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Oct
17

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith Grigori Author:  Lauren Smith Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Grigori is the debut novel in the Brothers of Ash and Fire series.  Gikany and Una were interested in this new urban fantasy series focusing on dragon shifters.  We were pleasantly surprised that it is not just about dragons shifters and, although there were a few odd notes, we liked our introduction to this new world. The premise and mythology of the dragon shifters was interesting.  We did, however, wonder how they could even attempt flying in dragon form, no matter how rural an area is, with satellite surveillance and other modern technology.  Despite all of that, it was fascinating to imagine Grigori flying in his stunning dragon form.  Grigori’s immediate desire to mate with Madelyn upon catching her scent made perfect sense.  So did his chivalry:  Grigori is thousands of years old.  This longevity was overshadowed by a sense of melancholy.  Considering how small the Barinov family is and how few close companions they must have, their melancholy is not surprising.  It was most notable in some of the interactions between Grigori and his brother Rurik. One thing we felt was odd about this story is an issue that centers on Madelyn.  Even in this modern age, a single woman would hesitate to venture into a country alone with only a basic understanding of the local language.  It just doesn’t seem prudent or safe.  Then after Grigori kidnaps her, the instant and overwhelming attraction she has for him is bizarre.  She even jokes about how she is suffering from Stockholm syndrome.  Their “courtship” is rather terse and although the romance is sizzling, the fuse was quite short.  We understand the drive of mating, but Madelyn’s reaction was unexpected.  In the end, we loved how the truth revealed itself.  We liked the allusion to Romeo and Juliet’s infamous love story.  We hope to see Grigori and Madelyn in the next novel. Overall, we liked this new take on modern day dragon shifters.  Although this first novel is a little clunky with its odd notes, the flow of the story and romantic journey of Grigori and Madelyn more than compensated.  We look forward to reading about Grigori and Rurik’s lost brother, Mikhail, in the next Brothers of Ash and Fire novel. Our Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: He’s one of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline … Grigori Barinov is the eldest...
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Oct
17

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Desire Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Duke of Desire jumps right into the thick of things, with Iris, the Lady Jordan, kidnapped four days ago as she departed from the Duke of Kyle’s wedding. She is currently bound on an alter in front of the masked Lords of Chaos who are arguing over Iris’s identity, confusing her with the new Duchess of Kyle. Raphael, Duke of Dyemore, is working to infiltrate and eliminate the atrocious Lords of Chaos, the group his father once proudly ruled. Seeing the innocent Lady Jordan held captive on his own lands pushes him to take action. Demanding she be his to use, he hauls her away, in an effort to save her. However as circumstances become dangerous for Iris and Raphael, he insists marriage is the only way he can protect her. As a late-comer to the wonderful Maiden Lane series, I was sad to learn that Duke of Desire is the last novel in this delightful world. While this book isn’t my favorite of the series, it puts some issues to rest and leaves readers with a happily-ever-after epilogue. I enjoyed the story, but I felt the plot revolving around the Lords of Chaos and Raphael’s revenge overshadows the romance. Iris is a strong woman and wonderful character. She’s a different type of heroine from many that I normally read. Rather than push to get her way, she decides she shall convince and plot. Rather than stand up, she goes along, keeping faith and hope she’ll turn things around. She knows what she wants, and is willing to temporarily “settle” for less, with the hope she will get through Raphael’s defenses eventually. Not that she’ll wear him down, but rather that she’ll help him realize there is more to life than revenge. But her nature causes her to appear complacent at times, and I wanted to her to fight harder for herself and those she cares about. It’s a good thing I’m not Iris, or the author, or I’d have ended up pushing Raphael away permanently! Raphael was left emotionally, physically, and mentally damaged by his father and a horrific childhood. Even though his aunt was able to help him escape the dangers at home, Raphael’s memories will never let him rest. His mind is warped; convinced he will end up a monster like his father. While Raphael’s behaviors and attitude are probably genuine and...
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Oct
16

