT!

The very two dimensional view of Holly from Cadeon's previous encounters was that she is a nerd who has OCD. I was pleasantly surprised to find a woman who can stand on her own and even behead people when necessary. Holly and Cadeon are definitely not a traditional couple, but when this book quickly resolves any barriers to them being mated (and then re-introduces some), I was all in. So, the big story here is a road trip to find a magical sword that can ultimately get Cadeon's brother back on the throne. A really long time coming, but I was immediately thinking - why don't they just go back to plan A - ask the guy who has the memories of some dude that knew how to kill their arch-nemesis? I get that Cadeon still believes he murdered his mate, but it seems a lot easier than this "give your own mate away after a long road trip" path. Meh.

Either way, we end up on this road trip filled with a lot of them working out how they can get to the end goal. Are there deceptions? You betcha! Also, martyrdom, miscommunications, and outright lies. All that you can come to expect from this series is all rolled in with a lovely heroine and her mate. This book was definitely one of the better so far, convincing me to buy the rest of the series and cue it all up.

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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Last Kiss Goodnight

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin, #1)Last Kiss Goodnight by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This spinoff series was hard to figure out belongs in the AIR previously setup world, but it definitely does. Not only does it start with Michael, of Eden's book fame, but we also get some agent references. Other than that, though, we get some aliens we were previously introduced to (species-wise), some we never met before (like Solomon), and a lot of randomness.

This book starts dark. Vika is kind hearted but only knows the circus life. Her father is evil and forces her to kill her beloved animals. If this is not your thing, don't even bother with this book, because it definitely goes there. Vika is constantly put in bad situations, made worse by her hesitation or lack of experience. The circus also apparently kidnaps aliens to use in a sort of petting zoo. How do they afford and/or get them? Inconclusive Lots of that in this book. Solomon is kidnapped and sold to them early in the book by a bad man I assume we will see more of in future books.

Solomon and Vika are drawn to one another, even though he is often described as terrifying and ugly. Solomon has his own baggage, primarily in the form of invisible dudes that represent good and evil and sit on his shoulder. I know. You get over it. They eventually migrate around and everyone else seems ok with it too. Whatever. There is a lot weirder and more confusing stuff thrown in to make it seem less off-putting. This book somehow manages to mash a circus standalone in with a setup world of aliens, while still making you learn a lot of new traits, species, and characters along the way. With only 1 book and a novella left in this "series" I'm not sure we will get true resolution (except for this one - we get a HEA).

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Mile High with a Vampire

Mile High with a Vampire (Argeneau, #33)Mile High with a Vampire by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit, 33 books in and I had a little trouble remembering who Quinn was in the larger group of vampires. The book does a good job catching those of us who have trouble remembering up without issue, while at the same time diving right into the action.

We join Jet and Quinn as they are survivors of a plane crash. Since Quinn is a vampire (as are the rest of the passengers) it's not so big a deal. Jet, unfortunately, is human, so he becomes the only possible blood source for some very injured vampires. Since Quinn is one of the only uninjured vampires, it's suddenly up to her to make sure he survives. This is well outside both of their comfort zones, but they manage to take on the task as best they can.

Quinn's story is that she was turned against her will. Her son is also a vampire and they were both forcibly turned by her ex-husband. Her son has definitely adapted and it helps that her sister is a vampire. All of this to say, though, that she is still very much fighting being a vampire. Her trip on the plane was actually so she could get some vampire mental health checkup. Jet is obsessed with Quinn, but she doesn't even remember meeting him right after her turning. He definitely takes it personally, and he's got a little bit of an issue with vampires in general, I think, at the start.

It's funny how quickly them running in the jungle for their lives will help them form a bond. The life mates thing helps too, of course, but it felt much less... abrupt, this time around. I found myself happy that they were on the run together and moving quickly through the courting typical of these books. Overall, either 33 books in I have gotten over it, or it was less jarring here. I'll keep reading these books until they run out of mates!

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Walking in a Witchy Wonderland

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland (Stay a Spell, #3.5)Walking in a Witchy Wonderland by Juliette Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This anthology should probably be read after the previous books so you can dive right in, but as most shorts, you might be able to muddle through. I enjoyed these little dirty stories, all either circling back to established couples or adding more rumors to to-be couples.

