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Feb
1

Review: The Master by Tara Sue Me

Review: The Master by Tara Sue Me The Master Author: Tara Sue Me Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I’m a big fan of Tara Sue Me’s Submissive series. While I may not have raved about every single title, they all have a special place in my heart because each book has some poignant lesson I can apply to my own life. The Master is no exception. While many people read for specific purposes (predominantly, to escape reality), a single title can fill several roles. It’s always fun to immerse myself in some well-crafted characters and a substantial plot. But the books that make me think and reflect on my own life are those I’ll keep on the back-burner for a good ol’ fashioned comfort read when life just gets too overwhelming. The Master is going on that list. Readers of the Submissive series have already met Sasha and Cole, our main characters for this title. As Sasha’s plot line wove through previous books, I was really curious as to how she would get her HEA. Stop. Rewind. If you *haven’t* read the previous books, The Master could be read as a stand-alone. However, I think there’s deeper meaning and understanding as a reader with the more in-depth background information supplied in previous titles of the series. The author does a great job of ‘reminders’ throughout the book, but it’s surely no substitute for actually reading the prior six novels. For readers of the series, and actually, the blurb, Sasha is re-entering the BDSM world after a play session with her Dom went horrifically of-the-rails. She is re-joining the Partners-in-Play BDSM group, and she requires retraining in order to overcome the abuse she sustained. She needs to learn to trust herself again, while playing, after such a traumatic experience. Here, the parallels with life overwhelmed me, to be honest. So many people are involved in either physically or emotionally abusive relationships—it made my heart hurt just thinking about it. How do those people manage to find the yin to their yang? Someone that simply *gets* them, even if they’re really broken? That’s today’s society, unfortunately. Everyone has baggage, and seeing Sasha’s baggage laid before us, the readers, drove home exactly how fortunate I am to have Mr. VampBard. As we watch Sasha go through her ‘process’, it gave me hope. Hope that someday, I’ll be able to put behind me the rest of the baggage I brought into my marriage. Hope that other people—still...
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Feb
1

Review: A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey

Review: A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey A Fighting Chance Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Adeline (Del) Kendrick is looking forward to a long weekend of fun and shopping with her best friends. Arriving at the casino resort one day early, she plans to put on her new flannel PJs, order room service, and watch Netflix. Yet everything changes when she runs into Brendan Quinn, the love of her life who walked out on her six years ago. Brendan Quinn is overcome with emotion when he runs into Del at the same casino where he is scheduled to fight. Although he left her six years ago, doing what he thought was the “right thing,” not a day passes that he doesn’t think of Del. Now that he’s found her again, he hopes maybe they can catch up, but what he doesn’t expect is to end up back in her bed. A Fighting Chance is a delightful, fast-paced romance that relies on the couple’s previous history to tug at heartstrings and create all the warm-fuzzies. Ms. Stacey does an excellent job creating their off-page past, allowing the reader to feel connected to the couple right from the start. The alternating POVs provided insight as to how much both Del and Brendan still loved one another. Both of these things, coupled with excellent storytelling, gives this shorter-length book the rich feel of a full-length story. Overall, I enjoyed the chemistry between Del and Brendan. Although their story is easy and things wrap up neatly, it is entertaining and heartfelt. Once again, Ms. Stacey combines all the right ingredients for a wonderful contemporary romance. P.S. Big props to Angela James and Carina Press for putting a note in the front of the book that the story ends at about the 70% mark because of the inclusion of a long excerpt at the end. I wish more publishers did this. It made the reading experience so much more delightful! My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: All work and no play makes Adeline Kendrick a dull girl, so when she heads to a casino resort for a friend’s bachelorette weekend, she’s ready to have a good time. Until she runs into Brendan Quinn, professional fighter and the one who got away—the one her family drove away—and things take a turn for the interesting. Running into his ex won’t shake Brendan. Even if it brings up the old pain of loving her...
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Jan
29

