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Currently Browsing: romance
Sep
25

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox Completely Author: Ruthie Knox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Like the rest of Knox’s New York Trilogy, Completely doesn’t fall into a tidy classification.  More than the others, however, it wants to tip over into the dreaded women’s fiction category. I think Knox has earned it this time, and I didn’t like it as much as the two (three) previous books being Truly, Madly, and the related About Last Night. About Last Night is probably my favorite book Knox has written so it pleases me that she’s chosen to return to the Chamberlain family with the New York Trilogy and not with the focus on characters one might expect.  Many authors just run through the siblings of a family in a series whereas Knox gives more emphasis to their love stories through the women in their lives.  In Completely, Knox focuses on Rosemary Chamberlain, Winston Chamberlain’s (Madly) ex-wife.  Winston is the older brother of Neville in About Last Night. Rosemary led a tidy, scheduled, polite existence as Winston’s wife, but that’s all she was doing, existing.  She describes herself as “wallpaper.”  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Completely she struggles to find herself and stumbles upon love in the process.  Unfortunately, it is not as compelling of a read as Knox’s previous books because it starts with a character who is neither likable nor unlikable.  Through shared tragedy she falls in love with a man who works very hard at being desperately private.  As a result, there’s not much for the reader to relate to in either character. I found it difficult to invest myself.  Like its predecessor Madly, the characters don’t seem to go together, maybe even less so.  With a spread of seven years between them, not as many as between Winston and Allie, Rosemary is the older of the two.  No one would mistake her for a cougar.  Rather, she’s a proper, British, would-be baroness. Kalden Beckett, her love interest, describes himself as “brown.”  It’s meant as a skin color reference having a Tibetan mother and an American father, being born in New York, but spending a lot of time in Nepal as well.  Like Rosemary’s wallpaper label, it seems more designed to make him blend in with his surroundings, which in his case is dirt and trees. Getting to know them both literally takes the entire book. One of my favorite characters is peripheral, like Allie’s father...
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Sep
6

