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Jan
31

Review: Wolf at the Door by Hailey Edwards

Review: Wolf at the Door by Hailey Edwards Wolf at the Door Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Yes. Every time I read one of the Black Dog books, I completely rave. This review won’t be any different. So, if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, pick up Dog with a Bone and get reading. Hailey Edwards has a significant backlist with these titles that’ll keep you busy for a minute ☺ So. Dell & Isaac. Gods, I love them together so hard. We were introduced to them in the Gemini titles, but getting to focus on them as a main couple in the Lorimar Pack spin-off is absolutely wonderful. Their relationship is so complex–it’s nice to see the give-and-take between them. Oh, and if you’ve been reading along with me, we go back to Faerie and get to see a character or two—as well as revisit some plot stuff—from Thierrey’s time there. **nods sagely** Expertly woven plot here, people. I can’t imagine the planning to pull off winding together all these details in such a way that my inner plot geek goes, “Holy hell! From way back when?” I really loved going back to Faerie—even if the visit did seem altogether too brief. Over the Moon is the next title in the Lorimar Pack series, and we get more Dell. Yay! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Prison is no one’s idea of a good time, and it’s even worse for Dell. Confinement has her inner wolf snarling as she paces their cell, and there’s no end in sight. Just as she reaches her breaking point, the pack liaison shows up with an offer she can’t refuse. Dell’s freedom in exchange for going to Faerie and recapturing the fae prince responsible for her current digs.  But this fool’s errand won’t be a solo mission. Isaac Cahill has lost Dell twice, and he’ll be damned if she slips through his fingers again. This time, he’s not letting her out of his sight. Even if it means earning more than a few love bites from his pissed off she-wolf.  What they discover on their perilous quest is that war is closer than anyone imagined. As trusted allies fall and dangerous new threats emerge, Dell discovers one defining truth. Isaac is hers, and she’ll fight to the death for him. And, at the rate this war is coming, she might not have long to wait.  Release Date: January 25, 2017 Publisher:...
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Jan
31

Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy The Forests of Dru Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Forests of Dru continues the story of Oria and Lonen, who are now finally in Dru and facing new issues.  Overall Gikany and Una liked the story, although it is starting to have a serial short story feeling. Unlike the first book, which seemed like a complete novel, the subsequent books have felt more like novellas.  We could liken the format to a television series: the first episode is longer to set up the series and then the following episodes are shorter.  Each book ends in a cliffhanger. Although this series feels like a series of short stories, the story continues to flow and build.  Oria and Lonen are still learning about each other and how to work together.  We love the trust and love that continues to strengthen and encourage the development of their relationship.  Especially as it seems the coin has flipped – Lonen’s right to rule is being questioned and Oria is deeply distrusted by the Destrye.  Oria is able to experience what the Destrye has suffered at the hands of her people and what they must do to survive.  Although we are only given snippets of the continuing plot, the tension mounts as Oria searches for a source of sgath so she can eliminate the threat of the Trom and end the war between the Barans and the Destrye. Even though The Forests of Dru was short and the series is starting to feel like a series of novellas, we continue to like it.  The Sorcerous Moons is a captivating series.  We eagerly await the next installment. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: An Enemy Land Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive. A Treacherous Court Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire...
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Jan
30

