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Nov
9

Review: Rule Breaker by Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Review: Rule Breaker by Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion Rule Breaker Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Touted as a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, I was intrigued. I’ve always been a huge sucker for Shakespearean redux. An earlier story, modeled on the Bard’s R&J was West Side Story.  Here endeth your literature lesson. I promise. I did see a few parallels to these other stories, but what I never expected was two stories of personal growth and personal acceptance. What a message to convey to readers. While Mase and Leilani both come from vastly different worlds, the racial bias, and familial expectations are something we all struggle to overcome. It’s a real thing today. We’re all guilted into fulfilling a dream someone else has for us. Becoming someone that’s out to chase the almighty dollar. Our worth as people is measured by our bank accounts. And that’s a sad, sad state. I was so uplifted by Mase’s journey, as well as Leilani’s, I took time to journal and review some previous entries. And part of the reason I had to go back was because of these six words, strung into three sentences: Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds. I really love reading stories like this, because they’re uplifting and help me walk my own journey. But it wasn’t just a really awesome, feel-good book. The Bastions bring us damaged characters. Their personal demons are larger than anything I’ve had to deal with, fortunately. But what hope! If Mase and Leilani can overcome their challenges, surely lil ol’ me is perfectly capable. I skimmed through one section. There’s a cancer-related death, and that’s my hard-limit, folks. I don’t care how it’s framed or gift-wrapped. So, I missed a little of Leilani there. I’m pretty pleased even without that aspect, though. And what I’m even more impressed with is the description. Rich. Description. I’m not even kidding. I felt like I was riding a wave a couple times. I felt as though I was sitting on a beach looking at stars. I was living a little of the island life on a dreary fall day in Michigan. Pick up Rule Breaker It’s the second title in the Unbreakable series. If you read the No Weddings series, you’ll recognize Mase. Kinda. He’s a more introspective and less jokester. I still totally adore him, though. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Leilani Kealoha wants to be set free. Of family expectations....
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Nov
8

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall When a Laird Finds a Lass Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As much as I enjoyed the previous novel, Beauty and the Highland Beast, I truly loved When a Laird Finds a Lass.  Sadly though, Vampbard isn’t able to review this book with me as she is nursing a minor injury so you are stuck with just my thoughts. Just as with the previous story, this novel is based on a fairy tale.  When a Laird Finds a Lass is inspired by The Little Mermaid with a little bit of West Side Story thrown in. I loved how the essence of the fairy tale is brought to life. Like the mermaid, Marcail is found on the beach by Malcolm.  He not only brings her to his people, but also protects her.  When he fears he has lost her, he conquers his own fears to find her. I loved Malcolm and Marcail.  They are both a little lost and through each other, find themselves.  I loved the romance between them.  Both are strong characters and are a balanced mix of honor and intelligence, tempered by kindness.  Raised away from the highlands, Malcolm is a lowlander lawyer.  Not only does he not dress like a highlander, he certainly does not act like one… at first.  As he connects to his highland roots, he truly becomes the Laird of Dunbronach.  One they desperately needed.  Marcail is a strong factor in his growth.  Though she suffers amnesia, she doesn’t seem to lose her personality.  The amnesia only seems to free her from previous constraints.  She was a formidable heroine and the perfect match for Malcolm. I had great difficulty putting this novel down.  It flowed seamlessly.  I loved the balance of the romance and the plight of Malcolm and the clan.  It was fascinating to see the grain of truth behind the magic.  The fairy tale elements were woven into the story in such a way that they grounded the novel.  It was also fun to revisit Marcail’s family.  I loved this novel and look forward to the next one.  If you love fairy tales reimagined into Scottish romance with a dash of realism, you definitely need to check out this series. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: She is his greatest enemy and his only salvation. Malcolm MacDonald, a lawyer in Edinburgh, unexpectedly inherits his father’s title of Laird of Dunbronach, forcing him to...
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Nov
7

