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May
22

Review + Blog Tour: Wash Out L.A. Witt

Review + Blog Tour: Wash Out L.A. Witt Wash Out Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Having lost far too much to his memories and resulting addiction, Logan Carter is finally turning his life around, finding help in the most unlikely of places. After watching too many of his fellow Marines die on the battlefield, he’d used alcohol to quiet the past, nearly destroying any chance at a decent future. Now, six months sober, he’s getting a fresh start as a civilian contractor at NAS Adams, rebuilding a friendship with his ex, and going to regular therapy sessions. The only thing that would be better—or worse—would be falling for the handsome Gunner’s Mate in the next cubicle.  GM2 Casey Olsen has had one goal his entire life: to be a Navy SEAL. He’d never questioned his ability to fight on the front lines, until a horribly broken leg yanks that destiny out from under him, leaving him angry and unsure about his own future. Unable to chase his dreams, but too fit to be medically discharged, he’s in limbo and frustrated. At least his current officemates are fun—especially the sexy new guy who draws him like a magnet. After all, what could possibly be wrong with having a little fun while the Navy figures out what to do with him? Like the other stories in the Anchor Point series, Wash Out is a standalone that manages to successfully tie in characters from previous stories, which I greatly appreciated. As is also the case in earlier narratives, Logan and Casey are trying to find their place in the world with regards to the Navy, and are carrying around some serious burdens to boot. Though I feel bad about the reaction, I don’t think that Wash Out was as balanced as some of the pervious titles, and couldn’t help siding with one character more than the other on occasion.  The requisite instant chemistry between MCs is very much present as well, and Casey and Logan don’t wait long to explore it. Casey’s injury forces them to go a little slower than they might have otherwise, however, which works to the story’s advantage. Instead, they engage in other avenues of physical intimacy, and I found the combination of tethered impatience and joyful curiosity refreshing. One of my favorite things about Wash Out is that its ending is a HFN, rather than a HEA. The narrative makes it clear that everything can change in an instant,...
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May
16

Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward The Thief Author: J.R.Ward Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Thief is the sixteenth novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series.  Though some overarching plot lines are resolved and/or made more convoluted, it was as gripping and intriguing as I’ve come to expect.   Suffice to say, The Thief resolves the romantic plot lines between Assail (drug/arms dealing vampire) and Marisol (aka Sola the human thief).  However the new threat that Throe presents is only intensified in this novel as we learn more about his plot as well as the origin of power.  As always with this series, there are multiple plot lines running through with only a few being resolved.  Yet die-hard fans will be happy to know that some Ward teasers and “spoilers” finally come to fruition, for example; Murhder, the current state of the Scribe Virgin, Saxton’s HEA, the nature of Boo the cat, and a few other tidbits. For those (strangely) unaware, Saxton’s HEA took place in the spin-off series, Black Dagger Legacy (BDL).  Though not necessary, his mate’s background is important to understand why he makes a worthy escort to Saxton when conducting the King’s business. I feel, now after The Thief and Blood these series need to be read in order to fully appreciate the complete world.  Which would make The Thief technically book number nineteen.  Though we do not see BDL characters in the BDB novels, the reverse is true.  In fact, BBD characters are prominent in the BDL novels, in fact one BDB mated pair tend to parallel the BDL main characters.   Unlike in all of the previous BDB novels, the question of Sola’s mortality is not resolved.  Unlike for Mary, Jane and even Manny, Sola’s mortality (along with her grandmother’s) is not addressed.  Assail only believes that since a miracle occurred for the other brothers, he may well be able to have one for his family.  Hence, I wonder what may transpire in a future novel in either of the “series”.  But with the appearance of Murhder and the issue of resolving the inheritance, this tangled plot strand is finally being woven into the story.   There are numerous other plot strands that seemed to just be touched on in The Thief.  But I am sure that Ward is only giving us the teasing taste of what is in store.  These books are truly starting to have the feel of a chess board.  Though a...
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May
16

