Sunday, December 31, 2023

Cursed Luck

Cursed Luck (Cursed Luck, #1)Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute, unique story and world this book built! I dove in having just recognized the author with little background and was pleasantly surprised here.

Kennedy is one of three famous curse weaver witches, but she is the one who moved away from their hometown to practice on her own. Her specialty, also, is one that seems to be largely underrated and doesn’t come with the same clout as other magical specialties. It’s weird, then, that she is approached at her antique store twice in a row from folks wanting her to work for them. Both without even the courtesy of an appointment. Aiden, at least, offers her a rather cushy job, but also sort-of pushes her to break into his office to uncurse his mirror.

It ultimately works out for them as they have mutual interests in the form of their siblings in trouble. They team up to begin the most strange treasure hunting adventure ever. And yes, there are lots of Greek mythology elements at play here, not just in the form of Kennedy’s power. Overall, this was a really great setup for what I hope is a very big world. I can’t wait to see where this heads now that things have officially been set in motion for even more future mayhem (or havoc?). Loved it!

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Recon Mission: Bee

Recon Mission: Bee (Amplifier, #5.5)Recon Mission: Bee by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was probably more a 3.5 than 4 if only because it was short and a little confusing. Being in a new character’s head after spending so much time with Emma was jarring and I still find it super confusing when they actively change out the nicknames, real names, and “designations” throughout the text. We got to learn a little more about the inner workings of “Zans” while also getting the setup for the next big book.

Zans has issues, like lots and lots of issues. This short story, though, centers around her time after being “ditched” by “Fish” in Russia. They were supposed to be trying to track down “Bee” through a contact only Fish knew. Zans doesn’t go immediately into “tear the whole building down” mode, but we get there. There are a few twists, surprises, and reveals thrown in which make this sort-of required reading before the next book.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very different from the previous ones, not only in length but in who we get to see inside the heads of. In this case, we jump around quite a bit, giving us insight into most of the main characters. I assume this is to “brace” us for things to come, especially since the Nesta we got to know in the previous book takes a really sharp turn back in this novella.

This book takes place leading up to the solstice, which was nice and festive for my end of year reading. All the main characters are buying presents and navigating drama while learning/educating each other on traditions from years past. There are definitely some dark parts of this book, but those mostly center around the fallout from the war and Nesta. Feyre is still trying to figure out what she adds to this world without dedicating 100% of her waking hours to volunteering. Oh, and somehow Feyre and Rhys haven’t been able to spend time together, even though the war is over. Heavy sigh there.

The part that was probably the longest time coming was a visit with Tamlin. We don’t spend a ton of time with him, but what we get to see is… rewarding? Is that bad to say? Also sad. I felt like this gave some closure though, and that storyline really needed it. Cassian/Nesta story is definitely still a work in progress, but with this and Mor’s story we’ve got enough content for many more books. Hopefully we see a lot more of Lucien play out at some point, too. All in all, this was a nice “short” diversion, but didn’t actually push the main plot much.

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Friday, December 29, 2023

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t even know where to begin with this book because there was so much in it! While I definitely enjoyed the previous book more than this one, it certainly did wrap up some loose ends (not all, though!).

Remember where we left Feyre at the end of the previous book? Well she’s there and it’s just as terrible as you’d imagine. She’s hiding all sorts of secrets under this pretend-timid person, trying to gather information, get involved in enemy planning adventures, all while also planting seeds of doubt in the spring court. It’s really not that hard since there’s been enough neglect being shown by their ruler. Don’t worry, though, we don’t have to spend too much time here. Does Feyre make choices that make me want to throw the book? Yes. Does she also somehow get to her end goal? Also, yes. So I guess that’s a win?

All of that scheming and plotting takes us to the biggest part of the book - WAR. This book really is a huge lead up and then battle. Oh, there’s smutty goodness, lies, betrayal, shocking decision, more characters than you can remember, and an ending that also had me throwing the book, only to take it back. It really puts you through a rollercoaster ride of emotion that ends somewhere I can live with. Like I said at the start, we get to a good resolution to the war storyline (I hope for now) but we still have some things to resolve in future books. Mostly in the romance category but also in things like who the new world will play out. Also, we got one silly loose end play out in a very “MacGuffin ” sort of way. I still like the world, but have some notes now, whereas the previous book just left me a lot more settled somehow.