While this book says it takes place a #3.5, it really spans a few different timeframes. There are 5 shorts in here of varying length (some really quick, others more full length, some just a taste). If you aren't familiar with the characters, you'll get a crash course in the first story. There are a bunch of sisters and their mates, so buckle up! All of the stories tie together with the general holiday theme, which gives a nice warm feeling. They also have sizzle in the form of smutty goodness. These sisters are definitely not afraid to have some dirty good times.

If you're looking for secrets to be revealed here, there is some behind the scenes stories, but not a lot of really new surprises. I did enjoy the JJ story revealing how they ended up together, but we knew they were a couple from their displays. I can't wait to see which one of the sisters we get to follow in a full book next, and hope we get some resolution for the un-mated sisters.

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Dark Needs at Night's Edge

Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark, #4)Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel like this book was one step forward and one step back. While I enjoyed Neomi because she was very much her own person, but Conrad pushed us back into the questionable consent territory yet again.

Conrad is the crazy vampire brother of the others we have already met. I may have read these way out of order, because I read the short story and know what's going on behind the scenes here. I knew that we would end up with a happy ending, but didn't quite know how we would get there. Did I mention I really liked Neomi? She is by far the best so far of these girls, I think. She is also unique and I genuinely couldn't figure out how we would get to her being a non-ghost who could mate with Conrad.

So, how did we end up here? Conrad is crazy, and while it seems like he gets better throughout the book, he definitely still ends up with some crazy left in him. The whole "he has a secret in the memories of his victims" never really comes back up after some drama involving some demons. Neomi takes care of him through all of his recovery, which is also probably better than he deserves, but she doesn't take any of his crap. These two balance each other, until they end up pushing it a bit too much for my liking.

In here we see a bunch of familiar faces, too, coming in to varying degrees. Neomi gets her own girl posse and ends up saving herself in the end. While I disagree with them in general as a couple (she could do much better), it was definitely unique and kept me hooked.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Blood Sugar

Blood Sugar (Coven Daughters, #2)Blood Sugar by Kat Turner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I admit to not reading book#1 in this series, but was easily able to slide in at book #2 and engage in this pre-built world without issue.

We join Eve, a funeral director who has the gift of being able to set souls to rest. There's some extra stuff she gets with that, hearing them, feeling responsible for them, occasionally making mistakes that end up sentencing them to a horrible afterlife, etc. It's this last bit that has her in a fragile state when Jonnie approaches her. You see, he believes he is turning into a vampire. Somehow work of her gifts got to his stage crew and he hunted her down (ya know, like a vampire).

His anti-aging treatment is definitely doing something to him, but Even doesn't exactly jump at the chance to try to help him. It takes some convincing, but they end up on a grand adventure to figure out how his "ailment" may tie in to her fouled up soul issue. Along the way we get a healthy dose of dirty, smutty, goodness, some other paranormal folks, lots of questionable choices, and ultimately a happy ending. The witchy aspects of this appear to tie in to the larger series storyline, so I'm sure you get a little more out of the other characters if you started from book 1, but I managed just fine.

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Witchy Coffee

Witchy CoffeeWitchy Coffee by Erin Ritch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a cute romance with some maybe kinda witch elements thrown in. Heavy on the cute romance theme, no smut, but made me smile.

Florence grew up in her family coffee shop on the coast. Coffee is essentially in her veins, so it's no surprise that she works as a barista while away from home. After being fired right before holidays, she is happy to get away to visit family. There is a bit of baggage in her family and their shop, but the holidays offer a chance to escape for a little while. At least she thinks that, until she finds out that a chain coffee shop is looking to buy them out and may challenge a lot of things they took for granted.

So - who is the love interest (of sorts)? Well, none other than the guy looking to buy her out. He really takes a beating with a smile throughout this whole story, which is probably why he is pretty redeemable by the end. If you are looking for a nice, self-contained, holiday themed romance, look no further!

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Dragon Heir

Dragon HeirDragon Heir by Molly Webb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! I am not sure what I expected from the cover and blurb, but this book was really great!

Thea is a tough loner, who is in denial about having friends, determined to succeed without her famous family's help, and loyal to a fault. When tasked with a job to hunt down a werewolf, she dives in with her usual enthusiasm only to stumble upon some really surprising secrets.

