Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Hob and Hound Pub

The Hob and Hound Pub (Sam Quinn, #4)The Hob and Hound Pub by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was almost loathe to read this one after the wonderful bow they tied around Sam & Clive’s HEA, but there’s always more work to be done in Sam’s world.

Clive probably puts it best here when he details just how many horrible things happen to Sam in a short period of time, all because of fae meddling. That being said, this is definitely filled with mayhem. There is really a bit of everything from jealous ex’s, to dwarf attacks, and petty dragon species-ism that comes at Sam from all angles. It starts simple enough with Sam and Clive on their honeymoon. Sightseeing, shopping, eating (or Sam eating) and all the usual romantic elements of a honeymoon. Unfortunately for these two, they are actually on their way to fight this book’s big bad. Things tend to go back for anyone they go up against, but it’s certainly not without bumps and bruises for Sam and Clive (mostly Sam).

In this book we really see Sam get into her power. She is definitely an equal, if not better in a lot of ways, to Clive. Clive would be dead a few times over without Sam’s daytime assistance and paranoia. So, back to the big bad here - turns out that this insane vampire has teamed up with some evil fae so that means oodles of backstabbing and politics. There is also some weird random family stuff, connections to a yet unmentioned twin back home, Clive’s history, and somehow… 2 famous authors.

I had a lot of fun with this book, and while it has lots of meandering and loose ends, I forgave it for the great ending here. I’m happy with where Clive and Sam end up, too, which makes me even happier that there is a future book to dive right into!

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Friday, September 22, 2023

I’ll Be Slaying You

I'll Be Slaying You (Night Watch, #2)I'll Be Slaying You by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the last book, I figured we’d be working our way through Night Watch, pairing folks up. That being said, Dee’s story definitely takes a big and unexpected turn.

This story, as I said, is about Dee. She’s got a traumatic history with paranormals, as most of the Night Watch does. For her, she lost her family to a vampire attack that set her on this path. Saved from the streets from the head of Night Watch, she’s got a lot invested here. While on the hunt for the usual, she ends up meeting Simon. Simon has also got a lot invested in hunting, but there are oodles of secrets there.

Without spoiling the big twists and turns that this book takes you on, it’s a wild ride. These two are reluctant partners turned sizzling smutty partners. While I did struggle to like Dee a lot of the time, this was a surprising story that had me engaged throughout. Since the series just has 3 books, I’m definitely in for the “long haul” here. Can’t wait to see where we end up with our ornery demon!

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Saturday, September 16, 2023

Eternal Hunter

Eternal Hunter (Night Watch, #1)Eternal Hunter by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a random lull in my reading list I stumbled upon this Night Watch series from an author I’ve enjoyed in the past. Trusting her, I dove right in!

This book is the first in a series that introduces us to a paranormal bounty hunter organization, Night Watch. Jude is a shifter employed by the agency, and he always gets his prey. Erin is a DA with a secret that has driven her from her home. In this new town, she thought she’d get to start over, but the “presents” from her stalker started showing up again.

When Jude is first assigned to Erin, it’s a chore but their attraction sizzles from the start. This mystery had a lot of twists and turns, but the best part was really the smutty goodness between these two. It was good to watch Erin let her guard down and truly become who she was meant to be. They work together to catch the bad guy, save some folks (including each other) and get their nice HEA.

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The Wicche Glass Tavern

The Wicche Glass Tavern (Sam Quinn #3)The Wicche Glass Tavern by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve got to admit, even after taking a brief break in the series, it sucks you back in *immediately* and it feels like you never left. I’m not sure you can start here, so recommend going back to the beginning if for some reason you want to begin here.

Sam is going through all sorts of stuff in this book. We still have her evil relative, hellbent on hunting her down through whatever means necessary (except, you know, killing her directly, because of the curse). We’ve also got the fact that all of Clive’s vampires (or most) hate Sam because she’s about to “put a ring on it.” Lastly, Sam has had very little training in her powers, so she’s desperately trying to find a way to use her necromancer abilities without, ya know, going blind. Throw all this in the barrel that is Sam’s life, give it a shake, and throw in the fact that she never learned to drive and you’ve got this fun story.

The highlights of this and any of this series is definitely Sam and Clive. They are adorable and really balance one another out. It was so very satisfying that we get a nice HEA here. The path they take to get there? That’s another story. It’s even got bombs involved! So much damage (both literal and emotional) gets thrown around here that it’s amazing we get any sort of happy wrap-up. This installment definitely tied up some loose ends, allowed Sam to really progress as a person and a witch, and introduced even more craziness that will no doubt show up in future books to exact payment. Here’s to many more!

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Thursday, September 7, 2023

Witches Get Stuff Done

Witches Get Stuff Done (Starfall, #1)Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Molly Harper so jumped at the chance to read a new series from her. There are the fun paranormal elements I love in some of her other books, but this is decidedly more serious and ghostly.

Riley has been a bit adrift in life. She has jumped from one job to the next without much thought and her family life is not really so great either. When a “long lost Aunt” made contact with her, offering to connect after her mother’s death, she ended up verifying (because she’s not dumb) then jumped on a ferry to a rather secluded and quaint island. The island, Starfall, is filled with all sorts of characters. Unfortunately for Riley, though, her aunt is not one of them anymore. Rather quickly, Riley becomes caretaker for a mysterious house filled with all sorts of paranormal craziness.

Edison is hiding from the world on this same island, but his domain is the library. These two meet pretty terribly, then again even worse, but it definitely evolves into friendship with some sizzle. He, coupled with some standout locals end up making Riley’s little gang of supporters. Too bad for them, it does come with peril and oodles of ghosts. As the start of a series, this builds a rich and interesting world I want to learn more about. I didn’t even make a good guess at the mystery and whodunit! Great work hooking me on yet another series!

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The Immortal Tailor

The Immortal Tailor (The Immortal Tailor, Book #1)The Immortal Tailor by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t even know how to adequately describe/warn you for this book. If you have had no exposure to the gods books that relate to this world, you are in for an insane time. The level of oddity in the reigning gods is above and beyond anything that pops into your head. To give an example: the incident that requires the gods to reach out to Damien (the immortal tailor) involve a unicorn and a hellhound getting frisky.

So, back to the story - the immortal tailor in question is Damien and he is long-lived but also suffers a curse that means he is alone forever. When tasked with looking into a sex fairy sighting, he meets Sky, an ex-teacher turned online reporter who was on her path to stardom when she was attacked. Turns out that announcing the existence of supernaturals doesn’t help your online career as a serious journalist. When Damien and Sky meet, he does his bets to remain unattached, but his curse ends up presenting in a terrible way that truly shocked me. Usually books like this have a script of sorts so when they blew it up completely I was fascinated. What would happen now?