Review + Giveaway: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter

Review + Giveaway: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter Blood in Her Veins Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Although my initial experience with the Jane Yellowrock series was something of a challenge, it has since become one of my all-time favorites. As much as the series has grown, novel by novel, there has always been room for more: the personal history of the characters, the addition of a curtain call for some of the stories, contributions to other anthologies, and so on. With the publication of Blood in Her Veins, Ms. Hunter has been remarkably generous in her willingness to give her readers what they’ve asked for by gathering all of these glimpses into Jane’s world in one place. Having already seen some of these short stories, I was very excited to be able to read them all together. Each one serves a specific purpose, including giving fans of the series the opportunity to witness events from other characters’ perspectives, providing background information and clues to why they are the way they are, as well as offering insight into Jane’s own emotions and development, thereby making her even more intriguing. While plenty of Ms. Hunter’s characters take the stage in Blood in Her Veins, I was particularly fond of the scenes told from Bruiser’s point of view. As a long-term Bruiser supporter, I found these to be an especially nice treat. Not just another compilation, Blood in Her Veins showcases two new stories by Ms. Hunter, Cat Fight and Bound No More. In Cat Fight, Jane is once again obligated to visit Bayou Oiseau, Louisiana to broker another agreement between the local witches and vampires (since the first one apparently didn’t stick). I found nearly all of these characters to be highly entertaining, especially given their collective ability to shift between humorous and a little terrifying with whiplash-inducing rapidity. Throw in a disturbingly adept mud demon—thing—and this story was a lot of fun. In Bound No More, Jane’s beloved god-daughter, “Angie Baby,” proves that she’s much more powerful than anyone has ever suspected, and far too powerful for her own good. Although Jane & Co. have a monster to fight, I found the true horror to be Jane and Molly’s easily justifiable fear of the predatory groups would seek to use Angelina’s gifts for their own purposes. This story has quite a few sweet moments as well, however, and might be one of my favorites to date. Blood in Her Veins is...
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Jan
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Mistake by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Mistake Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Lorelei Avalon Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Off-Campus #2 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: purchased After devouring the first Off-Campus title, I couldn’t wait to start The Mistake. This time around, the story focuses on Briar College junior, John Logan, aka Logan. Watching is best friend Garrett fall in love with the perfect woman (The Deal) has been difficult for Logan because he wants Hannah for himself. He can’t shake his desire for his best friend’s girl and tries to forgot about her by non-stop drinking and hook-ups. But one night, in his efforts to escape Hannah and Garrett, Logan ends up mistakenly at freshman Grace Iver’s dorm door. Grace is a successful freshman at Briar, but now that the school year is almost over, she realizes that she’s not really done much socially her first year at college. She’s still hanging out with her complete opposite high school BFF, letting Ramona dictate Grace’s social calendar. So when the hottest guy on campus, hockey stud John Logan, shows up at her door, Grace decides to throw caution to the wind and invite him inside. The Mistake is another wonderful first love/forever love NA story from Ms. Kennedy. While Logan and Grace appear to be complete opposites, their individuality and uniqueness fit together like two puzzle pieces. They share scorching chemistry, even though Grace is a virgin and Logan is a player. And this is the start of their initial issues. When Logan realizes that he’s “using” Grace to “forget about Hannah,” he tries to do the right thing, which just blows up in his face. Cue summer vacation and months apart. When school starts back up in the fall, Grace is a changed woman. She’s still the wonderful, quirky individual from the previous year, but she’s realized that she needs to branch out on her own and make new friends. However, Logan isn’t willing to give up on Grace, and let’s just say, the lengths he goes to get her to go on a date with him are laugh-out-loud funny. Logan is a bit confused at times, but he’s adorably sweet and genuine. It just takes him a while to figure things out. The story evolves slowly as the pair comes together without preconceived notions or past relationship baggage. I adored watching each push and pull, bringing out the best in the other. Although these are...
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Jan
27

Review: Dead in the Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Dead in the Water by Hailey Edwards Dead in the Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: You. Guys. I’m not kidding here. I actually growled when one of the kidlets interrupted me while I was reading Dead in the Water. This is Ms. Edwards’ Gemini series, a spin-off of the Black Dog series. Yes. You should probably read the Black Dog series before you read this one. Otherwise, if you go back, you’ll have read spoilers. Dead in the Water takes place after Old Dog, New Tricks, the fourth title in the Black Dog series. Not gonna lie. I adore Cam and the way she handles everything. Ev.Er.Y.Thing. I am looking forward to learning a TON about her in the Gemini series. As usual with Ms. Edwards’ books, there isn’t a lot I can talk about without giving away part of the plot. I did love the humor, though. “You don’t play fair.” He placed his hand at the small of my back and pressed. “Fair doesn’t taste like bacon.” I couldn’t argue with that logic.” Infused throughout the story, humor is what propelled me forward as a reader. Even during dark moments—and they were many—the major characters all seemed to have a sense of humor, even if was self-depreciating. Graeson, Harlow, and Dell provided support throughout the book. They were absolutely adorable, and I can’t wait to see more of them. Especially Graeson. *rawr* He’s a warg, and they’re wolf shifters. I affectionately call him Hottie McFurpants. I have theories about Cam & Graeson. Oh, yes. Lots of theories. Harlow was a bit of an enigma to me. I want to say she’s a support and a foil to Cam’s professional efforts, but that’s not exactly right. I really liked her as a character, and I want to see how her story turns out. Dell is also a warg, and it was interesting to see her interact with Cam: “The idea of a random stranger walking up to me one day and saying, ‘Hey, baby, you smell like forever. Let’s do it,’ isn’t all that appealing honestly.” I’m sure you can see why I liked her sass. Cam herself is riddled with a past that doesn’t become clear until well into the title. When we finally learn why she’s actually on all these cases for the Earthen Conclave, I’ll admit I had an emotional moment. While Cam is actually pretty independent and self-sufficient, she has strong familial connections. I...
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Jan
26

