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Mar
6

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs Burn Bright Author: Patricia Briggs Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Burn Bright is another fascinating and thrilling installment in the Alpha and Omega series.  Gikany and Una were fascinated by the more in-depth look into some of the relationships in the Mercy Thompson World. This series is one of our all-time favorites: the world-building, the characters, and the ever-changing politics – it’s all captivating.  The contrast of the Alpha and Omega series is that we experience Mercy’s world from a completely different perspective (sometimes several).  There is an interesting insight presented early in this novel about Bran.  In fact, though he is absent for most of the novel – we learn an incredible amount about him, especially in regard to his relationship with Leah.  The more we discovered, the less (in some ways) it was to dislike Leah. She is a tragic character – and though it doesn’t excuse her behavior, it does help us to understand why she is that way. The plot of this mystery was fascinating.  Learning about those wolves that Bran keeps in hopes they can heal was immensely telling about his personality.  The sleuthing to uncover the traitor was just as intriguing, but the reveal was shocking.  Though it makes perfect sense – we were a little sad about how it all turned out.  The traitor is dealt with, however, we still think there is a great threat out there and we eagerly look forward to finding it out. Burn Bright is another enthralling adventure in the Alpha and Omega series.  If you haven’t journeyed into Mercy’s world, you are truly missing out on a staple of urban fantasy at its best! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm. With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past...
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Mar
5

Review: As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington

Review: As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington As the Devil Dares Author: Anna Harrington Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: In an effort to seek the approval of his deceased father, Robert has spent the past two years planning for the chance to be part of Winslow Shipping and Henry Winslow’s partner. The catch: Robert must find a husband for Winslow’s unruly daughter, Mariah, aka the Hellion. Mariah grew up without her mother, at her father’s side at the docks and shipyard. She knows Winslow Shipping inside and out and hopes to run the family business someday. But her father wants Mariah to be a proper lady, and instead seeks to find a partner outside the family. She’ll do everything she can to foil Robert’s plans to marry her off and take the company for himself. As the Devil Dares is a fun story with an enemies-to-lovers romance. Robert and Mariah are at odds from the start – both vying for her father’s attention and a piece of Winslow Shipping. Each is running from their own demons, having solid reasons for wanting to hold Winslow’s favor. But placing Robert in charge of Mariah’s season and finding her a husband creates a forced proximity with hilarious consequences. Mariah does everything she can to go along with the plan, while simultaneously working against the idea of marriage. As the pair spends time together, they start to get past their ambitions and see true natures beneath rough exteriors. They learn about one another, finding commonality in the death of a parent. Both are motivated and can appreciate the drive of the other. However, as all good stories go, mistakes made prior to their friendship developing come to light, causing conflict and drama. While it was obvious from the start that the conflict would occur, Ms. Harrington weaves a solid and entertaining story that kept me engaged. In the end, I enjoyed this third story in the Capturing the Carlisles series. Ms. Harrington has become a must-read author for me. I love her unconventional, strong-willed women who defy their time and go after what they want, and As the Devil Dares is another delightful example. Mariah and Robert are the perfect pairing, finding true love after learning to be friends then lovers. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Whether it’s business or pleasure, Lord Robert Carlisle never backs down from a dare. But finding a husband for scandalous Mariah Winslow? It’s one challenge he...
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Mar
5

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London Bad Bachelor Author: Stefanie London Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I liked Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London much more than I expected to.  Reformed bad boys are a popular, possibly overdone, trope in contemporary romance and it takes skill to do it well.  The difference for me was that I genuinely liked all the characters in Bad Bachelor.  London successfully managed to create conflict without any real bad guys.  There was no one I wanted to hate or inflict with bodily harm for being a jerk or worse, being immature.  All the characters had jerk moments, but it didn’t consume their character.  London carefully walked a line of not letting the jerk moments turn her characters into cliche’d charactures, while still maintaining tension. Bad Bachelors is an app that let’s women rate and review their dates.  Bad boy Reed McMahon is on the top of their hit list and it’s starting to affect more than just his dating life. He and the reader are left to wonder who created the app and the source of his or her personal war with Reed.  Really good twist there.  I love it when I didn’t see something coming. Darcy Greer is a combat boot wearing, tattooed, take-no prisoners—librarian.  The woman with a pierced tongue who can quote Shakespeare is a wonderful contradiction, but not.  She is a complete character and by the end of the book, we wouldn’t change a thing. The way that she and Reed approach their association and eventual relationship works. There is some explicit sex, but it’s not the focus of the story, the relationship is paramount.  Darcy described it perfectly when she said, “How was she supposed to tell the guy that her relationship with his son could be described as work with a side of smut?“  As London walks us through it, she is often very insightful, “…she saw something else: a man who was frightened of connecting.  Who rolled in on himself so the spikes faced outward, scaring off anyone who might dare get close.“ I appreciated that the plot was well thought-out and developed.  There were only a couple minor things that interrupted my flow, one being a word choice I despise and another a few repetitive phrases.  Neither was unforgivable.  Overall, I very much enjoyed this read. My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Everybody’s talking about the hot new app reviewing New York’s most eligible bachelors. But why...
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Feb
28

