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Apr
26

Review: To Me I Wed by K.M. Jackson

Review: To Me I Wed by K.M. Jackson To Me I Wed Author: K.M. Jackson Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Two peas in a pod are Lily Perry and Vincent Caro. Both struggling small-business owners who are happy with their relationship-free lifestyles. Lily is a successful event planner who has pulled off amazing parties for her several sisters, living up to the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” lifestyle. Vin recently opened his own restaurant in memory of his mother who always shared her joy of cooking with him. The pair hooked up a while back, and even though it was an intense evening, neither called for a second chance. However, when Lily sees Vin at her sister’s wedding, sparks ignite and neither can rest until they see the attraction through. To Me I Wed is the second story in Ms. Jackson’s Unconventional Bride series, and unconventional is the best word to describe Lily’s plans. Doing research, Lily comes across an article how a woman, ready to show the world she’s good just as she is, married herself. At first Lily sees this as a potential business opportunity – which I can appreciate. But then she internalizes it, seeing herself in this woman. She gets swept up in the idea, immediately calling her assistant, Tori, and getting Vin’s restaurant to host it! I have to say, I struggled with Lily. I understood her desire to show the world she’s all good as is. But I had a lot of trouble getting behind the concept of marrying herself. I had hoped it would have been a funny/silly storyline, but Lily was kind of obsessive about her life and the wedding. It was an “I’m gonna show them” kind of thing. She was so serious, not having fun with it at all, which actually made her come off as desperate – not for a man – but for people to believe she’s “okay” as she is. Similarly, we got a lot of how “okay” Vin is, yet he’s clearly still dealing with his mother’s death and his own father-issues. I loved that he genuinely cares for Lily and pushed her until she gave into her desire. But then their relationship coasts… and when one got too close to the other, they would blow up and push apart. As much as they were falling into one another, they both had serious walls. And we didn’t really see them ever open up to one another. They danced around...
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Apr
24

Review: Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London

Review: Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London Hard-Hearted Highlander Author: Julia London Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Rabbie Mackenzie longs for the days before the Scots and English were at war, a time before his beloved was murdered and worse. Nearly suicidal: he doesn’t want to live, but doesn’t have the courage to die. Set to fulfill a family obligation by marrying a very young English bride, he finds little joy except when in the company of Bernadette Holly. Miss Bernadette Holly has her own secrets and cross to bare. She works for Lord Kent, serving his daughter, Avaline as her maid and confidant. Torn between saving Avaline from a horrible marriage to Laird Mackenzie and her own haunted past, Bernadette finds solace on her long walks and surprisingly, in conversation with Rabbie. Hard-Hearted Highlander starts a couple years after the conclusion of the previous title in the Highland Grooms series. We discover that life as a Highlander has become rough and even dangerous, as the war with England is not going well. The Mackenzies are struggling and many of their neighbors have fled to safer lands. In order to protect their interests, they strike a marriage bargain with Lord Kent. However, his younger daughter (17, to Rabbie’s 35) is a selfish child and Lord Kent is a monster, and this causes a lot of difficult and awkward interactions. Both Rabbie and Bernadette are jaded survivors. Their backstories are similar, both losing much. Yet when Rabbie turned inward and contemplated death, Bernadette dove into her work and pushed the past away. Both live each day with holes in their souls, and it isn’t until they see past the surface into one another that they finally begin to heal. While Rabbie and Bernadette are perfect for one another, I struggled with the story and romance between the pair. The first quarter of the book was slow moving and confusing as it was full of political maneuvering. Additionally, it took at least that long before the pair even had a civil conversation. However, the largest hurdle that I struggled with was the simple fact that Rabbie is engaged to Bernadette’s charge and friend, regardless that it is an arranged marriage and neither party wants to go through with it. Bernadette experiences tremendous guilt over her feelings and actions, which really dampened any of the butterflies she feels from her attraction to Rabbie. Once the wedding was finally called off, the book was nearly over. Yet...
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Mar
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Night Prince Series Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1.25x and 2x Series: Night Prince #4 (Night Huntress Universe #13) Genre: Urban Fantasy, romance Source: HarperAudio NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any of the titles in the Night Huntress Universe, and when I found out that Ms. Frost was wrapping up the Night Prince series with Into the Fire, I was quick to pick up a review copy. I honestly couldn’t recall what had happened to Vlad and Lelia until I started the book, and the narrator quickly filled me in. The story opens about four months after the conclusion of the prior book. Leila and Vlad’s step-son nemesis, Mircea, are still magically linked so that harm and damage done to one is repeated on the other. Mircea is able contact Leila psychically, yet Leila cannot use her abilities to find Mircea. In the process of taunting Lelia, Mircea is kidnapped, and the abductees threaten to kill him (which would in turn kill Leila) if Vlad doesn’t do as they require. This ramps up the efforts to break the magic link between Leila and Mircea, leading Vlad and Leila to Ian for assistance. While I started having issues with this series in the previous book, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would be annoyed by the two main characters. Leila is amazingly whiny. And her “dreaded inner voice” is annoying. Her life is hard, she whines, she cries, she accepts it, she rationalizes it, then we move on to the next issue. And Vlad is too far gone – too dark – to be an enjoyable romantic lead/hero. He is made of ice and vengeance, and while he cares for some individuals, he’d willingly kill those he cares about if it means keeping Leila alive. It’s taken to an extreme this time around. And the lies, which are rationalized, just make it so frustrating and annoying. It’s basically the same issues over and over again, and I had a very difficult time enjoying the book. Honestly, if Into the Fire wasn’t the last book in the series, I would have DNF’d in and moved on. With that said, the last third of the book was much better than the front parts. Once the action started and the plot moved forward, it was...
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Mar
29