Review: Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown

Review: Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown Take Me Home Author: Lorelie Brown Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Lorelie Brown is a new author for me, so I was excited to read her newest addition to the Belladonna Ink series. Keighley is a twenty-three-year-old accountant who isn’t exactly looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family. Though her mother is very supportive, her Christian fundamentalist aunt gives them both a lot of grief because Keighley is a lesbian. Fed up with the whole situation, the solution quickly becomes clear: bring a date to dinner. A Craigslist ad then leads her to the perfect “girlfriend” for the occasion. In contrast, Brooke is a twenty-four-year-old tattooist with no real family ties whatsoever. With her bright pink hair, tattoos, and rapid-fire snark, she quickly became my favorite character in the story. Solitary in the extreme, Brooke’s independence cloaks a heartfelt longing for acceptance that she never had growing up, and she thinks that being invited to share Keighley’s will satisfy that need just a little. She also loves dogs, which completely sealed the deal for me. While I liked this story a great deal, there were a couple of issues that niggled at me during the course of the novella. Keighley’s mother, who seems completely wonderful in many ways, consistently tolerates the antagonistic aunt, but is then fine with Keighley’s plans to stir things up during Thanksgiving dinner. It appears to be a case of “keeping the peace,” and it was a well-written scene, but I just couldn’t easily reconcile the disparity. Later on, Brooke says that Keighley’s desire for a tattoo is sudden, but Keighley begins pondering getting one before they even meet. There were a few others as well, but, overall, these discrepancies were small, and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. Having said that, there was a lot to like about Take Me Home. Keighley’s mind is a very busy place, which is kind of funny much of the time, particularly when she’s trying to make a good impression on Brooke. Though they’re only a year apart in age, Brooke seems more mature and complex, while still clearly searching for something to fill the absence of really belonging. There are plenty of other great moments, care of Keighley’s sister and the neighbors, and, especially, Bennet the dog, who is my other favorite character in the story. The intimate scenes between Keighley and Brooke occupy a significant portion of the novella, and I think...
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Nov
7

Review + Giveaway: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson

Review + Giveaway: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson Belle Chasse Author: Suzanne Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Warning: Spoilers from the privious book, Pirate’s Alley, included in this review. Belle Chasse opens shortly after the surprising conclusion of the previous book, with our heroine, DJ, on the run with her pret friends. She was stripped of her wizarding license by current leader Zrakovi and given a death sentence. Now somewhat safely in the Beyond, in Old Barataria with Jean Lafitte and her friends, she works on a way to clear her name and get back her life, especially since her love, Alex, has remained behind, trying to change the rot from the inside. Like the book before it, Belle Chasse is more about the overall and continuing story arc surrounding the rising tensions between the different preternatural sects than an individual, self-contained tale. Readers of the series will enjoy the forward momentum and line-in-the-sand moments; however, anyone new to the series shouldn’t start with this title. While I miss the inclusion of those standalone stories from the earlier books, I still found myself glued to the pages, anxiously witnessing the fate of DJ and so many key characters. Due to the nature of Belle Chasse, it is difficult to compose a spoiler-free review that delves into the specific plotlines of the book. As the book unfolds, events in the pret community turn dire, and by the end, everyone must take sides. Some long-standing loose ends are tightened and some bonds are strengthen, while other relationships fall apart and true natures are revealed. To find out who does what, you have to read the book! In the earlier titles, and throughout the first parts of Belle Chasse, I felt DJ was too much of a pleaser to be a solid UF heroine. In fact, for a bit, I felt she’d regressed, as DJ constantly filled her thoughts with “if only’s” and regret. DJ was too busy trying to please the wrong people and compromising her morals in the name of peace. However, as the story progressed and the looming war, DJ finally grew a backbone of steel, and took action to do what she felt was best. And although filled with action, the book isn’t without a tender moment or two. Overall, I enjoyed DJ’s latest adventure, complete with its ups and downs. Although Belle Chasse really isn’t a standalone story, I liked how it tied up some loose ends and bridges the...
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Nov
4

