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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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Jan
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Last Dragon Standing  Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #4 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio Beginning two years after the conclusion of the previous book, we learn that the dragon-human twins of Queen Annwyl and her mate Fearghus are in danger, and there is a possible coup to overthrow the Dragon Queen, Rhiannon the White. The Queen seeks assistance from her newest ally, Ragnar the Cunning, Dragonlord Chief of the Olgeirsson Horde, a Lightning Dragon. Of course, the Dragon Queen always has ulterior motives in her plans, and this time around, they involve getting Ragnar to “save” and return her youngest daughter, Keita the Viper, to her family. Last Dragon Standing narrates as an unfolding mystery with multiple subplots. The Dragon Queen is a master manipulator and strategist, and we follow Keita and Ragnar as they are forced to unravel the threads the Queen has knotted together. There are layers upon layers of subterfuge, making the plot utterly engrossing. However, the romance of Keita and Ragnar is more of a side story to the main plotlines, and if you want the same steamy, love stories found in the first three titles, you will be in for a disappointment. This story was more about both the human and Southland Dragon politics rather than a romance. And so much happens. We learn more about a pending war, as well as new enemies and allies. This book takes us into a new chapter in the lives of the characters, and with it comes a new maturity of sorts. It left me wanting for more – unfortunately, I don’t know when Tantor will be publishing more on audio! I loved learning more about Keita. She’s a complex dragoness, who is equal parts cunning spy and royal princess. She is BOTH roles – not “playing” one or the other. She’s a royal princess snob, but not because she’s stuck up. She honestly thinks she’s being nice or helpful. It’s not fake. She’s that, but also the dangerous spy and protector of the throne.  Ragnar of the Lightning Dragons is the only one who can see and appreciate both parts of Keita. While their relationship takes a LOT of time to develop, their interactions are always enjoyable. I loved watching Ragnar witness and come to realize who Keita truly is. And while Keita doesn’t change in...
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Jan
23

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis Accidentally on Purpose Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Elle Wheaton is the successful manager of hot downtown San Francisco property and is putting herself through school with aspirations of owning her own accounting firm. She doesn’t let anything or anyone get in her way. However, with Archer Hunt as the head of her building’s security, she has a few hurdles to jump. They have a past. She’s still attracted to him, but wants a man who is safe, secure, and stable. Archer is none of these things. Archer, ex-police officer, owns his own private investigation and security firm. He saved a 16-year old street rat, Elle, when he was a 22-year old rookie cop. He wants Elle badly but will never act on it because he knows he reminds her of the bad times in her past. So instead, he protects her from a far, getting in some ribbing when he can. Elle and Archer make a terrific pair. Although the couple plays games, especially with their mutual attraction, their history creates a deep connection that neither can shake. Right from the start, I loved how much Archer wants to protect Elle – how much he desires her, but won’t jeopardize her emotional well-being by moving in on her. He understands Elle like no other, and he realizes she still feels like she owes him a huge debt for saving her life. I admire that he won’t act on his feelings; concerned she’ll only reciprocate out of a sense of debt. Meanwhile, Elle longs for Archer and is beyond frustrated he won’t act on their attraction. After a year of this back-and-forth, it was only a matter of time before the pair’s attraction ignited into a passionate affair. Even after Elle and Archer give into lust, their concerns over hurting the other keep them apart, so there is no easy road to HEA. Yet, it works because they are honest with themselves and each other, allowing time to work out the hiccups. The story behind Accidentally on Purpose was engrossing. Not because it was a special or unique tale, not because it was filled with deep plot lines or smart dialogue, but because the author created real characters that I cared about. I was emotionally invested in their well-being and wrapped up in how things would play out. Archer and Elle are perfect for one another, and they take the time necessary to...
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Jan
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Ghost Stories Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #13 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Ghost Stories Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he’s in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out. After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far. Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along. Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed...
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Jan
16

