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Aug
1

Review: Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson

Review: Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson Chasing Destiny Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Bay has had something missing in his life since losing his best friend and future mate when they were teens. But to lose Nash again after he was rescued then sacrificed himself to save the Silver Tips from a Nowere attack, left Bay empty and near ruin. Volunteering for a highly dangerous and potentially deadly scouting mission, Bay finds life again when he discovers Nash living in isolation with the Whitethroats. Nash has spent over half of his life in deplorable conditions as a prisoner; used for experiments and worse. Now that Bay has found him, he’s torn between his love for Bay and a pack long forgotten and the need to protect them from his once captors. With warring emotions, Nash walks the fine line between redemption and hell. Fans of good ol’ shifter romance and sizzling m/m lovin’ rejoice! Ms. Erickson’s Silver Tip Pack series is just what you need. After enjoying the world building and character development of first book, Daring Fate, I found Chasing Destiny all the more intense and exciting. The raw need between Nash and Bay is tangible: emotional and sexy. The years of unfulfilled lust and love explode as the pair reconnects. It’s a push and pull story, with a solid foundation established when the pair was younger. While Nash can do little to control his body’s need to be with Bay, his heart and head push him away, thinking he is too broken to be loved by Bay. Their story is emotionally gripping and satisfying. While the romance between first book couple Reese and Dare was the “True Mate” kind, I am thankful that Ms. Erickson did not utilize the same for Nash and Bay. True Mating is rare and special, but the author shows us that it isn’t necessary for true love to develop between a couple, leaving no question of how exceptional Bay and Nash relationship is. Additionally, I appreciate that the author gives Nash the time he needs to be with Bay, rather than skip over his years of physical and mental abuse. Yet, they are firmly a couple before the big climax of the book, solidifying their connection in a powerful way. Ms. Erickson continues to develop her world, as we learn more about surrounding Were and werewolf packs, making connections with other packs, and witnessing anomalies involving the zombie-like Noweres. Having to spend...
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Jul
27

Review: Gods and Ends by Devon Monk

Review: Gods and Ends by Devon Monk Gods and Ends Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una are delighted that there will be more in this world.  Especially since the subsequent novellas or novels will have a different viewpoint.  We really liked this final novel from Delaney’s perspective. Since this is the third book in this series, we can confidently say we like Delaney.  Her heart is always in the right spot – she loves her town, her family, and especially the gods and monsters that call it home.  However, she is far too impulsive; something that is especially shown in Gods and Ends.  The plot wove itself nicely, but Delaney needed to slow down and think before she jumped.  Although some of these decisions cost her greatly, she never regretted her decisions.  It was touching to see how much the gods and monsters care for her and her family. In our previous reviews you will note that Ryder was not our choice for Delaney.  Despite their lackluster romance in this novel, Ryder did move up in our opinion.  We still think he has much to make up for, but their happily-for-now was satisfying.  Ryder’s care and concern for Delaney was better illustrated in this novel.  We also enjoyed watching how Ryder is paying for not heeding Delaney’s warnings in the previous book.  It was a bit endearing, as it seemed Ryder was chagrined about the price he is paying for being Mithra’s warden. What keeps us gripped by this the story is the mythology.  We love the idea of a place where gods vacation and monsters live in harmony.  The relationship of Delaney to the some particular gods and monsters is heartwarmingly unique and quirky.  We especially loved Death and we hope to see more of him in the upcoming stories.  We truly enjoyed watching the wolves and vampires come together for their own.  Instead of fighting and tearing two lovers apart, the two groups came together to support and aid the lovers.  It was truly captivating and heartwarming.  We hope to see more of these families as well. Ordinary Magic is a unique and imaginative mythology that we absolutely enjoy.  This final installment in Delaney’s story was our favorite of the three books; although we still think that Delaney could do better than Ryder.  We are very happy that this is not the end.  Like the gods in this story, we eagerly look forward to...
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Jul
25

