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Aug
14

Review: The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin

Review: The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin The Dream Keeper’s Daughter Author: Emily Colin Reviewer: Ang Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Dream Keepers Daughter was an interesting and multi-dimensional read. The concepts of time travel and how the deep connection to those we love transcend place, time and logic were covered in unexpected and interesting ways. The characters were well developed and interesting right from the start, and the back and forth narration between Max and Isabel gave insights that could not have been explored if narrated another way. I also felt the way Ms. Colin explored the topic of grief and moving on was believable and distinct to the different characters and their personalities and experiences. She tackles hard topics like slavery, familial responsibility, and accountability for past mistakes with heart for both sides and manages to give closure as best as anyone can when faced with the ripple effect of choices made by those before. Overall, I enjoyed The Dream Keepers Daughter; however, that said I did have a few issues with the novel, but to explain them may be spoilerish so… ***** WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***** My first issues is that the rules of time travel didn’t seem to be consistent. Julia, Isabel’s mother disappeared 16 years ago but has only spent one in her alternate world, whereas Max has been gone for eight years in the here and now, but has only been in his alternate world for less than a month. How/why did time speed up when Max disappeared? They are in the same place at the same time, so shouldn’t the same rules apply? I mean I understand that certain things would have been much harder to believe if Finn had been sixteen years old rather than eigth, and that time was needed for Max and Isabel to form their relationship, but rules are rules and not sticking to them tends to make me a bit crazy. I also struggled with Finn’s character and the lack of explanation. Where did her special talents come from? Are they a result of genetics that laid dormant until the family was brought together? She’s such a major character but doesn’t really get the story time I felt she deserved. What about her struggle? How was she so able to accept everything happening around and to her? Child-like faith can only explain so much. Maybe the answer came in a dream, but if so show me that. Finally, I felt like the...
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Aug
14

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell Illegal Contact Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Santino Hassell has been a favorite author of mine for some time now, and, while I fully expected to like Illegal Contact, I wasn’t prepared for how much I completely loved it. Having been raised on college football in the South, I wondered if my own limitations might affect my reading of a story about a pro team in NYC. Turns out, I needn’t have worried. Mr. Hassell made the whole affair feel both technically sound, as well as inviting, allowing the personalities of the characters to take center stage. Punnily-monikered tight end Gavin Brawley could very easily have been a stereotype of every “misunderstood-angry-athlete” ever written, but that wasn’t the case. Despite the technical applicability of all three of those things, Gavin deserves a full retraction of the hyphens and quote marks, his cynicism about the press and the public proving just as well earned in the present as it was in his past. Disinterested in either fame or retribution, however, his true love is simply playing football. He knows how slim the odds are that he was able to find salvation in the sport, and, as long as he has it—and the loyalty of his two best (and only) friends—that’s all he really needs. At least until Noah arrives. After having been recently fired from his job at an LGBT Youth Center in NYC due to his own choices and the bias of those in charge, Noah Monroe is more than a little bitter. Yet, from his first inner snipe about Gavin appearing to be the “ideal candidate for society’s irritating version of masculinity,” it’s clear that Noah has some prejudices of his own. Still, he is fiercely protective of those he cares about—one of several traits he and Gavin share—and, even though he might be preemptively defensive, he’s willing to really listen and open his carefully guarded margins to include others. Though it certainly doesn’t ignore familiar headlines often associated with professional sports—players’ reputations, public opinion, privacy (or the lack thereof), money, etc.—Illegal Contact gets its heart from its attention to the things you don’t normally see. Gavin’s anger over the exploitation he’s not supposed to notice, Noah’s determination to avoid repeating the past, and their mutual aversion to and unwillingness to play “the game” all coalesced into what amounted to a wonderful reading experience. Another element I appreciated about Illegal Contact is...
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Aug
9

