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Currently Browsing: reviews
Aug
22

Review: Dark Rooms by Sionna Fox

Review: Dark Rooms by Sionna Fox Dark Rooms Author: Sionna Fox Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The word play of the title, Dark Rooms, isn’t lost on me. I actually love it and think it’s perfect for this book. This was a short—took me under two hours to read it. There were a lot of things I liked, and some things that were a little meh for me. Then again, this could be **just** me. I really liked the character development for Wes. I think we got a well-rounded story about him, and his POV was the strongest. He was my favorite character, unless you count Ed. I loved how we watched Wes develop and grow. At the beginning, he was enchanted by Aimee—but by the end, his feelings were obvious. Even when things were topsy-turvy for him, he seemed to keep his cool and roll with the punches based on what Aimee needed…or so he thought. Aimee, on the other hand, didn’t have growth through most of the story, and that bothered me. I didn’t get to see much—even in her POV—about why she was the way she was. Her change seemed instantaneous and we didn’t get to see the evolution of her thought process much. I understand a big reveal and all the plot devices rather well, but there could have been more at the end. I had a couple concerns about the portrayal of the BDSM world—specifically house parties and health concerns. However, I respect an author’s right to request a leap of faith from her readers in the interest of telling a story. Kids, if you go to a kink party, make sure there’s a mentor you get to hang out with the first time at a new place. Someone to explain house rules, etc. Oh, and test results. And don’t share toys such as floggers, etc., without knowing they’re properly disinfected between uses—one doesn’t know **where** those things have been. There’s some things in the blurb that were misleading to me as a reader, too. I felt that Wes was less experienced than indicated in the blurb based on the history presented (and that I liked a lot) in the story. I’m going to take this moment to talk about good tops. First, they’re mentored. Second, whip-wielding—this is like an event or sport one trains for over the course of YEARS. Third, I prefer to see Doms with a realistic grasp on their Dom-ness unless I’m reading...
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Aug
22

Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks

Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks So I Married a Sorcerer Author: Kerrelyn Sparks Reviewer: Una Rating: A-  What I’m Talking About: The Embraced series is so far a truly fascinating mythology.  So I Married a Sorcerer is an exciting and thrilling sequel to How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days. First, I really enjoy this world.  Those born on a night when the two moons are touching (so called “embraced”) are born with special abilities.  Unless born on this night, you will be a normal human person.  The main continent is predominately ruled by men and the culture worships the sun god.  They kill those that are embraced.  On a small island, cloisters of women who worship the twin moon goddesses live in relative isolation.  It is here where those families will abandon their embraced children in order to keep them safe if unable to keep them safe themselves.  A group of young woman, embraced orphans on the island is the focal of this series. Brigitta and Rupert’s journey was a fascinating one.  I enjoyed this tale of a dreaded pirate that wreaks havoc on the seas.  However if a closer look is taken, Rupert’s piracy has a very particular focus and an even more noble goal.  Brigitta learns that she is the younger sister to an evil king, as it turns out the same King that the pirate Rupert targets exclusively.  As Rupert first sees Brigitta as a means to an end, it goes from using her to keeping her safe from a brother that will ultimately abuse and destroy her.  I enjoyed watching Brigitta’s fortune unwind.  The attraction and tit-for-tat between her and Rupert was captivating. The side story of the nun that accompanies Brigitta was a fun and intriguing side story.  I enjoyed the comic relief that Sister Fallyn provided, as well as her own self-journey.  Sister Fallyn’s fear of pirates was a witty backdrop while they are held captive by Rupert.  Though this story can be read as a standalone, it is much richer and more enjoyable to follow each sister.  The previous couple and other sisters do make appearances in this story.  It is wonderful to be able to see the “after” the happily-ever-after ending. If you enjoy a well-balanced fantasy and romance novel with a fascinating mythology, you might want to pick up The Embraced.  I recommend starting with How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days so you can fully enjoy So I Married a Sorcerer....
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Aug
21

