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May
7

Review: Hawkyn by Larissa Ione

Review: Hawkyn by Larissa Ione Hawkyn Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Hawkyn is a special earth-bound angel known as a Memitim, and his job is to protect his Primori: humans, who for whatever reason, are destined to make an impact on all humankind. Hawkyn has lived centuries under the strict heavenly rules, waiting for the day he can ascend and sit on the Memitim Council so he can make changes to their archaic ways. But when he steps in to protect Aurora from his serial killer Primori, Hawkyn begins to stray from the path. Aurora is a Wytch; the fabled species that is a mix of human witch and incubus. She’s chosen to live a human life, keeping her powers under wraps and not fulfilling her warrior destiny. But when she’s attacked and taken by a mad monster, Aurora’s eyes are open to a world she had only heard about.  Hawkyn is another 1,001 Dark Nights novella set in Ms. Ione’s Demonica world. While the romance is standalone, I feel that previous knowledge of the world would be useful when reading the story due to the large number of characters and types of beings that inhabit the world. For example, there is a significant side-story involving Azagoth, the father of all Memitim, and his mate, Lilliana, which takes up a bit of the book and isn’t resolved by the end.  While the author does a solid job of building the story and conflict around Hawkyn and Aurora, I feel that the romance aspect is lacking. There is much build up around why Aurora is kidnapped, what to do to save her, and how to change the Memitim, which is all interesting and mostly entertaining, but leaves little room for actual romance (and I don’t mean just sex). The pair spends little time really getting to know one another, and there aren’t any romantic overtures until well after the 50% mark of the book.  In the end, Hawkyn was an interesting story, but the romance fell flat for me. There wasn’t much build up or chemistry. Ms. Ione is making a lot of changes in her Demonica World with these novellas, which is cool and all, but the novellas lack the richness of the full-length story. I love the world, but I need more. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: As a special class of earthbound guardian angel called Memitim, Hawkyn is charged...
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Apr
17

Review: A Gentleman Revealed by Cooper Davis

Review: A Gentleman Revealed by Cooper Davis A Gentleman Revealed Author: Cooper Davis Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: While A Gentleman Revealed is the beginning of a series, I believe that the narrative would have benefitted greatly if I’d read the original stories that prefaced it. There are private jokes and intricacies which are crucial to the various relationships that define the characters, but left me confused, and sometimes very irritated, without an understanding of these previously defined behaviors. After carefully perusing several synopses and lengthy reviews of the first series, things made more sense. As such, it might be helpful to new readers to do some research into the earlier novels if reading them in their entirety isn’t an option.  With that in mind, and in a unique and promising twist, A Gentleman Revealed is set in a universe where same-sex unions are not only accepted, but encouraged. At least, that seems to be true most of the time. Alistair’s foster brother, the current king, was apparently forced to marry a woman in order to produce an heir before her death opened the way to his pursuit of a male concubine (who he is now married to). Marcus’ father, however, is fine with the idea of Marcus and Alistair adopting, which is wonderful. Other particulars of the story regarding scandals and the tarnishing of reputations led me to believe that these relationships were actually more “tolerated” than truly celebrated.  Another thing that made it easier to distance myself from the narrative were some of the modifiers used to describe Alistair’s form—especially when thought or implied by Marcus. Phrases like “generous proportions” and “heavyset,” etc. are moderate, yet forthright enough, but I was a little horrified that Marcus considered him as “big as a barn” in his own head. There were a few similar incidents, as well. I expected that kind of phrasing from other characters, but not Alistair’s lover. Despite the above, however, Marcus was a favorite of mine in the story, and I wanted him to find happiness with Alistair a great deal.  On a far more serious note, A Gentleman Revealed takes a unvarnished and oftentimes brutal look at Alistair’s constant battle with negative body image and alcoholism. While Alistair’s struggles are specific to him, they illustrate a universal and very real need for patience, acceptance, and support on both sides of the situation. The vast majority of the novel concerns Alistair’s self-loathing and the downward spiral he’s in, and...
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Apr
11