Review + Blog Tour: Get a Grip by L.A. Witt

Review + Blog Tour: Get a Grip by L.A. Witt Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Get a Grip, the latest Bluewater Bay story! Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Get a Grip) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. More info at the end of this post Review: Get A Grip Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: insert your letter (only) grade rating What I’m Talking About: Like anyone else would surely be, Shane Andrews was completely unprepared to be a teenaged dad, especially when he ended up raising his daughter alone. Now, two more kids and two divorces later, he’s ready to reach beyond his role as the responsible father and experience some of the fun and sexual abandon he missed out on all those years ago. When an unexpected disaster on the Wolf’s Landing set brings him together with a sexy firefighter, Shane gets more than he bargained for. Having been burned in the past in more ways than one, Aaron Tucker gets his kicks via random hookups, rather than jumping into fires—or relationships. Casual suits him just fine, thanks. Until the lonely father of three he wanted in his bed suddenly claims a piece of his heart without his noticing. But, Aaron’s new longing for a commitment with Shane can’t go anywhere if the latter won’t stop running. Get a Grip, the latest in the Bluewater Bay series, has a lot going for it. I thought Shane was pretty relatable as a single father of three who had to grow up too fast, and is trying to work through the guilt and accept his own desire to play for a while, now that his kids are getting older. Aaron was just as intriguing, if not more so, given his openness, enthusiasm, and increasing affection for Shane. And while it wasn’t without an awkward moment or two, there were plenty of very nicely written scenes in the story that kept me involved and eager to stick with the narrative to the end. Even though the protests from both Shane and Aaron became a little too rote towards the end of the story, I still found it extremely rewarding when they both realized they’d been in an accidentally successful monogamous relationship the entire time....
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Jul
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Besieged  Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5 (but contains tales #0.3, #4.7, #8.6) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source:  Penguin Random House Audio Besieged Anthology Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Besieged is a collection of tales all set in the Iron Druid world. All but the last few are not directly related to the current storyline. Many are fun recountings of events in the long lives of these characters. *Note: I could not find a listing of the story titles within the book, so I did my best trying to catch the names when listening to the audiobook. “Eye of Horus” This is a story Atticus shares with Granuaile and Oberon; told between Tricked and Two Ravens and One Crow, when Granuaile is still an apprentice. Atticus narrates a story from back in the third century when the Celtic god Ogma wants Atticus to steal some books from the library in Alexandra. We find out that the Egyptian and Celtic gods do not get along. It was an interesting side-story about a much younger Atticus and how he first meets the iron elementals. The story makes direct reference to another short story, “Grimoire of Lamb,” which I haven’t read so I may have missed a joke or two. “Goddess at the Crossroads”  Another story shared by Atticus during the same time period as the previous book, that is actually a recounting of a story from long ago. This one takes place during time of Shakespeare, just after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Atticus links up with Shakespeare for an adventure during the time he was writing MacBeth. It doesn’t have any relevance on the current series, but was fun. “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”  This one takes place two weeks after “Two Ravens and One Crow,” and was originally published in the Carney Punk anthology. The tale is a bit of a non sequitur about a trip to a fair where demons and ghouls are feasting on humans. The story takes place in Granuaile’s hometown as she attempts to visit her mom. The story felt a wee bit gorier and darker than the usual stories, but was interesting. “Gold Dust Fairy” This one is another recounting of a story during Atticus’s history. He shares it shortly after the time of...
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Jul
19

