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Mar
2

Review: Saved by Darkness by Katie Reus

Review: Saved by Darkness by Katie Reus Saved by Darkness Author: Katie Reus Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Saved by Darkness is the sixth title in Ms. Reus’ entertaining paranormal romance Darkness series. This traditional PNR features a wide variety of shifters, vampires, demigods, and demons, each with a happily ever after. While each book is a standalone romance, the characters and mythology have been developed over the course of the series, making it a richly detailed world, one which is best experienced from the start. This time around the story focuses on half-demon, half-dragon shifter Ian, whom we met a couple books ago. He fell in love with dragon shifter Fiona over fifty years ago, but she walked away from him and mated another in order to protect him from her family. Yet it’s been discovered that she’s been running a preternatural shelter for abused paranormals at the edge of Finn Stavros’s territory, a place Ian has come to live in recent months. Now that Finn is reaching out to Fiona, can Ian give her up a second time? Right from the start, I found myself fully submersed in Fiona and Ian’s story. First, I enjoyed the flashbacks to the couple’s initial meetings and early connections. Even though the reader knows the outcome of their past, it’s lovely to see how they fell in love, while running parallel to their reunion. Second, I adore how heroic and strong Fiona and Ian are, both in their mutual pasts and in current day. They each have a formidable moral compass, coupled with the need to protect those they love. Yes, a bit of maiming and killing of enemies is sometimes necessary and definitely a-okay! Fiona and Ian’s attraction and love runs deep. Demonstrated through the flashbacks to their initial meeting, we learn that they have a love-at-first sight relationship that developed quickly. This makes their reunion so much sweeter, knowing that they have experienced an unfulfilled love for over fifty years. The author does right by the pair by allowing them to express their feelings for one another early on in their reunion, rather than drag things out or keeping up pretenses. The impact is that I cheered even harder for the pair to make it through the trials they faced. Even though the love story is the most prominent part of Saved by Darkness, the couple, along with Finn’s werewolf pack, must deal with a new threat uncovered while making connections with Fiona....
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Mar
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Charley Davidson Series Title: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Charley Davidson #11 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Eleventh Grave in Moonlight continues the journey of the Grim Reaper, powerful god, human P.I., Charley Davidson as she tries to protect her daughter and save the world. Charley and husband (son of Satan and also a god) Reyes are fresh from their last adventure and ready to find the second malevolent god that is walking the earthly plane. Confused? That means you haven’t read this series and truly need to start at the beginning! This eleventh title builds directly upon the events from the previous books. Those who follow my reviews know I have a love-hate relationship with the Charley Davidson series. At its best, the books are full of amazing humor, witty banter, interesting stories, intelligent plots, and fun times. However, too often the books get bogged down by an over abundance of confusing storylines, contradictions and left turns from previously stated “facts,” and worst of all… an utter lack in character growth, most notably in the relationship and communications skills between Charley and Reyes. I am happy to report that by-in-large, many of my issues were minimal this time around; however there were still little annoyances here and there, which at this point in the series (book 11!!), added up and bothered me to no end! Let me start with the good… I absolutely LOVED the opening as Charley relays her current issues to a very confused psychiatrist. The scene is shared in true Charley fashion — full of her ADD thought process — and it genuinely had me laughing out loud. More importantly, the listener relearned the most important recent events from the previous book in a manner that was sharing rather than telling. As the book progresses, the author does a great job staying focused on a few related issues. The primary story revolves around Reyes’s adoptive parents, the Fosters, and we finally get the whole truth of why they kidnapped Reyes, only to turn him over to the malicious Earl Walker. This story has been a longtime coming and was completely satisfying. Additionally, the book spends time focusing on the larger story arc surrounding their daughter, Beep, and the prophesied end of the world. We learn more about Jehovah and Charley’s past. Again, this is a well-written storyline. What didn’t...
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Feb
28

