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Dec
27

Review: New Hand by L.A. Witt

Review: New Hand by L.A. Witt New Hand Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Having read nearly every Bluewater Bay story since the beginning, I’ve been increasingly anxious lately about the series’ end. Many of the characters introduced in these titles have meant a great deal to me, the glimpses into lives that might be led making me think about how I view the world on the other side of my own door. New Hand, the final book in the series by inaugural author L.A. Witt, brings everything to a close in some very familiar ways: with heartache, laughter, hope, and a lot of love. Though every character in the Bluewater Bay universe has had significant conflict to work through, Jesse and Garrett face an uphill battle from minute one. Garret’s (ongoing) grieving, Jesse’s (also ongoing) experiences with regards to his status, their age difference, lingering wariness from previous relationships, and—of course—the opinions of others all contribute to an intimidating assemblage of obstacles that tests both men throughout the narrative. One of the longer titles in the series, New Hand covers a lot of territory as Jesse and Garrett navigate the beginning of their relationship. The loss of Garrett’s husband illustrates the very personal nature of grief, and the ease with which those around us can affect that process. How soon is too soon to love again? And who gets to decide? Another complication which I’d originally thought applied more to Garrett—that some burdens simply aren’t transferrable nor shareable—actually applies to both men. As does the fact that similarities between two people doesn’t make one a replacement for another. Even though all these issues and questions are extremely important, the “informative” feel of some of these passages did seem to weigh the story down in places. While I liked Garrett—and adored Jesse—my favorite part of New Hand was the return of the main characters of the previous title, Outside the Lines. I knew they’d be back, but I was thrilled with how often they appeared in Jesse and Garrett’s story. Simon and Ian were a welcome sight, but Lydia is still just about the best thing ever. In truth, I don’t think the story would have worked nearly as well without her being there as much as she was. The Bluewater Bay series has always been unique among many of the other long-running series I’ve read. The thoughtful, and generally respectful, approach the authors tried to take with regards to...
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Dec
22

Review: Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler

Review: Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler Wolf Hunger Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Wolf Hunger is the seventh title in the SWAT series.  In this novel, Max meets Lana and their story plays out differently from the previous couples in the series.  We liked the contrast. Max is the youngest member of the SWAT team and the most volatile.  He has a tougher time keeping his wolf in check. Despite having one of the worst noses of the pack, he is able to pick up a scent that no other teammate is able to at an awards banquet.  It seems a wolf can always sniff out its mate. Lana is at the awards banquet for her father, the Deputy Chief of Police.  When he sees the connection between Max and Lana, he does his best to keep them apart.  Lana doesn’t understand the animosity her father has, since he is a police officer too. We liked the smoothness of Max and Lana’s journey.  Although it wasn’t without pitfalls, their romance seemed to have fewer personal issues.  Well, once Lana understood what she was.  It was funny to watch Max trying to discuss how much they have in common only to have Lana reply with, “you’re a pescatarian too?”  It was gripping to learn how Lana’s werewolf DNA was triggered and how she has been able to live with it without knowing it.  Woven with their romance is the plot of the werewolf hunters.  It came to a shocking showdown in this novel, but we know it is not over. We are intrigued to see what happens next. If you enjoy your werewolves to be hot SWAT team members, a little police drama with your paranormal romance, then pick up the SWAT series.  We think you’ll enjoy it. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: She’s all the wolf he’ll ever need When SWAT Officer Max Lowry meets Lana Mason, he falls fast and hard. He’s positive she’s The One. And Max’s favorite part? Lana’s a wolf shifter too, so they can skip the awkward reveal and head straight to the happily ever after. There’s just one problem: Lana doesn’t know that she’s a werewolf.  To make matters worse, hunters with intent to kill have tracked Lana to Dallas. Max has to figure out how to keep Lana safe, show her who and what she really is—and just how much she means to him. Release Date: December...
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Dec
20

