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Currently Browsing: paranormal romance
Jan
23

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett Bitter Spirits Author: Jenn Bennett Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’ve been especially fortunate lately in discovering several “new-to-me authors” that I might not have otherwise chosen for myself by reviewing books. These stories have surprised me for a variety of reasons, oftentimes simply by drawing me thoroughly into the narrative from the very beginning when I had no idea what to expect. Bitter Spirits certainly falls into this category, immediately delving into several things that I’ve always enjoyed reading about, most especially the 1920’s, an impossible romance, and a good mystery. The main characters are unique as well as being a puzzle in and of themselves. Survival has made Aida independent and headstrong, while it has turned Winter into something of a controlling recluse. He bears the weight of misplaced guilt and a responsibility to care for those in his household and employ, while she refuses to be indebted to, or dependent on, another. At first glance, they are opposites in every way, which is, of course, a recipe for disaster as well as romance. Yet, Aida and Winter are remarkably well suited for one another, despite their mutually frustrating inability to acknowledge their own feelings. They are both scarred, inside and out, each finding a way to go on living, even if they aren’t being very honest with themselves. They are misfits, in more ways than one, and it is pleasantly obvious, once they allow themselves to enjoy it, that they actually fit together very nicely. Aida and Winter are also very sexual creatures who have yet to find a good match, neither of them fitting society’s definition of what a “desirable” lover should be. Aida’s independence is filtering its way into her sexual desires as it has already done in all other aspects of her life. Having been left disappointed and uncertain by her previous, inept lovers, she’s found contentment on her own. Winter, on the other hand, has gotten used to being pitied or feared, rather than desired, thanks to his scars, but the attentions of women who want him only for his fortune have made him resentful and numb. Together, however, they discover what they’ve been looking for, and don’t waste a single opportunity to make up for all they’ve been missing. Ms. Bennett is very good at crafting all her scenes, painting each one with rich descriptions, using everything from colors and textures to detailed geography, and even specific scents...
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Jan
21

Review: A Bewitching Christmas by Amanda J. Greene

Review: A Bewitching Christmas by Amanda J. Greene A Bewitching Christmas Author: Amanda J. Greene  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I’m always excited to read a new offering by Amanda Greene. When I heard she was working on a new series, and there were vampires, weres, witches, fey, and shifters… well, you can imagine my paranormal-loving heart going pitter-patter! Under Realm Assassins promises to be an interesting and creative series. A Bewitching Christmas does an excellent job setting up the world and establishing the manner in which readers will eat up the drool-worthy alphas. With a spoon. Before talking about the fabulous characters and amazing world-building, I need to get this little thing out of the way. There were word use and proofreading errors – things WORD wouldn’t necessarily catch – that detracted from my reading experience. There were several instances of wrong homonyms, as well as spell-check errors. I did have to re-read multiple passages to ensure that I was correctly understanding the intent, and this element did contribute to my rating choice. As I’ve read Ms. Greene’s other series, this is unusual. Although it wasn’t marked as such, maybe I read an ARC version. I really found the world-building for the introduction of the Under Realm Assassins series to be stellar. I completely understand the foundations of the organization that is charged with protecting the Others. I know why the organization was created, and I know what kinds of people are usually contracted. I feel connected to the vampires and the witches, as this novella focused primarily on these two races of Others. Analette Dyson, one of the four remaining Dyson witches, is having a cruddy holiday. Trent, her werewolf boyfriend, is cheating on her. Analette has renounced her powers for years. Even though her family is one of the most powerful families of witches, she wants nothing to do with the craft. This independent, sexy, and quick-witted woman definitely has powerful voice in the story. Cole, sexy alpha-male, vampire, and assassin isn’t in town for pleasure. Little did he know, his trip wouldn’t end up being all business. It was crazy the way Cole was so sure he was only in for a one night stand. Watching the way Cole was so attentive to Analette – heartwarming. I really liked the way Ms. Greene developed his character as well as the conflict surrounding Cole. Especially his inner conflict. I appreciated the world building of Ms. Greene’s first title in her Under...
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Jan
16

