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Sep
23

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla Shadows at Midnight Author: Amanda Bonilla Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Though I’ve tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, there were a couple of things that I would have appreciated knowing before I began reading Shadows at Midnight. What Darian goes through in the beginning of the story is torture. Long, graphically detailed torture that is also a kind of mental violation. But, as upsetting as Darian’s experience was, I think what Xander is subjected to is even more disturbing. Although I don’t care much for him, I believe it should be noted that what happens to him is nothing short of rape (being sexual, psychological, and non-consensual) and thereby merits a trigger warning. Having said that, I found Shadows at Midnight to be challenging, exciting, persistently engaging, and difficult. From the very beginning, Darian is in a place of such darkness and pain that it was hard to read. What she suffers is neither quick, nor glossed over, but goes on for the entirety of the first three chapters. The tension-filled journey and battle that almost immediately follow take up a solid six chapters of their own. After that, the story is filled with pitfalls and second-guesses, and Darian becomes more acquainted with her worst fears than ever before. This is a heavy narrative to get through, which is part of what makes it so compelling. Still, it was so good in many ways that I just couldn’t stop reading it. Despite the gravity of the events of the story, this is Darian at her finest. Now that she has so much to lose, she is more determined than ever to hold on to those she cares about. She is ferocious and brittle, yet loyal and unwaveringly dedicated to their respective causes. The trials that Darian has faced thus far have been exceedingly harsh at times, but she’s evolved into a wonderful character in the process. While there were moments in earlier stories when I was frustrated by her arrogance and stubborn recklessness, I’ve come to like her tremendously at this point, and in Shadows at Midnight, she’s become truly remarkable. All of my other favorite characters are back, as well, including Tyler, Raif, Asher, Levi, the rest of Darian’s Shaede team, and even Anya. I would have liked to see more of some of them, but every moment they each spend with Darian is used to reaffirm and strengthen the bond they...
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Sep
16

Review: Pure Wicked by Shayla Black

Review: Pure Wicked by Shayla Black Pure Wicked Author: Shayla Black Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I’ve read a handful of the 1,001 Dark Nights books, to include Forever Wicked by Shayla Black (Goodreads Review), and I have honestly enjoyed the stories, regardless if I’ve read the original series. Such is the case with Ms. Black’s offerings. Written to be completely stand alone, I had no troubles jumping into Ms. Black’s Wicked Lovers world and the Pure Wicked novella. Jesse McCall is a world-famous pop star who has been selling out shows since at the age of sixteen. Twelve years later, he’s still doing the same; however, a year ago the party life almost ruined him, so he’s been sober since. Unfortunately, his bandmate Ryan didn’t clean up his act, leading to a horrible tragedy, which is used as the opening scene for the book. Now Jesse must lay low until the media circus quiets down. Bristol Reese isn’t having the best day. Forced, due to southern society’s rules of hospitality, to attend the engagement party of her ex-boyfriend and her own sister, she’d rather be anywhere. So when a handsome stranger offers to be her new pretend beau to get her mom off her back, Bristol decides to play along. Yet once the pair spends a few hours together, they realize their attraction is something worth exploring. Pure Wicked is wonderful romance and absolute joy to read. While limited by a shortened length, the story is fulfilling and emotionally rewarding. Ms. Black is able to condense a whirlwind romance effectively, leaving me content and happy at the end, which is not always an easy thing to do in a novella-length story. There is just enough conflict and satisfying character development to create a complete romance. Jesse and Bristol work well together. The author does a great job setting up Jesse’s character as one who is clearly ready for a change. He’s already 90% through the metamorphosis, and it just takes a tragedy, followed by meeting Bristol, to bring him all the way around. Meanwhile his sheer enthusiasm for life and Bristol left me satisfied that they will make it past the paparazzi and demanding lifestyle of a rock-and-roll star. Pure Wicked is the perfect afternoon read. It is simple enough to blaze through, yet filled with enough complexity to leave me satisfied. And the pair has off-the-charts chemistry, which is important in a novella-length romance. I highly recommend this little...
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Sep
14