Review: The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter

Review: The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter The Darkest Promise Author: Gena Showalter Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Cameo, the keeper of Misery, remembers forgetting someone. A dark man who made her… happy?! She thinks it could be Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual, but her demon has blocked it from her memories. She has found her way to Lazarus’s realm using the Paring Rod in hopes of finding out the truth. Lazarus is stuck in a land of the dead, but he is not dead; sort of. His thoughts revolve around vengeance: to kill his father, Hera, and the harpy who banished him to this realm. He found his “one true mate” in Cameo, and he is obsessed with finding her after she left his side never to return. He is also slowly dying from crystallized veins, something that occurs once the male of his species finds their “true mate.” Now he’s torn between his need for vengeance and desire for Cameo, which is killing him. Due to the fact that The Darkest Promise follows a couple story arcs that began a few books ago, I don’t recommend anyone new to the Lords of the Underworld series start here. It is probably the best of the most recent books, as it mostly stays focused on the romantic storyline and only one overarching plot line, keeping the book moving without creating a lot of unnecessary confusion. I am especially thankful that the book didn’t spend time on the Gilly/William issues. Cameo and Lazarus are good together and “meant to be.” I enjoyed their back and forth, and the fact that both wanted to protect the other more than life itself was rewarding. Many times, I got the mushy, squishy heart feeling because of an action or words thought/spoken. Both Cameo and Lazarus have personal issues they must hurdle in order to get to their HEA. Calling this “Cameo’s book” would be unfair, as it is equal parts Lararus’s story. Outside of the primary romance, the book addressed more in the on-going war between Hades and Lucifer. I honestly can’t recall how this story started, and I still wonder what happened in the “real world” with the rise of the Titans. I know the Lords took down the leadership, but aren’t there temples or something out there? I don’t know how the Sent Ones (from the spin off series) and all the conflicting mythologies tie in together, but I just go with the flow of...
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Jul
12

Review: The Mech Who Loved Me by Bec McMaster

Review: The Mech Who Loved Me by Bec McMaster The Mech Who Loved Me Author: Bec McMaster Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: We first met Ava McLaren, blue blood and former Nighthawk, when she was captured and tortured in Perry’s book, Forged by Desire. Hague infected her with the craving virus and replaced her heart with a working, clockwork heart. She was recruited by Lord Malloryn as part of the Company of Rogues. Ava had been crushing on the only man who was nice to her after her ordeal. However, Byrnes’s wedding to his love, Ingrid, is where The Mech Who Loved Me opens, about six weeks after conclusion of previous book. While Ava may be a bit forlorn, she confides in Perry she has had recent feelings towards fellow Rogue, Kincaid. Liam Kincaid spent much of his life as a slave to the blue blood Echelon after receiving his mech arm. He blames the blue bloods for the deaths of his brother and sister, leaving him to ponder why Malloryn recruited him as a Rogue. He finds Ava attractive, but the fact that she’s a virgin, wants to marry, and is a blue blood is enough to keep him away. Yet the more time he works with Ava, the less cynical he becomes. The second story in the continuing tales of blue bloods and humans in an alternate London is a hit! Ms. McMaster continues her exciting, well-spun storytelling with another beautiful, sexy romance, while continuing to unfold the mysteries of the Sons of Gideon, Lord Ulbricht, and the secretive dhampirs. The overarching storyline involving a plot against rogue blue bloods and humans alike progresses nicely. But the heart of the story is the romance between shy Ava and weathered Kincaid. The pair is simultaneously sweet and sexy; reserved and passionate. Ms. McMaster started with two very interesting characters in Ava and Kincaid, then allows each to grow and develop over the course of The Mech Who Loved Me. Watching both find their own way in this new and changing world was rewarding; seeing them find friendship and love was wonderful. Theirs is a relationship of give and take until they find their own new normal, accepting the other as both a whole, yet their own missing half. The mysterious and complex plots to bring about chaos and anarchy gain momentum and focus over the course of the book. I like that the story took one avenue of this conspiracy to its end, while...
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Jul
5

