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Dec
16

Review: Lessons in Letting Go by Jessica Peterson

Review: Lessons in Letting Go by Jessica Peterson Lessons in Letting Go Author: Jessica Peterson Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: NO! It can’t be over! I’ve been reading Jessica Peterson’s Study Abroad series, and I’ve adored it. While I might be a woman of a certain age, I could identify with the characters and I found myself rooting for the characters to overcome their conflict throughout the story. After I told some of the characters to pull their head out of their behind. I really liked coming back to Laura & Rhys’ story. We’ve caught glimpses of them through the first two titles in the series, and I’ve been champing at the bit to get to their story. Seriously. Is it only me, or are soccer players—especially those with a Welsh accent—super hot? I did have some issues with the ending. I felt the resolution moved too fast—but I’m a huge pacing geek. Don’t let this little, tiny thing deter from picking up this title. With that said, the grand gestures Rhys did to win Laura back seriously melted my frigid Michigan heart (yes, we’ve had a quantity of snow already). Laura came to Spain to find herself. Basically. She made a bucket list and everything. There were a few things about Laura that made me pause. First, she’s got… issues. Issues big enough that I wanted to know more—but my brain filled in the blanks. Second, I really like that she realized she was losing herself in Rhys. Lastly, Laura was a REAL ‘GIRL’. I’m sure most of us can see a little of ourselves in Laura, which made me connect with her even more that just her ‘issues’. Rhys. Not gonna lie. I kinda wanted to slap him through a good chunk of the book. But, you guys, when he started to redeem himself? I. Fell. Hard. I also connected with Rhys on a few levels. I know what it’s like to have a knee injury. I could imagine everything he went through. The hours of PT, the appointments…and I know what it’s like to be a soccer mom (I was never the mom with the Juicy Coture yoga pants—promise!). While the writing about soccer was detailed enough to not insult someone knowledgeable about the game, it was well-explained enough so novices wouldn’t be lost. If you’re looking for a thoughtful contemporary read with college-aged characters, I highly recommend the Study Abroad series. I’m going to miss these characters…but might we see...
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Dec
15

Review: A Mate for Christmas by Katie Reus

Review: A Mate for Christmas by Katie Reus A Mate for Christmas Author: Katie Reus Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B  What We’re Talking About: Mate for Christmas is simply a beautifully wrapped gift from Ms. Reus to the readers and fans of her Moon Shifter series. Through this novella she wraps up the series (for now) and allows us to say goodbye. Through the story of Noel and Nathan, we are able to check in with the previous couples from the series as well as showing us the happily-ever-afters for a few other couples.  Although Noel and Nathan’s story was short, it was sweet and emotionally satisfying.  We enjoyed Nathan’s patient nature as Noel learns to move on and heal from her grief. Although the novella was a little disjointed due to the nature of the flow (checking in with other characters) it was a delightful read.  As Noel and Nathan’s story weaves through, it branches out to touch base with all of our favorite characters.  We enjoyed the embrace of the pack as the holiday approached.  Watching the mated characters in their happily-ever-afters was a wonderful treat for us. Again, this is not a novella for new readers but a treat for fans.  If you have enjoyed the Moon Shifters series, then A Mate for Christmas is a must-read.  Gikany and Una have our fingers crossed that Ms. Reus will return to this world someday.  Until then, we look forward to whatever world she brings to us next. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: It will take a miracle to survive the holidays… After recently losing her parents, packmates and a sister, Noel Cordona isn’t even close to being in the holiday spirit. It seems that everyone around her is moving on and happy, but she can’t seem to get it together. When an unexpected kiss changes everything she thought she knew about her packmate Nathan O’Neill, she feels alive for the first time in a year. She’s too broken for him though. At least that’s what she tries to tell them both.  But Nathan’s been waiting patiently for Noel. He’s not going to lose faith now. With a little holiday magic, he can help her overcome the weight of her grief and show her that opening her heart to him is the best Christmas gift he could ever give her. Author note: A Mate for Christmas is not meant to be read as a stand-alone. Set in the Moon Shifter world, this...
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Dec
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: What a Dragon Should Know  Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #3 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio What a Dragon Should Know expands upon the richly entertaining lore of mighty dragons and the humans that love them. Picking up after the conclusion of the previous book, the story primarily focuses on the love story of Gwenvael the Handsome and Dagmar Reinholdt, the only daughter of the Reinholdt, also known as “the Beast.” Annwyl the Bloody, heavy with her twins who are literally sucking the life from her, sends Gwenvael to the Northlands on her behalf to discover if the Reinholdt will make a worthy ally. When Gwenvael discovers that the Beast is actually an extremely intelligent and wily female, he is forced to adjust his approach to the situation. Dagmar has spent her entire life as the brains behind her father’s success, staying in the shadows while she manipulates events to her advantage. So when Gwenvael acts unpredictably and treats her with respect, even reverence, Dagmar isn’t sure how to best respond. Striking a bargain with Gwenvael, the pair head out of the Northlands with important information to share with Annwyl. I absolutely adored the pairing of Gwenvael and Dagmar. Two underestimated souls, both play to the misrepresentations and conventions their families have placed upon them. They use these stereotypes to hide their true intentions, striking blows upon their enemies. Both love their respective families and would do anything to protect them. Right from the start the pair recognizes the strengths of the other; never disrespecting the other, even if they do try to outsmart one another. Their passion ignites as Gwenvael and Dagmar open up and fall in love. I just adored their verbal sparring and joint masterminding. Outside of the romance, the entire story is multifaceted and filled with complex layers of political maneuvering.  I found myself engrossed and enjoyed just listening to the plot unfold. While I did find myself lost a couple times and trying to remember who was who  more than once (lets face it, there are too many similar sounding names), the character development and bonds cemented over the course of the series made for stronger connections and deeper enjoyment of this tale. In addition to Gwenvael and Dagmar, What a Dragon Should Know shares the continuing romance of Brastias and Morfyd. I was pleased...
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Dec
14