Review: Only You by Addison Fox

Review: Only You by Addison Fox Only You Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Only You ties up the love stories of the Brooklyn Brotherhood, three boys from troubled homes adopted by “Mama Lou.”  Each of them has grown up to be respectable, hardworking men.  Each is on a course as different as their personalities, but together, they make a close, if unlikely family. This last story is for Fender Blackstone, the poor boy who’s father was not only alcoholic and abusive, but criminal. Fender has learned to be defensive, careful, and to keep his world very small. Fender finds himself in love with a girl from the right side of the tracks, Manhattan’s elite Harlow Reynolds.  Harlow curates a gallery, she’s well educated and elegant—and the daughter of the man Mama Lou had an affair with decades before.  The books should definitely be read in order as many parts of previous books weave together in this last installment to make the idea of Harlow and Fender being together more than just inconvenient. It may have started in simple chemistry, but as these two get to know each other, the impediments grow larger.  I appreciated that they handled their differences primarily in adult ways.  There was no immature pouting or walking off before someone could explain  relevant circumstances.  There were, however, significant circumstances to work through.  It’s disingenuous to suggest people should just go be with anyone they want to be with.  The reality is that when someone loves their family too, you can’t live in a love bubble and just expect everything to be alright.  You have to deal with the hard stuff.  Most of Only You deals with the hard stuff and does it pretty well. Note: the following paragraph contains a ***SPOILER ALERT*** which is included because it impacted my rating of the book In an effort to conclude the story quickly, there was a sexual innuendo made between Fender and Harlow, cementing their new relationship as a real thing.  There was nothing wrong with the comment, just the placement.  At that point, they were still standing over Fender’s dead father, well near it.  No matter how relieved Fender was to have Trent out of his life and Harlow in it in that moment, the sexual comment was just really out of place.  It tweaked my enjoyment of the story and was still lingering even though Fox pulled the mood back up in her epilogue. ********END SPOILER...
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Dec
19

Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo

Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo Outside The Lines Author: Anna Zabo Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Finding romance—or even the occasional hookup—in a little town like Bluewater Bay has been far more complicated than miniature set designer Ian Meyers would have liked. Meeting a gay man not involved with Wolf’s Landing isn’t all that easy, plus there’s always a chance that they’ll try to use him to be closer to the show. Going home with someone from work is just begging for a lot of awkward afterwards, and is a bad idea all around. Giving up on the whole thing seems like his only option, at least until a collision between his finished model and a stuntman leads him to the local hobby shop—and Simon Derry. Sweet, geeky, and completely adorable, Simon is exactly the kind of guy Ian’s been looking for. As if the ideal mix between shy and flirty wasn’t enough to make Ian want him, Simon is also a highly skilled miniature painter himself, and is willing to work by Ian’s side to get his set repaired on time. Add to that Simon’s obvious (and welcome) interest, and the situation would be absolutely perfect—if it weren’t for Simon’s wife. Having enjoyed another title I’ve read by this author, I was very excited to see what they might bring to the Bluewater Bay universe. After reading Outside the Lines, I can say that it’s easily one of my favorites of the entire series. Somehow capturing the ZING! of Simon and Ian’s new relationship energy and combining it with the comfort, support, and irrefutable trust that anchors Simon’s marriage to Lydia, Anna Zabo has crafted a truly beautiful love story. Without a doubt, there is a lot going on in this story. Outside the Lines examines the distinction between polyamory and open relationships, bisexuality and acceptance, romantic versus sexual attraction, a couple of different kinds of kink, and more. That said, not once did I get the impression that the author was ticking boxes on a list, nor did the tone ever shift to preachy. On the contrary, while fundamental to the makeup of the main characters, those things seemed almost tertiary to the larger, and more basic, feeling of warmth and wanting between people in love. Though we only see the events of the narrative from Simon and Ian’s POVs, I was most taken with Simon’s wife, Lydia. She is rock solid all the way through, only needing support...
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Dec
18

Review: Where a Goddess Belongs by Stephanie Julian

Review: Where a Goddess Belongs by Stephanie Julian Where a Goddess Belongs Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Kari is the Etruscan Goddess of Health, and although she and her sisters are mostly forgotten by the modern world, Kari has been able to maintain a high level of power. Allowing herself to remain captive for three months, Kari is waiting for the right time to share the truth, and her love, with the two men she knows she was meant to be with. Jacoby and Den have been friends since childhood, both coming from dark magic Malandante families. They’ve kept hidden their true abilities, waiting for the best time to make a break from their evil families. Now is crunch time, and they have to decide if they can trust Kari and the Lucani wolves. While it’s been a few years since the previous book, I was able to jump back into the Forgotten Goddesses series with relative ease. Where a Goddess Belongs is part of the larger series plot, forwarding the story arc and involving characters from both this series and the Lucani Lovers series. However, it’s written to be a standalone romance and contains enough backstory and detail that one could jump in with this book. As I read on, bits and pieces of the world filtered back, filling in any gaps. The romance between Kari and her men is the focus of the book. As with most paranormal romances, the characters connect quickly, as if fate brought them together for a purpose. In fact, Kari even says a quick prayer to her sister, the goddess of fate, thanking her for bringing Jacoby and Den to her. Having been their “captive” (she could have easily escaped) for a few months gives some weight to the speed at which the coupling occurs. Each had been observing the other, lusting after the other, knowing their pairing would occur eventually. (They are a ménage but no m/m.) While the romance aspect of the story has a clear path, the overall story arc feels a bit incomplete, or rather like a few chapters from a larger tale. The Mal are trying to take Kari and force her powers on to one of their own children, giving them control. But we’ve yet to fully understand the Mal’s goals and intent. And while the romance finalized by the end of the book, there is no closure on much of the other elements of the book—things brought...
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Dec
15