Review: Peachy Flippin’ Keen by Molly Harper

Review: Peachy Flippin’ Keen by Molly Harper Peachy Flippin’ Keen Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I’m going to put this out there right up front… I am giving this book a C+, even though I really liked the main charters, and I found the story engrossing and dialogue sharp. But here is why it’s not getting an A or B… Peachy Flippin’ Keen starts the story of Frankie McCready and Eric Linden, but comes no where close to finishing it. Peachy Flippin’ Keen is a fantastic beginning, but without the closure of the primary plot nor an HEA/HFN.  Told exclusively from Frankie’s POV, we learn about newcomer Sheriff Linden, who inherited a mess and is trying hard to make his office and position respectable again. He’s a bit cold with Frankie, but that’s probably because the weekend before he arrived in Lack Sackett, the pair had a one-night-stand, and Frankie Uber’d her way out in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. I enjoyed watching the pair tiptoe around each other, marking territory and setting the stage for what hopes to be a promising romance. But by the end of the book, the two aren’t even friends.  Equally entertaining and frustrating is the plot surrounding someone playing pranks on the McCready Family businesses. While Frankie is certain it’s a troublesome teen whose parents think the sun revolves around him, there is no evidence as to who may be playing the bothersome jokes. Unfortunately we still have no clue by the end of Peachy Flippin’ Keen.  It’s not that the book is a cliffhanger. It’s not. But it’s not a complete story either. It’s more like the first eight chapters of the next full-length title, Ain’t She a Peach, which is scheduled for release on June 12th. My recommendation is to wait until June to read this one so you can finish Frankie and Eric’s story without the wait.  My Rating:  C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: A prank war erupts in Lake Sackett, Georgia and coroner Frankie McCready has to turn to the gorgeous but surly new sheriff for help in Molly Harper’s newest Southern Eclectic novella, perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Amy E. Reichert. The McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop has crickets running rampant in the store and hot sauce in the Snack Shack’s ketchup bottles. But as the county coroner, Frankie has enough on her plate without worrying about...
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Apr
9

Review: Blood Veil by Megan Erickson

Review: Blood Veil by Megan Erickson Blood Veil Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Celia Valerie is the half-human, half-vampire, daughter of the Valarian king, enemy of the Gregorie Clan. But she has no clue who she is or where she came from. Raised in the human world, abandoned by her parents, she made her way through the system and works as a nurse at Mission Hospital. Idris, the once future king of the Gregorie Clan, feels more comfortable in his roll as military leader now that the truth of his father’s betrayals is out. He wants revenge on the Valarian king, the vampire who turned his own father, the former Gregorie king, into a traitor to his clan. Watching Celia for weeks, waiting for the best time to take her in and use her to draw out her father, his plans change when an assassin breed of vampires attacks Celia. Blood Veil is the second, action-packed vampire adventure in Ms. Erickson’s Mission series. Overall, I enjoyed the tale, but felt it held too many echos of the first story. Once again, the story centers on a female who grew up without knowledge of the vampire community, although she’s strongly tied to the community. And once again, even though she’s a bit horrified, she’s oddly okay with the whole vampire thing. She’s attracted to her captor. It’s a bit redundant and I wish it had been a bit fresher. I also feel like it’s just too easy… how well Celia accepts she’s part vampire. Even with the similarities with the first title, I found myself engaged in Celia and Idris’s journey. Idris is bent on revenge and I enjoyed watching him mature and grow as he experienced the world through Celia’s eyes. For a tough and fierce warrior, he’s kind, considerate, and remorseful of his actions. And it’s Celia’s gentle nature that allows room for Idris to forgive himself. I struggled a bit with some of the descriptions in the story. For example: “… his body was the sun and I needed to feel his warmth on my face.” YET… exposure to the sun would kill Idris, so I found that to be an odd comparison. And then there is “But Idris’s seed-reached everywhere inside me,-from fingertip to fingertip, to the top of my head and the bottoms of my feet” That’s not sexy; it’s weird. In the end, all works out for Celia and Idris, but they made some...
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Feb
2

Review: Royal Ruin by Jessica Peterson

Review: Royal Ruin by Jessica Peterson Royal Ruin Author: Jessica Peterson Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Ten years ago, Emily was an honor student at big economic school in London. Her TA was none other than a prince – and a big one, as in the Queen’s grandson. Kit is enamored with Emily, but stays away because she’s his student and she has a boyfriend. However, when Emily comes to his office, a mess after finding out her boyfriend back home was cheating on her, he gives in to temptation. Flash forward to present day and Emily has a trendy interior design firm, that is losing money. She’s going on one last interview for none other than the Royal family. While she ends up with the design contract, she also receives a proposal from Kit to be his fake fiancée for a few months. In exchange, he’ll save her failing company. Royal Ruin was a mixed bag for me. There were parts that I absolutely enjoyed, but there were parts with which I struggled. First the good: I loved how much Kit admires Emily right from the start. He falls head over heels not just because of a physical attraction, but he appreciates her brilliant mind and wit. They make a good team when they gel. And when the pair get real with their feelings and passion, the story is wonderful. However… I had an issue early on with Emily and it never really went away. First, ten years ago, her world falls apart because the love of her life cheats on her… so what does she do? Uses her TA, and he still has the condom on when she talks to her BF and decides they want to work it out. My thoughts went to Rachel and Ross’s “We were on a break” – one of the worst storylines in the sitcom’s (Friends) long life. Then when time moves to present day, I felt Emily continued to make some poor decisions. For example, why hasn’t she blocked her ex from the ability to call or text her? They went through a horrible divorce, yet she still has his number in her cell. And don’t get me started on the ex storyline, which felt forced and contrived. Then there is the Royal family. In one breath we learn how important appearances are, and in the next, they are having obnoxious family squabbles in front of strangers. And when the Queen just says...
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Jan
29

