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Jul
18

Review: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang

Review: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang Escaping Indigo Author: Eli Lang Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Escaping Indigo is a fairly brief, emotional study of the pitfalls of love, loss, anxiety, and misunderstanding. Micah is living a fan’s dream when he’s hired as a roadie for a band he’s loved for quite some time. But, being with them all long-term on a tour bus alters things, and his perspective of the individual members—Bellamy, in particular—begins to change. Unfortunately, both Micah and Bellamy have too many wounds that are still raw and aching to find an easy path to one another, and trying to hold onto something so fragile could cost them everything. As much as I loved the premise of Escaping Indigo, there were a few things that I had a little trouble with. Micah’s constant worry over Bellamy leads to several moments of repetitive inquiry that made Bellamy seem more fragile than he was in other scenarios within the narrative. I also had some difficulties with Micah’s somewhat contradictory stance on Bellamy’s anxiety. While he claims to acknowledge and accept Bellamy’s determination to deal with his issues on his own, he frequently pushes the idea of therapy (including medicinal treatments, to which Bellamy is adamantly opposed). There were other small issues, as well, but they didn’t stop me from wanting the best for these two characters. Romantically, I generally enjoyed the slow build between Micah and Bellamy. There were moments throughout the beginning and into the central part of the narrative where I wasn’t sure about Micha’s stance on the situation as a whole, but things did fall into place later on. Micha’s awareness of Bellamy outside of their roles as lead singer and roadie was very sweet at times, however, and when they truly connected with each other, the story came alive. Aside from these issues, Escaping Indigo makes several important points about relationships. For starters, people aren’t always what they appear to be. Getting to know someone’s truths can be precarious business, and trying to manipulate the outcome is seldom advisable. Another thing that I appreciated was that it’s made abundantly clear that one person cannot “fix” another. There are myriad problems just waiting for anyone who tries, and Micah treads that line a little too closely more than once. In the end, I’m somewhat conflicted when it comes to Escaping Indigo. On the one hand, there were several things that could have been addressed that would have made...
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Jul
12

Review: The Mech Who Loved Me by Bec McMaster

Review: The Mech Who Loved Me by Bec McMaster The Mech Who Loved Me Author: Bec McMaster Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: We first met Ava McLaren, blue blood and former Nighthawk, when she was captured and tortured in Perry’s book, Forged by Desire. Hague infected her with the craving virus and replaced her heart with a working, clockwork heart. She was recruited by Lord Malloryn as part of the Company of Rogues. Ava had been crushing on the only man who was nice to her after her ordeal. However, Byrnes’s wedding to his love, Ingrid, is where The Mech Who Loved Me opens, about six weeks after conclusion of previous book. While Ava may be a bit forlorn, she confides in Perry she has had recent feelings towards fellow Rogue, Kincaid. Liam Kincaid spent much of his life as a slave to the blue blood Echelon after receiving his mech arm. He blames the blue bloods for the deaths of his brother and sister, leaving him to ponder why Malloryn recruited him as a Rogue. He finds Ava attractive, but the fact that she’s a virgin, wants to marry, and is a blue blood is enough to keep him away. Yet the more time he works with Ava, the less cynical he becomes. The second story in the continuing tales of blue bloods and humans in an alternate London is a hit! Ms. McMaster continues her exciting, well-spun storytelling with another beautiful, sexy romance, while continuing to unfold the mysteries of the Sons of Gideon, Lord Ulbricht, and the secretive dhampirs. The overarching storyline involving a plot against rogue blue bloods and humans alike progresses nicely. But the heart of the story is the romance between shy Ava and weathered Kincaid. The pair is simultaneously sweet and sexy; reserved and passionate. Ms. McMaster started with two very interesting characters in Ava and Kincaid, then allows each to grow and develop over the course of The Mech Who Loved Me. Watching both find their own way in this new and changing world was rewarding; seeing them find friendship and love was wonderful. Theirs is a relationship of give and take until they find their own new normal, accepting the other as both a whole, yet their own missing half. The mysterious and complex plots to bring about chaos and anarchy gain momentum and focus over the course of the book. I like that the story took one avenue of this conspiracy to its end, while...
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Jul
12