Well, just about everything you can imagine happens. There’s demon dogs, shifters at music festivals, yucky baking, matchmaking and so much more! This book manages to tie up some loose ends, but leaves a pretty big cliffhanger which only makes me that much more desperate for book 2. Who knew you could end up rooting for the ornery tailor by the end?

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Dirty Lying Dragons

Dirty Lying Dragons (The Enchanted Fates, #2)Dirty Lying Dragons by Sabrina Blackburry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fantastic sequel to the first of the series! I don’t think you even need to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one. It almost reads like its own series of books, with so much jammed in!

Dani is a malfunctioning witch. She’s always had trouble with spells and has a bit of baggage where witchcraft is concerned. As a lone witch, she ends up being hunted down by wolf shifters when an evil vampire gets it in his head to collect witches without a coven. On the run, magic malfunctioning, Dani ends up appearing in Ryker’s sanctuary far, far away.

Ryker has his own secrets and baggage but can’t seem to pass up helping the lost witch. They end up with a bit of a truce that grows into a sizzling chemistry neither acts upon. At a pivotal moment, though, trust is formed and it seems inevitable that these two will wind up together. As I said, this is almost like 2 books in one because we have a big culmination about mid-way through the story that then makes the last half that much higher stakes. There is romance, action, oodles of paranormals, and, yes, a HEA all rolled into one book I’d definitely recommend.

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Saturday, September 2, 2023

Working for the Devil

Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, #1)Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I hit a reading lull I went through my “to-read” list on GoodReads and found this one with generally high ratings. Admittedly, I should have read the description closer, or the genres, because this level of tech and futuristic/post-apocalyptic is usually not my typical reading space. That being said, I’m sure if someone was a big fan of those, this would be more enjoyable.

Danny is a magically gifted, so much so that Lucifer sends Jaf, one of his soldiers, to fetch her and give her an assignment. It turns out that this assignment also gives her the chance to get revenge on the person who murdered her friend and probably would have killed her, too. Danny fights all the help offered to her along the way, which is frustrating, but it did offer a unique way to learn about her world.

The world building is great and was very interesting, but this, as the first book in a series, has some heavy lifting to do. There’s a lot of magical species, politics, new geography and tech to learn in a short span of time, and we also need to solve a case. For that tall order, it somehow manages to wrap it up without a big cliffhanger, and instead ends in a bit of a bummer. I probably won’t continue in the series and instead will switch back to what I tend to enjoy more, especially with the way things were left in this one.

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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Wish Magic

Wish Magic (The Summoner's Mark)Wish Magic by J. D. Blackrose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are always better than I remember. This whole series has a wonderful combination of snark, heart, and mystery. Becs is a great reluctant hero.

When last we left our hero and her allies in the short story, Becs was still recovering from losing Asher in hell and trying to navigate having Gregory as an awkward friend. Yuck to the whole potential love triangle there, which Gregory manages to muck up at every turn. With the literal devil tempting Gregory, he is destined to backslide and this time it takes the form of crystal stealing/buying/collecting. Becs is still trying to figure out life without Asher when suddenly she doesn’t have to anymore - he’s back!

The theme in this book is about powers or lack there of. Becs finds herself teaming up with all manner of supernatural, but her two closest allies (or frenemies) end up being human. It’s this that drives all the terrible decision-making in this book. Gregory wants power and ends up releasing a djinn to get it. This, of course, goes all sorts of wrong and through a convoluted series of events puts Becs on the fae queen’s naughty list. But all that’s for another day - this book really does revolve around the djinn story but I have so many other questions! I am eager to see how Asher and Becs reconcile their newfound love and his lack of powers.

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Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Wolf Within

The Wolf Within (Purgatory, #1)The Wolf Within by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I definitely read this series out of order but I don’t think it actually matters. These books appear to have a thread that runs throughout but the character stories are relatively self contained.

Duncan and Holly and co-workers in a secret organization that tries to keep the humans unsuspecting and safe from all the things that go bump in the night. Duncan’s whole family was slaughtered by werewolves so he has every motivation to be the best at his job. Unfortunately he ends up infected during one particularly challenging hunt. Holly is the doctor on call when he gets brought in, but she’s got her own secrets. The chemistry between these two sizzles from the start and only gets better from there.

Surprise - the real plot line ends up being the hunt for who the traitor is in their organization. With so many twists and turns, you never really know who to trust and who the real monster is in this world. I really liked that while this was sort-of a police procedural type story, it leaned more heavily into the paranormal romance elements.

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Demons of Good and Evil

Demons of Good and Evil (The Hollows, #17)Demons of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has been going for a long time and it has good books, bad books, and everything in between. I’d peg this book as somewhere in between but still enjoyable.

Rachel is still living at the church while Trent builds his mega-penthouse in the city. While they tip-toe around that issue, Rachel is still picking up the pieces after her big bad showdown from the last book. Al is recovering and Rachel (of course) feels guilty/responsible/blarg. This is a constant theme and is often my biggest problem with her character - there are so many chapters filled with shame spirals that it gets a little off putting. Don’t worry, though, we still get the usual cast of characters to help support Rachel and lift her up when she needs it. And boy does she need it in this one!

The big story here is about an evil mage and a group of werewolves who try to take the pack and the city. With the “true leader” of the city still a mouse and Rachel a bit distracted, it ends up getting her into all sorts of trouble, including with the many law enforcement and magical enforcement communities. All of this twists together to make for a very chaotic showdown and a lot of twists and turns. Was the mystery hard to solve? Not really, but it was a good ride.

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Sweep of the Heart

Sweep of the Heart (Innkeeper Chronicles, #5)Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book series keeps getting better and better! Does this have a lot of alien politics and storylines? Yes. Did I still enjoy this more than most of my other books? Yes.

We join Dina after taking a bit of a break with Maud in the last book. Dina and Sean are falling into a rhythm being co-inn-keepers and things appear to be headed in the right direction (werewolf women throwing themselves at Sean aside). One particularly determined werewolf suitor of Sean’s ends up telling them that their big bad werewolf mentor of sorts has been kidnapped. This, of course, ties to much more nefarious things in the form of corrupted innkeepers. The solution? Well of course there are bigger plans going on, which involve a lot of old familiar faces and even some hints at where Dina’s brother has been off to.

The majority of this book is spent entertaining and threatening the many new and different alien species that end up being hosted by the inn. Why? Well, as a trade for access to where they need to go, they must host a very dangerous, politically treacherous, mate selection. Oh, and it’s going to be broadcast all over the place to be judged and will probably determine if they lose or keep their inn. Dina and Sean, of course, rise to the occasion in the best of ways. It was so fun to watch them be at their best. Do we get a solid resolution at the end of this book? No, but boy do we get a lot to think about as we wait for the next installment!