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost The Sweetest Burn Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: The Sweetest Burn is the long awaited second novel in the Broken Destiny series. Gikany and Una liked this second novel, as Adrian seemed to improve while the plot thickened.  Though Ivy tended to be hot and cold, she preservers through her waffling to the save the day. It could be that Gikany and Una are just older than the target audience or just more self-secure, but the foibles we perceive in Ivy and Adrian are definitely what we would consider immaturity.  Though Adrian is over a hundred years old, his over protectiveness leads him to make decisions for Ivy and himself without Ivy having a more equal say (or at times any say).  We felt that Adrian reminded us of Edward from the Twilight series, and not necessarily in the good way.  The old-fashioned high handedness is irritating for both Ivy and us.  But in Adrian’s defense, he does try… he truly does but sometimes love leads us down a well-intentioned but dangerously overprotective path. The quest for the staff was fraught with danger and overshadowed with betrayal.  We were intrigued by the journey that was required.  Through this second novel we learned more about the Archon, Zach.  He is becoming our more favorite secondary character next to Brutus, the gargoyle (whose secret identity is a seagull, trust us, it’s an awesome touch). The rules he follows and the seemingly irritating omissions are actually purposeful and necessary. We are enjoying this trilogy as it unfolds.  Though we do see some growth in our main characters, they do waffle a bit as it goes (the cha-cha of maturity).  With the foreshadowing of the epilogue, we are intrigued as to what will happen next. Thankfully, the last novel in this trilogy comes out in November. Please stay tuned for our review! Our Rating:  B Liked it About the Book: The breathtaking second novel in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Broken Destiny series finds Ivy and Adrian rekindling their alliance – and passion – as the struggle for the fate of the world begins… Conquering a supernatural realm turned out to be easier than getting over a broken heart.  But her initial victory has made Ivy a target for revenge, forcing her to reunite with the dangerous – and dangerously sexy—Adrian.  Ivy isn’t sure which will be harder: finding the hallowed weapon that...
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Aug
9

Review: Rogue Desire Anthology

Review: Rogue Desire Anthology Rogue Desire Author: Various Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I didn’t have time to read all the titles in this collection of stories—but those that I did, did something for my perspective. It isn’t a She Persisted thing anymore, folks. It’s a We Persisted thing. I may have had moments of despair for the past nine months, wondering what kind of world my kids were going to have to live in, but if these inspirational—absolutely filthy—stories are any indication, there’s a world of hope out there. Maybe all we have to do is grab on to our own little slice of it. In Adriana Anders’ Grassroots, I may have fallen in love with Zach and Veronica. Zach was a deep character and Veronica was complex and able to navigate turbulent political waters. Dakota Gray’s Deep Throat alludes to the Nixon administration, but is definitely not all about that life as Davis and Hayley navigate dangerous waters to play for the good guys. In Resistance  by Amy Jo Cousins, I fell in love with Kaz and Will as Kaz fought for what he thought he believed in while saving Will from himself…or for himself. Ainsley Booth penned Personal Disaster which happened to be my personal fave of those I read—but it’s definitely a HFN, which I usually don’t enjoy. But, it was a sip that drew me in. Life, Liberty, and Worship by Tamsen Parker is a wonderfully complex story about Paige and Carter and how nothing is as it seems…at least initially. I’m a little sad I didn’t have more time to read the stories by Emma Barry, Stacey Agdern, and Jane Lee Blair. I just plain ran out of time 🙁 But, I think I may go back and read them when I get time. If they’re anything like the other titles in this collection, they’ll be great for a sexy little boost when I feel like everything in the world is totally screwed. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: When all else fails, find love. Eight brand new romances for fans of the West Wing, fired-up #resistance fighters, and everyone who ever had a crush on that guy at a protest… GRASSROOTS by Adriana Anders Veronica Cruz is in the fight of her life for a seat on the city council. Meeting reclusive finance genius Zach Hubler should be a stroke of good luck—he has the power to sway public opinion. But when...
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Aug
8

