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Apr
11

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell For A Good Time, Call… Author: Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having grown up under the weight of his famous great-great-grandfather’s legacy, Seth Larson has learned to content himself with waiting tables and helping his beloved Grandma out at the family’s estate. In a small town like Bluewater Bay, with its communal history making everyone around him far too familiar, hooking up whenever he was in the mood for sex had always worked for him just fine. Finding someone who really mattered was never a consideration, at least until he’s knocked off balance by a stranger who makes him want more than a random encounter could ever hope to deliver. With two failed relationships in a row and a nearly-hostile connection with his famous mother still casting a shadow over much of his life, Nate Albano doesn’t have a lot of hope of being truly loved—not when his sexuality seems to inevitably drive everyone he’s ever fallen for away. Being grace is especially difficult when the heart that he can’t help but put first has already been bruised one time too many. Giving up on the idea is surely his best option. But, who would have guessed that his own expectations would be turned upside down by Bluewater Bay’s most infamous party guy? We first met several of the characters in For a Good Time, Call… in Wedding Favors, the seventh in the Bluewater Bay series. Seth played an important role in that novel, and turned out to be my favorite of the two main characters here. Seth’s main cause of stress is his relationship with most of his family, rather than a lack of romance in his life. In fact, something that endeared Seth to me from the beginning is that he experiences a good bit of slut-shaming, both active and passive, in this story, which he handles extremely well by shrugging it off, for the most part. It simply is what it is. Additionally, I thought his determination to understand and respect Nate’s specific, non-generic, sexuality was notable. Nate is grace/gray asexual, and I was happy to see the representation. The story deals with Nate’s sexuality in a matter-of-fact way, using his growing connection to Seth to answer a lot of potential questions about what it means, in this context, to be grace. In fact, it is Nate’s other relationship issues that cause a problem between he and Seth (as...
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Apr
10

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft Sanguine Moon Author: Jennifer Foxcroft Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Sanguine Moon is the second installment in the young adult paranormal romance Camazotz Trilogy.  It picks up right where Sanguine Mountain left off.  I appreciated the fact that this was not a filler book, but had its own, valid plot.  While it is a complete story, this is definitely a “read in order” trilogy, also setting us up for book three in the last chapter. With two years between the release of the first and second installments, there is a character list in the back to help the reader keep multiple players in order. I found the first story was unique enough that I did remember most of it and have been looking forward to this read. I’m enjoying continuing this alternate version of the vampire myth.  Camazotz are a species of shape-shifting vampire bats—more zoology, less Bela Lugosi.  They shun modern technology and outsiders in an effort to keep their secrets.  Main heartthrob Rockland “Rocks” is desperately in love with aeronaught (ordinary human) Connie Phillips. Unfortunately he’s also heir-apparent to leadership of his colony. Connie has her own troubles as the identity of her biological parents prove to be more than problematic. In fact, they become very adult problems which is why I was frustrated by Connie’s lack of faith in the adults in her life—parents who are perfect in a way only fictional characters can be.  Keeping them from the action of the story felt a little contrived, even if necessary.  Academy Award winning director Keith Merrill once said, “If you’re a screenwriter and understand the essence of drama, and you want to plunge your characters into conflict and keep them there, then you probably need to ‘lose the mom.’ Mothers go missing in movies because leaving them in the lives of characters in crisis makes sustaining conflict difficult. Mothers listen and understand, solve problems, and resolve conflicts. They are selfless and love without conditions. You want to stir up a heap of trouble and make it believable? Better keep Mom out of it.”  Foxcroft’s justifications for keeping good parents “out of it” wore very thin before being resolved.  To her credit, however, when we finally got there, it was almost a physical relief.  I hope it is appropriate to give them a larger support role in book three. Rocks has his own problems with his colony.  Their fear of the outside world, especially...
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Apr
6