Blog Tour + Review: Base Instincts by Larissa Ione

Blog Tour + Review: Base Instincts by Larissa Ione From the author: Hi, everyone! I’m so excited to be on the Base Instincts blog tour. Raze and Slake’s story was a labor of love for me, and while theirs isn’t the first m/m story I’ve written, it’s a first for the Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series. If you’re curious about how it all started, be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win the first two books set in the Demonica/LOD universe (details below), and for more information, head on over to www.LarissaIone.com! That’s What I’m Taking About Review: Base Instincts Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- Damon Slake (aka Slake) never quite fit into his violent demon family, so he made a deal with a demonic law firm to escape his home. As a weapon specialist and bounty hunter, he successfully brings in any sort of prey his employer demands. His current assignment is to track down a demon named Fayle, and if he doesn’t bring her in ASAP, he’ll lose his soul to the law firm. Raze works for Underworld General and at a high-end demon club as a paramedic. As a Seminus demon, he must have sex with a female every day or die a painful death; however, Raze is only attracted to males. Luckily, when he reached sexual maturation, his parents found Fayle, a succubus, to help ease his needs, and the pair has been together for 30 years. While the couple does what is needed for each to survive, it’s cold and impersonal. Raze is beginning to realize just how lonely his arrangement has made him when he meets the mysterious Slake. Base Instincts is an exciting and entertaining novella set in Ms. Ione’s uber-sexy Demonica world. For those who know the series, you will delight in seeing several familiar characters who play relevant roles in Raze and Slake’s story. Although it is part of the Demonica series, the story is certainly standalone, although could be spoilerish if you aren’t up-to-date with the books. Raze and Slake share an intense and immediate attraction. Unfamiliar with the biological requirements of Seminus demons, Slake pushes Raze’s buttons, demanding a sexual response. Once Raze gives in to his lust for Slake, he must explain the need for Fayle to be part of their passion. I loved that Slake didn’t let his feelings for Raze diminish because of his job and connection to Fayle. Both are two lost souls searching for that missing piece,...
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Sep
11