Review: Urban Enemies Anthology

Review: Urban Enemies Anthology Urban Enemies Author: Edited by Joseph Nassise (authors listed below) Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) This story is shared from Dresden’s long-time nemesis, John Marcone. Justine shows up with a baby and asks for sanctuary from Mag, a powerful fomor wizard. Marcone isn’t one for making bad business decisions, but takes Justine in because one of Marcone’s rules is no harm to children. Mag is extremely determined to get back Justine and brings all his power to bear down on Marcone, Gard, and Hendricks. While the tale doesn’t directly tie into the overall Dresden story arc, it gives great insight into the warped mind of Marcone, reminding readers he isn’t anybody’s hero. I love he remains the bad guy, even when saving Justine. And his plans for Dresden left me shivering. “Hounded” by Kelly Armstrong (Cainsville series) Never having read this series, Ms. Armstrong does a great job giving readers just enough information to understand the short without going into the entire series background and history. The Cwn Annwn are the Hunters of the Wild Hunt. “Hounded” follows one Huntsman whose hound was taken from him and was cut from his pack for reasons we discover as the story unfolds. Unlike the previous story, where a bad guy does a good deed, this Huntsman is not good, and we witness how he corrupts a woman, bending her will to suit his needs. Very well done and a bit creepy! “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” by Jeff Somers (Ustari Cycle story) Once again, the author does a great job giving readers a blurb about the world and antagonist featured in this anthology. Mika Renar is a magician, and she is one of the most powerful and dark ustari in the world. The first line in the story tells us she killed her father, and thus starts our lesson of how wicked magicians truly are. Told in first person, present tense, “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” shares an attack meant to destroy Mika. While I had no problems following the storyline, I found that it held little interest for me. Maybe if I knew more about Mari, I would have been more invested in her survival. However, she is an evil, selfish woman, one I didn’t care about. “Sixty-Six Seconds” by Craig Schaefer (This story contains characters from two interconnected series: Harmony Black and Daniel Faust.) Fontaine and his new apprentice, Rache, work for hell...
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Aug
7

Review: SEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear

Review: SEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear SEAL Wolf Undercover Author: Terry Spear Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I was very excited when I first learned that Ms. Spear would be intertwining the worlds of her wolf and jaguar shifter stories. Having read so many of both series, combining the two seemed like the perfect next step. And even though there was a good deal that I enjoyed about SEAL Wolf Undercover, I admit that my feelings are somewhat mixed. On the plus side, many of the more prominent things that appealed in earlier stories—including errable but lovable alpha males falling for tough, capable women—are present in SEAL Wolf Undercover. Jillian is confident, strong, and perfectly able to take care of herself. Vaughn is mostly a loner, a little arrogant, and can’t help but be instantly attracted to Jillian the moment he sees her. The feeling is mutual, though, and the inevitability of the two main characters getting together is something of a hallmark of the companion series. Additionally, Ms. Spear incorporates familiar characters and a healthy dose of humor into this new world, which is something I’ve always appreciated. Vaughn and Jillian’s introduction isn’t at all how most couples would get their start, but it creates a running gag throughout the story that establishes surprisingly solid footing for the rest of their relationship. Carrying the original groundwork and characters of the “United Shifter Force” into SEAL Wolf Undercover also provided a recognizable foundation on which additional stories might build. Although SEAL Wolf Undercover is consistent with the others in the series I’ve read, there were a few concerns that made it difficult for me to fully settle into the story. Various technical issues that hadn’t been addressed in the ARC I received for this review were hard to ignore, but will hopefully be resolved in the final version. Repetition of phrasing, occasionally confusing establishment of the chain of events, ambiguity in regards to which character is speaking in some scenes, spontaneous POV shifts, and so forth, all kept the narrative from feeling as solid as some in the past have been. Though it has a rough patch or two, SEAL Wolf Undercover has many other good things to recommend it. Like the other stories, it includes a mystery to be solved, a whirlwind romance, and a loving forever that fans of the series are sure to enjoy. Regardless, the introduction of the groups of shifters has unlocked an expansive set of new...
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Aug
2