Review + Blog Tour: All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield

Review + Blog Tour: All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield All Wheel Drive Author: Z.A. Maxfield Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Diego Luz had a plan of his own before an accident caused a spinal injury that cost him the use of his legs. Losing his vibrant, wild, beautiful mother shortly afterward was too much for him to take. Relocating to Bluewater Bay was the perfect way for him to start over—and hide from his mother’s legacy. At least, until a haggard, broken survivor shows up on his doorstep looking for some shelter of his own. Born a genius who always knew the direction his life would likely take, Healey Holly wasn’t prepared for the day that script would be utterly destroyed. Now, hurt and lost, he’s struggling to get back to a place where things make sense, even though his “home” belongs to someone else. But, some families are just as good without a permanent zip code, and even a heart that’s been shattered can love again. As should be expected from this series by now, All Wheel Drive left me with a lot to think about. Having first been introduced to Healey in Hell on Wheels, I couldn’t help but be extremely curious about Nash Holly’s intriguing twin brother. Officially meeting Healey as he is in the beginning of this story was a shock, and I felt off balance (in a good way) for the duration. There was nothing easy about Healey’s experience, but I think the story wouldn’t have meant as much any other way. Diego Luz is just as complex, if not more so, but in vastly different ways. Between his heritage and upbringing, his pride and independence, and the obligations he struggles with, he’s a complicated character, and I liked him a great deal for it. He’s unapologetically cynical for much of the story, making his grudging willingness to open his heart and life to another even more remarkable. As has been the case with many of the Bluewater Bay stories, All Wheel Drive tackles some exceptionally difficult topics that most series wouldn’t attempt. As a paraplegic, Diego’s sexuality could have been approached in ways that might have been more “delicate,” but wouldn’t have made nearly the impact as it did here. Healey is absolutely the perfect match for Diego in that respect, but the candid nature of the discussions and mechanics involved felt both necessary and right. Despite the importance of the message of this story, All Wheel Drive still...
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Jul
11

Review: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

Review: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price Grave Ransom Author: Kalayna Price Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Fans of the Alex Craft series rejoice – this book was definitely worth the wait!  Gikany and Una enjoyed this fifth novel in the adventures of grave witch, Alex Craft.  Grave Ransom was an intriguing and gripping urban fantasy detective drama. We need to preface this review by stating that since it has been some time from the last book, Gikany reread the previous novels before jumping into this latest release.  Una being Una, jumped right in.  It took Una a bit of time to acclimate to the mythology and where we were with Alex.  Gikany had no such trouble and followed right through.  If you have the time, definitely reread the series, some major things happened in book 4 and the ramifications ripple through this novel. The plot of the “not-quite-zombies” was fascinating.  Chasing down the necromancer was intriguing, especially since Alex had to partner with Briar, her occasional adversary.  We enjoyed how the plot thickened once Falin and Briar’s partner Derrick were added to the mix.  There were a few twists and turns and we liked how the plot strands ended up intertwining.  Once the necromancer was located, we really enjoyed how it wrapped up.  Interestingly enough, Falin was more partner than adversary to Alex in this one, but we are not sure how long that will last.  The time is ticking on Alex’s temporary reprieve and the Winter Queen is not known for her generosity. Alex’s love life is one of the overarching plot lines.  In this novel, her personal life is still adjusting to previous events.  The relationships between Alex and Death and Alex and Falin have always been unbalanced and we hope to see someone new to tempt Alex.  No matter what, we look forward to seeing where Alex goes next, what the future holds for her, and our wish for her to find some long-term happiness. Overall, we enjoyed Grave Ransom and we eagerly look forward to the next novel in the Alex Craft series.  If you want something a little different, check out this urban fantasy series that follows a grave witch detective with ties to the fae. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to...
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Jul
10