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin Sins of the Warrior Author: Linda Poitevin Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Sins of the Warrior is the final book in the gripping Grigory Legacy series.  While I am chagrined to say I liked it – the ending was a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion to this series of Armageddon. First, I wish I had the time to at least reread the previous novel. It has been a few years since I’ve read Sins of the Lost. It took me a bit of time to jump back in. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to remember so much of what had happened over the course of the series. If you haven’t read the series or are interested, trust me, start from the beginning. But once my brain cells kicked in and I recalled the past, I soon found myself gripped by this novel. ****If you haven’t read the series, this review will contain spoilers.**** As the novel begins, we find Alex hunting for her niece.  Her steel core of honor and duty won’t let her give up on her niece or on the world.  Alex has sacrificed and suffered since the beginning of this series. This novel is no different.  She continues to exemplify true courage, loyalty and determination.  Alex balances on the razor’s edge of sanity as her world and her future falls apart. However, it is a sign of her platinum will that she holds herself together, continuing on the path of doing what is right; even though the effort and choices are excruciating.  Though in the end there is a bittersweet consolation, it was still sad. I enjoyed how Michael (or Mika’el) was more fully developed in this book.  We see more than just the gruff warrior exterior – there is so much more to him.  Through this novel, it makes sense the by-play between him and Alex.  They are both warriors cut from the same cloth.  They have the same loyalty, same courage and determination and sadly, the same ability to sacrifice, to make the hard choices.  Once they start letting down their guards, they discovered how much alike they are, that they are both working for the same goals. What keeps me from rating this higher is that it is sad.  The end of humanity is not something you can say you loved.  This is Armageddon – the absolute war. The losses in this war will be catastrophic; you...
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Apr
5

Review: By Her Touch by Adriana Anders

Review: By Her Touch by Adriana Anders By Her Touch Author: Adriana Anders Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I’m an ink junkie. Anyone that knows me will tell you that. From the time I was old enough to appreciate tattoos as art, I’d wanted one of my own. I wasn’t able to get my first until around the time I’d turned forty, and now I have…a lot. ☺ They tell a story of who I have been, who I am, and who I will be. So, when I had the opportunity to read the first title of the Blank Canvas series by Adriana Anders—Under Her Skin—I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t disappointed. I was eager to read the next installment in the series…and O…M…G. I don’t think I’ve ever read a tortured hero like Clay. While George was a wonderfully rounded-out character and I was able to connect with her, have my heart break for her and her losses—her situation. The road she’d traveled to get to this moment in time that brought Clay into her life hadn’t been all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. She’d known pain. But, when we look at George as a reflection of ourselves, she had been merely a husk of a person. Seeing her character grow gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling. So. Clay. When I read a book about a guy that was trying to do the right thing and basically got screwed over, I always get a little indignant on his behalf. Why can’t the good guy ever have an easy time of it?!? Hahah. That’d be too easy. Without pain, the pleasure isn’t quite so sweet. And Clay had had plenty of pain. Emotional pain, physical pain—you name it, he’d had it. One of my thoughts was, “How can a man that’s gone through so much in his life be ready for a truly committed relationship?” Truth is, it’s hard to tell. Oftentimes in a situation like that, one can’t even recognize themselves. It’s like digging out of a pit—having to gently slope the sides to climb out and have a chance to be whole. Doing all the hard work—the digging and climbing—is part of the process, so even when someone tosses down a rope ladder, it really isn’t helping matters, much. What really drew me to Clay, though, was the fact that he carried the story of his past, present, and future. Whether he realized it or not, he bore the marks that...
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Apr
5

Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall The Lady and the Highlander Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Lady and the Highlander is another great story in the Highland Fairy Tale series. This retelling of Snow White was inventive, creative and enthralling. I loved Laire and Iain’s story. It was unique and I enjoyed the obstacles and challenges to Laire and Iain’s romance. Iain is bound to Laire’s stepmother by a traumatic past. Laire is haunted by her own tragic past but determined to save her family. Between Iain’s duty and Laire’s stubborn courage, it seemed their future was impossible. However, as in all fairy tales, love finds a way (even if it includes a bit of nail biting). I loved how Ms. Cornwall wove the essence of Snow White into the story. It was perfectly balanced and though the elements were present in some form – the story was absolutely its own. It was gripping, heartfelt, and full of surprises. Even knowing the story of Snow White, I wasn’t sure how certain elements would come together. I delighted in how unique and yet familiar the story felt. I think my favorite Snow White inclusion was the “dwarfs”. The band of thieves that take Laire in was utterly creative and provided a fascinating element to the story. Overall, I loved this latest installment in the Highland Fairy Tale series. Laire and Iain’s journey was gripping, full of twists, and passion.  I eagerly look forward to the next story. If you enjoy a creative and gripping spin on a fairy tale, full of romance and suspense, then you definitely need to pick up this series. Though they can be read as a standalone, the series is richer if you start with the first book, Beauty and the Highland Beast. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Laire MacLeod’s father has married a mysterious widow who is a vain beauty that deals with potions and spells. Laire does not drink them with the rest of her family and is the only one who could see through her stepmother’s games. When Laire flees to find help from her Uncle the Lady’s huntsman follows her with orders to kill. Laire must survive in a dangerous new city and find the antidote to a poisonous potion before it is too late. Iain Lindsay is cursed. He is bound for seven years to be the hunter of a Lady who uses him to bring back...
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Apr
4

