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Currently Browsing: romance
Jul
6

Review: Stolen Petals by Katherine McIntyre

Review: Stolen Petals by Katherine McIntyre Stolen Petals Author: Katherine McIntyre Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Viola Embrees runs a respectable bar, but makes her fortune as the Brass Violet, a clever bounty hunter. Unfortunately, Edward Van Clef, aka the Fox, has stolen her bounty out from under her a few times. So when the infamous Fox approaches Viola with an offer to share a bounty, she knows she’ll have to stay a few steps ahead of him to keep him from double crossing her. What she doesn’t expect is to fall for Edward’s charms along the way. Stolen Petals is a charming, short novella, set in an alternate time. Although the author labels the story as steampunk, it’s not overly techno-driven, and the story lacks much of the steam-powered gadgets I look for in a steampunk title. The story read more like alternate timeline of some older period, mixed with some modern language and tech. It’s not bad, but if you are looking for a gadget-heavy world, you won’t find it here. I like Viola and really wanted to learn more about her past and how she came to be a bounty hunter and bar owner. The author does a good job of sharing enough hints about her past to give Viola an intriguing persona, and we understand that she’s had a rough time of life. This is enough to round out her character and pique my interest. Edward is even more of a mystery since the story is never shared from his POV. We only have Viola’s impressions of Edward and his reputation as the Fox. And since her perception of men, and Fox specifically, is a bit tarnished, it’s tough for me to trust his character. Their romantic journey is short; the book is only 65+/- pages, which doesn’t leave much time. I felt Viola gave her trust to Edward way too easily, but there isn’t space to do otherwise and still reach the HEA by the end of the story. It is sweet and hopeful, but not enough to completely win me over. Overall, Stolen Petals is an enjoyable, albeit short, read. The story and romance are both entertaining, yet suffer a little under the brevity of the book. If you are looking for a quick escape for an afternoon, Stolen Petals may be the perfect journey away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small...
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May
21

Review: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy The Talon of the Hawk Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Since the first book, The Mark of the Tala, we have been eagerly awaiting Ursula’s book.  The Talon of the Hawk was originally to be the final book in this trilogy, but the good news is that this trilogy is now the Twelve Kingdoms series.  However, Ursula’s book wasn’t quite what we expected and both Gikany and Una were torn about it. Ms. Kennedy has an amazing ability to truly capturing a character.  The books in this series are told from the point of view of one of the three sisters.  Each book had a unique feel because Andi, Ami and Ursula are very different women.  Ursula is incredibly independent and private.  She keeps her emotions tightly bundled and buried.  It is a little difficult to connect to her emotionally because she holds herself apart.  But through her story, we watch her slowly discover herself.  For a woman who has allowed herself to be solely defined by her role and her duties, it was stunning to behold her awakening.  Out of the three sisters Ursula grew the most.  Watching her discover that she has wants and desires and was willing to take risks for those things was a compelling coming of age story for the eldest sister.  Seeing her strive for what she wants and not just clinging to duty and honor was amazing. One element that has Gikany and Una torn is Ursula’s love interest.  Harlan was an enigma.  Granted our perspective of him is entirely Ursula’s (who trusts no one) and we kept waiting for him to betray her.  Even after the story ended, we figured he would still betray her.  Harlan is just too good to be true.  Maybe what also triggered our distrust were a few moments when Ursula allowed herself to completely let go of control and allow Harlan to dominate her and the situation.  This did not sit well with us and seemed out of character for her.  In spite of our reservations, the dance of their courtship was gripping. The best part of Ursula’s story is that she is the one to tie up all the loose ends from the previous novels: Ami’s missing daughter, who will be the heir, the threat of war against Andi and the Tala, and the threat of Uorsin.  We loved how Ms. Kennedy wove all these loose ends...
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Apr
16

