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Aug
21

Review: Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux

Review: Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux Stars & Stripes Author: Abigail Roux  Release Date: Aug. 13, 2012 Publisher: Riptide Cut & Run #6 ISBN: #978-1937551582 Genre: Romantic Suspense, GLBT – m/m Format(s): Paperback (292 pgs), e-book Book Source: Purchased with my own funds About the book:       Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they’re living together conflict-free, their work is going smoothly, and they’re both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.        When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.        From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world. What B is talking about:       For several months of relative calm and stability, Ty and Zane have finally been able to enjoy being together. Aside from the constant need to hide their relationship from their coworkers and families, things are going better than ever. But, as living magnets for chaos, it’s a sure bet that such bliss couldn’t last for long.       Stars & Stripes covers a lot of ground, both figuratively as well as geographically. From the mountains of West Virginia to the Hill Country of Texas, Ms. Roux puts her heroes to the test, and proves once again that she is adept at multitasking; writing not only an endearing romance, but a compelling whodunit, as well. Subtle where it counts, and funny in the most unexpected places, this story expands on the solid foundation that’s been built by the previous novels in the series, while giving the two main characters a chance to evolve along with the relationship they’ve been working for.       I was very happy to see Ty’s family again, even though I have serious issues with Ty’s father, as was certainly intended. Every family is different, and things turned out well, but I couldn’t help feeling a strong connection to Zane and his desire for retribution during one particular scene. However, meeting Zane’s family was...
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Aug
14

Review: Cut & Run Series #1-5 by Abigail Roux

Review: Cut & Run Series #1-5 by Abigail Roux Cut & Run A Series by Abigail Roux and Madeline Urban The Cut & Run series is one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege to read, regardless of genre. The main characters are smartly written, the suspense is never overplayed, and each subsequent challenge faced has left me determined, if not desperate, to stay with them through to the end. It is a rare thing for a story’s characters to feel so alive on the page as well as in my mind, but this series neatly succeeds at both. With a delicate intimacy between the two men that is kept to being a facet of their relationship, rather than its sole focus, the series avoids any gratuitous lessening of the novels themselves. Ty and Zane have a permanent place in my heart, and I’m looking forward to reading Stars & Stripes with an anticipation I have felt for very few stories in a long time. Cut & Run Book 1 Release Date: September 29, 2008       Assigned to work together due to a combination of their unique skills as well as an inability to play well with others, Special Agents Zane Garrett and Ty Grady would almost rather shoot each other than the serial killer who continues to elude them. But when they become targets themselves, they must find a way to get ahead of a hunter who plays to the rules they know, even as the undeniable heat between them threatens everything they’re fighting for.       This is the first novel in the excellent Cut & Run series. Ms. Roux and Ms. Urban have not only written an engaging, suspenseful story that cost me more than one night’s sleep, but Ty and Zane are utterly engrossing characters who won me over from the very beginning. They are smart, conflicted heroes who are so achingly perfect together that I couldn’t put their story down. A fascinating mystery as well as an enthralling romance, this story delivers solidly in both genres, and left me wanting more. Cut & Run is an exceptional beginning to a wonderful series, and I’m happy to be on board for as long as the series lasts. 5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+) Sticks & Stones Book 2 Release Date: January 25, 2010       They’ve survived a serial killer, secret missions, and undercover assignments among the dregs of Miami, but taking a vacation might just prove...
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Aug
9

Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens

Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens Heart Secret Author: Robin D. Owens  Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Trade Celta’s Heartmates #11 ISBN: 978-0425253144 Genre: Paranormal Romance, Futuristic Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (368 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      On the faraway planet Celta, there are some things you can never tell—until someone discovers your Heart Secret…      When a virulent disease killed the woman he loved and her baby, Garrett Primross was left alive, a reluctant survivor. Now, as a private eye, he strives to banish the memories of his past and rebuild his life. The Healers of Celta have something else in mind: Discover why he survived.      He is monitored by Healer Artemisia Panax—his HeartMate, a love he never pursued. Still mourning his loss, he refuses to acknowledge her. Since her family was publicly disgraced, she’s used to such treatment. She wants nothing more than to guard her livelihood and protect the secrets she’s sworn to keep.      Thrown together by duty, Garrett and Artemisia find the body of the last Black Magic Cultist who ruined her family. Suspicion flares, but they have little choice but to investigate the crime together. When their own lives are placed in danger, they realize that denying their HeartMates is only denying their own future. What VampBard’s talking about:      Heart Secret, Robin D. Owens’ eleventh title in her Celta’s Heartmates series, was packed with drama, intrigue and the initially reluctant hero and heroine thrown together in a struggle to eradicate a dangerous illness.  Where the typical Healer/patient relationship ends, their struggle to be true to themselves begins.  Sooo nice to be transported back to Celta again!       From the onset of the story, Ms. Owens took her readers on a roller coaster ride.  It seemed as though Garrett, our hero, and Artemisia, our heroine, took one step forward and two steps back in their relationship for most of the title.  I found myself glued to the pages, and cheering for Garrett to pull his head out of his arse and bond with Artemisia, already!  64%… 75%… yup.  I’m commenting as I go, ‘get your act together, man!’  I really enjoyed reading along as this destined couple got to know one another.  It was also pretty awesome to cheer on the hero, knowing that eventually Ms. Owens would give in and let us see the reservations each character had fade until the only tangible relationship for them...
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Aug
8