Review: The Magic Between Us by Tammy Falkner

Review: The Magic Between Us by Tammy Falkner The Magic Between Us Author: Tammy Falkner  Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The latest novel in the Faerie series, The Magic Between Us, was not exactly what I was expecting.  Although I liked Marcus and Cecelia’s story, reading it was a bit more tedious than the previous two novels.  As much as I found their story compelling – I was confused throughout the novel causing me to reread sections. First let me say, I liked Marcus and sympathized with his struggle.   I was also overcome with pathos over Cecelia’s plight and situation.  I loved how Marcus’s family stepped in to help him follow his heart.  It was all heartwarming.  I liked how the overall story arc of Mayden seemed to come full circle. Before I comment further on what I liked about The Magic Between Us, let me handle one major issue I have – my apparent overall confusion.  The book blurb on Goodreads is NOT an accurate synopsis of this book.  While working at this review, I found the book blurb on the author’s webpage.  Dear Blog Readers, please compare these: Goodreads: Love triumphs over all differences…even those of wings and magic… Marcus Thorne was groomed to be one of the Trusted Few in the land of the fae, but now he must step into his father’s title in the British ton.  Cecelia Hewitt, a half fae/half human, has always lived in the human world and is not accustomed to wings and magic.  Completely unprepared for their new positions, Marcus and Cecelia strike up a partnership to teach each other about their respective worlds. In the process, they discover they have more in common than they ever expected—including a burning mutual attraction. Authors Blog: When These Worlds Collide… Cecelia Hewitt has lived her whole life in the land of the fae, and she dreams of a future with her childhood sweetheart, Marcus Thorne. When Marcus is called upon to dwell in the human world, it means leaving Cecelia behind and breaking both their hearts… More Than Sparks May Fly… Marcus was groomed for leadership in the land of the fae, but now that he has found his human parents, he will inherit his father’s title and position in the British ton—and he will marry a human. As love and passion continue to burn between Cecelia and Marcus, the question remains: Can two people fated for different worlds find one to share? Now, when I...
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Jan
14

Review: His Untamed Desire by Katie Reus

Review: His Untamed Desire by Katie Reus His Untamed Desire Author: Katie Reus  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una enjoy the Moon Shifter series so when we saw this novella “extra” we jumped on it.  His Untamed Desire is a quick and fun read.  It does not need to be read in conjunction with the series (hint: great way to be introduced to the series) but it is a bit of back-story and set up for the upcoming release of Avenger’s Heat.  If you follow the series, you might want to pick it up. His Untamed Desire is the story of Hector and Daphne.  It seems that Daphne is best friends with Hector’s younger sister Leta.  Although Daphne has always desired Hector, she thought he was not attracted to her.  Daphne’s suspicions were confirmed when she tried to kiss him before she left for college only to be rebuffed.  The novella begins with Daphne’s return home.  Dressed to kill, she goes to the local shifter club owned by her Alpha to show Hector just what he missed out on.  As we come to find out – Hector has NOT been unaffected by Daphne, and upon seeing her again, wants to mate with her now that she is all grown up. We liked His Untamed Desire, we especially loved Hector.  He has such an iron core of honor.  He had ethical reasons for rebuffing Daphne long ago.  Hector wanted to let her grow up before he pursued her.  We enjoyed that pursuit of her in this story.  We found Daphne, though, less likable for us. As a heroine, her preference for being dominated was not our cup of tea.  We also thought she was a little too blasé about her stalker. However, Hector’s protective instincts bridged these issues for us. Overall we liked His Untamed Desire and the story of Hector and Daphne.  We really enjoyed the glimpse of New Orleans and the melting-pot of paranormals that are able to coexist.  We eagerly look forward to Avenger’s Heat to see how these different groups work together to stop the kidnapping of pregnant shifters.  If you haven’t tried the Moon Shifter series yet, give His Untamed Desire a try – you might like it! Rating: B — Liked It – Recommend About the Book: Lupine shifter Daphne’s recent move back home gives her a chance at the fierce and sexy male she’s always wanted: jaguar shifter Hector. Daphne plans to show...
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Jan
9

