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Nov
30

Review: Snowed In by Jenna Bayley-Burke

Review: Snowed In by Jenna Bayley-Burke Snowed In Author: Jenna Bailey-Burke Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: There isn’t much to tell you about the plot of Snowed In that’s not in the blurb—or the title for that matter. What I can tell you is that I genuinely liked this story when I had admittedly low expectations. Just a few weeks ago I reviewed a novella, Like Fresh Fallen Snow, with a very similar premise: successful independent woman works hard, goes to a large event at a hotel, gets snowed in with the man of her dreams, tries to remain independent and ignore her feelings. The set-up in both cases feels entirely contrived. Then again, when the title can serve as the description, you can’t fault it for false advertising. So why did I like Snowed In when I was disposed not to? Scott Parker. Scott is the best thing about the book. Even if he weren’t tall, dark, and handsome, there’s nothing so attractive as a man who’s in love and desperate to commit. Bayley-Burke puts it beautifully in her dedication, “For everyone who’s ever been burned by a stupid boy. May you find love with a smart one. Let’s hope he’s gorgeous and rich, tall and sporting a six-pack, with captivating eyes and a penchant for saying, ‘I love you’ at random moments. Bonus points if he does the dishes and has memorized Ian Kerner’s She Comes First.” The female lead as the aggressor isn’t the original twist it once was, but Scott still seems to hold all the cards, even when Marissa is the one coming on to him. Scott doesn’t just want a post wedding fling with Marissa Clark, he wants to keep her for the long haul. Marissa has been hurt in the past and the wedding they’re both attending is all kinds of awkward because of it. When they get snowed in together, Marissa just wants to blow off some stress between the sheets before she goes back to her regularly scheduled life. Scott has other plans and uses the time to make his case. It’s clear to the reader, even if Marissa hasn’t figured it out, that the reason she’s so stubborn when it comes to Scott isn’t because she doesn’t have time for a man in her life, she’s dated since the painful incident, but rather she knows instinctively that Scott matters. She must discover how to integrate the person she was with the one...
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Nov
29

Review: Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler

Review: Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler Wolf Unleashed Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una really enjoyed this latest installment in the SWAT series.  Wolf Unleashed was a well-rounded, suspenseful, and passionately sweet story. Alex and Lacey’s story sticks out as the best so far in the series.  We really enjoyed their ordinary meeting.  So far, most couples in this series have meet under nefarious conditions.  Lacey is a vet and who Alex just happened to meet when he took the SWAT pet in for his check-up.  This sweet romance was different from the previous pairings, and we enjoyed the normalcy of it.  Alex and Lacey’s experienced enough romantic complications that this normal meeting and early stirrings of romance sweetened their journey giving them a realistic foundation. Alex is a great guy.  We enjoyed his gentle determination in courting Lacey.  His devotion and patience was admirable.  He listened, giving her space and respecting the issues he sensed. Although Lacey is thrown a bit by his world, Alex never threatened her.  We understood her fear, even though we thought she was being a bit pigheaded. Gikany and Una both liked Lacey’s relationship with her sister.  Although Una thought Lacey might have been a bit clueless or naïve, Gikany enjoyed her willful disbelief when it came to the sisterly pitfalls. We enjoyed the overall plot of the dog fighting and the new dangerous drug hitting the streets.  The plot line and the suspects were compelling.  We respected Lacey’s determination to not only rescue the four-legged victims of the dog fighting ring, but her determination to bring it to a stop.  However, the connection between the different plot lines was both overly complicated in nature and awfully convenient. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed Wolf Unleashed.  Lacey and Alex’s story was a sweetly ordinary blossom in the paranormal realm.  The overall nefarious plot lines were compelling, and we look forward to the next story in this world. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Wolf shifter Alex Trevino has fallen hard for veterinarian Lacey Barton. Getting her to agree to a date is a lot of work—and winning her heart proves even harder. Lacey can’t deny her crazy attraction to Alex, but she has no intention of letting herself fall for him. In her less than stellar experience, men don’t stick around. When Lacey’s sister is kidnapped, it’s up to Alex to crack the case—and prove to Lacey that...
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Nov
29