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian Midnight Unleashed Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Six weeks ago, Tamisia (Sia) was banished from the Atlantean colony where she helped rule as council member; trusting the wrong man earned her a lifetime on Earth. Now she finds meaning in helping run a shelter for women and children in Rome, with fellow Atlantean Pheaedra. But when a deadly Breed Order operation causes the death of one under her care, Sia decides to take action. Trygg, a dangers Gen One Hunter assassin who prefers to work solo, is obsessed with bring down the human responsible for distributing the deadly Red Dragon drug. When his mission crosses paths with the beautiful Sia, his emotions start getting in the way of his job. As much as he tries to avoid her, Trygg seems destined to tangle with the Atlantean. Sia, who was introduced in Defy the Dawn (Midnight Breed #14), put her love and trust in Elyon, who was a traitor and still loyal to the evil Atlantean Queen. This resulted in the deaths of two Atlanteans and the colony was quick to blame Sia, banishing her and placing her under the protection of the Breed leader, Lazlo. Trygg also has trust issues, first from his youth as a Hunter under Dragos, and then when he was used by another who he thought loved him. This makes a relationship difficult to say the least – with two people both weary of the world and unable to trust one another. Yet, they cannot fight attraction and their mutual backgrounds seem to draw them closer rather than push them apart. Midnight Unleashed is another good Midnight Breed novella that carries the same basic romantic premise as so many before it. It starts with a main couple who can’t stand one another. He’s rough and alpha, she’s tough yet feminine and tender. They are attracted but don’t like that they are. And then, in a matter of days, all hesitation melts away and they just know they are meant to be. “It was as if she’d been waiting for this all her long life. Waiting for this man to awaken her and make her feel truly alive.” They are in love – the kind that will last an eternity. If you are good with the basic premise than I highly recommend Midnight Unleashed, and the series in general. The bottom line is that I liked Sia. I liked Trygg....
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Oct
12

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden A.L.F.A. Mates Author: Milly Taiden Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Strangely enough, Milly Taiden is a new-to-me author! I have had her on a list of “I should really read her…” but haven’t ever gotten to her on my TBR. I know. No one is surprised. I was super excited to pick up the first two titles in her A.L.F.A. series in one volume—I’m pretty sure I swooped in on that like a corvid to road kill. The first story is Elemental Mating, and it features Melinda and Hamel. One thing I really liked about their story was how intense Melinda was. The scientist seemed to be at the forefront most of the time, and I loved her inquisitive mind. What I liked most about Hamel is that he was pretty bound & determined to keep Melinda safe. Things get a little hairy when there’s a couple events that put Melinda in danger—as well as her research. This title had a lot more to it than I expected, and could’ve been a longer title—I felt there was a lot crammed into around 150 pages-ish. The second story, Mating Needs, was interesting. Okay. I got my copy via NetGalley and I’m hoping there was another round of editing happening—it did take me a little extra time to get through this story because there were so many proof-y things they distracted me. But, I’m sure the publisher would ensure this was addressed. So, it’s not figuring into my review. I just had to put it out there. I have a long-standing fascination with the Mafia—more specifically, Al Capone. I’m not going into all the stupid, anecdotal stuff I know about him because of my obsession interest. Which is why Amie kept me riveted to this title. Not gonna lie. I have a predilection for cougar shifters, and Frank’s draw to Amie drew me in. Complications, you say? Oh, this title definitely had them. I really liked the way they worked out, though. All elements of a well-written story, which Ms. Taiden delivered. I’m definitely on-board for reading more sexy shifters in Ms. Taiden’s ALFA series—a third title had an excerpt in the back of the edition I read. I did NOT read the excerpt because that’s something I don’t do, but I am still excited. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: The Alpha League Federal Agency is sworn to protect humanity from paranormal threats and now...
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Oct
9

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger A Shot at Love Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Agent Kyros (Ky) Pappandreos has been working on a mafia case for three years when the only witness is shot and killed on the streets of New York, along with two of Ky’s men. Photographer Gemma Laine happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Capturing faces of New Yorkers for her next book, she witnesses and records the entire event on her camera… making her Ritandi’s next target. When there is one attempt too many on Gemma’s life while she’s in FBI custody, Ky realizes he has a mole within his team, and takes her safety into his own hands. The pair hide out in a remote cabin and come to realize that while hiding away, they both have never felt more alive or free. A Shot at Love is the second romance in the Will Cook for Love series. While the book takes place in the same world and involves the same characters as the first, it is a standalone read. And even with their similarities, the two books are unique and independent. A Shot at Love definitely falls more in the romantic suspense subgenre than the first title, which also contained a bit of action. Ky and Gemma are a great couple. They share similar values and interests. They are both physically strong and mentally sharp. I enjoyed watching the pair as they each learned more about the other; each pleasantly surprised that their physical attraction is rooted in something deeper. It’s like I could feel the awe in each as they grew closer together, becoming more and more entwined. I especially liked that the professional aspect of Ky’s job and getting involved with Gemma is addressed and always on his mind. The author gives Ky support in the form of an additional protector, helping ease the way for the couple to pair up. Ky and Gemma have a palpable chemistry that explodes when they touch, especially their first couple encounters. My only small complaint is that the pair is a bit goofy with their talk, in bed. They are silly in a way that made me think both are nervous, which may be exactly the point. Gemma has some serious trust issues, and the author does a great job developing the character. However, I wanted Gemma just to take charge and let go of her fears (which...
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Oct
3