Review: The Legend by Donna Grant

Review: The Legend by Donna Grant The Legend Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As always with military romance, there’s an element of suspense. The Legend is no exception—and I love the way Ms. Grant weaves pieces of the information we’ve already learned through the previous two books in the series as reminders, or for readers that are new to the Sons of Texas books. This book was about the third Loughman brother, Wyatt. Now, until this point in the series, Wyatt has been pretty aloof, and I definitely had a driving desire to know more about him and his ‘tortured hero’ status. Because, we ALL want to know more about the tortured heroes. 🙂 As the leader of a Delta Force squad, he’s used to people A) listening to him/taking orders from him, and B) having the loyalty of his men. I think that’s one of the big things about Wyatt that I liked seeing. How he handled different things—not just the romance part of the storyline. He’s a thinker, and I felt like he was honest about parts of his life and held back on others—i.e., romance with Callie. Because, he screwed up once, right? Callie Reed comes from a ‘mafia’ family. They have wanted Callie back in their clutches for over a decade—since she escaped them. What I love most about Callie’s character is the way she relates to Wyatt while still protecting herself. Callie’s gifts & talents make her an asset in the battle against the Saints—the baddies we met in the first book of the series who are waaaayyyyy more than originally thought. As always, with RS, I’m not going to give a lot of details because it’s spoilery and I don’t roll that way. But…I definitely need MORE ORRIN!!! The patriarch of the Loughman family NEEDS at least a novella My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: A LONE STAR LOVER Callie Reed doesn’t need a man to protect her. An expert sharpshooter and renegade hacker, this Texas-born spitfire’s got the skills and the courage to stand up to any danger―no matter how deadly. But when she becomes the target of a shadowy organization known as the Saints, Callie is forced to team up with the one man she can’t outshoot: the gorgeous, and infuriating, Lone Star legend named Wyatt Loughman… A Delta Force Colonel with a rock-hard body and stone-cold heart, Wyatt has been teasing and tormenting Callie since they were playmates...
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Jul
5

Review: Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt

Review: Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt Pounding Skin Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Picking up shortly after Back Piece, the first story in the Skin Deep, Inc. series, Pounding Skin introduces readers to jet pilot Jon Russell and inker Matt Huffman, whom we briefly met before. Although the pairing of a member of the military and a civilian employee of the tattoo shop is the same, the characters are so different that there’s very little repetition. While familiar within those parameters, this sequel feels brand new in plenty of other ways, making the entire series better overall. Even more than the first story in this series, Pounding Skin is a tale in which “opposites attract.” Jon throws his candor, which was downright abrasive on occasion, before him as if it were a shield he can hunker down behind, while still feeling blameless for anyone else’s hurt feelings. Matt, on the other hand, seems so genuine—even when he’s clueless—that I worried for him for the duration of the novel. Of the two, I couldn’t help the fondness I felt for Matt from the start, nor the protective irritation that was repeatedly inspired by Jon’s behavior. Nearly all of the emotional ballast is on Matt’s side, but it ended up working out well that way. Although I enjoyed Pounding Skin as a whole a great deal, there were some instances that I found distracting (but not particularly troubling). The sudden reversal of Matt’s old, alcohol-induced amnesia about an important moment with his college roommate; certain phrasing that’s repeated nearly verbatim; the suggestion that women are more easily “charmed” than men when it comes to sex, etc., did pull me out of the narrative on occasion. These moments are few, however, and are nicely balanced out by the more positive aspects of the story. Pounding Skin is a well-crafted second in the Skin Deep, Inc. series, and one I feel certain I’ll revisit soon. While I was never able to fully sympathize with Jon, I felt that Matt was a truly wonderful character. More than a romance, however, Pounding Skin examines the ways we are shaped by our experiences, sculpted by many other hands in addition to our own. I was also very glad to see more of Colin and Daniel from Back Piece, and every bit of the affection I have for them both was not only remembered, but magnified. The tattoo shop seemed like a real family this time around,...
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Jul
5