Review: Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Review: Daring Fate by Megan Erickson Daring Fate Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Reese and younger brother Jude have escaped their werewolf pack and its sadistic alpha, Xan. However, their sister remains behind, and with the threat that Xan will mate her in a month, the pressure is on Reese to save her. The problem: Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip Were pack. When his Pack Guard found and rescued two werewolves from the Noweres, the last thing Dare expected was to find his True Mate. But Dare embraces Reese as his mate and over time, the pair form a deeper bond beyond the sex of mating. As Reese learns more about the once-feared Silver Tip Alpha, he is torn between protecting his mate and adopted pack and rescuing his sister. Daring Fate is the first book in Megan Erickson’s new Silver Tip Pack series. Ms. Erickson successfully introduces readers to a twist on the shifter mythology. A century ago, there was a virus that killed all of the humans and two-thirds of the Weres… but those Weres that died became Noweres, an undead version of the warrior Were form. Werewolves and Weres live in isolated packs, remaining fairly solitary and at peace with one another, as long as they leave the one another alone. What remains after the virus are three species: werewolves, who shift between human and a wolf; Weres, who shift between human, wolf, and a huge wolf/human hybrid; and Noweres, the undead monsters. Dare and Reese are a rare True Mated couple. While Reese’s werewolf parents were True Mates and equal lovers, he wasn’t old enough to understand what the bond meant before they were killed before his eyes. Dare knows of no True Mated Weres, and neither know of a cross-species situation. This leaves both men lost, without a clue what is normal or to be expected with True Mates, and I like that both are a bit terrified of doing something wrong. I feel the story was made stronger with both Reese and Dare fully accepting and embracing the mating bond, and that the mating was done right up front, rather than a constant, reluctant pull throughout the story. They are completely sexually compatible, and as time goes on, they discover they are compatible in all important matters of the heart. The True Mate aspect, as well as the complex shifter mythology, give the story a strong sense of a traditional...
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Nov
28

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Pleasure Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Hugh Fitzroy, Duke of Kyle and bastard son of the King, is the widowed father of two young boys. His marriage to Katherine had been passionate, but a disaster, and now he’s trying to rebuild a relationship with his sons. However, he’s been tasked by the King to destroy the Lords of Chaos, a deadly secretive group who will stop at nothing to keep their identities unknown. When Hugh is attacked by some ruffians, he is helped by the mysterious Ghost of St Giles. And when Hugh realizes his savior is a woman, he cannot stop thinking about her. Alf is the Ghost of St Giles by night and a teenage errand boy by day. She took over the roll of the Ghost recently (it’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts), and after saving Hugh, feels something she’s never allowed herself to feel as a woman. Now that Hugh has hired the boy Alf to help him uncover the truth, Alf the woman is frightened what will happen if her secret gets out. Although I am new to the Maiden Lane series, having started with the previous full-length novel, it has quickly become one of my favorites. The Duke of Pleasure is no exception, with its smart wit, intelligent plot, exciting action, and passionate romance. Although at first, it was difficult for me to see Alf as a woman and match for Hugh because she hid herself as a boy, her character really started to blossom once the truth was discovered. And I am thankful to the author for avoiding a pedophile storyline and any attraction of an adult Hugh with an apparent underaged boy. Ms. Hoyt unveiled Alf’s true self in an incredible sexy and appropriate manner. Alf is a wonderful character. Growing up an orphan and hiding as a boy in the worst part of London, she’s maintained a moral compass but avoided the pretentious nature of the ladies of her time. Her openness could be a deficit if she was hired by anyone other than Hugh, but with him, she is allowed to be her true self. Same goes with Hugh’s friend Iris and his men, who accept Alf as she is, and in fact, become enamored with her in their own ways. While I was enthralled with the romance behind the story, the plot following the Lords of Chaos was utterly...
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Nov
23

Review: Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards

Review: Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards Promise the Moon Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: **blinks** What did I just read?!? (totally in a good way). You all know I’m a HUGE fan of the Black Dog series and it’s spin-offs. Promise the Moon is the first title in the Lorimar Pack books. The second title, Wolf at the Door is set to release January 25, 2017. **grabby hands** There’s a lot of history in this book. I highly recommend reading all the Gemini titles before picking up Promise the Moon. Ms. Edwards does do a great job of filling in backstory, but seriously? Who would want a shot of their favorite milkshake when a 20-ounce cup is available? There’s seriously a whole bunch of stuff going on here. Dell is left to run the pack while Cam and Graeson are off doing political stuff. Okay. I can live with that. The pack is living somewhere that’s a fixer-upper. Still good. Wait. Ugh. Spoiler-free reviews. I can’t really tell you much more. I still love Dell. Isaac. **unf** Enzo. There, there. **pats back** I have some need-to-knows, though. 1. Zed & Moore. More, please. 2. The littles from the battle scene. 3. Cliffhanger, much? I’m seriously okay with this, though. I feel like the last bit of the story could’ve been the beginning of the next book and everyone would’ve been perfectly content. 4. How mad are Cam & Graeson going to be?!?! Will they say I told you to read that? 5. When Enzo and Isaac find out about the event at the very end, how does it affect their relationship? Oh. Also? I may be shipping IsEnDell. If you haven’t heard me rave about the Black Dog series titles—including the Gemini series, out of which the Lorimar Pack titles grew, listen up. Go forth and one-click all of these titles. I’m starting the countdown to 1/25/17 and Wolf at the Door. Seriously. I NEED TO KNOW!!! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: War is a constant threat on Dell Preston’s horizon. As beta of the Lorimar pack, her job is to maintain the peace on the new border between Faerie and Earth at all costs. Even if that means playing nice with her ex, Isaac, the fae who savaged her wolf’s soul, and Enzo Garza, the flirty witch who ought to be focused on building up their magical defenses instead of tearing down the walls around Dell’s...
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Nov
23

