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Currently Browsing: romance
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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Nov
20

Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy The Tears of the Rose
 Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Tears of the Rose is the second novel in the Twelve Kingdoms trilogy and focuses on Amelia (Ami) the youngest sister. Though it had a slow start, Gikany and Una were captivated by Ami’s journey from petty princess to powerful queen. The previous novel, The Mark of the Tala focused on Andi, the middle child. Ami and Andi are opposites in many ways.  Andi felt invisible and to a great extent she was.  She was restless and felt like she didn’t belong, her heart yearned for something more.  Ami was the cosseted and beloved baby of the family.  Her sweet nature and unbelievable beauty allowed her to manipulate by flirting or pouting to get her way.  As the novel begins, this effervescent princess is gone.  Ami is deeply grieving for her murdered husband and feeling betrayed that Andi was responsible for his death.  But through her grief and subsequent political machinations of her father and her father-in-law, Ami finally begins to mature. It is not surprising the novel begins slowly.  Experiencing another person’s grief is difficult.  Ami is incredibly self-absorbed and egocentric which adds difficulty as well.  However, Ms. Kennedy is truly talented.  At the beginning of the novel, Gikany and Una did not care for Ami.  Her self-centeredness and pettiness were off-putting.  About one-third of the way through the book, Ami’s eyes are opened and she awakens.  She finally has a much needed “come-to-Jesus” moment.  Thus begins a gripping and exciting read as Ami explores her own potential and power growing from a spoiled immature princess and into a woman worthy to be a queen.  She also discovers that a first love may not always be the only or the true love of your life. We enjoyed The Tears of the Rose and eagerly look forward to the final book, The Talon of the Hawk, which will focus on the last sister, Ursula.  We saw Andi’s perspective of Ursula in The Mark of the Tala and we learned more about her from Ami in this book.  Considering the somewhat cliffhanger we are left with at the conclusion of Ami’s story, we truly wonder what is next.  We hope to see more of Ash, whom we thoroughly enjoyed as a character as well as more of Andi and Rayfe. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Three...
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Nov
5

Review: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook

Review: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook The Kraken King Author: Meljean Brook Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Note: This review (with minor edits) was originally posted on June 9, 2014 after all parts of the serialized novel were released.  Zenobia Fox, sister of the infamous adventurer Archimedes Fox, spends more time living vicariously through the intrepid tales she pens rather than out in the real world. She embarks on journey with Helene, her childhood friend, to the Red City, where Helene’s husband works as the French ambassador to Nippon. However, as their airship approaches the Australian continent, it is attacked by marauders and shot down near Krakentown. Luckily the governor of Krakentown, Ariq, aka The Kraken King, is able to rescue Zenobia and her associates. Meanwhile, Ariq has only one goal and that is to protect his town and citizens. He doesn’t have time for the distractions Zenobia brings; however, he insists on escorting Zenobia and Helene on the dangerous route to the Red City himself. The Kraken King shares the wonderful story of how a sheltered spinster and a honorable warrior meet and fall in love. Their journey is unlike any I’ve read before, and I was simply blown away. Although the story takes place in the familiar (to me) world of Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas series, almost all aspects of this story are unique and new. The reader is introduced to a number of supporting characters throughout the first few chapters, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused. The author does a wonderful job creating an immediate connection to the characters and the story. In addition, the locale for the book is one that Ms. Brook has not touched on prior to this book. The world-building is tight and absolutely riveting. Ms. Brook creates such vivid visual imagery, that I almost feel like I’m right there, aside the characters – seeing everything they see. I also enjoyed the additional new creatures and gadgets that make appearances throughout the novel. Although The Kraken King was originally penned as an eight-part serial, the book, when read from start to finish, remains a solid, cohesive story. The action is well-paced, and although there are several riveting scenes, the story also has some well-placed down times. I appreciate how the author slows the entire story about mid-way through the book, affording Ariq and Zenobia some one-one-one time. These moments are the ones that provide for emotional character growth and allowed me to connect to the couple...
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Oct
9