Review: Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt

Review: Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt Pounding Skin Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Picking up shortly after Back Piece, the first story in the Skin Deep, Inc. series, Pounding Skin introduces readers to jet pilot Jon Russell and inker Matt Huffman, whom we briefly met before. Although the pairing of a member of the military and a civilian employee of the tattoo shop is the same, the characters are so different that there’s very little repetition. While familiar within those parameters, this sequel feels brand new in plenty of other ways, making the entire series better overall. Even more than the first story in this series, Pounding Skin is a tale in which “opposites attract.” Jon throws his candor, which was downright abrasive on occasion, before him as if it were a shield he can hunker down behind, while still feeling blameless for anyone else’s hurt feelings. Matt, on the other hand, seems so genuine—even when he’s clueless—that I worried for him for the duration of the novel. Of the two, I couldn’t help the fondness I felt for Matt from the start, nor the protective irritation that was repeatedly inspired by Jon’s behavior. Nearly all of the emotional ballast is on Matt’s side, but it ended up working out well that way. Although I enjoyed Pounding Skin as a whole a great deal, there were some instances that I found distracting (but not particularly troubling). The sudden reversal of Matt’s old, alcohol-induced amnesia about an important moment with his college roommate; certain phrasing that’s repeated nearly verbatim; the suggestion that women are more easily “charmed” than men when it comes to sex, etc., did pull me out of the narrative on occasion. These moments are few, however, and are nicely balanced out by the more positive aspects of the story. Pounding Skin is a well-crafted second in the Skin Deep, Inc. series, and one I feel certain I’ll revisit soon. While I was never able to fully sympathize with Jon, I felt that Matt was a truly wonderful character. More than a romance, however, Pounding Skin examines the ways we are shaped by our experiences, sculpted by many other hands in addition to our own. I was also very glad to see more of Colin and Daniel from Back Piece, and every bit of the affection I have for them both was not only remembered, but magnified. The tattoo shop seemed like a real family this time around,...
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Jul
3

Review: The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

Review: The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki The Highland Commander Author: Amy Jarecki Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Aiden Murray is the second son to Duke of Atholl. He is the first lieutenant and master of the watch aboard the Royal Mary, a queen’s vessel operated by Scottish sailors. Having spent time with many Scotsmen, Aiden’s becoming sympathetic to their plight, which puts him in direct opposition of his father. Lady Magdalen Keith (Maddie) is the illegitimate daughter of the earl William Keith. He is a stanch Jacobite who is accused of treason against the Queen, sending Maddie to London to plea for his life. The gifted harpist unintentionally catches the eye of the Queen, pulling her into the unkind world of her court. Maddie and Aiden are both wonderful characters. They are both young and innocent (yes, they are BOTH virgins!), but life hasn’t always been what they would like it to be. As the illegitimate child of an earl, Maddie dealt with disgust and disdain her entire life. Although her father recognizes her and gives her the title of Lady, she is shunned by peers and her own stepmother. And don’t get me started on how she’s treated once she gets to London. It’s all very realistic and definitely unromantic. Yet, she remains kind and hopeful. She does whatever is needed to help her father and country. She’s got a spine of steal and heart of gold. Being the second son of a Scottish Duke isn’t all roses for Aiden either. He’s content to be the hidden son, commanding a ship of Scots and living his own life. But Maddie has him completely befuddled, and watching her personal battles with the Queen’s court only strengthen’s his resolve to live a live different from his father. This creates an engaging character, one I’m interested in following. As much as I enjoyed following Maddie and Aiden as they grew closer and explored their sexual chemistry, I had a couple issues. First, I felt like The Highland Commander was a bit too political for my tastes. I liked that the author wove actual history into the story, but I wanted more focus on the characters and their romance! Second, I had serious concerns about the events that take place while Maddie captured (leave this spoiler-free). It was too severe, and I seriously doubt Maddie would have had the fortitude to survive and then flourish after her release. In the end, I enjoyed The Highland...
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Jun
19