Review: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

Review: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer Pocket Full of Tinder Author: Jill Archer Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have eagerly awaited the fourth installment in the Noon Onyx series.  Although we were thrilled to be back in this unique and fascinating world, the novel had a few odd notes that culminated in an astonishing cliffhanger. The Noon Onyx world is so unique.  In the years after the demons won Armageddon, angels and demons have blended with what is left of humanity.  It is an intricate and fascinating world.  The premise with Noon and her Nightshade being oddities in what is already a strange world to the reader is a fun juxtaposition.  The supporting characters are just as compelling as Noon, who is the primary point of view.  The novel continues to evolve the world and we are utterly intrigued by it. The previous novels have had a fairly solid and seamless flow; however it felt as if Pocket Full of Tinder was two different novels.  The first two-thirds of the book was slowly built to what we had been waiting for: would Noon and Ari forgive and start over, or forgive and move on?  For all of those who were all waiting for that moment: fear not, we are given the resolution. However the last third moves very quickly and oddly.  After a shocking and defining moment, the novel takes a hugely unexpected left turn.  It felt like a few characters behaved very differently from how we would have expected them to behave. Although it felt like there were two distinct parts to Pocket Full of Tinder, we still liked it.  The first part may have moved slowly but it was the surreal final third that had us flabbergasted.  Even with the odd notes – we are eagerly awaiting the next Noon Onyx novel.  Considering the cliffhanger ending, or what seemed like the start of the next novel, we cannot wait to see what happens next in Noon’s life.  If you enjoy something that is a little different with a well thought out mythology and engaging characters, then you need to try this series. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.  Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become...
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Dec
13

Review: The Grinder by Stephanie Julian

Review: The Grinder by Stephanie Julian The Grinder Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Allison Martin is working at her job in the billing office of the Reading Health Center when the hottest guy she’s ever seen comes in to ask about a bill. She’s taken aback by her insta-lust, never having felt this way about a guy before. So when he asks her to come to his hockey game and go out for drinks after, she’s shocked to hear herself say “maybe,” while thinking “yes!” Riley Hatch, newest hockey player on the Reading Redtails, asks Aly to come to his hockey game and out for a drink. After playing the field for the past seven years, he realizes he’s ready for a commitment rather than a string of one-night-stands. He’s totally taken by Aly and likes that she doesn’t come on to him like a hockey bunny. In fact, she knows nothing about the sport. The Grinder is a delightful romance between two individuals who feel an immediate spark and recognize what they have could lead to something special. Riley is a seasoned veteran, but he’s still waiting for his big break that will take him to the NHL. Aly is a no-nonsense, play by the rules kind of girl. Together, the pair are explosive, and it was easy to lose myself in their passion. While set in the same world as the previous book in the series, The Grinder is completely standalone. Overall, The Grinder is an enjoyable, quick read filled with sexy romance and all the good feels that come when you find your special someone. Aly and Riley worked well together, both in and out of the bedroom. With life experiences under their belts, they have some maturity when making decisions; however they are still insecure enough to have those same doubts many of us have experienced ourselves. They are open and honest when it most counts. I appreciated how both had set plans for their lives, yet when meeting that special someone, they took the time to question their preconceived plans, then adjusting them to fit the other, rather than either sticking with said plan or completely tossing it out the window. The Grinder is a feel good, happy novella. Sexy and smart. Enjoyable and entertaining. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Riley Hatch is a fast-talking minor-league hockey player with a reputation as a grinder. He goes in deep, hits...
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Dec
12

