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Currently Browsing: Rating A
Dec
22

Review: Schooled by Lorelei James

Review: Schooled by Lorelei James Schooled Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Lorelei James is THAT author. She takes a married couple, puts them in a ‘real-world’ situation, and shows how said pair evolves as a couple. Schooled, a novella in the Mastered series, gives us one more glimpse at Amery and Ronin—one of my favorite couples of 2014. Amery and Ronin went through their issues in Bound and Unwound. They got their happily ever after, and this novella is a glimpse into how a real couple deals with things that come up, things that challenge their relationship. They communicate. They try to figure things out. Most of all, they remember why they fell in love in the first place and strive to be better people, changing and improving the skills necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. I think the most notable transformation was found in Ronin. The couple traveled to Japan so Ronin could do his yearly training with his sensei. They built in a honeymoon. It was rather sweet, the entire plan. From the beginning, I watched Ronin dote on Amery. It seemed as though they fell into a rut while in Japan, while he was training, however. I get the idea that training of that nature is both mentally and physically taxing. What that part of the story exemplified for me was that nurturing a marriage is important, no matter what is going on. And, that there’s give-and-take. One person doesn’t always have to be the one in charge of marriage maintenance. I connected with Ronin in this piece. Not gonna lie. I missed him in parts of the story. When he wasn’t ‘present’. My favorite quote from Schooled comes from Ronin’s thoughts: “Ronin watched the scene play out in slow motion like an art-house film; snowy white petals highlighting the flush of passion on her skin, the satisfied tilt of her kiss-plumped lips, her hair spread out with moonlight glinting off it like rose gold.  But this wasn’t a movie, or a dream montage. This woman was his. This life was his.” I guess this spoke to me in a variety of ways. There are nights I’ll just sit and watch (in a non-creepy way) Mr. VampBard sleep. I’ll watch him as he’s playing a video game, or while he’s singing. Even while he’s reading one of his comics on his Kindle. Taking in all the little things. Memorizing the small movements, changes in expression....
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Dec
19

Review: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge (+bonus review) by Anna Hackett

Review: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge (+bonus review) by Anna Hackett Beyond Galaxy’s Edge Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Captain Nissa Sander is a by-the-books Patrol Captain with Galactic Security Services. She appreciates order and abhors chaos; however, her convictions don’t prevent her strong attraction to rogue smuggler Justyn Phoenix. Justyn Phoenix lives at Galaxy’s Edge with his two brothers and sister. Together they run a deep-space convoy with a little illegal smuggling on the side. They are cousins to the more famous treasure hunting Phoenix brothers from the previous Phoenix Adventure series titles. For three years, Justyn has admired, even fallen in love with, Nissa, thinking he is not worthy of a woman like her. Meanwhile, during those same three years, Nissa has tracked down and attempted to catch Justyn in the act of unlawful transactions, becoming obsessed. Now the pair must work together to recover one of the galaxy’s most vital and cherished historical documents, heading out into dangerous and deadly space beyond Galaxy’s Edge. Beyond Galaxy’s Edge is a wonderful space escapade, full of exciting adventure and steamy romance. I have to admit that after reading the previous book, On a Rogue Planet, I wasn’t keen on the fact that the author opted to introduce readers to three more Phoenix brothers, plus a sister, before finishing off the first trio. However… Ms. Hackett made the right decision! Justyn and his brothers are a welcome addition to the Phoenix universe, and moving the setting to the edge of the known galaxy creates vast opportunities for exhilarating adventures. First, Justyn. Think Han Solo. He’s a bad boy with a good heart, and he’s in love with Nissa. He’s dreamed of being with her for three years, but he wants more than a roll in the hay. He understands that his bad reputation would damage the career-driven Nissa, so he purposely keeps his interactions to light flirting and fun. He wants what is best for Nissa, and he isn’t what is best. Justyn is utterly swoon-worthy! I found Justyn to be a very worthy and sexy romantic lead. Nissa is equality as noble, and she makes a great fit with Justyn. While he pulls out the adventure in her, Nissa allows Justyn to shine. I appreciate her internal struggles between doing what is right because it’s her job and doing what is good because it’s right. I am thankful that Nissa isn’t a woman who falls in love and decides her man is...
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Dec
16

