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Currently Browsing: paranormal romance
Oct
25

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Heart Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Opening two years forward from the conclusion of the previous book, it’s been a fairly quiet time since the Ancient Alexander awoke early and the world last saw Lijuan. The Cascade has paused, and everyone is waiting for things to get hinky again. Because of the potential imbalance in the Cadre with Lijuan missing, the Luminata, an independent, neutral, secretive group, has called the Cadre together. The Cadre must decide if she’s dead, Sleeping, or other, and what to do with her Territory. With the meeting being held in the homelands of Elena’s maternal grandmother, she decides it is time to do some digging into her own little-known past. Archangel’s Heart is another great story in what has become one of my favorite series! I absolutely LOVE the Guild Hunter stories, most especially when they are Elena/Raphael-centric. While overall I’d still call it a paranormal romance series, this go-around is more on the urban fantasy side of the equation. Raphael and Elena’s relationship is now one hundred percent solid, and while they will continue to experience growing pains and have to deal with changes, their romance wasn’t the focus of the book. This time the focus was on Elena’s past and Cadre politics. It was exciting and gripping, but also tender and sweet. I continued to enjoy Raphael and Elena’s many-tiered encounters: intelligent dialogue, playful sparring, tender moments, sexual and sensual lovemaking. It’s all so three-dimensional and fulfilling on multiple levels. One of the things that stood out most this time is how the powerful Archangel of Manhattan is embracing his touched-by-mortality heart. Not only does he respect his Guild Hunter angel, but Raphael listens to her counsel and allows her to take her own risks. He changes are most apparent as Raphael helps Elena understand the politics of the Cadre, and how mortal lives have little meaning to these immortal Archangels. His earnest efforts to protect human lives is directly the result of Elena’s influence. I hope to see a shift in the thinking of the Cadre as Raphael’s powers grow during the Cascade. While the tone of the Guild Hunters series has always hovered a shade or two darker than Ms. Singh’s other PNR series, this time around, I also found it to be heart-stoppingly suspenseful. While staying with the Luminata, Elena and Raphael uncover dark secrets that tie into Elena’s own past....
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Oct
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Dragon Actually Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x & 2x Series: Dragon Kin #1 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio I have heard very good things about G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series, so when I saw it was being release on audio by Tantor media, I jumped at the chance to review the titles. Dragon Actually, the first story in this paranormal/fantasy romance series is actually two books in one. The primary story, Dragon Actually, creates the settings and develops a world full of waring humans and powerful dragons. The second, short story, Chains and Flames, shares the backstory of two dragon characters we meet in the primary tale. Dragon Actually shares the story of Annwyl the Bloody, the bastard sister of the current, malevolent king. She is the fearless and heralded leader of the rebellion, which is growing with each passing day. However, her brother, with the help of a powerful warlock, grows close to capturing Annwyl. Just as some of his troops are about to deliver the mortal blow to Annwyl, Fearghus the Destroyer, a powerful dragon, steps in to save her. Dragons are rarely seen these days, and many believe they are just a myth, something the solitary Fearghus thinks is just fine. However, after he feels compelled to save Annwyl, nursing her back to life and agreeing to assist in her battles against her brother, he finds he cannot stay away from her. Overall, Dragon Actually is a solid and entertaining paranormal/fantasy romance. I like the mythology and admire the strong female hero. Annwyl is her own person and doesn’t apologize for her attitude or behaviors. She is known as “the bloody” for a very good reason, cutting down her enemies without remorse as any male leader would. Fearghus is the only male who could be her equal and that makes them a good fit. I enjoyed their companionship and the times they let their guards down to talk. I did feel that there was a high “cheese-factor” in this story, both in the romance and in the interactions between several of the characters. I felt the story was dated in terms of tone, and my tastes in PNR have changed in the past 10 years. One thing I did not care for was the abruptness of the ending! Without giving spoilers, the ending felt incomplete. I would have liked...
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Oct
18