Review: The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy The Shift of the Tide Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una were anxiously awaiting Zynda’s story.  The Shift of the Tide is utterly compelling and may have replaced Andi’s (The Mark of the Tala) as our favorite book in this series. Zynda has always been a bit of an enigma character.  She is beautifully mysterious and you just know there is much more going on in her head than she lets on.  Zynda is an amazing shapeshifter — the pride of her people, and she is a relative to the previous Tala Queen, Salena. Regardless, Zynda has a secret mission to save her people. This mission will require her to sacrifice her life as she knows it – to give up everything.  Zynda is prepared to make that sacrifice – she has prepared herself for most of her life.  However, her focus and dedication take a severe hit when Marskal is assigned as her watcher. Marskal is a fascinating character.  We absolutely loved his charm, patience, and wit.  Though charged with protecting Zynda, he never underestimates her.  We loved the give and take that Marskal abides with Zynda.  As Zynda never noticed him prior, he was (or has) been a part of the series since the beginning.  We loved their banter and especially the time spent with Marskal’s family.  He is a truly remarkable and endearing character.  Zynda was not the only one falling for him. The journey that Marskal and Zynda embark on is more than physical – more than her mission.  Zynda’s journey is not only external but internal.  The closer she comes to her goal, the more torn up inside she becomes – the more she questions the sacrifice required.  We loved how these two conflicts wove together becoming almost a single conflict.  It was utterly gripping and pathos riddled full of heartwarming moments. Though this novel is transitional in the battle against the Deyrr, it was still gripping as other issues in the realm are explored.  We loved the journey of Zynda and the heart wrenchingly romantic tale between her and Marskal.  We continue to enjoy this world and eagerly look forward to the next story in it. Our Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: A QUICKSILVER HEART Released from the grip of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. As the borders open, new enemies emerge to...
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Aug
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Wildfire Listening to Wildfire is my “re-read” of one of my favorite books of 2017. To recap: the book opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous one, with fears that Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, has located the Baylors and wants to take the girls away to become part of her own House. Additionally, we discover that, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee and daughter of Olivia Charles (antagonist from book 2), wants to hire Nevada because her husband is missing. Add to it the budding romance between Rogan and Nevada, a huge conspiracy to overthrow the existing government, and some crazy family issues, and you’ve got an amazing story! As with my audiobook review of White Hot (book 2), there isn’t much more I can add about Wildfire that I didn’t say in my original review. From that review: “The relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona.” “Wildfire is a wonderful story in an amazing series. The authors have taken incredible care to create a whole set of characters beyond just the hero and heroine. I have become attached to each member of Baylor clan, and I adore that every character has purpose, each with their own story. While the action is intense, the emotional depth takes this story and series from great to amazing. I highly recommend reading the entire three-book Hidden Legacy series from the beginning.” As I have stated numerous times, the addition of Renee Raudman’s narration takes any book up a notch. By now, her unique and separate voices for each character have become so familiar to me, and listening to her read the story is a comfort, like hearing my mom’s voice on the phone after not talking for a while. But more than the voices, it’s the emotion she puts behind every performance that blows me away. From anger to fear, from joy to sorrow, I feel the power of her performance deep inside my heart. She takes the already amazing characters and makes them real. Wildfire is simply amazing and one of my favorite...
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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
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased White Hot Listening to the audiobook of White Hot is a “reread” for me. I reviewed the book in May 2017, and my review still stands as I originally wrote it. Here is an excerpt from my original review: “The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. “The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. There are many hurdles to jump, and I really want them to make it.” By listening to the book, I picked up plot nuances that I missed when reading the book the first time. However, It is Renée Raudman’s performance that makes the story so much more. While the writing team of Ilona Andrews is an amazing storyteller in its own right, Ms. Raudman adds so much feeling and emotion to their stories that I can’t help but get choked up every time I listen to one their books. She breathes life into these amazing characters and tales, making them ones I would listen to again and again. She takes an A book and makes it an A+. In the end, White Hot is an amazing, entertaining story, and coupled with Ms. Raudman’s talent, the book is unforgettable. My Rating: A+ Narration: A+ About the Book: Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan. Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally...
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Aug
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Silver Skull Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #2 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Silver Skull As the daughter of a prominent Duke, Lady Olivia is expected to marry, produce heirs for her husband, and run a successful household – all things she was taught to do. Except Olivia is also a Queen’s agent, trained to marry a politically motivated target and report on his activities. Olivia sees this as a means to an end; becoming a widow and then a field agent. Tired of waiting for field assignment, Olivia takes matters in her own hands when she decides to follow Lord Ian Rathsburn. Ian is a man with a tarnished reputation; a former Queen’s agent whose life work was stolen and is being developed by the enemy: Germany. Yet when his enemies kidnap his sister, Ian must act traitor to his country and help the Germans further develop his ideas, working along side his former friend – the man who stole his work. Finding stowaway Lady Olivia on his dirigible, Ian isn’t certain if she’s a bubble-headed woman looking for a husband, or an agent of the Queen looking to bring him in. The second story in Ms. Renwick’s wonderful Elemental Web Chronicles is equally exciting and doubly adventurous as its predecessor. The story not only takes readers across the sea to Germany, but also opens up the setting to the much larger world. The world building continues as new characters are introduced, some with long-term potential. I feel like the entire Elemental Web Chronicles universe has expanded immensely after just one additional book. Even though things are growing within the series mythos, The Silver Skull is a tightly-woven story. The author does a fabulous job bring her world and characters to life without overwhelming readers/listeners. The romance between physician Ian and engineer Olivia is entertaining. I love the use of “scientific exploration” as a means for examining their mutual and intense attraction. They banter and play as only two geeks could, which is very enduring to me. I appreciate the conundrum of being spies and the need to keep secrets versus creating a solid rapport  based on honesty. Their romance burns slowly, but the unfulfilled desire keeps pulling the two together. At first I was concerned that the similarities between The Silver Skull...
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Jul
24

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Wildfire opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous book, White Hot. Rogan and Nevada return from their mini-vacation to tell her family about Victoria Tremaine trying to buy out their company. However, when Rogan and Nevada arrive, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee (arranged marriage when he was three) and daughter of Olivia Charles (the baddie from book 2) is waiting for the pair. Her husband is missing, and no one will help her because of her mother’s disgrace. Nevada takes the case, starting the next round in the ongoing war with the unknown group of Primes looking to cause chaos in Houston. This book is not a standalone and should only be read following the first two books in the series. While billed as a romance, Wildfire is much, much more, and I would argue that the romance is not the primary aspect of the book and series (which is why I label it urban fantasy). With that said, the relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona. I LOVE how they take turns helping each other get past emotionally difficult places. This time around, Rogan lets Nevada rage and then tells her he loves her and together they will make it. Other times she’s doing the same for him. It goes far to create such three-dimensional, likable characters. There are three major, overarching storylines which are furthered during the telling of Wildfire. First, we finally meet and learn much more about Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria. The authors wow’d me with this character who appears to be both bad and good. I felt like I was on a roller coaster as Nevada experiences a range of emotions, learning more about Victoria. Closely related this is Nevada and the Baylor family’s decision to become a House. The motivation behind the move is protection from Victoria, and as we learn more about her, I can see why this course of action, no matter the risks, is probably for the best. I was so worried during the entire process that something would go wrong – whether intentionally or coincidentally, and without giving spoilers, I will say, the entire journey was well-written and thrilling. Additionally, Nevada and Rogan...
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Jun
20