Review: Strangehold by Rene Sears

Review: Strangehold by Rene Sears Strangehold Author: Rene Sears Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Strangehold is a fascinating series debut.  I enjoyed this introduction to a world of witches and Faerie and look forward to more. Let me say first that this novella could have been a full novel.  There is such a rich world with fascinating characters and politics, some elements could have been stretched out a bit in the storytelling.  That being said, the story wasn’t lacking despite its shorter length.  In fact, I’d say the book had a succinct feeling – the story flowed and conveyed the twists and turns without a lot of embellishment.  I enjoyed Ms. Sears’s writing style and felt that it was a refreshing narration. The story is predominately told from Morgan Tenpenny’s point of view.  Morgan is a witch who lives as a guardian of one of the gates between the mortal world and Faerie.  For the last half century, there is a treaty in place between the Fae and the witches – but it seems that someone is trying to destroy that.  Morgan discovers what appears to be a sickness killing witches while investigating why the gates have all been closed; she befriends a cursed fae, Falcon.  As the two team up to stop the sickness and open the gates, we learn much of the world and the politics. Again, the world is fascinating and I really enjoyed the mythology.  The little bit of romantic plot thread between Falcon and Morgan was an intriguing touch as well.  I look forward to learning more about Falcon, the connection between him and Morgan, and seeing if this romance blossoms (I just love slow burn romances!).  The creation and existence of the Strangehold realm is fascinating as well.  I hope we will see more of it in the future novels.  Though the “evil” is thwarted at the end, there are still some plot lines unresolved.  I eagerly look forward to seeing what happens next for Morgan’s sister, her nieces, and the treaty between mortals and Faerie. Strangehold is a captivating and straightforward debut novella in the Crossroads of Worlds series.  I liked Morgan’s character and look forward to seeing what happens next for her family and Falcon.  The mythology was intriguing as was the balance of power between witches and Fae.  I eagerly look forward to the next novel in the series. Our Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Morgan Tenpenny has retreated...
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Aug
1

Review: In His Hands by Adriana Anders

Review: In His Hands by Adriana Anders In His Hands Author: Adriana Anders Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: When I was reading In His Hands, I felt like I was transported up a lonely mountain and planted in a vineyard. The feel of the vines and the selection process—which to cut and which to leave—reminded me of working with my grandmother on the concord grapes she had in her back yard. I’d listen to her talk about pruning the canes back and making sure the vines stayed on the fencing she’d made my dad set when he was a kid. As an adult, I lived in her house and tried to reclaim the vines after years of them running amok. It wasn’t an easy job. But, my nostalgia left as soon as I figured out what the heck was going on, on the top of that mountain. It…wasn’t pretty, but Ms. Anders didn’t focus on the abuse Abby suffered at the hands of others. The story focused on trust. Not the cult in which Abby was raised and how twisted and backward their beliefs were. I may have thrown up in my mouth a little during a few memories. Abby is a little spitfire. I’m not sure whether I can fully stomach the  whole cult mentality. I’m pretty sure I would’ve been down off the mountain before I’d been married off to some old geezer. I get the ‘only way out is death’ mentality, though. It’s just super hard for me to connect with. Which brings me to Luc. As a recluse and neighbor to the cult, Luc’s lack of experience with positive relationships in his life played out beautifully in this story. I felt a true connection to him because he listened to everything his grandfather said about growing grapes—and he applied it to the small crop of grapes he cultivated every year to sell to vintners in the area. I could almost hear my grandmother saying some of the same things about her vines. I’m not sure if I missed how long Luc had been on the mountain or if I wasn’t able to retain it due to nostalgia. It felt like he’d been there a few years, though. I even got the whole family thing—but for entirely different reasons. What I adored about Luc even more than the trip he took me on down memory lane was the fact that he was FRENCH. Ugh. My weakness. Even though Abby was...
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Aug
1