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Instincts and Impostors

Instincts and Impostors (Amplifier, #5)Instincts and Impostors by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a little while between books in this series before coming back to book #5. I’ve read all the other books in this world as they overlap timeline-wise, but it was still kind of jarring to join back in with the very… robotic (?) Emma. I eventually got over the learning curve here, but it definitely took a little while.

Emma is taking Opal to a cover retreat at the start of the book. While it’s only supposed to be them going with their fellow-witch-ish friend, it ends up bringing along most if not all the characters in some form or another. Also, if you’re a reader of the other series, we get lots of familiar faces for the coven. What should be a somewhat simple matter is made into a big ordeal that starts with a strange witch showing up with a raven. It snowballs from there, involving Paisley, Aiden, and Emma as they band together to save their little family.

I really did enjoy how much Emma manages to pull through as a leader when all her newfound emotions are rebelling. The way that she almost instantly makes really difficult decision is crazy, but fun to watch. I was on the edge of my seat until the end of this book, hoping for the best and generally being rewarded for it. You’ve done it again - I’m back on Team Emma.

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The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe

The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe (Sam Quinn, #6)The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will continue to read these books until there are no more in the series. The world and its characters are so fun that I couldn’t stop reading this one (just like the rest!).

This book finally gets to address the business with Clive’s maker, Garyn. We knew she was skulking around and that it would become a point in a future book, but this really spun up quick! They barely have time to visit their under construction “folly” before they are informed that Garyn is showing up for a visit. Should be easy, right? But nothing in Clive and Sam’s lives is ever easy. Turns out, Garyn is not just here for a nice check-in visit, but wants to turn this into an all out war.

How does it all go down? Well, I don’t want to spoil anything too big, but Gary’s powers end up surprising everyone involved. Sam, as usual, is forced to train some more and become an even bigger magical power by the end of all this. There’s lots of battles, powers, magic, mayhem, and alliances thrown into this one. After this fun romp, I’m somehow even more excited about the next book!

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Primal Possesion

Primal Possession (Moon Shifter Book 2)Primal Possession by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops, I dove into this series at book 2 instead of book 1. That being said, I don’t think it was too hard to catch up with all the previously introduced characters here.

We join December, an independent woman who owns her own book store and is determined not to get involved with a shifter, no matter how much he persists. Liam is not being too pushy (I don’t think) but he is definitely making it very clear that he wants to be with December, overbearing cop brother or not. What pushes them to take the leap? Well, there’s this anti-shifter group who will go to any length to make sure shifters don’t get accepted as “normal.” This leads them to attack December and her friend, leading to even more angry shifter males.

The romance here was pretty solid, and, yes, so was the smut. There’s clearly history I wasn’t aware of, but they do a good job catching you up along the way. The side story is about December’s friend and her shifter ex dancing around one another. Fair warning- this story does get pretty dark as far as kidnapping and torture, so if that type of thing bothers you, you’ll be skimming or avoiding certain chapters. I found this book to be a good blend of action and romance/smut.

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Wolf’s Bane

Wolf's Bane (Wolves Next Door, #1)Wolf's Bane by Auryn Hadley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In my effort to not go over my allotted audible credits, I looked for a title that was included in my membership, but still in my preferred paranormal romance genre. I didn't even realize this was 1 of 3 in a trilogy, but that explains how this story wraps up now.

Elena is a woman who has realized she's got to get a divorce. After her daughter, Gabby, points out how Elena has been letting her husband treat her with no respect, she's motivated to take the next step. Lucky for her, her BFF, Ashley, happens to have an office opening in the very exclusive gated community she works at/lives in. Seems easy enough, other than uprooting her daughter and shaking up her "normal" life. Things get very complicated when we start throwing wolf shifters in the mix. Oh, and young, attractive, poly wolf shifters, too. This does a slow slide into reverse-harem territory since in this world, that's how wolf shifters operate.