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell At His Mercy Author: Shelly Bell Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C What I’m Talking About: While At His Mercy held promise for me, I struggle with many issues while reading it. I honestly try to leave my ‘editor eye’ out of it when I review a book. It’s…difficult, at best. I overlook typos, usage, and misplaced punctuation all the time. I mean, ARC copies can quite possibly be sent out prior to final proofreading. I know how the publishing industry works. But I struggled with this ARC. Next, a romance title can’t be all about sex scenes. While they’re a nice ‘frosting on the cake’, it can’t be the drift-from-one-sex-scene-to-the-next type of story or that makes it flat-out erotica. While we’re told that there was a veiled romance element in this title, I didn’t actually witness it myself. /soapbox. Okay. A solid Dominant/submissive relationship takes time to establish. If it’s a one-night stand, that’s one thing. However, jumping into a relationship without knowing the other person is just bad form and completely unsafe. I mean, Isabella didn’t let anyone know where she was going!!! For all she knew, Tristan was some psycho wack-job—she’d picked one before, who’s to say she didn’t pick one again? Isabella ranks up there in my Too Stupid to Learn heroines, and I didn’t feel a bit badly at the end for her. /off soapbox Tristan, for being an experienced Dom, is incredibly stupid. There’s lots of reasons, but listing them all would be spoilery. Lastly, there were plot inconsistencies. I can overlook a few here and there, but there were entirely too many going on—so much so, that I actually had to flip back in the book to make sure I wasn’t crazy several times. After all, there couldn’t be THAT many of them in the book, right?!?! Wrong. While I’m really intrigued by the premise for this title and the subsequent title(s), I think I’ll pass. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: Angel in his arms . . . Devil at her heels  One last, no-strings night of indulgence. That’s all Tristan wants before he begins a much-needed new chapter in his life. Instead he finds an innocent angel in pink who brings him to his knees. Isabella is done hiding from the world . . . and her haunting memories. Discovering courage in the arms of a perfect stranger, she finally lets go and sheds...
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Jun
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Golden Spider Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #1 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Golden Spider Set in a time when England and Germany have heightened tensions, spy networks are vast, and the ton continues with its balls and social obligations unaware of the secrets around them, Lady Amanda wars with her father, the Duke, over her ability to attend medical school. Amanda is driven by her keen intelligence and a guilt over her brother’s injured leg, to produce a clockwork device to repair nerve damage. Under pressure to find a husband within the year, Amanda courts a classmate, but finds no sparks. However, when her work captures the attention of Lord Thornton, noted physician and neurologist, Lady Amanda finally knows what it is like to have her mind appreciated. Lord Thornton lives with the guilt over the betrayal of his best friend in his damaged leg that will never heal. As a spy for the Queen herself, he finds Amanda’s work to be the break he needs in a rash of Gypsy murders. However much he is attracted to both her brain and her body, Thornton must keep the relationship professional, especially since he’s not on the market for a wife. The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance! Right from the start, I was drawn into this exciting mystery, trying to discover who is behind the Gypsy murders. Watching Amanda’s mind work to piece the puzzle together is fascinating, and made all the much better as she and Thornton grow closer. I love the science of the story – the author does not brush over Amanda and Thornton’s work, but rather gives listeners the details of both test subjects and gadgets. While the engineering, science, action, and adventure is completely fascinating, it is the romance between Lord Thornton and Lady Amanda that gives The Golden Spider heart and makes it such a wonderful story. The pair are meant for one another; not only do they share a passion for science and ingenuity, but they are able to openly be themselves with each other. Thornton doesn’t trust easily, but he finds a confidant in Amanda. Working side by side, their passion grows until they finally give into their burning desires. The story is read by British-born actress Henrietta Meire,...
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May
22

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: White Hot is the second story in the Hidden Legacy series, building upon the exciting escapades of Nevada Baylor. This is NOT a standalone book. The series, a mix of urban fantasy and romance storylines, is set in an alternate Houston, where magic (psychic powers) is prevalent in some families. If one is powerful enough, s/he is designated Prime. Have enough Primes, and your family is a House. We learned in the previous book, Burn for Me, that a faction of powerful, secretive Primes/Houses is trying to disrupt status quo and create confusion in Houston; however Nevada and Rogan can’t figure out the “why.” White Hot is an excellent story, not suffering any “sophomore slump.” Everything literally explodes open. We learn so much about Nevada and her true nature. Her powers are strong, something she’s been hiding her whole life, and with time and training, she could be extremely dangerous. Also, Nevada and Rogan have discovered more about the mysterious plot to create chaos in the Houston/Texas region. They are getting closer to the truth, but much remains to uncover and learn. However, now that their enemies realize what a powerful team they make, things will only become more difficult! Additionally, there is a new enemy on the horizon, someone that threatens Nevada’s family. The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. I loved seeing all of Nevada’s family join the fight, and learning about the hidden talents of her sister and cousin. She’s a good leader and compassionate soul. But she’s willing to make hard choices to protect what is hers. I love that she is also becoming a strong kickass heroine; growing, learning. The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. He is realizing if he supports her, she’ll come to him; trust him. There are sexy times, filled with emotions that made my belly flutter. They are a great match, and I hope the...
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