Review: Over the Moon by Hailey Edwards

Review: Over the Moon by Hailey Edwards Over the Moon Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I think Over the Moon is an excellent end to the Lorimar Pack books in the Black Dog universe. Don’t get me wrong—I’m definitely up for more books in the universe—as matter of fact, I think Ms. Edwards sets us up well for at least a novella for Theo—but Dell’s story arc feels complete in a satisfying way. That makes sense, right? You guys know what I’m talking about. I’ve been very vocal about adoring the Black Dog universe since it started. The world-building is killer, and any time I have questions, I can guarantee they’ll be answered by the end of the plot arc for the main character. And the end of Dell’s books is no exception. As matter of fact, I think a lot of things are tied up in a neat little bow at the conclusion of Over the Moon. What killed me: Making hard choices in the best interest of the pack—and Earth. What wrecked me: “How do you do that?” I wondered. “How do you always know?” “You’re my heart, Dell.” His fingertips skated down my arm. “You think I can’t tell when it’s aching?” What finally made sense: Dell’s revelation about Abram. What I loved the most: How all the beloved characters from the series rallied during a time when they could’ve all just hid away to keep their own safe. But, most of all, I loved the relationship between Dell and Issac—and, the interplay with Theo (who I still have questions about). Readers will get the most out of Over the Moon if they read all the Black Dog books first. Thierry and Shaw as well as Cam and Cord have a HUGE role in this book. We even get to see a little kitsune and her mate 😉 But, the appearance of other favorite fey & shifters doesn’t overshadow the whole aspect of Dell’s growth. When we first met Dell, she was a shell of herself. She was hiding from who she really was in an effort to protect herself. After she leaves Bessimer’s pack, she falls naturally into the leadership role of Beta for Lorimar. However, there’s still things—even though she’s mated to Issac—that need resolution for her. She needs to feel like she can stand on her own and that she has value. I think Ms. Edwards did a phenomenal job with Dell’s character arc,...
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Jul
3

Review: The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

Review: The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki The Highland Commander Author: Amy Jarecki Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Aiden Murray is the second son to Duke of Atholl. He is the first lieutenant and master of the watch aboard the Royal Mary, a queen’s vessel operated by Scottish sailors. Having spent time with many Scotsmen, Aiden’s becoming sympathetic to their plight, which puts him in direct opposition of his father. Lady Magdalen Keith (Maddie) is the illegitimate daughter of the earl William Keith. He is a stanch Jacobite who is accused of treason against the Queen, sending Maddie to London to plea for his life. The gifted harpist unintentionally catches the eye of the Queen, pulling her into the unkind world of her court. Maddie and Aiden are both wonderful characters. They are both young and innocent (yes, they are BOTH virgins!), but life hasn’t always been what they would like it to be. As the illegitimate child of an earl, Maddie dealt with disgust and disdain her entire life. Although her father recognizes her and gives her the title of Lady, she is shunned by peers and her own stepmother. And don’t get me started on how she’s treated once she gets to London. It’s all very realistic and definitely unromantic. Yet, she remains kind and hopeful. She does whatever is needed to help her father and country. She’s got a spine of steal and heart of gold. Being the second son of a Scottish Duke isn’t all roses for Aiden either. He’s content to be the hidden son, commanding a ship of Scots and living his own life. But Maddie has him completely befuddled, and watching her personal battles with the Queen’s court only strengthen’s his resolve to live a live different from his father. This creates an engaging character, one I’m interested in following. As much as I enjoyed following Maddie and Aiden as they grew closer and explored their sexual chemistry, I had a couple issues. First, I felt like The Highland Commander was a bit too political for my tastes. I liked that the author wove actual history into the story, but I wanted more focus on the characters and their romance! Second, I had serious concerns about the events that take place while Maddie captured (leave this spoiler-free). It was too severe, and I seriously doubt Maddie would have had the fortitude to survive and then flourish after her release. In the end, I enjoyed The Highland...
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Jun
28

