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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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Oct
3

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Can’t Hide From Me Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a member of a highly-skilled ATF team, Charles Hunter is a clever, adept agent who takes his profession seriously. Having recently broken off an engagement, the last thing he needs is to reconnect with another ex-lover during an emergency extraction from the latter’s current undercover assignment. Still hurting and bitter, Charles isn’t prepared for all the ways his life spins out of control when a stalker complicates the situation, and all the secrets he’s tried to hide come crashing down on him. Ángel Medina has been living a lie for two years. When he was given the chance to go undercover and bring down one of the most notorious cartels on the ATF’s hit list, he had to take it. Letting go of the man he loved to do it wasn’t easy, but he wasn’t willing to live his life as someone’s “dirty little secret,” either. But, when his only contact to the real world goes missing, and an extraction is his only hope of survival, his past and present collide in ways he could never have expected. On initial examination, Can’t Hide from Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge, had a lot going for it: a diverse cast of characters, strong personalities, a range of sexual identities, suspense, as well as a path to redemption and second chances. Yet, as I got further into the narrative, I found that there were a few issues that I was never able to accept or ignore enough to become truly engaged with the story. One of my biggest issues is that I thought there was too much sex for the story trying to support it. It’s not the actual quantity of sex scenes that bothered me exactly, it’s just that, due to the characters’ circumstances, and the suspenseful intent of the narrative, a majority of these encounters seem more gratuitous than purposeful. Given the nature of Ángel’s most recent undercover operation, as well as the addition of a stalker who’s clearly much closer than should have been possible with an elite ATF team, a lot of the sex in Can’t Hide from Me seems emotionally and mentally reckless, at best. I try to ignore the “heat ratings” of a story, however, so others may not have any qualms about the situation. While I usually love suspense and mystery in the stories I get to review, it just...
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Sep
21

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black Ninth City Burning Author: J. Patrick Black Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: C  What We’re Talking About: Ninth City Burning is the debut novel of J. Patrick Black.  This science fiction story was fascinating and easily visualized, if only Gikany and Una enjoyed reading it. Truly, we loved the overall premise – a science fiction story about a post-apocalyptic Earth battling back an alien species in order to avoid extinction.  The discovery of a new resource, Thelemity which most of us would describe as magic, is critical in the battle between these two factions.  It is utterly engrossing.  The novel begins with the assumption that we are winning, when in fact we discover, the hard way, we may be about to lose.  We watch as Earth makes a desperate move in order to survive the approaching alien horde.  Does this sound riveting? It was in a sense. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the overall world and the premise.  We just didn’t like reading it. An on-going preference of ours is that we prefer multiple points-of-view novels written in third person.  (We apologize if this will sound awfully academic).  In third person, it is easy to move from character to character, place to place while allowing the story to flow.  However, this is a novel from seven different character’s perspectives, all written in first person.  The story suffers from a lot of “stop and go.”  Each chapter is title with the character that will be narrating.  Now some consecutive chapters are from the same viewpoint, but not always.  The story doesn’t flow well regardless of how gripping the premise.  It was difficult in the beginning to orient to the world as we were in four different perspectives of the “current” world.  There is no background or prequel summary, we just start in the middle of each of the character’s lives.  It wasn’t until about 25% where several narrators encountered each other that we were able to fully comprehend the “what” and “where” of the story, including chronology.  Though each character was unique and fascinating, we feel that not all of the points of views were necessary. The mythology was completely fascinating and intriguing.  The science involved with Thelemity – an element that we would think similar to magic — is utilized in technically advanced engineering.  There is a pivotal moment near the end that questions the war.  With the politics we encounter, it makes us wonder if it is true...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
6