Review: Dragonslayer by Eleri Stone

Review: Dragonslayer by Eleri Stone Dragonslayer Author: Eleri Stone Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Eleri Stone’s Twilight of the Gods series share the stories of the citizens of Ragnarok, Iowa. They are the Æsir: the descendants of Asgard. I absolutely LOVE that all of these god-descended heroes are farmers in Iowa! The third story in this entertaining series, Dragonslayer, opens just about one year after the conclusion of the previous book, Witch Bound. Previously we learned that Christian was to marry Raquel in a marriage arranged since birth, but neither loved the other, and Raquel fell in love with Fen, Christian’s best friend. When Christian stepped aside for the pair, he realized that he too wants a wife, family, etc., so he’s remained celibate and alone for a year, searching for something special. DNR wildlife biologist, Jacey Morgan, stumbles into Ragnarok looking into reports of missing chickens and dead animals in the surrounding area. When she meets Christian at a local bar, she thinks she’s found someone who will help her figure out what’s going on. Even though he agrees to help her, Christian plans to find a way to get this human out of town quickly, using some made-up excuse for the disturbances. However, soon Jacey discovers that there is more to the citizens of Ragnarok, and the creature she is hunting isn’t a stray dog. Christian takes a chance and trusts the human female, bringing her into his inner circle. However, will he be able to move past his own upbringing to realize what a true treasure Jacey is? Dragonslayer is utterly exciting and entertaining; the romance sweet and emotional; and the characters honest and interesting. The story opens in just the right spot, having given Christian time to figure out what he really wants in life after his near marriage a year ago. He’s still best buddies with Fen and good friends with Raquel. Christian demonstrated a lot of maturity in Witch Bound, which only increased during the course of this book. He’s got to tackle his own beliefs and upbringing as one of the Æsir and balance expectations with reality. I found Christian intriguing, honest, and sexy. I also adored Jacey. Being a bit of a geeky girl myself, I related to her awkward behaviors. Sometimes her comments were misunderstood, but she doesn’t let that get her down for long. She’s got almost a naivety to her, because of her awkwardness, making her all the more...
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Dec
15

Early Review: A Veil of Secrets by Hailey Edwards

Early Review: A Veil of Secrets by Hailey Edwards A Veil of Secrets Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Hailey Edwards? Araneae Nation book? Yes, please! I have been WAITING for this book. And I’m so entirely glad with the results! Ms. Edwards has done a fabulous job! Okay. Harbingers. If you’ve been reading this series, you know you love to hate most of them, right? Well, I have been WAITING for this story. Knew it had to be told. Knew I had to read it. Here’s the thing about A Veil of Secrets. Besides learning about the Saltisideae clan, there’s a lot of stuff going on here. The veil, all the stuff with the dayflowers, and the sibling stuff… not to mention the stuff with Marne and Asher. We also get to see Pascale again, as well as Llew. Totally missed them, and was super glad to see them again! Here’s what I really liked about Marne. She started out as this weak chic that was taken care of by her brother from the time she became a fledgling harbinger and was rescued from her maker. But, despite all the difficulties Marne faced, she grew stronger and fought for herself and the ones she loved. She knew what she was fighting for, and totally went for it. Asher, however, started off as a pretty huge jerk. By the end, however, he was completely cool. And, rather awesome. The way he cared for Marne, even when she didn’t really want to care for herself, was awesome. The way he attempted to keep his feelings to himself was admirable. One of my favorite quotes from this book comes from Asher: “Only to those who are averse to being amused by themselves.” He stretched his legs in front of him. “No one has a perfect life, no matter how flawless it may appear from the outside. None of us can ever know the grief another has suffered. I have been fortunate. I had good parents, a good home and a career path set before me. I have several friends who have not been as blessed. I don’t mean to lessen the circumstances that shaped you. I mean only to point out you have broken that small mold. Pay the past respect, but don’t allow those events to govern your future. You are not that person.” So, while we get to see all the personal growth of Marne, I think the most important thing I took...
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Dec
12

