Memories of the Heart: Memories of the Heart, Book 1

Memories of the HeartAuthor: Felice Stevens
Book Name: Memories of the Heart
Series: Memories of the Heart
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Ruthless, Controlling, A Loner. All words used to describe Dr. Micah Steinberg by the hospital staff for their next head of surgery. When a letter arrives from his grandmother’s friend at the assisted living facility, his orderly world tilts dangerously out of control.

Josh Rosen had everything until it was revealed much of his world was a lie. Forced to re-evaluate his life, Josh gives up his career and returns home to New York City to care for his beloved grandmother. What Josh didn’t figure on was an attraction to a man who on the surface, appears to be exactly like the life Josh chose to leave behind.

As Micah struggles with the reality of his grandmother’s illness, the bond these two share deepens, as Josh helps Micah heal, then open his heart. Micah discovers there is more to life than work, control and success. Josh is in deep but has yet to tell Micah who he really is.

When the fight for the hospital’s head of surgery turns ugly, Josh’s past and present collide. Micah must let go of the past and accept who he is, if his life is going to move forward.

Life is full of surprises, and as both Micah and Josh learn, love can happen whether you plan for it or not.

Review:  I really didn’t like this one.  For a few reasons.  The biggest being that the characters just weren’t all that believable or likable.  Enough so that I’ve got to break my normal rule of trying to not out and out bash a book.

Micah is just an ass.  There is no way around that.  It doesn’t matter that he was this unwanted and unloved child.  That doesn’t make me like him.  If anything, it makes me think that he is an even bigger ass if he thinks that because of his history it is okay to treat other people like shit.  When the history does come out, he comes across as being whiny and pathetic.  That is so not appealing, endearing or attractive.  He comes across as this hormonal, temperamental teenager rather than a mature, successful adult.  His lack of apparent understanding of standard practice in the hospital makes the supposed high level surgeon seem like an ignorant fool.  As a character, he just doesn’t work on any level for me.

Josh falls into the opposite end of the spectrum in that he has such a big, open heart he is more of a doormat and willing to take whatever abuse is sent his way as long as he gets a scrap of attention in between.  Again, not appealing or endearing.  He comes across as almost desperate, especially when he supposedly was swearing off of relationships.  He just suddenly, not only changes his mind, but is willing to risk a relationship again with someone who is as big of a jackass as Micah?  Yeah, that just doesn’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love, broken and struggling characters, but these just seem shallow and whiny and it is impossible to connect with characters like that.

Beyond the characters, we also have a kind of disjointed story line that has several easy way out points that were annoying.  Skipping a huge chunk of time, not as the epilogue that allows readers to see a glimpse of the future, but just as a way of getting out of having to make your characters work out their issues is a cop out in my book.  Also, having the epitome of the stereotypical bigoted homophobes thrown in to create an added level of strife and drama was serious overkill and totally unnecessary.

It is hard to enjoy a book when you cannot in any way connect with the characters or the story.  This was just one of those for me.

Memory House: Honey Ridge, Book 1

The Memory HouseAuthor: Linda Goodnight
Book Name: The Memory House
Series: Honey Ridge
Order: #1
Genre: Contemporary/Historical/Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb: Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley–though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man’s gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her Tennessee town and disrupts the loneliness of her world.

Julia suspects there’s more to Eli Donovan’s past than his motherless son, Alex. There’s a reason he’s chasing redemption and bent on earning it with a new beginning in Honey Ridge. Offering the guarded man work renovating the inn, she glimpses someone who–like her–has a heart in need of restoration. But with the chance discovery of a dusty stack of love letters buried within the lining of an old trunk, the long-dead ghosts of a Civil War romance envelop Julia and Eli, connecting them to the inn’s violent history and challenging them both to risk facing yesterday’s darkness for a future bright with hope and healing.

Review:  A story of heartbreak, redemption, healing and learning to love again.  This is a low intensity, gently paced book that, while it may have some darker subjects, still focuses on turning all of that towards a positive direction.

Both Eli and Julia are scarred by life and tragedy, but neither character comes across as dependent or hopeless.  They may feel beaten down, but they still try to be something better than just broken and needing someone else to fix them.  Their relationship is about helping each other rather than needing someone else to take care of it all for them.

It does have a time split between now and events long past.  Not often my favorite, but this was done well.  We see some parallels between the characters from both time frames so we understand the purpose behind having that in the story beyond just a plot device.

In all a solidly good, sweet story.

