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Nov
1

Review: Lord of Snow and Ice by Heather Massey

Review: Lord of Snow and Ice by Heather Massey Lord of Snow and Ice Author: Heather Massey  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: C, 2.5 Stars What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una picked Lord of Snow and Ice because it sounded interesting.  We were intrigued by a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, however, what we received was anything but. The overall story of Lord of Snow and Ice in our opinion, is not Beauty and the Beast.  There may be a “moment” of it, a small halftime where we saw the Beauty and the Beast interlude, but for the most part is more akin to Romeo and Juliet, which is not a fairy tale.  The novel does end with a happily ever after, but it was long and arduous road to finally get there. Stellan was a fascinating character.  A lord who must do his own “dirty” work, which includes scrubbing floors.  Being lord of a Manor that has almost no staff is an exercise in determination and drive.  Stellan works hard to make the best of a really awful situation (estranged from his family and left to fend for himself).  He finds good people to help support him; however, happiness is something he has accepted will forever be from his grasp. Then he sees the princess Clarysa and saves her life – even without her ever knowing. Later when they meet again she finds herself compelled by him even though he is considered an anathema.   Although we liked Stellan, his nature and character, we were disappointed in Clarysa.  She tended to be whiny and somewhat self-absorbed. The “Beauty and the Beast” interlude we mentioned above is another issue for us.  Stellan finds himself transformed into a beast (this should not be a spoiler by the way).  The tryst that almost occurs between Clarysa and Stellan was far too close to bestiality for our tastes (and being Lora Leigh fans that says something).  If this is the retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it fell quite short for us.  We were disappointed in how it was handled and executed. Lord of Snow and Ice moved very (very, very, glacially) slowly.  We loved Stellan’s Captain of the Guard, but her story came at the last third of the novel and her sacrifice came too easily and quickly for our tastes.  The conflict between Stellan and his sister could have been richer, and to our chagrin, remained one dimensional.  If you are interested in a tale of Romeo...
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Oct
31

Review: Working Out the Kinks by Kara Winters

Review: Working Out the Kinks by Kara Winters Working Out the Kinks Author: Kara Winters  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C, 2.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: With some smokin’ hot BDSM scenes, Working Out the Kinks definitely earns 5 flames from this reviewer.  However, hotness isn’t the only thing important to me in a story.  This title fell flat in the romance department for me.  As in, I didn’t see any. A plot arc is pretty important to me when I’m reading a story, and the resolution in romance, in my opinion, should follow some sort of conflict that threatens to pull apart the couple.  I never really found one in this novella.  Smokin’ hot BDSM?  Sure.  It was as though the only conflict present was whether Lexi would get busted for trying to get Whitney out of her BDSM arrangement. I suppose Wesley (and I’m really unsure of his relationship with Eric – he was his former Dom, but I don’t think that’s the case any more) entering the picture caused a slight breeze – not even a ripple – but nothing that could even be remotely classified as a conflict. Um.  OK. I never really saw any romance, except that which Lexi fantasized.  I actually thought that Eric thought he was merely training Lexi for someone else when they went through the contract.  He asked, she lied and said she had a Dom.  *shrug*  Didn’t see any change in emotion or anything else.  What I did see, however, was a Dom caring for his sub after playing.  I never saw it as romantic.  I viewed it as responsible and healthy.  Then, at the end… BAM!  The ‘L’ word gets tossed around, and they all live happily ever after.  When I reached the end, I was looking for another hundred or so pages to actually identify a conflict between the D/s and have that play out.  I wanted to see romance develop between Lexi and Eric – I didn’t think Eric treated her any differently than he treated Whitney, his trainee.  P.S. – the mere mention of a ‘contract’ made me cringe. In addition, there were a few things that stood out as particularly ‘Um.  What?!?’ for me. In my opinion, the only redeeming factor in this novella was the creative BDSM scenes.  The emotion was definitely portrayed through Lexi’s point-of-view.  As a new submissive, the uncertainty and apprehension was apparent.  The pleasure/pain aspect was also evident.  If you’re up for a hot read and don’t care...
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Oct
8

