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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