Deceptions: Cainsville, Book 3

DeceptionsAuthor: Kelley Armstrong
Book Name: Deceptions
Series: Cainsville
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Rating:  Favorite
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Olivia Taylor Jones’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

Review:  Authors like Kelley Armstrong are why I like to read.  This is the third book in the Cainsville series and is yet another really wonderful, detailed addition.

This book proves some suspicions from the other books true.  We see a very solid conflict arise between Olivia, Gideon and Ricky.  While we got hints of it in the previous books, it has never caused any real issues.  This time, it starts to shake the comfortable balance between the three of them and their friendships.  It also isn’t what I’d consider a classic love triangle either because it is so heavily weighted in actual friendship.  There is absolutely romantic layers to it, but I’m not sure at this point that it is the romantic parts that are what is truly important.

We get more of what we’ve learned to expect with this series in the unexpected twists, and there are quite a few.  This book is more heavily weighted on the fae aspects of the story than we’ve seen previously and we get to learn so much more about how that is important.  There are also more resolutions to many of the side plots in this book than we’ve seen in the other two, enough to leave me wondering where the series is going to go or focus next.  There are still a lot of questions that need answers and we are definitely going to need to see a resolution to the Olivia, Gideon, Ricky situation, but some of the bigger unfinished pieces seemed to have been revealed in this one.

This is one of those books that I almost hated to pick up because I knew that meant that I’d also have to finish it and I so wasn’t ready to be done when I hit the last page.

Cainsville Series Overview

Kelley Armstrong‘s latest book in the Cainsville series, Deceptions, was released earlier this week.  I again wanted to make sure I had a refresher read to make sure I didn’t end up missing anything in the new book, so I took the time to read the previous two books.  So glad I did, because I’d kind of forgotten how complex this story line actually is.

These books are all intricately connected and cannot be read as stand alone.  They absolutely have to be read in order or you are going to be seriously lost.  The general, larger story line, focuses on the main female character Olivia (Eden) and that she is the daughter of serial killers who was adopted after her parents arrest when she was two.  She didn’t find that fact out out until the point where the book starts (when she is 25).  Once she finds out, she spends her time dealing with the fallout when that becomes public knowledge, delving into her history and digging into the facts surrounding her birth parents crimes with the help of Gideon, an ethically questionable lawyer.

This series is packed full of side plots, dramas, details, intrigue and conspiracy throughout this series that makes this the kind of read where you really need to be aware and paying attention or you may end up missing something.  The first book gives quite a few hints as to what direction the series is going to go with hints of fae and celtic mythology showing up in Olivia’s background.  That takes a minor role starting out, but you know it is going to become a larger one later on down the line.  Everything is always tied back to the very unusual and isolated small town, Cainsville.

The unique approach to the paranormal in this book is probably one of the things that lands this series solidly on my favorites list.  It is contemporary, but with the aspects that put this into that paranormal genre beautifully worked in.  With the first book, you get those hints but then it twists off into a totally unexpected direction.  Each book seems to delve deeper into the paranormal side as more bits and pieces of Olivia’s history and origins are uncovered.

If you are a fan of Ms. Armstrong’s Otherworld series, this has a very different feel to it than those stories.  Since there is so much to these and they are so tightly woven together with lots of the side plots left open by the end of the books (without any ugly cliffhangers), the focus stays on the main characters instead of different characters and their stories being the focus of individual books.  I love how we get a smattering of reading from the different characters’ perspectives (and not just the main characters, but some of the side characters as well), but we aren’t constantly flip flopping.

Both the character development and world building in this series is beautifully done.  The characters are richly expressed and easily connected with.  The world is subtle, but that makes it so much easier to believe in it without stretching the imagination too far.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who hasn’t picked it up yet.

Ten Tiny Breaths: Ten Tiny Breaths, Book 1

Ten Tiny BreathsAuthor: K.A. Tucker
Book Name: Ten Tiny Breaths
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything–anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart–even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

Review:  I had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate this one.  It is a pretty emotional read and not all good ones, so that made it difficult.

This really is an incredibly well written story.  You cannot help but empathize and feel for the characters, even the ones on the periphery.  The author does an amazing job of pulling those emotions out of the reader.

I got a good idea of where this story might head when I wasn’t quite half way through.  At that point, I was thinking, “Wow, that would be one hell of a plot twist” but didn’t get much farther than that until a little later.  Then, I realize how twisted that little twist actually is when you stop and think about all of the reasons why it is twisted in the first place.  That is when I started to struggle and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or hated it, because it really is kind of messed up.