Review: Misconduct by Samantha Kane

Review: Misconduct by Samantha Kane Misconduct Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having survived a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, Carmina moved to Birmingham to be close to her best friend (and only other survivor) and to get away from her overprotective family. Now that she’s gotten on her own two feet, Carmina is ready to try dating, and sex, again. Rebels’ rookie, Tom, is the perfect man for the job, but she also can’t stop thinking about Tom’s best friend and roommate, Danny. Not sure how to proceed, Carmina rely’s on Tom’s help to move forward. After nearly giving up on this series after the second title, I have to say I have rather enjoyed the last two books. Misconduct explores the aspects of a ménage within the confines of a safe and mostly accepting community. While it’s the fourth such book in the series, the story of Carmina, Danny, and Tom’s relationship is its own. With Tom as the only one ready to explore his deepest fantasies, it takes a while for the trio to form.  I like that Ms. Kane allows both Carmina and Danny to express their reluctance and fears over a non-traditional relationship, with Danny agitated and angry over unwanted advances. There is no sudden “flipping the switch,” making everything all good. It takes time. It gives the entire situation a realness that wasn’t present in the first two books of the series. I also appreciate that the focus of Misconduct is the budding relationship and connections between Carmina, Danny, and Tom. Yes, this is a football book, and the author puts her characters in the game. However, while football is the setting for the book, it isn’t a guiding force over the romance, as it was in the first two titles. Sharing the interpersonal impacts of the ménage, rather than the impact to the team, creates a more heartfelt story. I like that the romance and sex scenes are driven by the characters and their desires, rather than the other way around. This is more of a “slow burn” romance, in that it takes some time for the trio to work out. However, it is still smoking hot – just give it time. It could have been just another ménage story with lots of sex, but Misconduct is so much more. The author take time to develop solid characters who dictate the storyline. Outside the fame and football, Danny, Tom, and Carmina are real...
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Aug
21

Review: Dirty Deeds By HelenKay Dimon

Review: Dirty Deeds By HelenKay Dimon Dirty Deeds Author: HelenKay Dimon Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Cultivating a reputation for having an unflinching ruthlessness towards his competitors, family, and lovers alike has served Alec Drummond well over the years. Forgoing intimacy in favor of sacrificing himself to the recovery and increasing prosperity of his family’s business has likewise suited him fine. Yet, when a problem from his past resurfaces, dragging an annoyingly capable and sexy complication with it, his hard-won empire isn’t the only thing that’s rattled. Gaige Owens has had his fill of paying for the sins of another. Yet, here he is—again—up to his neck in lies and manipulation. Although he desperately wants his freedom, chasing that particular carrot across a tightrope strung by a covert government agency is wearing more than a little thin. Still, locking horns with the notorious eldest Drummond brother has appeal on several levels, especially in the bedroom. Dirty Deeds is the first story I’ve read by HelenKay Dimon, and, overall, I enjoyed it. As it’s a spinoff of another series I missed, I think that my reading experience might have benefitted from a little more knowledge of the characters’ backgrounds, as well as the author’s writing style, but it stands on its own just fine. I was definitely intrigued by such a unique premise, and I felt that the “whodunit” aspect of the story evolved very nicely. About midway through, Dirty Deeds really picks up its pace, and the remainder of the narrative kept me engaged until the end. Having said that, there were a couple of things that kept me from fully sinking into the story. Although the big, bad government agency blackmailing Alec and Gaige into helping easily dictated where my allegiance lay, I was never comfortable with their (Alec’s, especially) acceptance of the situation. Both are so adamant about their independence and abilities, that I wanted them to break the reins a bit sooner. Additionally, the rapidity of their trust in one another, as well as the three-week relationship incubation mandate at the end of the story, also felt a little off to me, though neither was a deal breaker. While both characters had their strong points, it was Gaige who truly stood out to me. He’s funny, intelligent, extremely capable, and his reasons for essentially recreating himself won me over without much of a fight on my part. That his participation in the events of Dirty Deeds was solely the...
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Aug
16