Review: What it Takes by Shannon Stacey

Review: What it Takes by Shannon Stacey What it Takes Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: If you haven’t read any of Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series, stop right now and go pick up the first book, Exclusively Yours, pronto. Any format will suffice, but just grab it and start it soon! I recommend the Kowalski Family series to first-time and veteran romance readers more than any other series, and for good reasons – it is a wonderfully written, joyful, small-town romance series that gives all the feels. So with that said, if you haven’t read the series, I really don’t recommend starting with What it Takes for a couple of reasons. First, this is a “reunion” book, bringing back all of the couples and characters from the previous nine titles. Their stories will be lost on someone who’s not read the series. Second, I feel this story is the weakest of the ten books, and therefore, not a great example of how wonderful this series truly is. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to my review… What it Takes is a combination between the love story of Laney Caswell and Ben Rivers and reunion tour of the Kowalski family and friends from the first nine books in the series. Unfortunately, the book tries too hard to cover both storylines, leaving me not quite satisfied with either. I did enjoy my time back in Whitford, ME; however, I felt I had to work too hard to follow along all the going-ons, and frankly, I would have preferred a stronger romantic storyline instead of the reunion. The book opens and closes strong, following the budding romance between Ben and Laney. Ben grew up in Whitford, and is friends with the gang. Now that Northern Star Lodge has become so popular with the 4-wheelers, Josh got the town to offer his friend a job as a paramedic helping on the trails when riders get injured. Laney recently finalized a drawn-out divorce. Now she’s starting over in a camper at the Northern Star Lodge where she’s spending the summer helping out the growing business. Once the pair meets, there are sparks flying right from the start. I adore the couple’s awkwardness, especially their initial meeting when Laney takes care of Ben’s cuts. The humor is spot on and exactly what I have come to expect from Ms. Stacey. Just as the couple show signs of a romance, the Northern Star...
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Feb
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Hell’s Revenge Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #3 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Hell’s Revenge Hell’s Revenge opens with an overlapping scene from the epilogue of the previous book, Snowballs in Hell in which Muriel discovers her mom is none other than Mother Nature, Gaia. Although she hasn’t visited Muriel since leaving her with her father as a small child, Gaia has returned to inform Muriel that she is pregnant, and both of her lovers at the fathers. Gaia intends to take the child from Muriel. There is so much for Muriel, her lovers, and her father to process, which takes them to Hell to get answers. Unfortunately, there is still the “big bad” after Muriel, and her life, along with her quickly growing unborn child, is in peril. Hell’s Revenge continues the overall story arc about a mysterious, powerful force who is after Lucifer’s kingdom, brining the issue to a head. While the entire story felt short, it was entertaining, and I liked how it wrapped up the storyline. However, in retrospect, the dangers and motives behind the entire three-book plot line weren’t as sinister as they came off in the first book. Some of the events from previous two books don’t every tie into the conclusion of the plot line. Regardless, the story was enjoyable. There weren’t nearly as many graphic sex scenes, and the book focused on the overall plot. One important event from Hell’s Revenge is that Muriel and her family learn more about her powers. Her magic is almost its own entity, and if it is depleted, it will seek out new sources of sex for facets of Muriel’s magic not being fed. For example, it sought out and connected with a vampire to feed the cold and dark part of her magic. Once the magic connects, it is permanent. What does this mean in the long run? More men in Muriel’s bedroom. Once again, Rebecca Estrella provides the narration for the story. One thing that changed in Hell’s Revenge, is that there are parts of the story shared from both David and Auric’s point-of-views. Ms. Estrella uses the same general narrator voice for each character, while continuing to provide a unique voice when each speaks. Overall, her performance is good – with unique and fitting voices for...
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Feb
7

Review: Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin

Review: Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin Dare to Lie Author: Jen McLaughlin Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Scotty, a Fed for the DEA, is deep undercover and a member of the ruthless Sons of Steel Row gang. Scotty is pulled aside by head of gang, Tate, and told a huge secret… Tate has a sister who knows NOTHING about his gang life. He wants Scotty to attend a charity bachelor auction his sister Skylar is hosting, but if he touches her, his life is forfeit. Skylar, a hard-working, independent 23-year old medical school student, is holding a charity bachelor auction. When she meets Scotty, she knows it’s a destined-to-be arrangement and bids on Scotty for herself. Even though he tells her he’s no good, Sky cannot stay away. Dare to Lie was a mixed bag for me. Honestly, the first quarter of the book irritated me. There were too many issues and eyerolling moments. Yet, I stuck with it, and after the halfway mark, I couldn’t put down the book. Scotty and Sky do make a good couple, despite their dishonest start. The couple keeps secrets within secrets, neither being 100 percent upfront, so of course, there are major issues once the truth slowly works its way into the light. I didn’t mind the secret-keeping parts because it was all part of the bigger story, but I did have issues with other aspects of the book. First of all, Sky is portrayed as a woman who has an amazing gift of seeing people for exactly who they are on the inside. Yet, she supposedly has no clue her brother is the head of a ruthless gang. While this is eventually addressed, it comes of as an inconsistency in the character development and bothered me more than once. Also, this… “because even though I hadn’t looked at him yet… Something about him brought me to life.” Sky literally bumps into Scotty for the first time, and without even looking at him or hearing his voice, they have a connection? Just no. This did not work for me at all. One other thing that bothered me up front was the humanizing of Tate, the head of SoSR. This is a Southie (Boston) gang known for utter violence. Yet here is Tate, suddenly a softy in many ways. It didn’t sit well with me. One cannot be the leader of a gang like this without being cutthroat and amoral. I need my bad guys to be...
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Feb
6