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Mark of the Tala Author: Jeffe Kennedy Narrator: Cris Dukehart Audio Speed: 1x Series: The Twelve Kingdoms #1 Genre: Fantasy Romance Source: gift from author Andi never felt like she fit in. She is not as beautiful and kind as her younger sister Amelia, nor as cunning and intelligent as her older sister and heir to the throne, Ursula. She takes refuge in riding her horse far and wide to escape the stares at court and hide from the pity she sees in their eyes. Then everything changes the day she meets a dark stranger in a far away meadow. With one kiss Rayfe unravels Andi’s life, exposing all that she holds kind and true to be a lie. Right from the beginning, The Mark of the Tala grabbed my attention, and I found myself fully entangled in its unique mythology and fascinating tale. I loved that the story is shared solely from the point of view of Andromeda, aka Andi, the middle daughter of High King Uorsin. Through her eyes, heart, and mind, we are witness to her transformation from the least favored daughter to a mighty woman. At first, I simply wanted to find out more about Andi, but then I was on edge as her destiny began to unfold. As her promised betrothed, Rayfe is a terrifying enigma to Andi. She is both scared of, yet drawn to, his darkness. I adored how Rayfe and Andi grow and change both individually and as a pair. While his motives are selfish, he too learns to love. The pair have great chemistry, and I felt their relationship developed at a fitting pace. The mystery of the Tala people is fascinating and exciting. Generally, the narration by Cris Dukehart is well-suited to the feel of the story. She keeps a prim and proper edge to both the dialogue and narration, which is appropriate considering the period and setting of the tale. I preferred her female voices, especially those of Andi and her sisters, but I found her performance of Rayfe and his advisor a bit off. However, in time I grew used to Rayfe’s voice and eventually even liked it. Overall, The Mark of the Tala is a wonderful fantasy romance. Ms. Kennedy has created an interesting mythology in a wonderful world. I enjoyed Andi’s progression from invisible and ignored middle daughter to confident and in-control woman. Although the book is its own...
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Apr
10

Review: Ride to Ruin by Eleri Stone

Review: Ride to Ruin by Eleri Stone Ride To Ruin Author: Eleri Stone Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Ellie’s mother died in a Reaper attack ten years ago, leaving behind Ellie and her younger sister Lu. Now Ellie is living day-to-day, sharing duties and a bed with Dan, but not all that happy with life. When Ellie finds out Lu is wanted for murder, she finally discovers Dan’s true selfish nature. Packing up and heading out to save her sister, Ellie leaves Dan behind. Ranger Garrett Landry is on temporary leave of duties while he tries to locate and save his mom and sister from a cult-like preacher, Blackwell. Since finding both Lu and Garrett’s family are along the same path to Ruin, Garrett and Ellie partner up to make the difficult journey. Along the way, the get help from Lu’s best friend Molly and a known smuggler, Flynn (FYI: Flynn & Molly are the main characters in their own, free online story!) Ride to Ruin, the third title in Ms. Stone’s unique Reaper series, is highly entertaining and a delightful romance. The series is based on an alternate version of Earth, where the Reaper virus, which changes infected men into crazed, flesh-eating monsters, impacted how society developed, with the rich living in the mountains, and the rest living on the frontier, creating a “western” feel for the setting. The border towns are protected by Rangers, men (and a few women) who are immune to the Reaper virus. While reading the first two books in the series is not needed to enjoy Ride to Ruin, it helps put the story into context within its world and the dangers it holds. However, this time around, the story puts most of its energy into and focus on the romance and characters, with hardly any page time for Reapers, the cure, and all of the political issues surrounding the Rangers. I greatly enjoyed this difference and the associated devotion of time spent on the main couple. I felt the story flowed more smoothly overall, and while I wondered what was happening in the political arena, I never missed it. I adored both Ellie and Garrett, especially as a romantic couple. They start off as partners, with both mutual distrust and respect, helping them create a strong foundation based on equality. This is something Ellie was missing with Dan, and she recognized the differences, helping her to trust and fall in love with Garrett. Their banter...
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Mar
3