Review: Stonecast by Anton Strout

Review: Stonecast by Anton Strout Stonecast Author: Anton Strout Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: C, 2.5 Stars What We’re Talking About: Note: This review contains minor spoilers. Stonecast is the sequel to Alchemystic in the Spellmasons Chronicles.  Sadly, we were disappointed in this much-anticipated continuation of the journey of Alex and her friends through this fascinating new world.  The elements that we enjoyed most in the previous novel were missing from this edition, making it a slow and difficult read. Alex is still struggling to understand and use her spellmason abilities so she can save Stanis from his father.  While she is currently unable to live in her previous home, she has set up a new lab – in the building where her brother had “allegedly” died.  When Alex finds an intruder stealing from her grandfather’s supplies, she discovers she is not the only “mystical” person in this world.  This means that Stanis’ father is not the only person looking to control Alex. Stonecast takes a very different path from the previous novel.  As Alex works to find and free Stanis, she discovers the unlikely ally in Caleb.  He is an alchemist – not a true stonemason, but able to do something similar through potions and spells.  However, Caleb’s only loyalty is to himself, and he only worries about his wellbeing and his wealth.  We learn early on that not only is Caleb the thief, but also working with Stanis’ father to break Stanis.  The torture we experience through Stanis’ point of view is disturbing and not for the faint of heart.  For Gikany and Una, it was too much.  It is not just a moment of torture but several chapters’ worth.  This led us to deeply dislike and distrust Caleb causing us to be completely flabbergasted by Alex’s immediate attraction to him.  We understand the concept of love at first sight, but seriously?  He robbed her, harmed her and Rory, and she finds herself in love?  And yet, she doesn’t trust him…how do you love someone if you cannot first trust them?  This whole scenario just struck a wrong chord with us.  Alex seemed to have some very definite moments that felt out of character and just wrong. Our favorite parts of the previous novel were Alex’s friends: Rory and Marshall.  In this novel, Alex attempts to protect her friends from harm by avoiding them, and we lost that.  There are very few moments of the banter and camaraderie that we had become...
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Sep
23

Review: Never Gonna Say Goodbye by Jessica E. Subject

Review: Never Gonna Say Goodbye by Jessica E. Subject Never Gonna Say Goodbye Author: Jessica E. Subject Reviewer: Twimom Rating: C, 2.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Never Gonna Say Goodbye is the third and final novella in a short sci-fi romance trilogy from Jessica E. Subject. The series follows the lives of individuals who work for a powerful company known as Planet Corp. We learned in the first two tales that Planet Corp is all-controlling, its leaders are malevolent, and several individuals have attempted to escape life with Planet Corp by joining The Underground. The third installment begins just after the “forbidden” weddings among those in The Underground, occurring at the conclusion of the second story. Our main hero, Will, is the leader of the resistance and his love is Tim. They are fighting for the freedom for all and for the right to love one another openly. The story moves extremely quickly, and if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you will probably have little interest in what is going on during Never Gonna Say Goodbye. All of the world building and most of the character development occurs during the first two stories. The story feels more like the final few chapters and epilogue from another book, rather than a stand alone story. There is relatively no time spent learning about Will and Tim; therefore, I felt little emotional attachment to the primary couple. From near the beginning, Tim makes some pretty huge decisions that have MAJOR impacts on The Underground, Planet Core, and several characters, to include ones I have come to know and like from the previous novellas. In addition, there was a huge accident in the book which kept the primary pair apart, so we didn’t get much face time with Will and Tim as a couple. Instead of becoming emotionally invested, I felt like I was an outsider getting details about the going-ons. While I wasn’t a fan of how Will and Tim’s romance was written, the overall story arc had several engrossing and gripping moments. We learn the “final fate” of each of the characters from earlier books, which, for better or worse, is a good thing. Ms. Subject does a nice job of wrapping up the entire plot in a satisfactory manner. In the end, I feel that Never Gonna Say Goodbye is not bad, but not great. This final story in the trio of novellas was by far the simplest. Although there was loss, the...
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Sep
20