Thea herself is a shifter of sorts, and this world is divided into different territories run by various paranormals. Her own family is a bit of a ruling class of sorts, but Thea has long since broken from their hidden dark sides. She's making her own life with her own rules, and it is awesome. OK, so the beatings and threats are not great, but she has her own moral compass and follows it exclusively now.

The big story is around the "werewolf" she was hired for and the mess that comes along with it. Her case supporting the police ends up intersecting this one and just spirals from there. I loved loved loved all the characters in Thea's world and cannot wait to see where this series goes next!

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Claimed (Lair of the Wolven, #1)Claimed by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really don't know what I think about this book. Usually 3 stars means it was OK, but I probably won't continue with the series. I've read all the BDB books and their spinoffs but this was just... weird. And not in an engaging way.

Upon starting this book and getting through the first few chapters, I had to go check to make sure I was actually reading something related to the BDB. I thought maybe I was confused and had picked up some book about a wilderness based scientist who was studying wolves. Then - BAM - we get a single character from the series, her emotional baggage, only to get back to the wilderness for long stretches. Yes, there's a mysterious guy. Yes, there is a murder mystery of sorts and some big bad hotel coming in and destroying things. But... that's it. I couldn't find the paranormal hook that usually catches me. Even the decisions and relationship were just... off.

So - when does the paranormal come together? Well, we go back to Xhex a few times, but get no real payoff there. We get some romance-type-stuff with Lydia (the wilderness girl) and Daniel (the strange guy), along with some unexplained paranormal elements, but you know what else we get? Some really depressing cliffhanger. Boo! I probably won't pick up the next in the series and won't be tempted unless they cross over something big.

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Saved by the Spell

Saved by the Spell (House of Magic #2)Saved by the Spell by Susanna Shore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been dying to see where this series takes me, and this installment did not disappoint. While I think you can probably play catch up if you started the series here, it's probably better to go back to book 1, where Phoebe enters the "house of magic."

Poor Phoebe. She's had a rough go of it. She lost her home, but found a new one, but also went through the traumatic event of being cursed, learning about all sorts of paranormals, and then being told she isn't even a drop magical. New book, new chances, right? Well, unfortunately, after meeting a lovely man on her way to work, she finds herself paranormally repulsive to men. Her boss breaks the news to her, which leads them all on the hunt to find the fix.

There are quite a few twists and turns, but this book was pleasantly short and sweet when it came to the "big bad." While I was sad about the reveal (poor Pheobe), we end the book with a renewed sense of things to come for our girl. I am really enjoying this series, and most especially the characters that are Phoebe's new roommates in this wonderfully weird world.

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Night's Illusion

Night's Illusion (Children of the Night)Night's Illusion by Amanda Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read another book in this series, which has obviously been very well established at this point. That being said, I think these can be read as standalone or as part of the series - it does a good job catching us late joiners up on the general world.

Giovanni was a priest, but everyone still refers to him as father or a priest in their general interactions. You gotta get over that real quick, because this priest is looking for his lady love. Mara, the queen of the vampires, is very eager to help hook her favorite priest up with women, but fate has other plans. Not only does Giovanni end up with his long lost vampire sire as a big bad in this book, but he also randomly stumbles upon his mate. They don't call it out that clearly at the start, but Cassie and Giovanni have an instant bond.

Cassie is not in the best place when they meet. She's working at a dive, lives in a dump, and is generally unhappy and (when they meet) on the run from terrible men. Since Giovanni has no experience to speak of, Cassie and he begin courting in a very slow fashion. Sadly, the most we get in this book is fade to black scenes, but at least you don't need to worry about reconciling a priest in bed with someone.

As I mentioned, this world is well established, which means oodles of characters to touch base with, catch up with, invite places, and generally establish ourselves in this universe. It was weird and fun to see the varied faces come and go. Overall, we get a nice resolution (with some surprising sadness), and even get to conquer evil in the end (multiple ways). I would have probably appreciated the love and loss a little more having gone through the previous books, but still enjoyed this one.

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Breaking Badger

Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles, #4)Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't even know where to begin. I've only read one other book in this series, but I don't think having read them all would make this world and its characters any less insane.

