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Mar
28

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian The Enforcer Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Jess Gardiner has hockey in her blood. With the best scout in the NHL for a father, Jess learned the game inside and out at a young age. The problem is, women aren’t scouts in the NHL. So she works as the promotion manager for the Redtails, honestly loving her job, and feeds her scouting side by making recommendations to the coach on the side. Will is a veteran player without much time left playing the sport he loves. However, after a recommendation to give him a look, the Redtails pick him up to be a leader for its young team. And from the moment he meets the intriguing Jess, he’s hoping he’ll stay with the Redtails for a while. The Enforcer is a quick, enjoyable story with equal parts romance and hockey. Hockey isn’t just a setting for the book, but rather the story is infused with the ins and outs of the sport. It’s clear that Ms. Julian understands and loves hockey as much as her heroine, Jess. Right from the start, Jess and Will experience a strong pull and mutual attraction, accompanied by the sudden realization that something has been missing in their lives. However, Jess was burned by immature hockey players in the past, and she’s worried about the impacts to her credibility on the job if she dates someone on the team. Yet, she cannot deny herself the joy of being around Will. Similarly, Will recognizes he’s getting older and doesn’t want to play games when meets a woman he really likes. Yet, he is respectful of her concerns and willing just to be friends because he enjoys her company – totally swoon-worthy. Their romance is quick, sexy, and sweet, and I really enjoyed their story. My biggest issue with The Enforcer is the number of apparent continuity errors within the storyline. I can adjust to one or maybe two issues, but I found a handful of situations that seemed in clear conflict with something stated later in the story. For example, in a scene early in the book, Will discusses an upcoming game with teammate Justin and how a player named Mason will cause Will problems. Mason plays for Syracuse. Yet later in the text, we find out that the Redtails are playing Milwaukee. While not important to the overall story, continuity issues like this drive me nuts, and I...
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Mar
22

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian Midnight Unbound Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: A loaner and one of Dragos’s Hunters, Scythe doesn’t belong among humans or his own kind. Yet when his brother, Trygg, requests his help, Scythe agrees to protect Chiara Genova and her young son. Chiara’s life has been filled with danger ever since marrying her now deceased mate. When a crazed Breed breaks into her home and threatens to force her blood bond, the Order realize there is more going on than appears and send in the one male they trust to protect her. The story of Chiara and Scythe actually begins in the previous novella, Midnight Untamed, when the pair meet and sparks are evident. Midnight Unbound completes their story as the pair is once again tossed together in a deadly situation. This time around, the pair are forced to spend days together, alone, and after a week, they can no longer deny their burning attraction and physical needs. Midnight Unbound is an entertaining, straight-forward paranormal romance. Predictable maybe, but enjoyable certainly. He saw her and longed for her. She saw him and wanted him. He’s tender and caring under his tough exterior. She isn’t the fragile flower she appears to be. After being cooped up together for a week trying to fight their attraction, bam… sexual explosion and uncovering of feelings. Sharing of pasts. Working together for a future.  Midnight Unbound can be read as a standalone, although the general Breed background mythology may make it more enjoyable. I liked the straight forwardness of the tale and enjoyed the tie into the previous novella. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: A lethal Breed warrior is called upon by his brethren in the Order to bodyguard a beautiful young widow he’s craved from afar, in this new novella in the “steamy and intense” (Publishers Weekly) Midnight Breed vampire romance series from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian. As a former Hunter bred to be a killing machine in the hell of Dragos’s lab, Scythe is a dangerous loner whose heart has been steeled by decades of torment and violence. He has no room in his world for love or desire–especially when it comes in the form of a vulnerable, yet courageous, Breedmate in need of protection. Scythe has loved–and lost–once before, and paid a hefty price for the weakness of his emotions. He’s not about to put...
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Mar
21