Review: The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith

Review: The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith The Happy Chip Author: Dennis Meredith Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I really liked The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith. The strength of this book is its premise.  You know how you search for something online and then every margin advertisement on every webpage that shows up is about that thing?  Online retailers track everything you buy, the wish lists you make, and the things you search on.  Meredith’s characters wisely quip, it’s like Amazon knows more about what I like than I do.  We already wear watches and wristbands to track our activity levels, heart rate, and sleep patterns.  It’s not even a stretch to imagine a nanotechnology, a biologically safe computer chip, branded as “the Happy Chip,” which can passively monitor all those things plus hormone levels, insulin, and any other chemical in the body.  With a phone app synced to the chip, you’d know immediately how you felt about a food, a person, or the movie you’re watching—you would know what you like.  What if you took all that data and merged it with other people’s results for the most accurate database of recommendations conceivable?  Unlike Yelp or TripAdvisor, it would be impossible to have a troll driving down results or artificially inflating them. Sounds great, right? Meredith successfully takes that thought and carries it out to a dramatic conclusion.  Anyone who likes a good conspiracy theory will enjoy this book.  It’s fast-paced and props to Meredith for giving his main female characters a brain.  They are not just window-dressing, but intelligent, active participants in the story. The book reads very much like an action movie, and frankly, I think it would be even better told in a visual format.  I could totally see someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Lee Pace in the role of Brad Davis, the technical writer who’s hired to write the biography of the Happy Chip’s inventor. Of course, what he discovers is terrifying to think about. As technology continues to shrink and become more cost effective, I have no doubt that we will continue to see books like this being written the way artificial intelligence made for a slew of science fiction offerings in late 1970’s most famously with HAL in 2001 and into the 80’s. How many Terminator movies are there now?  The Matrix, AI, I Robot… we seem to love exploring our relationship with technology.  Meredith has just made it more personal. My only frustrations with...
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Aug
15

Review: Soul Redeemed by Keri Lake

Review: Soul Redeemed by Keri Lake Soul Redeemed Author: Keri Lake Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for more Sons of Wrath! The goodness that Keri Lake puts into these books—they’re sexy, fun, hoooottttt, and balanced with heart-wrenching angst—makes reading a compulsion…but I wanted to savor every word. I guess I was as conflicted as the characters! Calix and Ava. Yessssss! We knew it was coming. I can honestly say I’m SO happy with how this book played out. Obviously no spoilers, but here’s the low-down: I wish I’d had a consecutive 6+ hours to read this book. Then again, I liked reading in little bites so I could mull over the possibilities before taking my next nibble. Such a double-edged sword. Ava seriously screwed up, but one theme that’s consistent through this title is forgiveness. And, not just Ava’s forgiveness. I **literally** cried at the end. So, Ava was infected with the Sang virus. Ol’ Ollie went all mad scientist and everything. Obviously, this state would affect Ava’s relationship with Calix. What I liked about the virus aspect is that it’s consistent through the titles and that we keep learning more and more about it. I also love that it wasn’t beleaguered in this title—we’ve already learned a lot about it, and we just see what’s going on in the **ahem** lab when it’s integral to the plot. I also loved how realistic Ava’s thoughts were regarding whether she should be forgiven by the Brothers—especially Calix. When we believe we’ve wronged someone, sometimes it’s hard for us to forgive ourselves—and that’s something we kinda need to do before we can accept anyone else’s forgiveness. I also loved how Calix was driven to be faithful—even when it was against his nature. I loved his determination and how he was so invested in Ava that he couldn’t bear the thought of slaking his incubus hunger with just any ol’ dame. Fernlo. **sigh** I think the minor characters in this title—including Logan and Calla and Xander…and, to a certain degree, Zayne. As matter of fact, I’m pretty intrigued by his storyline right now. I really am shipping Fernlo + Thais (Thalo) hard. Soul Redeemed was a wonderful, long-awaited addition to the Sons of Wrath series. I could seriously devour these books and crave titles featuring each of the brothers—we’ve got at least three left 🙂 Can’t wait until the next one! My Rating: A, Loved It About the...
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Aug
14