Mads is a member of the insane, bonkers, crazy crew of badgers who plays basketball as their day job and creates mayhem in their off time. I really don't know how to begin describing the wacky characters that surround them. Are they the weirdest? Yes. Are the people they surround themselves with much less crazy? Not really. Max (one of the craziest)'s family is by far the most out there, what with their special powers of both insanity and shifter specialties. Throw in some drama around a job they went on, and introduce a family of tiger shifters and you've got the mind-blowing journey of this book.

Finn, probably one of the most down to earth, easy going characters in this book is pushed to his limit by the antics of the honey badgers. Lucky for him, there also is a somewhat less crazy honey badger in the mix - Mads. She balances his normalcy with a sprinkling of spontaneity. Their relationship was adorable and quirky to watch. As long as you are OK with the weird, lots of characters, a well established world, and paranormals - this is a truly entertaining read.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Dark Taste of Rapture

Dark Taste of Rapture (Alien Huntress, #6)Dark Taste of Rapture by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Soooo, this book was really fantastic! It had all the witty banter from the previous book with a more enjoyable love interest in the form of Hector. Noelle is great, the story is great, but... for the last book in a series, it wrapped up exactly 0%.

Noelle is scrappy and awesome. We get to see some of her time in training and watch the slow burn that is Hector and Noelle's relationship. He's got a bit of an issue with relationships, since his hands can light everything on fire and/or go through someone's body (depending on the book, scene or chapter). Continuity is not your friend in this series, but who cares? We get to see behind the curtain of the wonderful show that is Noelle!

The book is split almost half in flashbacks and half in present day where they are tracking down a slave ring (yawn, so early series!). There is one random reveal, no big shockers other than that, and some weird twist for the vision we get to see in the last book - only one will come true and the other will kill Dallas? Weird, but OK. I enjoyed this damaged romance enough to ignore most all issues along the way. While I wish it tied things up for the series better, I guess there is yet another spinoff we need to get the answers about what happens with Dallas?

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No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark, #2)No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit that I stuck my toe in the waters of this series at book 1 and gave up immediately. It seemed too forced/rapey for me to continue and/or enjoy the rest. In a determined struggle to complete a series, though, I ended up reading a short story that takes place almost parallel to this one and was pleasantly surprised. Since I didn't have another audiobook downloaded, I gave this one a shot, and was satisfied enough with it to continue the series after it.

This book can most definitely be read as a standalone (as shown by my taking a many year break between, which may as well have been starting at this book). We join Kaderin, who is hunting down a vampire, as Valkyries do. She gave up her emotions a long time ago, so nothing should stop her from ending his life. Of course, they end up somehow blooded/fated/brided? Which really just means that he gets his heartbeat back and they begin a struggle that can only end in bed. They both have some pretty massive baggage, yet somehow Sebastian is more practical about it all. Maybe because he is the scholar of the group, he manages to outthink other paranormals to get him into a secret game that Kaderin has a long history of winning (and destroying others in).

There's a lot of death defying antics, insane tasks, fun side characters I hope we come back to, and some sexy times, too. This book was surprisingly satisfying, even though you know from the outset that they will end up together. I enjoyed it enough to continue, which says something after my initial reactions to the first book in the series. Here's hoping we get more crazy girls driving guys insane.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Traitor

The Traitor (Fire's Edge, #5)The Traitor by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit - this is one of the stories I have been waiting for since first meeting the mysterious Rune.

Rune's story has been a long time coming, so it shouldn't be easy for him but should be satisfying. This book delivers on all counts. It pushes along the larger story in big ways, pulling together the battle of the kings, the shadiness going on with the mates being taken, and Rune's backstory with his old team. Was it sad in parts? Yes, there are losses along the way, some shocking. But it was so very satisfying to see the guy who has been accused of "stealing mates" be dumbstruck by his own.

Hadyn has an unconventional dragon mate story. Her dragon mate recognized her too young. He may have been determined to wait for her to grow up, but was killed instead, leaving her in a state of limbo, newly orphaned, and adopted by her dragon's parents. Raised with full knowledge of dragons, when the time came to be on the run on her own, she is more prepared than any of the previous mates we've met. She scales Rune's old hideout's mountain to meet him, fully aware of the danger and trust involved.