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter Dark Queen Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: As what was initially intended to be the final Jane Yellowrock title, Dark Queen had a lot of expectations to live up to. And I think it did so very well. This story moves incredibly fast, especially towards the end, making it at once a little difficult to keep up with in places, as well as the most thrilling of these stories to date.  One of my favorite thing about this series is that Jane has never escaped having to deal with the consequences of her actions. She has made a lot of mistakes, and learned from the various outcomes. Even better, she’s still learning. She’s also still imperfect and conflicted, but, finally, she’s found peace with Beast and isn’t alone.  This was a tough read in both good and bad ways for me. Dark Queen is the culmination of all the twists and turns in the previous stories and ends in no-holds-barred combat between Leo and his subjects and his European former master who’s determined to destroy him and take over everything. As such, the author isn’t kind, and too many specifics here would ruin it. In an effort to avoid direct spoilers, I’ll leave additional opinions on that part alone, since long-term readers will likely want to get all the details straight from the narrative themselves. There were a couple of things about Dark Queen that bothered me, but not enough to diminish my overall enjoyment of the story. Though I’m always left confused by some of the details that are dropped across the Jane Yellowrock tales, the succinct recaps that are provided by Jane digging through her own memory in this case didn’t always help. More critically, I felt that the dangling of hope in certain instances did more harm than good, and wasn’t entirely necessary, but that’s likely a personal quirk, and not something that will affect most other readers. The fact that I still can’t keep track of all the players is actually more of a testament to the author’s skills as a storyteller than a fault, and makes me regret not making a spreadsheet of everything from the moment I started the series. Dark Queen would have been a good, if bittersweet, ending to the Jane Yellowrock series, but the discovery that there will be at least two more to follow made it even better. There were many questions answered...
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May
14

Review: Awaken Me by Farrah Rochon

Review: Awaken Me by Farrah Rochon Awaken Me Author: Farrah Rochon Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: None of the Holmes’ siblings take Reid very seriously, and he’s done nothing to try and change their minds about him. But when he wakes next to yet another beautiful woman who’s name he can’t remember, he realizes it’s time for a life change. And when he meets Holmes Construction newest employee, he realizes Brooklyn is someone worth changing for. Brooklyn blames herself for the closing of her dad’s company, and now she’s going to work twice as hard for Holmes Construction to help pay for her dad’s medical bills. But even though she’s the best at what she does, her heart belongs to another passion: drawing and writing comics. Luckily she has a gorgeous workplace crush to keep her mind occupied while on the construction site.  Awaken Me is a wonderful slow-burn romance between two people more alike on the inside than anyone would suspect. Brooklyn and Reid are both afraid to take chances for fear of disappointing their families. Where as Reid allows his family to think he’s shallow and doesn’t take life seriously, Brooklyn strives to do her best to show her parents she’s the dependable, hard worker they know her to be. But both want more from life, and they are posed at the precipice of change when they meet one another, which allows them to grow both individually and mutually. Mutual attraction plays a role in their story. But instead of jumping into bed, both want to take it slow, even when their bodies don’t agree. This is important, because in order for the relationship to have a chance, they need to get to know each other, and both need to take down walls. I love the little moments when each is open and honest, sharing some of the person they are on the inside.  Awaken Me is a solid romance, but it’s the extras that make the book a story; a journey. The overwhelming feelings stirred by the memories of Reid’s deceased mom are touching and heartfelt. I love the family-centric setting, including the fears of letting down loved ones. It’s all relatable.  In the end, I truly enjoyed the slow burn romance of Brooklyn and Reid. They are two peas in a pod: both filled with fears and insecurities. They felt a connection and allowed it to blossom over time, creating a passionate love story. My Rating: B+ Liked It...
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May
9

Review: Lock Nut by JL Merrow

Review: Lock Nut by JL Merrow Lock Nut Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: As they merge the rest of their lives, working together should be a natural progression of things for recently affianced Tom Paretski and Phil Morrison. And, that seems to be the case, at least, until a favor for a friend of a friend results in yet another dead body. Now, with tensions rising at home as well as in the field, their happily ever after may not be as certain as they thought. In this final addition to The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Tom and Co. (i.e. the survivors to date) are all back and gearing up for the wedding we’ve all been waiting for. With his best friend and sister both happily married to the respective loves of their lives, and his own nuptials fast approaching, Lock Nut sets out to be the perfect ending to a series that has been somewhat, if comically, less than kind to its main characters. Not to change a good thing however, the author still has a plenty of torture in mind for Tom after all. As was the case with the previous story, there were a few specifics in Lock Nut that felt incomplete. These were mainly questions raised during the course of the narrative that never seemed to have been fully answered. Although my overly picky sensibilities were incapable of ignoring them, they don’t really impact the outcome in a meaningful way, leaving the mystery itself, along with happenings of all the characters, to carry the plot as they should. The whodunit half of Lock Nut kept me guessing for quite a while, which I enjoyed a great deal, even though I wasn’t entirely convinced of the villains’ cleverness so much as their good fortune via the mistakes of others. There was also an “ick factor” regarding a younger character’s age that I agreed with Tom’s initial reaction about, but it wasn’t anything explicit (or even immediate) and things worked out in the end. Overall, Lock Nut delivers the HEA that the author has been teasing her audience with for a long time. Tom and Phil’s relationship is more comfortable and sincere than ever—which, of course, allows Tom to find even more things to worry about. Though certainly not perfect, there’s an ease to their interactions, and the taunting and poking they aim at one another was among my favorite aspects of the whole story. This no-nonsense sort...
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May
7