Review: Vacant by Alex Hughes

Review: Vacant by Alex Hughes Vacant Author: Alex Hughes Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Note: There are spoilers of previous books in this review. The books in this series build on each other. Seriously read the previous books starting with Clean before you read this one. Read this review at your risk. Ms. Hughes has done it again!  Gikany and Una are stunned by the realistic foundation of this stunning science fiction series.  Adam and Cherabino reached a momentous pinnacle in Vacant and were forcibly thrown off into a murky future. Word of warning – if you thought the previous novels were heartbreaking, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Vacant begins with Adam and Cherabino on a date at a concert.  The experience Adam had during the concert was amazing.  This glimpse into what it is like to be a telepath was staggering.  And the emotional experiences continued through the novel. Adam continued to develop as a character.  He continued to keep us enthralled with his tarnished hero persona.  Adam showed true strength of character, dedication, and self-sacrifice in this novel.  But his development wasn’t the only one chronicled.  Cherabino was heartbreakingly thrust into some life changing circumstances.  Gikany and Una had a very difficult time saying we loved this novel, because no one loves to suffer.  But Ms. Hughes expertly gave us the emotionally charged scenes in doses we could handle without going too far. The balance was delicate and well done. The heartbreak and sacrifice that took place were realistic and purposeful.  Thankfully we were given a glimpse of hope at the end. As you are aware, Gikany and I discuss the novel and produce our reviews from our discussions.  Think of it as being privy to the summary of our book club meeting.  Vacant felt like it was the pinnacle of the overarching story of Adam versus Fisk.  In the previous novels they have unwittingly been on a crash course and it reached a head in this novel.  Through each novel we have been slowly learning the breadth and depth of Fisk’s power and influence.  In Vacant we discovered the staggering extent of it.  Gikany and Una are consumed by nervous energy as we anticipate what happens next.  Fisk has successfully harmed Adam, but in return, Adam struck back at Fisk and we know Fisk will seek retribution. Vacant is well written, gripping, and therefore a very quick read.  Though it is an emotionally charged novel, we...
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Dec
11

Review: The Highland Dragon’s Lady by Isabel Cooper

Review: The Highland Dragon’s Lady by Isabel Cooper The Highland Dragon’s Lady Author: Isabel Cooper Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Brought by his friend, Edmund, to his family’s estate to investigate unusual happenings that have been occurring since it passed into their keeping, Colin MacAlasdair is initially only interested in the supernatural occurrences that seem to be plaguing the place. Having lived for over three hundred years, he doubts that there’s anything he hasn’t encountered in some form or other before, and simply can’t resist such a rare and welcome novelty. But, dragon or no, nothing could have prepared him for the beautiful, quick-witted, and curiously-gifted Regina Talbot-Jones, a woman unlike any he’s ever known before. Having been stung by the aristocracy years ago, Reggie is far different from the other young noblewomen she knows. Often outspoken and tired of the restrictions placed on her by her family’s good fortune, she would happily run back to her flat in London if she could do so with a clear conscience. Unfortunately, she’s got a brother to save from an insufferable potential fiancé, a houseful of guests to help entertain, and a ghost to deal with as well. And if that wasn’t enough, there are appearances to keep up, especially since she has secrets of her own. The Highland Dragon’s Lady is the second in the Highland Dragons series, and is every bit as exciting as the first. This time, we’re taken to a country estate called “Whitehill” where our two main characters must fight what initially appears to be a malevolent spirit, but turns out to be something even worse. Not merely a ghost tale, the action here is persistent until the end of the story. Even after the initial mystery surrounding the disturbances is solved, Colin and Reggie realize that the battle for her family home, as well as their very lives has just begun. The entire novel is filled with the characters’ anticipation of the horror that may be waiting around every corner, and I occasionally found myself holding my breath right along with them. I liked both Reggie and Colin a great deal, even though I was rooting for Reggie, especially, the whole way. Both have plenty of intelligent observations and snappy comebacks, and Reggie’s internal monologues alone make the entire book a pleasure to read. While Colin is left to handle many of the physical altercations within the narrative, Reggie is just as heroic, if not more so, simply because she defies...
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Dec
10