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt Afraid To Fly Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’ve read quite a few titles by this author, many created under various pen names, and have always enjoyed her writing very much. The first story in the Anchor Point series, Just Drive, also received a lot of good reviews, even though I missed it when it was released. So, I was a little disappointed when Afraid to Fly gave me a fair bit of difficulty. One particularly significant stumbling block for me came from the use of dueling first person POVs throughout the narrative. Although each chapter is titled to reflect whose perspective is being presented, the story still became confusing, especially during longer strings of dialogue. Travis and Clint have such similar experiences that things frequently got muddled when they were together. This wasn’t a constant issue, but it happened often enough that I had to reread several scenes in order to clarify who was saying what. In addition to the above, I had a difficult time accepting Clint’s decision to tell Travis about the incident that led to his downfall and the destruction of his marriage. So much was made about the repercussions attached to it, clearance levels, and nondisclosure agreements that kept him silent for so long that Clint’s sudden about face seemed “off” somehow. Although, I was still glad he was able to get that secret out in the open. There were other issues that affected my submersion in the story, including Travis’ repeatedly stated cynicism about the future of their relationship. Additionally, Clint “comes out” to his office associates during the very first scene, but is worried on other occasions about what his ex-wife would say if his bisexuality was discovered. Lastly, while penetrative sex certainly isn’t necessary, I found it odd that Travis was determined to push his physical limitations in several other ways (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, the bi-annual health screening, etc.), but not when it came to his intimate moments with Clint. Far from being entirely negative, however, there was also a lot to appreciate about Afraid to Fly. For a start, both main characters are in their 40’s, which is both rare and interesting in my reading experience. The same similarities that presented themselves as pitfalls in one context made the connection between Travis and Clint seem even more valid in another. Many of the issues that our military have to live...
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Jan
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Boston Dragons Series Book: My Wild Irish Dragon Author: Ashlyn Chase Narrator: Felicity Munroe Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Boston Dragons #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Author My Wild Irish Dragon Chloe wants to stay in America rather than return to her solitary life in rural Ireland. She’s worked hard to become a U.S. citizen, and now she wants to help others and her adopted community by becoming a firefighter. As a dragon, she’s well suited for the job. She cannot burn and is preternaturally strong. She just has to learn how to fit in and how not to over do it in front of humans. Ryan also comes from a family of paranormals-Phoenix shifters. His family is Boston-breed and every male in his huge family is a firefighter. He’s worried about embarrassing or disappointing his family if he doesn’t make it at this particular firehouse. Oh and by the way, the chief is his father’s best friend. Chloe and Ryan go out for the same position within the fire department, but since both are so well-qualified, the chief finds the funding to hire both. Although the competition for the job is off the table, the pair continue their little rivalry during training. However soon the pair learn to respect the other, become friends, and fall for one another. I found myself liking My Wild Irish Dragon right from the get go. I enjoyed the premise of two noble paranormals trying to make a difference in their community. I also liked how each fell for the other without knowing exactly who, or what, the other was. Of course the attempts to hide their paranormal status from the other made for some fun laughs. I also loved how Chloe’s innocence and lack of modern upbringing allowed her to be more open with Ryan. Although they have a rocky start, the author does a great job bringing each around in his/her own way. Their relationship development felt honest and deep. While I also enjoyed the several side characters and supporting family members, I didn’t care so much for Chloe’s cousin Aiden and his storyline. His misogynistic attitude and overbearing presence just annoyed me. And when he did something so completely against Mother Nature’s rules, I was shocked that there were no repercussions at all. It felt completely out of character for Gaia as presented in the story. Additionally, while I appreciated that the...
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Jan
11

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane Marry Me on Main Street Author: LuAnn McLane Reviewer: Ang Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: As usual I enjoyed my time back in the picturesque Cricket Creek. Walking Main Street with its Christmas decorations and light covering of snow was the perfect way to spend my holiday. The characters were fun and flirtatious, the setting perfection and the chemistry spot on. That being said i did have a few issues with Marry Me on Main Street. For starters: the title. I can’t tell you why I have issue with it without spoiling the novel, but if you read the book, I think you’ll understand the reason for my annoyance. You can’t just title a novel for the sake of alliteration. Second, as in past novels, I felt like the secondary romance between John and Betsy got the short end of the stick. Yes, I did get told how things ended, but I got no details. The lead up is great, the banter between them fantastic, I was told both their back stories, but then BOOM! Big. Black. Hole. Nothing! I turned the page and it was Christmas and everything had been resolved. How? What was the process? Seriously! Give me details!! Third, Danny and Susan. Oh how I adored them. They are sweet and funny, I laughed out loud in Barnes and Noble several times, and it got me lots of looks. But I couldn’t help myself; the humor caught me off guard and was so funny I had to laugh out loud. However, towards the end I felt like they lost steam. I understand that Danny was working through things with his family, but couldn’t I have been included in some of those conversations? Just like with John and Betsy, we got the “foreplay” but skipped the “climax.” (every pun intended) It’s like a magic wand was waved in various parts of the story and therefore no details were needed. This is very much unlike Ms. McLean, and I didn’t care for it at all. You’ve invested me in these people, their lives and their future so give me the details as they reach a resolution. Don’t assume I’ve read previous books and know that Danny’s family operates they way they do. Show me. Despite the above issues, I did enjoy Marry Me on Main Street. It was a fun, flirty, lighthearted romance and the perfect way to spend a cold winter day. If you’ve never been to...
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Jan
10