It is incredibly hard to write in a way that is vague enough not to give it away (and this is totally worth not knowing ahead of time if you are going to read this book).  I kind of struggled with the last 1/3 of the book and how everything ended up working out in the end.  There is just so much there, it is hard to believe that there could end up being any kind of relationship, let alone an emotionally healthy romantic one when it is all said and done, so you are wondering all the way to the very end how it is going to play out.  I get the point that the author is trying to make here, but I’m not sure it works for me.

I did like this.  It was really good, but it was also pretty darn different.  I want to read the next one in the series to see if my opinion of this entire situation changes any.

 

In the Middle of Somewhere: In the Middle of Somewhere, Book 1

In the Middle of SomewhereAuthor: Roan Parrish
Book Name: In the Middle of Somewhere
Series: In the Middle of Somewhere
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

Review:  This is a sweet, beautifully written story.  It isn’t high energy or intense, but warm and comfortable all the way through.

I love both Rex and Daniel, but think I like Rex best because even though he has his issues, he isn’t so broken he can’t function or work towards getting what he wants.  That and he is so damn sweet and cute you can’t help but love him.  His character hovers closely to the line of being too sweet, but stays perfectly on the right side so as not to fall over that line.

This is the first in a series and it looks as though we may get to see more of both of these guys in another book, but we aren’t totally left hanging and the end of this.  I’m hoping the next one doesn’t take too long to come out because I really loved this one.

Bengal’s Quest: Breeds, Book 30

Bengal's QuestAuthor: Lora Leigh
Book Name: Bengal’s Quest
Series: Breeds
Order: #30
Genre: Romance/Erotic/SciFi
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  He was a shadow, ever shifting and insinuating, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. The elusive ideal conceived and created by the Genetics Council, he went by just as many names as he had identities—the last one being Gideon.

Now calling himself Graeme, he hides in plain sight, terrifyingly close to his goal. A rogue Bengal Breed, he has loyalties to no one but himself. And he has a need for vengeance that surges hot and swift through his veins.

Graeme plans to exact an extreme and ruthless vendetta against those who wronged him—Breed and human alike. All will suffer his wrath: those who created him, those who pretended to love him, and those who betrayed him.

That includes the one at the center of it all: a seductive, enigmatic woman helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy.

And he’s on her scent…

Review:  It is kind of hard to review this book without some heavy commentary on the series as a whole.  Originally, I had liked the concept and the world that this series exists in, but there have always been bits that I haven’t been all that thrilled with.  As I’ve continued to read the series, those things continue to be issues and other, new things keep popping up.

It is hard to follow along from story to story, even reading in order, because sometimes there are huge time gaps on the story arch between stories, sometimes you end up in an entirely different group of characters with new connections and histories that the reader has never been introduced to, so it feels like you’ve missed a lot, especially when the last book left you hanging on something and it never gets addressed.  Sometimes there are just some random things that get tossed in there and it all ends up being confusing because the purpose isn’t defined or explained.  I guess you just have to assume that it is something of the world the story is set in, but it is hard to understand because of the lack of definition.

One of my biggest problems with this series, and this book is no exception, is that almost 100% of the time, the relationships start out on a rather antagonistical foot.  In some cases, they start out from a point of out and out hate.  Because of that, almost every single one of them end up with the initial sexual encounters coming across as forced, not consensual, with a whole lot more continuing throughout the majority of the book, not just the first time.

A series aspect in this world is this mating hormone thing, which is supposed to go a long way to explaining some of the issues with the forced concept, but honestly?  It is just a date rape drug as far as I’m concerned.  That is not sexy.  Taking a person’s will away from them by any means is not sexy.  I don’t really care if it is a “biological imperative” and something that is created naturally, it still takes away a persons will and ability to decide for them self what they do or do not want.  This bothers me on so many levels, but I sort of skimmed past some of that because I still liked the story beyond that part.

This story in particular just kind of pissed me off (and isn’t the only one that has done so).  I don’t think it is remotely attractive to have a romance story where one character out and out hates the other in the beginning, yet later in the story it is all “Oh, but deep down I really love them” later on.  Especially when you start throwing a sexual relationship in there.  It just does not work for me in any way.