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler Her Rogue Alpha Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: DNF / C What We’re Talking About: This is an odd review to write since only Una finished the book, but we do that we were disappointed with Layla and Jayson’s story. Una finished the novel, but found herself feeling let down.  The connection between Layla and Jayson was forged early in the series.  Their story is one we have waited for: a shifter who just joined the X-Ops and her wounded soldier.  However, Jayson is emotionally abusive.  The abuse is substantial enough to make us feel that there should possibly be trigger warnings for this book.  In the end he does apologize for being selfishly brooding in his disability, but it was long overdue.  He was brash and reckless in the beginning, and Layla accepted that all the pain he caused her was okay because he loves her.  Their reunion in a battlefield was odd and seemed untimely.  The plot of Jayson’s mission was convoluted and far-fetched – especially his abilities.  At the end of the novel, there is a revelation about Jayson that Layla reads and then destroys – without the reader being privy to it.  This carrot dangling was infuriating to Una.  Since this part of the story was told from Layla’s perspective, we should have been privy to the message.  It would have been preferable to have her destroy the note without looking. The plot that kept Una reading was regarding a thief.  This plot line is tied to the search for the enemy within the X-Ops.  Una found this storyline fascinating and intriguing.  And knowing it is not the end of seeing the thief, we hope to see her in a future novel. Gikany did not finish this novel.  The emotional abuse that begins between Layla and Jayson was too much.  By the 25% mark, the urge to have Layla punch Jayson and leave him was too great for Gikany.  She felt that there was no way he could redeem himself, and he just didn’t deserve her love.  Gikany could not stand to read anymore. Although we do agree that this novel did not go altogether well, Una was able to finish it.  Both Gikany and Una were disappointed in this long awaited story.  Una will read the next novel in the series but Gikany will not. Una’s Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some Gikany’s Rating:  DNF – Did...
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Aug
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: For 100 Days Author: Lara Adrian Narrator: Summer Morton Audio Speed: 2x Series: 100 Days #1 Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance Source: Tantor Audio Avery is a starving artist living in New York, scraping by as a bartender for a trendy club. She hasn’t sold anything in a year and is being dropped by her gallery. Now with an eviction notice looming, Avery gets a gift when Claire asks her to house sit her uptown condo. It’s at her new, albeit temporary, home that she first runs into the powerful and handsome Dominic “Nick” Baine. When the pair meet again at a gallery showing, sparks fly, and Avery decides to ignore her inner warning signs, jumping into bed with Nick. Now she must balance her feelings and the lies she’s spinning until Nick discovers the truth and dumps her. **WARNING, Mild Spoilers Ahead*** I’m going to be brutally honest here, For 100 Days was not what I thought it would be, nor what I wanted in a book. While the story had promise, it definitely falls into the erotic romance side of contemporary romance, which I wasn’t expecting. There are a number of drawn-out sex scenes, and I got bored with it. Additionally, I took issue with Nick telling Avery she doesn’t need a safe word with him. It was reckless, and considering Avery’s history, frustrating that she didn’t have strong reservations. Had I known all of this before I picked up the book, I probably wouldn’t have read it; but I adore Ms. Adrian’s paranormal work and wanted to give this a try. Another issue I had with the book is that it is highly repetitive. Avery is a self-destructive heroine, making poor decisions based on her lust for Nick. She’s constantly reminding the herself, and the listener, that she doesn’t belong in Nick’s world, that she’s lying to him. It was annoying. I wanted her to get over it and own it, which she does eventually, but by then, I had lost interest. However, my biggest issue is SPOILERS AHEAD… ** ** ** THIS ISN’T AN HEA ROMANCE!! That’s right. I listened to the entire book and then found out at the end that Nick and Avery’s story continues to the next book. Avery weaves her web of lies for the entire book, comes clean in the last chapter, and then lies again. I wasn’t happy at all. On the positive sides, I enjoyed...
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Aug
2

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Forever Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I’ve read the Doon series from beginning to end. Not being one for fairytales with the whole princess and prince thing, I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the first two titles in the series. After the first two though, I started having some fairly major issues with the novels. I felt as though the target age for the series changed to a younger audience, as if series was being dragged on, like the authors lost their focus and were unclear where it was going, and like the classification of the novels changed. Forever Doon, like the three before, was a multiple point of view book. Although there is nothing wrong with that, there is a point when it isn’t needed. Forever Doon was told from four different points of view. It was clear why it was told from three of the four, but the fourth viewpoint seemed excessive, to the say the least, and completely unnecessary. Two of the characters were with each other throughout the entire novel, and having both points of view was just each story being retold, most of the time word for word. The fourth viewpoint did not add any extra insight or necessary details through the whole novel all it did was up the word count, and I firmly believe if it doesn’t add to the story it should be left out. Maturity was another topic I often found myself thinking about as I read this book. The main characters are all said to be high school graduates and well above 14, yet I often felt as though they were acting like they were middle-schoolers. Not only was the language used, such as “skellies,” immature and childish, the way character on character conflict was solved was immature. Many times the characters would simply yell at each other instead of actually figuring out the problem, and then it would magically disappear like it never happened. It was almost as though a few of the characters were developing, but not in a way that fit the story. I expected them to mature as they faced various conflicts and it felt like the opposite was happening. I was hoping that because the series was originally planned for four...
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Jul
26

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake Ultimate Courage Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B-/C+ What We’re Talking About: Ultimate Courage is the second novel in the new True Heroes series. Though we enjoy the premise and the nature of this series, this novel struck an off-note with Gikany and Una. You need not have read the first novel in the series, Extreme Honor, to be able to enjoy this one.  So far it seems that these can be read as standalone, but that may change as the series continues.  What we really love about this series is that there are two happily-ever-afters in each novel. Or, should we say, the happily-ever-after involves three characters, our main couple and a dog. In Ultimate Courage you have the journey of Elisa and Alex as well as Sousa’s journey. We really enjoy how Sousa is a main character, not just a plot device.  Each dog has had a personality of their own, along with their own coming-of-age/challenge to overcome on their road to a happy ending. Sousa was a great character.  This German Shepherd dog was an interesting character.  We enjoyed his instincts as well as his development.  Though it was a bit obvious to us what his calling was as a working dog, it was fun to watch as the “silly humans” figured it out.  Another character that we really liked was Boom, Alex’s daughter.  Her spunky personality, coupled with her care and concern for others, was touching.  We really enjoyed the warmth and humor she brought to the novel.  We also enjoyed seeing David and Lyn (the major couple from the first novel) again.  Additionally, the story gives us a bit of an introduction to the next couple. Unfortunately what fell flat with us was a major plot point in this story.  As many followers of our reviews will know, we are very particular when it comes to characters that have suffered abuse.  Especially violent or long-term abuse, the treatment of the abuse and how a character reacts to it can be a pet-peeve with us depending on how an author addresses it. Though Ms. Drake is not as cavalier as some have been, we still felt that Elisa’s abuse was not as fully fleshed-out as it should have been.  For a woman who was in a four-year relationship characterized by extreme emotional abuse with the immediate threat of physical abuse, we felt her emotional and physical involvement with Alex was rushed. ...
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