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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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Mar
27

Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

Review: All You Need by Lorelei James All You Need Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Annika Lund has an Ice Queen reputation because she works hard for her family’s company, always doing what is best for the family, even if her personal life takes a back seat. But until she started spending time with Axl, she hadn’t been with a man who was worth the distraction. Now she’s found a guy who matches her word for word and makes her toes curl in the process. If only she could share it with others. Axl Hammerquist is much more than the handsome, rough, playboy hockey player he portrays, but why let anyone see the real man when they don’t expect anything more from him? However, when his agent insists on a public image makeover, it is his attraction to and respect for Annika that gets him to change his mind. So when his agent decides it’s time to publicly end Axl’s PR relationship with Annika, he realizes he’s in way more than he ever planned. All You Need is a wonderful, feel-good romance that hits all the right notes for me. Axl and Annika are equals from the start, and while there is some minor jockeying for position, their relationship isn’t a power play struggle for dominance. I admire that both have serious careers and neither has to compromise his/her work ethic or ambitions, rather, both support the other along the journey. But their story is far from all work and no play! The couple starts off on the wrong foot, as Axl drives to challenge Annika’s PR abilities, causing trouble just to see how she’ll react. He recognizes her intellect and admires her strength, and he has fun creating situations for her just so he can watch her work. Their silly name calling and hockey puns give rise to entertaining conversations. Equally enjoyable is their mutual attraction which creates wonderful sexual tension. While there are several things that worked for me in the title, it’s the fact that once Annika and Axl became a couple, they stayed a couple, that made their story shine. Although these two alphas butted heads at the start, they were upfront not only about their issues with the other, but their mutual attraction as well. Yes, they did try to fight the sex appeal, creating wonderful sexual tension and moments of witty banter, but they both recognized right away that they weren’t going to be...
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Mar
22

Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker

Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker His Custody Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I don’t even know where to start. I have to admit I may have had a seriously uneasy feeling at the beginning of this story—until about the halfway mark. But, I trust Tamsen Parker to deliver a deep, thoughtful read that pushes me past my personal limits. And, this title **really** pushed me for a plethora of reasons. There’s a huge age discrepancy between Keyne (pronounced Cain, like Cain & Abel) and Jasper. That isn’t a problem for me, normally. I love me a good May-December romance. This title falls more under the barely legal, though. I deal with teenagers every day, Monday through Friday. I might have gotten a little squicked out. Initially. But I pushed past that and looked at what was really happening in this story. Age took a backseat. Because, really, it doesn’t matter. This. Story. Is. Freakin’. Brilliant. This review, beyond this point, is slightly spoilery. The blurb hints, but doesn’t come right out and say some of the things I’m about to disclose, so if you don’t want any spoilers, go get your one-click on. However, the spoilers aren’t that bad and don’t really reveal a lot you can’t pretty much guess from the blurb. <spoiler> Jasper and Keyne’s parents were life-long friends. Keyne was dating—inseparable from—Jasper’s younger brother. Keyne was the sole survivor of an accident. Yeah. And she was only seventeen, so she needed a legal guardian—and someone to wade through all the emotional stuff something like that would leave behind. My heart literally broke for Keyne. I seriously sobbed a few times. I wondered how Jasper could handle all the crap being thrown at him while wading through his own grief. I wanted to build a blanket fort and snuggle in it with them both. One thing that I thought as I was reading that a tragedy such as this would naturally draw two grieving people together, and I wondered whether that’s what was happening here. Whether something would happen and the spell between Jasper and Keyne would be broken. Because that’s exactly what it seemed like. This magical thing between two people—that when you watch it unfold from the outside, it takes your breath away. <end spoiler> The pacing in His Custody was perfect. I was drawn through every word in the story, and I definitely stayed up reading entirely too late. I was really sad...
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Mar
22

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian Midnight Unbound Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: A loaner and one of Dragos’s Hunters, Scythe doesn’t belong among humans or his own kind. Yet when his brother, Trygg, requests his help, Scythe agrees to protect Chiara Genova and her young son. Chiara’s life has been filled with danger ever since marrying her now deceased mate. When a crazed Breed breaks into her home and threatens to force her blood bond, the Order realize there is more going on than appears and send in the one male they trust to protect her. The story of Chiara and Scythe actually begins in the previous novella, Midnight Untamed, when the pair meet and sparks are evident. Midnight Unbound completes their story as the pair is once again tossed together in a deadly situation. This time around, the pair are forced to spend days together, alone, and after a week, they can no longer deny their burning attraction and physical needs. Midnight Unbound is an entertaining, straight-forward paranormal romance. Predictable maybe, but enjoyable certainly. He saw her and longed for her. She saw him and wanted him. He’s tender and caring under his tough exterior. She isn’t the fragile flower she appears to be. After being cooped up together for a week trying to fight their attraction, bam… sexual explosion and uncovering of feelings. Sharing of pasts. Working together for a future.  Midnight Unbound can be read as a standalone, although the general Breed background mythology may make it more enjoyable. I liked the straight forwardness of the tale and enjoyed the tie into the previous novella. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: A lethal Breed warrior is called upon by his brethren in the Order to bodyguard a beautiful young widow he’s craved from afar, in this new novella in the “steamy and intense” (Publishers Weekly) Midnight Breed vampire romance series from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian. As a former Hunter bred to be a killing machine in the hell of Dragos’s lab, Scythe is a dangerous loner whose heart has been steeled by decades of torment and violence. He has no room in his world for love or desire–especially when it comes in the form of a vulnerable, yet courageous, Breedmate in need of protection. Scythe has loved–and lost–once before, and paid a hefty price for the weakness of his emotions. He’s not about to put...
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Mar
21