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory The Wedding Date Author: Jasmine Guillory Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Alexa is on her way to visit her out-of-town sister. Drew is in town for a wedding. The pair get trapped for a short time in an elevator, and they hit if off immediately. While there is definitely mutual desire, both enjoy the easy banter more than anything. So when Drew asks Alexa to be his date for the wedding, she agrees. What happens next is an intense attraction that neither is prepared for. The Wedding Date is a cute story about two successful individuals trying to find their way through life and love. While the premise is adorable and totally up my alley, I really struggled with the characters and overall execution. For the most part, I loved Alexa. She’s real. She works hard, loves her job, has fun, and lives life. She’s smart and successful – both main characters are – so that’s why I was frustrated with the fact that both Drew and Alexa have the emotional maturity of teenagers. They have no self-confidence when it comes to relationships, and they are constantly second guessing and looking for hidden meanings in actions and words (or the absence of either). It’s exhausting. They don’t communicate at all, which I get happens in real life, but I don’t read romances to see an accurate reflection of real life. The conflict in the story was driven by the insecurities of the characters. I was also frustrated with the amount of off-page action. And I’m not just referring to sex. Although, I have to admit, sometimes it was so behind-closed-doors that I missed the fact they even had sex. But In general, there are too many scenes like this one: On the way back to his apartment, they drove by the Santa Monica Pier.  “I haven’t been there since I was a kid,” she said. “It was always so fun.”  An SUV pulled out of a parking spot ahead of him, and he made a snap decision.  “No time like the present.” He reversed into the spot and grabbed her hand. “Let’s go.”  When they got back to his apartment, they were both giddy, sunburned, and exhausted. If it was such a great getting-to-know you experience that helped the couple grow closer, why not share it with the reader? Scenes like this did nothing but aggravate me after a while. Then comes the last 10% of...
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Dec
18

Review: Where a Goddess Belongs by Stephanie Julian

Review: Where a Goddess Belongs by Stephanie Julian Where a Goddess Belongs Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Kari is the Etruscan Goddess of Health, and although she and her sisters are mostly forgotten by the modern world, Kari has been able to maintain a high level of power. Allowing herself to remain captive for three months, Kari is waiting for the right time to share the truth, and her love, with the two men she knows she was meant to be with. Jacoby and Den have been friends since childhood, both coming from dark magic Malandante families. They’ve kept hidden their true abilities, waiting for the best time to make a break from their evil families. Now is crunch time, and they have to decide if they can trust Kari and the Lucani wolves. While it’s been a few years since the previous book, I was able to jump back into the Forgotten Goddesses series with relative ease. Where a Goddess Belongs is part of the larger series plot, forwarding the story arc and involving characters from both this series and the Lucani Lovers series. However, it’s written to be a standalone romance and contains enough backstory and detail that one could jump in with this book. As I read on, bits and pieces of the world filtered back, filling in any gaps. The romance between Kari and her men is the focus of the book. As with most paranormal romances, the characters connect quickly, as if fate brought them together for a purpose. In fact, Kari even says a quick prayer to her sister, the goddess of fate, thanking her for bringing Jacoby and Den to her. Having been their “captive” (she could have easily escaped) for a few months gives some weight to the speed at which the coupling occurs. Each had been observing the other, lusting after the other, knowing their pairing would occur eventually. (They are a ménage but no m/m.) While the romance aspect of the story has a clear path, the overall story arc feels a bit incomplete, or rather like a few chapters from a larger tale. The Mal are trying to take Kari and force her powers on to one of their own children, giving them control. But we’ve yet to fully understand the Mal’s goals and intent. And while the romance finalized by the end of the book, there is no closure on much of the other elements of the book—things brought...
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Oct
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Ghoul Vendetta Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: SPI Files #4 Source: Audible/purchased SPI agent Makenna Fraser points out that bad stuff always seems to happen around her, and she’s not kidding. The Ghoul Vendetta opens with Mak and Goblin Lord Rake Danescu on a yacht in the Hudson, along side several of the supernatural world’s bigwigs, when it is attacked by a kraken and other sea creatures. What is even more strange is that no one is hurt and everyone is left alone as soon as their target, a vampire mob boss, is kidnapped. Soon after, a familiar foe turns up, robbing banks and threatening Mak’s partner, Ian. Now it’s up to SPI to find the connection and stop a terrible enemy. As a fan of the SPI Files from the beginning, I am sad to say that The Ghoul Vendetta held several issues for me. First, I was disappointed that the first five to six chapters are almost entirely review of the previous three books; explaining the world and highlighting major events. I appreciate that the author takes care to do this, but by the fourth chapter, I was ready for things to move forward. And once again, throughout the book, there is so much repetition. Mak will remark on who a character is or what they like or do a more than once in the book. Another issue I’m struggling with is the relationship between partners Mak and Ian. Yes, I was disappointed when the author chose to keep Mak and Ian platonic friends, but I was glad to see she gave them each a love interest. After the conclusion of the previous book, I was looking forward to seeing Mak and Rake together. However, for much of the book, the story once again focuses on how close Mak and Ian are – but how they are only friends. I’m not buying it. Mak shows way more affection for Ian than her supposed boyfriend, Rake. If the author wants me to buy into the “just partners,” and view Rake as a love interest, then she needs to invest time in the romance. There was some of this in the last parts of the The Ghoul Vendetta, but honestly, it felt awkward and out of place since we really haven’t seen Rake and Mak together other than a few casual...
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Oct
2