Review: Nothing Serious by Jessica Jarman

Review: Nothing Serious by Jessica Jarman Nothing Serious Author: Jessica Jarman Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Nothing Serious by Jessica Jarman is one of those special books, when upon finishing it, all you want is to read more; you’re sad it’s over; and you find that you must squee about how awesome it is with others who’ve read it. Seriously. It is just that wonderful. Loosely connected to London Bound, the first book in the Bound series (also penned by Ms. Jarman), Nothing Serious picks up this world over eight years forward in time, where we see the original h/h, Nathan and Meg, happily married and her two college-aged children now grown and moving out on their own. The story focuses on the secret affair between Jack, Nathan’s out-of-the-closet best friend, and Meg’s son Aaron, a firmly in-the-closet ER doctor. With Aaron’s sister getting married, Jack comes to town, placing the pair in close proximity while surrounded by family and friends. Even though the pair has been meeting around the world for secret trysts for eight years, they’ve never been together around family and friends, and the stress of the hidden situation may break the pair apart for good. The story unfolds organically and beautifully, giving both Jack and Aaron time to figure out what each wants from the other and for his own life. While the couple has a history of amazing sexual chemistry, the two men are in different places in their lives, creating a tension that causes the story to hum and vibrate rather that sit stagnant. It is evident right from the get go that Jack is deeply emotionally attached to Aaron, while Aaron hasn’t really taken the time to realize what Jack means to him. Jack has always accepted this, enjoying their passionate, yet infrequent rendezvous with everything he has. He is fun and gentle, unwilling to push Aaron into something he’s not ready for, endearing him to me so very much. Their dynamic captured me completely, and I was thoroughly engrossed in their romance. What makes Nothing Serious stand out is the depth of the emotional content Ms. Jarman masters within the story. I cried fat tears of heartbreak and happy tears of joy all within the confines of the book. Jack and Aaron’s circumstances gripped me completely, not letting go until long after I was finished reading the tale. There is nothing frivolous or thoughtless tossed into the book, creating a quick read that you won’t...
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Sep
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Archangel’s Enigma Author: Nalini Singh Narrator: Justine Eyre Listening Speed: 1.0x Reviewer: Una Overall Rating: A Audiobook Source: Tantor Media/publisher What I’m Talking About: This was my first time listening to a Guild Hunter series book rather than reading it.  I truly enjoyed the experience and may do it again.  This series continues to be one of my absolute top series to follow. I loved Naasir and Andi’s story in Archangel’s Enigma.  At first I was apprehensive about Naasir, the glimpses we got from other characters’ perspectives made him seem far more juvenile than he is.  I wasn’t sure I wanted such a youthful story of love.  However, I need to have more faith in Ms. Singh and her ability to craft a story.  Through this novel, we truly see him as he is – all of his uniqueness, intelligence and mirth.  Nassir possesses a childlike core of truth and honesty, even with his mischievousness.  I now truly understand why he is a part of the Seven and he certainly belongs there. Andi was the right mate for him and I absolutely loved the honesty between them, their communication, their playfulness and the honor that they both hold so dear.  They truly are a wonderful couple.  Andi was far braver and stronger than I gave her credit for in the beginning.  Her will is of iron and her loyalty absolute.  I loved her strength of character, and her ability to abide by what she knows is right.  The contrast between her and her family is staggering, but the glimpse of the true character of her mother at the end was bittersweet.  I really loved the journey Andi takes. So much happens in this installment of the Guild Hunters series:  the awakening of another ancient, the thickening of Lijuan’s plot to rule the world, and the evolution taking place due to the Cascade (and the continuing effects it is causing).  It was completely gripping.  Though we are given no clues to who will be the focus of the next book, I look to the complexity of Illium and the effects of the Cascade on him, the continued healing of Aodhan and the possibility of Venom, or perhaps a book that focuses back on Raphael and Elena.  No matter what I eagerly look forward to more in the series, it is truly one of my favorites. It would be...
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Sep
9

Review: Breakout by Ann Aguirre

Review: Breakout by Ann Aguirre Breakout Author: Ann Aguirre Reviewer:  Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Breakout picks up right where Havoc left off, completing the Dred Chronicles.  The series should be read in order.  New readers of the trilogy will have the luxury of reading the series without the publication gaps the rest of us have experienced.  However, Aguirre created such strong characters and vivid descriptions that I had no problems falling right back into the confines of the penal colony of Perdition and its conspiracies. In fact, it turned out to be a relatively quick read for that fact. I loved that we got some unexpected background on more than one character, Jael in particular.  That’s not the kind of thing one expects at the end of a series rather than the beginning.  Even though Jael was introduced in the Sirantha Jax series, he’s been a bit of a mystery up until now.  We get flashbacks into his origin that make him sympathetic, even vulnerable.  In the first two books, he’s been more heroic, always guarded.  Now we know it was with good reason. Like Perdition and Havoc, Breakout has parts that are not only gruesome, but gory.  Had this been a movie, one particular section would have bumped it beyond the “R” rating for violence. Breakout’s bloody battles felt more intense because they were one-on-one instead of faction-on-faction.  The reduced fighting numbers following the end of Havoc completely changed everyone’s strategy and in some cases, even their ultimate goals. Everything became personal for everyone.  Perhaps it always was. In the author’s acknowledgments, Aguirre makes this confession:  “My initial plan was to leave Dred and Jael drifting in space with a more open ending, so the reader could decide what happened—if they made it out or if they died together—but I decided that was a cop-out.  Therefore, I hope you’re as pleased with the end of their journey as I am.”  I could tell the exact moment when it would have been easy to for Aquirre to walk away from her characters and call the trilogy complete—or incomplete.  What comes after that moment is more like an extended epilogue, one for which I was very grateful.  Indeed after so many years of abuse and war and stress, the remaining few characters had earned it. We as readers had earned it too and Aquirre ties it all up with tidy, satisfying bow. *contented sigh* My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the...
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Sep
7