Review: Two Stories from the Legendary Consultants series by Abigail Owen

Review: Two Stories from the Legendary Consultants series by Abigail Owen A Ghost of a Chance (Moon, Mist & Magic Anthology) Legendary Consultants #2.1 This is a short and sweet story about Josey and Brice and what is really a second-chance at romance.  We haven’t met these characters before in the series, but their story is a quick and fun read. Gikany and Una liked that Josey and Brice had a history.  It made their connection and journey that much more believable.  The fact that Josey tries to hide her abilities (because who would believe she sees ghosts) makes sense, especially considering how sensitive she is.  Though it was short, we did enjoy the chemistry and romantic romp between them.  The plot of finding and saving Josey’s brother was compelling and we enjoyed the banter and humor of it. Though the ending was a bit abrupt, we did enjoy this story and look forward to more in the series.  If you enjoy some light-hearted paranormal romance, this might be the series for you.  A Ghost of a Chance would be a great introduction. Our Rating: B, Liked It Psyched (Good Things: An Urban Fantasy Anthology) Legendary Consultants #2.2 Psyched was a quirky little novella about a translator who hears more than you think and things she shouldn’t.  Gikany and Una liked this paranormal lighthearted cloak and dagger thriller. Quinn is an interesting woman.  As a psy she can understand any form of communication.  While working as a translator she overhears the discussion of human trafficking, but not just any humans, gifted humans like Quinn.  Through Delilah (the owner of Legendary Consultants) Quinn connects to a group that will hopefully thwart the plans of the traffickers and save those imprisoned.  Quinn was once a victim of people like that and she decides to do whatever she can to help. Daniel Cain is the leader of the (extra) special forces group that will work to bring down the trafficker’s ring.  The paranormal abilities that the four men have all compliment each other making them an effective team.  With Quinn’s help, they should be able to discover the location of the ring and bring them down.  However, plans never go as easy as planned.  Yet with the increasing connection between Daniel and Quinn, they won’t rest until they can thwart the bad guys. We liked the connection between Daniel and Quinn.  Though there are a few quirky plot points, the story overall flowed well and ended nicely.  We really enjoyed their journey and the overall...
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Jan
9

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind Hooked on Trouble Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: It’s been sixteen months since Raven and Nico shared something special that fateful night in Aspen, and now that she’s living in his city, she needs to forgive his broken promises and move on. With a fresh start in Vancouver, Raven plans to find a job she loves, start a planning business with her two best friends, and find her older sister, Rose, who left home 17 years ago when Raven was only nine. Nico acknowledges that Raven has every reason to be pissed and hold a grudge after he promised not to hurt her back in Aspen, yet he walked away without an explanation. He desperately wants her and needs to get her alone so he can tell her about his family’s troubles and why he broke his promise. And maybe this time, they can explore and deepen that special connection they both felt. After absolutely loving the first two books in Ms. Siskind’s Over the Top series (A Fine Mess is my favorite read of 2016!), I was eager to read Raven and Nico’s story. Unfortunately, Hooked on Trouble became the victim of too much anticipation and unfair expectations on my part. While I enjoyed the book, it just didn’t grab me like the previous books did, and I found myself unfairly comparing the other couples’ stories to Raven and Nico’s tale. Even with my frustrations, there were many things I enjoyed about Hooked on Trouble. What I did love was the unadulterated attraction Nico and Raven shared. It went well beyond physical. They both knew right from the get go in Aspen they had a connection that was special. I liked how open they were together; the sharing makes their relationship special and unique. I loved that Raven could not hold on to her anger when Nico was around her. I also liked Nico and his family. Ms. Siskind uses his interactions with his mom, brother, and sister, as well as his inner-monologue, to showcase the type of guy he is, including his own fears and insecurities. While not fair, I couldn’t help compare but Raven and Nico to the previous couples; however, Nico and Raven are DARK with DARK histories. They are not light and silly. They are sarcasm and tattoos. I think this darker side and seriousness weighed down the story too much. While I adored their chemistry and their cutsie...
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