Review: Sharp Bite of Pleasure by KT Grant

Review: Sharp Bite of Pleasure by KT Grant Sharp Bite of Pleasure Author: KT Grant Reviewer: Twimom Rating: C, 2.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Eight years ago, Alexa (a 130 year old vampire princess) and Penny (werewolf shifter) shared a forbidden romance, which ended abruptly when Alexa left to marry the West Coast vampire king. After he was killed in an uprising, she found and killed those responsible and then ruled with a fair hand. Alexa has now returned home to attend her father’s funeral. She knows someone close to him has murdered him, and she wants vengeance. Now that Alexa has returned, she is determined to claim Penny as her own. But Penny wants nothing to do with Alexa, who was her first and true love until she broke her heart. Penny has moved on, dating Lissa for the past 4 years, but Alexa’s return has brought back so many memories and feelings, leaving Penny confused and a bit panicked. Sharp Bite of Pleasure features the romance of star-crossed lovers, which is always a enjoyable trope. The relationship is part of a larger tale that addresses bigotry, species rivalry and family feuding. The world building and the “non-romance” parts of the story were exciting. Ms. Grant weaves an engrossing mystery over who killed the Vampire king, coupled with Alexa’s struggles to weed out traitors within the king’s own council. In addition, Alexa longs to create a lasting peace treaty between the vampires and wolves, which puts her in the crosshairs of many on both sides. Alexa’s mother, Madalyn, and half-brother, Bradley, add depth to the storylines. Madalyn is a lonely widow who seems to favor her stepson over her own daughter. The tension between Madalyn and Alexa keeps an edge to the tale. Bradley is Alexa’s primary suspect in her father’s murder, and we are privy to most of his activities, some of which supports Alexa’s claims, while at times refutes her notion. As for the love story… here I am not so impressed. I really didn’t care for Alexa; having little sympathy or empathy for her as she lamented her loss of Penny and desire to reclaim their bond. Alexa is demanding and not necessarily nice to Penny. Penny had moved on, yet Alexa was overly pushy to the point of near rape. In the beginning, she never listened to anything Penny wanted or didn’t want. She craved the conflict and enjoyed the knowledge that she would be able to force Penny to submit....
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Aug
16

Review: Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner

Review: Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner Behind His Blue Eyes Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying I REALLY REALLY like Kaki Warner’s writing. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book I have read by her up to this point. I love the way she captures the Colorado frontier. I adore her handsome, haunted, brave heroes and her beautiful, feisty, smart heroines. She is a master of showing what is going on and capturing a moment or feeling. Her relationships are fun to read, the danger is real and I wait with baited breath for the kidnapping or other trouble to come and for the gallant hero to come to the rescue. I must say she didn’t disappoint with Behind His Blue Eyes in regard to any of these things. Our story centers on Ethan, the hero is haunted with a tragic past that threatens to consume his future, and Audra, the beautiful, independent woman working to save her family and saves Ethan in the process. Along the way they encounter a forest fire that threatens the entire town and a crazed serial killer, among other things. But it is the crazed serial killer that changed the entire novel for me. Don’t get me wrong her is well written, brutal, vile, disgusting, so much so I found my stomach churning in spots, not unlike something out of a Law and Order SVU episode. Now I’ll admit it could just be me and my baggage but I thought Ms. Warner went too far with the villain and the descriptions of his activities. I felt like she could have described his earlier actives, the abduction, what the mine shaft looked like, and the trip to Audra’s keeping place, and that would have given a clear and accurate picture of his craziness and brutality. Instead she goes into such detail in the mine shaft that I very nearly stopped reading. If I hadn’t been familiar with Ms. Warner’s writing style and known there would be a Happily Ever After I would have stopped. The sexual assault was just too much for me. I realize it made a beautiful moment later in the book between Ethan and Audra but I think the picture could have just as clear without all the detail. Ms. Warner does a lovely job of bringing everything back to a safe, sweet, beautiful place and I wish I could say that that was enough for me. But...
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Jun
26