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Army Blue

Army Blue: A Career Soldier WeddingArmy Blue: A Career Soldier Wedding by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really adorable wedding short. If you’ve read the rest of these books, all the characters are familiar, but I think you might even enjoy it if you’re new to this world.

Owen and Jacey are getting married at West Point, or at least that’s the plan. There is just obstacle after obstacle in their way, starting with planning the wedding remotely and ending with even weather getting in the path of their HEA. Don’t worry, though, where there is a will (and oodles of love) there is a way! These two show that no matter what, love prevails. It was very rewarding to see all the previous threads pull through here, and if you get the kindle version you’ve got some nice post-ending goodness.

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Saturday, July 29, 2023

Taming the White Wolf

Taming the White WolfTaming the White Wolf by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great new series! I love this author and was eager to see what new world we’d be stepping into here.

Devlin is a lone wolf. There is usually only one born at a time, but in this particular instance, there are three. As lone wolves, they are obviously not keen on teaming up, so Devlin is still relatively alone. His primary function is hunting down rogues and that’s what leads him to Zoe’s city. He arrives and is quickly drawn to his target, who appears to have taken a liking to Zoe, a woman who strangely shares his unique eye and hair color. These two fight to continue their independent and pretty lonely existence until undeniable danger throws them into an uneasy alliance.

There is bigger magic and badness surrounding this seemingly random meeting and they both work tirelessly to untangle the web. I was completely addicted to this story from the start and I absolutely cannot wait to see where the future books take us. This can easily be read as a standalone, but be warned that you’ll be hooked!

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The Witch Hitch

The Witch Hitch (A Cupcake Coven Romance, #2)The Witch Hitch by Elizabeth Bass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoops, I didn’t realize this was a series and I missed book #1. That being said, while the insanity level is high, I don’t think I missed much in backstory so was able to dive in here.

Bailey is engaged to be married but has run into a bit of bad luck. She’s saddled with reluctant wedding party participants, her soon to be husband’s ex returning in time for the wedding, and trouble finding a wedding dress. When Esme turns up offering to solve her wedding dress problems it seems to be magic. And it is. Magic is real here and it turns out that Bailey is a witch! Trying to hide this from her friends, family, and fiancĂ© proves to be more than she can handle, especially when she is also responsible for Seton.

Seton turns up in her car after a magical run-in, having been relocated across time into present day. It is never a good sign when you find yourself connecting more with a man out of time than your intended husband. Things go very wrong before they can go right here, but the mayhem all ends up worth it for all involved. A nice HEA to end this magical ride is exactly what this witch needed.

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Sweep of the Blade

Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Chronicles, #4)Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a joy to read. I really appreciated the pivot from Dina to Maud here, though we do get a bit of transition time with overlapping views.

Maud and Helen are a team and it was such a joy to watch play out. She is steadfast in her determination not to become some sort of trophy wife again to a vampire, but Arland is just as stubborn about his commitment to them both. We get a lot of backstory on vampires, their wars, their politics, and their family structures. I’m not even sure where to start in a review, so I’m going to focus on the relationship goodness.

Maud is obviously an outsider when she arrives with Helen and there is also something going on in the vampire politics realm. She really leverages all her training in both fighting and innkeeping to make sure she and Helen can survive all these machinations. Arland is clearly much stronger and more well equipped with Maud by his side than without her. Even Arland’s family becomes Team Maud (and Helen) along the way, which was lovely to watch. I think I would have enjoyed this book even as a stand-alone without that whole innkeeper buildup and background, but I’m not sure you would get the same bang for your buck. While I’m happy to join back up with the earth-bound folks, this was definitely a nice diversion and addition to the lore.

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Saturday, July 8, 2023

Ancient Guardian

Ancient Guardian (Ancients Rising #9)Ancient Guardian by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books do the impossible -make me addicted to a post-apocalyptic series. I thought I had determined what I liked, but this series has happily pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Orion is the ancient dragon that this story revolves around. He’s been woken up and thrown into a world he doesn’t recognize. He does, however, have a strong pull towards Violet. Violet and her sisters have pulled together their rather remote hometown to survive in this new post-dragon world. Living largely off the grid pre-dragons, they did still need to adapt a bit to thrive here. Orion ends up getting pseudo-adopted by the sisters, playing a largely hidden role in their security.

Orion is actively hiding his supernatural nature when we join them in this book. He’s got other shifters that are all keeping the security of the town with him, all hiding, but nobody is ready to “come out” just yet. An intrusion from outside their borders in the form of a possible alliance forces them to show their hand and deal with the potential fallout. After tip-toeing around their feelings for one another, it adds even more complexity to Orion and Violet’s relationship. The other sisters, however, appear to eagerly embrace the supernatural discoveries in sexy ways. There’s a big bad and a big battle, but the interpersonal relationship definitely take center stage in this one. That’s what makes these books so fun to read!

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Isabelle's Forbidden Love

Isabelle's Forbidden Love: Scanguards Hybrids #4 (Scanguards Vampires Book 16)Isabelle's Forbidden Love: Scanguards Hybrids #4 by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After all the build up for these two getting together, I knew this would be explosive! We dive *RIGHT* in!

Ever since her dad was kidnapped and Orlando got injured, the sizzle between Orlando and Isabelle has been set to inferno levels. They, of course, are oblivious. Orlando has a secret past that really comes into focus in the previous story. Isabelle is the boss’s daughter, so has certain expectations cast upon her. She, however, is awesome. Orlando goes through exactly what you’d expect - I’m not good enough syndrome. Lucky for us, though, Isabelle doesn’t let that persist for even an hour of her time.

The big story here is about some brutal killings that seem to point to a certain mysterious vampire. Don’t worry, though, things get way worse before they get infinitely better. Samson was a standout in the “worse” category, but I guess you can’t blame him when his daughter is involved. I’m hoping off screen he got a dressing down from his mate, though, after all the dust settled. Another strong book in this series that makes me want even more of these books to come out even faster!

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A Farewell to Charms

A Farewell to Charms (Mystic Bayou, #6)A Farewell to Charms by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are always wonderful little fun stories that take you to a town filled with the best characters.

Finally Alex gets his own book! I will say, I didn’t predict this match at all, but I’m here for it. Alex is very buttoned up and has had a string of heartache, but at his core he’s a solid guy. Eva has been obviously hiding her past when she arrived in Mystic Bayou, but everyone adopted her into their group more so than they did Alex even. When Alex’s car breaks down and Eva ends up saving him, these two finally get the push to see what happens.

It wouldn’t be Mystic Bayou if there wasn’t some nefarious plot afoot. It’s good to see the town now prepares for it, but even with all the preparation in the world, you can’t plan for everything. Turns out that Eva’s species, her past, and who is after her is all something brand new to our heroes. Don’t worry, though, because we get a really great HEA for everyone involved. I wish this series could go on forever!

