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Jan
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Westin Pack series One True Mate Author:  Julie Trettel Narrators:  Carly Robins and Joe Hempel Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Westin Pack #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Tantor Audio One True Mate is the first novel in the Westin Pack series – a new paranormal romance series.  Though the premise was interesting, I feel it fell a bit flat. The mythology of the wolf shifters that Ms. Trettel crafted was interesting.  However the belief that female Alpha wolves need to be destroyed at birth was disturbing.  What I feel was more bothersome is the acceptance by the shifters that this is an acceptable practice.  I find it hard to believe that the females would blindly believe that this was okay.  Maybe if the threat of Alpha females was better conveyed, I could have swallowed plot element better.  But as it seemed, it was a belief that female alphas have no control (and some have special powers that corrupt them). The romantic journey between Kelsey and Kyle was overall satisfying.  The romantic tensions between them as well as witty moments were entertaining.  However, the timeline of their “courtship” was a tad clunky.  We experience their meeting and then fast-forward two years.  It seems that not claiming a mate for this long is completely against the shifter culture.  It would have been interesting to see the tense interactions between them.  Or perhaps it would have been better to have the introduction be a shorter prologue to catch the reader to the now.  I just felt that due to this jump and a few others later on, the story lacked fluidity.  In a couple instances I felt that we missed some important character development/interaction.  That being said, Kyle and Kelsey’s relationship was gripping to watch develop once she understood she wasn’t a lone shifter.  They truly are well paired and I hope to see more of them in the next novel. With the novel written from both Kelsey and Kyle’s point of view, I enjoyed having the dual narrators.  However, I felt Ms. Carly Robins’s narration was stronger than Joe Hempel’s.  It seem Carly did an excellent job of conveying Kelsey’s personality in her narration which added a depth to the story.  Mr. Hempel’s narration was a tad stiff which felt a little in contrast to Kyle’s personality.  That being said, the story was stronger for the dual narrators. Though...
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Jan
8

Review: Elizabeth’s Wolf by Lora Leigh

Review: Elizabeth’s Wolf by Lora Leigh Elizabeth’s Wolf Author: Lora Leigh Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: If you’ve followed by reviews for any length of time, you know I have a love-hate relationship with the Breeds series by Lora Leigh. It’s my crack – not always providing substance, but hard to quit. I started the series with Megan’s Mark (book #7), so I missed out on a few of the early, world-building titles. Berkley Publishing and the author are re-releasing Elizabeth’s Wolf, in preparation of this fall’s release of Cassie’s book (Cross Breed). Hear the cheer from fans around the world! Dash, posing as a human solider, was injured in the line of duty, losing his men at the same time. Feeling hopeless, his world turns around when he starts receiving letters from a little girl named Cassie. He knows instantly that Cassie, and her mom Elizabeth, are his to claim, but he needs to find and save them from the bad men first. Elizabeth escaped her good-for-nothing ex, but has been on the run for two years from the sadistic man who killed her ex in front of her daughter, Cassie. Cassie, with the aid of her invisible fairy friend, reaches out to Dash and is convinced he’ll help rescue them from the evil haunting her mother and her. Going back in time (for me) to near the beginning, it was a fun look to see how things have progressed and changed in the Breeds series over the course of several years. I like how simple this early story is. Dash knows who/what he is, but doesn’t know about the mating issues for Breeds. He knows Elizabeth is his mate. She’s strong, and he respects that – recognizing she would need to match him and be his equal in order to fight along side of him. He is alpha, but not as much of an asshole as many of the Breeds are later in the series. I love how tough the young Elizabeth is. She’s very weary of Dash, but knows that he’s their only hope, right now. She will do what it takes to keep her daughter alive. As the pair spend time together, they don’t fight their growing attraction and fall head-over-heels for one another. Their journey to HEA is relatively smooth, and I like that they don’t fight the mutual pull. In the end, I enjoyed going back to the beginning. I didn’t read the original version (although...
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Jan
3