Review: Stygian’s Honor by Lora Leigh

Review: Stygian’s Honor by Lora Leigh Stygian’s Honor Author: Lora Leigh  Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Breeds #27 ISBN: #978-0425246078 Genre: Paranormal Romance, Erotic Format(s): Paperback (374 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher – won ARC at RAGT12 About the book:       Window Rock, Arizona, is the last known location of Honor Roberts, who vanished when she was just thirteen. It was her only sanctuary from the Breed research that would surely have ended in her death–one such insidious experiment should, indeed, have killed her. That she lived is both a miracle–and a great mystery.        Stygian’s mission is to find Honor Roberts, no matter the cost. Now, with the help of Liza Johnson, assistant to the chief of the Navajo Nation, he is closer than ever to his goal. But will the discovery of Honor Roberts mean the destruction of the mating heat that has developed between Stygian and Liza? What I’m talking about:       “Hmmm… What are my thoughts on this book?” That is what I wondered as I finished the 27th Breed story. I have mixed feelings, but that is probably more a reflection of the direction of the series and a combination of reading so many of these books, rather than Stygian’s Honor as a stand alone body of work. As I’ve said countless times before, Breeds is my guilty pleasure. But lately the books have left me a bit unsatisfied, and Stygian’s Honor is no exception. My biggest complaint is that the books feel very formulaic. Although the set up and situations are unique to each story, there are common denominators that are frankly becoming tiresome for me: the alpha breed male determined to “break” his female, the human female mate who feels mating a breed will ruin her life, Jonas being an ass (and he reaches a whole new level in this book!). In addition, the once erotic sex scenes have become a series of words and phrases repeated time and time again. And at times, the point-of-view changes from one character to another without any clear indicators, which can make the story difficult to follow.       With that said, there are some things I liked in this book. First, I really enjoyed several of the conversations between Stygian and Liza. Many were open and direct, which was a refreshing change from other pairings. She is much more knowledgable about the Breeds and their secrets than other heroines in past...
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Aug
6

Review: Blood Fever by Veronica Wolff

Review: Blood Fever by Veronica Wolff Blood Fever Author: Veronica Wolff  Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 Publisher: NAL Trade The Watchers #3 ISBN: #978-0451237033 Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy) Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME —        EVEN IF HOME IS WHERE THE DEAD LIVE.        It’s the start of the fall semester, and a new crop of Acari and Trainees has descended on the Isle of Night. Watcher training has intensified, and Drew has a new roommate named Mei-Ling. But Mei-Ling harbors a dangerous secret that drove the vampires to abduct her against her will. Drew knows she shouldn’t get involved, but she can’t seem to leave her roommate to fend for herself.       Luckily, Drew has other things on her mind—like vampire Carden. A blood bond to a brawny, eighteenth-century Scottish bad boy tends to preoccupy a girl. And though she’s still figuring out what this bond means, one thing has become clear: She craves him in a major way.       But then bodies start turning up on the island. All the evidence points to the existence of a rogue vampire, and the sinister vampire Alcántara is gunning for Carden, even though Drew has proof that Carden had nothing to do with the murders. Now she has to find the true killer—without endangering Carden, Mei-Ling, or herself… What G & U are talking about:       Gikany and Una make no qualms about it, this Watchers series is excellent. It is for truly for young adults (high school and older) unless your middle school child is mature enough to handle the violence and romantic situations.       The latest installment in the Watchers series is Blood Fever, and, man, did it heat up! If you haven’t picked up this series yet, what are you waiting for?!  The premise, characters and mythology are fresh, enthralling and invigorating.  Sadly, Ms. Wolff has no qualms about killing characters; however, it is never done without reason.        The Watchers is a series told from the perspective of Annelise Drew.  If you think of the Isle of Night as a combination of the evil Twilight vampires and the Hunger Games, you’ll have a good idea of what this series is about.  Drew is brought to the Isle of Night under false pretenses to be trained as a Watcher.  Watchers are highly trained and...
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Aug
3