Review: The Burning Isle by Will Panzo

Review: The Burning Isle by Will Panzo The Burning Isle Author: Will Panzo Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una were fascinated by this debut novel.  The Burning Isle is a compelling mixture of dark fantasy, adventure, mystery, and suspense.  We were mesmerized by this richly complex novel. Unfortunately there is not much we can say about this intriguing puzzle of a novel.  It is a well-woven mystery of who Cassius is, what his mission is, and why he is so dedicated to it.  Gikany and Una discussed the rich nuances of the story, but sharing that discussion could possibly spoil the plot line.  The novel is a slowly unweaving journey of discovery.  Each moment of conflict unveils another truth.  In deciphering these mysteries, Mr. Panzo expertly weaves in flashbacks that give hints about Cassius and his actions.  The overall picture is filled in section by section.  We were able to grasp pieces along the way, but until the final piece was clicked, the overall picture eluded us. Cassius’ character is complex and beguiling.  You are never sure what is truly going on.  This aspect kept us glued to the pages. Although it appears the overall plot is resolved at the end of the novel, questions still linger.  We had the urge to reread it to see what clues we may have missed, to reinvestigate different milestones, and to be able to see the novel with the clarity of knowing. The Burning Isle is a gripping and immensely intriguing fantasy novel.  We desperately hope there is more to come.  We found the mystery, the world, and most especially Cassius compelling and alluring.  If you enjoy dark fantasy full of politics, moral questions and action/mystery, you truly need to pick this one up! Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic… “A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.” Cassius is not lost… The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but...
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Nov
22

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan Miracle on 5th Avenue Author: Sarah Morgan Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Eva Jordan LOVES snowflakes, Christmas, and all the holiday hoopla. Although she continues to suffer the loss of her grandmother just over a year ago, Eva owes it to her grandmother to live each day to its fullest. She’s agreed to prepare food for and decorate the apartment of bestselling author Lucas Blade at the request of his grandmother, Mitsy. Eva and Mitsy have become friends over the time Eva and her friends started their event planning and concierge company. Lucas Blade hates snowflakes, Christmas, and all the holiday hoopla. Three years ago, his wife was killed in a car accident on a snowy night. It’s the anniversary of her death. He’s told his family and agent that he’s on a writing retreat in Vermont, but instead, he’s hiding in his Manhattan condo. He hasn’t even started his latest book, which is due Christmas Eve, and no one knows. He’s consumed with grief over Sallyanne, his late wife. Miracle on 5th Avenue is another delightful romance from Sarah Morgan. Her small-town-turned-big-city trio of best friends warmed my heart with their journeys through life as they each find their romantic partners. Eva is no exception. She is sweet and kind; she believes there are happily-ever-afters and sees good in everyone. Meanwhile, Lucas is jaded and cynical; he’s lost in love and deals with the pressures of fame on a daily basis. Although they are complete opposites, something sparks between the pair, and their mutual desires are palpable. Each draws out the best from the other – challenging the other to think outside their individual comfort zones. They are seduced by intellectual and titillating conversation, eventually giving into physical desires. Ms. Morgan does a fabulous job developing Eva and Lucas, giving them strong, realistic personalities and character traits, with actions that stay true to those natures. Overall, the romance is sweet and gentle, with enough bumps in the road to make it gripping. However, I was put off in the start of the book when Eva mistakes Lucas for an intruder. I get this is a light contemporary romance, but there is NO WAY Eva should be ogling and smelling the man who attacked her… She doesn’t know it’s Lucas and honestly fears for her life. She should be mindlessly scared, not noticing his smoldering eyes. Miracle on 5th Avenue is a sweet and uplifting...
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Nov
21