Review: Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl

Review: Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl Taking the Heat Author: Victoria Dahl Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Taking the Heat is one of the books that I eye’d for review, but knew I’d be over-stretching myself, so I passed it up. But the reviews were so good, I ended up one-clicking it from Amazon and found some time to read it. OMG! I am SOOOO glad I did. I just loved this story. Gabe and Veronica have the I-couldn’t-put-it-down kind of romance that got me to fall in love with the pair. Gabe and Veronica are so freakin’ cute and completely real. I easily related to both characters in more ways than one, creating complete investment in their wellbeing. I wanted them to grow, succeed, and fall hopelessly in love. While the overall story is nearly predictable, I couldn’t stop the flow of tears, trembling hands, and pounding heart reactions to many of the key moments. Simply, I was touched and moved by these characters and their story. Ms. Dahl turns something that could easily have been ordinary into something sublime and special. Veronica is insecure and feels she is a fake in her job as a newspaper advice columnist. But what she doesn’t see is that she’s really, really good at what she does. While her insecurities could have been a put off, the author doesn’t overburden the reader (or Gabe) with non-stop self-flagellation. She lets out just enough of her doubt, both orally and privately, to let us know her fears and concerns without creating someone with no self-respect. Most of us have been where Veronica is, and she pulls it all off with charm, a sparkling personality, and genuine compassion. Gabe. Sigh. A hunky yet nerdy dreamboat. And he’s totally smitten with Veronica. He has a caring soul, which gets him into trouble. He’s so concerned with making sure others are happy that he tends to leave out details he finds uncomfortable or difficult. He’s not perfect, and I think that’s what puts him over-the-top attractive, and also what adds the ideal amount of heartbreak. Watching the pair struggle and figure it out added an emotional depth that a lot of lighthearted contemporaries are lacking. Additionally, the pair’s passion burns off the pages. They have palpable chemistry and enthusiasm, making for some steamy scenes. Overall, I absolutely adored Veronica and Gabe, making Taking the Heat one of my favorite reads of 2015. It hits all the right notes...
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Sep
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Masters of Seduction, Volume 2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Masters of Seduction, Volume 2 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Masters of Seduction, Volume 2 Author: Lara Adrian, Donna Grant, Alexandra Ivy, Laura Wright Narrator: Arika Rapson Listening Speed: 1.0x Reviewer: Una Overall Rating: A- Audiobook Source: Tantor Media/publisher What I’m Talking About: Although I did not read the first volume of Masters of Seduction, I enjoyed Masters of Seduction, Volume 2.  To make this review a little bit easier to follow, I separated thoughts on each of the four stories below, followed by my thoughts on the performance of the narrator, Arika Rapson.  Overall I enjoyed this novel.  I really liked how, even though each story can stand alone, they are linked in an overarching plot line.  The world was fascinating and rich and the passion burns your fingers (or ears). The novel begins with Priceless: House of Ebarron, which is the story of Sorin and Ashayla.  I enjoyed their story, even though it starts strangely in a casino over a bet.  Ashayla’s determined need to get her family’s lost necklace pitted against Soren’s need to possess her was captivating.  The story moves quickly, but it is understandable as this is a collection of novellas.  The premise of the mating need of a Nephilim and an Incubus master gave the speed of the plot believability.  It was satisfying, and I enjoyed their chemistry and passion.  I really enjoyed how this story was linked to the subsequent ones, being the start of an overarching plot line for the novel as a whole. The next story, Boundless: House of Drohas, is the story of Javan and Naomi.  I enjoyed their story as well, especially as it added more to the overarching plot of the novel.  My curiosity was piqued by the background politics of the incubi.  I liked that we get glimpses of the overall world as we experience the journey between the main characters.  Javan and Naomi were an interesting couple and I enjoyed their unique story.  Though the mystery of Naomi’s sister’s murder was quickly resolved (mostly in the background), it did work as a way to introduce the pair and give them a purpose to be together.  Their chemistry and passion were palpable and I enjoyed their communication. The third story is Dauntless: House of Trevanion which tells the story of Cass and Lia.  Sadly, this was my least favorite story in the collection.  It was a bit clichéd with it being a retelling of...
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Sep
2