Review: Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

Review: Royally Roma by Teri Wilson Royally Roma Author: Teri Wilson Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I was super excited to read Royally Roma. It’s advertised as a retelling of the classic romance Roman Holiday – a movie I ADORE!!!!!  It’s clear the author loves Audrey Hepburn as much as I do and that she has a major crush on Prince William, which I can totally respect—I mean he’s a cutie pie. But I felt like rather than work with the romance & chemistry that Roman Holiday offers, Ms. Wilson relies way too much on sexual references. I understand that Julia and Nico have massive chemistry. That is clear from the open scene when he’s lying asleep and naked in her bed, but I felt like much of the story was missed because they were so caught up in the heat that was between them. References to her pert, round bottom and his arousals were plentiful, but I felt like they weren’t necessary. I mean, I understand that we are dealing with a couple hot and horny millennials; however, I feel like a well placed kiss and a side-long glance, at least in a few places would have relaid the same message as him needing to adjust his expensive trousers to hide evidence. I’m sorry, maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I feel like sex in a story should be like sprinkles on a cupcake. They offer, color, texture, maybe a little flavor, but no one wants to bite into a cupcake filled with hard, crunchy, weak-flavored sprinkles that distract from the fun & flavor of the cake and frosting. Royally Roma had some great cake and frosting to offer along side of some seriously beautiful scenery. Ms. Wilson does an AMAZING job describing Rome. The dialogue both inside the main characters’ heads and between the pair is fun and witty and lets us see a side of Nico we’d all like to see of Prince William. But overall, the book relied so heavily on sex that I missed the story for the sprinkles, and that’s a bummer because Roman Holiday really is a wonderful and classic story. My Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some   About the Book: In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City. Julia Costa...
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Mar
15

Review: Her True Match by Paige Tyler

Review: Her True Match by Paige Tyler Her True Match Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Una Rating: C  What I’m Talking About: After Her Rogue Alpha, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the next X-Ops novel.  This review has been tough to write.  I wasn’t sure how to articulate my feelings on it.  Though I eagerly wanted to see the story of Dreya Clark, I was a bit disappointed with Her True Match. I’m completely torn about this novel.  On the one hand I felt it was a bit lackluster.  The romantic journey of Dreya and Braden reminded me too much of Ivy and Landon.  Though there are distinct differences in plot points, the essence of it was too familiar.  The premise of the cop falling for the thief was alluring, and I did enjoy that part of their story.  However, though I am no expert in police procedures, there were moments that completely suspended my disbelief.  Some of Braden’s actions did not seem realistic.  Nor was his almost gilded invitation to not only keep an eye on Dreya but be her partner.  The latitudes taken were too much for me and the world lost me.  I was also taken a back that no one warned him about Dick.  Really?  No one warned him not to trust him?  At the very least I would have thought his cop-spider-senses would have clued him in that Dick was off. There are a few plot lines running in this novel as seems to be the case later in the series.  I was surprised at how quickly Dreya took to training, especially working with a seasoned cop like Braden.  It felt like the story “jumped the shark” when, after an incredibly short time, they were sent on missions.  I understand being short-handed, but the work they do is really not for amateurs. This was especially apparent when they send out basically two rookies without the oversight of a veteran.  I found the continuing hunt for the crooked members of the DCO’s oversight committee, as well as the tracking down of the rogue scientists, fascinating. Yet, the cliffhanger event at the end was a complete surprise. Though I don’t believe all is as it seems, this would be my only reason for reading the next novel. As much as I loved the premise of this series at the beginning, the last two novels have disappointed me for different reasons.  I did like Dreya and Braden and felt satisfied that they found...
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Feb
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Vacation Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #4 Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Vacation Hell Vacation Hell opens with Muriel and her family settling into their new lives as parents and lovers. Although everyone is extremely happy, Muriel is being called to the beach, someplace she does NOT like to visit, indicating larger forces at play. Yet with her precocious, meddlesome daughter, Lucinda, driving Muriel to emotional and mental exhaustion, the gang decides a family vacation to the beach is in order. Vacation Hell is the fourth addition to Ms. Langlais’s wild Princess of Hell series. Although the story is mostly standalone, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one – too much of the world is developed over the course of the previous books. With the nature of Muriel’s sexually charged magic, jumping in here may be confusing, and not as emotionally satisfying. The story contained within Vacation Hell is light and short. Keeping in concert with the previous stories, Muriel must take on a new lover to feed a different aspect of her magic. This time she is practically shoved at Tristan, a merman and son of King Neptune, by someone in her own family. I like that Muriel is learning to be more at ease with her needs and the part other sexual partners play in her life. However, I am not happy with the fact that she was placed in the situation via manipulation. I also enjoyed that different than the past, Tristan is not ready to jump into the orgy as easily as her previous lovers. The author has made each male unique, with their own sexual needs, which keeps the stories fresh. After eliminating the “big bad” from the prior books in Hell’s Revenge, the author creates a new story arc that will clearly span into the next book, as there is a huge aspect of this story that remains unfinished by the end of Vacation Hell. Since the ending isn’t a true cliff-hanger, I don’t mind that the story arc continues forward; however, the book is very short, and I felt the plot line was weak. So I would have preferred the author continue the story, creating a longer, more fulfilling book. Ms. Estrella’s familiar performance creates a bit of comfort in this, the fourth title....
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Dec
19