Review: The Good Chase by Hanna Martine

Review: The Good Chase by Hanna Martine The Good Chase Author: Hanna Martine Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Ms. Martine has done it again with her wonderfully passionate and slowly burning contemporary romance, The Good Chase. The book was a fun and enjoyable read. I have loved Shea since reading Longshot.  Shea is a no nonsense whisky expert who loves and cherishes her Scottish blood.  She is a woman who has learned from the mistakes of her past and is working hard to be the strong independent woman she knows she can be.  Shea is smart and talented, and I found myself connected to her in many ways.  She had been hurt and that hurt caused her to be careful to keep her personal and private lives completely separate.  However, Shea is not afraid to work for what she wants, especially since she enjoys what she does. Bryne was eye-catching in Longshot as well.  Though we only briefly saw the ruggedly handsome rugby player in Longshot, we are finally introduced to him fully in The Good Chase.  Whew, he improved considerably – and that was impressive.  But Byrne is not a prince charming that will swoop in and make everything right (though he will try).  I loved his loyalty, his love of his family, his devotion and strength, and his heartbreak and frustration at not being able to help those he loves.  Bryne is witty and charming and smart.  His attraction to Shea and his admiration and love for who she is were sexy as heck.  I loved how he worked hard to keep to her comfort zones, not being pushy but still pursuing. What made this story so awesome is the subtle tug-of-war that occurs between Bryne and Shea.  They are both very smart and independent people who want to do things for themselves.  Combined with the caring nature of Bryne, it creates obstacles for them.  I also enjoyed the almost backward courtship they had.  It causes them to get to know each other far better and to be more intimately connected. Their story spanned quite a bit.  First there was the obstacle of Shea and her beliefs about keeping work and private lives separate.  Though this was the largest of the issues (spanning more than half the book) it was also the cutest in many ways.  I enjoyed watching Bryne work hard to approach Shea at the right times, not getting discouraged after being turned down, and then trying to find...
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Dec
9

Review: Revenant by Larissa Ione

Review: Revenant by Larissa Ione Revenant Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: How do I summarize a story that has been in the making for ten whole books (well at least five books)?! Revenant is not only the wonderful story of a broken male finding love, but the exciting culmination and climax of the ultimate battle between the heavens and  underworld that began back with the first Lords of Deliverance title. Because of the nature of this series, I strongly urge one NOT to read Revenant as a stand alone book. You will be confused. There is such a huge amount of back story that even I was a bit lost for a while. Fortunately, I take good notes while reading books, and the author provides a summary of the most recent events that occurred in the previous book, Reaver. Although he believed himself an evil fallen angel, Revenant recently discovered he’s an angel that was raised in Sheoul by Satan – fed his blood and inherently Satan’s son. Also, his twin brother, Reaver, was raised in Heaven by the angels themselves. Recently, both angels were raised to one of the highest levels an angel can obtain, and Revenant is now a Shadow Angel, second only to Satan, but will be less powerful than Lucifer when he is reborn. This is important to understand, and angelic politics are tough to follow from time to time. On a personal level, Rev is obsessed with Blaspheme, a doctor at UGH. Although Blas appears to be a False Angel, the reader knows she’s actually something else, something which places a big target on her back and keeps her on the run. The last thing she needs is the attention from a power angel who could easily eliminate her. Yet, she finds herself comforted by Rev, trusting him when she knows better. But what will happen when Rev discovers the truth? Revenant is epic in scope without feeling like a big book. I blazed through the story, glued to the pages until the very end. The romance between Rev and Blas is wonderful. Although they have drastically different pasts, they both have broken histories, and I like that they find solace in one another. Even though neither can explain it, they trust each other implicitly and open up in ways that neither has experienced before. Their shared moments are honest and tender, creating an intense emotional connection. I found the romance to be my...
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Dec
8