Review: The Danger of Destiny by Leigh Evans

Review: The Danger of Destiny by Leigh Evans The Danger of Destiny Author: Leigh Evans Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Danger of Destiny is the fourth title in Ms. Evan’s unique and exciting Mystwalker series. The story wraps up Hedi Peacock’s journey from a small-time thief and barista to a powerful woman and mate of Robison Trowbridge, the Alpha wolf of Creemore. The book opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous book and cannot be read as a stand alone title. Although I needed to jog my memory a few times trying to recall prior events, the author does a good job of working in the necessary details so I wasn’t lost and could enjoy the book. Hedi Peacock and Robson Trowbridge are in Merenwyn, land of the Fae. Although they were forced through the portal by some unsavory Weres, the couple needed to go in order to save Hedi’s twin, Lexi, who is bonded to the old Mage. Hedi sets forth on her epic quest to rescue her brother and defeat the Black Mage, while Robson also hopes to free the Raha’ells, an enslaved group of Weres trapped in Merenwyn. Although this seems a bit confusing, the story unfolds fairly straight forward and remains gripping throughout the book. After witnessing Hedi’s character mature in the previous book, I was grateful that she remained strong-willed and smart, while continuing on her journey and developing even more. But she retains so much of what makes her Hedi… her humor and wit remain light and silly. She’s perceptive and knows when to be serious or when to lighten the mood, yet sometimes things just seem to pass her by. She is faithful to those she loves, keeping her focused on those around her, and even causing her to make a few tough decisions. Hedi finally comes to terms with her entire heritage – both the wolf and the fae, dealing with both spirits to give her strength and courage, and a few surprises along the way. The only negative thing I have to say is that she wields her fae magic around as if there were no repercussions, something that definitely could not and would not have happened in earlier books. No explanation was given for her increased ability, and I felt it was a little to convenient at times. Since the story is told in the first person point-of-view of Hedi, we see everything as she perceives it, and this changed how...
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Feb
27

Review: Rising Fire by Terri Brisbin

Review: Rising Fire by Terri Brisbin Rising Fire Author: Terri Brisbin Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Rising Fire is the debut novel in a new fantasy romance series, Stone Circles.  Although it was slow to start, it blossomed into a promising first installment, and I look forward to the next one. The beginning of this novel was like the start of a good chess match: slow to start as the players move their pieces into their battle positions, then once all the pieces are on the board, the excitement begins.  This is how Rising Fire started to me.  It needed some world-building, and pieces needed to evolve and be maneuvered into place.  Although the pace felt sluggish, the tension was slowly ratcheting up. The slowly burning romance between William and Brienne was intriguing and added to the slowly increasing tension. I really enjoyed William and Brienne’s journey.  They both found themselves in roles they didn’t expect and in the midst of trying to do what is right, found each other.  I enjoyed how they danced about each other and then finally came together.  Though compelled by the supernatural forces at work, they still got to take some time to know each other.  William is overwhelming but also tries to be a gentleman, even with the compulsion he feels.  I love how innately good and loyal he is.  Brienne is also innately good, even with the blood of her ancestors in her.  I really enjoyed watching her chose what is good, to not be defined by genetics but by environment.  Her journey of self-discovery was touching within the realms of the impending conflict. Though our heroes were able to thwart evil at this first circle, we are left with knowing they are behind on the next one.  I found the mythology of the lost gods fascinating.  The awakening of those blessed by the gods was intriguing since most of the history of these gods is lost.  It was really enthralling to watch, especially William, come to peace with who and what he is.  It will be interesting to see how the next couple fairs with this knowledge and the impending conflict. If you enjoy a well-balanced fantasy romance, you may just want to pick up Rising Fire.  Though it does require a bit of patience as the novel opens, it does pick up, and I found myself lost in the world and beautiful journey of William and Brienne.  I look forward to the...
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Feb
12