Review: Cover Up by L.A. Witt

Review: Cover Up by L.A. Witt Cover Up Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Nate Chandler gave ten years to the man who ended up breaking his heart when he cheated on Nate—in their own bed. Never one for random hookups in the first place, Nate was left furious and unsteady when the forever he was counting on disappeared in an instant. Moving on would be so much easier if he could erase Caleb—and that matching tattoo—from his life. And isn’t it lucky that the “cover-up wizard” at the local tattoo shop also happens to be just as gorgeous as the art he creates? Working two part-time jobs in addition to keeping up his apprenticeship at Skin Deep, Inc. doesn’t leave Lucas Brandt much time for anything else. Especially not romance, given his history of bad decisions and more recent pattern of disastrous sexual encounters. Even so, he can’t deny the undeniable heat that the recently separated and still hurting RIO stokes in him from their very first meeting. And, really, if being with Nate feels this good without any strings attached, there’s no way Lucas is going to fight it. Having met Nate and Lucas in the previous story, Pounding Skin, it was fairly easy to jump right into Cover Up without any backtracking. Lucas, in particular, piqued my interest before, so I was very excited to see how his story might play out. For most of the narrative, I stayed connected to what was going on with Lucas and Nate, and was either eager for them to sort things out or worried that the overall surface was too smooth by turns. It wasn’t until the relationship was still predominantly rooted in the bedroom when both men’s feelings had clearly evolved further that I began to hope for more. Although I liked each of the main characters, I definitely have a particular fondness for Lucas. Open about his sexuality, his major worries are about paying off his student loans and getting his confidence back after a mistake on a tattoo leaves him rattled. As for his relationship with Nate, he knows exactly what the situation is, but is just happy to feel good when he can, and makes a conscious choice to let himself keep falling. When he finally realizes that things can’t continue as they had been, I couldn’t help hurting for him. As I have an admitted weakness for returning characters that I like, Cover Up had...
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Sep
29

Review: Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson

Review: Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson Of Flame and Fate Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Of Flame and Fate is the second spin-off novel from the Weird Girls series focusing on Taran (nicknamed the Flame series).  Although the overall plot of this book was intriguing, there was just a little too much angst for our enjoyment. Some angst is normal in this series.  The girls seem to continually need to prove themselves, not just to the supernatural community, but also to themselves.  The continuing power struggles between Taran and Gem just added to the melodrama.  Although they did make up in the last novel, they are still not 100% through their issues.  One could say they begrudgingly worked well together in this book, if struggling, growling, and arguing are normal in every couple’s interactions.  It would be awesome to see them actually honestly communicate with each other.  Gem is good at it, but Taran really needs to open up honestly with Gem. There were other angst-ridden plot lines in this novel.  One of which is the battle over the fate of Johnny Fate.  Although it was a little predictable how things with Johnny would go, we were still surprised by the ending.  We have no idea what is next, but we can’t wait to see Taran get even.  Destiny has always been a fun character and it was difficult to watch her slow demise.  The anguish of Tye was heart wrenching and painful to experience. It also seems that poor Emme continues to have her heart in a blender.  We hope that Emme will eventually not only find someone who will love and support her, but that she will have a book that is told from her point of view.  After having Bren’s point of view in a previous novella, it is strange to see how he is treating Emme now.  We hope Bren figures himself out or that his wolf and his human side reach an agreement and make the right choice. Although overly angst-riddled, we still liked this latest Weird Girls adventure, focusing on Taran.  With the cliffhanger ending, we wonder what will happen next.  Hopefully Taran and Gem will have an honest discussion and Destiny’s predictions for the children come true.  We know for sure, we are waiting for the next Weird Girls story. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a small issue About the Book: Taran Wird, who commands the power...
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Sep
25