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane Jacked Up Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Living out his dream of playing pro football, Sam signs on with the Birmingham Rebels after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. Sam, who suffers PTSD, hasn’t been with a woman since his return home over two years ago out of fear sex will trigger his nightmares. Best friend and teammate King only wants what is best for Sam and thinks helping him get laid will help him get over his fears. Heading to the shore for some fun, the pair meets Jane Foster, the perfect girl for Sam. Sam and Jane are completely attracted, but Sam will only have sex with her if King is in the room, to stop him if he starts having nightmares. With Jane on board, the couple has the best sex of their lives, especially when they involve King in the action. However, that was just for one night, and the guys and Jane go their separate ways. Fast-forward to the fall and the Birmingham Rebels are struggling. But an accidental run-in with Jane sparks a fire inside Sam, changing his outlook on life and football. Jacked Up is the third ménage in the Birmingham Rebels series. By now, most of the team embraces the non-conforming relationships and sexuality of the players and coaches, although those outside the team still aren’t as accepting. This openness affords this particular trio the ability to speak more openly about their desires, making the story less about the social issues and more about the individual fears and concerns. I felt that the book was better because the story wasn’t as focused on breaking taboos. Even Sam’s doctor tells him no one cares who he sleeps with. Right from the start, I really liked this threesome. Sam, King, and Jane are all relatable people. I love that they are friends who are exploring and learning. And both males are sweet and kind: good guys. Together, the trio has amazing chemistry! I like that they are normal people who happen to learn they like a bit more kink in the bedroom. Reading the story from all POVs (Sam, King, and Jane), together with the open and honest dialogue, made me love the characters. I loved how Jane wrestles with what she wants and feels when she’s with Sam and King, instead of what she thinks she should like and how she should act. We’ve all experienced...
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Jan
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Last Dragon Standing  Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #4 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio Beginning two years after the conclusion of the previous book, we learn that the dragon-human twins of Queen Annwyl and her mate Fearghus are in danger, and there is a possible coup to overthrow the Dragon Queen, Rhiannon the White. The Queen seeks assistance from her newest ally, Ragnar the Cunning, Dragonlord Chief of the Olgeirsson Horde, a Lightning Dragon. Of course, the Dragon Queen always has ulterior motives in her plans, and this time around, they involve getting Ragnar to “save” and return her youngest daughter, Keita the Viper, to her family. Last Dragon Standing narrates as an unfolding mystery with multiple subplots. The Dragon Queen is a master manipulator and strategist, and we follow Keita and Ragnar as they are forced to unravel the threads the Queen has knotted together. There are layers upon layers of subterfuge, making the plot utterly engrossing. However, the romance of Keita and Ragnar is more of a side story to the main plotlines, and if you want the same steamy, love stories found in the first three titles, you will be in for a disappointment. This story was more about both the human and Southland Dragon politics rather than a romance. And so much happens. We learn more about a pending war, as well as new enemies and allies. This book takes us into a new chapter in the lives of the characters, and with it comes a new maturity of sorts. It left me wanting for more – unfortunately, I don’t know when Tantor will be publishing more on audio! I loved learning more about Keita. She’s a complex dragoness, who is equal parts cunning spy and royal princess. She is BOTH roles – not “playing” one or the other. She’s a royal princess snob, but not because she’s stuck up. She honestly thinks she’s being nice or helpful. It’s not fake. She’s that, but also the dangerous spy and protector of the throne.  Ragnar of the Lightning Dragons is the only one who can see and appreciate both parts of Keita. While their relationship takes a LOT of time to develop, their interactions are always enjoyable. I loved watching Ragnar witness and come to realize who Keita truly is. And while Keita doesn’t change in...
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Jan
25

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker F*ck Club: Riley Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Here’s the thing with Shiloh Walker books. They’re tough, gritty, and they rip your heart out. But, dammit. Those characters work for every ounce of happily ever after they get. F*ck Club: Riley is no exception. Riley has been the adult of his three siblings for entirely too long. After his parents’ sudden death, he put his life on hold to take care of his brother and sister. He did a lot of things to make ends meet and to pay off the debt left in their parents’ wake. Some were more… lucrative than others. And also illegal. But he’s always been in love with Bree. Bree—what we learn of her from Riley’s point-of-view—is a victim of circumstance. The girl should’ve dug herself out long before this point, but when someone is being emotionally abused and feels as though they’re worthless, there’s not much to look forward to. And no reason to leave. Until something catastrophic happens. Here’s the deal with this book. They both need to spill their guts. The information each has is sensitive, and both parties feel like it would change the perception of the other person toward them. Admitting one’s weaknesses and shortcomings—and naming their demons—are the most intimate types of conversations to have with someone we love. Those sensitive to domestic violence—verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (although the violence itself isn’t described in detail—but we see the aftermath) may want to skip this one. Ms. Walker ripped my heart out, rubbed salt in the wound, stomped all over the still-beating organ, and re-inserted the bruised muscle before stitching me closed without anesthesia with F*ck Club: Riley. I really want more books in this series—I see two more coming…and can’t wait for Shame’s. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: “The first rule of F*ck Club…we don’t talk about it. We just do the job and get paid.” And Riley Steele did his job very well. He’ll be the first to admit that his current life isn’t the one he’d foreseen. It’s not even one he really wants, but after his parents died and he was left to care for two siblings and a mountain of debt, he was willing to do almost anything. Now, after almost ten years of being paid to pleasure, he’s almost numb to it…and to women. That all changes with one phone call. Brianna Sharpe,...
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Jan
25