Review: Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Review: Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher Echo 8 Author: Sharon Lynn Fisher Reviewer: Nima Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I made the mistake of starting Echo 8 after ten o’clock at night.  I should know better because I’m familiar with Fisher’s previous books.  Echo 8 grabbed me from the first chapter and took me hostage.  Thankfully it’s not a super long read so I was able to safely neglect home and family until I made it quickly to the last page.  In fact, it grabbed me before the first chapter.  Two quotes precede the story, one by Dean Radin, controversial parapsychologist, and one by Emily Bronte, author of Jane Eyre.  Anyone who can boldly put those two personalities together on the same page is promising a lot.  For me, Fisher delivered on that promise with an original, well-told story. Echo 8’s over-arching premise embraces the possibility of parallel worlds.  In this story, one of those infinite number of worlds experiences a global catastrophe that transports people from that world into an adjacent one. They appear as “echoes” of themselves that, without energy from their own world, will eventually fade away and die.  They can gain energy from the inhabitants of the world where they land, but such an energy transfer depletes and kills the donor.  They unknowingly become walking weapons.  Echo 8 is actually a person, Jake, a musician from what may have been Earth as we know it. Tess is a parapsychologist who has been chosen for a special task force to study the echoes. During her research, the FBI begins to take an active interest the task force’s research.  Special agent Ross McGinnis is assigned as Tess’s bodyguard when she becomes the first person to survive an energy transfer with an echo. Quantum physics as much as biology has everything to do with the relationships followed in Echo 8.  Tess, Ross, and Jake form a love triangle that is satisfactorily resolved, but not until the very last pages. There is a good balance of steamy romance and science to entice both sides of the reader’s brain.  I love that Fisher lets relationships drive the story.  Too many science fiction writers set up relationships and then ignore them in a way that is not true to life.  It makes their stories less real and therefore harder to suspend my disbelief.  Fisher parks me on an alternate Earth and I’m happy there. The casual “Big Bang Theory” watcher will have enough understanding of Higgs...
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Dec
19

Review: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge (+bonus review) by Anna Hackett

Review: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge (+bonus review) by Anna Hackett Beyond Galaxy’s Edge Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Captain Nissa Sander is a by-the-books Patrol Captain with Galactic Security Services. She appreciates order and abhors chaos; however, her convictions don’t prevent her strong attraction to rogue smuggler Justyn Phoenix. Justyn Phoenix lives at Galaxy’s Edge with his two brothers and sister. Together they run a deep-space convoy with a little illegal smuggling on the side. They are cousins to the more famous treasure hunting Phoenix brothers from the previous Phoenix Adventure series titles. For three years, Justyn has admired, even fallen in love with, Nissa, thinking he is not worthy of a woman like her. Meanwhile, during those same three years, Nissa has tracked down and attempted to catch Justyn in the act of unlawful transactions, becoming obsessed. Now the pair must work together to recover one of the galaxy’s most vital and cherished historical documents, heading out into dangerous and deadly space beyond Galaxy’s Edge. Beyond Galaxy’s Edge is a wonderful space escapade, full of exciting adventure and steamy romance. I have to admit that after reading the previous book, On a Rogue Planet, I wasn’t keen on the fact that the author opted to introduce readers to three more Phoenix brothers, plus a sister, before finishing off the first trio. However… Ms. Hackett made the right decision! Justyn and his brothers are a welcome addition to the Phoenix universe, and moving the setting to the edge of the known galaxy creates vast opportunities for exhilarating adventures. First, Justyn. Think Han Solo. He’s a bad boy with a good heart, and he’s in love with Nissa. He’s dreamed of being with her for three years, but he wants more than a roll in the hay. He understands that his bad reputation would damage the career-driven Nissa, so he purposely keeps his interactions to light flirting and fun. He wants what is best for Nissa, and he isn’t what is best. Justyn is utterly swoon-worthy! I found Justyn to be a very worthy and sexy romantic lead. Nissa is equality as noble, and she makes a great fit with Justyn. While he pulls out the adventure in her, Nissa allows Justyn to shine. I appreciate her internal struggles between doing what is right because it’s her job and doing what is good because it’s right. I am thankful that Nissa isn’t a woman who falls in love and decides her man is...
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Dec
5