I really enjoyed the banter and sizzle in this book, once they both get over their issues (somewhat). It was also particularly satisfying to watch all of Rune's old friends react to his somewhat uncharacteristic behavior. There are a bunch of battles and bad situations throughout the book that had me unable to put it down. I was really hoping for a good resolution and, while we got there, it really took some doing (and a lot of near death experiences). All in all, this book delivered everything I wanted to see for Rune.

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Deacon's Star

Deacon's Star (Orion's Order #3)Deacon's Star by M.C. Solaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are gigantic and addictive, so prepare yourself before diving in! As these build on a larger storyline, I'd also recommend starting from book 1 and working your way to here.

This story gives us the HEA we have been chasing for Deacon and Starr. They both have a lot of baggage, but Deacon is willing to do whatever it takes to end up with his Starr, while Starr is convinced that it's not worth trying. Throw these two together in a fight, but have them try to get serious about their relationship and it's the wrong kind of fireworks. So - weren't we done with these two in the last book? Well, a chance encounter catching a bad guy is really all it takes to restart the drama.

In the "background" (this book us huge, so the background stories could each be individual books!) we also get more from all our favorites - the girls being the focus. Aleia has been still struggling with a lot of issues that came from losing Nico and finding her somewhat lost love again. All of these non-romance related stories end up tying back to our larger big bad - the Mastermind. While we don't get full payoff there yet, we do get a nice step in the right direction for Nico's horrible capture in this book. Oh, and couple happiness (always).

So, back to Deacon and Starr - they have a real steep hill to climb in order to establish a solid relationship. There are a lot of bumps in the road, mostly bloody and involving a healer, but there's also the trust building that takes a long time for both of them. OK, maybe Starr takes the longest, but that's to be expected. I especially enjoyed spending time between Starr and the infamous "Whisper." I can't wait to see when she ends up with a mate! This book was long and took me in all sorts of places, but by the end I was ready for even more from this wonderfully build world!

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Big Witch Energy

Big Witch EnergyBig Witch Energy by Kelly Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a super cute paranormal romance that put a unique spin on a blind date mishap.

Romy has lived her life according to rules, either imposed by her mother (now deceased) or by herself (having grown up in such a fashion). Something weird pushes her to take a DNA test, trying to find her birth father, and that leads her into the wonderful world of witches. Sure, she doesn't get that revelation right away, but there's still a series of events that shake up her world.

Trace was set up on a blind date that ends up being crashed by Romy when his intended doesn't show up. They hit it off, only to find out that they are destined to cross paths beyond their one night romance. The whole witch thing gets in the way again when Trace, who has a big chip on his shoulder, ends up having to tutor Romy for her witch exams. I promise, this seems much more normal in the story than in summary!

The romance and sizzle here was pretty good. They fight their attraction for so long, I thought I was going to expire before they finally ignite. I don't think I've read anything else from this author, but as an intro book it has me hooked! There was some unique and entertaining world building thrown in to the romance that I really appreciated. Oh, and a HEA, of course!

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PackPack by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short, very self-contained story that originally existed in an anthology.

Marlee is going through some stuff. Even after her friends have to stay behind, she ends up hiking alone and getting lost, all to prove her independence. That kind of backfires when she ends up getting attacked by wolves that are... more. In this world, they are hidden from society. They exist in their own bubble, and Daniel, the pack defender, ends up taking her under his wing (or paw?) until they can determine if she will shift or not.

Things, of course, get a little sizzly between these two. Marlee is annoyingly confident that she can continue to survive on her own, and that she won't become a wolf, even when all signs point to werewolf. This was a good, easy read, with the appropriate level of sizzle and paranormal to keep me entertained.

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The Brightest Embers

The Brightest Embers (Broken Destiny, #3)The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book probably lands somewhere between 3 and 4 stars in my ratings, but I rounded up. Having gone through the trauma here, it gets another star.

This is the final installment in this series and, jeez, we have been put through it! Between break ups, make ups, assumed deaths, surprise betrayals, and all manner of other thing, we finally get to the end of this saga. Ivy has grown, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I enjoy her character more. Her second guessing and crying filled most chapters, especially towards the end. At some points, I was rooting for the bad guy more than her, which is just sad.

So - where's the good? Well, Brutus for one. He is a star of this series. His story arc had me hooked more than the main two characters. I mean, I get it, Adrian and Ivy are supposed to be star-crossed lovers, etc. etc. but there was like no break coming anytime soon for these two. Brutus, I can get behind. Even Ivy's sister started to grow on me. The story ends probably exactly how you would expect, but there is a lot of back and forth progress between the start and end. I'm not really sure what else to highlight here - we got through it!