Review: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear

Review: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear Between A Wolf And A Hard Place Author: Terry Spear Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Picking up where the last in the series left off, Between a Wolf and a Hard Place follows the developing relationship between Ellie MacTire, one of the new owners of the Silver Town Inn, and Brett Silver, local news reporter and third–born of the Silver quadruplets. As it revisits the setting and characters that were established in the fifth Silver Town Wolf story, A Silver Wolf Christmas, slipping back into the world of the novel was easy to do. While I’ve really enjoyed this series, as well as those connected to it that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, this particular story didn’t draw me in quite as thoroughly as its predecessors. I can’t help but like the MacTire sisters so far, and the Silver brothers and cousins have all proven to be just as interesting, so the cause of my reaction wasn’t about the characters themselves. All of the wolves are memorable in different ways, and seeing the return of some of my favorites was definitely a nice benefit. Personality-wise, I think Ellie and Brett are a wonderful pair. Ellie’s gift is a secret, and rightfully so, given the reactions she’s experienced in the past. But, Brett has a few surprises of his own that come back to haunt him, the focus of which I thought only made them both more intriguing as a couple. I do wish, though, that their romance had been allowed to develop a little longer over a narrower range of happenings, rather than the multitude of issues they had to contend with. Which is where I felt a little lost on occasion. Rather than bonding with each other while facing down a single threat, and the complications associated with it, Ellie and Brett seemed to be dealing with four or five different conflicts, and at least one of those of their own devising. One thing, in particular, that concerned me was simply a misunderstanding that might have been resolved fairly quickly, but instead plagued the couple throughout the narrative. This, in addition to the reaffirmation of the discord between the MacTires and their troublesome cousins, along with a rescue mission on the side, and so on, distracted me from the main plot of Between a Wolf and a Hard Place more than once. Still, I was very happy with the resolution of the more romantic...
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Apr
3

Review: Cooking with Kandy by Peggy Jaeger

Review: Cooking with Kandy by Peggy Jaeger Cooking with Kandy Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Cooking with Kandy is the EBC’s number one food show, making Kandy Laine a highly successful woman, and apparently a target. Kandy is self-driven with high standards and an incredible work ethic. While she is extremely busy, family always comes first; she is giving, caring, and would do anything for those in her inner circle. So when threats on Kandy’s life grow more serious, she’s honestly perplexed that it could be coming from someone close to her. Josh Keane was hired to protect Kandy and get to the bottom of the threats. While he has always put his job first, his instant attraction to and growing friendship with Kandy messes with his head and heart. Will getting to the bottom of the danger signal the end of his time with Kandy… or will it start the beginning of something more? Cooking with Kandy is an enjoyable combination of sweet romance and light mystery/suspense. As the first title in Ms. Jaeger’s new Will Cook for Love series, readers are introduced to Kandy and her entire extended family, ninety percent of which seem to work for her in some capacity. The author has created a warm, genuine environment, which should serve well for the series setting. Kandy and Josh are two peas in a pod (food reference intended!); both are driven individuals who have their own fair share of baggage. While each has found success and happiness with their career paths, it isn’t until they are put together that they truly see some holes and loneliness in their lives. Although they are forced by circumstance to be together, they develop a genuine bond, and the nature of the events surrounding their pairing lends itself to a rapid opening up and sharing of innermost thoughts and desires. Josh and Kandy are sweet together. They are like the couple that finishes each other’s sentences. And while it took a little while for the steam to build, once the couple allows themselves to indulge in desire, the heat factor raises quickly. Kandy’s world is full of characters, and at times it was difficult to remember who was who. This is important because not only is the book a romance, there is a pretty serious mystery which gives way to a bit of suspense. Ms. Jaegar establishes a solid problem, complete with clues and red herrings. I enjoyed piecing together the...
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Mar
29