Review: Smoking Hot by Karen Kelley

Review: Smoking Hot by Karen Kelley Smoking Hot Author:  Karen Kelley Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Good Girl series #3 ISBN: 978-1402263927 Genre: Paranormal Romance Format(s): paperback (288 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher Note: according to GoodReads, this book also goes by the title Where There’s Heat About the book: Everything She Wants… Working the night shift at the sheriff’s office has given deputy Raine McCandless more than enough time to fantasize about the kind of man she’d like to take prisoner, so when she arrives home to find a sexy intruder waiting for her, she’s pretty sure she must be dreaming. …Can and Will Be Held Against Her But Dillon Taylor, with his stunning blue eyes and killer tan, is 100% real, just not 100% human. Half-man, half-angel, he’d love to answer every naughty prayer Raine has ever had. But Raine is in serious danger. And Dillon can only fulfill her every fantasy if he can keep her alive. What VampBard’s talking about: Caveat:  This is apparently the third title in Ms. Kelley’s Good Girl series.  Had I know this prior to reading and writing this review, I may have viewed the title differently, or chosen to read the other two books prior to reading this one.  I do that crazy kind of stuff.  The information that this is in fact the third title in a series is not readily available via Amazon nor the author’s website, which is where I look for information about books.  One shouldn’t have to look THAT hard to find this information, and it should be consistent across standard informational sites! Smoking Hot by Karen Kelley was creatively told from the perspective of the leading lady, Raine.  There was some pretty steamy scenes, as well.  Dillon – OK.  He was hot.  The plot?  Meh.   What I liked:  Raine was a seriously flawed character.  The way she was set-up as a character, she didn’t have a chance to be redeemed by the time the plot arc played out.  I’m OK with that, though.  I also liked the way Raine’s grandfather was involved, and he was hooking – up with someone.  Go Gramps!  Dillon – the one thing I liked about him was his smartarse-ness.  This was a no-brainer read for me.  I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with anything. What I was ‘meh’ about:  The plot.  OK.  This wasn’t about solving the bank heist AT. ALL.  This was about ‘fixing’ Raine.  I’m not cool...
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Jun
10

Review: How to Tame Your Duke by Juliana Gray

Review: How to Tame Your Duke by Juliana Gray How to Tame Your Duke Author: here Juliana Gray Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Berkley A Princess In Hiding #1 ISBN: #978-0425265666 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), ebook Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Three intrepid princesses find themselves targets in a deadly plot against the crown—until their uncle devises a brilliant plan to keep them safe…       England, 1888. Quiet and scholarly Princess Emilie has always avoided adventure, until she’s forced to disguise herself as a tutor in the household of the imposing Duke of Ashland, a former soldier disfigured in battle and abandoned by his wife. When chance draws her into a secret liaison with the duke, Emilie can’t resist the opportunity to learn what lies behind his forbidding mask, and find out what adventure really means…       The duke never imagines that his son’s tutor and his mysterious golden-haired beauty are one and the same. But when the true identity of his lover is laid bare, Ashland must face the demons in his past in order to safeguard both his lady—and his heart. What Ang’s talking about:       I want you all to know that I really wanted to like How to Tame Your Duke. I have enjoyed everything else Juliana Gray has written up to this point and frankly, I don’t want to make her mad.  I want her to keep writing.  Not that my one little review is going to keep that from happening, but if the next novel is as tepid as this one is, I probably won’t continue to read this series.  Seriously, these characters were so unremarkable I can’t even remember their names sitting here writing this review.  I know there was princess. She was smart and snarky.  There was a wounded duke, his son who was hilarious, and a maid who was so clueless that she offered a lot of comic relief from the boredom.       There was a lot of potential here.  There was a princess, spies, abductions, hidden identities—sounds good, right?  The seduction  was really beautifully written.  I felt the emotion and struggle of it. The side characters offered a wonderful distraction from the main plot.      However, the rest of the story was like a roller coaster ride where you wait five hours in line, finally get to the top of the giant incline, and—nothing.  It’s just a straight shot to the...
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Apr
24