Review: Born in Blood by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Born in Blood by Alexandra Ivy Born in Blood Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Born in Blood is the first book in a new series by Alexandra Ivy in which humans co-exist with and have knowledge of and paranormal beings (aka high-bloods). High-bloods live in a protected compound called Valhalla on the outskirts of Kansas City. Most humans refer to the high-bloods as “freaks,” and either ignore them or feel they should be wiped from the earth. Duncan O’Conner is a sergeant in Kansas City, Kansas police. His current case involves the murder of young woman who has no visible signs of trauma, but is missing her heart. Callie Brown, a necromancer (diviner), is called to help uncover what happened to the woman. Unlike most humans, Duncan doesn’t mind being around Callie, and is in fact, attracted to her, and it bugs him that she doesn’t respond to his flirtatious charms. With the protection of her Sentinel, Fane, Callie goes through the process of recovering the dead girl’s memories. However, she is interrupted by a male necromancer who intrudes into her connection and ends the memories. This has never happened before and it worries Callie, Fane and Duncan alike. With dire predictions looming over the pair, Duncan and Callie must work together to stop the lurking evil. The first book in a new series generally focuses on world building, and Born in Blood is no different; however, it is done in a way that is transparent and free-flowing. Ms. Ivy shares her world with the reader through the thoughts and actions of her characters rather than telling it via long backstories. I find the mythology interesting, although a little complex, but that isn’t unexpected for a first book. Duncan and Callie give in to their mutual attraction fairly quickly, which I appreciate. However, I am on the fence on how I feel about the pair as a romantic couple. Individually, they are each compelling and exciting. At times, the pair hit right on, but at others they seem too hokey, naive, young… I just can’t place my mind on the right word. They spend a lot of time talking and realize that they share similar backstories and fears; however, there doesn’t seem to be real emotion in the conversations. They can suddenly open up to someone after feeling alone for so long, but I don’t feel any passion provoking their connection. And there are times when Duncan forces...
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Jan
2

Review: Lord of the Hunt by Shona Husk

Review: Lord of the Hunt by Shona Husk Lord of the Hunt Author: Shona Husk  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: After reading the first novel, The Outcast Prince, we were not sure what to expect with the second novel in the Court of Annwyn series.  We are delighted to say that Lord of the Hunt was an intriguing and different novel than what we expected and therefore we enjoyed it. As the novel begins, we are introduced to Taryn, a fairy who was born in Annwyn but has lived her entire life as a mortal.  Taryn was not brought up as a typical fairy, she went to human schools, and worked at human jobs.  Due to her upbringing, she has been sheltered from the cunning and dangerous world of Annwyn.  However, with the coming of Winter in the Court, her father’s banishment could be the death of her parents unless someone can bargain with the Fairy King to end her father’s exile.  Taryn is sent by her family to secure the bargain, by any means necessary.  Yet, Taryn is only given a down and dirty lesson by her mother in Fairy politics.  A lesson that is too little and too late to prepare her for what she will face. Verden is the Lord of the Hunt and is completely loyal to the King. However, he sees the writing on the walls and knows his position is coming to an end.  The new Prince, although friendly with Verden, would never keep him as the Lord of the Hunt.  Like any new leader, he would appoint someone whose loyalty is without question to him.  Verden worked hard, bargaining and “dancing” to earn his position.  He is not just loyal to the King but friends and nothing had ever tested that friendship and loyalty, until he meets Taryn.  He finds himself in a position he never imagined, wanting something other than the job of Hunter, wanting only the love of a woman. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the story of Taryn and Verden.  Their journey is not straight forward, it is fraught with twists and turns due to the politics and scheming of those with their eyes on the King’s throne.  Although the politics can be mind-numbingly burdensome, it is realistic.  Fairies do not care for love or friendship (typically), but desire power above all else.  They will do anything for power.  Verden’s life is an excellent example of this.  He slept, bargained, and clawed...
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Dec
30