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen Bait N’ Witch Author: Abigail Owen Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una enjoyed the latest story in the Legendary Consultants series.  Greyson and Rowan’s story was compelling and filled with humor and passion.  Although the novel has a lighthearted feel, neither the passion between Greyson and Rowan, nor the anxiety of the plot as Rowan tries to hide her identity while also trying to protect Greyson’s triplet daughters, is diminished. We were introduced to Rowan in the previous novel.  She was the unfortunate witch forced to do the bidding of Kaios.  Now the Mage High Council has their top enforcer, Greyson, hunting her down.  When Rowan turns to Delilah for help, she decides to have Rowan hide in plain sight.  Which is how Rowan finds herself the new nanny to Greyson’s out of control teenage triplet daughters.  As crazy and clichéd as it sounds, it works.  The mystery of the girls’ powers, the hunts for Rowan, and the attraction between Greyson and Rowan all weave together through the story creating a nicely balanced plot. Rowan needs to hide from the Mage High Council for more than just her role in Kaios’ plot.  She has secrets she must hide, not only about her own abilities, but also her training.  Rowan is innately a good witch, and we really loved how she did her best to be a good nanny.  Her genuine care for the girls was sweet and we enjoyed the honest relationship that developed between them.  We also liked how Greyson and Rowan’s relationship wasn’t forced but slowly built. Although the novel is short, the story is rich and completely satisfying.  We are intrigued by the ending and continue to wonder about what and who Delilah is.  Hopefully she will get her own happily ever after story.  If you enjoy lighthearted but passionate fantasy romance, you might just want to pick up the Legendary Consultants series. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: In love with the witch hunter father of her charges… Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she’d been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Mage High Council who seek answers, and possibly her life. Greyson Masters is the Council’s best enforcer–a witch hunter who lays...
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Jan
23

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis Accidentally on Purpose Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Elle Wheaton is the successful manager of hot downtown San Francisco property and is putting herself through school with aspirations of owning her own accounting firm. She doesn’t let anything or anyone get in her way. However, with Archer Hunt as the head of her building’s security, she has a few hurdles to jump. They have a past. She’s still attracted to him, but wants a man who is safe, secure, and stable. Archer is none of these things. Archer, ex-police officer, owns his own private investigation and security firm. He saved a 16-year old street rat, Elle, when he was a 22-year old rookie cop. He wants Elle badly but will never act on it because he knows he reminds her of the bad times in her past. So instead, he protects her from a far, getting in some ribbing when he can. Elle and Archer make a terrific pair. Although the couple plays games, especially with their mutual attraction, their history creates a deep connection that neither can shake. Right from the start, I loved how much Archer wants to protect Elle – how much he desires her, but won’t jeopardize her emotional well-being by moving in on her. He understands Elle like no other, and he realizes she still feels like she owes him a huge debt for saving her life. I admire that he won’t act on his feelings; concerned she’ll only reciprocate out of a sense of debt. Meanwhile, Elle longs for Archer and is beyond frustrated he won’t act on their attraction. After a year of this back-and-forth, it was only a matter of time before the pair’s attraction ignited into a passionate affair. Even after Elle and Archer give into lust, their concerns over hurting the other keep them apart, so there is no easy road to HEA. Yet, it works because they are honest with themselves and each other, allowing time to work out the hiccups. The story behind Accidentally on Purpose was engrossing. Not because it was a special or unique tale, not because it was filled with deep plot lines or smart dialogue, but because the author created real characters that I cared about. I was emotionally invested in their well-being and wrapped up in how things would play out. Archer and Elle are perfect for one another, and they take the time necessary to...
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Jan
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Ghost Stories Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #13 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Ghost Stories Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he’s in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out. After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far. Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along. Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed...
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Jan
18