The last thing that really drove me nuts with this book is that there were some pretty glaring editing problems that kept tripping me up, forcing me to reread parts to try and figure out what certain sentences or paragraphs were actually meant to say.  Along with the editing (have no clue who’s job it is to push an author for variety), and this is also a series peeve for me, is the constant and repetitive use of certain words and phrases in specific scenarios.  If I had to read the words flesh or pleasure-pain in one more sex scene, I’d have burned the damn thing.

I came very close several times to just putting this down and not reading.  I had already passed it up on my list several times before I decided I just wanted to get it over with (should have known I really wasn’t all that jazzed to read it in the first place at that point).  Between issues I’ve had with the series in the past and issues with this book in particular (which was actually pretty boring in comparison to some of the others), I think I’m done with this series.  I know I missed several books throughout the series up until this one, but I just do not have the desire to suffer through one more.  Besides, by the time you get to book 30 in a series (really?), you are at or beyond the cookie cutter stage and there just isn’t much new you can offer unless you are seriously damn good at what you do and are a creative genius and that is not the case here.

Backstage Pass: Sinners on Tour, Book 1

Backstage PassAuthor: Olivia Cunning
Book Name: Backstage Pass
Series: Sinners on Tour
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: It’s been months since Brian Sinclair, lead guitarist for the famous rock band, Sinners, composed anything. Unable to write the music that once flowed so naturally, Brian is lost without his musical mojo. But when sexy psychology professor Myrna Evans comes on tour to study groupie mentality, Brian may have found the spark he needs to reignite his musical genius. When lust turns to love, will Brian be able to convince Myrna that what they have is more than just a fling, and that now that he’s found his heart’s muse, he doesn’t want to live without her?

Review: This is a reread for me, so it was nothing new.  It was refreshing to see that all the things I liked about it the first time around still held up after more than a year of other reading in between.

I still really loved both Brian and Myrna as well as the rest of the band.  Brian does tend to fall a bit on the needy side for what I typically like in my male characters, but it is done in a way that comes across as really cute and I can’t help but love him.  Myrna is a little broken but still sassy and fun.

Also, this book falls into volcano territory on the steam factor.  It is far from lacking in that area, but it is expertly balanced with the actual story line, which is a huge thing for me when it comes to the erotic romance genre.

Even as a second read, I still feel that it is a very well rounded book with great characters, fun story and seriously hot lovin’.

Opening Up: Ink & Chrome, Book 1

Opening UpAuthor: Lauren Dane
Book Name: Opening Up
Series: Ink & Chrome
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb: The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands. And they’re not afraid to get dirty.

Asa Barrons is never lonely for long. Co-owner of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop, he works hard and plays harder. But he never allows his after-hours affairs to interfere with business-until he meets racing royalty PJ Coleman. While the blue-eyed blonde is all princess on the outside, on the inside Asa can see that this woman is ready to take a walk on the wild side.

PJ knows trouble when she sees it, and Asa is the complete package: fast bike, killer ink, and a sinfully sexy smile that has her imagining things nice girls never do. She talks her way onto the Twisted Steel team to prove her painting skill, and soon learns that Asa is eager to show off some skills of his own.

With the help of Asa’s expert touch, PJ is initiated into a world of wicked desire. No limits. No inhibitions. No turning back. But as perfect as their passion seems, a new challenge awaits, forcing them to ask just how far they are willing to go . . .

Review:  This started out really good and I got all excited, thinking that it was going to end up being a way better book than the last Lauren Dane that I read.  Then it got… boring.  All the spice and fire that seemed to come across from both main characters in the beginning just kind of fizzled and then the plot kind of died.

At the point when the emotional connection between PJ and Asa started to really heat up, everything kind of quit working for me.  PJ started to come across as unaffected emotionally.  And Asa seemed to lose his cool badass vibe.

I have to say that I think this is due to the lack of emotion that seems to come across with the dialog.  I don’t know what happened between the beginning of the book and the end.  Either the emotional context quit showing in the dialog or I just started to get bored enough to notice.  It is a peeve of mine to have paragraph after paragraph of dialog and zero situational support and this is a problem I seem to be having a lot lately with Ms. Dane’s writing. I hate it because I do love what is trying to come across in her writing, but with the lack of ability to connect with the characters, I just don’t enjoy the stories as much.

So, yeah.  This one was just okay.