Review: A Breath of Winter by Hailey Edwards

Review: A Breath of Winter by Hailey Edwards A Breath of Winter Author: Hailey Edwards  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I have to start by saying that it’s difficult to categorize Haley Edwards’ books into a genre. I enjoyed A Breath of Winter and basically read it in a day, but I feel that others might find this title problematic if they’re not avid readers of the Araneae Nation titles. Here’s what new-to-the-series readers may find lacking in this title: original information that moves the plot forward. The reason this wasn’t a problem for me was because I found the info provided valuable to the backstory and cleared up some things left over for me from other titles. This is the ONLY reason I’m not giving it an A or A+ rating. I felt, while this was a transitional book in the series, that Ms. Edwards moved the plot arc forward, which is critical in all titles of a series. I really liked the use of the harbinger as a plot device, and especially the way Ms. Edwards tied up loose ends toward the end of the book. I wasn’t sure why the harbingers had been introduced in Book 3, but now I completely understand why, even though I still have more questions that I’m sure will be answered in Book 5 of the series. As far as minor characters, I really enjoyed Zuri’s brothers. They were important to the plot, and moved things forward. They were typical brothers, and wanted nothing more than to protect their sister. Even though she didn’t need it, most of the time. The importance of the Ursas cannot be down-played, however. I felt that by giving Zuri’s Ursa personality and emotion that we learned more about this domesticated animal, and their purpose within the plot. Henri, Maven Lourdes’ brother (several steps removed from the possibility of taking the throne) entered the story as a doctor/alchemist/herbologist. What really drove the plot for Henri was searching for a cure for the ‘plague’. While the romance simmered under the surface between Zuri and Henri for, like, ALL of the book, I found that I was rooting for them to take things further from nearly the beginning. Henri was, however, a character steeped in guilt because of his reasons for bringing Zuri and the harbinger to their nest. Even with his sister’s blessing, he still felt as though he were entirely responsible for the outcome. Which I didn’t like. The ‘plague’ seemed...
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Dec
28

Review: Starry Night by Lea Griffith

Review: Starry Night by Lea Griffith Starry Night Author: Lea Griffith Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: When the Unseelie King, Iomlan, discovered his favorite lover, Inuit Queen Cikuq, slept with Jack Frost and has been passing off their love child as Iomlan’s, he banished the girl to another planet. Talini has spent 300 years alone on an ice planet, with only two reminders of home, her mahogany bed and her pet fox, Tiktok. Kian was hired by Jack Frost to find his long-lost daughter. Kian and a small crew have been searching for five long years to find Tal. During this time, Kian has become a bit obsessed with Tal and imagines a little more than just a rescue when he finally finds her. I enjoyed Kian and Tal together. The pair’s childish verbal sparring is cute and funny. Once the pair gets past the silliness, and Kian is honest with his heart, the pair’s romance becomes touching and their sex is hot. There is a side-story about a soul-angel, which I think is a lot like “soul mates;” however, it was a little strange and confusing. Rescue and such aside, the ending is sweet. Everything is tied up in a bow like a lovely Christmas package. I enjoyed Kian and Tal’s chemistry, even with the silliness. Rating:  B-    Liked It – But I had a few small issues About the Book: She was banished but has never given up.  Three hundred years spent on a deserted planet in the Serens constellation has not broken Talini. As a daughter of the Fae, Jack Frost, she is made of all things ice and snow. But then she meets a man who warms her as no one ever has and she is set adrift with desire.  He has contracted to find a woman lost for three centuries.  Kian has searched for a long time and he’s come to the end of the line. Jack Frost has agreed to pay him a lot of money to find his daughter and he’s determined to see his goal met. Then he meets a woman who makes him shiver and shake, thawing his cold heart and making him believe in things that are impossible.  She has been lost but now he has found her.  Together they will set on a journey that will lead them down a perilous road. Stuck on an uninhabited planet, they will forge a bond as fragile as a snowflake but as...
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Dec
28