Review: Pressure Head by JL Merrow

Review: Pressure Head by JL Merrow Pressure Head Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I was immediately curious about Pressure Head based on the premise alone: a plumber who has an affinity for water, uses his “gift” that causes him to be drawn to “hidden things” to find clues—and dead people. Tom won me over quickly, his funny (and often snarky) observations combining with his inability to keep himself out of trouble to make him a generally lovable character. As the sole narrator, his perspective did a lot to counter the more significant issues that I had with the other MC, Phil, and trusting Tom with his own choices made the romantic aspects of the story easier to accept as the narrative progressed. Despite such an intriguing framework and Tom’s winning personality, I never felt the same for Phil. While it is absolutely true that people change, and that Phil was right to apologize for his role in the worst parts of Tom’s past, his “second chance” got off to a bad start for me, some of those negative traits seeming to have stuck with him into adulthood. He is at once dismissive and controlling, and engages in some victim blaming that didn’t endear him to me. I understand the likely intent, though—we have to do better collectively to accept others as they are. I did like Phil more by the midway point, however, and it’s hinted that we’ll learn more about him in the future, which I’d like to see. Something that I enjoyed tremendously about Pressure Head was the cast of secondary characters, Tom’s best friend Gary and his new boyfriend Darren, most especially. These two are among my favorite characters ever, I think, and I was delighted each time they made an appearance—particularly during their post-service discussion outside a local church. Others, including Edith and Pip, also threatened to steal every scene they’re in, and allow Tom to shine even more as an incorrigibly charming flirt. And although theirs isn’t a comedic presence, Merry the vicar and Graham Carter are differently powerful entities that left a strong impression in their own right. Of course, the cats—Arthur and Merlin—have to be given their due, as well. What Pressure Head lacked in romance it made up for in the whodunit itself. It’s a mystery, after all, and Merrow serves up a good one here. Not overly complex, it doesn’t try too hard while being highly entertaining at the same...
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Dec
27

Review: New Hand by L.A. Witt

Review: New Hand by L.A. Witt New Hand Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Having read nearly every Bluewater Bay story since the beginning, I’ve been increasingly anxious lately about the series’ end. Many of the characters introduced in these titles have meant a great deal to me, the glimpses into lives that might be led making me think about how I view the world on the other side of my own door. New Hand, the final book in the series by inaugural author L.A. Witt, brings everything to a close in some very familiar ways: with heartache, laughter, hope, and a lot of love. Though every character in the Bluewater Bay universe has had significant conflict to work through, Jesse and Garrett face an uphill battle from minute one. Garret’s (ongoing) grieving, Jesse’s (also ongoing) experiences with regards to his status, their age difference, lingering wariness from previous relationships, and—of course—the opinions of others all contribute to an intimidating assemblage of obstacles that tests both men throughout the narrative. One of the longer titles in the series, New Hand covers a lot of territory as Jesse and Garrett navigate the beginning of their relationship. The loss of Garrett’s husband illustrates the very personal nature of grief, and the ease with which those around us can affect that process. How soon is too soon to love again? And who gets to decide? Another complication which I’d originally thought applied more to Garrett—that some burdens simply aren’t transferrable nor shareable—actually applies to both men. As does the fact that similarities between two people doesn’t make one a replacement for another. Even though all these issues and questions are extremely important, the “informative” feel of some of these passages did seem to weigh the story down in places. While I liked Garrett—and adored Jesse—my favorite part of New Hand was the return of the main characters of the previous title, Outside the Lines. I knew they’d be back, but I was thrilled with how often they appeared in Jesse and Garrett’s story. Simon and Ian were a welcome sight, but Lydia is still just about the best thing ever. In truth, I don’t think the story would have worked nearly as well without her being there as much as she was. The Bluewater Bay series has always been unique among many of the other long-running series I’ve read. The thoughtful, and generally respectful, approach the authors tried to take with regards to...
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Dec
22

Review: Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler

Review: Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler Wolf Hunger Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Wolf Hunger is the seventh title in the SWAT series.  In this novel, Max meets Lana and their story plays out differently from the previous couples in the series.  We liked the contrast. Max is the youngest member of the SWAT team and the most volatile.  He has a tougher time keeping his wolf in check. Despite having one of the worst noses of the pack, he is able to pick up a scent that no other teammate is able to at an awards banquet.  It seems a wolf can always sniff out its mate. Lana is at the awards banquet for her father, the Deputy Chief of Police.  When he sees the connection between Max and Lana, he does his best to keep them apart.  Lana doesn’t understand the animosity her father has, since he is a police officer too. We liked the smoothness of Max and Lana’s journey.  Although it wasn’t without pitfalls, their romance seemed to have fewer personal issues.  Well, once Lana understood what she was.  It was funny to watch Max trying to discuss how much they have in common only to have Lana reply with, “you’re a pescatarian too?”  It was gripping to learn how Lana’s werewolf DNA was triggered and how she has been able to live with it without knowing it.  Woven with their romance is the plot of the werewolf hunters.  It came to a shocking showdown in this novel, but we know it is not over. We are intrigued to see what happens next. If you enjoy your werewolves to be hot SWAT team members, a little police drama with your paranormal romance, then pick up the SWAT series.  We think you’ll enjoy it. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: She’s all the wolf he’ll ever need When SWAT Officer Max Lowry meets Lana Mason, he falls fast and hard. He’s positive she’s The One. And Max’s favorite part? Lana’s a wolf shifter too, so they can skip the awkward reveal and head straight to the happily ever after. There’s just one problem: Lana doesn’t know that she’s a werewolf.  To make matters worse, hunters with intent to kill have tracked Lana to Dallas. Max has to figure out how to keep Lana safe, show her who and what she really is—and just how much she means to him. Release Date: December...
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Dec
20