Review: Defy the Dawn by Lara Adrian

Review: Defy the Dawn by Lara Adrian Defy the Dawn Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Picking up immediately after the conclusion of Bound to Darkness, Defy the Dawn shares the story of Brynne, a day-walking, Breed female who was created by a madman, and Zael, an Atlantean defector who has formed a loose alliance with the Order. After losing her job for secretly helping the Order (last book), Brynne agrees to work with the Order as they go after Opus Nostrum, the terrorist group out to cause mayhem and chaos all over the globe. Meanwhile, Zael can no longer contain his desire for and admiration of Brynne, but his womanize past may keep Brynne at a distance. Defy the Dawn is the first book that features a romance between two characters with relatively no ties to the original Breeds or the offspring of the Order. I state this upfront because I believe this is part of the reason why I had a difficult time connecting to the romance and story in general. While I found the book exciting and action-packed, I struggled to stay focused on the storyline and had little investment in the outcome. And frankly, there was little progression in the overall plot involving Opus Nostrum or the fight with the Atlantean Queen. Brynne and Zael shared a passionate romance, filled with that desperate need to be with one another all the time. Yet, Brynne has a secret which keeps her at a distance from everyone. Even once Zael finds out the her hidden horror (and accepts her regardless), Brynne continues to use it as a reason to stay apart. Their romance was most enjoyable during the scenes when the pair were together, sharing and enjoying their feelings, but I got frustrated when they would pull apart and say things were a mistake. I also struggled with the ending of the story, which felt too easy. You know those times when you threaten to punish your child, but then you don’t follow through? It felt like that. Additionally, two new characters were briefly introduced in the last few chapters of the book, and I just have a gut feeling that it was a set up for the next romance. I could be wrong, but it added to the disconnect – thinking that the next book may be about two characters about whom I know nothing. Overall, Defy the Dawn is a solid story and sexy romance. There...
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Oct
18

Review: A Very Jaguar Christmas by Terry Spear

Review: A Very Jaguar Christmas by Terry Spear A Very Jaguar Christmas Author: Terry Spear Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Coming to terms with the death of her boyfriend when he was on a mission to rescue a young jaguar shifter was difficult for Demetria MacFarlane. Reconciling that loss with the knowledge that she’d always been in love with his best friend has been even harder. But, when she and her sexy JAG agent partner are charged with returning a “lupus garou” pup to his family, their world is turned completely upside down. Friendship kept Everett Anderson from pursuing the sexy jaguar Guardian he’d fallen for once she started dating his best friend, and loyalty wouldn’t let him pursue her after Matt died. But, time changes and heals, and when he’s paired with Demetria to work on a mixed-team assignment, he’s determined to win her over. Of course, he never imagined they’d bond while babysitting a member of a species they didn’t believe existed, but, if it helps him win her heart, he’ll take it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to write this review without a few spoilers. While the Heart of the Jaguar stories I’ve read to date tended to follow an enjoyable, yet familiar pattern—righting wrongs while finding a perfect lover and partner—A Very Jaguar Christmas tackles multiple plots, including a romance, all at once. Demetria and Everett must not only deal with a nefarious stepfather and a wayward teen, but also solve a mystery and fall in love. These are in addition to several other subplots threaded throughout the narrative. But what I was most excited about was the introduction of the wolves to the jaguars, and Ms. Spear didn’t disappoint. As to the main pairing of A Very Jaguar Christmas, I really liked Demetria and Everett. They both have a nice balance between caring and determination, and they’re well matched in training and abilities. Their shared history makes the attraction between them seem more like a relief than forced or convenient. There is likewise an obvious mutual respect in their consideration of one another that gentles the sweeter moments of the story into something more warm than overly eager. With so much going on in A Very Jaguar Christmas, it’s no wonder that there are also several highly memorable secondary characters throughout the narrative. In addition to the jaguars we’ve already met in previous stories, we are reintroduced to quite a few wolves from other titles in the companion...
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Oct
13

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Untamed by Lara Adrian

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Untamed by Lara Adrian Midnight Untamed Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Ettore “Savage” Selvaggio is a member of the European Order and is about to take out the infamous Breed drug dealer, Massioni, when he sees a woman from his past inside the house he’s set to blow up. Arabella “Bella” Genova has a talent for looking into the future and is forced to help Massioni or risk the lives of the only family she has left. It’s been ten years since Savage and Bella last saw each other, on the night he left her and broke her heart. Midnight Untamed is another entertaining, standalone novella set in the Midnight Breed world. While the story fits within the overall plot and timeline of the series, one can read and enjoy it without knowledge of the greater picture. Having a shared history is a big plus for Savage and Bella, making their reunion and extremely fast romance work within the limits of the novella. Additionally, the pair is open and honest from the start, both about why she’s with Massioni and why he left her all those years ago. This gets high marks from me. Ms. Adrian could have easily created one misunderstanding after another, yet instead of tossing hurdles in their path, she draws them closer through forthright sharing. Overall, Midnight Untamed is a solid, enjoyable standalone tale set in the dark paranormal series. It’s a somewhat predicable PNR with an alpha male and quick bonding, but that works for the story and within the Midnight Breed universe. It’s an entertaining, quick read that is easy to follow, regardless if you are a veteran or new-to-the-series reader. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: The mission was supposed to be simple. Infiltrate an enemy’s stronghold outside Rome and eliminate its leader. For a Breed warrior as lethal as Ettore Selvaggio, AKA “Savage”, stealth assassinations are only one of his many cold-hearted specialties. But the last thing Savage expects to find behind enemy lines—in his target’s bed—is a woman he once adored. It’s been years since Savage last saw beautiful Arabella Genova. Years he’s strived to banish to his past, along with the fierce desire he once felt toward Bella . . . and the irresistible calling of her blood that stirs in him even now, despite the fact that she belongs to another male. But when fate throws Savage and Bella together again in a...
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Oct
12