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop Lake Silence Author: Anne Bishop Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: As a reader who mostly enjoyed the original five stories of The Others, I was both hopeful and concerned about the direction the author might take as the series continued. Having finished Lake Silence, I still feel somewhat conflicted, even though there was quite a lot of time spent establishing the new environment and characters that will make up this part of the same universe. The glimpses of the wild country that were given before were both distant and brief, and there were even fewer details about what life would actually be like in small human (or intuit) villages, like Sproing. Overall, I liked Vicki quite a lot. She’s strong, clever, has an internally snarky—if slightly manic—sense of humor that I appreciated, and does her best to deal honestly with everyone around her. She’s also survived an awful divorce from an unrepentantly loathsome and emotionally abusive scumbag whose arrogance is as inexplicable as it is intolerable. With that in mind, I found her wariness of men, in general, to be completely understandable, but I was impressed that her acknowledgement of her own limitations was rooted more in her ability to be logical and rational than any perceived powerlessness. And that’s where parts of the narrative became problematic for me. Even though they have Vicki’s best interests at heart, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the “good guys” in the story—with the exception of Julian Farrow—“handled” her a lot during the course of the story. Vicki does have a moment or two of somewhat childish lashing out, but these instances are few when compared to her deliberate internal consideration of each increasingly alarming situation she finds herself in. Most often, she readily accepts that she needs help, and willingly lets her allies (nearly all men) take the lead. The Others, in particular, have never tried to assist any human, especially an “emotionally-scarred” one, but I think it would have been reasonable (and beneficial to Vicki in the long run) to treat her as a fully aware participant from the beginning, rather than a helpless victim. As mentioned above, Julian, one of my favorite characters in Lake Silence, points out that very problem fairly early in the story. As an Intuit and former policeman, not to mention the ties he has to the terra indigene and humans alike, he’s a key element throughout the narrative, and one I...
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Feb
27

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day Dead Eye Author: Alyssa Day Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Tess has lived in Dead End her whole life. Although the town is no stranger to the weird and unexplained, she’s a bit of an oddball; able to see a person’s death when coming into contact with another. She runs a pawn shop, which she is now partial owner, and genuinely loves her job. Jack, a tiger shifter, has been away for ten years, leading the human resistance against vampires and working side by side with the Atlanteans. He recently discovered his uncle (and only family member), Jeremiah, was murdered, and after being back in Dead End for less than a day, another dead body is dumped at the door to his deceased uncle’s pawn shop. Now Jack is determined to figure out what’s going on. I absolutely enjoyed reading Dead Eye, the first in Ms. Day’s new Tiger’s Eye Mysteries (although the book was previously released). The story is shared by the first person POV of Tess, and features Jack, one of the heroes from the Warriors of Poseidon series. There are so many delightful surprises in this one… and not at all what I expected after reading the Warriors of Poseidon. Dead Eye is filled with light-hearted humor and has a cozy-mystery vibe. The mystery of who killed Jeremiah and what is happening in Dead End builds slowly and clues delivered sporadically. Tess and Jack do a great job of seeing the interconnected strings that tie everything together. While it’s not a surprise who did what and why by the time the master plan is revealed, it unfolds in a way that is thoughtful and interesting. Tess is a great heroine. She’s an “average Joe” (with a weird gift of being able to foresee a person’s death), who rises to the occasion. She finds courage when she doesn’t expect it. She’s kind and good, but has a wicked side when it comes to seeking vengeance against those who’ve done harm to innocents. Jack compliments her in many ways,  bolstering her and allowing her to be more. Their attraction is slow-burning but obvious to the reader. Dead Eye is a fabulous, engrossing story filled with great humor, interesting adventures, and a hint of romance that has the potential for some serious heat. I found myself cheering for Jack and Tess. I enjoyed meeting all of Dead End’s denizens, with all their quirks and flaws. The...
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Feb
26