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill The Hunt Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Picking up about five weeks after the intense conclusion of the previous book, The Hunt opens with our heroine, the Sensitive Claire, in hiding with Para Moses. Unfortunately, Liam, her boyfriend who was struck by magic in that battle, went into hiding with his grandmother, Eleanor. Even though Claire refuses to ask the resistance leader Malachi about Liam, she is worried for him and misses him. However, their enemy in Containment, Jack Broussard, is dead and the top suspect is Liam. So Claire, Gavin (Liam’s brother), and Malachi head out to find Liam, risking their own safety for the good of the resistance. Devil’s Isle is a solid urban fantasy series set in an alternate world where Paranormal beings have invaded Earth through a breach known as the Veil. The attacking Paras are of a faction that wants to overthrow the existing, peaceful faction in the Beyond. However, most humans see all Para as bad, and fight against any and all magic. The story of The Hunt relies heavily upon the preceding events; therefore, I do not recommend reading it as a standalone story or starting the series with this title. Overall, I still enjoy Claire’s story and the battle to protect New Orleans and the Earth. However, I was disappointed with The Hunt. While I didn’t dislike the overall plot, I found I had difficulty connecting with Claire and pieces of the story. In the previous two books, I was fully engaged, because each character had much to offer. I loved the mystery surrounding Claire’s mother and the budding romance between characters. But this time around, I felt like I was just watching events unfold, rather than participating through Claire. The first third of The Hunt moves slowly, and I felt like we didn’t get into any real story as the trio looks for Liam. There are hints at the eventual storyline, but the interactions with the Paras at the Plantation seemed extraneous, and I felt like that whole journey could have taken a lot less book space. Things pick up after Liam comes back into the fold, but the atmosphere of the group changed dramatically from the previous books. The group is on the run now, Liam is ice-cold, Claire can’t go back to her shop, and some of Claire’s close friends have smaller roles. These changes are all necessary as the storyline develops,...
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Sep
27

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford The Last Gentleman Standing Author: Jane Ashford Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: My understanding is the The Last Gentleman Standing is a re-release that was originally published some 25 years ago. This helped me understand the book so much better. The characters are fun and witty, but the character development isn’t as strong as I like, especially between Elizabeth and Derek. If they are the main couple of the book, why does the author spend so much time telling us about Belinda and the Duke? I also feel like the ending of the novel came out of nowhere. Yes, there are a few hints, but the villain of the story, along with his helper, are poorly developed and so the sudden climax makes little sense. The hero is valiant and handsome. The heroine is beautiful, strong, and charming. All the pieces are in place for a classic, lovely historical romance, and that is exactly what The Last Gentleman Standing is: a lovely little read and a fun diversion for an afternoon, but not something I’d likely pick up again. If you are looking for a sweet, “clean” historical romance full of all the classic elements, balls, courtship, an unexpected heiress, handsome men, and a secret or two, then this is perfect. The Last Gentleman Standing is a book you can share with your adolescent daughter as something that skips the heaving bosoms and torn bodices so common 25 years ago. It is light with a picture-perfect happy ending. However, if you’re looking for strong, well-developed characters that you want to know more about, then you might want to skip this one. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: A fortune hunter’s dream… Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent―a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors. As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her… Originally titled Bluestocking, this story has been unavailable for over 25 years. Release Date: September 5, 2017 Publisher: Sourcebooks Series: Standalone Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source:...
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