Book Spotlight: Candy Houses by J.C. Daniels

Book Spotlight: Candy Houses by J.C. Daniels Shiloh Walker presents the reissue of Candy Houses. This is the first book in her Grimm’s Circle series. It will be available soon complete with a new cover and at a lower price. The reissue of this series will be under the J.C. Daniels name. There is no new material, but some of the books might include bonus stories, etc. About Candy House (Re-release) Author: J.C. Daniels (previously released under Shiloh Walker) Release Date: October 31, 2016 Preorder links: iBooks Think you know fairy tales? Guess again. It’s been hundreds of years since Greta’s so-called story came to an end and it didn’t end with a happily ever after then. Why should she expect it to be any different now? She’s a Grimm—a special kind of guardian angel and official ass-kicker in the paranormal world. Between trying to stay alive, training new Grimm and dealing with demons, romance is hard to come by. Then there’s the fact that there’s only been one man ever who really made her heart race. And he’s been out of her life for a long, long time… But now he’s back and just in time. Greta needs Rip’s help. There’s an unexpected threat to their world, a betrayal none of them saw coming. Working together is the last thing they want, but it just might be their only chance. A fairy tale best suited for grown-ups…don’t say you weren’t warned. Excerpt: Rip was standing in the doorway with one shoulder propped against the door jam. He had a look in his eyes that sent my skin to tingling all over. I mean all over—I felt it in my lips, my toes and every square inch in between. “Hey,” I said. My voice cracked. He continued to stare at me. It was very, very unnerving the way he watched me. “Ahh…is everything okay?” He didn’t answer. Nope, what he did was push off the door jam and come over to the bed. He knelt down by the bed, resting one hand on top of the blankets. He had such damn nice hands…the hands of a poet, a warrior… a lover. One of those lovely hands was only an inch away from my thigh too. I thought I could even feel the heat of it, through the blankets. “You were dreaming,” Rip said, his voice low and rough. Oh, sh*t. Swallowing, I dredged up an innocent smile. “Was I?” “Yes.” His eyes, that dark, melted-chocolate gaze, locked on mine and I...
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Oct
11

Review: Dangerously Charming by Deborah Blake

Review: Dangerously Charming by Deborah Blake Dangerously Charming Author: Deborah Blake Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I must admit, I was pretty excited when I learned Deborah Blake had a new series starting. Fans of her Baba Yaga series will see familiar characters in the Broken Riders novels. However, if you’re new to this world, like me, Ms. Blake does a fabulous job of bringing her new readers up-to-speed. I really like the world-building. As I was reading, I didn’t find anything left out—everything was explained well, and wasn’t overdone. Sometimes, when I read a paranormal story, the author explains and re-explains. Um. I got it the first time; thanks for the second reminder **eyeroll** I got it the first two times it was mentioned. Not so with Ms. Blake. She gives her readers credit for being intelligent enough to remember facts, as well as figure out things on their own. I liked Jenna. She was relatable, and I connected with her immediately. She seemed grounded, and while she was dealing with her own brand of WTH, she managed to allow herself, reluctantly, to help Day deal with his demons. I seriously fell for Mikhail Day, though. All the things he went through in the Baba Yaga stories? Yeah. We get to see the aftermath in Dangerously Charming. With a penchant for damsels in distress, Mick finds himself in a situation he vowed to never become involved in again. Reading some of Day’s POV was like a punch in the gut—but after the hit, there was revelation and resolution. I found myself putting down this title several times because I had to process the goings on. Especially from Day’s POV. I had a couple unanswered questions at the end I hope will be resolved in the upcoming titles or in a ‘where are they now’ novella. Seriously. I need to know who the biological father of Jenna’s baby is! Maybe the point of the title is that biology doesn’t make a father—but I still wonder. My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The Riders are three immortal brothers who protect the mythical Baba Yagas. But their time serving the witches has ended—and their new destinies are just beginning… Ever since a near-fatal mistake stripped Mikhail Day and his brothers of their calling to be Riders, Day has hidden from his shame and his new, mortal life in a remote cabin in the Adirondack mountains. But when a desperate young...
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Oct
10

