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Currently Browsing: romance
Jun
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Fate’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased The third Edge story, Fate’s Edge, features Kaldar Mar, the swindling, grifting cousin of Cerise, the previous book’s heroine. The story is set two years after the second book, with Kaldar working for the Adrianglian spy network, the Mirror, hoping to exact revenge on Spider and the Hand for killing his family. He’s been recruited to recover a valuable stolen artifact, which should give him the opportunity for which he’s been waiting. Audrey Callahan wants to live a normal life, working for a PI firm in the Broken and maintaining a small home in the Edge. After living a life filled with heists and disappointments, she’s left her family behind, for good. However, when her dad shows up and requests her help in “one more big job” she gives him a choice: he can either walk away and keep her as a daughter or she’ll do the job and he will no longer have a daughter, killing him if he returns. Her dad picks the heist over his daughter. Now the Hand is after her to recover the artifact, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. I am throughly enjoying my time in Ilona Andrews’ Edge. The mythology is unique and interesting, and with each passing book, the plot expands and deepens. While each story is a standalone romance with its own adventure, there is an overall urban fantasy arc. Although new characters are introduced in each title, previous characters are brought forward and sometimes play key roles. Kaldar and Audrey’s story is genuinely fun, although at times confusing and complex. The pair are con artists, working both the enemy to gain back possession of the stolen artifact, but also with each other. They play games, hiding their true feelings in an effort not to get conned and hurt. While on the surface, the plot of retrieving the items Audrey helped steal seems simple, the overall story is anything but. At one point, the pair had to steal money from a pirate to get in good with the preacher, so that they could rob him and exchange that item for an invitation to the bad guy’s auction, in order to get back the item stolen in the first place. *phew* I became tired of all of the layers of...
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Jun
8

Review: All the Broken Places by Anise Eden

Review: All the Broken Places by Anise Eden All the Broken Places Author: Anise Eden Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: All the Broken Places was a rather interesting read, and unlike my normal fare. I liked it. Reader advisory: our main character, Cate, is dealing with the suicide death of her mom, and has suicidal ideation tendencies. If this is a trigger for you, I don’t recommend reading this title. Even though All the Broken Places deals with some tough content, I felt it was handled honestly and with incredible sensitivity. Cate, practically agoraphobic since her mom’s death ten weeks prior, is struggling to regain ‘normal’. She has a slim support system in a work colleague and her friend-with-benefits. Cate, however, is a social worker. In addition to the strong empathy a ‘normal’ social worker has, Cate is able to sense her clients with some different empathic ability. This ability is causing her additional issues as she recovers from her mom’s death, and continues to check on her clients through their bond. Her boss recommends she see someone to help her process her mother’s death, and she is sent to Dr. MacGregor. In the good doctor’s office, she is eventually able to open up about the ‘weird’ things about her. Fortunately, the doctor and her hottie son are experts in weird. They want Cate to agree to attend an intensive program for three weeks. Cate is cautious, but says she is willing to listen. As the nature of this pretty cool program is revealed to Cate, she becomes skeptical, and wants to leave the program. There’s a couple reasons she doesn’t, in my opinion. One of which is Ben MacGregor, who she is attracted to, but struggles to reconcile the emotions swirling around about him. Ben is also a bit broken, and I think all the participants in the MacGregor Group are, to some extent. I like Ben, and I am really interested to learn more about him in the next title. We got some great formative information about him in this title–just enough to whet my appetite. I was particularly interested in the world building done by the author. Ancient civilizations, alternative belief systems, and some quirky personalities make for some fascinating interactions and created all the questions for the next title. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: All of Cate’s problems are in her head. That may be her greatest strength.  Cate Duncan is a promising young therapist, dedicated to...
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Jun
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bayou Moon Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Bayou Moon opens two years after the conclusion of the previous book, On the Edge, where we find William living a solitary life in the Edge. He is soon recruited by the Mirror, a spy network for the country of Adrianglia in the Weird, and finds himself off to the Mire in the Edge. Cerise Mar lives in the Edge in the swamps called the Mire. The Mars are in a family feud with the Sheeriles, and her parents have been kidnapped by evil agents of the Hand. Lucky for Cerise, she crosses paths with William, and they team up to stop the Hand. The second book started as a bit of a shocker to me. I thought that the Edge series was an urban fantasy series that would follow Rose and Declan through four books. But it’s not… It’s more of a UF romance, with a different couple featured in each book. After my initial disappointment, I learned to love both William and Cerise. Overall, I enjoyed Bayou Moon. Once again, the storytelling is phenomenal, with an engrossing plot filled with some twists and turns. It is, however, a long book, and I felt that it would have benefitted from some editing. The ending dragged on a bit too long and started to frustrate me. Additionally, the authors left open some doors that I would have preferred closed. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if they are resolved in future titles. I did enjoy the reintroduction of the main characters from the first title. I hope that the next two books will continue to involve some of these familiar players. Renée Raudman’s performance is utterly amazing. She captures every moment perfectly – reconstructing emotions that allow a listener to experience what the character feels. She also introduces appropriate sighs, breaths, and more to express the attitudes and physical exhaustion (for example) of the characters. In the end, another wonderful addition to the Edge series. My Rating: B Narration:...
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May
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: On the Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased On the Edge is the first story in Ilona Andrews’ unique urban fantasy romance series. The Edge is the place between the Broken (human, non-magical world) and the Weird (mirror world with alternate history and magic-filled). Rose and her two young brothers, Georgie and Jack, live in the Edge, while Rose holds a below minimum wage job in the Broken to try and make ends meet. Everything changes when a Blue Blood from the Weird, Declan, shows up on Rose’s land, while mysterious, evil hounds pick off Edgers one by one. The writing team of Ilona Andrews is one of the best around. Their attention to detail, while weaving a unique and exciting, action-packed tale, results in one engrossing story after another. On the Edge reads mostly like an urban fantasy, but has multiple third-person POVs and features a romance. Declan and Rose are like Curran and Kate (Kate Daniels series) or Rogan and Nevada (Hidden Legacy series). They are oil and water. Noble, calm, alpha male and feisty witty hard-on-her-luck female. Female in trouble and could protect herself, but the male wants and needs to protect. I love the dialogue and banter. Renée Raudman, who narrates all of the Andrews’ titles, works her charm, giving each character a unique, age-appropriate voice. She works in accents, attitude, and emotion to keep the listener engaged. Overall, On the Edge is exciting and full of twists. The authors have created an incredibly fascinating world, filled with complex and engaging characters, coupled with strong storytelling. I look forward to more from The Edge. Story: A Narration:...
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May
25

