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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