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Isla and the Happily Ever After Author: Stephanie Perkins Reviewer: Nima Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: If you are an unapologetic hopeless romantic, this is your book.  Isla and the Happily Ever After is all about that gut-wrenching, turn your heart inside-out, I may never eat again if I can just stay in this love bubble with you kind of love.  I loved every minute of it.  I read it straight through.  Seriously, I think if I had had to stop mid-book, it would have been physically painful. Isla and the Happily Ever After, book three in Perkins unnamed trilogy, is told exclusively from Isla’s point of view.  For that reason we have to forego some of the details and depth that go with having additional perspectives.  It also means there are no sub-plots that don’t involve Isla.  It’s a purer, contiguous read in that sense.  I only missed them in a few places, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the journey or the conclusion.  In fact, during a major plot crisis, because we don’t know what’s going on with the other characters, we genuinely feel Isla’s anxiety amplifying the overall conclusion. Both of the main characters, Isla Martin and Josh Wasserstein, were on the periphery in the first book of the series, Anna and the French Kiss.  They were little more than set dressing at the time.  It’s now three years later and Anna, St. Claire, and Meredith have all graduated leaving Josh alone to finish his senior year.  Isla, of course, has been in love with Josh since they were both freshman, and outsider looking on at him and his friends.  This year, their senior year, is the year they finally come together and make the fantasy of their love into a reality. That’s not say they don’t have issues, because they’re seventeen and what high school senior doesn’t have issues?  It’s a life season full of possibilities.  That can excite and scare all at the same time and Isla and Josh are no exception.  Don’t try to read them as the adults they haven’t become yet.  Being a more (ahem) mature adult myself, it was frankly a breath of fresh air to be so completely in the moment from chapter to chapter. Perkins pulls more into the story from the secondary characters than in past novels.  Kurt, Isla’s best friend, is an enjoyable addition.  Living with a high functioning form of autism,...
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Sep
10

Review: Honor’s Price by Alexis Morgan

Review: Honor’s Price by Alexis Morgan Honor’s Price Author: Alexis Morgan Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Honor’s Price is the third and culminating book in the story of the Warriors of the Mist. In the previous two books, readers learned about the five damned warriors for the Lady and Lord of the River, destined to an immortal existence of being called from the river to help those in need. Most recently, the honorable Lady Merewen requested aid from the Warriors to combat a growing evil spreading across the kingdom of Agathia at the hand of the evil Duke Keirthan. After winning small battles against the Duke and his men and with time growing short, the Warriors prepare for the final showdown. The plot of Honor’s Price focuses on the warrior Kane, who carries the visible mark of a dark mage upon his face. In order to discover how to best defeat the Duke, Kane, along with comrade Averel, enters the capital undercover as a mercenary looking for work. Because of his proclivity for magic, the Duke recruits Kane for his personal guard, hoping to use the dark magic within Kane to fuel is own evil creations. However, Kane finds an unlikely ally in the Duke’s sister-in-law, Lady Theda, who lives at the mercy of the Duke’s machinations. With time running short, the Warriors of the Mist must find a way to save Lady Merewen’s land from permanent darkness. Overall, I enjoyed the Warriors of the Mist trilogy, and recommend the series for fans of fantasy and romance; however due to the overarching nature of the story, I would not recommend starting with Honor’s Price. One thing that I enjoyed most is that the book neatly wraps up the entire three-book saga and continues sharing the stories of previously featured hero/heroine pairings. Although the book is the final chapter of the trilogy and shares multiple points-of-view, the focus of the romantic interest rests with Kane and Lady Theda. The pair is an unlikely match that I adore. Kane is dark and although he has done much good in the name of the Lady of the River, the dark mark he wears creates a heavy burden on his soul. In addition, knowing he only has a handful of days until he and his fellow warriors are judged and must return to the river, his focus is aimed solely on defeating the Duke. It is wonderful when the Lady Theda captures his heart from the...
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