Review: The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin

Review: The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin The Dream Keeper’s Daughter Author: Emily Colin Reviewer: Ang Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Dream Keepers Daughter was an interesting and multi-dimensional read. The concepts of time travel and how the deep connection to those we love transcend place, time and logic were covered in unexpected and interesting ways. The characters were well developed and interesting right from the start, and the back and forth narration between Max and Isabel gave insights that could not have been explored if narrated another way. I also felt the way Ms. Colin explored the topic of grief and moving on was believable and distinct to the different characters and their personalities and experiences. She tackles hard topics like slavery, familial responsibility, and accountability for past mistakes with heart for both sides and manages to give closure as best as anyone can when faced with the ripple effect of choices made by those before. Overall, I enjoyed The Dream Keepers Daughter; however, that said I did have a few issues with the novel, but to explain them may be spoilerish so… ***** WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***** My first issues is that the rules of time travel didn’t seem to be consistent. Julia, Isabel’s mother disappeared 16 years ago but has only spent one in her alternate world, whereas Max has been gone for eight years in the here and now, but has only been in his alternate world for less than a month. How/why did time speed up when Max disappeared? They are in the same place at the same time, so shouldn’t the same rules apply? I mean I understand that certain things would have been much harder to believe if Finn had been sixteen years old rather than eigth, and that time was needed for Max and Isabel to form their relationship, but rules are rules and not sticking to them tends to make me a bit crazy. I also struggled with Finn’s character and the lack of explanation. Where did her special talents come from? Are they a result of genetics that laid dormant until the family was brought together? She’s such a major character but doesn’t really get the story time I felt she deserved. What about her struggle? How was she so able to accept everything happening around and to her? Child-like faith can only explain so much. Maybe the answer came in a dream, but if so show me that. Finally, I felt like the...
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Aug
14

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell Illegal Contact Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Santino Hassell has been a favorite author of mine for some time now, and, while I fully expected to like Illegal Contact, I wasn’t prepared for how much I completely loved it. Having been raised on college football in the South, I wondered if my own limitations might affect my reading of a story about a pro team in NYC. Turns out, I needn’t have worried. Mr. Hassell made the whole affair feel both technically sound, as well as inviting, allowing the personalities of the characters to take center stage. Punnily-monikered tight end Gavin Brawley could very easily have been a stereotype of every “misunderstood-angry-athlete” ever written, but that wasn’t the case. Despite the technical applicability of all three of those things, Gavin deserves a full retraction of the hyphens and quote marks, his cynicism about the press and the public proving just as well earned in the present as it was in his past. Disinterested in either fame or retribution, however, his true love is simply playing football. He knows how slim the odds are that he was able to find salvation in the sport, and, as long as he has it—and the loyalty of his two best (and only) friends—that’s all he really needs. At least until Noah arrives. After having been recently fired from his job at an LGBT Youth Center in NYC due to his own choices and the bias of those in charge, Noah Monroe is more than a little bitter. Yet, from his first inner snipe about Gavin appearing to be the “ideal candidate for society’s irritating version of masculinity,” it’s clear that Noah has some prejudices of his own. Still, he is fiercely protective of those he cares about—one of several traits he and Gavin share—and, even though he might be preemptively defensive, he’s willing to really listen and open his carefully guarded margins to include others. Though it certainly doesn’t ignore familiar headlines often associated with professional sports—players’ reputations, public opinion, privacy (or the lack thereof), money, etc.—Illegal Contact gets its heart from its attention to the things you don’t normally see. Gavin’s anger over the exploitation he’s not supposed to notice, Noah’s determination to avoid repeating the past, and their mutual aversion to and unwillingness to play “the game” all coalesced into what amounted to a wonderful reading experience. Another element I appreciated about Illegal Contact is...
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Aug
9