Ian is the wolf shifter alpha and begins the story totally against having a human in their midst. In this world, wolf shifters are still hiding and he doesn't want to risk his pack because Ashley (his sister) wants her BFF living there. The fact that one of his betas, though, Lane, is fated to be with Elena, makes him rethink his options here. Honestly, for a reverse-harem, there is a surprisingly little amount of smut in this book. It is largely centered around Elena's uncertainties, Gabby's new life, and teenage angst. Oh, and can I also say that Elena's ex is the WORST. It was hard to hear about him and I'm not sure I'd sign up for more of him in the future books. While we end relatively resolved, there is definitely more to come for this newly formed family.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

Big Witch Energy

Big Witch Energy (Starfall, #2)Big Witch Energy by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Molly Harper never disappoints and this story picked right up where book 1 left us. I'd recommend going back so you get the world building, with the promise of Caroline's book waiting for you here.

Caroline is one of the members of the newly formed coven on Starfall Point. She is somehow okay with most aspects of the witch world, but is still figuring out her own family. As the "dependable one," Caroline is often the only family member working her shifts at the bar (other than her mom). Since her family is cursed to die some horribly weird death if they leave the island, you'd think they would want to keep their only family business afloat but her brother are largely useless and her dad is still lost in grief. Caroline's reliable nature, however, is put to the test when her ex shows up one night with kids in tow and her family bar suffers some terrible damage. Oh, and she gets hit by a moped, too.

Throw all these things together and I was very happy with the ups and downs of Caroline's story. She and Ben (the ex) are cute together, but not perfect. The kids are also cute but not perfect. I would read 100 of these types of books and I'm glad to see that, with the world now established, we are working our way through the pairing up of the coven. I cannot wait to see what they end up being able to do and who will enter their world next. The house full of ghosts somehow take a back seat to all the other yummy drama.

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BronxBronx by Margo Bond Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I inadvertently joined this story at the end of the trilogy, but was able to keep pace with the world and characters. I'd probably recommend starting from book 1 though.

Bronx is the scarred guardian of his pack and he now feels like a burden instead of a benefit to said pack. With the recent merging of his pack with another one, his alpha has tasked him with taking a mate from the group of outsiders. Cora is a previously abused single mother of said group of outsiders. She ends up moving to the compound and rather quickly finding attraction with Bronx. She looks beyond his scars and sees the warrior he is, always protecting others. Bronx is very quick to jump on the mating idea when he sees possibilities with Cora.

If you're looking for romance, this is more a fated mates and rushed ceremony type of deal, with some smut thrown in to smooth some of the rough edges. I'm not sure if I agreed with how quickly the abuse is resolved or recovered from, but I'm willing to hand wave for the sake of fated mates. There were not really super high stakes at any point, so it was an easy read. Since this is book 3 of a trilogy, I assumed we'd wrap everything up, and we largely did, but we also have some loose ends in the way a side character gets his own chapter. Are there more books coming? I hope so!

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Sunday, December 3, 2023

A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch

A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch (Glimmer Falls, #2)A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch by Sarah Hawley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoops, I started this series at book 2! I don’t think I had trouble catching up, though, especially since a key element of this book is being able to make the villain of book 1 into the love interest/hero here.

Calladia is a brawling witch who has been determinedly herself ever since she allowed her family and boyfriend make her feel small. She lives on her own, has a massively supportive friend group of various paranormals (who are out in the open in this world), and is a strong witch herself. Surprise, surprise, the evil doer from her most recent demon encounter ends up wounded and begging for her help so soon after their last meeting. Astaroth, said demon, has lost his memory and is injured when he meets Calladia for what feels like the first time to him. With no memories, it appears that he is a lot nicer than before.

Being the somehow still kind-hearted person that she is, Calladia takes it upon herself to help Astaroth regain his memories and thwart the even-more-evil demons who end up taking aim at them. There are a lot of side quests that combine to a big showdown against the rulers of demon kind in a great sort of way. If you enjoy a nice enemies to lovers story with lots of dirty goodness, this is definitely worth checking out (and maybe going back one book, too!).

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Born to Be Badger

Born to Be Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #5)Born to Be Badger by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gosh, where to even begin with this book filled with mayhem? I’ve jumped in and out of this series, so I can assure you that you will be lost in a whirlwind of chaos no matter if you’re read all the previous books or not, so this can totally be standalone if you are interested.