Review: How Zombies Stole Christmas by Sidney Bristol

Review: How Zombies Stole Christmas by Sidney Bristol How Zombies Stole Christmas Author: Sidney Bristol Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and Evelina must rescue the kidnapped Snow Maid and the magical staff that belongs to Ded Moroz, the Russian Santa. Because of her mixed heritage, daughter of Jack Frost and a human mother, Evelina has always been somewhat of an outsider in the Ubezhishche, a haven for magical creatures near Siberia. During her attempts to rescue Snow, Evelina and her husky are attacked by ice zombies and rescued by a Yeti. Kameron hides a secret… he is the Yeti. Originally from Scotland, he was magically cursed to live as the Yeti. He has been alone and solitary for years. Now he finds himself utterly attracted to Evelina and all of her self-perceived faults. He must decide if he should share his secrets before time is out for Evelina. Evie has a lot of issues-she has a huge chip on her shoulder because of her past history, both romantically and with her family life. Because of her fears, she won’t allow anyone close to her. So when she feels an attraction to Kameron, she brushes it off as something not real. It became a bit annoying as Evie continued to make excuses why she wasn’t good enough or that her attraction isn’t real. Kameron doesn’t seem to have as many issues, but he’s been alone for so long, his social skills are in great need of polishing. Romantically, the pair felt off to me. They are overly goofy, sharing   awkward dialogue while sexing it up. However, as a dynamic duo fighting off the ice zombies and saving Christmas, the pair make a great team. Overall, the story had some exciting parts, but it just didn’t keep my interest during the entire tale. I liked the concept and mythology, although at times I felt a little lost. While the romance didn’t work for me because it felt too goofy, the rescue story and battle scenes were intense and exciting. Rating:  C  Finished It About the Book: Every creature in Haven snuggled down in their beds, ready for another Christmas, they liked it a lot. But not everyone in this magical land shares their holiday cheer. . . Evelina Frost is a woman used to staying in the shadows, but this year Christmas needs a hero, and with Santa away, it’s up to her to save the holiday from...
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Dec
16

Review: Flamebound by Tessa Adams

Review: Flamebound by Tessa Adams Flamebound Author: Tessa Adams Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Tessa Adams’ second book in her Lonestar Witch series, Flamebound, had promise for me. I absolutely adored the blurb, but when I actually got to the meat of the book, I was left feeling meh. I was actually kinda geeked about the whole love-triangle thing with Xandra, Declan and another of Declan’s ex-girlfriends, and this trope managed to materialize for a hot minute. I did receive an ARC of this title, so I’m hoping that several things that made me cringe were taken care of with a last pass prior to publishing. I also wasn’t keen on Xandra’s voice. She seemed whinier than in the previous book. More needy, dependent on Declan. I can see where it would be integral to the plot, to create this co-dependence to strengthen the soulbond. I just wasn’t a fan. I did absolutely adore several things about this title. The first was the way Ms. Adams crafted the very dimensional conflict in the title. We were treated to conflict at every turn. Seriously. Xandra’s ‘gift’ for finding dead people hauled her to some gristly scenes. A new ‘talent’ for reaching people in trouble – especially a small girl named Shelby – provided some delicious tension between Xandra and Declan. The conflict is layered so well that I didn’t actually know who the bad guy was until very nearly the end. I may have missed a clue earlier on, but it was one of those OHMYGOSHNOFREAKIN’WAY things. Also, I still want Nate to get a HEA. I thought that the way Xandra and Declan’s relationship evolved was super fast, I thought it was a natural progression and there were natural reactions to different situations. Well, as natural as it can get for witches and all the crazy stuff going on. This was one of the most endearing things about the story for me. It wasn’t all wham-bam, I love you, man. The characters actually grew and evolved. Ms. Adams did an excellent job writing in first person point-of-view, as well. I think the fact that Xandra and Declan are soulbound helped with understanding Declan better. Excellent plot device. We got to get a bit of insight about Declan through their bond versus outside observation-only. I have to talk about broody alpha-male Declan. I thought he was positively delicious throughout the story. I thought that in the first book he was a little...
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