Review: At Last by Addison Fox

Review: At Last by Addison Fox At Last Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Addison Fox has become a reliable Go-To author for me.  Her writing is intelligent and satisfying.  At Last marks the beginning of a new series, The Brooklyn Brotherhood.  Three boys, Nick, Fender, and Landon were in the foster care system when Louisa Mills adopted them.  They saved her from a rock bottom moment, and she saved them bleak futures.  Even though the boys are grown now, each carries the baggage of rough beginnings. At Last is Nick’s story as he faces down some of that baggage while he tries to make a significant advance in his life.  Emma Vandenburg Bradley is intimately intertwined in that process and is facing down some demons of her own.  Emma and Nick were lab partners in high school and are now forced to work together again.  Now every move they make carries a lot more weight than a letter grade. Fox is, like her name, clever. I appreciate clever.  One of my favorite lines regarded an observation Nick made of his brother Landon, a video game designer.  Nick noted, “Nothing ruffled Landon.  In the zombie apocalypse that was life, Landon just knew how to get by, his brains intact.” I’ve found over the course of several books I’ve read by Fox, she is an observant writer and interesting insights are voiced by her characters. This is part of what makes her a reliably good writer. Because At Last sets up the rest of the series, there are at least two other storylines that are inserted, a little oddly, mid-novel. The overlap didn’t necessarily add a whole lot to Nick and Emma’s story arc, but will provide a starting place for those books still to come.  I’m looking forward to all of them. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Welcome to Park Heights, Brooklyn where three brothers discover the meaning of family, and taking a chance on love. After a year of turmoil, Emma Vandenburg Bradley returned home to Park Heights to run her family’s business – a Brooklyn institution – Unity brewery. Still trying to get her feet back under her, she definitely doesn’t want to be on the spectacularly bad date that ends with getting caught in a bar fight and her high school crush coming to her rescue. Nick Kelley’s career in the NFL was cut short, but now he has a successful bar in...
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Nov
18

Review: Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Review: Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey Holiday with a Twist Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Leigh Holloway is back home for the holidays, and she’s hiding a big secret from her family. Not wanting to upset the apple cart at Christmas, Leigh hides the fact that she broke things off with her fiancé and quit her job in Houston two months ago. However, meeting up with childhood friend Croy stirs up all sorts of feelings, and now she’s trying to keep their holiday fling under wraps until she can get back to Houston and get on with her life. Holiday with a Twist is an enjoyable holiday novella, complete with warm fuzzies and family fun. Leigh and Croy share a history, and although their friendship has been on hold for several years, I like that they fell into an easy camaraderie from that first night she walked into his bar. Ms. Stacey builds their shared past through recollection and dialogue, keeping the reader in present day while filling in the missing pieces. Falling for someone who was once a close friend gives the romance more weight and substance within the confines of the shorter space of a novella. While the perceived need for Leigh to keep her relationship status a secret could have grown out of control, it was never overused, with her secrets unraveling before I got annoyed by her lack of honesty. Her reasons for her actions felt very real and relatable, and we all know, once a lie is out there, it’s hard to be forthright. Luckily, this is Christmas in small town New Hampshire, where everything works out as it should! Holiday with a Twist is a wonderful holiday treat. I highly recommend curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy this sexy, sweet novella from Ms. Stacey. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she’ll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.  Leigh’s best friend broke Croy Dawson’s heart, and Croy knows it...
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Nov
17

Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin

Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin Picture Perfect Wedding Author: Lynnette Austin Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: True to form, Picture Perfect Wedding is a fun and spunky story of second chances, forgiveness and going home again. Set is the picturesque low country just outside of Savannah, Georgia, and filled with colorful characters, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit: reconnecting with old friends like Cole and Jenni Beth and getting to know new friends like Beck and Tansey, the spunky couple this story revolves around. Beck and Tansy were high school sweethearts, engaged to be married, and then Tansy married another man. Although Beck swears he’s moved on, the chemistry between the two doesn’t lie. Somehow they have to find a way to live in the same small town because avoiding each other simply isn’t an option in a place like Misty Bottoms. Ms. Austin does a lovely job of balancing the heartache and issues of the past without letting it become the actual story. We get the background, we understand the why, but get to focus on how they will move past it. It is a fun, sweet, chemistry filled process that had me turning pages and occasionally even laughing out loud. It was sweet to watch the process of healing happen not only between Tansy and Beck but also with Tansy’s daughter Gracie, who added a lovely innocence to the starting over storyline. The overall story is fun, well written, and filled with beautiful settings, wonderful friendships and memorable secondary characters like the matchmaking Kitty and Tansy’s colorful Aunt. All of which make a perfect backdrop to Beck and Tansy’s story. If you enjoy a good southern setting, coupled with a great chemistry and themes of forgiveness and family, then you will love escaping to Misty Bottoms in Picture Perfect Wedding. My Rating: A, Loved It   About the Book: Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable-until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child. Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter-especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring...
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