Review: The Furies’ Bog by Deborah Jackson

Review: The Furies’ Bog by Deborah Jackson The Furies’ Bog Author: Deborah Jackson Reviewer: Nima Rating: C The description of Deborah Jackson’s The Furies’ Bog will draw in any regular sci-fi reader.  It promises a lot.  Jackson spreads her tale across multiple locations worldwide and even space, incorporating genetics, archeology, and secret agents. The Furies’ Bog was thought-provoking. It was well-written. Parts of it were definitely engaging, but sadly, you could say all of those things about a textbook on a subject in which you were interested. Jackson has definitely done her homework—literally.  According to her end notes, she studied science journals and went back to school at MIT to take classes with this book specifically in mind.  You have to be in awe of someone that dedicated to writing a scientifically plausible story.  It’s a relatively long story, however, coming in at over 500 hundred pages. Long books are not unusual in the sci-fi world, but The Furies’ Bog is not a page-turner despite a fair amount of action. It wants to be an exciting sci-fi thriller, well-grounded in current genetic science, but never achieves real momentum, getting—if you’ll excuse the expression—“bogged down” in the science. She even includes an entire thesis paper within the body of the story.  (In the electronic version, you can click a link to skip over this.) In the first of two appendices, which is not wholly unusual for the science fiction genre, she includes the entire DNA sequence of the LIPE gene referenced in her thesis stating, “I wanted to emphasize how a small mutation in this entire length could alter the function, or trigger the dysfunction, of a protein and upset the balance in our bodies, or even entirely alter the way our bodies work.  These mutations can lead to cancer or other diseases, or set us on a new evolutionary path.”  I don’t know that that actually adds anything or even emphasis to her story.  Before the link to skip it, Jackson offers this disclaimer:  This document contains a variety of technical terms that may be confusing to the average reader.  Feel free to skip over it, if you find it tedious. To me, it felt a little condescending.  I’m not exactly sure who she intended as her primary audience. Probably most significant to me, because the action of The Furies’ Bog is stretched across multiple locations, Jackson has main characters in each of those places.  This meant we didn’t spend enough time with any of them...
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Nov
16