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Secrets of Shooting Star Lake

Secrets of Shooting Star Lake (Black Rock Guardians #1)Secrets of Shooting Star Lake by Susanna Strom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - this was a really fun read that had me hooked from the start! I can’t wait to see where this series ends up taking us!

Adam is a potential alpha to the pack, tasked with picking up cupcakes when he meets Marit. Marit is a baker dealing with the loss of her grandmother and some recent shocks by heading in to work. This chance meeting ends up getting weirder for them both when it turns out Marit owns the cabin that Adam’s pack is looking to purchase. Oh, and she’s Adam’s mate.

For Marit, supernatural folks are still not a “real thing” so there are oodles of secrets and hiding at the start of Adam and Maria’s friendship. Take all this and throw in some very aggressive enemies that force Adam’s hand, and we’ve got a lot for Marit to take in. These two are a great pairing and I was really engaged in the potential mysteries of Marit’s past. I love all the characters and cannot wait to see the next pairing we get! All in all, this was a wonderful start to a new series by an author I will now be watching.

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Friday, July 7, 2023

Dragon Arisen

Dragon Arisen (Dragon Kings #6)Dragon Arisen by Donna Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, just when I think this series doesn't have any more twists/turns/reveals in it - this book comes along.

This book is masquerading as just another installment in the Dragon Kings series, but is definitely a pivot point not to be missed. We join the kings, with one of their own missing on this newly discovered realm. Here, the dragons and humans are distinctly separate and may be on the cusp of war. Alasdair is anxious to take action so sets out to find is missing dragon king. On his way to the human city he encounters a loner named Lotti standing over a randomly appearing child (as happens in this weird realm).

Lotti has always been separate from others, instilling a sense of unease so she's been on her own for a while. When she meets Alasdair, even without them sharing secrets, she is determined to stay away. Of course, fate would have other plans for these two and they find themselves teamed up to attempt a rescue of sorts. The ending of this book is insane. I can't even begin to wrap my head around where we ended up, but there is a lot to unpack in future books. There is romance and smutty goodness along the way, but this book really take us on a journey where dragons probably didn't expect to go.

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Sunday, June 11, 2023

Sweep with Me

Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles, #4.5)Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was a delight from start to finish. We got to meet new species of aliens, learn about different political structures, watch chicken people try to kill each other over philosophy, and take a field trip for our favorite chef. For a novella, it was jam-packed with story!

Also, side-note that I read this immediately after book 3 where it seemed to make sense, but I guess it goes out of order the way Amazon & Goodreads show the order. We join Dina and Sean while they are still adjusting to life together, in robes, and waiting for the meeting that will determine their future as an Inn. As the days tick by, we end up celebrating an Innkeeper holiday, which means nobody gets turned away. This, unfortunately, ends up with them taking in a person who naturally hunts prey, lots of prey (in the form of previously mentioned chicken people), and a powerful warrior who just wants a hamburger.

There is so much rich storytelling here that I don’t want to do a deep dive. The ending, though, is very satisfying, in a way that the previous book didn’t deliver on. We still don’t know where the rest of Dina’s family is, but it really highlighted the gift that Innkeepers are to the universe.

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One Fell Sweep

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books just keep getting better and better. With each new installment, we learn more about the Innkeeper world and Dina’s history. I’m 100% invested at this point and hope she gets resolution to the larger storyline by the end of the series!

Dina’s made her own family, but she’s still got a sister and brother out there (and missing mom and dad). When a rule-breaking alien shows up and delivers a message to her, it puts her on a path to re-connect with her sister, Maud. Don’t worry - there’s still the usual cast of characters along for the ride, though only the vampire and the werewolf come along for the rescue mission. Maud and her daughter are a really great addition and it rounded out the “cast of characters” completely. Since there’s always a guest story, don’t worry, we get that too!

Through a lot of meddling from a familiar arbiter, Dina ends up getting tasked with hosting a near extinct race of beings as they work to gather parts of an all knowing being in order to find a place to live. The downside to this good deed? There is a race that has made it their mission to wipe them out and finds the rules of an innkeeper a mere inconvenience. Lucky for us, Sean is here and has teamed up with an unlikely ally to make sure Dina’s inn is safe. There is a lot of bad stuff that ends up happening but we do get some good clues for later use. Oh, and some good romance in general, too!

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The Phantom

The Phantom (Rise of the Warlords, #3)The Phantom by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read the previous ones, this is a solid continuation of the story, with this one focusing on the next blessing task, this time for Roux.

We start, however, with Blythe. While she is tough enough to be general, she chose a consort and a child over the position. Roux shattered that whole life when he showed up with the rest of the warlords and promptly killed her consort. She’s filled with the need to avenge him and murder Roux, even talking to her father about ways to go about it. It all ties together in the blessing task this round, which is filled with deception, tricks, oodles of stolen organs, and battles. Oh, and there’s a bunch of sizzle between these two “enemies.”

Roux is an interesting character we’ve basically only known as the crazy one before. Oh, and for having a tea party with a child during the previous book. He’s really a marshmallow inside and has been trying to figure out how to apologize to Blythe and get her out of his head (less literally than last time). These two might talk a good game, but when they are surrounded by enemies, they team up and form an alliance of sorts. Does it get filled with doubt almost consistently? Sure! Don’t worry, though, these two warriors end up finding a HEA in a most gruesome way.

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Grayson’s Challenge

Grayson's Challenge: Scanguards Hybrids #3 (Scanguards Vampires Book 15)Grayson's Challenge: Scanguards Hybrids #3 by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gotta say, I was expecting more punishment for Grayson to get his mate, but this definitely served well.

Grayson has been such a spoiled brat for most of the time we get to know him throughout the series and spin-offs. He’s arrogant, a playboy, and definitely relies heavily on his father being the head of Scanguards to get his way. His father, however, has had enough. He has decided to scheme with Cain, who also happens to have a spoiled child. With the stars aligning and them both being in the same city, they plan to see if they are compatible. They both react as predicted, except that they never officially meet at the function. Being the independent and reckless hybrids they are, they end up hooking up with no involvement from their parents then, as expected, freaking out when the matchmaking scheme is revealed.

This all quickly takes a back seat when both their fathers are in peril and need the whole team to mobilize to save them. Here’s where the book kind of lost me. The Grayson we see working with Monique to save their dads is a completely new character. He’s got none of the brat attributes and even dives headfirst into a relationship with Monique after mocking his friends with mates. Weird, but necessary. If you can get beyond that, the smut level is high and the HEA is solid here. It was also nice to be reminded that no characters are invulnerable.

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The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic

The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic (Charming Cove #1)The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic by Linsey Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a really cute frenemy romance with oodles of magic thrown in! As the start of a series, I’m eager to check out where this takes us.