Review: Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster

Review: Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster Mission: Improper Author: Bec McMaster Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: In the three years since the rebellion, the queen has instituted reforms that give more power to the humans, Mechs, and non-blue bloods, while diminishing the control of the Echelon. This isn’t sitting well with some, and there have been a series of unsolvable crimes aiming to lessen the queen’s effectiveness as ruler. The Duke of Malloryn has taken it upon himself to solve the mystery and put an end to the terror. He’s assembled a team of elite to find out what group has been causing riots and problems. Caleb Brynes, a highly respected blue blood Nighthawk, and Ingrid Miller, a verwulfen spy have both accepted the challenge of being part of Malloryn’s team. Mission: Improper is the first book in the new London Steampunk spin-off, taking place three years into the future after the final book in the original series. I love that the author has found a way to continue this exciting series – keeping the same formula of action-packed mystery coupled with sexually-charged romance. The mix of paranormal, alternate history, historic setting, and steampunk mech is unique and engrossing. Mission: Improper expands the established mythology, but not so greatly as to become eye-rolling. The author has added enough new, mixed with a lot of the old, to create a whole new set of concerns for our heroes. Caleb and Ingrid make for a perfect pair. I admire that the author didn’t toss unnecessary drama in their way, but let the story and characters dictate the speed and direction of the romance. They don’t have an easy path, and I like that both are uncertain about giving of themselves fully (emotionally, not physically). Each has a jaded history that puts wariness into their decision making, yet they also want to make sure not to hurt the other. It’s honest and raw emotion like this, that won me over: “I am going to pursue you, Ingrid Miller, with the intention of never letting you go. So fair warning…”  “It’s no longer about winning your body, Ingrid. When I finish these challenges, I intend to win your heart.” Ms. McMaster creates some of the best romances out there: always steamy and sexy while simultaneously emotionally gripping. However, it’s not just the love story that keeps me coming back again and again. Every story centers on some sort of mystery and huge investigation. I become...
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Sep
30

Review: Blood Red Kiss by Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, Gena Showalter

Review: Blood Red Kiss by Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, Gena Showalter Blood Red Kiss Author: Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, Gena Showalter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The first title in the Blood Red Kiss anthology is a re-release of the first Immortals After Dark (IAD) title, “The Warlord Wants Forever,” which was originally released in 2006, and I read and reviewed in January 2011. This was taken from my original review; I did not re-read the story. “The Warlord Wants Forever” is a sexy romance between a Valkyrie warrior, Myst, and a turned vampire warlord, Wroth. She uses Wroth for information and then makes her escape, yet Myst does not kill the vampire – sworn enemy of the Valkyrie. For five years she cannot forget the warlord she left in misery and constant pain (the reason why he is in pain is pretty clever and humorous).  When Wroth finally catches up with Myst in “modern day” New Orleans, he claims her for himself. But can each overcome their pain and prejudice and fall in love? The pace of the story is quick – which makes sense giving the shorter, novella-length format. Myst and Wroth’s romance is full of tension, violence and passionate sex. At one point, Wroth claims a sacred prize belonging to Myst which gives him complete and utter control over her. He abuses this power, and although he doesn’t use it to rape her, he forces her to face her lust and desirous feelings for Wroth. What I adore about the romance is that when faced with ugly truths about themselves and their situation, Wroth allows their desire and love to come full-circle without the use of his stolen power.  The both realize “what is meant to be” and grow stronger because of it. Overall, a promising start to the IAD series. I love the snarky lines and smexy males. “Forsaken by Night” is the second offering in the anthology. It is a brand new, long-awaited MoonBound Clan novella from Larissa Ione. It features Lobo, a vampire loosely associated with the MoonBound Clan. Lobo was banished from Moonbound over twelve years ago after he shifted to resemble another vampire, a rare and much-feared power Lobo possesses as a skinwalker. Lobo’s constant companion is a smarter-than-average wolf Tehya, who continually projects the image of a specific woman into his mind. When a poacher fatally wounds Tehya, Lobo commits the ultimate taboo and shifts to look like Moonbound Clan chief, Hunter, so he can enter their...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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