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Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Sweetest Burn

The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny, #2)The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oof, this was a tough one. As the “middle story” I should have known it would be trouble.

We join Ivy as she continues to trudge through her “destiny” and navigate the “relationship” she has with Adrian. Adrian appears again, full of promises and apologies but we know that denying their collective destiny will be difficult. There are oodles of half truths that only end up getting them into trouble and a few lies thrown in for good measure. The journey here is to find the second hollowed weapon and defeat the demons, but things are never simple for these two.

There are a bunch of ups and downs alone the way, for their relationship, progress with Ivy’s family and trust, and the inescapable destiny they have to fight. Overall, I would have been happy where we got if not for Adrian making some silly decisions. I mean, yes, they both work hard to make terrible decisions through the book, but Adrian made me want to throw my phone across the room (listening through Audible). I know, book 2 can’t solve everything and has to set up book 3, but it was still super frustrating.

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A Void of Magic

A Void of Magic (Kennedy Rain, #1)A Void of Magic by Sandy Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting and unique story we have here to start a series! You’ve got your typical paranormal bunch, but they are forced to acknowledge humans because they control a magically neutral territory that gives them back their humanity for a time. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

Kennedy has done some typical teenage rebelling in an atypical environment. Since her parents own said magically neutral territory, she’s got a bit of a weight hanging over her. It passes down a bloodline, so there’s no escaping, but she’s definitely tried. The Rain Hotel is her birthright and a curse. It’s partially controlled by the whims of the two big factions – vampires and werewolves. Kennedy tried to skirt the rules, allowing in people not on the ruler’s lists, and got into big trouble for her attempt. Who knew there was so much involved in running a little hotel? She’s since made a life outside the property grounds, but finds herself pulled in while her parents are on holiday. Things do no go smooth.

There’s a visit from her frenemy, who wants to marry a vampire. There’s a health inspection that fails. There’s some possible trespassers she can’t find. Oh, and some very attractive but domineering wolves.

This book takes you on a serious rollercoaster ride and leaves you wanting more. While not really a cliffhanger, I was a little angry we didn’t get to see where Kennedy ends up at the end of her troubles but they don’t ever seem to really end. I guess I’ve got to go along for the ride that is this series and hope Kennedy can become the person the staff believes she can be.

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Ecstasy in Darkness

Ecstasy in Darkness (Alien Huntress, #5)Ecstasy in Darkness by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Working through this series book by book has been an experience. This book in particular reads as if it was after some pivot in the author’s writing style. It’s fun, snarky, and gives a lot more than the previous ones. I hope to see more from Ava and Noelle (and whoever she ends up with) in the future!

Ava is a snarky and awesome recruit for the AIR. She’s got a really tough vibe but inside is a big marshmallow. Who is she going to be paired up with? Well, remember that really mean vampire we met in the Bride story? McKell has apparently been tearing apart any AIR agents that are sent his way because… reasons. His character, like most in this universe, has gone from moderately annoying to pretty mean. He has traumatized the poor AIR to the point where they are willing to throw two trainees at him in the hopes of capturing him for blood testing. We are still dealing with the whole disease/end of the world thing, so anything is worth a shot.

Ava and Noelle’s banter was a true highlight in this book. I could read a whole Ava/Noelle saga series but was ultimately glad where we got here. Ava needs somebody to look out for her, perhaps more than Noelle does. Don’t get me wrong, these girls are a nice balance to one another, but their plans could use some review (e.g. when they try to “lure” vampires). Ava and McKell have some sizzling chemistry from the first attempt at luring him, but it only grows from there. Throw in some fated mate stuff, lots of sexy times, and your typical miscommunications and you’ve got this book in a nutshell.

The out of the ordinary stuff (random doors, the queen’s attempt at persuasion, etc.) and you get the very hurried wrap-up I’ve come to expect in this series. There are always a few loose ends that I hope we pick up next book (or not – see the whole underground vampire love interest stuff that we still don’t have resolution on). I’ll keep reading this series until it ends, and probably leaves some things incomplete!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Haunted Homecoming

The Haunted Homecoming (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #10)The Haunted Homecoming by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can't believe we are 10 books into this world! Each book adds another layer on top of the already awesome previous ones, dragging me deeper and deeper into this wonderful Southern story.