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep Spartan Heart Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una loved the Mythos Academy series.  When it concluded, we kept our fingers crossed that Ms. Estep would return to the world.  Our wish came true!  The Mythos Academy spinoff series features Gwen’s (the hero from the original series) cousin, Rory Forseti. This is an intriguing world where mythological creatures, warriors, and gods still exist (and mess with the mortal realm).  Rory, our heroine, is a Spartan.  These warriors are gifted with the ability to pick up anything and know how to kill something with it.  Yes, anything: a sword, a knife, a pencil, a fork, a paperclip, a loose-leaf notebook, etc.  At the end of the Mythos Academy series, Loki was captured and imprisoned by Gwen.  However, Loki’s followers, the Reapers, are not disbanded.  It seems with Loki out of the way, they have found a new leader who has decided to take over the world instead.  Well, unless a new band of heroes stops them. Rory’s character is similar to Gwen in that she is an outsider, smart, strong willed, and determined.  Gwen was an outsider due to her psychometric magic and gypsy background.  Rory, however, is the daughter of two high-ranking Reaper assassins.  Sadly, Rory never knew about her parents’ secret identity, until after they were murdered.  Now, Rory is shunned due to her Reaper parents.  Most people figure she will follow in their footsteps, even though she fought just as hard as Gwen to help stop Loki.   Rory now lives with her Aunt Rachel in Colorado, returning to her original academy and trying to find a small, square patch of normal in her completely upset life. We enjoyed watching Rory try to figure out who the Reaper student is.  It was interesting to watch her befriend the group of young Midgards and find her place among them.  It was touching to see the commonalities between Rory and Ian.  We look forward to watching the romance blossom between them and we have our eye on Aunt Rachel and Takeda.  Of course most of the bad guys got away and we look forward to the next battle in the upcoming untitled book 2. You do not have to have read the previous series, but it does give a stronger background in the mythology and the world.  If you enjoy mythology and young adult adventures with a touch of romance,...
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Dec
13

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon Operation Green Card Author: G.B. Gordon Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Though the Bluewater Bay series is drawing to a close, I was happy to see that the storytelling that originally pulled me in is just as strong as ever. Despite an initial moment or two of hesitation on my part, Operation Green Card, by G.B. Gordon, turned out to be a very sweet, hopeful tale of against-the-odds romance that I ended up enjoying quite a lot. Jason, whom we briefly met in Bluewater Blues, is as solitary as anyone could possibly be, keeping everyone—including his own daughter—at a distance. Between not wanting to be hurt, and not wanting to hurt those he cares about, he’s far too lonely for someone with such a giving heart. Arkady, whose loneliness is borne of fear and necessity, isn’t prepared to need anything more from Jason than the means to acquire his green card. But, having always wanted a family to call his own, he quickly realizes that almost finding one only to lose them again too soon might be more heartache than he can bear. While I ended up getting into Operation Green Card fairly well, there were a few things—that were mostly tied to Jason’s part of the story—which I had a little more difficulty accepting at first. I felt that his will to provide for his daughter was wonderful, but it made his determination to risk imprisonment if he and Arkady are caught seem somewhat reckless by comparison. And although I get why he’d want to avoid any pity that might come from those around him knowing about his prosthesis, I just couldn’t see how he planned to keep it a secret from the man who was supposed to be his husband—or how he thought immigration would react under those circumstances. Before long, however, I was very much interested in Arkady and Jason’s story, and eager for them to work things out. I found both men to be interesting characters, but, by the end, it was Arkady that I’d become most attached to. Open, giving, and ready to live and love again, I really wanted him to be happy, especially knowing he was exactly what Jason needed, too. Even with the moments that caused me to stumble a bit in my reading, I couldn’t help but cheer Jason and Arkady on in the end. The author took what could have been a fairly common theme (a...
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Dec
12