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell Oversight Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: After falling in love with Insight, the first in the Community series, I had high hopes for this story—and the end result far exceeded any expectations I might have had. In fact, I believe that Oversight has elevated the entire series by several degrees, and there’s still one more book to go. With a mix of characters both familiar and new, Oversight is filled with some of the most vivid personalities ever—some good, some bad—and, as was the case in its predecessor, it can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes. Although I didn’t care for Holden in Insight, a more thorough examination of his adolescence and the tactics and motives of the Community gave me a much greater appreciation for him and what he’s currently going through. It was Sixtus, however, that won me over completely. His unique talent is a perfect disguise for what simmers beneath the surface, and I found him to be utterly mesmerizing. Mr. Hassell has given life to someone truly remarkable in Sixtus, his gifts as intriguing as the man himself. He’s an immediate favorite, one who makes the entire novel worth a reread as soon as possible just to ensure that I didn’t miss a single detail. I absolutely adored him. While Nate’s story kept me invested from the beginning, the conspiracy that unfolds throughout Oversight felt even more urgent at times, the building suspense making getting through those moments a white-knuckling affair in all the right ways. From the first chapter, the momentum crescendos in extremely well-timed sequences of recollection and desperation, and once I hit the midway point, the narrative owned me until the very end. Although I think it would be enjoyable regardless, Oversight isn’t a standalone. There’s a momentum that was introduced in the first story that works its way to a frenzied pace here that I couldn’t look away from. The return of quite a few characters from book one means that this series needs to be read in its proper succession, but it’s well worth it. There are layers of secrets and machinations that are uncovered methodically through the experiences of these characters, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch things unfold to this point. Oversight is an oftentimes terrifying view of what is at stake when good intentions give way to the commodification of the very people most in need of help...
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Jun
27

Review: The Cartographer by Tamsen Parker

Review: The Cartographer by Tamsen Parker The Cartographer Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I can’t imagine Rey’s book being more perfect. If you’ve been reading Tamsen Parker’s Compass series, you know Rey Walter—the kink puppeteer/matchmaker. I’ve always been curious about Rey, but never did I imagine the revelations in The Cartographer. As always, I’m keeping this review spoiler-free. Which means it’s going to be short 😉 Allie Hart is an awesome guy. He hasn’t had an easy life but he’s responsible and committed. Not committed to someone else, though. Like, not romantically. I found myself wanting to slap Allie up-side the head and tell him to let Rey help. **pulls hair** We do get to watch Allie grow, too. I like seeing him overcome preconceived notions and become a fly on the wall when he’s with the people he cares about. I think I connected with Allie because he’s had a rough go of it, but seems to have come out the other side of his battles a better person. Rey? Oh, I love the things we learn about Rey. It’s really nice to see his Dominant, match-making tush again. I think parts of The Cartographer were difficult to read for me because I like to have some semblance of control in my life, but the way Rey handles his own control—at times—is difficult for me. I read the words and I’m the person murmuring to my book, “Oh, honey…don’t do that.” Rey has been instrumental to this series. There’s a REASON he’s the Cartographer—he’s been charting a course for everyone else all these years and it’s finally—finally—time for him to travel the road toward his own happiness. I don’t think there’s many people who can write kink the way Ms. Parker does, either. I love her imagery and the depth of the emotions during a particularly harrowing scene. And, you guys? This book is particularly smokin’ hot. But even more than how hot the sex is, and how intense the BDSM scenes are, there’s so much emotion. It’s been absolutely wonderful watching the development in Ms. Parker’s Compass series, and I’m sad to see the series end. But, this is good news for you—in the even you haven’t picked up this series, yet. IT IS COMPLETE. You may now commence the binge-reading. My Rating: A+ Personal favorite About the Book: Reyes Walter is the man who engineers everyone’s happiness, and he’s never wanted anything else. He’s got a...
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