Review: Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin

Review: Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin Maybe This Time Author: Nicole McLaughlin Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Teenagers, almost all of them, go to high school.  It’s unfortunate that Twilight has ruined high school as a setting for too many authors. I confess, when I was introduced to teenage Jen MacKenzie and TJ Laughlin and the two had a crush on each other, but each thought the other one hated them, and then had to work together on a school project…yeah, Twilight.  It’s not fair, but it’s there.  Maybe in another decade my mind won’t go there immediately.  To McLauglin’s credit, I forgot about Twilight as soon as she continued to develop these characters, especially as adults.  I liked them.  I also liked that we got to skip over the fifteen years they spent after high school yearning for each other, but never acting on it.  So the reader arrives on the scene when they finally decide to do something. Maybe This Time is the second installment in the Whiskey and Wedding series. TJ is one of the owners of the boutique Stag Distillery.  Jen works for him as a bartender and temporary receptionist.  Her out-going personality makes her a natural at customer service, but she can be grumpy and bristly in private.  TJ loves having her around as well as what she can do for his business.  Unfortunately, Jen’s heart is in the performing arts and doesn’t plan to make a career out of bartending. He’s from money, she’s from the other side of the tracks.  They shouldn’t work which is why they don’t act on their mutual attraction for so long.  Once they do come together, however, they move very quickly.  Circumstances in Jen’s life force them to move even faster than she would like, but TJ is there going head to head with her to get the relationship he wants. Overall, it’s a sweet, contemporary romance between what should have been high school sweethearts.  The ending wraps up too quickly for me, but that’s kind of the definition of chick lit.  TJ makes a sweeping declaration that would probably play well in a Larry Levinson movie, but in the book where we have time and space, it felt insincere—his only moment that felt that way.  That’s not too grievous in this category of literature, but it’s not the only issue I had which brought down my overall enjoyment of the novel. One of the things Jen and TJ have...
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Feb
20

Review: The Instigator by Stephanie Julian

Review: The Instigator by Stephanie Julian The Instigator Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Derek “The Instigator” Flaherty loves playing hockey and enjoys his current team, the Redtails. His dream is to play in the NHL, so he works hard and is well respected. And his teammates all love him, even though they don’t necessarily see the real guy behind the laughs and good times. But that’s okay, Derek prefers to keep things casual, never allowing relationships to mess with his head or run his life. As the baby of her family, Sophie is the good girl who does what’s asked of her. She keeps her dreams of traveling abroad to herself, rather than seeing any kind of disappointment or hurt in her family’s eyes. Working to finish her degree and putting in all sorts of hours at her dad’s bar, Sophie doesn’t have time for guys or a social life. However, when she meets Derek, she feels something stir inside of her and thinks maybe a little fun isn’t bad. Although this is the fourth book in the Redtails Hockey series, The Instigator is a standalone romance that can be enjoyed without previous knowledge of the series. Derek and Sophie hit it off right from the start, and I love their chemistry. They are almost always in sync – whether in the bedroom or not. They are the kind of couple who clicks and can have lengthy conversations like two old friends. They also have other “lengthy” activities, and their romantic encounters are pretty smokin’. The story moves fairly smoothly, filled with genuine emotions and conflict. I appreciate that their issues are common and real, and that they move past them together. Both Sophie and Derek each has some growing to do, and they start by admitting to themselves how they really feel. There are a few of hiccups along the way, including a couple of minor inconsistencies that took me out of the story. I also felt like some issues were brought up but not fleshed out enough – like why everyone kind of dumps on Derek being not good boyfriend material and Derek’s ex-girl friend, which is hinted as being a bad breakup. I kept expecting more details to fill in why maybe Derek is the way he is. All in all, I enjoyed The Instigator, and really love Derek and Sophie as a couple. They are genuine and adorable. They are scared, but move forward. They...
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Feb
19

Review: Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne

Review: Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne Highland Conquest Author: Alyson McLayne Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I haven’t read a historical romance in a while so I didn’t go in over-saturated with the genre.  Highland Conquest (originally titled Highland Bride) was a fun read. In fact, it makes me sad I missed the first one in the Sons of Gregor MacLeod series.  I’m going to have to go back and pick it up before the third comes out. McLayne plans five books in this series, following five boys, fostered by Gregor MacLeod and raised as brothers to strapping warriors and leaders. Even though McLayne is a solid, award-winning author, the Sons of Gregor MacLeod series is her first foray into historical romance.  She hits it out of the park with sexy, feisty, and strong characters—especially Amber MacPhearson.  She’s the kind of loyal leading lady you’re sure you’d be best friends with in real life. Amber is opinionated and will do anything she can to protect her clan from the evil Laird Murray. After being stalked by Murray since she was seventeen, she has determined that she will never marry.  Enter Lachlan MacKay… Lachlan doesn’t want to marry either, but is drawn to Amber even before he knows who she is or what she means to him.  His pursuit of Murray, who murdered his brother, leads him to Amber.  Together they scheme and work for his capture.  Together they have amazing chemistry—although in a refreshing approach, they don’t consummate their relationship until they’re actually married. Of course there’s a whole lotta foreplay before that. The banter is smart and even amusing.  I only stumbled across one line that was so out of character that I marked it.  After circumstances require Amber cut her famous copper locks, this big, kilt wearing warrior says, “Your eyes look wider, and your cheeks…they’re so high.“ Whaaaaat?!  No matter how aware of her he was, there’s no way that though would have even crossed the consciousness of a big, burly Scotsman. But that was really my only criticism.  The rest of the story flowed and reached a satisfactory conclusion. The cover art for this series, while typical with men in kilts—is some very fine men in kilts that are not overly stylized.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that photo shoot… Grab this one up! My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his...
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Feb
14