Review: Overload Flux by Carol Van Natta

Review: Overload Flux by Carol Van Natta Overload Flux Author: Carol Van Natta Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Overload Flux is a sci/fi-romance which ambitiously sets the stage for Carol Van Natta’s new series, The Central Galactic Concordance.  Set in the distant future where earth’s population has colonized and thrived on many distant worlds, non-sci/fi readers will find it approachable. Policing such a vast federation of is an exercise in futility.  Those with big money and secrets to keep turn, instead, to La Plata, an elite intergalactic investigative and security agency.  I was intrigued by La Plata and the potential that is there to exploit in the series to come.  Shadowed and well-funded villains come with that territory which I think will provide to worthy opposition.  Van Natta has created a core group of characters that I think I will like to see working together, even as the focus on specific characters may shift, from book to book. Overload Flux concentrates specifically on La Plata employees Luka Foxe and Mairwen Morganthur.  Luka and Mairwen have interesting mutative powers that were integral to the story and while it seemed that they would compliment each other, the reality of their connection was lacking for me.  Unfortunately this is where the story fell flat for me.  It didn’t feel romantic.  During their few sex scenes, it didn’t feel sexy.  Both characters are loners by nature who work hard at keeping to themselves so when they came together, there was a noticeable lack of passion. Over and over I was left with the feeling that the author was trying too hard to walk a line that wouldn’t alienate non-sci/fi readers. Regular sci/fi readers may find themselves impatient.  Names felt contrived, some of the writing was muddy, and I didn’t feel like there was enough explanation of how humanity had arrived at the conditions where the series begins.  The possibility of alien life is even summarily dismissed with this comment near the end of the book,“…it had enough defensive and offensive capability to fend off an alien invasion, even though humans had never encountered other intelligent life in a thousand years of galactic exploration.”  That, to me, was an unfortunate narrowing for a species capable of interstellar travel. For me, the epilogue, and the promise of future stories based on the world building established in Overload Flux, was the best part of the book.  To the author’s credit, I arrived there caring about the characters’ futures, so something...
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Nov
22

Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett On a Rogue Planet Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: On a Rogue Planet is the third exciting adventure following the treasure-hunting Phoenix brothers and their cousins. The prior two stories shared how two of the three brothers found happiness and love while saving the galaxy. For the third time out into space, Ms. Hackett shares the story of Phoenix cousin Malin Phoenix. Loving her life as a salvage mechanic, she’s always felt lacking in the girly-girly department and unlucky in love. While on the cyborg planet of Centax, Malin gets caught up in a violent coup and helps the head of Centax Security (military), Xander Saros, escape the uprising. She and her cousins are hired to help locate and retrieve an ancient Terran artifact that will allow Xander to restore order to his home world. What follows is a whirlwind of crazy action and intense emotional breakthroughs. On a Rogue Planet is full of intense action, starting right from the get go. The classic sci-fi setting coupled with the non-stop excitement reminded me of something I’d see on Star Trek (which is a good thing). I enjoyed the multitude of humanoid beings that filled the pages, especially that the good guys aren’t always human. Xander was identified for military action at a very early age. With the number of implants in his body, his emotions are dampened to such a point that he comes across as cold, hard, and scary. However, during the uprising, he was attacked and his emotional filters and dampeners were damaged. For the first time he experiences anger, lust, and more. I like how Xander’s ability to experience emotions springs to life because of Mal and that it’s not just desire he feels, but also jealousy, possession, rage, joy, etc. His emotional growth is fulfilling, especially since it leads to finding love with Mal. Although Mal is secure with herself, she is not always comfortable in her own skin. She has been hurt too many times in her past and won’t allow herself to fall for an emotionless cyborg who’s primary duty is to his planet. Telling herself that she’s just helping Xander experience some of the more pleasurable aspects of life, Mal assumes he too will leave. This makes her journey to love satisfying as she opens up to him, even knowing he will leave her. Together the couple is smokin’ hot. WOW! Their sex scenes are...
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