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy The Pages of the Mind Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Pages of the Mind is the debut novel of the Twelve Kingdom spin-off series, The Uncharted Realms.  Overall we enjoyed the first book in the beginning of a new series. Gikany and Una love the world that this series takes place in.  It is not imperative to read the Twelve Kingdoms series first; however, you will have a stronger understanding and appreciation if you do read the previous series (and you should because it is good).  You will also have a much stronger connection to Dafne.  For fans that have followed the previous series, it is exciting to learn more about the world and surrounding kingdoms. Dafne was introduced at the beginning of the Twelve Kingdoms series.  She was a quiet librarian who had access to knowledge that each princess needed.  She was a rock of support and strength and a steadfast advisor to each of them.  Dafne isn’t afraid to show her backbone and speak her mind.  We liked her immensely and have eagerly looked forward to her romantic journey.  We couldn’t have imagined the direction her life would take.  We loved seeing the journey Dafne takes and watching her struggle between her heart and her sense of duty.  Her ability to wield the pen far more mightily than the sword was breathtaking. Overall, we liked the journey between Dafne and Nakoa, even though we thought there were some off-notes in it.  Although they did not detract from our enjoyment, they were noticeable.  We were surprised that Nakoa could be so devoted to Dafne and then abruptly write her off, not trusting her.  His belief that she should automatically know who he is and fall into the role as queen coupled with the odd ultimatum to choose him (who she’d only known three days) over Ursula (who she’d known her whole life) was a bit of a stretch.  We were surprised that although he understands (and we assume) speaks Dasnarian, he never tried to communicate with her in it, but instead insisted that she learn to communicate in his language. Overall, we really liked The Pages of the Mind, abrupt moments and all.  The passion and connection between Nakoa and Dafne smoothed over those rough patches.  Gikany and Una are biting our nails in anticipation of the next novel, which will center on Jepp and Kral.  If you enjoy...
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May
20