Tock is one of the band of misfit badgers who are notoriously up to no good. They might be excellent basketball players, but they are really terrible at staying out of trouble. I mean that in the best possible way because their antics make for hilarious reading. Shay is part of the Malone family of shifters and he somehow gets caught up in the tornado of Tock’s life, hitching a ride to a seemingly straightforward heist that goes sideways. Turns out, he can come in handy even when paired off with a nearly indestructible shifter.

While this does include romance-ish aspects and some smutty good times, it really does lean heavily into the larger story of espionage, backstabbing, corrupt politics, etc. If that’s not your cup of tea, I’d still say that this will put it all in a way that a paranormal reader can enjoy. Really - the level of mayhem is off the charts! I always go through a roller coaster of emotion reading these books that always starts in confusion, shock, but ends with smiles and happiness. If that sounds good, check out this or other books in this series.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Monster Without Mercy

Monster Without MercyMonster Without Mercy by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick, fun, and satisfyingly silly paranormal romance. It was definitely a unique spin on your good girl/bad guy story.

Xavier has been cursed by his father to lose his powers if he doesn’t get someone to give up their good soul for him. After ignoring it for far too long, his trusted and snarky advisor (who steals the show in many scenes) finds a descendent of an angel who may fit the bill. Xavier shows up in his evil ruler glory to save said person (Mercy) and whisk her away to safety. That kind of backfires a bit, and there’s oodles of explaining to be jammed into very dangerous times, but it turns out that Mercy has been surrounded by folks trying to take advantage of her!

In this case, Xavier might somehow actually be the safest bet for her, especially when he starts demonstrating some very un-evil behaviors. This is especially concerning to those how know Xavier as the evil-doer who literally hurts when he does nice things. After many quick twists and turns and fun new intros (more books please?), we do get ourselves to a nice HEA here.

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Heart of Glass

Heart of Glass (Skye Druids #3)Heart of Glass by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely my new favorite of the series so far. Something about Ferne and Theo’s story really had me hooked from the start.

Ferne’s tale has been on a slow build up to this book, where she finally takes the leap and heads to Skye. After being raised to believe that she will be disowned by her London family and hated by the Skye druids by stepping foot there, it’s taken all her courage just to go. Once she arrives, she follows her instincts and they lead her to Theo. Theo is in a weird position where he straddles the line between humans on the isle and the druids. With this weird murderous fog/mist attacking druids, he needs to solve the case to satisfy both parts of his life - as a cop and Druid.

Ferne and Theo meet with fireworks and it only gets better from there. Somehow Ferne was able to talk mind-to-mind to a Druid there and she is all in on using anything she can to help defend these people. It even goes so far as to endangering her life and going against her brother’s wishes. With so much at stake, she risks it all and gets very close to losing. There are a lot of moving pieces and it was really satisfying to see them move into a pattern that gets us one step closer to a big showdown. We get some resolution, don’t worry, but it isn’t as permanent as I’d have liked to see. I know there is still a lot of unanswered stuff we need to work through, but the story is really getting there.

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Blood Heir

Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder, #1; World of Kate Daniels, #13)Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a terrible fan of Kate Daniels because I didn’t even know this came out. Once discovered, however, I dove right in!

If you are up to date with the Kate books and spinoffs, you know that something is going on with Julie. Turns out that after teaming up with Kate’s aunt, she determines that she needs to try to undo a mystical prophecy about someone out to kill Kate. Since Kate is essentially Julie’s mother, she tries to hit the magical big bad head on, but doesn’t exactly get the results she is after. All this is summarized nicely in the story at the end of the book (maybe skip there first?), but what we are left with is a Julie who has no recognizable face and no recognizable scent. Throw this all together with the fact that she didn’t really stop the prophecy and instead just delayed it a little. Oh, and the prophecy has a caveat that she can’t tell Kate, so don’t hold out hopes for all the fun visits we’d like to see between these two.