Review: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Review: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur Winter Halo Author: Keri Arthur Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Winter Halo, the second installment of Ms. Arthur’s Outcast series, picks up just after the action-packed conclusion of the first book. The series follows Tiger, a human-shifter-vampire hybrid known as a déchet, as she works to save a number of young children captured for nefarious purposes. The fantasy-based world is detailed and complex, and I recommend starting with book 1: City of Light, to best understand this multifaceted mythology (see my review for City of Light for more detail on the world). However, Ms. Arthur does a fantastic job recapping the important points of the first book right up front in Winter Halo, therefore if one wanted to, you could probably jump in with the second title. After reading the first book, I was on the fence with the series. While the mythology was interesting and I really liked Tiger, I didn’t care for any of the supporting characters other than the young déchet ghosts. I felt the world-building, which was overly complicated, dominated too much of the story, and the overall plot felt like a set up for the second book. While some of these issues were successfully addressed in Winter Halo, the overall mythology and plot remained difficult to follow. First, what worked… I continued to like Tiger, who makes for a wonderful tragic heroine. Although everyone hates her because of what she is, Tiger continues to do the right thing. Her moral compass may have been warped because of war and isolation, but it remains true, and saving children is what is most important. She uses every means available, including her own body and soul, to protect the innocent. She makes the hard decisions, even when they aren’t popular. I also enjoy Tiger’s relationship with Bear and Cat, two young déchet ghosts. They have been her companions for over a century, and their closeness gives Tiger an emotional safety net, grounding her when she has every right to walk away from her mission. The pair provides lightness and comic relief into this dark tale. Additionally, Tiger’s friendship with Jonas improved tremendously in Winter Halo. Getting past stereotypes and prejudices, the twosome opens the door to the possibility of more, giving honest pieces of themselves to each other. I loved their candid dialogue – admitting there is an attraction there, regardless of how “wrong” it would be. And via Tiger’s first person POV, we...
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Dec
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Lucifer’s Daughter Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Lucifer’s Daughter Muriel just wants to live a normal life, but as the daughter of Satan and one of the Princesses of Hell, she finds normal isn’t achievable. Yet, she tries… living on the human plane, running a bar, and saving herself until she finds true love. She does have her naughty side, even if it’s not evil enough for Daddy. Lucifer’s Daughter is the first book in a light urban fantasy romance series from Eve Langlais. The story is shared in the first person POV of Muriel, and focuses on her adventures, which is why I call it an urban fantasy series; however, the entire first book is all about Muriel finding her true love, therefore – romance. Overall, I enjoyed meeting Muriel and watching her fall in love with the “wrong guy,” Auric, someone her father forbids her to see. Auric and Muriel have immediate, more-than-lust feelings, but I appreciate Muriel’s caution as she tries to find out if he’s “the one.” However, the lustful feelings overwhelm the storyline far too often. Muriel is obsessed with her virginal state and whether or not she should finally have sex. It was too much for me at times. I wanted more from the story than her nonexistent sexcapades. Additionally, Muriel is written to be a smart woman, yet at times she was utterly dense and a victim of her own ignorance, which felt false, since she is an intelligent character. Muriel’s love life aside, Lucifer’s Daughter got very interesting once Muriel wasn’t obsessing over Auric or her virginity. There is an unusual big-bad making moves to overthrow Satan, bringing chaos to the underworld. The glimpses we saw intrigued me greatly, and I need to know the connection between this mysterious new evil and Muriel’s early childhood. This alone is enough to keep me listening to the series. And honestly, I enjoyed Auric and Muriel’s romance, once they opened up and were honest with one another. New-to-me-narrator Rebecca Estrella provides the performance for Lucifer’s Daughter. At 1.5x speed, I enjoyed her vocalizations, and her “narrator Muriel” is strong. She seems to capture the entitled yet honest feel I think Muriel embodies. Ms. Estrella has a good mix for her male and female voices; nothing that...
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Dec
7