Review: Devil in Tartan by Julia London

Review: Devil in Tartan by Julia London Devil in Tartan Author: Julia London Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Aulay Mackenzie has only ever felt himself when at sea. In an effort to save his family’s shipping business, Aulay decides to make his first commissioned trip, taking on cargo for another, despite his family’s concerns over the risk. Barely away from port, Aulay comes across a distressed ship and offers assistance to its beautiful passenger, Ms. Lottie Livingstone. Lottie’s clan is at the end of its rope, hoping to sell their illegal whiskey overseas, when their ship is attacked, leaving her father severely injured. Lottie’s plan to commandeer Aulay’s vessel goes smoothly, despite her attraction to its captain. However, once things start unraveling, Lottie isn’t sure she should continue with her plans. Devil in Tartan is an enjoyable highland adventure. Taking place mostly at sea, Lottie and Aulay are forced to spend time together in confided quarters, allowing their mutual attraction to boil over and develop into a friendship. However, it’s not sunshine and roses. Aulay stands to lose everything due to Lottie’s scheme, and Lottie bears the weight of saving her entire clan from losing their homes and land. Aulay’s constant struggle between his duty, family, and his feelings for Lottie create incredible emotional turmoil and conflict. Aulay and Lottie are both lonely souls, doing what they can for their families. But whereas Lottie sacrifices herself to keep her family together, Aulay runs away from his, not feeling worthy under his father’s roof. Yet the pair, drawn by a powerful attraction, have the time to see the real individuals beneath the layers of protective outer shell that each has built to keep themselves emotionally distant. They grow close and fall in love, even though Aulay’s hurt overshadows the love for a while. Luckily Lottie doesn’t grow bitter, and remains open and caring, allow their reunion to proceed and love to grow, even after the damage she does. Overall, I enjoyed Devil in Tartan. The romance and story progress and a slow and steady pace, allowing time for both self-discovery and a deeper mutual bond. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Lottie Livingstone bears the weight of an island on her shoulders. Under threat of losing their home, she and her clan take to the seas to sell a shipload of illegal whiskey. When an attack leaves them vulnerable, she transforms from a maiden daughter to a clever warrior. For...
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Feb
13

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt Going Overboard Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having been born into a Navy family, MA2 Chris Ingram always knew that following in his parents’ footsteps was what he wanted to do. Even though being a coxswain in charge of a ship and progressing through the different rates has made up the last fifteen years of his life, the high-year tenure rules in place mean that he’s running out of time to advance. At least he’s not alone, his best friend (and long-time crush), Dalton, being in exactly the same situation. But, coming out just isn’t in the cards right now—that is, until Chris almost loses Dalton for good. While he may have joined the Navy to get away from his life in Nebraska, Dalton Taylor knew that becoming a Sailor was his calling. Being out and proud hasn’t always been easy, but with the repeal of DADT he doesn’t have to hide, at least. Serving with his friend Chris makes his assignment to NAS Adams just about as perfect as he could have hoped for. Still, nearly dying in a boating accident upends all of Dalton’s best-laid plans, and wanting Chris may not be a secret he can keep for much longe—except that losing his heart to “straight guy” Chris will hurt far more than anything else Dalton’s ever known. Having read all but one of the Anchor Point stories with somewhat mixed opinions, I have to say that Going Overboard is probably my favorite so far. While I had a little trouble accepting that Dalton had no idea at all about Chris’s sexuality after so many years of being best friends, I wanted them to be happy very much. Additionally, the fight that they both have to make under the circumstances surrounding the accident that nearly killed Dalton was highly engaging, and made the bad guys involved extremely easy to hate. I liked Chris and Dalton as a couple very much. A lot is made later on about how both men feel like they’ve been together longer than the calendar suggests, and, in this case, that rings true in the narrative. From the beginning their friendship seemed to be not only solid, but positively drenched in “if I could I would” longing. The author makes it clear that this isn’t insta-love, but something far stronger which culminates in a sexual chemistry that seems to be more of a relief that they’re both...
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