Review: Hawkyn by Larissa Ione

Review: Hawkyn by Larissa Ione Hawkyn Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Hawkyn is a special earth-bound angel known as a Memitim, and his job is to protect his Primori: humans, who for whatever reason, are destined to make an impact on all humankind. Hawkyn has lived centuries under the strict heavenly rules, waiting for the day he can ascend and sit on the Memitim Council so he can make changes to their archaic ways. But when he steps in to protect Aurora from his serial killer Primori, Hawkyn begins to stray from the path. Aurora is a Wytch; the fabled species that is a mix of human witch and incubus. She’s chosen to live a human life, keeping her powers under wraps and not fulfilling her warrior destiny. But when she’s attacked and taken by a mad monster, Aurora’s eyes are open to a world she had only heard about.  Hawkyn is another 1,001 Dark Nights novella set in Ms. Ione’s Demonica world. While the romance is standalone, I feel that previous knowledge of the world would be useful when reading the story due to the large number of characters and types of beings that inhabit the world. For example, there is a significant side-story involving Azagoth, the father of all Memitim, and his mate, Lilliana, which takes up a bit of the book and isn’t resolved by the end.  While the author does a solid job of building the story and conflict around Hawkyn and Aurora, I feel that the romance aspect is lacking. There is much build up around why Aurora is kidnapped, what to do to save her, and how to change the Memitim, which is all interesting and mostly entertaining, but leaves little room for actual romance (and I don’t mean just sex). The pair spends little time really getting to know one another, and there aren’t any romantic overtures until well after the 50% mark of the book.  In the end, Hawkyn was an interesting story, but the romance fell flat for me. There wasn’t much build up or chemistry. Ms. Ione is making a lot of changes in her Demonica World with these novellas, which is cool and all, but the novellas lack the richness of the full-length story. I love the world, but I need more. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: As a special class of earthbound guardian angel called Memitim, Hawkyn is charged...
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May
2

Review: Scissor Kisses by Devon Monk

Review: Scissor Kisses by Devon Monk Scissor Kisses Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Scissor Kisses is the third novella in the Ordinary Magic series.  This long awaited novella featuring Myra was only a taste of what Gikany and Una hopes is coming in the next novel.  Though it contains the wit we have come to love, the substance was light in progressing some overarching plot lines. Unfortunately, after two novellas where we see the other two Reed sisters in the midst of an HEA or at the beginning of one, we were expecting something to come out of the strange romance between Myra and the demon, Bathen. However, though we have an interesting stalker situation (which was easy to figure out), nothing truly happens.  Myra learns more about Bathen and admits (finally) about the attraction to him.  However, Delaney’s soul is still in Bathen’s possession and seems like it will remain that way.  Though Myra may have a possible way to free Delaney’s soul, there appears to be fine print and no one is clarifying it.  Myra being the thorough sister won’t try to free Delaney’s soul until she knows what the consequences and ramifications are. If Gikany and Una could describe this novella, it is really a prequel – a set up for the next full length novel that we suspect will feature Myra working on freeing Delaney’s soul.  We aren’t sure what possible HEA can be found between Myra and a demon (prince or not).  But the romantic tension between them is palatable.  But though the novel doesn’t truly move major plot points forward, it is a fun story where we get Myra’s perspective.  For fans of the series, I think it is a delightful appetizer to the next full novel due out soon. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: This Valentine’s Day there’s more than hearts at risk… Police officer Myra Reed prefers her life orderly, predictable, and logical. Unfortunately, she lives in the little beach town of Ordinary, Oregon where gods vacation and monsters cause all sorts of trouble.  Her most recent headache is a sexy demon named Bathin, who has tricked his way into both living in Ordinary, and owning her sister’s soul. She wants him out of Ordinary. He wants…her. Myra will get her sister’s soul back no matter the price. But first she must deal with a stalker, a crossroads deal, and a dangerous spell that could fix...
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May
1