Review: Head Above Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Head Above Water by Hailey Edwards Head Above Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Head Above Water is… awesome. I was really excited to get back to Cam and Graeson. Their story is compelling, wrought with sexual tension, and contains a twist in their romance I did NOT see coming!!! The over-arching series conflict with Charybdis continues to build and puzzle Cam, as well. I may have devoured this title in one sitting, had life not happened. I love the theme of ‘family’ in this title. Part of what we get to see involves Cam, Aunt Dot, and Cam’s cousin, Isaac. Blood relatives. The family dynamic is unique, and also draws parallels to a more traditional family structure. We also catch a glimpse of the Warg pack structure, which is also family. These opposing dynamics change and evolve through the story, and at the end I was left with this: family are those people who love you unconditionally, and always have your back. Not necessarily blood, but they can be. Pack, however, has its own set of rules. I wasn’t a fan (just because I didn’t like what happened, and it ticked me off on Cam & Graeson’s behalf), but they certainly propelled the story forward and added another layer to the conflict. I liked learning more about Dell in this title. I’m not sure exactly where her character is headed, but her tenacity, fierce loyalty, and her loving nature are definitely something to watch in future Gemini titles. Isaac got more page time, too. We learn about him and his thoughts about Gemini using their magic. He seems like he wants to connect with Cam, but doesn’t know how—like there’s this big chasm between them since she lost her twin. We got to see some members of the Warg pack, too. Their Alpha, Bessemer, is not on my list of favorites. His…consorts (yeah, I’ll use that word…) aren’t up there, either. By design, the Alpha was bossy as all get-out, and implemented archaic practices that were dangerous, and—to me—seemed uncaring and steeped in tradition, versus taking the health of the pack into consideration. Typical of pack structure dynamic/hierarchy. And, we get to see Thierry and Mai. 🙂 Grief does strange things to people. Support systems are super important. When there’s a breakdown in supports, it does wacky things to a person. In the first Gemini title, Graeson’s sister, Marie, was missing and found dead—a victim of Charybdis. As...
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Apr
6

Review: Blazing Earth by Terri Brisbin

Review: Blazing Earth by Terri Brisbin Blazing Earth Author: Terri Brisbin Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: In this third installment of the Stone Circles, the tone of the novel changes. Though I liked the journey of Tolan and Thea, there was a more somber feeling and desperation to the world.  It seems the plight of our heroes has reached a pinnacle in Blazing Earth. ***Please note that this series builds upon the previous novel.  Therefore there may be inadvertent spoilers in this review.  You have been warned.*** This is a tough review to write because I do not want to spoil the novel, but I do feel as if the progression of this novel is very different from the previous ones.  Though there is a logical conclusion that brings about a higher tension to the impending final confrontation, it was still in some ways a tough read.  Tolan and Thea must work though some emotional baggage that affects their actions and choices in this journey.  I love how they overcome it, but their story is so bittersweet.  Death and loss has always been a part of this series, but I found it much more poignant in this installment.  Maybe it is due to the outcome of events, but although Tolan and Thea do end up together (I hope that isn’t too spoilery for a romance novel) the course of their romance took me by surprise.  It makes me nervous and eager for the next novel. I continue to enjoy this world and the mythology associated with it.  The different bloodlines that are tied to the Old Ones (old gods) and how they are vessels for these past gods to protect the world from Chaela.  The manifestation of powers and the mixing of the religions are fascinating.  I also enjoy the contrast as these bloodline carriers discover and learn about these traits they have inherited.  The legend of the Warriors of Destiny is thrilling as each book adds the next players.  It is clear that we are heading into the final battle and I cannot wait to see if our heroes will triumph over evil.  I’m thinking they will, but I wonder how much heartbreak, tension and suspense I’ll have to endure before we get there.  I really do like how the stories do not always progress as I expect – especially in Blazing Earth. Tolan and Thea’s romantic journey is compelling.  Though bittersweet in moments, their connection is steel.  They are passionate...
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Mar
7

Review: Trapped by Alison Aimes

Review: Trapped by Alison Aimes Trapped Author: Alison Aimes Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’m going to put this right up front because Alison Aimes’ debut book Trapped actually came with a warning right up front.  I was puzzled by it. It doesn’t read like a trigger warning, instead, sounding more like a promotional blurb.  At the outset there is an unequal power structure between her two main characters and the sex that takes place within it.  That relationship changes over the course of the book, but if there was concern about criticism for it, don’t write it.  Don’t come up with a premise and then apologize for it. If she feels it needs a trigger warning, put it out there simply and don’t dance around it. Here’s the thing though, it would appear that Aimes set out to write an erotic romance set in space, but that’s not what she did.  She actually wrote a very good science fiction novel where, dare I say it, the sex was almost superfluous.  Not in its entirety, some would have been fine here and there to support the romantic elements, rather than use it to create them.  To me, it almost felt out place in what was otherwise a well written book with good world-building and sufficient conflict to support multiple sub-plots.  She probably could have dropped fifty-percent of the sex and expanded the epilogue.  At only 220 pages, there was lots of room for more description, more dialog, more stress, more relief and I would have happily come along for the ride. She successfully creates an alpha-male who comes off sympathetic, even scared, without losing any of his masculinity.  It was nice to have such a prominent character be so un-full of himself.  Convict 673 aka Caine completely lacked the cockiness of most alpha-males prominent in today’s romance literature.  His female counterpart, Cadet Annabella “Bella” West, is intelligent.  She makes choices for her survival, keeps her bargains, shows integrity, and doesn’t apologize for the consequences. She’s was a survivor even before she crashed into Caine’s life so her actions were consistent, even if they seemed extreme to her. I like these two characters and I like them together.  I just wish I had more of them and not just more of them in bed. One criticism was that in having her story thousands of years into the future, Aimes fell short in the cursing department.  She developed a system of travel, government,...
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Feb
2