Aria has always had issues with her magic. This means she was constantly bullied in her hometown by other more magically adept folks. Eager to get a fresh start, she tried living as a normal person, but ironically her magic ended up showing up in unexpected ways, leading to her getting fired repeatedly. Lucky for her, the local owner of a magical garden has decided to host a competition to identify his successor and Aria got an invite!

Callan, her crush/enemy from their teenage years, is also on the invite list. He’s now a successful developer and accomplished mage, but he still yearns to right the wrongs from before. While this book doesn’t jump right into bed, we get a nice slow burn with some payoff along the way. I loved everything about this town the wild cast of characters, the magic, and (of course) the romance. There are a few twists but luckily we don’t go too far into the “misunderstanding” trope that usually comes along with a romantic paranormal read. This couple was cute and the magic was irresistible!

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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Damian’s Conquest

Damian's Conquest: Scanguards Hybrids #2 (Scanguards Vampires Book 14)Damian's Conquest: Scanguards Hybrids #2 by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll put my usual disclaimer here - you should start from the beginning of the Scanguards books if you want to truly appreciate all the characters here. That being said, you can probably “restart” with the hybrids, but at least go back 1 book.

Damian is the co-owner of a nightclub that just so happens to be the focus of an intrepid reporter’s story. Naomi, said reporter, is looking for a story and way outside her comfort zone in a sexy Halloween costume at the nightclub. When they encounter one another, it’s instant sparks and one-night-stands. These two are much more than casual lovers, though, and Damian is rapidly drawn into a complicated story. While they were hooking up, people were going missing, and someone was setting up Scanguards as a whole. While there’s no real big bad in this story, it was still really fun to watch the mystery (and the romance) work itself out.

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Lassiter (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #21)Lassiter by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is this the last book in the BDB series? It sure felt like it…. I’m having trouble figuring out if I should accept that this is the end or wait for another spinoff.

Either way, what we get here is ultimately a HEA for Lassiter and his mate, Rahvyn. After all the mystery around her character, it seems she can do a lot of stuff that really helps out the plot roadblocks they encounter. Where to start? This book (like the others) has about a million stories going on at once. There’s Lassiter staying away from Rahvyn because it did some spell or something. There’s the king’s dog storyline. There’s the angels and Lassiter’s call from the creator. There’s the Fritz bit. There’s Lash’s return and the whole demon thing. A lot of talking about designer clothes and bags. Oh, and there’s romance throughout. We get to revisit with quite a few couples along the journey so it was a nice goodbye, if this was it.

I honestly struggle to sum this one up, but it felt a lot like a restart. The lessers come back, the king is questioned about his ruling claim again. But then… it ends. In the strangest way that I guess was satisfying but left me with many questions still unanswered. If you’re on the edge of your seat, hoping that you get a HEA, don’t worry - you do. Leaving this book without that would just be unbearable.

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Ryder’s Storm

Ryder's Storm: Scanguards Hybrids #1 (Scanguards Vampires Book 13)Ryder's Storm: Scanguards Hybrids #1 by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And we’re back in the Scanguards world again! I took a detour to dive into the Stealth Guardian stories but it feels really good to be back in the “main” world.

This story is about Ryder and boy oh boy did I forget his dad’s story. If you haven’t read the original Scanguards Vampires series, I highly recommend starting from there and getting here naturally. It gives you a lot of history for many of the “side players” in this hybrid spin-off. After all the attention Grayson got in the Stealth Guardian books I thought for sure we would start with him, but Ryder is also awesome. He has an… affliction. Being a satyr/vampire hybrid, he’s got urges and it has led him to live a very restrained life.

Scarlet lives a very sheltered life herself. After her mother died and her half-brother was murdered, her father really upped his protection game. She has to hide her more adventurous side, which is a challenge when she’s saddled with Scanguards bodyguards everywhere she goes. It was immensely satisfying watching her mess with Grayson, though. After adventuring out and making some questionable one-night-stand decisions, she ends up with a new bodyguard - her hook up! The sexy dirty goodness of this one can’t be understated, but it does take a while to get to a HEA. There’s mystery, betrayal, and oodles of secrets. This book is guaranteed to get you hooked for the duration!

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Demon Unleashed

Demon Unleashed (Stealth Guardians #7)Demon Unleashed by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did I love this book, did I hate it? I’ve got to say that I went back and forth a little bit. This book nicely wraps up the Stealth Guardians series, though, which is very satisfying as a long time reader of this universe.

Enya is always the odd woman out - having been the single female stealth guardian in her hq for quite some time and is now also the only unmated one. Enter (ugh) Zoltan. First off, I still can’t get over that name and it immediately takes me out of the story for a second every time it is used. Okay, assuming that I felt that throughout, we’re also confronted with the fact that we are along for the redemption story of Zoltan. You know, the guys who tortured and raped folks in a few books previous. This one was hard to get over, too.

Zoltan has had headaches that it appears were tied to something more than just his weakness as a demon. As the ruler of the demons, he hides this well until he meets Enya face-to-face. These two have chemistry, even when they are both lying to one another. If you’ve read all the other books, the twist here is not even remotely a surprise, but was nice to watch play out. We also get the entire (and I mean *entire*) gang back together to close out the series. There is obviously redemption and obviously a HEA for all, but it was a little touch and go in between, making me doubt my assumptions. As a series ended, it definitely delivered on all accounts. Do I wish Enya’s made was someone other than the big bad? Yes.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Protector Unmatched

Protector Unmatched (Stealth Guardians #6)Protector Unmatched by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been hoping we’d get to see who the IT guru, Pearce, would end up with! Lucky for us, it’s anything but simple. While I ended up guessing the “twist” relatively early, it was still a good (and very dirty) ride.

Pearce is often relegated to the “guy in the chair” role in most of the Stealth Guardians action. We don’t know a whole lot about him, but that all changes in this book. It begins with one of Winter’s visions, one where Pearce is stabbed by a woman. What do they do? Of course they track down said woman using his super computer sleuthing skills. In typical “I’m going to end up with my mate” fashion, he hides most of what he knows and does from the others in the compound, which only ends up biting him.

Daphne is going through a lot - she’s on probation for a hacking offense, and now she’s got to deal with thugs to get her brother free. It’s at this point when Pearce meets her and they connect under completely false pretenses. With lots of trust issues around, this also leads to trouble. Don’t worry though, it is completely made up for some filthy good times. This book is definitely the dirtiest and I’m not mad about it. These books just keep getting better and better!

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Immortal Unveiled

Immortal Unveiled (Stealth Guardians Book 5)Immortal Unveiled by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had me re-hooked on the series. After Manus playing so prominently in the mating stories of the other warriors, it was good to see him struck dumb by a woman.