Review + Giveaway: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake

Review + Giveaway: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake Extreme Honor Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Extreme Honor is the exciting debut novel in the True Heroes series.  I enjoyed the captivating story of David, Lyn, and Atlas. Suffice to say, I can’t wait for more in this gripping series that combines hot military men, their loyal canine companions, and the women they love. This novel sets up Hope’s Crossing Kennel, where David works with two other ex-military men.  They train dogs for anything from basic house pets to military working dogs and in between.  Atlas, a Belgian Malinois, has been returned to David to rehabilitate. Atlas, a military multipurpose dog, is mourning the loss of his handler, Calhoun, who happens to be a friend of David’s and who died overseas.  It seems he was killed in a friendly fire accident, but David doesn’t believe the story that is being told and knows that Atlas holds the key.  Figuring out the truth and avenging his friend is something David is determined to find out.  However, his life is complicated by Lyn, a contractor sent to assist with the rehabilitation of Atlas.  David instantly resents Lyn’s presence while Lyn is hell-bent on helping Atlas heal.  However, when Atlas shows the first sign of life by acknowledging Lyn’s presence, he has no choice but to let her help.  But by letting her help, it seems she is placed in the cross hairs of those that killed David’s friend, and she may be next. I really enjoyed the chemistry between David and Lyn.  Though their romance moved fast, I liked that they did have time to get to know each other.  David is very patient though determined.  Lyn has a good heart and tries to think things through.  Though she sometimes thinks herself in circles, I could completely relate to her inner monologue.  However, she does have a habit of being a bit spontaneous and headstrong.  Because we are given both David and Lyn’s point of view, it made their journey so much more compelling.  Both Lyn and David have their own issues that affect how they see each other, especially long term.  Therefore their HEA was even more meaningful as they came together. I especially liked that David’s demons were not overplayed but something that he had already dealt with. The overall plot of Calhoun’s death and the fate of Atlas was gripping.  The conspiracy was interesting and the twist at the end...
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Jan
25

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz Graveyard Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’m a little sad to say that Graveyard is the final book in the Mutant Files trilogy.  The plight of Detective Lee stopping the Bonebreaker (before he captures her) reaches its climax and resolution along with a few other elements along the way.  I really enjoyed this final novel in the trilogy though I am going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this world. *****Please note this is the final book in a trilogy and therefore would be spoilerish.  I recommend starting with the first book, Deadeye so you can truly enjoy the overall series.****** At the conclusion of the previous novel, Redzone, I was beginning to think this series might continue, even through the beginning of Graveyard I thought it was a possibility.  However with the overall story arc of the Bonebreaker being resolved, the trilogy concludes nicely.  Though action is a strong element in this trilogy, this final novel was jammed packed.  Graveyard starts sedately enough only to have war break out and Detective Lee getting pulled in to help defend LA.  I really enjoyed how each seemly separate plot line overlapped with others to create a deeply fascinating detective thriller.  The war between the norms and mutants, the Bonebreaker, the political drama of the Mayor, and (of course) Lee’s personal life are all well-paced and balanced through the course of the story.  The way each was resolved was gripping and came to logical conclusions.  This novel truly was a brilliant capstone to the series. As a sideline plot, I really enjoyed the personal growth of Lee.  Through this novel, we see the maturity she’s gained from the experiences we witnessed in the previous novels.  She is working smarter and harder, which pays off for her.  The self-discovery she had begun in the previous novel, Redzone, is completed in this novel.  I really enjoyed watching Lee realize happiness and strive to make it work.  The comradery between her and her fellow detectives and supervisors helped to illustrate how far she had come.  Though a loose cannon, she proves that she can be a maverick, but a valuable and dependable part of the team (when used effectively). If you enjoy some science fiction with your detective drama, especially one in a post-apocalyptic world, you really should pick up The Mutant Files.  This action packed, fascinating world will keep you on the edge of your seat...
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Jan
25