Review: How To Blow It With A Billionaire by Alexis Hall

Review: How To Blow It With A Billionaire by Alexis Hall How To Blow It With A Billionaire Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Opening with a prologue tinted with such sinister and brutal (and potentially prophetic) avarice that my nerves were on edge for the entirety of the narrative, How to Blow It with a Billionaire was as wonderful and absolutely crushing as I’d hoped—and feared—it would be. In a fairly seamless a transition, it picks up where How to Bang a Billionaire left off, continuing Arden and Caspian’s story with all the potential their new, and hard-won understanding might bring. Told entirely from Arden’s POV, How to Blow It with a Billionaire felt remarkably well-balanced and generous with regards to the other characters in Arden’s world. Arden is very easy to love, and I was instantly caught up in every hurt or happiness he experienced. Unguarded and generally hopeful, he views everything with an artist’s eye, always referencing various movies, music, novels, etc., to provide context for the situations he finds himself in. His awkward, often hilarious internal commentary provides most of the story’s humor, as well its heart. As was the case in How to Bang a Billionaire, I found the cast of secondary characters to be yet another highlight of the story. Ellery—Caspian’s younger sister and an absolute favorite of mine—is back, and her presence was both welcome and far better than I expected. Bellerose has returned, as well, and is even more charming and prickly than before. Arden’s expanding post-Oxford life also includes several notable additions, specifically the staff at Milieu—George the photographer, most especially. Never tidy nor easy, How to Blow It with a Billionaire is substantially darker than its predecessor, Arden’s increasing intimacy with Caspian exposing many of the latter’s secrets which were only hinted at before. Caspian is not at all what he appears to be, and Arden’s determination to make him at least accept the validity of Arden’s feelings and desires indicates a resilience that neither of them seemed to expect. As their relationship involves a particular kink, there is a significant emphasis on the difference between taking something unwillingly sacrificed and accepting something willingly given, and the inherent complications that must surely arise, allowing that a snapshot of either circumstance without proper perspective might look much the same. If you haven’t read How to Bang a Billionaire yet, I strongly suggest doing so before starting How to Blow It with a Billionaire. If you’ve already...
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Dec
11

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Christmas Eve Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, loves his grandmother and will do anything to please her, including traveling in a snow storm just before Christmas. When their carriage is damaged, the pair finds refuge in the home of Godric St. John, where friends and family have gathered for the holidays, including his lovely half-sister, Sarah. Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a very quick, holiday-themed novella set in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane world. It is a standalone story featuring Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, and Sarah St. John. The pair met briefly once before, and through the innermost confessions of each, we learn there is a mutual attraction. However, because Adam is a confirmed bachelor (and rake), and Sarah is determined to find a respectable man to marry, the pair pull apart each time they indulge in their feelings even a tiny bit. The story moves along rapidly, with nudges from family members helping to bring the pair together. While I think their journey deserved more time and development, it is complete. I really like both Adam and Sarah, but felt everything was rushed a bit to fit the novella-length (or shorter?) story. In the end, Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a delightful, albeit, short historical, holiday romance. It is sweet, and a little bit sexy, with an HEA for Adam and Sarah. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met. Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap. Release Date: December 5,...
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Dec
8

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost The Brightest Embers Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: The Brightest Embers is the final novel in the Broken Destiny trilogy.  Although the overall ending was pleasantly surprising and gripping, the constant angst of Ivy and Adrian’s relationship grated. First, the world is fascinating.  Ivy, the last descendent of David (the boy who felled the giant Goliath), has the power and opportunity to recover three ancient and powerful blessed weapons to stop the demons who are trying to take over our world.  Standing in her way is Adrian, the last descendent of Judas, who is destined to betray the descendent of David.  The Romeo and Juliet twist made the destiny of Ivy and Adrian compelling.  They fall in love and yet he is destined to betray her. Adrian was raised by demons.  He is compelled by vengeance to do anything to ensure the demons do not win.  However, his desire for revenge is derailed by his love for Ivy.  He would do anything to protect her.  We don’t know why she is always so surprised when he breaks his word, omits things, or misdirects her in order to keep her safe.  Her mission is to save the world, we get it, but love makes people do crazy (and stupid) things.  For two adults, they sure do act like they are still in high school at times. We love Brutus, the gargoyle.  He’s like a giant flying puppy.  He was a wonderful addition to the group of heroes.  The relationship between Costa and Adrian, though complicated, was touching.  We’re not sure how Jasmine and Costa will fare once the threat of the end of the world is gone.  The novel ends after the conclusion of the final battle leaving much for us to ponder. Although the strife between Ivy and Adrian was frustrating, we liked how the overall story played out.  The ending of this trilogy was satisfying, but we would have enjoyed a little more of an epilogue.  This lack leads us to think and hope that there might be a novella or another story in this world. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide  Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon...
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