Review: Darklands by Nancy Holzner

Review: Darklands by Nancy Holzner Darklands Author: Nancy Holzner  Release Date: July 31, 2012 Publisher: ACE Deadtown #4 ISBN: #978-1937007706 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/Author About the book:       Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.       But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself. What I’m talking about:       After the previous two Deadtown series books opened with our heroine Vicky working at her job as a demon slayer, it was a completely fun change of pace to witness Vicky participating in the zombie high school career event. Vicky is there to help her one-time apprentice, Tina, although she’d rather be out fighting evil. Things seem to go as planned until a vicious Harpy demon attempts to kill Vicky, and she must demonstrate her job first hand to the zombie teens. Such is the life of Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer. Oh, AND she may also be the subject of an ancient prophecy, she has a demi-demon cousin out to kill her, she’s summoned an Eidolon demon who is literally gnawing away her insides because of her own guilt, she’s dating a high-profile werewolf, and now she has to deal with another woman trying to horn in on her wolf, er… man.       Darklands kicks off shortly after the conclusion of Bloodstone, but if you haven’t read the previous books, not to worry. Ms. Holzner does a fantastic job weaving critical pieces of earlier books into this story. We recall how Vicky is working to repair her relationship with her sister, Gwen, especially since her niece, Maria, is showing signs of being a shapeshifting Cerddorion. We are reminded of the past battles Vicky has fought with her “cousin” Pryce and the Hellion that marked her, Difethwr the Destroyer. And finally we recollect how Vicky’s Aunt Mab and boyfriend Kane have fought beside Vicky time and time again.       One thing that I enjoy immensely about the Deadtown series is watching Vicky grow...
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Jul
30

Review: Blade Song by JC Daniels

Review: Blade Song by JC Daniels Blade Song Author: JC Daniels (Shiloh Walker)  Release Date: Aug. 1, 2012 Publisher: Self-published Series: Colbana Files #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley About the book:       Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.       So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.       Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.       If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee… What I’m talking about:       In a world where shifters, witches, and vampires exist in the open with humans, Kit Colbana fits somewhere in between. She is half-human and half-aneira (think magical Amazon warrior). She was disowned and abused by her family, and after running, has settled down and works as an investigator, helping the paranormals and humans in the Orlando area. Her weakness: children. Knowing this, cat-shifter Damon seeks out Kit’s services to help locate the Alpha Cat’s missing nephew. Kit knows its not an ideal situation, but takes the job anyhow. Soon she discovers she’s gotten way more than she bargained for, including a 24/7 bodyguard in Damon.       Kit is not your typical kick-butt heroine. Kit can hang with the best of them, but she knows she can’t win all the fights. Yet, she continues to pick fights time and time again. She is reckless. She has a chip on her shoulder. She has ghosts in her head (not actual ghosts) and skeletons in her closet. And she gets hurt, a lot. I have to admit, I didn’t click with Kit in the beginning. Maybe because I had just finished reading Gunmetal Magic immediately prior to Blade Song, which featured a uber-messed up, ultra kick-butt heroine, and by comparison, Kit seems too reckless and immature. Kit makes some bad choices… including allowing a powerful vampire (Jude) have a taste of her, knowing it may strengthen his hold over her. I...
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Jul
26

Review: Amethyst Moon by Ann Mayburn

Review: Amethyst Moon by Ann Mayburn Amethyst Moon Author: Ann Mayburn Release Date: Dec. 27, 2011 Publisher: Decadent Publishing Prides of the Moon #5 1 Night Stand Series ISBN: 978-1613331828 Genre: GLBT, Paranormal Erotic Romance, m/m/m, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Noah Braxton’s world has been turned inside out and upside down ever since the fateful moment six months ago when he was turned into a shifter by a dying college girl. She made him promise to look after her sister, Giselle, and in an effort to sooth the dying girl he promised her that he would, not realizing the sacrifices he would have to make to keep that promise. Bound by his oath, Noah struggles to fulfill his role of beta to Giselle, an Alpha female, but he can’t be everything she needs. He’s gay and in order to bond properly with his Alpha female they would have to have sex. Without that bond with an Alpha he is slowly going crazy but he can’t force himself to be attracted to a woman. His last hope at saving his mind and his soul lies with Madame Eve of the 1 Night Stand matchmaking service being able to find him a male Alpha that can bridge the gap between himself and Giselle.      Marcus and Vashan have come to Morgantown, WV in the hopes of finding an Alpha female to complete their Pride. Instead they find Noah, a man on the edge of insanity who is also a natural dominant. Despite this both men are instantly drawn to Noah and decide to help him. Marcus will have to use all his strength as an Alpha to dominate Noah and show him that submission to his Alpha doesn’t make him weak. What B is talking about:      Noah has a problem. As a newly-turned werepuma, a rarity in the shifter world, he has a lot to learn, but the human that he was and the beta he’s expected to be are warring within him. His Alpha, Giselle, has tried to help him, but there’s only so much she can do without a full bond with Noah, and he’s becoming increasingly unstable. With the help of the 1 Night Stand dating service, they finally have a chance at a bond through Markus and Vashan that would lead to Noah’s salvation as well.      As a fan of Ms. Mayburn’s Prides of the Moon series, I was very excited...
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Jul
24

Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews Gunmetal Magic Author: Ilona Andrews  Release Date: July 31, 2012 Publisher: ACE Kate Daniels #5.5 ISBN: #978-0425256138 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (448 pgs*), e-book *includes novella, Magic Gifts Book Source: Publisher About the book:      After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is to try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend Kate Daniels.      When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate…and must work with Raphael. As Andrea’s search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, she knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a back seat to saving the world… What I’m talking about:      Note: although the book is 434 pages, Gunmetal Magic is only 326 pages, and the rest of the book (108 pages) is the novella, “Magic Gifts”, which is told from Kate’s POV and overlaps in time with some of Gunmetal Magic. “Magic Gifts” was offered as a free novella on the authors’ website in December 2011, and our review is HERE.      When I found out that Ilona Andrews was going to write a book in her Kate Daniels series from the POV of Kate’s best friend, Andrea, I was SOOOOO excited. Andrea and Raphael were my introduction to the Kate Daniels world via the novella, “Magic Mourns” found in the anthology Must Love Hellhounds. I’ve held a soft spot in my heart for the couple since the start, and boy have they had some tough times lately.      Andrea is a hyena-shifter (bouda), but she had a father that was an animal who turned human, making her a “beastkin.” Most beastkins are killed immediately; however, Andrea was kept around to be tortured for entertainment purposes by her sadistic pack. Once she escaped her clan, she dedicated her life to the Order – protecting mankind from the magic that has taken over the Earth. The only thing – she had to hide her true self, so when the Order discovered Andrea was a shifter, she was “retired.” Andrea went into hiding, and Raphael apparently moved on. Let’s just say the opening of this book not only...
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Jul
17

Review: Opal Moon by Ann Mayburn

Review: Opal Moon by Ann Mayburn Opal Moon Author: Ann Mayburn  Release Date: June 6, 2012 Publisher: Decadent Publishing Prides of the Moon #6 1 Night Stand Series ISBN: #978-1613333129 Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley About the book:      Burdened by heartache, werepuma Alpha Giselle seeks the complete release only offered by a night of sexual abandonment in the arms of a couple selected by the 1 Night Stand matchmaking service. Unable to fully bond with her gay male beta, Noah, she has been starved for affection and hopes that the mysterious couple can keep up with her sensual demands.      Inara and her husband of over a thousand years, Theron, are traveling through the human world, seeking out those that are in need of Inara’s special fay gift. Inara is a sorrow eater. She takes the grief of others and replaces it with joy. Giselle is in desperate need of Inara’s healing touch after the death of her sister and the rejection of her beta. Together they will try to fill each other’s needs and desires, but only if Giselle will once again open her heart to the greatest force in the universe, love. What B is talking about:      Giselle is a strong, sexy werepuma who knows what she wants in a lover. But her heart aches for a connection she can’t have, and being linked to her beta’s happiness when she can’t share it is threatening them both. They have one chance to find a way to make their bond work, or they’ll have to part ways forever, leaving her on her own again. Being an Alpha shouldn’t be so hard.      Inara and Theron are ancient fay who travel the human world seeking out those who are lonely and in pain so that Inara can help them with her special gift. As a “sorrow eater” she is able to feed from the suffering of others and turn it into joy. With a sexual hunger to match the werepuma Alpha’s head on, she and Theron are exactly what Giselle needs to help her feel love again.      I’ve had the pleasure of reading several of Ms. Mayburn’s 1 Night Stand contributions, and her “Cat” titles are among my favorites in the series. The werepumas are highly sexual creatures, often seeking out pleasure in pairs or more, as is the case with Opal Moon. Sex is an essential component of their makeup, so Giselle’s...
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