This book has us officially meeting Verity's mom as she returns for the town's homecoming celebration. There are tons of generations all celebrating in town, which leads to your expected mayhem and mystery. In this instance, it is a gruesome discovery in the town's time capsule that puts Verity hot on the case of a murderer. Ellis, always supportive, is now forced to try to protect all the Long girls at once - a tall task indeed!

Our favorite gangster also plays pretty prominently in this story, while not an eager ghost hunting participant, he is at least working (also, reluctantly) on his love life. There's a lot of deception, twists, and turns there, just like with the main mystery storyline. This story had me both rooting for and cringing at Verity's mom the entire way. Do we get a solid mystery resolution? Yup! Verity always gets her man, or ghost, or "other." On top of that, we have a bit of a cliffhanger at the end here that has me eager to dive in to the next installment!

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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Witches Get Stitches

Witches Get Stitches (Stay a Spell, #3)Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is so good. If you haven't read the first few books, you should definitely go back and start there. That being said, you can probably dive in here if you must (because this book rocks, too!).

This story is all about Violet. We've seen her as a supporting character in the previous books. She's a tattoo artist and a powerful witch. She is also a huge commitment-phobic. When she gets all sorts of feelz from Nico after meeting and making out with him, she runs. Nico, the patient werewolf that he is, eventually follows her. His pack at the time was... a bit broken, so it wasn't a hardship, but his wolf wouldn't let him stay away from Violet either way.

Nico and Violet play at being friends, but they aren't fooling anyone. Don't worry, though, we don't have to suffer for the entire book - and it is explosive! So - the big bad in this one? Nico's old pack ends up getting wind of Violet's magical tattoos and for some reason they think that messing with her is a good idea. Even without Nico in the picture, Violet is a force to be reckoned with. This book is a nice bled of paranormal romance, tough chick action, stupid boys, and witchy goodness. Oh, and Fred, who is the best. What a fantastic book and so very satisfying!

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Van Helsing Academy

Van Helsing AcademyVan Helsing Academy by Stacey O'Neale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a unique and fun story! I'm excited to see where this series ends up going!

Mina (yes, I know) is a Van Helsing. They are part of the supernatural legacy, which in this world includes setting up a rehabilitation facility for supernaturals that step out of line. The group tasked with policing supernaturals is where we meet Mina. She's got a little bit of an issue with authority, and it's that mindset that ends up putting her alone and in trouble. When she resurfaces, she's got some missing time, but has been recorded on camera killing two vampires.

This killing ends up sending Mina into the same rehab facility that she visited as a kid, but this time is in a very different capacity. There's clearly more at play here, so her father endorses her getting sentenced to the facility in order to gather more intel. This facility is nothing like I expected. It's more like a boarding school with very harsh punishments. The characters we meet here are also pretty amazing. Are there bad guys? Sure, but the majority of the characters that we meet are sympathetic paranormals all there for questionable reasons.

So, what's missing? Well, of course there's romance! It really sizzle between Mina and Sacha, an alpha who seems just as reluctant to like her as she is him. These two, however, end up being the best support system (other than Kiera, of course!). We get some resolution to Mina's mystery, but there is so much more I want to know. I can't wait to see where she ends up in future installments and they can't get here fast enough!

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Death & Desire

Death & Desire (The Jezebel Files, #2)Death & Desire by Deborah Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I added this book to my "to-read" list right after finishing the first installment. I love a good snarky urban fantasy and this delivers on all fronts.

We join Ash, newly acknowledged (a little in secret) for her released Jezebel powers, looking for her "team," trying to navigate her complicated relationship with Levi, and juggling her commitments to the Queen of Hearts. So - what ended up happening? There was a pretty good mystery, new characters, and I can't believe I didn't mention her yet, but Ash's BFF is THE BEST. On top of all this drama, Ash's mom is supporting an anti-magic group even after Ash "came out" to her. Moms, right?

I have to admit, it was a little jarring to dive into book 2 without slowing the snark at all. I eventually got on board, especially with the Levi/Ash banter, but there was definitely a missing learning curve here. I am 100% on board, though, with wherever this series goes - please take me!

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