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden The Bear and the Nightingale Author: Katherine Arden Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Brothers Grimm appropriated many of their classic fairytales from tales handed down all over the world.  Stories told to entertain, scare children into good behavior, and make us believe in magic.  Just maybe, with a little help from our fairy godmother, things might turn out alright. My favorite Russian fairytale growing up was the Twelve Dancing Princesses.  (It’s deceptive and a little morbid in retrospect, but there’s no accounting for logic or taste in a seven year old who wanted to stay up all night and dance.)  Maybe it was the extremely long and extremely harsh winters, but Russian fairytales are made up of extremes in color, fantasy, violence, and a pantheon of characters which have so much personality, in and of themselves, that they seem to wander in and out of each other’s stories.  The Bear and The Nightingale is an amalgamation of multiple tales and characters into one, cohesive story. Author Katherine Arden has clearly done a great deal of research to craft an original story which stays true to the Russian roots of each character. I read The Bear and The Nightingale next to the fire over a couple of cold, snowy days. Even if I had read it in the heat of August, I still would have felt the bitter winds and deep snow drifts that fueled the story’s action and motivated its characters.  Arden’s writing is expressive and languid.  That slow pace and focus on multiple characters at once will not appeal to every reader.  My largest criticism was the seemingly random use of multiple Russian words, including nicknaming and renaming of core characters. There is a glossary in the back, but if you stop and flip back and forth to look words up, it breaks the flow of the story. Most of the time I just took them contextually. You can’t have winter without Jack Frost and he is right at that beginning of the book as part of a story within a story.  The Russian version of Jack Frost “Morozko” is sadly no boyish, Chris Pine from Rise of the Guardians, but not as old as Robert Pine either—more like Michael Shanks.  (Sorry, I’ve been binge watching Saving Hope.) He’s written here as a mature character, but appealing.  We get the sense that because he’s timeless, he could appear as any age.  Even though we...
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Jan
17

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin Distilled (A Love Brothers Anthology) Author: Deelylah Mullin Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Some of you know that I’m not a huge contemporary romance reader.  However, I found something new that I really enjoyed by fellow TWITA reviewer, Vampbard.  Her novella, Distilled, was something different, and I really enjoyed it. What I loved about this novella is that our main characters are survivors.  They both have suffered different traumatic issues and are on a forever road of recovery.  I liked how these scars were integral parts of them.  These imperfect characters found a perfect fit with each other.  The grittiness of these elements weighted the realism for me.  Roni and Kurtis are three dimensional to me and I loved that aspect. Though only a novella, the story flowed very nicely and had a whole novel feel.  The plight of Kurtis trying to stop the sabotage and be able to watch his dream reach fruition was compelling.  I was biting my nails.  Without giving anything away, I suspected the saboteur, but there were a few details I did not catch until the end. Distilled is a modern everyday love story – one that took imperfect people and bound them in perfect love.  The scars of life only enhanced these characters bringing them right up and off the page.  If you want something different, something beautifully gritty, give this novella a taste. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: At Clementine Distillery, bourbon isn’t the only new development. When Roni Diarmuid took a position at Clementine Distillery, she planned on developing the best craft bourbon money could buy. She never factored in having a tall, suave, and devastatingly handsome boss, Kurtis Clements, who would make her panties melt. Fortunately, the company doesn’t have a no fraternization rule. When the universe seems to be against Roni and Kurtis’ romance—and the success of Clementine Distillery—accidents happen, things go awry, and all hell breaks loose. Will Roni and Kurtis—and Clementine—survive the accidents and sabotage, or will they fold? This novella is included in the Celebrate – A Love Brothers Anthology.. Release Date: December 15, 2016 Publisher: Self-published Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): E-book Book Source: Author *Note of disclosure: The author, Deelylah Mullin, is Vampbard, reviewer here at TWITA. Purchase Info:...
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