Kim is the almost-witness of her mother’s murder and she can’t let it go. The police have essentially given up, but the strangeness of the incident haunts her. Manus is the stealth guardian tasked with convincing him to let it go so she stops calling attention to the demon activity related to her mom’s death. In typical swagger fashion, Manus goes into the situation assuming Kim will completely believe his fabricated story and cover. Not only does she not believe him, but she ends up uncovering even more secrets he’s trying to shove under the rug.

These two are not exactly an unlikely pair, but it was still a nice amount of romance required. I felt more invested in this couple than some of the last, so it was nice to watch it play out. I’m definitely here to see this series wrap up, so happy that these books are headed in the right direction now!

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

Both Feet in the Grave

Both Feet in the Grave (Night Huntress, #9)Both Feet in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are EVERYTHING! I’m far enough away from my initial read of the series that I’ve pretty much forgotten most of the key points, so this new POV (Bones instead of Cat) is wonderful!

This book takes place in the time after Cat abandoned Bones (for “his own good”) and up until the end of the Ian/Bones drama (or first drama? Ian loves drama so it’s hard to put a number on it). It was great to see the Cat/Bones reveal at the wedding, their reigniting love affair, Cat’s team come into play, and all the little tid bits here and there. I also forgot about the secrets and twists so that was really fun to go through all over again.

So - where do I recommend reading this? After some discussion at book club, I think I’d say you should do this in the order recommended - go through the series, take all the parallel paths of the spin-off series that evolve from there, then come back here to go back to where it all started. Since the author updated the technology it’s really like a fresh world, so it works best here. I am loving this trip down memory lane as a new way to re-read the series withe new info and fun background information that you never got originally. Love it!

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Ignite the Fire: Inferno

Ignite the Fire: Inferno (Cassandra Palmer, #12)Ignite the Fire: Inferno by Karen Chance
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ugh. After Cassandra Palmer book #11 I was so angry at the characters, the author, and the series that I had to take a breather. I had even bought book #12 already but just couldn’t do that to myself at that time. In between, I dove into the Dory series that moves in a parallel to this one. That series convinced me that I should come back and “catch up” before going to the book that happens either in the same time frame or after this one (Time’s Fool). This was a mistake. This book “re-ignited” my hatred for where we are in this series, what has happened, and just this universe in general. 3 stars usually means I’m stopping the series, but the writing is OK. Honestly, I’m really struggling here with what to say about this book overall.

Did we get to a conclusion here? Yes, I think so. While we leave two main characters dangling, I’m hoping that gets somewhat resolved in the Dory book. Cassie, from my perspective, has run her course by the end. It’s the in-between parts (all 12+ hours in audible) that I really had a hard time with. For instance, there are *MULTIPLE* chapters of gang rape or rape attempts or reliving the rape that Cassie suffered through. Having to go through this was incredibly painful and traumatic. There should be a massive trigger warning at the start and maybe even a warning when we are in for MANY CHAPTERS of this. Is this necessary? What led us to a point where this is the only way through? Cassie has been through so much and this was just one more insult to the reader, from my perspective.

If I ignore the rape, which is BAD, I’m still left with a main character who takes so many side-quests, has so many side-conversations and just can’t seem to focus (we are having an ugly sweater contest, then we are ending the world again?) that it’s infuriating for most of the book. There are moments where it was nice to have a reminder of how we got here, but this book could have been half as long and cover just as much ground. If I had to summarize what actually pushed the overall plot forward, it would be the last few chapters and nothing in between. It felt like a lot of filler, and that’s coming from someone who still reads the Anita Blake books where they re-describe the eyes of each guy over and over. I want to be done with Cassie, but does that mean I need to stop the Dory books? Or can I keep going there and just stop this set? I guess I’ll find out because I just can’t go through this again.

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Pack Darling: Part Two

Pack Darling: Part Two (Pack Darling, #2)Pack Darling: Part Two by Lola Rock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you looking for a set of two books and comes complete with a HEA? Well then back it up and go to book 1 so you can truly appreciate the wonderful wrap up here!

Lilah’s story was only half-told by the end of the first book (as you can see by part one/part two designation). She’s a scrappy, wounded omega who is just looking to be on her own for the most part. Unfortunately, her body is telling her she needs mates, at least in the short term. Also unfortunately, it seems like everyone is out to kidnap her or harm her in one way or another. Between all the enemies from the omega academy she attended, the gang members who are looking to either collect a reward or bonus awards from their boss, and the mates who want to make their abandonment up to her, she gets almost zero moments for herself here.

So - the good part? Since all the potential mates are trying to woo her in one way or another, we get oodles of smutty goodness in between attempts on Lilah’s life. Lilah’s herself has really come into her own in this book, as has Orion. The two of them are AWESOME and I’d happily pick up another book in this world to revisit them. As I said, this has a pretty solid HEA that I’m also satisfied leaving as-is if needed.

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Sunday, April 30, 2023

One Wolf Next Door

One Wolf Next Door (The Willow Witch Chronicles, #1)One Wolf Next Door by Efthalia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick, cute read that really sets the stage for more installments.

Sam is a witch who has always had trouble with her powers. Left on her own to stumble along and generally shunned by other witches, she’s developed her own flower shop as her source of income and tends to avoid magic use. She’s thrown into the thick of things, though, when someone shows up dead on her doorstep and warlocks start popping out of thin air. There’s also the mysterious hottie next door that keeps sniffing around her.

All of this combines to make for a rather magical (ha-ha) time in her life, with many twists and turns along the way. There’s romance, sizzle, secrets, and a bit of action thrown in to round out this first book of a series. Having met a good number of interesting characters, I’m curious where we go from here.

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Sweep in Peace

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s official - I’m hooked on this series. We are reading it as a book club and we’ve all agreed to continue on wherever this series takes us!

This second installment really digs into the inn and innkeeper powers, as well as takes us deep inside some peace talks. Remember our vampire friend from the first book? Well he comes back with an entourage who is all part of peace talks for a contested alien world. Another familiar set of faces is the merchants, who we met bartering last time, but are a key stakeholder in this contested world. Last is a new-to-us race that seems very much like the vampires, but has a slightly different hierarchical structure and culture. All three of these groups end up at the inn (along with our favorite resident guest) under the banner of peace talks. How did they all get there? Well, turns out that there is a structure to arrange such a thing.

The arbiters that show up to arrange these talks come in the form of a calculating organizer of unknown powers, a shapeshifting mischief maker/peace-keeper, and a big bruiser of a sweetheart. Throw in a wildcard halfway through the talks and you’ve got a very uniquely balanced team to handle almost constant threats of violence. Dina, as Innkeeper, has her hands full in the most challenging ways this time, and all without her wolf-friend. I would also be remiss if I left out the necessity for Dina to hire on help in the most wonderful new character we meet this time around. All of this combined to really set the stage for future installments, but was a fun ride none the less.