Review: Chief’s Mess by L.A. Witt

Review: Chief’s Mess by L.A. Witt Chief’s Mess Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: While he was happy to provide some moral support during his sister’s peace-making visit with her ex-husband and his new boyfriend, what Anthony Talbot really wants is a night of no-strings sex with a hot stranger. Luckily, the sexy chief master-at-arms who takes him home clearly agrees. Noah Jackson quickly gets under Anthony’s skin, however, and their increasingly frequent hookups soon turn into a long-distance relationship that leaves both men hungry for more. But, Noah’s hiding a problem he doesn’t even realize he has, and it’s the one thing that Anthony may not be able to forgive. While the previous story in the series, Afraid to Fly, also dealt with alcoholism, Chief’s Mess is an examination of the denial and consequences of the situation as they’re happening, rather than the aftermath. Here, the reader is witness to the chain of events as Noah’s life begins to fall apart around him. The dual perspectives also cast Anthony’s own feelings in a stark light as they shift from happiness and optimism to fear and pain as the narrative evolves. One thing I especially liked about Chief’s Mess is that it’s not a hearts and flowers kind of romance out of the gate. Noah and Anthony’s story begins with a hookup and grows into something more over time. The initial attraction is purely physical, and I thought the uncomplicated necessity of that beginning worked really well. Their sexual compatibility is evident from the start, the long-distance relationship they slip into providing ample opportunity for the anticipation between them with to build. Sadly, it is precisely that distance, both emotionally and geographically, that allowed the truth to be ignored and hidden so easily. At its heart, Chief’s Mess is about honesty and forgiveness—good lessons to keep in mind regardless of the specifics involved. That Anthony and Noah are a good match for one another is evident from their earliest meeting, and wish I could have seen even more of their interactions outside of the bedroom as the story progressed. Watching their connection falter was hard at times, some of the worst moments being downright painful, especially knowing that things would become more difficult before they could get better. Even though I missed the first of the Anchor Point stories, I’ve enjoyed the two I have read a great deal, and would recommend the series to any fan of the genre....
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Jun
15

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Goal by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Goal Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Susannah Jones & Andrew Eiden Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Off-Campus #4 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: purchased After the pregnancy bombshell delivered at the end of the previous book, The Goal actually goes back a bit in time and begins when Tucker and Sabrina first meet. Readers/listeners relive certain scenes and moments from the The Score, with a new perspective and focus, as well as several new scenes. Tucker is probably the most likable, easy-going guy we’ve met thus far in Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. He’s genuine, and while he’s easy on the eyes, he’s not all about scoring with the ladies. When he first lays eyes on Sabrina, he senses she is something special. I adore everything about this guy. He’s nearly perfect and has the patience of a saint. He never takes his eye off the end goal of making Sabrina his, but he allows the ebb and flow of life to take its course along the way. On the other hand, all we knew about Sabrina before this book is that she is Dean’s educational nemesis, and his perception is that she is a cold-hearted bitch. Ms. Kennedy removes that mantle from Sabrina immediately, by showing us Sabrina’s deplorable home life and the motivations behind her desire to achieve perfection at Briarwood. I fell for Sabrina’s flawed character hard. She’s driven and sometimes too focused, but she has a heart of gold underneath the layers of protection she’s built. Sabrina and Tucker make a great couple. There is insta-lust and sexual chemistry big time, creating an immediate interest in the pair. I like that they have time to fall a bit for one another before the baby news comes. I also appreciate that there are several ups and downs. It’s very realistic with a happy ending. While I enjoyed their story, and I’m thankful to finally have Tuck’s book, I was overwhelmed by the amount of focus on the pregnancy/baby storyline. Don’t misunderstand, Ms. Kennedy does an amazing job with the baby storyline; she didn’t sugar coat what it’s like to be pregnant and have a child. She also didn’t minimize the impacts on the parents’ lives and their relationship. However, it’s too much baby for me. I am just not a fan of baby-romances. Generally, the narration is good; better than book 3, but still not as great as the first...
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