Spotlight + Giveaway: Hot Dudes Coloring Book by D.C. Taylor

Spotlight + Giveaway: Hot Dudes Coloring Book by D.C. Taylor For all lovers of washboard abs, bad boys and… crayons—there’s a new group of hotties in town and they are ready to get graphic (artistically, that is!). Berkley Publishing presents the HOT DUDES COLORING BOOK (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; February 2, 2016; $9.99) by D.C. Taylor in conjunction with Valentine’s Day this February. Inside this steamy book you will find a swoon-worthy collection of 60 scantily-clad heartthrobs for your coloring pleasure. With sexy cops, cowboys, lumberjacks and a plethora of other fantasy beaus to choose from, every artist is sure to find their muse. Hitting stores just shy of the most amorous holiday of the year, this entertaining book prompts one to ask the question: who needs to choose one valentine when you can have them all? Giveaway: Berkley is generously donating one (1) copy of the HOT DUDES COLORING BOOK to give to one (1) lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment telling us which fictional character you most would like to color. Additionally, please leave an email address or twitter handle so I may contact the winner. The giveaway is open until Monday February 8, 2016 at 12:00 noon EST. Winner(s) chosen at random from all eligible entries. This contest is open to U.S. mailing addresses only, where not prohibited by law. Open to participants, 18 years or older, who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. All federal, state, local, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. By participating in the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decisions of the contest sponsor. Prize will be delivered by the publisher. This blog, its reviewers, and the owner are not responsible for items lost in the mail. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to abide by these terms. My Review: When I first heard that Berkley was jumping in to the “adult” coloring book craze, I was super excited… I mean who wouldn’t want to color sexy romance cover dudes?! After receiving my review copy from the publisher, I took time to look through it and even selected a couple images to color. I used colored pencils for this one, which reminded me of one of my favorite book covers! I also colored this image with my daughter’s “skinny” crayons. I liked using crayons more than the colored pencils. While the coloring was fun, and the book is highly entertaining, it’s not what I had hoped for or expected in an “adult”...
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Dec
16

Review: Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin

Review: Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin Clockwork Samurai Author: Jeannie Lin Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I have waited for the sequel to Gunpowder Alchemy, the novel ended with so many questions.  Suffice to say, Clockwork Samurai does not disappoint, though I will say the plot thickens. At the conclusion of the previous novel I was left with a few questions.  What will happen between Chang-wei and Jin?  Will they be able to quell the rebels?  Will they be able to stop the British invasion?  Though none of these issues are resolved, each plot thread does progress.  The plight of Jin’s country is gripping – made more so by the issue of a source of opium that is deadly upon first use.  However it seems to not be of a concern of the powers that be – especially as Jin discovers that the Emperor is indulging in it. Jin has been promoted to a palace physician.  Though it seems like a noble post, one that allows her to give her mother and brother a better life, it is not without disadvantages. Though she is the physician in charge of the Emperor’s concubines, there still seems to be political minefields in this position.  Not to mention working in the palace means she could catch the Emperor’s eye, something Jin does not desire.  Due to fears that the Emperor is intrigued by Jin, she asks for a reassignment.  However, be careful what you ask for, her reassignment puts her back in a new adventure with Chang-wei – one that they may not return from.  The journey to Japan in hopes to make an alliance was a nail-biting journey.  The depiction of the county, the culture, and the introduction of new characters was enchanting.  Though it doesn’t go smoothly, it was a fascinating journey. I enjoyed the continuing romance of Chang-wei and Jin.  Though it is obvious they desire each other, something holds Chang-wei back.  Though it is not entirely clear to Jin, she can tell that they have a strong connection and desire for each other.  Yet, because of their positions and the turmoil, they seem unable to explore it.  This romance is well woven into the rest of the story and the balance continues to be well done.  I hope that they will find a way to be with each other.  It seems that they are well suited. The journey to Japan was utterly fascinating.  Though nothing seems to go as planned (or...
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