What do we get, though? We get Julie, forced to navigate her old hometown but without the connections she used to have. Sure, some folks are OK to let in on the secret, but even her long lost love ends up not showing any sign of recognizing her. These two tiptoe around one another in an adorable and wonderful way. That was definitely a highlight. While, again, we are no able to fully stop things that are set in stone in this book, we do make a good nudge towards resolution. Oh, and there’s a whole big story about a magical artifact and cookies and self-important hyenas.

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

The King of Fire

The King of Fire (Aurelia Ryder, #0.5)The King of Fire by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure really how to rate a very short story set in the world of Kate Daniels. This does give at least more exposition than I got at the start of the Aurelia Ryder Book 1 (though I hear this is contained at the end maybe).

We join Julie, who’s in the process of becoming Aurelia Ryder. We get to see how she ended up there, a near-fatal misstep, and her interactions with her brother and grandfather. All of these things add up to become the precursor to Book 1, where Julie has officially become Aurelia. I wish this was longer, but will gobble up any and all KD stuff.

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Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon

Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon (Black Rock Guardians #2)Havoc Under the Hunter’s Moon by Susanna Strom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really enjoying this world and definitely recommend starting at book 1 if you are considering starting here. The setup in the first book is what made this book so much “easier” to settle into. If you are set on plowing through, there’s probably enough to catch up, but it won’t be as rewarding a payoff.

Annika is the sister with some baggage from the previous book in the worst way. She was forced to kill a man to defend her family and now she’s got to live with that. She’s also got to live with a “babysitter” from the pack who is not exactly the best counter worker at their bakery. It also doesn’t help that they are dancing around each other, pretending that the attraction doesn’t exist. Thing shift into high gear when Courtney reappears and ups the threat level. The pack does what they do and locks the sisters down in the complex, but the threats just keep coming.

Being the kind hearted person that she is, Annika can’t just sit there while folks get injured protecting her. Zane, in ultra-protect mode, is along for the ride here. It was really fun to watch Annika smooth Zane’s rough edges and ultimately made them both better for it. We get our HEA here, but beware - there is a definite cliffhanger. This book honestly could have ended at the HEA and I’d be happy but we resolve most if not all the book loose ends, aside from the cliffhanger stuff. Fair warning if that upsets you, you might want to wait to dig in here until the next one is in your hands.

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Magic Claims

Magic Claims (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #2; Kate Daniels, #10.6)Magic Claims by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s so nice to go back to the world of Kate & Curran. In this book, Kate really shines.

Kate is still trying to “lay low” but after her previous Wilmington adventure, it seems unlikely. While progress on the fort is done, they receive a visitor loosely tied to Kate’s work in the previous book. It quickly becomes clear that they have been made an offer they can’t refuse. We all know that Curran is going to be beast lord whether he wants to or not and that Kate is still following (loosely) in her father’s footsteps. This sets them on the journey to a town that has been “cursed.” They receive visits demanding sacrifices and it appears nobody from the town is able to leave for more than a day.

Having no patience for bullies, Kate, Curran and their newly formed “pack” head out in to the evil woods to have a talk with the evil that lurks there. Turns out, there’s a lot of fighting that has to happen before we get to the talking stage. It’s Kate at her absolute best - just flexing her fighting and magic to the best of her ability, standing up for those in her protection. There are absolutely bigger forces at play, moving the chess pieces around, but it was still so satisfying to see Kate step up and make the tough decisions. I loved this story and hope we don’t have to leave Kate here forever.

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Witch You Weren't Here

Witch You Weren't HereWitch You Weren't Here by Emma Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting world that was build here - complete with witches, magic, mayhem, and mystery!

Kay has been struggling with her magic lately. She took an alternative route in life, not choosing to lean into her magical abilities and instead went into IT. There are oodles of regrets and drama in her hometown that she’d like to avoid, but on a work trip out of the country, she somehow ends up running right into her childhood crush. Said crush ended up stomping on her heart pretty badly, so she doesn’t open right up to him about her own magical troubles. Instead they end up reluctant travel companions, both racing against cancelled flights and huge storms.

At first, I admit, I was anti-Harry (the childhood crush). We slowly peel back the layers that led to their terrible heart-stomping encounter, but with enough time, magic, and good vibes, we eek our way to a HEA. There’s even a big mystery to solve, and a wedding to manage, all rolled into this seemingly “normal” romance (with witches, though). I really enjoyed the introduction to this world and hope we swing back to visit again.