Review: The Kinky Bank Robbers Series 1-3 by Annika Martin

Review: The Kinky Bank Robbers Series 1-3 by Annika Martin The Kinky Bank Robbers Series Author: Annika Martin Reviewer: Jen Twimom What I’m Talking About: Recently, I finally got around to devouring reading The Kinky Bank Robbers series by Annika Martin (aka Carolyn Crane). The series is a silly, sexy romp, full of fun and adventure, yet serious and poignant when called for. The books follow a group of bank robbers, known as The God Pack, who live life by their own rules, making the most of each moment, while supporting one another with unconditional friendship. Each novella-length book is its own standalone tale, but the stories are richer as they build upon the connections made from book to book. All three books are shared from the first person point of view of Isis. The Hostage Bargain (Book #1) It’s just another day at her horrible job at First City National until three bank robbers dressed in business suits and zombie masks walk into Melinda Prescott’s bank. She immediately feels a connection to the group, volunteering herself as a hostage, wanting to help them stick it to her boss – the man she blames for her parents’ death. Now that she’s going along with the group, she wants to fit in, all the way, even adopting a goddess name, Isis, and agrees to all of the group’s sexually deviant rules. This story works because it is over the top: fun and silly, yet intense. The author does a great job building Isis’s personality as a risk taker, so when she agrees to the bank robbers’ terms, it’s not out of the blue. Additionally, the fast pace allows for an honesty between the characters that would have otherwise been drawn out secrets or misunderstandings in a more traditional romance. The Kinky Bank Robbers series is aptly named: the group loves sex, naughty, gritty sex that typically involves more than two players. And while there are a number of graphic sex scenes in the short book, the scenes add to the tale – whether it is about pushing individual limits or healing old wounds, it all fits together seamlessly. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot The Wrong Turn (Book #2) Now that the God Pack is a complete foursome with matching tattoos and Isis formally part of the club, the group needs a score to keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle. But Isis notices a dark edge to Thor, who is becoming increasingly reckless and pushing the others. She’s worried he...
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Jan
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Deal Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Lorelei Avalon Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Off-Campus #1 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: author The Off-Campus series focuses on undergrad students of the fictional Briar college, located outside Boston, MA. In The Deal, the first book of the series, music major, Hannah Wells successfully passed her ethics midterm, where as most of the class failed, including hockey captain Garrett Graham who needs to pass the makeup exam to remain eligible to play. When Garrett realizes he could pass with Hannah as his tutor, he stops at nothing to secure her help, and in the process, the pair become friends. However, as Garrett helps Hannah catch the eye of another, he realizes he wants to keep her for himself. Starting as a classic opposites attract trope, The Deal blends sharp wit with thoughtful plot development to create a wonderful romance. Hannah and Garett have amazing chemistry, but their story doesn’t follow the strict “I hate you therefore I love you” theme. Rather, the pair slowly lets down their guards around the other and become honest friends. I adore witnessing the progression from acquaintances to friends to more. The pair slowly grew closer until they didn’t realize how deep they were into it. As they shared their most inner-most secrets, I found the story utterly touching and gripping. I couldn’t stop listening. As great as the romance is, the story is successful because of the well-developed characters. Hannah and Garrett both have pasts that lend them to bond and become the perfect couple. Hannah was raped five years ago. Garrett lived with an abusive father. Both have done what was necessary to move forward. While in general, the couple is mature beyond their years, it fits because both Garrett and Hannah have had to endure awful experiences, and they have had time to heal and move past it. This gives their level of maturity credibility. Garrett and Hannah are really too perfect to be true, but they are sooooo good together that I just want more and more of the couple. Their love is intense and beautiful, but it didn’t come easy. They worked at it and came by love after getting to know one another and growing into a relationship. I would love a story about the pair down the road 5 years to see how they adjust to life outside college. The Deal is...
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Jan
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #9 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio/publisher It’s been a month since Janey (aka Charley) showed up in Sleepy Hollow, New York, without any memories of her past. Taken in by the owner of a local restaurant, she is making friends and learning that she’s a bit unique – like the fact that she can see dead people and their parallel dimension. With each day that goes by, Janey gets more and more frustrated, especially when she thinks that those around her may hold the keys to her past. If you have followed my reviews of the Charley Davidson series, you will know that I have a bit of a love-hate affair with the series. While I was pleased with most of the previous book, the ending, leaving Charley with amnesia in a far away town, set up The Dirt on Ninth Grave as a bit of a make or break book for me. Well, I am very happy to report that this book won back my love for all things Charley. Seriously… it’s that good. If you have been on the fence, I strong urge you to pick up the book and give it a chance. I was worried about the whole amnesia aspect, but Ms. Jones uses it as a positive tool, rather than allowing it to further isolate Charley. Although she doesn’t know it, Charley is surrounded by everyone that loves her. Cookie is once again her best friend, and she has the hots for Reyes, knowing she loves him. But since she’s not weighed down by all of the revelations uncovered in the past few books, Charley is able to just be that carefree, funny woman we first met. She has all of the good traits that caused me to fall for her, leaving out the ones I couldn’t stand. And I fell in love with Reyes all over again. Seriously. I swooned. He has to act like he doesn’t know Janey – the love of his life. It pained me to see his struggles, along with all of Charley’s family, as they deal with Charley’s memory loss. And the humor is out of this world funny. I cannot tell you how many times I literally laughed out loud. Some of the humor is trademark Charley Davidson/Darydna Jones, while some of...
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