Review: Legacy Lost by Jillian David

Review: Legacy Lost by Jillian David Legacy Lost Author: Jillian David Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I was excited to find that the second novel in the Hell’s Valley series would be Shelby and Eric’s story.  With Shelby’s potent ability, I wasn’t sure how she would find a happy ending with anyone.  Though there were pitfalls, I did enjoy their story. Both Shelby and Eric are very strong personalities. I wasn’t sure how they were going to make their relationship work in a healthy way. With Shelby’s empathic abilities, I didn’t think she could make it work with Eric. Though I did like how they tried to communicate with each other, they did sometimes run hot and cold. That being said, it was true to their personalities, and I enjoyed watching them grow and try to figure out how to make it work. Eric’s ability to compartmentalize seemed to be what could help them, though I liked how (realistically) no one could keep all their feelings and thoughts bottled up. Without giving anything away, I liked how the ending wasn’t a miracle, “every thing is fixed” conclusion. There will still be challenges, but the fact that they are going to be stubborn together is the “big red bow”. Though Shelby and Eric’s journey was strong and gripping, I felt a bit lost with what is going on with their neighbors, the Brands. It is implied that the threat is demonic, and I wonder at the connection to the Brands and how it will eventually play out.  With the introduction of a new couple to help at the ranch, I hope in the next novel we will learn more about what seems like an ancient feud.  I was happy that the lost eldest brother (Vaughn) has returned.  It appears his story may be next and I can’t wait to learn more about him and the tension between Vaughn and the emergency room doctor. Overall I liked Legacy Lost, the second novel in the Hell’s Valley series. Though Shelby and Eric could run hot and cold, the story was true to their personalities, and I loved how they found their common ground.  I continue to be intrigued by the dark demonic plot and hope to learn more in the next novel as well. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Growing up as an honorary Taggart, Eric Patterson found the family he’d always wanted. Almost. He couldn’t ever manage to see the clan’s...
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Mar
29

Review: Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

Review: Royally Roma by Teri Wilson Royally Roma Author: Teri Wilson Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I was super excited to read Royally Roma. It’s advertised as a retelling of the classic romance Roman Holiday – a movie I ADORE!!!!!  It’s clear the author loves Audrey Hepburn as much as I do and that she has a major crush on Prince William, which I can totally respect—I mean he’s a cutie pie. But I felt like rather than work with the romance & chemistry that Roman Holiday offers, Ms. Wilson relies way too much on sexual references. I understand that Julia and Nico have massive chemistry. That is clear from the open scene when he’s lying asleep and naked in her bed, but I felt like much of the story was missed because they were so caught up in the heat that was between them. References to her pert, round bottom and his arousals were plentiful, but I felt like they weren’t necessary. I mean, I understand that we are dealing with a couple hot and horny millennials; however, I feel like a well placed kiss and a side-long glance, at least in a few places would have relaid the same message as him needing to adjust his expensive trousers to hide evidence. I’m sorry, maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I feel like sex in a story should be like sprinkles on a cupcake. They offer, color, texture, maybe a little flavor, but no one wants to bite into a cupcake filled with hard, crunchy, weak-flavored sprinkles that distract from the fun & flavor of the cake and frosting. Royally Roma had some great cake and frosting to offer along side of some seriously beautiful scenery. Ms. Wilson does an AMAZING job describing Rome. The dialogue both inside the main characters’ heads and between the pair is fun and witty and lets us see a side of Nico we’d all like to see of Prince William. But overall, the book relied so heavily on sex that I missed the story for the sprinkles, and that’s a bummer because Roman Holiday really is a wonderful and classic story. My Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some   About the Book: In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City. Julia Costa...
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Mar
28

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian The Enforcer Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Jess Gardiner has hockey in her blood. With the best scout in the NHL for a father, Jess learned the game inside and out at a young age. The problem is, women aren’t scouts in the NHL. So she works as the promotion manager for the Redtails, honestly loving her job, and feeds her scouting side by making recommendations to the coach on the side. Will is a veteran player without much time left playing the sport he loves. However, after a recommendation to give him a look, the Redtails pick him up to be a leader for its young team. And from the moment he meets the intriguing Jess, he’s hoping he’ll stay with the Redtails for a while. The Enforcer is a quick, enjoyable story with equal parts romance and hockey. Hockey isn’t just a setting for the book, but rather the story is infused with the ins and outs of the sport. It’s clear that Ms. Julian understands and loves hockey as much as her heroine, Jess. Right from the start, Jess and Will experience a strong pull and mutual attraction, accompanied by the sudden realization that something has been missing in their lives. However, Jess was burned by immature hockey players in the past, and she’s worried about the impacts to her credibility on the job if she dates someone on the team. Yet, she cannot deny herself the joy of being around Will. Similarly, Will recognizes he’s getting older and doesn’t want to play games when meets a woman he really likes. Yet, he is respectful of her concerns and willing just to be friends because he enjoys her company – totally swoon-worthy. Their romance is quick, sexy, and sweet, and I really enjoyed their story. My biggest issue with The Enforcer is the number of apparent continuity errors within the storyline. I can adjust to one or maybe two issues, but I found a handful of situations that seemed in clear conflict with something stated later in the story. For example, in a scene early in the book, Will discusses an upcoming game with teammate Justin and how a player named Mason will cause Will problems. Mason plays for Syracuse. Yet later in the text, we find out that the Redtails are playing Milwaukee. While not important to the overall story, continuity issues like this drive me nuts, and I...
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