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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Magic Tides

Magic Tides (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #1; Kate Daniels, #10.5)Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I missed this world. After taking such a long break in between, it was like visiting with old friends. This story is not the longest, but gave Kate and Curran enough time to flex and remind us that they are AWESOME.

The happy couple and their kids are settling into life away from the craziness that was Atlanta. OK, so they bought a fort and are renovating it, but that’s still more normal than their previous lives. The mission is to stay under the radar here. That all changes when their son finds out that the contractor they are using’s nephew gets kidnapped. Enter Kate, who must be so eager for a fight that she stomps (or prances on Cuddles) up to the local gang leader’s house and literally burns it down. Man, it was great to watch her in action again.

Curran is no slouch either. He has been tasked with protecting the humans and readying his son for his first taste of combat. Again - AWESOME. I missed the beast lord and all of his groupies. We get to visit with old faces, new faces, and just generally bask in the familiarity of Kate & Curran kicking butt. This probably doesn’t appeal to newcomers to this world as much as it does to me, but it is probably still enjoyable.

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Time’s Fool

Time's Fool (Dorina Basarab #6)Time's Fool by Karen Chance
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What did I just read? I checked a few times to make sure this wasn’t some spin-off in a spin-off series but somehow this is deemed part of the Dorina series itself. Why? This is largely a story about Kit and his younger love story. Dorina is there but more of a supporting character than anything and certainly not in her current form. At this point I have no idea why this fits in anywhere and should instead be deemed a novella side plot.

For some reason Dorina is flung all over time to hunt down some big bad. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved, coven nonsense, Kit but much younger and less jaded, Mircea with his secrets, and time travel. Lots of time travel. It was exhausting in the way that Cassie’s books are exhausting but definitely not fun. I enjoy the writing but honestly felt myself tuning out when there is just so much history unnecessarily thrown in. Women took herbs to have abortions - OK, why do we need to know this now? Can we please progress the plot. There are long, drawn out stories just to… educate us? It reads like a historical novel instead of the paranormal romp I would have much preferred.

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Warrior’s Hope

Warrior's Hope (Dark Protectors, #16)Warrior's Hope by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t believe we got to the end of this story! It seems like just yesterday that all the main characters were children hanging out, and now they’re all leading teams of warriors! Weird, also, that with vampires and demons everyone gets to seems around the same age as their parents.

So, we knew eventually Hope would have to choose. This story has been building for books and books so to get the full impact, I’d recommend heading back to the beginning (maybe not the very beginning, but at least when this story arc starts with the seven). Hope has known all her life that she will have a role to play in defeating Ulric. He’s the big bad here that has officially been loosed on the world and has resumed his favorite pastime of stealing women who are possible mates. While Hope still believes in the good of her childhood friend, Drake, who is leading their enemies, her other BFF, Paxton knows that Drake is up to no good. It probably doesn’t help his case, though, that Paxton’s been in love with Hope for as long as he can remember.

This story starts with a big reveal about how Paxton has been spending his “research time” and how that impacts the safety of everyone involved. This single reveal and the ramifications end up leading us toward the stunning conclusion here. Don’t worry, though, we get lots of steamy goodness as Hope *finally* starts to see Paxton as a grown man. I admit - this was a struggle for me, but I got there by the end. We get everything you’ve wanted all along the previous books jammed into this one - Drake’s true nature revealed, Paxton’s true nature revealed, the Seven finally doing their Seven stuff, the keys doing their key stuff, rebellions, undercover relatives, and so much more! After all the build up, this was so very satisfying in the end.

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Personal Demons

Personal Demons: Includes bonus short story - Magicsmith Universe (The Rifter Series Book 2)Personal Demons: Includes bonus short story - Magicsmith Universe by L.R. Braden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoops, I didn’t realize this was book 2 in a series where the world was already built. That being said, I was able to catch up here, and threw in a higher rating to compensate for me not really knowing everything I should going into this one.