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Saturday, April 22, 2023

Ancient Warrior

Ancient Warrior (Ancients Rising Book 8)Ancient Warrior by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aodh and Harlow’s story is just everything. While you can certainly read these as standalone books, I highly recommend reading this whole series - they are all excellent!

This series convinced me that post-apocalyptic worlds aren’t all bad. I mean, sure, they survived something terrible when the dragons destroyed most of the world and a lot of the infrastructure we take for granted, but the stories that come out of it are phenomenal. We join our merry band of housemates with a focus on Harlow, one of the twin tiger shifters. She’s always come across as damaged in the past, but this book shares the betrayal she was living with for years.

Aodh, a dragon shifter and Harlow’s intended mate, has been locked up by an evil witch for years, until a battle knocked him loose from his prison. He believes that Harlow betrayed him, both living a lie because of the witch’s magic. Don’t worry, though, because this story comes with excellent retribution, a lot of clearing the air, a healthy dose of witty banter, smut, and a HEA (for more than just Harlow). We also get guest appearances from our favorite other characters in this world, which is always nice. I enjoyed watching this one play out and can’t wait to see where we go next (Axel maybe?).

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Shoulder the Skye

Shoulder the Skye (Skye Druids, #2)Shoulder the Skye by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Donna Grant writes some wonderful worlds, so I was happy to dive back into the world already established by a few other series I’ve devoured. I missed book 1 but found it easy to settle back in to book 2 here.

Bronwyn is an outcast, even though she resides in an estate passed down for generations in the very protected world of Skye. She’s made some choices that she has to live with that made her “other.” Elias has been away from Skye for a while and is still trying to find his footing with his estranged family. While away, he made his own family in the form of a bunch of “Knights” who try to rescue those in need. This group of characters was definitely a highlight of the book - their camaraderie and genuine love for one another was wonderful to see play out.

Turns out, Elias and Bronwyn know each other from grade school and the sparks fly almost immediately when they encounter each other again. Yes, there is the pesky issue of Elias investigating the mysterious fog when he spies on her, but when he saves her from a run-in with an ex, they manage to work it out. I really enjoyed the unique twist of Bronwyn’s history, powers, and eventually how they end up conquering their big bad. I’m officially hooked on this series and may even go back to the start to catch up.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Dread and Buried

Dread and Buried (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #12)Dread and Buried by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books! While we are 12 books in, I think you can dive in wherever and enjoy a visit in the Southern Ghost Hunter world. This book is especially suited for it, since it’s a “road trip” type story that takes a few main characters on a road trip (or boat trip in this instance).

Verity is celebrating her sister’s birthday in a most unusual way. She, her sister, and both their boyfriends find themselves pulled into a pirate treasure hunt on an island nearby. It’s just distant enough to cut cell service and any sort of help, which becomes an issue when participants end up with more than they bargained for. As usual, the murder mystery part of the story was compelling and had me guessing until the end. Verity and her group made me love them even more (and performed what I thought was impossible for the least-likable cop).

This book really blends together the supernatural and “regular” romance into a wonderful story. These books never fail to put a smile on my face, whether through the antics of the ghosts or some wild and crazy situation. Even without the usuals around in the form of a pet skunk or friendly neighbor, this book had me hooked from the start. If you’re new to the series, I highly recommend you go back and enjoy the journey we’ve been on.

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Witch Way Out

Witch Way Out (A Full Moon Mystery)Witch Way Out by Cate Conte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops, I thought I had read the previous books in this series, but it was readily apparent that I hadn’t. That being said, I was able to catch up and dive into the wild and wacky world of Violet.

Violet appears to have been going through a bunch of revelations. She now knows she’s a witch, and not just a normal one but one with a seat on the magic council, heir to a glitter throwing mega-witch, and she’s also a small business owner. Oddly, it’s the last one that puts her on the route of a big murder mystery. Are there witchy elements? Sure! But her crystal shop gets selected to participate in a big fair for those types of things, by none other than her hero. Said hero, however, ends up at the center of a big mystery that somehow Violet gets involved in.

Oh, and there’s a bit of a love triangle or two going on in the background of all this, making things extra sticky as Violet tries to separate possible jealous with murderous intent in this mystery. I enjoyed all the characters with their somewhat normal quirks and flaws, and would like to get to know them all more. There’s a bit of a big reveal at the end that we hopefully dig into in further installments.

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Hell Bent

Hell Bent: an urban fantasy romance (Jinx McGee Book 2)Hell Bent: an urban fantasy romance by D.B. Sieders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in a series, and while I think you could probably eek by using context clues here, it’s better to begin at the beginning.

The story picks up in the aftermath of a truly PTSD inducing battle that Jinx and her team are all still working through. Every member is different degrees of messed up, physically, mentally, or both. In the case of D and Jinx, there is some trust broken and they are playing keep away until yet another demon attack draws them together again. Oh, and there’s a kitten involved this time. While they try to figure out working together again, the entire team is trying to pick up the pieces that the escaped demons have left.

The big story here involves some nefarious activities seen at the latest demon attack site, which leads them to a plan of infiltration and what is supposed to be detective work. Nothing ever goes as planned for Jinx, though, and she is still trying to figure out life without being possessed. The end here came fast and furious with twists and turns that kept the pages flipping. While we get a lot of hints in this book, I’m interested to see how Jinx deals with some revelations in future installments.

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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Must Love Hellhounds

Must Love HellhoundsMust Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I say this every time, but I’m not a huge fan of short story anthologies. I added this to my wishlist a while ago because I’ve read some of the authors contained here, and I’m nothing if not a reader determined to read all installments in a series. That being said, I don’t think you need any prior experience in any of these worlds, or with any of these authors, to enjoy the writing here.

The stories themselves have a good variety. There are some that lean heavier into romance and others that are more heavy in the paranormal, but they’ve all got hellhounds! As short story anthologies go, I admit that I will be checking out the last author to get more from the series because I found it very interesting. I’d recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good, quick, paranormal set of stories with some romance sprinkled in. Don’t expect down and dirty smutty goodness in each tale and you won’t be let down.

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I Dream of Demigods

I Dream of DemigodsI Dream of Demigods by Alexa Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute little start to what I hope grows into a wonderful series!

Or is a witch who can’t do magic. Every spells she tries fails and she’s been blocked ever since some trauma involving her family. All that changes when she gets a new boss, Alex, who also happens to be a grim reaper of sorts. His magic is attraction and oh boy does it work on Ro. These two light the pages on fire, but it also changes Ro. Aside from now being an avid rule breaker, going after her boss, she’s also now got magic to control, secrets to figure out, and a familiar who is simply the best!