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox Completely Author: Ruthie Knox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Like the rest of Knox’s New York Trilogy, Completely doesn’t fall into a tidy classification.  More than the others, however, it wants to tip over into the dreaded women’s fiction category. I think Knox has earned it this time, and I didn’t like it as much as the two (three) previous books being Truly, Madly, and the related About Last Night. About Last Night is probably my favorite book Knox has written so it pleases me that she’s chosen to return to the Chamberlain family with the New York Trilogy and not with the focus on characters one might expect.  Many authors just run through the siblings of a family in a series whereas Knox gives more emphasis to their love stories through the women in their lives.  In Completely, Knox focuses on Rosemary Chamberlain, Winston Chamberlain’s (Madly) ex-wife.  Winston is the older brother of Neville in About Last Night. Rosemary led a tidy, scheduled, polite existence as Winston’s wife, but that’s all she was doing, existing.  She describes herself as “wallpaper.”  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Completely she struggles to find herself and stumbles upon love in the process.  Unfortunately, it is not as compelling of a read as Knox’s previous books because it starts with a character who is neither likable nor unlikable.  Through shared tragedy she falls in love with a man who works very hard at being desperately private.  As a result, there’s not much for the reader to relate to in either character. I found it difficult to invest myself.  Like its predecessor Madly, the characters don’t seem to go together, maybe even less so.  With a spread of seven years between them, not as many as between Winston and Allie, Rosemary is the older of the two.  No one would mistake her for a cougar.  Rather, she’s a proper, British, would-be baroness. Kalden Beckett, her love interest, describes himself as “brown.”  It’s meant as a skin color reference having a Tibetan mother and an American father, being born in New York, but spending a lot of time in Nepal as well.  Like Rosemary’s wallpaper label, it seems more designed to make him blend in with his surroundings, which in his case is dirt and trees. Getting to know them both literally takes the entire book. One of my favorite characters is peripheral, like Allie’s father...
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Sep
19

Review: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray

Review: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray A Strange Scottish Shore Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: B What I’m Talking About: First, I apologize that this review is not very long; there are just too many places where a spoiler could be dropped and there is nothing worse than a spoiler when it comes to a mystery novel. I am not as a rule a mystery reader. I don’t like trying to guess what will happen or has happened to get us to where we are. I also don’t like to be left hanging as happens all too often in mystery novels. That being said I am a Juliana Gray fan and I enjoyed, her previous offering, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, so I was really looking forward to A Strange Scottish Shore. However, after having finished it, I can’t say I loved it as much as I did A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. I enjoyed the characters and setting and will admit Ms. gray continues to weave a good story, but there were details like the time traveling that I found to be discombobulating and confusing. I understand there is an element of mystery and magic to time travel but I don’t feel like the rules were clearly explained, and so I spent more time than I would have liked trying to figure out how people got where they were and how they might get back, which kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to. That being said, when I wasn’t distracted by random questions and rules I did enjoy the settings, the escape to another time period, and getting to know new and very interesting characters. Ms. Gray took me to a part of history that I was not even remotely familiar with and did such a good job with it that i actually took time after finishing the book to look up more information on the time period and its people. She also kept me engaged despite the distractions. The bad guy continues to be really bad, while Truelove and Silverton continue to make a fantastic pair. They are funny and engaging and balance one another beautifully. The secondary characters add flavor and insight to Truelove and Silverton’s story, something I always enjoy. The idea of how legend continues to have an effect on people generations upon generations after it is told was also a fun theme to explore. Overall, A Strange Scottish Shore was an interesting break from my usual...
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Sep
12

Review: Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Review: Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake Contracted Defense Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Contracted Defense is the third title in the Safeguard series and was a gripping blend of humor and action.  Gikany and Una continue to like this suspenseful romantic series, even though the romance moves a little quickly for our tastes. One of the elements that we like about this series is that even though the main couple may fall in love quickly, it still ends with the Happily-For-Now, allowing the couple time to date as the next novel begins.  We like that for all the drama and intense passion, they still will take their time not jumping into the forever after. Adam and Victoria’s introduction was as awkward as it was funny.  Although Adam is deeply attracted to Victoria, Gikany and Una enjoyed how Victoria attempted to distance herself and act professional.  Their frankness as they sorted their attraction to each other while working together was mature and a welcome realistic foundation to a burgeoning relationship.  We enjoyed the contrast of Adam’s more flexible and laid-back attitude to Victoria’s more reserved “type ‘A’ personality.” It was fascinating watching them learn to work with each other and while learning from each other.  Though they fell in love quickly it was not thoughtless nor without seriousness of commitment. The continuing overarching plot of establishing Safeguard and struggling against Edict, an unscrupulous competing firm, is gripping.  We look forward to learning more about the seeming bias that Edict has against Safeguard.  There must be more going on in that organization and with the relationship they seem to have with Phoenix Biotech. Adam and Victoria’s story was suspenseful and passionate.  Although their relationship moved awfully quickly, we enjoyed the open communication between them along with their willingness to learn and grow. Though Edict was thwarted again, we look to learning more about the animosity between the firms.  If you enjoy a militaristic suspense romance, you should give the Safeguard series a try. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Time is running out and the enemy is at the gate. Adam Hicks may be the rookie at Safeguard, but he’s no novice in the field. Retired from active duty after multiple tours and back fresh from a brief rest in New Zealand, he’s itching to return to action. But the challenge he hoped for arrives in an unexpected form: his sexy yet stern new partner. The...
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