Review: Only You by Addison Fox

Review: Only You by Addison Fox Only You Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Only You ties up the love stories of the Brooklyn Brotherhood, three boys from troubled homes adopted by “Mama Lou.”  Each of them has grown up to be respectable, hardworking men.  Each is on a course as different as their personalities, but together, they make a close, if unlikely family. This last story is for Fender Blackstone, the poor boy who’s father was not only alcoholic and abusive, but criminal. Fender has learned to be defensive, careful, and to keep his world very small. Fender finds himself in love with a girl from the right side of the tracks, Manhattan’s elite Harlow Reynolds.  Harlow curates a gallery, she’s well educated and elegant—and the daughter of the man Mama Lou had an affair with decades before.  The books should definitely be read in order as many parts of previous books weave together in this last installment to make the idea of Harlow and Fender being together more than just inconvenient. It may have started in simple chemistry, but as these two get to know each other, the impediments grow larger.  I appreciated that they handled their differences primarily in adult ways.  There was no immature pouting or walking off before someone could explain  relevant circumstances.  There were, however, significant circumstances to work through.  It’s disingenuous to suggest people should just go be with anyone they want to be with.  The reality is that when someone loves their family too, you can’t live in a love bubble and just expect everything to be alright.  You have to deal with the hard stuff.  Most of Only You deals with the hard stuff and does it pretty well. Note: the following paragraph contains a ***SPOILER ALERT*** which is included because it impacted my rating of the book In an effort to conclude the story quickly, there was a sexual innuendo made between Fender and Harlow, cementing their new relationship as a real thing.  There was nothing wrong with the comment, just the placement.  At that point, they were still standing over Fender’s dead father, well near it.  No matter how relieved Fender was to have Trent out of his life and Harlow in it in that moment, the sexual comment was just really out of place.  It tweaked my enjoyment of the story and was still lingering even though Fox pulled the mood back up in her epilogue. ********END SPOILER...
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Dec
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact Author:  Santino Hassell Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Barons #1 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio Star football player Gavin Brawley has a temper which has branded him as the bad boy of the NFL. It’s also what landed him under house arrest for six months, benched for the entire season. Recognizing he’ll need help, his manager pushes the solitary Gavin to hire a personal assistant to run the household and help with day-to-day tasks. Noah Monroe was forced out of his last job after he tried to out his boss for inappropriate behavior. Now he’s desperate to find work, and acting as a PA for a self absorbed jock will have to do. Determined to keep his job, Noah does what it takes to impress Gavin and make the arrangement work. However, when Noah learns Gavin’s secret – that he’s bisexual – Noah wonders if he can fight the constant flirting, or if he’s doomed to repeat past mistakes. I’ve been wanting to read Santino Hassell for a while now, so I jumped at the chance to review Illegal Contact. Overall, it is an engrossing story with a heartwarming, sexy romance. Gavin and Noah are like two rough-edged pieces that fit together perfectly, once you work to find how they mesh. Both slow to trust, they find common ground because they truly like and respect the other. They want to do things to make the other happy. The story starts rough. I mean, Gavin has issues. He’s angry. But every time Noah challenges him, Gavin comes back stronger and better. And Noah sees the real person in Gavin-not just some pro-athlete. He stands up for Gavin. Slowly each realizes there are real feelings forming. The characters are given time to work out feelings and issues, creating a stronger bond in the end. Additionally, I appreciate that the author doesn’t blow off the employee-boss relationship and its impact on power exchange. The pair discuss the issues and try to ensure that it’s not part of their relationship, yet it never really goes away – just gets fluffed over by their lust. Each narrator is great for his given character. Gavin’s narrator is very aggressive and rough around the edges, just like Gavin’s persona. He’s got a strong accent and can be abrasive at times. Conversely, Noah’s narrator is...
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Dec
13