This rag tag crew ends up coming together to try to avert certain disaster, fight evil ex’s, and ultimately save this budding romance. I loved the characters in this almost as much as the romance. As an intro to this world, I am officially ready for the next book!

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Guardian Undone

Guardian Undone (Stealth Guardians, #4)Guardian Undone by Tina Folsom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one wasn’t my favorite in this series. Something about the romance felt rushed and forced, leaving me less and less engaged in the overall story. The highlights here were the guest appearances of Scanguard folks and the hint at something bigger in the next books.

Logan has been a loyal soldier, so when he is ordered to take out a psychic before she falls into the hands of the demons, it should be easy. Instead, he ends up falling in lust, then jumping through a lot of mental hoops to end up justifying keeping her alive as “more useful.” Winter herself is less than enthusiastic in going with Logan, and that’s before she learns he was supposed to kill her. Like I said, the romance seems forced in there, but was OK overall.

The real story hidden in here revolves around the ruler of the demons. There’s definitely something more going on, as we’ve seen building in the previous books. Not sure where we are headed, but it better have a big payoff after so many hints. Here’s hoping having a psychic on their team helps the Stealth Guardians take a big step forward in the war against the demons, otherwise this book truly was filler.

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Clean Sweep

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having already known I enjoy this author, me liking this book is not a huge surprise. This author definitely knows how to make a truly unique world, complete with engaging characters.

The characters this time around start with Dina, who is an Innkeeper. This particular title comes with powers and abilities tied to a bit of neutral ground in the form of an inn for supernaturals. She’s not encouraged to take part in anything that could jeopardize her neutrality, but can’t seem to stop herself when the local werewolf, Sean, refuses to take action against someone murdering local animals in their neighborhood.

Sean himself isn’t super likable, but he definitely grew on me. He’s more of a reluctant supernatural in this story, but it works out for us, the reader, because he needs a lot of explanation. Whether it’s the magical world somewhere not on this planet where you can barter and buy just about anything or just generally the powers and responsibilities of an Innkeeper, it was good to have someone else to learn this world along with. The other characters we meet along the way also help build out a really interesting world that I’m eager to dive further into. Another bonus? We don’t get resolution on the romantic elements, the mystery of her parents, or too much info on the inn’s only guest. I like that we get to build slowly in this world and am eager for more!

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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Queen’s Gambit

Queen’s Gambit (Dorina Basarab, #5)Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve finally caught up with the Dorina series to where I am in Cassie’s books and I’m not sure I’m happy about it. Some of the criticism I had for the 2 parter in Cassie’s series apply here too - there’s not much wrap up in this book so be prepared for a lot of loose ends.

This book goes much like all other Dorina books - rapidly into crazy town with high levels of action, magic, and mayhem. There’s some Dorina/LC romance and drama since this starts with them on a half-honeymoon half-political tour to Egypt. It here that we get to learn what is probably too much about history. Why? Well, soon after their arrival, they are attacked (of course) and hit with magic that ends up separating Dory and Dorina, throwing one into a portal and keeping one to be lectured on history for some time. It ends up being kind of useful, but has the feeling of filler when you get there.

After fighting in both places with both characters I think I’ve decided I like Dorina more than Dory, which is bad, because while Dory’s story gets a little bit of a real ending, Dorina is left seriously hanging here. I get that this series and the others need to overlap and intersect, but it gives you a feeling that this was just a stepping stone to get you to pick up the other book. There were definitely more highlights in Dorina’s story than in Dory’s. I hope we get to divide our time in the next installment more heavily in there to make up for the imbalance here.

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Dark Alpha’s Fury

Dark Alpha's FuryDark Alpha's Fury by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book in the series?!? Say it ain’t so! This world is so rich and the characters so interesting that I am sad to let them go, but very happy with how it ended up playing out.

Xaneth is one of the wounded from the previous fae queen’s madness. She tortured him to the point that he escaped a changed man. With new powers to find evil, he feels compelled to stamp it all out in order to atone for whatever put him in that position in the first place. There is one exception to his tireless crusade, however, and that’s Aisling. Aisling feels just as drawn to him, but he is a prickly sort. They have danced around one another for a while now, but it took the big showdown where Aisling was seriously wounded for Xaneth to make any sort of move toward her.

Both Aisling and Xaneth came out of that battle changed, but the enemy got even more confirmation that she is his weakness. For good of bad, with that out in the open, they are forced to work together to finally put an end to their most powerful enemy. These two are such a good balance to one another that it was like two magnets fighting their attraction until now. By the end of the book, through some wonderful teamwork, we get the happy ending you’d hope for at the start. I wouldn’t change a thing!

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Sate the Darkness

Sate the Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #20)Sate the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How can this series still manage to surprise me, 20 books in? This combination of characters and setting were definitely not what I was expecting at all.

Sofie and Ryshi’s romance is definitely not standard. Ryshi was captured by the head vampire in charge when he was caught snooping around his house. How does one capture a half-jinn? Well, luckily there is a vampire with the powers to capture him in the form of Sofie. Sofie has committed to a life of self-imposed exile after her powers ended up making her a risk to others. Unfortunately, when the leader of the vampires says you need to escort a half-jinn into the famed labyrinth of the Minotaurs, you go.

Ryshi has been playing a long game. He could escape the prison he’s in at anytime but he isn’t done searching for his treasure yet. Said treasure also includes a vampire who captivated him. It’s on the journey together that they both uncover a deeper connection. Why are they on this trip? Well, of course it relates to Levet, unofficial god of mischief. He’s been taken and the combination powerhouse of Hades and Levet’s aunt force the vampire leader’s hands in the matter. If you’re joining the series this far in, just go with it. Either way, we get a sizzling romance, some fun adventure, and a really interesting world to explore all in one book!

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Resting Witch Face

Resting Witch Face (Stay a Spell, #5)Resting Witch Face by Juliette Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my gosh, this book delivered! All the previous books poked at the mystery of Jules & Ruben’s previous failed romance, letting us think they were done but this book threw all that up in the air.

This book really did everything I wanted it to and more. I thought we would have to tiptoe around their history together and slowly get used to one another again. WRONG! The book essentially starts with Ruben saying he’s done waiting and actively pursuing Jules. Jules, the uptight and most responsible of the family, she’s the one that really needs to learn to let go - and boy does she ever! It was fantastic watching these two rekindle their lost romance and find out just how wrong they were about each other.

Along the way, we are taken on a journey that gives even more insight into the covens that rule each of the regions. Our pair is on a bit of a goodwill mission to campaign for werewolf rights and a bit of rebranding. If you thought the old school ways were bad in the previous books, wait until you see what happens on the last leg of their trip. Jules and Ruben wind up in a situation neither could have predicted. I won’t spoil the ending, but will say that this book really checks all the boxes: action, romance, smutty goodness, and a strong family connection at the heart. I can’t say enough good things about this one!

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