Review: Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson

Review: Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson Chasing Destiny Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Bay has had something missing in his life since losing his best friend and future mate when they were teens. But to lose Nash again after he was rescued then sacrificed himself to save the Silver Tips from a Nowere attack, left Bay empty and near ruin. Volunteering for a highly dangerous and potentially deadly scouting mission, Bay finds life again when he discovers Nash living in isolation with the Whitethroats. Nash has spent over half of his life in deplorable conditions as a prisoner; used for experiments and worse. Now that Bay has found him, he’s torn between his love for Bay and a pack long forgotten and the need to protect them from his once captors. With warring emotions, Nash walks the fine line between redemption and hell. Fans of good ol’ shifter romance and sizzling m/m lovin’ rejoice! Ms. Erickson’s Silver Tip Pack series is just what you need. After enjoying the world building and character development of first book, Daring Fate, I found Chasing Destiny all the more intense and exciting. The raw need between Nash and Bay is tangible: emotional and sexy. The years of unfulfilled lust and love explode as the pair reconnects. It’s a push and pull story, with a solid foundation established when the pair was younger. While Nash can do little to control his body’s need to be with Bay, his heart and head push him away, thinking he is too broken to be loved by Bay. Their story is emotionally gripping and satisfying. While the romance between first book couple Reese and Dare was the “True Mate” kind, I am thankful that Ms. Erickson did not utilize the same for Nash and Bay. True Mating is rare and special, but the author shows us that it isn’t necessary for true love to develop between a couple, leaving no question of how exceptional Bay and Nash relationship is. Additionally, I appreciate that the author gives Nash the time he needs to be with Bay, rather than skip over his years of physical and mental abuse. Yet, they are firmly a couple before the big climax of the book, solidifying their connection in a powerful way. Ms. Erickson continues to develop her world, as we learn more about surrounding Were and werewolf packs, making connections with other packs, and witnessing anomalies involving the zombie-like Noweres. Having to spend...
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Jul
31

Review: Luca by Sarah Castille

Review: Luca by Sarah Castille Luca Author: Sarah Castille Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Sarah Castille has done it again. I have a secret love for mafia stuff, and romantic suspense is the perfect outlet for me to feed my need. We met Luca in Nico’s book, and I loved that one, too. Part of the reason I loved Nico so much was because I needed to know more about Luca. One of the most awesome things we get in Luca is that we get kick-ass Gabrielle. She is definitely no shrinking flower, and doesn’t need a man to take care of her. What I love the most about Gabrielle’s character is that she ALLOWS Luca to be a Mr. Bossypants. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the way to write an Alpha male. Pull out your stereotypes about mafia dudes. Got ‘em? Okay. They’re all supposed to be full of themselves and their heritage. That is a thing in this series, but I love the way that Ms. Castille has managed the over-the-topness with Luca. Because there’s no way Gaby is going to put up with a chest-thumping, hard-headed Italian going all Caveman on her. Dear Gaby has a ton-o-crap going on, too. Through all of it, she believed in herself and her ability to do what needed to be done. Um. The end? I did NOT see that coming. Not until the end. Maybe I should’ve picked up hints earlier, but I was too engrossed in Luca and Gaby. They’re a wonderful couple, and I hope you fall as hard for them as I have. And…I can’t wait until the next title. According to Ms. Castille’s GR profile, Frankie’s book is next. **fangirls** My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Luca Rizzoli was nearly destroyed by a brutal betrayal that cost him his family. Now a ruthless crime boss in the city of sin, he lets nothing touch his frozen heart–until a smoldering encounter with a beautiful stranger ignites his passion. One night isn’t enough for a man who takes what he wants, but his mysterious temptress has slipped away. For two years police detective Gabrielle Fawkes has lived for revenge. But a night of indulgence with a sexy stranger changes everything. Powerful, charming, and deliciously dangerous Luca, has his own private reasons for offering to help her pursue the drug lord who killed her husband. There’s a lot Luca isn’t telling her and the more she...
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