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Dec
6

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant The Hero Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Stepping out of my comfort zone, I picked up The Hero by Donna Grant. I don’t read a lot of military romantic suspense—honestly, I only read one series and it’s by an author I know I love. Got me another. I’m excited to come in on the ground floor for Ms. Grant’s Sons of Texas series. I liked her writing style. I’m sure I’ll be over-the-moon for it by the time I read the next book, The Protector, scheduled for release January 3, 2017. I’m all over any story about Russians. Which Rocky movie was it with Dolph Lundgren? I don’t know, either…but there was a Russian dude in this book that made me think of him. But this story wasn’t really about the Russians. Or the contracts (like, pew pew—gun with a silencer—you’re dead contracts). Or even the fact that Owen, our hero, was a SEAL. Not even because Natalie—our heroine—was working at the Russian embassy. Nope. This story was about forgiveness—not just of other people, but forgiving one’s self and being okay with personal demons. In the blurb, we read about Natalie being all torn up about Owen leaving her high and dry back when they were kids (they’re in their early thirties). These two share SERIOUS history. And they’re both horribly broken in different ways. What I liked most about Natalie was her tenacity. The way she didn’t back down from a challenge, and the way she came up with new solutions. She’s a problem-solver. Unless it come to her personal life. And Owen? *sigh* The boy can flip a switch. He’s a trained killer, but some of the scenes? *fans self* Totally hot. Even in the middle of crisis. He’s genuine as well as being hot and deadly. I’m not going to say I fell for him, but heroes like Owen Loughman might sway me over to military romance. There’s three Loughman brothers. And there’s the dad, Orrin, too. I’m wondering whether we’ll get three or four titles from the series. I’m hoping for four. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget: his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After more than a decade away, Owen has returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that...
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Dec
5

Review: Dark Protector by Katie Reus

Review: Dark Protector by Katie Reus Dark Protector Author: Katie Reus Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: After seeing the connection between Aldric and Natalia in the previous novel, Hunter Reborn, Gikany and Una eagerly anticipated seeing their courtship and conclusion.  Overall we liked this last full novel in the Moon Shifter series. We have to admit, Aldric is a stubborn, overbearing Alpha male.  He stupidly walked away from Natalia, breaking her heart.  However, he redeems himself by: 1) knowing he was an idiot for walking away, 2) apologizing for being said idiot, and 3) working to prove through his actions not only his remorse at hurting Natalia, but winning her back.  We understood that he was previously mated, and that Aldric needed the time to work thorough his feelings and see how his previous mate is different from Natalia.  What makes this work is that he communicates this (finally) to Natalia once he proves himself. We loved Natalia.  She is a strong and intelligent woman.  Her determination to not simply give in and forgive Aldric is awesome.  She makes him work for it…as he needs to.  Just as she needs to not compromise her heart, letting Aldric not only prove to her, but himself what she means to him.  Their journey is both passionate and honest.  We liked how they slowly figured it out despite the demands of the mating instinct. The mystery of the kidnapper was intriguing.  Although for once in the series we were given very little of the adversary’s point of view, it might have been more intriguing to have their identity know.  As Natalia and Aldric investigated, we would have been more attentive as the investigation narrowed down the suspects.  Although it was a bit surprising who the culprit is, we were a bit disappointed that the background of the nemesis’s motive was not fully realized.  We were not truly given the how or the why, which left us a bit frustrated. We have liked this series and are a little sad that this was the last full novel, though we are eager to read the final novella that comes out in a few weeks.  Dark Protector was a passionate and fulfilling romantic journey for Aldric and Natalia. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: He walked away once; he won’t do it again. Wolf shifter Aldric Kazan is no stranger to pain. Since the loss of his mate a century ago, he won’t allow...
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Dec
5

Review: A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights by Peggy Jaeger

Review: A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights by Peggy Jaeger A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Set to take the CPA exams and start her career, Gia San Valentino is thrown for a loop when she finds herself instantly attracted to and completely taken with the wrong man. Unable to shake her feelings, Gia is emotionally torn because of an unknown, yet simple misunderstanding. Constantly surrounded by her family, Gia is worried the horrible truth will soon come out. A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights is a delightful holiday novella centered on a large Italian family and its traditions. I thoroughly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Gia’s life. The author invests time developing the San Valentino family, bringing heart to the story, and Gia’s loving, meddling family provides tender moments with a healthy side of humorous embarrassment. Told from Gia’s first person POV, we get to experience every laugh, fear, and joy along side her. While this story isn’t an instalove tale, it is evident right from the start the Gia and Tim share something special. The love-at-first-meeting attraction comes across as right and true. However, due to a misunderstanding, Gia is emotionally wrecked and guilt-ridden over her attraction. After a while, it became stressful for me. It’s obvious to the reader what is going on, but Gia thinks she’s got the hots for an unattainable man. While the author does a great job of keeping Gia’s physical attraction appropriately compartmentalized, after their third meeting, I wanted her to be able to enjoy her feelings for Tim without the guilt. With that said… the author successfully keeps the mood light, even when the book deals with serious situations. And while the romance is a huge part of the story, there are other things going on in Gia’s life, keeping the focus off her guilty conscience. A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights is a sweet, light-hearted read. This holiday novella is a perfect gift to enjoy snuggled on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini...
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Nov
30

Review: Snowed In by Jenna Bayley-Burke

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

Review: Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler

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

Review: Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

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

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

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

Review: Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards

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

Review: The Burning Isle by Will Panzo

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

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

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