Mira has issues. She’s adjusting to a new partner (Ty) and still working on the delicate balance that is having a demon sharing your body. Sure, you get lots of power and the ability to do good, but you’ve also got to literally feed the demon. With her demon also comes a whole lot of discrimination and judgement, some of which Mira just assumes comes from Ty all the time. Ty, on the other hand, definitely remembers Mira and his time together before they became partners. Their new partnership gets truly tested when they are called back to Mira’s home town to hunt some evil doers.

Mira somehow believes that she can go down to Florida and magically avoid all her relatives. No such luck and it works out in the most wonderful way. The horrible gritty realness of this family really hooked me. While the start of the story was spent with me trying to figure out what I’ve gotten myself into, I was fully on board when her grandmother arrives. This is ultimately a mystery with oodles of paranormals thrown in (and lots of food). While there is not a gigantic romantic component, it still checks the boxes for a paranormal that could eventually grow up into a romance.

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A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books! I’m not sure how to review them anymore because I’ve reached maximum cringe. There are such bright points of happiness and wonderful things but I also know that there are more books in this series and things have to get back to bad in order to build the story. Brace yourself, because this one took us on a wild ride filled with massively shifting dynamics.

When we last left Feyre and Tamlin, they were happily reunited but with the looming threat of their dark deeds under the mountain coming back to haunt them. More specifically, Feyre’s bargain with Rhys in order to save her life. What’s a week of time in the grand scheme of saving a life, right? Well, after the dust settles, it is definitely weighing on the “happy couple.” Feyre is trapped in her new life, handed from one party to the next, told what to wear, what to do, and appears to be just a shell of who she was before. Where did the wild fighter go? Who is this woman who is sick every night with memories from her last fateful task? It was torture to watch, but somehow gets worse when she is walking down the aisle towards Tamlin, in a gown she hates, with flowers she specifically didn’t want, and no clear way out. Enter Rhys - who we all knew would be a wrench in the plans.

Where to begin? I get it - we hate him, and he’s a bad boy, but… wow. This book does things that I was surprised by. I’m not going to spoil too much, but the journey we go on with Rhys is no simply night and day (get it???) but subtly nudges you on the path to liking him. It’s really well done and with happily smutty results. I *loved* the night court and all the wonderful dreams that reside there. Even knowing that he don’t end up super happy at the end of this one, the journey was worth the cost in this case. I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens next!

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Friday, October 20, 2023

A stitch in time

A Stitch in TimeA Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a big fan of Garak and DS9 in general, I devoured this book. The bonus for me was certainly that i did it via audiobook, narrated by the actor that played Garak. It immerses you so deeply into the world that it was like having a spinoff movie set in the DS9 franchise.

This book is told in a few different time periods. I’d highly recommend a DS9 re-watch prior to diving in here, but you can probably just strive to remember things along the way. May loose threads (see what I did there?) are tied up in this book, written by the actor and gives a supremely satisfying tale. So, back to how this story is told. We get to follow along in the present time, where Garak is writing a letter to Doctor Bashir. He’s on his “home world” and trying to literally dig it out of the rubble that the war created. The second bit of the tale is told from Garak’s time on DS9, leading up to the attempt to re-take his home world. Lastly, we get a really interesting look into Garak’s time growing up, getting trained as a spy, and, gasp, falling in love.

It’s hard to summarize this book in a coherent way because it takes a lot of twists a turns. Ultimately, where we end is satisfying because we get to spend time with the Garak who has been through many things that shaped him. Are all the open questions answered? Absolutely not - what kind of Garak book would this be if that were the case?!?! You get taken on a wonderful journey, told through the lens of a truly unique individual. It was very rewarding to see some random mentions make big waves in Garak’s past. I can’t recommend this enough for someone who wants to enjoy some DS9 with a different storyteller.

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Saturday, October 7, 2023

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I expected here, being that I’m a little late to the game. This is a very popular author and series but I just now have started at book 1. This is a fairy tale coupled with romance and self discovery.

Feyre is a girl who has had to take on responsibility for keeping her family fed at too young and age. Even though she’s not the eldest, she is the one who hunts for them, keeps money coming in, and essentially keeps them all alive after her father’s business crumbled. While this certainly takes place in a different world, it is some weird blend that does not include technology but does include magic. There was a divide between the fae and humans that created a wall between their worlds. There is a lot of hatred, worship, and anything in between for them. Ultimately, Feyre is focused only on keeping her family safe and maybe one day being happy.