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood Embers Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Now that he’s temporarily relocated back home to Mosely, Montana, Jericho Crewe has a lot to sort out. Between working for his old friend and former lover at the sheriff’s office, dealing with the family he didn’t know he had, and recovering from a recent gunshot wound, he’s been busy. His inability to keep his mind off his other former lover, Wade Granger, isn’t helping matters, either—especially when buildings start exploding and bodies begin turning up. While I liked this story very much, I did have a little more difficulty connecting with Jericho. Having been a patrol cop in LA for five years, and a marine for eight years before that, Jericho’s clearly no fool. That he had the determination to reinvent himself after escaping from Mosely also speaks to a strong will and notable resourcefulness. But, he always seems to be a step or two behind here, and his ongoing confusion wasn’t as understandable to me now that he’s been back home for a while. Regardless, it was extremely interesting to watch him try to balance between his own past and present, and Jericho is likable enough that I was pulling for him all the way through. Wade, on the other hand, is still my favorite character, and his role as a “mastermind” is the best part of this series to me so far. Now that Jericho is back home, Wade seems to be shifting gears on the fly and the suspense that’s constantly generated by his actions kept me glued to every scene. It looks as if Wade had shaped his life around a missing puzzle piece, only to discover that that same piece had somehow changed its shape during its absence. Now, things are different in his world, too, and I couldn’t help but appreciate both Wade’s aptitude, as well as his frustrations. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Embers is that the author has taken the traditional notion of the “prodigal returned” and turned it into something else entirely. Jericho didn’t just leave home. He changed. But, not as much as he thinks he did, which is pretty entertaining. Not really an outsider, he’s able to maintain a level of credibility with the “locals” that he’s very willing to use to help him solve the crimes being committed—even though he seems surprised that he still has any. One of the older deputies puts...
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Feb
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Snowballs in Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Snowballs in Hell One month has passed since Muriel’s encounter with the mysterious Hooded One; the night she nearly died. Her reoccurring, daily nightmares are making her feel weak and worse, shameful. She does not like being afraid of anything. The changes in Muriel are especially tough on her soulmate, fallen angel Auric. He will do anything to protect his love and help her get better. I’m going to say this right up front: Snowballs in Hell is FULL of graphic sex. So much so, that I actually started skimming and forwarding through the scenes. Additionally, due to issues with her sexually-charged powers, Muriel must add another male into her and Auric’s bedroom. While I have no issues with threesomes (also note: this is not a true menáge situation), the way that the threesome came about really irritated me. Honestly, I admired Muriel’s stance on adding another to her existing love life, especially after waiting years for Mr. Right to come along. However, her soulmate felt it necessary to manipulate Muriel into adding another to their bedroom. The fact that Auric blatantly tricks her into the situation made me furious! If the author had instead allowed Muriel to accept her body’s need for sex without the subterfuge, I would have enjoyed the storyline. But the over-the-top emphasis that Muriel would deny herself out of love, which lead to the secret sex plot, ruined it for me. The overall storyline of discovering who is behind the attack that nearly killed Muriel was interesting; however the climatic scene and unveiling of said bad guys left me wanting a bit more. I love how kickass Muriel is, and when she takes charge of her own situations, she’s a wonderful heroine. Add in a touch of humor and sarcasm, and Muriel is one of the best UF characters. However, when she gets wishy-washy, she can be annoying. There was a bit too much focus on whether or not Muriel should sleep with another, but it did tie into the plot. Rebecca Estrella provides a solid and consistent narration. Muriel’s voice is perfect. The array of male voices works for the story. Typically, I tend to enjoy a narrator more by the second or...
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Feb
1