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black Dirty Wicked Author: Shayla Black Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Set up and sent to jail for a violent crime he didn’t commit, Nick Navarro is determined to take vengeance on the corrupt district attorney who framed him and killed his best friend, Mike Porter. Sasha Porter holds the key to putting away Clifford for good. Now if Nick can keep his desperate need for his best friend’s widow, Nick and Sasha may yet survive the ordeal. Dirty Wicked is a quick and danger-filled love story. Clifford is a evil, corrupt soul, who will stop at nothing to see Nick, Sasha, and her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, dead. I like that he’s not a good man in any way, making him a easy character to loathe.  Additionally, being on the run adds an element of suspense to the story, which in turn allows the author the freedom to create intense feelings between the couple, regardless of how little they know of one another. While Ms. Black won me over with her ability to create strong emotional bonds between the hero and heroine in her previous 1,001 Dark Nights novellas, she fell short of the mark with Dirty Wicked. There were good moments and sexy scenes, but there were also easy outs and ridiculous actions (or non-actions). The pair fell into unwarranted “I love you’s” after only two days, and the descriptive text like “he could taste the love in her kiss,” and “Devotion flowed from her fingertips. Acceptance oozed from her soft palms,” felt a bit over the top to me. Yet there are brilliant moments like when Nick felt pushing Sasha into sex would keep her away, lessening his temptation. “You can force me to spread my legs for you and give you everything between them. You can’t force me to share everything under my skin.” The demonstrates Sasha’s a fighter and still has some spirit left despite the circumstances. This is followed by Nick’s “Until you can give me all that, don’t offer me your body again,” which allows a little glimpse of his true desires though. Unfortunately, those moments were outnumbered by the less brilliant ones. In the end, Dirty Wicked was a let down for me after loving the previous two 1,001 Dark Nights titles by Ms. Black. Although there were wonderful moments in the story, Dirty Wicked had too many stereotypes and a cookie-cutter plot. The story just didn’t feel well-thought out to me....
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Oct
20

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Dragon Actually Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x & 2x Series: Dragon Kin #1 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio I have heard very good things about G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series, so when I saw it was being release on audio by Tantor media, I jumped at the chance to review the titles. Dragon Actually, the first story in this paranormal/fantasy romance series is actually two books in one. The primary story, Dragon Actually, creates the settings and develops a world full of waring humans and powerful dragons. The second, short story, Chains and Flames, shares the backstory of two dragon characters we meet in the primary tale. Dragon Actually shares the story of Annwyl the Bloody, the bastard sister of the current, malevolent king. She is the fearless and heralded leader of the rebellion, which is growing with each passing day. However, her brother, with the help of a powerful warlock, grows close to capturing Annwyl. Just as some of his troops are about to deliver the mortal blow to Annwyl, Fearghus the Destroyer, a powerful dragon, steps in to save her. Dragons are rarely seen these days, and many believe they are just a myth, something the solitary Fearghus thinks is just fine. However, after he feels compelled to save Annwyl, nursing her back to life and agreeing to assist in her battles against her brother, he finds he cannot stay away from her. Overall, Dragon Actually is a solid and entertaining paranormal/fantasy romance. I like the mythology and admire the strong female hero. Annwyl is her own person and doesn’t apologize for her attitude or behaviors. She is known as “the bloody” for a very good reason, cutting down her enemies without remorse as any male leader would. Fearghus is the only male who could be her equal and that makes them a good fit. I enjoyed their companionship and the times they let their guards down to talk. I did feel that there was a high “cheese-factor” in this story, both in the romance and in the interactions between several of the characters. I felt the story was dated in terms of tone, and my tastes in PNR have changed in the past 10 years. One thing I did not care for was the abruptness of the ending! Without giving spoilers, the ending felt incomplete. I would have liked...
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Oct
17

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray A Most Extraordinary Pursuit Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: If you are familiar with my reviews, you know that I enjoy Juliana Gray’s work and typically rate it fairly high. I am disappointed to say that wasn’t so much the case with A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. When I received the title I was excited to continue the adventures with the Duke of Olympia’s tribe, and although Olympia clearly has a hand in this story, I found it to be nothing like Ms. Gray’s other novels. I realize that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I really struggled with her changed format and writing style. Although the characters had plenty of chemistry and banter, I found the storyline to be jumpy. The constant bouncing back and forth between the narrator’s current world and the “book of Hayward” was distracting, hard for me to follow, and sometimes downright exhausting. I finally had to start taking notes so I didn’t have to keep going back and forth between chapters to remember what was going on. I understand what Ms. Gray was attempting to do, but think it would have worked better if she had added these parts at the beginning or end of the chapters, rather than sprinkling it whenever and wherever. Another area that was a struggle for me was in the way some of the secondary characters were presented, for example the Queen. I have read the entire book and still have no idea what her purpose is or why she is a part of the storyline. Is she supposed to represent the mother Truelove never really knew? Is she just a figment of her imagination? I understand better why her dead father appears throughout the book better than why the Queen jumps in and out. Maybe that will be better explained in future books, but in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit I found it to be distracting and frustrating. While the dialogue between Truelove and the Queen is well written and the banter between them is even humorous at times, I’m just not sure why it’s in the story. It adds to the word count but I’m not sure it adds to the storyline. I guess my greatest struggle is that I was expecting a love story, a romance novel and although there is a love story between Tedeus and Desma and there is romance hinted at between Truelove and Silverton, it...
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