While hunting one day she ends up up killing a wolf who is much more than that. From the treaty it seems that Feyre is subject to fae laws and taken to their land by Tamlin. This feels very much like Beauty & the Beast at times, with some smuttier thoughts thrown in. At her “prison” she lives in an estate, never really wanting for anything. She’s able to explore what she enjoys (painting) and figuring out how to spend her days free of obligations. It was nice to watch Feyre open up and grow as a person, even if some choices she makes had me pulling out my hair.

Tamlin is her keeper, love interest, lord, and will likely come to be a lot more. This story grew in ways I didn’t expect, though it did set me up properly by building a wonderful, happy world only to smash it to bits. We do get to a good ending, though, but it takes a lot of pain to get there. As a first book in the series, this was enough to get me into book two. They introduce enough additional characters that I’m thoroughly invested now.

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Biergarten of the Damned

Biergarten of the Damned (Sam Quinn, #5)Biergarten of the Damned by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After all the craziness of the last book, this one comes off as almost sedate. Does Sam get thrown into crazy situations? Sure. But there’s a general focus to the big bad here.

Sam and Clive are back and working on building their married life together. After discovering the awesome magical construct the dragons had in the last book, that is currently under construction behind the book store. They are also working on their own house to live in together (outside the nocturn) like normal folks. Oh, and they’ve got a dog, who is maybe the star of this book. Something, however, is very much up with Dave. He’s ditching work and is maybe more ornery than usual.

Sam being Sam, can’t leave that alone so goes after him to discover he no longer wants anything to do with her. Thus begins Sam’s very reluctant entrance into the demon world to try to get her friend back. There’s a lot of secrets that get revealed as part of this journey, but we end up in a better place by the end. We even gain some unexpected friends along the way! This book is definitely setting up whatever happens next, but I did enjoy a deeper dive into the demon world. Oh, and there’s some almost side story for an old archnemesis of theirs (they have a lot of past villains), but this gives good resolution there, too.

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Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame (Night Watch, #3)Eternal Flame by Cynthia Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This last book in the series delivers by wrapping things up, but also somehow introduces two separate shadowy organizations. Lots going on here, and oodles of fire!

Zane is one of the only main Night Watch characters who has not been paired off. He’s got control issues, and previous books seemed to point to him getting together with the resident witch, but that has fizzled by the start of this one. On a hunt, he ends up meeting Jana. She plays the victim really well and even manages to pull one over on him. Things go sideways after they realize that Jana is the fire wielding magic user who has become top priority for Night Watch.

Surprise - these two have attraction that somehow ends up with them handcuffed together, on the run from the good/bad guys, and dealing with their issues. A highlight of this book? The mundane cop who helps these guys. He has grown on me over the last few books and here he is truly a star. I’m sad we don’t get to see his story play out here, but either way he is a great addition. While there is a lot of death, destruction, and damage, we end this one with a concrete wrap-up and a good happy ending. These were a good set of books for the paranormal minded to check out.

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Bad Luck Vampire

Bad Luck Vampire (Argeneau #36)Bad Luck Vampire by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Look - 36 books in you should know what to expect here. If this is where you’re starting, for some reason, I guess you can do that but you’ll miss all the world building and backstory for just about every character in this book. That being said, this did have some fun, new mysteries thrown in to keep it fresh.

Sophie is cursed. She’s been followed by a lot of mysterious events that color her childhood. She thought she finally found a place she belonged, with her adopted family who she also works with, but the bad luck continues. On a spectacularly bad blind date, she gets drawn into the Argeneau world. Alasdair is an immortal who has given up finding his fated mate until he sets eyes on Sophie. On a date with someone else, it seems bad form but the entire Argeneau clan gangs up to make these two meet.

What follows is a whodunnit coupled with some very meddling family members. These two have the typical, expected sizzle that mates have, with a sometimes dark murder-mystery going on behind the scenes. I honestly didn’t guess the big bad here, so that was kind of nice to have happen, too. I’ll keep reading these books until there are no more to read, so please keep publishing!

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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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