Review: Undiscovered by Sara Humphreys

Review: Undiscovered by Sara Humphreys Undiscovered Author: Sara Humphreys Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: All in all, Undiscovered is a good start to a new story arc in the Amoveo series.  Gikany and Una found the mythology of the dragons interesting and Zander and Rena’s romance satisfying although there were a couple of rough elements. In the Amoveo series, dragon shifters were believed to be extinct.  However, they are not.  Zander and his identical twin brother Zed are the only dragon shifters left.  A curse has left Zander stuck in his human form and Zed in hibernation in dragon form for the last 500 years.  What little we learn of the dragon shifters is interesting, although we wondered if Zander’s beliefs about the mates of identical twins are true or just an “old wives’ tale”.  Zander’s desperation to save his brother was utterly compelling, especially when he was determined to sacrifice everything (even his own happiness) to save his brother.  However, considering his act of martyrdom includes another person, it seemed just a tad presumptuous.  Thankfully Zander’s mate, Rena, doesn’t allow him to get away with it. Rena is one of the strongest and engaging characters in this series.  We really liked her down-to-earth nature.  Despite her beginnings, the past does not own her.  Rena has made something of herself, learning to trust and become a truly upstanding citizen.  However, how wonderful she is stood out in stark contrast to how she is treated for most of the novel.  The one man who is like a father to her, we come to find out, had nefarious, or at least selfish reasons, for caring for her.  Gikany and Una debated about the level of betrayal that Rena suffers in this novel.  She is truly steadfast and resilient to navigate through such traitorous waters and still find the strength to not only forgive but fight for her mate. Although Undiscovered started a little slowly with a dream sequence (nothing like starting a novel feeling lost) it gradually picked up the pace.  Overall, we liked this new story arc with the introduction of the dragons, especially with the introduction of Rena.  Even with the few odd notes we still enjoyed Rena and Zander’s happily ever after and look forward to the next novel in this series. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: He’s the man of her dreams A long time ago, Zander...
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Mar
20

Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington

Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington If the Duke Demands Author: Anna Harrington Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Miranda grew up with the Carlisle siblings, living with her aunt and uncle as tenants on the Carlisle family land. Always closest with middle brother Robert, Miranda wants him to see her as more than the girl next door. However, in her efforts to woo Robert, she mistakenly tries to seduce the Duke of Trent, eldest brother Sebastian. Weight of family obligation and dukedom on his shoulders, Sebastian longs for the carefree life he once lived. But duty comes first, which includes courting and marrying a daughter of a Peer and producing a suitable heir for Trent. Spending the season in London to find the proper duchess, it is Miranda who opens his eyes to joy again, seeing life through her unfettered eyes. I absolutely adored If the Duke Demands! Sebastian and Miranda are two halves of whole. The conflict of love versus duty plays out perfectly as Sebastian attempts to live up to his father’s legacy. The guilt over missing his father’s death because of his dalliances haunts Sebastian daily and controls his every action. It takes the exuberance and love of a strong woman to help him find the man who died with his father two years ago. The book grabbed my attention right from the start with its mistaken identity twist, followed by the pact that Sebastian and Miranda create. Not only does this ensure that they will spend alone time together as they plot, the secretive nature of their agreement lends itself to create a strong bond between the pair. This allows them the freedom to open up to one another, sharing things they never would have otherwise. Additionally, it gives Miranda the freedom to be herself and challenge Sebastian’s ambitions and goals. I love that they banter like a couple of equal standing. As the pair becomes comfortable around one another, their mutual interest deepens and grows. My heart raced as I also became caught up in their passion. Their inappropriate conversation in public at the opera, the stolen kisses… the author does an amazing job building sexual tension and desire, and I found myself completely head-over-heels for this couple. Yet, Sebastian’s misguided intentions and guilt prevent him from completely giving himself to Miranda, even as she risks her heart, surrendering fully. If the Duke Demands is an absolute delight. Ms. Harrington puts forth solid, strong characters who worked...
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