Review + Giveaway: Owning Violet by Monica Murphy

Review + Giveaway: Owning Violet by Monica Murphy Owning Violet Author: Monica Murphy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary romance lately. It’s interesting that the subgenre still holds interest for me, as I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every trope out there. I had to fight for moments to read the first title in Monica Murphy’s new Fowler Sisters series, Owning Violet. Stolen moments on my lunch break, at the grocery store while waiting in line, and while waiting for Youngest to be released from wrestling practice. And then, I binged. I gorged myself on Violet and Ryder’s story for an afternoon. And I don’t regret a single minute. This is a workplace romance. And, the one thing that irritated me about Owning Violet was that Violet wanted to keep everything with Ryder on the down-low, while her entire relationship with Zachary was in-the-open. Both work at Fleur Cosmetics, and have parallel positions in the hierarchy. I’ll just leave that right there for a minute. Violet is the ‘responsible’ sister. She’s destined to run Fleur Cosmetics someday. I mean, she’s really the only one of her sisters interested in the position. I liked Violet’s chapters. The narration is first person with shifting viewpoints, and Ms. Murphy tells us who’s talking. What drew me to Violet was the fact that she changed and evolved throughout the novel. She started as a meek and quiet ‘flower’—a ‘shrinking violet,’ if you will—that wasn’t interested in rocking-the-boat. By the end, however…well, you’ll have to read to find out why I like her so much now. 🙂 Ryder. How to explain Ryder? He’s certainly an enigma, that’s for sure. Besides being damaged, and needing to learn to actually love, Ryder has about a bazillion things going against him in the grand scheme of things. Even though he holds a position pretty high-up in Fleur Cosmetics, he feels unworthy. I know that Ryder’s narration in his chapters is about HIS growth throughout the novel, but the boy did things slow and in his own time—that’s for sure. I kinda wanted to wrap him in a fleece blanket and pet his thick, wavy locks a few times as I was reading. We all know I have a thing for damaged heroes, and while Ryder had several of those qualities, he didn’t quite fit the grid. Does that make sense? And whew! He certainly has the domineering control-freak thing mastered. *snort* I’d be Violet in a heartbeat....
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Dec
4

Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield

Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield Hell On Wheels Author: Z. A. Maxfield Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Living in Bluewater Bay always suited Nash Holly just fine, for the most part. Taking on a lot of the responsibility for his family at a young age never made his path an easy one, but he gladly accepted his role with unshakeable devotion. The idea that there might be more for him wasn’t anything he allowed himself to think about, at least until a close call on a rainy night turns out to be much more than it seems. Spencer Kepler-Constantine knows all about the pitfalls of fame, but recent heartbreak has made his entire existence a misery. Unable to escape the spotlight, he’s determined to hide his pain from everyone, including himself, if he can possibly manage it. But, when an unexpectedly erotic interlude with a stranger who doesn’t play by the rules shakes Spencer up in lovely and terrifying ways, he begins to wonder if the best thing to ever happen to him isn’t right in front of him after all. Hell on Wheels is an appealingly simple, romantic tale of two men who aren’t exactly looking for anything, but end up finding it anyway. Nash and Spencer are opposites in just about every way possible. Nash is a high-octane, small-town mechanic whose commitment to his family doesn’t leave him any room for romance. Spencer is a famous celebrity on a popular TV show who is in the middle of a very public divorce and would prefer to avoid another relationship at all costs. A “no-strings” arrangement would be preferable to both men, if only they weren’t so perfect for each other. While it is neither action-packed nor suspenseful, Hell on Wheels is a sweet story about expectations and honesty, and the dangers of making assumptions, no matter how badly our hearts want something. Though their respective worlds seem to clash spectacularly, Spencer and Nash are more complimentary than either is willing to admit, except sexually—an element of their relationship they both (thankfully) embrace. Z.A. Maxfield has, once again, written two complicated, deserving characters who have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be happy, yet who can’t seem to let go of their own fears long enough to reach for it until it’s almost too late. With one exception, each of the Bluewater Bay stories is written by different authors and is meant to be read as a standalone. However, I thoroughly enjoyed...
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