Review: Chase Me by Farrah Rochon

Review: Chase Me by Farrah Rochon Chase Me Author: Farrah Rochon Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Indina Holmes has no need, nor any desire, for a relationship in her busy, successful life. After being burned badly in the past, she’s good maintaining her bedroom-only relationship with co-worker Griffin Sims. But when she takes Griffin on her family reunion cruise, messy feelings start to emerge, and Indina doesn’t know how to process. Griffin Sims has enjoyed sharing his bed with Indina for the better part of a year, but lately, he wants more. Afraid to push, he seizes the opportunity to get closer to her when she invites him away for the weekend. Being around her family not only solidifies Griffin’s desire to make Indina his, but also opens up wounds surrounding his own family. Chase Me was an enjoyable, easy read. With a cruise and family fun as the backdrop, I felt like I was on my own mini-vacation. And although this is the fourth book in the Holmes Brothers series, the romance was standalone, and there is a reboot feeling to the story as the author focuses on another part of the Holmes’ family. While I never felt like I missed out not having read the first three titles, I do think reading the books would have helped me keep straight the large number of characters in Indina’s life and family. Indina is a great heroine! First… she’s forty-two years old! I love that she’s made her way and is living her life on her own terms. She doesn’t express regret that she’s not married with kids, rather, she enjoys her life as Auntie, surrounded by her family and friends. Yet, she’s strong and secure enough to question her life, but not her life’s choices, as messy feelings emerge after spending time outside the bedroom with Griffin. Meanwhile Griffin won my heart right from the start. He so wants more with Indina, but won’t push her. He’s such a good guy, and I want him to succeed. His strong sense of himself drew me in, and my heart cracked as Griffin realized he couldn’t continue with the status quo because of his feelings for Indina. I also loved the side story involving his family. Overall, Chase Me is a delightful, feel-good romance. Other than some slight repetition with Indina’s relationship fears, the story was well told. I liked that both Griffin and Indina had baggage, and while it caused problems, it...
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Jan
31

Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy The Forests of Dru Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Forests of Dru continues the story of Oria and Lonen, who are now finally in Dru and facing new issues.  Overall Gikany and Una liked the story, although it is starting to have a serial short story feeling. Unlike the first book, which seemed like a complete novel, the subsequent books have felt more like novellas.  We could liken the format to a television series: the first episode is longer to set up the series and then the following episodes are shorter.  Each book ends in a cliffhanger. Although this series feels like a series of short stories, the story continues to flow and build.  Oria and Lonen are still learning about each other and how to work together.  We love the trust and love that continues to strengthen and encourage the development of their relationship.  Especially as it seems the coin has flipped – Lonen’s right to rule is being questioned and Oria is deeply distrusted by the Destrye.  Oria is able to experience what the Destrye has suffered at the hands of her people and what they must do to survive.  Although we are only given snippets of the continuing plot, the tension mounts as Oria searches for a source of sgath so she can eliminate the threat of the Trom and end the war between the Barans and the Destrye. Even though The Forests of Dru was short and the series is starting to feel like a series of novellas, we continue to like it.  The Sorcerous Moons is a captivating series.  We eagerly await the next installment. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: An Enemy Land Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive. A Treacherous Court Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire...
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Jan
30

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane Jacked Up Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Living out his dream of playing pro football, Sam signs on with the Birmingham Rebels after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. Sam, who suffers PTSD, hasn’t been with a woman since his return home over two years ago out of fear sex will trigger his nightmares. Best friend and teammate King only wants what is best for Sam and thinks helping him get laid will help him get over his fears. Heading to the shore for some fun, the pair meets Jane Foster, the perfect girl for Sam. Sam and Jane are completely attracted, but Sam will only have sex with her if King is in the room, to stop him if he starts having nightmares. With Jane on board, the couple has the best sex of their lives, especially when they involve King in the action. However, that was just for one night, and the guys and Jane go their separate ways. Fast-forward to the fall and the Birmingham Rebels are struggling. But an accidental run-in with Jane sparks a fire inside Sam, changing his outlook on life and football. Jacked Up is the third ménage in the Birmingham Rebels series. By now, most of the team embraces the non-conforming relationships and sexuality of the players and coaches, although those outside the team still aren’t as accepting. This openness affords this particular trio the ability to speak more openly about their desires, making the story less about the social issues and more about the individual fears and concerns. I felt that the book was better because the story wasn’t as focused on breaking taboos. Even Sam’s doctor tells him no one cares who he sleeps with. Right from the start, I really liked this threesome. Sam, King, and Jane are all relatable people. I love that they are friends who are exploring and learning. And both males are sweet and kind: good guys. Together, the trio has amazing chemistry! I like that they are normal people who happen to learn they like a bit more kink in the bedroom. Reading the story from all POVs (Sam, King, and Jane), together with the open and honest dialogue, made me love the characters. I loved how Jane wrestles with what she wants and feels when she’s with Sam and King, instead of what she thinks she should like and how she should act. We’ve all experienced...
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