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon Operation Green Card Author: G.B. Gordon Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Though the Bluewater Bay series is drawing to a close, I was happy to see that the storytelling that originally pulled me in is just as strong as ever. Despite an initial moment or two of hesitation on my part, Operation Green Card, by G.B. Gordon, turned out to be a very sweet, hopeful tale of against-the-odds romance that I ended up enjoying quite a lot. Jason, whom we briefly met in Bluewater Blues, is as solitary as anyone could possibly be, keeping everyone—including his own daughter—at a distance. Between not wanting to be hurt, and not wanting to hurt those he cares about, he’s far too lonely for someone with such a giving heart. Arkady, whose loneliness is borne of fear and necessity, isn’t prepared to need anything more from Jason than the means to acquire his green card. But, having always wanted a family to call his own, he quickly realizes that almost finding one only to lose them again too soon might be more heartache than he can bear. While I ended up getting into Operation Green Card fairly well, there were a few things—that were mostly tied to Jason’s part of the story—which I had a little more difficulty accepting at first. I felt that his will to provide for his daughter was wonderful, but it made his determination to risk imprisonment if he and Arkady are caught seem somewhat reckless by comparison. And although I get why he’d want to avoid any pity that might come from those around him knowing about his prosthesis, I just couldn’t see how he planned to keep it a secret from the man who was supposed to be his husband—or how he thought immigration would react under those circumstances. Before long, however, I was very much interested in Arkady and Jason’s story, and eager for them to work things out. I found both men to be interesting characters, but, by the end, it was Arkady that I’d become most attached to. Open, giving, and ready to live and love again, I really wanted him to be happy, especially knowing he was exactly what Jason needed, too. Even with the moments that caused me to stumble a bit in my reading, I couldn’t help but cheer Jason and Arkady on in the end. The author took what could have been a fairly common theme (a...
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Dec
11

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Christmas Eve Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, loves his grandmother and will do anything to please her, including traveling in a snow storm just before Christmas. When their carriage is damaged, the pair finds refuge in the home of Godric St. John, where friends and family have gathered for the holidays, including his lovely half-sister, Sarah. Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a very quick, holiday-themed novella set in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane world. It is a standalone story featuring Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, and Sarah St. John. The pair met briefly once before, and through the innermost confessions of each, we learn there is a mutual attraction. However, because Adam is a confirmed bachelor (and rake), and Sarah is determined to find a respectable man to marry, the pair pull apart each time they indulge in their feelings even a tiny bit. The story moves along rapidly, with nudges from family members helping to bring the pair together. While I think their journey deserved more time and development, it is complete. I really like both Adam and Sarah, but felt everything was rushed a bit to fit the novella-length (or shorter?) story. In the end, Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a delightful, albeit, short historical, holiday romance. It is sweet, and a little bit sexy, with an HEA for Adam and Sarah. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met. Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap. Release Date: December 5,...
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Dec
8

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost The Brightest Embers Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: The Brightest Embers is the final novel in the Broken Destiny trilogy.  Although the overall ending was pleasantly surprising and gripping, the constant angst of Ivy and Adrian’s relationship grated. First, the world is fascinating.  Ivy, the last descendent of David (the boy who felled the giant Goliath), has the power and opportunity to recover three ancient and powerful blessed weapons to stop the demons who are trying to take over our world.  Standing in her way is Adrian, the last descendent of Judas, who is destined to betray the descendent of David.  The Romeo and Juliet twist made the destiny of Ivy and Adrian compelling.  They fall in love and yet he is destined to betray her. Adrian was raised by demons.  He is compelled by vengeance to do anything to ensure the demons do not win.  However, his desire for revenge is derailed by his love for Ivy.  He would do anything to protect her.  We don’t know why she is always so surprised when he breaks his word, omits things, or misdirects her in order to keep her safe.  Her mission is to save the world, we get it, but love makes people do crazy (and stupid) things.  For two adults, they sure do act like they are still in high school at times. We love Brutus, the gargoyle.  He’s like a giant flying puppy.  He was a wonderful addition to the group of heroes.  The relationship between Costa and Adrian, though complicated, was touching.  We’re not sure how Jasmine and Costa will fare once the threat of the end of the world is gone.  The novel ends after the conclusion of the final battle leaving much for us to ponder. Although the strife between Ivy and Adrian was frustrating, we liked how the overall story played out.  The ending of this trilogy was satisfying, but we would have enjoyed a little more of an epilogue.  This lack leads us to think and hope that there might be a novella or another story in this world. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide  Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon...
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