Review: Undiscovered by Sara Humphreys

Review: Undiscovered by Sara Humphreys Undiscovered Author: Sara Humphreys Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: All in all, Undiscovered is a good start to a new story arc in the Amoveo series.  Gikany and Una found the mythology of the dragons interesting and Zander and Rena’s romance satisfying although there were a couple of rough elements. In the Amoveo series, dragon shifters were believed to be extinct.  However, they are not.  Zander and his identical twin brother Zed are the only dragon shifters left.  A curse has left Zander stuck in his human form and Zed in hibernation in dragon form for the last 500 years.  What little we learn of the dragon shifters is interesting, although we wondered if Zander’s beliefs about the mates of identical twins are true or just an “old wives’ tale”.  Zander’s desperation to save his brother was utterly compelling, especially when he was determined to sacrifice everything (even his own happiness) to save his brother.  However, considering his act of martyrdom includes another person, it seemed just a tad presumptuous.  Thankfully Zander’s mate, Rena, doesn’t allow him to get away with it. Rena is one of the strongest and engaging characters in this series.  We really liked her down-to-earth nature.  Despite her beginnings, the past does not own her.  Rena has made something of herself, learning to trust and become a truly upstanding citizen.  However, how wonderful she is stood out in stark contrast to how she is treated for most of the novel.  The one man who is like a father to her, we come to find out, had nefarious, or at least selfish reasons, for caring for her.  Gikany and Una debated about the level of betrayal that Rena suffers in this novel.  She is truly steadfast and resilient to navigate through such traitorous waters and still find the strength to not only forgive but fight for her mate. Although Undiscovered started a little slowly with a dream sequence (nothing like starting a novel feeling lost) it gradually picked up the pace.  Overall, we liked this new story arc with the introduction of the dragons, especially with the introduction of Rena.  Even with the few odd notes we still enjoyed Rena and Zander’s happily ever after and look forward to the next novel in this series. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: He’s the man of her dreams A long time ago, Zander...
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Mar
16

Review: Wake a Sleeping Tiger by Lora Leigh

Review: Wake a Sleeping Tiger by Lora Leigh Wake a Sleeping Tiger Author: Lora Leigh Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Cullen Maverick is a recessed gene Bengal Tiger Breed who has lived among and worked with the Navajo Nation as the Commander of the Navajo Covert Law Enforcement Agency. After losing his wife to cancer ten years ago, he’s kept himself closed off, even from the woman he suspects may mean more to his hidden Tiger. Chelsea Martinez has been in love with Cullen for as long as she can remember, and has even worked for him for the past four years. But he’s put off her need to do more than push papers in the office, so she’s decided it’s finally time to leave the Law Enforcement Agency. Yet her resignation may push the recessed Tiger in Cullen to rip free and take over. Prior to starting Wake a Sleeping Tiger, I went back and read my notes from the previous couple titles and realized that I had all but given up on the Breeds series, as it had become convoluted, full of new characters I didn’t care about, and frankly the editing left much to be desired in the storylines. But since I’d already picked up this title for review, I decided to go in with as much of an open mind as possible, and wow, am I glad I decided to read Wake a Sleeping Tiger! Overall, the writing and story are MUCH tighter than the previous books. There wasn’t really any wandering and meandering from thought to thought, but rather the story stayed focused on the romance between Cullen and Chelsea, as well as her work and the related story of the Cerves. Cullen and Chelsea made a fantastic pair. Their romance was hot, and the story was filled with amazing sexual tension. And although there were definitely times when the couple kept their innermost true feelings to themselves, it didn’t dominate the story nor was it a reason they stayed apart from one another. Chelsea was very open from the beginning, telling Cullen: “Just go home and stop trying to protect me. It was never your protection that I wanted.” She shared her fears over the mating, yet didn’t fight him about it. I did get a little frustrated with Cullen because he didn’t share his fears and frustrations with Chelsea, but his inner-thougths conveyed to the reader his own fears and limitations. One thing that I’ve learned from...
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Mar
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hammered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hammered Making good on his promise to the powerful witch Latcha to obtain a fabled apple from a Norse god, Atticus finds a “backdoor” into Asgard, then weaves a ridiculous tale of the Roman pantheon aiming to hurt the Norse pantheon to lay blame for the tragedies he causes while on his task. But Atticus isn’t done! He follows up these acts by heading back into Asgard with friend Leif and a handful of scorned immortals, fulfilling his promise to assist the vampire in his quest to kill Thor. Hammered is an interesting and exciting adventure for Atticus. Honestly, I’m still a bit dumb-struck over the events that occurred. Let’s just say that Atticus makes some really, really awful decisions this time around. The story has a different feel as Atticus takes on the Norse pantheon. The author expands beyond the limited look at the Tempe area and tosses about all sorts of new-to-the-series mythology. I appreciate that the majority of the world-building is presented as fact, rather than trying to convince the reader through telling. The book has a bit of a transition feel to it as Atticus concedes it is finally time to move on. His reflection on his reasons for always moving and never loving again are profound. We find out that he was married and experienced deep, true love for two centuries and had 25 kids! It’s been over 500 years and he’s afraid to set roots and love again. But he does love Oberon. And now he has a friendship with the Widow MacDonagh and his obligations to Granuaile (his apprentice). And he feels obligated to repair the damage to the land that happened back in the first book. It’s actually a very moving self-reflection as he makes the decision to leave Arizona. Another reason Hammered comes off as transitional is that as Atticus says his farewells to companions and friends, everything from the previous two books makes an appearance. Things like the Hammers of God, the witch coven, his friends, the shop; they are each dealt with in a manner that is mostly permanent, yet leaving room for reemergence one day. However, it was his farewell to the Widow MacDonagh that had me in tears. It was well done...
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Mar
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Mercy Thompson Series Title: Silence Fallen Author: Patricia Briggs Narrators: Lorelei King & George Newbern Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Mercy Thompson #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy Audiobook Source: Penguin Random House Audio Opening shortly after the game-changing previous title Fire Touched, we find Mercy, Adam, and the Columbia Basin pack happy and settled in way they haven’t been in a very long time. However their good times are short-lived when Mercy is brutally attacked and kidnapped by Iacopo (Jacob) Bonarata, Lord of Night, head of the vampires. Mercy is cut off from her pack and mate-bond, on the run, and fighting to survive in a foreign land, while Adam must play diplomat to save both Mercy and ensure the security of his territory. Silence Fallen is the tenth title in the amazing, richly developed Mercy Thompson series. Those readers/listeners who have followed the series since the start will probably notice the book has a different feel than previous titles in the series. First of all, Mercy and Adam spend almost the entire book separated from one another, similar to what happened in portions of the seventh title, Frost Burned. Additionally, due to the circumstances, the author has split the book into sections narrated in first person POV of Mercy (her normal method of storytelling), but also the book is shared in the third person POV of Adam (and very briefly another character). The book also goes back and forth a bit in time, with Mercy and Adam’s stories running parallel, but shifted slightly in timing. This all makes for a very different feeling book. The results are mixed in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed the story behind Silence Fallen. Ms. Briggs deals with the fallout from Adam and Mercy’s actions in Fire Touched, and even some subsequent titles. I like that there are repercussions from their actions, and that we continue to see the world changing as it uncovers and attempts to adapt to the supernatural world. Mercy’s kidnapping is a direct result of the actions in Fire Touched, and the outcome makes for a stronger pack in the long run. I also like that we learn more about both Werewolf and Vampire global politics. Mercy’s world has always been very small geographically, with trouble coming to her. Seeing Mercy function outside of her comfort zone was rewarding. I also loved watching Adam play diplomatic games, and getting his POV...
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Mar
6