Review: Dragon Bites by Allyson James

Review: Dragon Bites by Allyson James Dragon Bites Author: Allyson James Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Starting within a few to several weeks after the conclusion of the previous title, Dragon Bites opens with Janet and Maya heading to Vegas for a girls weekend. Gabrielle crashes the party and insists she come along, and soon the threesome find trouble. They uncover a supernatural fight club, where Mick is an unlikely participant. Powers blazing, Janet and Gabrielle fight to save Mick and unknowingly awaken an ancient power. Dragon Bites is the next adventure for Mick and Janet; however the book really belongs to Gabrielle, who comes into her own over the course of the story. Adding to the changes in Dragon Bites, Ms. James alters her writing style to include several first-person-POVs from not just Janet, but Gabrielle, Mick, and Colby. At first I didn’t care for it, but after a while I grew accustomed to the “mind swapping” and enjoyed learning what the other characters (besides Janet) were thinking.  As I mentioned, Janet and Mick take almost a backseat to Gabrielle in Dragon Bites. While they remain major players, the story focuses on Gabrielle’s journey to break out from Janet and Grandmother’s shadows and restrictions, as she learns more about her own powers. The author is able to provide a deeper insight into Gabrielle through her first person POV. We get inside her head and learn her doubts, fears, joys, and desires. Along the way, new characters are introduced, giving Gabrielle the opportunity to prove to Janet, Grandmother, and herself, that she’s not just the crazy girl with the evil goddess mother.  My only issue with the story, if you can call it that, is the length of time in between books. While the author is good about working on this self-published series when she can, and keeping fans up to speed, in the past five years there has only been two books. It’s tough to keep invested in the characters when so much time passes, and I feel like I have to relearn them each time. I’m starting to forget what drew me to the series and why I love it so. Maybe I need a re-read. In the end, I enjoyed my time spent back in the Stormwalker world, and will continue to follow along on their adventures for now. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Maya and I are just trying to have a girls’ weekend in...
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Apr
25

Review: Bound To by Sionna Fox

Review: Bound To by Sionna Fox Bound To Author: Sionna Fox Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having lived her entire life in a small college town where she never really fit in, Jolene Mae Whitford finally decided to make a fresh start for herself in Boston. But, living nearly rent-free in her former roommate’s spare room, without a steady job, while constantly dreading her next anxiety attack isn’t working out so well, either. The only bright spot was meeting Matthew Ward—the older brother of another college friend—and realizing that he she needs to give him control during sex as much as he needs to accept it. In fact, submitting to Matthew is the only thing that has felt good in years. But, what is she supposed to do when even that’s not enough? Told entirely from Jolene’s perspective, Bound To explores not only the “awakening” of her physical desires, but her evolution and redefinition of self. It isn’t that Jolene is a “mess” or in need of “fixing,” it’s that she’s not who she’s supposed to be. She’s never had the determination or opportunity to find out before. One of the things I felt this story did well was acknowledge that people are meant to change, and that it’s not shameful to accept help from others along the way. Something else I appreciated is that Jolene’s anxiety isn’t treated as an inconvenience for Matthew (or anyone in their group of friends for that matter) to accept or “cure.” Not that his attempts to help weren’t without some missteps, but mostly Jolene had to be ready to figure out what she needed for herself. Which can be a very difficult thing to do. Though the primary emphasis of Bound To is about more than sex, Jolene’s induction into the world of dominance and submission occupies much of the narrative. Matthew is honest from the start about what he wants, which is exactly what she needs, but didn’t know how to look for. Every encounter is very explicit and highlighted by the heady enticement of finally exploring what feels right to Jolene, not just good. And while the author makes sure that each one is framed by thoughtfulness, responsibility, and care, it’s also made clear that all relationships are different, and that the “rules” that Jolene and Matthew initially agree on are allowed to evolve. In the end, Bound To covered a lot ground in a compact narrative. Though it seemed a little textbook...
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Apr
24

Review: Total Bravery by Piper Drake

Review: Total Bravery by Piper Drake Total Bravery Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Total Bravery is latest novel in Ms. Drake’s True Heroes series.  After it seemed like all of the men of Hope’s Crossing found their HEAs, we wondered what was next in this series.  We liked this segue into a related group. We are not fans of instant love in the contemporary romance genre.  This is a big reason why the romantic thread in Total Bravery is one of our favorites in this series.  We loved how patient and honest Raul is with Mali.  Although he is strongly attracted to Mali in a way he has never felt before, he is respectful and treats her like a lady.  It was not the right time or place, but the communication between them was strong.  We enjoyed Mali’s analytical mind.  Her reasoning and ability to observe and absorb were valuable and enticing qualities to Raul.  They worked well together and even though they have a quick tryst, they take the time to evaluate if it was a moment of trauma induced stress or something more.   We continue to enjoy the canine partners that enrich the story.  Although Taz was an integral part of the team, he was not as central to the story as some of the other canines have been.  He made a strong supporting character and we really enjoyed his unique personality. As much as we have enjoyed the suspenseful plots of the previous novels, this one just didn’t grab us like the others did.  Even though the horrific element of human trafficking was muted, it still was an uncomfortable contrast to the love story.  We also questioned the realistic viability of taking a recently traumatized civilian into a potential combat mission.  Don’t get us wrong, it was incredibly suspenseful and thrilling, but we couldn’t suspend our disbelief.   With the introduction of this new team, we look forward to more stories in this series.  We are eager to see both Mali’s sister Arin and her partner, Zu, find romance.  Both were fascinating characters.  We also wonder if we may get a prequel story that tells how Kalea and Miller met.   Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: True heroes will do anything to protect the women they love… As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he’s got the best friend and partner...
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