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost The Sweetest Burn Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: The Sweetest Burn is the long awaited second novel in the Broken Destiny series. Gikany and Una liked this second novel, as Adrian seemed to improve while the plot thickened.  Though Ivy tended to be hot and cold, she preservers through her waffling to the save the day. It could be that Gikany and Una are just older than the target audience or just more self-secure, but the foibles we perceive in Ivy and Adrian are definitely what we would consider immaturity.  Though Adrian is over a hundred years old, his over protectiveness leads him to make decisions for Ivy and himself without Ivy having a more equal say (or at times any say).  We felt that Adrian reminded us of Edward from the Twilight series, and not necessarily in the good way.  The old-fashioned high handedness is irritating for both Ivy and us.  But in Adrian’s defense, he does try… he truly does but sometimes love leads us down a well-intentioned but dangerously overprotective path. The quest for the staff was fraught with danger and overshadowed with betrayal.  We were intrigued by the journey that was required.  Through this second novel we learned more about the Archon, Zach.  He is becoming our more favorite secondary character next to Brutus, the gargoyle (whose secret identity is a seagull, trust us, it’s an awesome touch). The rules he follows and the seemingly irritating omissions are actually purposeful and necessary. We are enjoying this trilogy as it unfolds.  Though we do see some growth in our main characters, they do waffle a bit as it goes (the cha-cha of maturity).  With the foreshadowing of the epilogue, we are intrigued as to what will happen next. Thankfully, the last novel in this trilogy comes out in November. Please stay tuned for our review! Our Rating:  B Liked it About the Book: The breathtaking second novel in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Broken Destiny series finds Ivy and Adrian rekindling their alliance – and passion – as the struggle for the fate of the world begins… Conquering a supernatural realm turned out to be easier than getting over a broken heart.  But her initial victory has made Ivy a target for revenge, forcing her to reunite with the dangerous – and dangerously sexy—Adrian.  Ivy isn’t sure which will be harder: finding the hallowed weapon that...
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Aug
9

Review: Rogue Desire Anthology

Review: Rogue Desire Anthology Rogue Desire Author: Various Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I didn’t have time to read all the titles in this collection of stories—but those that I did, did something for my perspective. It isn’t a She Persisted thing anymore, folks. It’s a We Persisted thing. I may have had moments of despair for the past nine months, wondering what kind of world my kids were going to have to live in, but if these inspirational—absolutely filthy—stories are any indication, there’s a world of hope out there. Maybe all we have to do is grab on to our own little slice of it. In Adriana Anders’ Grassroots, I may have fallen in love with Zach and Veronica. Zach was a deep character and Veronica was complex and able to navigate turbulent political waters. Dakota Gray’s Deep Throat alludes to the Nixon administration, but is definitely not all about that life as Davis and Hayley navigate dangerous waters to play for the good guys. In Resistance  by Amy Jo Cousins, I fell in love with Kaz and Will as Kaz fought for what he thought he believed in while saving Will from himself…or for himself. Ainsley Booth penned Personal Disaster which happened to be my personal fave of those I read—but it’s definitely a HFN, which I usually don’t enjoy. But, it was a sip that drew me in. Life, Liberty, and Worship by Tamsen Parker is a wonderfully complex story about Paige and Carter and how nothing is as it seems…at least initially. I’m a little sad I didn’t have more time to read the stories by Emma Barry, Stacey Agdern, and Jane Lee Blair. I just plain ran out of time 🙁 But, I think I may go back and read them when I get time. If they’re anything like the other titles in this collection, they’ll be great for a sexy little boost when I feel like everything in the world is totally screwed. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: When all else fails, find love. Eight brand new romances for fans of the West Wing, fired-up #resistance fighters, and everyone who ever had a crush on that guy at a protest… GRASSROOTS by Adriana Anders Veronica Cruz is in the fight of her life for a seat on the city council. Meeting reclusive finance genius Zach Hubler should be a stroke of good luck—he has the power to sway public opinion. But when...
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