Review: Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith

Review: Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith Flash of Fury Author: Lea Griffith Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Kingston McNally, ex-Navy SEAL, is the leader of a black ops team known as Endgame Ops. A year ago on a dangerous mission in Beirut, King’s group was betrayed by one of their own. Now it’s his mission to end Horace Dresden, the man responsible for the death of his teammates. However, someone has put Allie Redding in his path and her safety is quickly becoming his number one priority. Allie Redding spent the past few years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and is looking forward to a mani/pedi and McDonald’s french fries back at home. She’s instantly attracted to the hottie in the seat next to her, and she even indulges in a little “what if” daydreaming. But her fantasies are short lived when her plane is hijacked by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Now she and her new found ally, King, are on the run while trying to figure out who they can trust. Flash of Fury is the first exciting story in Ms. Griffith’s Endgame Ops series. The story opens with a bang and never EVER slows down. As the first book in the series, the author spends a great deal of time introducing the key players and laying the groundwork for the world. Generally this is handled well in Flash of Fury, but I did get lost a few times; partially because of the volume of information, and partially because this material is just the framework for something larger to which I am not yet privy. While I liked that the author didn’t dumb down conversations for the reader, it made it difficult to follow along as there is a lot of subterfuge and layers of conspiracy in play. The overall plot line of the book is the rescue and return of Allie to her father in the U.S. It’s a good story, but there is entirely way too much running for my tastes. Seriously… every time King and Allie make it to a safe house, they are compromised. It got old after a while; I just wanted them to have a respite that lasted longer than a couple of hours (they actually do but injuries don’t count in my book!). The larger story involves weeding out the leaks that lead to the botched mission in Beirut and how it all ties in with Allie. There was significant movement...
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Mar
2

Review: Saved by Darkness by Katie Reus

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

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

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

Review: What it Takes by Shannon Stacey

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