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy Ruled Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: The Outlaws series by Elle Kennedy is my go-to dystopian read. I’m not even sure why. Oh, wait. I know. Ms. Kennedy has crafted a world in which I get lost. Each of the three titles has focused on people struggling with their every day conflicts—what it’s like to live in that kind of society. Ruled isn’t any different. And I adored this book. Here’s your warning, folks: if you’re not a fan of boy bits touching boy bits, this isn’t a read for you. And if ménage isn’t your thing? Consider giving this one a try—it’s… different and I loved it (even though I’m a big fan of a well-written ménage, this was still different!). We need to talk about Reese. She was introduced in the first Outlaws title. She’s portrayed as a cold-hearted witch, basically. But that isn’t the case. It was really awesome getting to know Reese. Getting inside her head. Watching her change. Sloane is Reese’s shadow. Her right-hand man. He’s been around for about five years, and has had Reese’s back for every single minute. We learn why, and I was sincerely floored. I’d had theories, but none of them panned out. Congrats to Ms. Kennedy for surprising me. Rylan. OMG. My gut wrenched for him during this book. The road to happily ever after is never easy, and everyone deserves one. Getting Reese to hers was a special brand of heartache for me. The poor woman, in charge of Foxworth, had so many skeletons in her closet it was like a haunted house at Halloween. The things that haunted her aren’t for the squeamish, and made me think. I could actually relate to Reese in a way I haven’t related to a character in a long time. The parallels I drew to myself were powerful and allowed me to take a step back and re-evaluate a few things in my own life. I highly recommend Elle Kennedy’s the Outlaws series for dystopian fans, as well as readers of romance who like things gritty and hard-hitting. I have a theory about the next couple, for the next book—but it’d be spoilery to talk about. It makes me extremely happy, though! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: In the latest novel in the series with the “sexiest, baddest, hottest”* outlaws around, one woman must choose between the two men who want...
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Nov
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Turn Coat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #11 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Turn Coat When long time nemesis Morgan shows up near death at his door, Harry makes the hard decision to help Morgan, potentially further damaging his reputation with the White Council. Along with protecting Morgan, Harry must deal with a deadly skinwalker,  the White Court Vampires, and a traitor among his own kind. For several books now, Harry has been slowly unraveling the mysteries of these unknown threats, and Turn Coat brings his poking around to a head. With so much taking place within the pages of this title, I strongly urge anyone new to the series to start at the beginning. The Dresden Files should NOT be read out of order. Turn Coat has the feel of a transition story, taking listeners (readers) from point A to point B without much change. Harry’s search for the unidentified “black council” members and its nefarious purpose has gone on for sometime without any real progress. While there is quite a bit of forward momentum with this story arc, bringing Harry closer to the truth, there isn’t any conclusion by the end of the book, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for more. It was an exciting, enjoyable, yet sometimes confusing ride, but in the end, I hadn’t gone all that far. With that said, a LOT happens around and to Harry in Turn Coat. By the end of the book, I was left with more questions than answers. Different factions and storylines, which have always been somewhat separate in each of the Dresden Files books, are starting to crossover and blur. It feels like each little action in Turn Coat is building and snowballing, and soon everything will explode. What does make this an extremely enjoyable tale is the depth of emotion and changing relationships within the chaos of the actions. Harry’s relationship with his commander and lover, Ana, is brought under a harsh light, making Harry question himself and his actions. Second, Harry’s relationship with apprentice Molly is evolving as she tries to learn and grow. With the constant threat of death hanging over the pair if Molly crosses the line, I fear every action Molly makes will be for the wrong reasons. Then there is the oddity of Harry and Morgan, which brings about some heartfelt moments in the story, leaving...
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Nov
2

Review: A Sure Thing by Marie Harte

Review: A Sure Thing by Marie Harte A Sure Thing Author: Marie Harte Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: A Sure Thing is two stories.  One is the love story of medically retired Major Landon Donnigan and psychologist Ava Rosenthal. The other, unlike most erotic contemporary romances, is the story of their families.  In this instance, they are not just periphery characters that come and go to support the main storyline.  They are loud, messy, and interject themselves all over the place. They become integral to the way in which the love story develops. And like most families, they have issues. The Donnigans series is preceded by the four book series The McCauley’s—their cousins.  Ava is a cross-over character loosely connecting them, but none of the Mccauleys actually make an appearance in this first book of the series.  Author Marie Harte served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked for Fortune 500 companies before becoming a full time writer.  She seems to blend those experiences together in Landon’s character.  He’s a born leader, total alpha male, and intended a military career through to retirement.  A bullet to the knee forced him out of that life path and he’s been making his way in the business world since coming home.  He maintains his fitness at a gym where his brother Gavin works.  It’s here that he meets Ava.  In that fateful first meeting, he corrects her form.  He will then spend the rest of the book pushing her to do better and be better at everything she does. Ava is an independent woman and doesn’t particularly like being told what to do.  She cannot, however, deny their combustible chemistry.  Her character submits and pushes back through every scene and every chapter. Landon is good at letting her make her own choices, but works very hard at persuading her to his point of view.  As both a mental health professional and a woman, she over thinks everything.  Being guilty of that myself a time or two, *coughcough* it was fun to be outside of it and watch the mental gymnastics she puts herself through in trying to reconcile her idea of what the man in her life should be with the one she’s actually attracted to. That she has a list comes as no surprise, but without being completely aware of it, she begins to adjust the list to fit Landon rather than requiring the opposite. Their sex scenes are unmistakably steamy as Ava makes the...
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Nov
1

Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy The Tides of Bára Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: This is going to be a pretty vague review as The Tides of Bara is in essence a transitional novel.  It follows Oria and Lonen as they flee Bara and attempt to reach the Destrye.  Although if felt like nothing really happened, Gikany and Una liked it. When we say that very little happened, we mean that none of the overarching plot lines are resolved.  There is a touch of action, quite of a bit travel, and a steamy interaction, but really, Oria and Lonen travel from Bara to Dru. What does happen is a tremendous amount of character development. The novel centers on Oria, Lonen, Oria’s Familiar Chuffta, and Lonen’s horse when they are stranded in the desert.  There is a lot of growth that occurs between all four of them as they learn to lean on each other.  This growth is critical to the novel and why we must be so vague.  This development is awesome and we found it gripping. Although it could be argued that nothing happens, this transitional novel is more than just getting from point A to point B.  The growth within the group is interesting as it is critical.  They need to learn to trust and depend on each other to survive their next challenge – seeing if the Destrye will accept Lonen’s sorceress wife. We continue to like the Sorcerous Moons series.  The latest installment, although transitional in nature, was a gripping and at times humorous read.  If you enjoy fantasy and intriguing worlds, you just need to check this one out! Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: A Narrow Escape With her secrets uncovered and her power-mad brother bent on her execution, Princess Oria has no sanctuary left. Her bid to make herself and her new barbarian husband rulers of walled Bára has failed. She and Lonen have no choice but to flee through the leagues of brutal desert between her home and his—certain death for a sorceress, and only a bit slower than the blade. A Race Against Time At the mercy of a husband barely more than a stranger, Oria must war with her fears and her desires. Wild desert magic buffets her; her husband’s touch allures and burns. Lonen is pushed to the brink, sure he’s doomed his proud bride and all too aware of the restless, ruthless...
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Oct
31

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner Texas Tall Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: It is no secret that I tend to really enjoy Kaki Warner’s novels, and Tall Texas was no exception. It is a lovely story about second and even third chances, along with finding healing and learning to forgive yourself and others. It tackles themes like equality and trust without getting preachy and has the perfect balance of sweetness, spunk and humor. I adored Ty and Lottie and all their issues, together and apart. I felt like their struggles were real and relatable to the time period, as were their strengths. Their chemistry was fun, which made for terrific banter and sweet soulful moments that added wonderfully to the story. The secondary characters were equally well written with their own strengths that added a great dynamic to the story and reiterated the variety of themes without taking away from Ty and Lottie. The descriptions are vivid, romantic and chocked full of crisp beautiful images. Likewise the language as a whole is beautiful flows like the smell of cotton blossoms on a spring breeze for example: “He was her anchor-her lost self- the part that had been missing from her life that made her whole.” It is imagery like this, coupled with the colorful characters and strong storyline, that had me turning page after page. All in all, I would highly recommend this fun, fast moving tale placed in the wild of Texas. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy every moment of your time with Ty and Lottie. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Seeking vengeance for a tragic past, Tyree Benton joined the Rangers and became a different man—but his brutal actions still twist his conscience. Now he’s found a woman he could love, but she deserves more than a man who makes a living getting shot at. If Ty were honorable, he’d leave her alone. But he can’t seem to stay away…. Orphaned at fourteen, Charlotte Weyland has used her talent for numbers to build enough of a fortune to fund Ty’s dream of owning a ranch…if he’s not too stubborn to accept her help. But when Charlotte’s past catches up to her, she finds herself on one side of the law with Ty on the other. To keep their dreams alive, they’ll have to make compromises, but doing so might cost them everything they have… Release Date: October 4, 2016 Publisher: Berkley Series:...
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Oct
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy Authors: Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Narrator: Randi Geddens Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Broads Abroad #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Finding her husband eagerly enjoying his secretary in all those ways he shouldn’t, Avery Bardot finally realizes her marriage to Daniel is over. Not wanting to stay in Boston while her world falls apart, Avery jumps on a plane to Rome, where she stays with her best friend, Daisy. However, on her first night in town, Avery runs into the one man she never thought she’d see again, Marcello Bianchi. With her emotions in a tangled mess, Avery must decide if she can be friends with the man who was the boy who should have been her forever love. I absolutely LOVED Roman Crazy right from the outset. Melancholy, but with a sharp sense of humor, Avery still has a spark of life, and best friend Daisy is just the one to help rekindle that spark and show Avery there is so much more to life than her ex. The story is one of self-discovery, as Avery uncovers who she is and what she wants from life within the freedom of a Roman summer holiday. And the story was an absolute joy to listen to, as I found myself living in the moment and enjoying Rome as experienced by Avery. While Roman Crazy is so much more than a romance, the love story between Marcello and Avery is what gives the story heart. Given a second chance, the couple rekindles their frantic passion that was abandoned nine years prior. However, this time around brings age and life experiences with the lust, creating a more mature and well-rounded emotional journey. With a first person narrative, the reader experiences all that an uncertain Avery feels as she slowly lets down her walls and allows herself the freedom to enjoy life, and her very sexy Italian. Avery’s life is pretty amazing, and I was happy for her. However, throughout the second half of the book, I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” But when it finally did, it was more of a slipper falling rather than a heavy boot. Overall, things go very smoothly for Avery, almost too much so. With such a passionate, highly emotional tail, I expected more sobbing and difficulties getting to the HEA. I’m not unhappy it didn’t...
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