Review: Rising Darkness by Thea Harrison

Review: Rising Darkness by Thea Harrison Rising Darkness Author: Thea Harrison  Release Date: April 2, 2013 Publisher: Berkley Game of Shadows #1 ISBN: #978-0425248454 Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley About the book:       In the hospital ER where she works, Mary is used to chaos. But lately, every aspect of her life seems adrift. She’s feeling disconnected from herself. Voices appear in her head. And the vivid, disturbing dreams she’s had all her life are becoming more intense. Then she meets Michael. He’s handsome, enigmatic and knows more than he can say. In his company, she slowly remembers the truth about herself…       Thousands of years ago, there were eight of them. The one called the Deceiver came to destroy the world, and the other seven followed to stop him. Reincarnated over and over, they carry on—and Mary finds herself drawn into the battle once again. And the more she learns, the more she realizes that Michael will go to any lengths to destroy the Deceiver.       Then she remembers who killed her during her last life, nine hundred years ago…Michael. What I’m talking about:       The story opens with a dream of a life from the very distant past, in a “galaxy far, far away,” although our heroine, Mary, doesn’t realize this until later in the story. She dreams of a criminal escaping and of comrades dying in one life to be reborn in another in order to find him and bring justice. To try and shake the dream and the stress of her life as an ER doctor in a nearby hospital, she goes for a run. When she thinks she sees and hears the wind talking, Mary becomes even more confused and a little concerned, starting to question her sanity. However, when her ex-husband (but still good friend) tries to get her to the doctor, she runs from the appointment and his help.       Rising Darkness unfolds slowly, giving the reader different point-of-views and sides to the same story. We learn about our hero, Michael and meet “Grandmother,” along with a few humans who know some of the secrets hidden among the naive population of Earth. I was a bit confused for a while, trying to piece together all of the sections and understand what had happened in the past and what it meant for this book. Although the story is revealed gradually, it...
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Feb
11

Review: Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts by Heather Massey

Review: Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts by Heather Massey Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts Author: Heather Massey  Release Date: Jan. 30, 2013 Publisher: Lyrical Press Genre: Western, Romance, Steampunk Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: The West just got a whole lot wilder.  A woman on a mission… Scientific achievement isn’t enough for Violet Whitcomb. Life working alongside her renowned scientist father is filled with intellectual challenges, but what she truly craves is love and adventure. She’s resigned to a fate of academic pursuits–until a fateful trip across the American frontier changes everything. A rogue inventor known as the Iron Scorpion kidnaps Violet’s father and she alone is left to plan his rescue.  A man with a secret…  Logan McCoy knows firsthand going up against the Iron Scorpion is suicide, but he can’t let Violet waltz into the villain’s lair alone. She may be a stranger, but she’s also the most compelling woman he’s ever known.  A perilous quest…  Their attraction is undeniable, but their alliance turns contentious when Violet insists on including a third partner on their mission: her father’s latest invention and the world’s most advanced automaton, Arthur. The reason for Logan’s resistance isn’t clear until Violet comes face-to-face with the Iron Scorpion’s diabolical devices, and by then, it’s far too late. What I’m talking about: Violet Whitcomb has lived a fairly isolated life as the only child of famous inventor Joseph Whitcomb. After her mother died, Violet spent most of her childhood helping her father with his top-secret creations, the biggest and best of which is about to be revealed.  Traveling through the Wyoming Territory aboard a luxury steam engine, Violet lives vicariously through her weekly reader “The Lady’s Fireside Collection” and the romantic adventures of John “Wild Wolf” Wallace. Yearning for adventure and a love of her own, Violet is immediately taken with a handsome stranger on the train. Soon the safety of her world is shaken when the Iron Scorpion sends his terrifying machines to kidnap Violet’s father. Enlisting the aid of her stranger, Logan McCoy, Violet sets out into the unknown to rescue her Papa.  Violet is extremely lonely, and I empathize with her desires to break out of her father’s shadow and live her own life. Yet, she comes across naive, with an innocent childlike quality, and I am uncertain she could make it on her own. This image of Violet is reinforced time and time again, especially in her interactions with Logan. The lines between stubbornness and childish were...
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