Review: In Bounds by Bronwyn Green

Review: In Bounds by Bronwyn Green In Bounds Author: Bronwyn Green Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: After finding out her school principal husband was having an affair with the mother of one of her students, Ivy Wright decided to take an extended vacation helping out her best friend’s family in England. While Ivy enjoys tutoring Charlotte’s children, she hopes that Charlotte’s younger brother doesn’t remember her… the drunken woman with whom he had a hookup in the coat check at Charlotte and Caleb’s wedding reception. Will Darby has been sidelined from his professional soccer (football) career due to a knee injury. With mandatory time off, he’s hoping to re-connect with Ivy, the one woman he hasn’t been able to forget in the past twelve years. And when he sees Ivy again, he knows he needs to explore their mutual attraction… and kinks. In Bounds is another wonderful, sexy romance in the Bound series, a set of loosely connected, standalone BDSM-lite stories from Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman. I love that the books, In Bounds included, embrace healthy relationships, focusing on couples that enjoy sex and exploring mutually satisfying kinks. While there may be bumps in the road and issues to overcome, they don’t dominate the pages of the story. Will is a man obsessed. He’s never forgotten Ivy or how much he enjoyed their brief encounter. Twelve years older and wiser, Will has taken the time to learn how to please a woman and what he wants for himself. He’s cocky, but not overly arrogant, and completely direct. He tells Ivy pointblank how much he wants her and what exactly he wants to do to her. Such direct talk is refreshing and thrilling. And while he gives Ivy space to deal with her own issues surrounding her ex-husband’s actions and detrimental attitude, he supports her both emotionally and physically, almost willing her to recover and commit to him. Will is understanding, patient, sexy, and kind… almost too much so. But who doesn’t need a bit of perfection in their lives now and then? Ivy has issues, but she doesn’t dwell. She’s determined to enjoy her time with Charlotte, but as the book progresses, we see how lonely Ivy truly is. She carries her baggage, and Will wants to take it from her. It’s heartwarming to see how much Will gets her to open up and trust again, after some back and forth, of course. While Ivy’s biggest concern during the entire...
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Dec
6

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant The Hero Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Stepping out of my comfort zone, I picked up The Hero by Donna Grant. I don’t read a lot of military romantic suspense—honestly, I only read one series and it’s by an author I know I love. Got me another. I’m excited to come in on the ground floor for Ms. Grant’s Sons of Texas series. I liked her writing style. I’m sure I’ll be over-the-moon for it by the time I read the next book, The Protector, scheduled for release January 3, 2017. I’m all over any story about Russians. Which Rocky movie was it with Dolph Lundgren? I don’t know, either…but there was a Russian dude in this book that made me think of him. But this story wasn’t really about the Russians. Or the contracts (like, pew pew—gun with a silencer—you’re dead contracts). Or even the fact that Owen, our hero, was a SEAL. Not even because Natalie—our heroine—was working at the Russian embassy. Nope. This story was about forgiveness—not just of other people, but forgiving one’s self and being okay with personal demons. In the blurb, we read about Natalie being all torn up about Owen leaving her high and dry back when they were kids (they’re in their early thirties). These two share SERIOUS history. And they’re both horribly broken in different ways. What I liked most about Natalie was her tenacity. The way she didn’t back down from a challenge, and the way she came up with new solutions. She’s a problem-solver. Unless it come to her personal life. And Owen? *sigh* The boy can flip a switch. He’s a trained killer, but some of the scenes? *fans self* Totally hot. Even in the middle of crisis. He’s genuine as well as being hot and deadly. I’m not going to say I fell for him, but heroes like Owen Loughman might sway me over to military romance. There’s three Loughman brothers. And there’s the dad, Orrin, too. I’m wondering whether we’ll get three or four titles from the series. I’m hoping for four. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget: his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After more than a decade away, Owen has returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that...
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Dec
5

Review: Dark Protector by Katie Reus

Review: Dark Protector by Katie Reus Dark Protector Author: Katie Reus Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: After seeing the connection between Aldric and Natalia in the previous novel, Hunter Reborn, Gikany and Una eagerly anticipated seeing their courtship and conclusion.  Overall we liked this last full novel in the Moon Shifter series. We have to admit, Aldric is a stubborn, overbearing Alpha male.  He stupidly walked away from Natalia, breaking her heart.  However, he redeems himself by: 1) knowing he was an idiot for walking away, 2) apologizing for being said idiot, and 3) working to prove through his actions not only his remorse at hurting Natalia, but winning her back.  We understood that he was previously mated, and that Aldric needed the time to work thorough his feelings and see how his previous mate is different from Natalia.  What makes this work is that he communicates this (finally) to Natalia once he proves himself. We loved Natalia.  She is a strong and intelligent woman.  Her determination to not simply give in and forgive Aldric is awesome.  She makes him work for it…as he needs to.  Just as she needs to not compromise her heart, letting Aldric not only prove to her, but himself what she means to him.  Their journey is both passionate and honest.  We liked how they slowly figured it out despite the demands of the mating instinct. The mystery of the kidnapper was intriguing.  Although for once in the series we were given very little of the adversary’s point of view, it might have been more intriguing to have their identity know.  As Natalia and Aldric investigated, we would have been more attentive as the investigation narrowed down the suspects.  Although it was a bit surprising who the culprit is, we were a bit disappointed that the background of the nemesis’s motive was not fully realized.  We were not truly given the how or the why, which left us a bit frustrated. We have liked this series and are a little sad that this was the last full novel, though we are eager to read the final novella that comes out in a few weeks.  Dark Protector was a passionate and fulfilling romantic journey for Aldric and Natalia. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: He walked away once; he won’t do it again. Wolf shifter Aldric Kazan is no stranger to pain. Since the loss of his mate a century ago, he won’t allow...
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