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Enigma Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Archangel’s Enigma picks up the story of angels, vampires, and Hunters roughly seven months after the conclusion of the previous book. Readers learn that Archangel Lijuan is, in fact, alive, yet not whole. Still viewing herself as a goddess, she seeks to act on a prophecy by killing one of the Ancients while he Sleeps. It is up to Raphael, with the help of Elena and his Seven, to prevent Lijuan from finding and harming Alexander. As a scholar and an expert in Sleeping Ancients, Andromeda is Raphael’s best bet to stop Lijuan. However, she is also Charisemnon’s granddaughter. (Charisemnon is the one who caused the Falling and a deadly vampire disease, and was aligned with Lijuan in the past). Since Andromeda has cut all family ties, Raphael trusts her and sends one of his Seven, Naasir, to protect her from Lijuan and assist her in her endeavors. When he meets Andromeda, Naasir, who has been on the hunt for his mate since the conclusion of the previous book, decides she may very well be his hidden mate. There are so many wonderful things about Archangel’s Enigma. Both the romantic storyline and over-arching plot of the brewing war between the Archangels, are entertaining and completely engrossing aspects of this tightly woven story. The two parts are well balanced, creating an almost perfect reading experience: urban fantasy action and intrigue together with a sensual paranormal love story. And once again, Ms. Singh proves how she is the master of character development. I’ll admit that I didn’t know how she’d be able to pull of a romance for Naasir. A little known and rarely seen member of the Seven, Naasir came across child-like, innocent, and almost feeble-minded in his actions and dialogue during the previous book. Yet at only the 12% mark of Archangel’s Enigma, I saw Naasir as a viable sexual being while maintaining his curious and innocent persona that made him feel childlike. Reading how his mind works and how he sees the world on a large scale and in ranging situations from lust to vengeance, sincerity to hurt, created a genuinely lovable character. Similarly, Ms. Singh creates the perfect match for Naasir in Andromeda. Both a scholar and a warrior, she understands and sees more than most others, and values Naasir for the person he is under the enigma of his species. She’s patient...
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Sep
1

Review: Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Review: Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter Lady of Magick Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Ms. Hunter has done it again!  I enjoyed this second installment in the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious Noctis Magicae series. Though Lady of Magick moves slowly, it is only because it is like a chess match; pieces slowly moved into position until you realize too late the trap you are in. As in the previous novel, Sophie and Grey move about in their latest adventure, while slowly the mystery and clues are building up around them. I love the slow burn mystery set within scenery and a world that is breathtakingly and hauntingly beautiful and rich.  The historic setting, mixed with the magic and history of the world, weave together such a rich background, it is mesmerizing.  However, for me, the language slowed down my reading speed, as it has the cadence and pace of a historic novel.  But in that, I enjoyed that my vocabulary has expanded in the exercise. The way the author can weave together the fantastic elements with the political intrigues, the mystery and the love/life affairs of the characters, is spellbinding.  There just so much to enjoy and appreciate in this series. Without giving anything away, I loved how the mystery meandered; the clues plainly visible, but due to the timing, easily overlooked.  The race to save Grey was gripping and nerve-wracking.  I also enjoyed the on-going political/romantic intrigue of Roland and Joanna.  There are some interesting cliffhangers in that realm, and I eagerly look forward to seeing how it eventually plays out.  I also hope we will see how Sophia’s other sister is faring.  Not to mention, what will Sophia and Grey stumble into next. It is difficult to discuss this novel without giving anything away.  But suffice to say; once I was able to slip back into the comfort of the language and the land, I was lost in the world.  I found it difficult to put down, as I eagerly wanted to know what was in store for Sophia and Grey.  I feel as if there is still so much left for them as they continue on striving for a happily-ever-after. Though I hope it is not the end, but just another milestone in this fascinating and gripping series, I enjoyed Lady of Magick.  If you enjoy historical mysteries within fantasy world, look no further and give the Noctis Magicae a try. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed...
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