Brick by Brick: Cate Ashwood

Brick by BrickAuthor: Cate Ashwood
Book Name: Brick by Brick
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  They say that time heals all wounds, but losing Parley, his one true love, left Zach with a hole in his heart that no one else can fill. After forty-eight blissful hours alone together as teens in an abandoned house, Parley disappeared. Parley is what he is, and the pray-away-the-gay camp his parents ship him to won’t change that. However, finding the balance between accepting his true nature and not losing his family means tough sacrifices.


Sixteen years later, Zach is thunderstruck when Parley stands on the front doorstep of his house—the house that had been their refuge, which Zach restored. But Parley isn’t alone, and Zach wonders if he’s found Parley only to lose him a second time. If they can overcome the terrors of the past and the situation of the present, maybe they can build a new relationship just as Zach rebuilt the house—brick by brick.

Review:  There was a lot with this book that just didn’t work for me.  The uber crazy religious aspect of Parley’s life and personality clashes with the more carefree no real convictions Zach which makes it hard to believe their chemistry.

I also thought that most of this book was going to be about how they manage to work through 16 years of issues.  Over half of this book was about when they were teens.  Then we are expected to believe that after 16 years, they can be around each other for a few hours over a couple of days and they are not only ready to jump into bed, but move in together and live happily ever after.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work at all for me.  Especially when you take into account what has to be some severe psychological trauma on Parley’s part.

I also never got what the issue was with Parley’s relationship with Veronica.  The story made it seem like it was this huge, weird, big deal.  So what.  They were friends.  Maybe I missed something, but it was just another aspect of the story that didn’t really work for me and I was wondering why it was so heavily emphasized.

While this had some sweet aspects, those were darn near syrupy, rainbows and bunny farts sweet to the point that it wasn’t even believable.

The crazy religious part came across weirdly preachy, which had me coming close a couple of times to just putting this down.  Now, I’m kinda thinking that might have been the better choice.

The Broken: The Apostles, Book 1

The BrokenAuthor: Shelley Coriell
Book Name: The Broken
Series: The Apostles
Order: #
Genre: Romance/Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim-and only survivor-of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

Review:  Overall, really a pretty good book.  It was easy to connect with the characters.  Loved both Smoky Joe and Lottie even though they weren’t the main characters.  They added a lot of dimension and lightheartedness to the story.

I have to say that the biggest disappointment for me, and why I didn’t give it a higher rating, is because it seemed as if the ending, the actual solution to the entire story, was completely disjointed and didn’t at all fit.  I’m all for twists and turns and unexpected outcomes, but I’m not a fan of things that seem to go off on completely random tangents.  Even more so when we are talking a story that is like a puzzle that is working to get solved.  It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, having a dozen or so pieces left, and realize that those pieces actually go to a different puzzle all together.

This took a huge turn and when the bad guy is revealed, spewing it all in the end (a writing device that I’m really not a fan of and one of the bigger reasons why I quit reading any kind of mysteries for a while), none of the little bits and clues you followed throughout the story really even connected any dots to this guy.  What connections were there, seemed forced and so hugely and ridiculously coincidental making what was up until that point a cleverly wrought story seem extremely contrived.  It lost all its momentum and kind of died for me.

I also struggled with the fact that there were some pretty momentous events that never got explained.  The biggie for me was how in the world Kate managed to get away and survive the second attack.  She has a scar that is bad enough to have needed medical attention, but how she managed to get away and live through it was never addressed.  The attack on Lottie also didn’t seem to work with the apparent mindset of this killer since he had the opportunity to actually kill her when she hit her head and ended up unconscious.  It only would have taken a second or two to finish her off, but he didn’t.  Apparently because of a waitress, but if there was any chance he’d be seen, he never would have taken the chance in the first place.  It just didn’t fit.  It is never explained why the last mirror never got smashed either.  That was apparently a huge deal and a big clue at that crime scene, but it was never dealt with.  At one point it is assumed the stalker was seen and it prevented the killer from finishing, but we later learn that when he saw the old lady he left, that he didn’t see the murder, so he didn’t interrupt it.

There were just enough of those kinds of oddities in the story to make it just okay good rather than really good.  Attention to detail is huge in this kind of a story as far as I’m concerned.  It loses a lot if you can’t pay attention to those kinds of things.

The Power of Persuasion: The Triad Series, Book 2

ThePowerofPersuasionAuthor: Kate Pearce
Book Name: The Power of Persuasion
Series: The Triad Series
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Erotic/SciFi
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Ex super-soldier and telepath Captain Ian McNeill isn’t expecting his job as base commander to a bunch of scientists to be exciting, let alone terrifying. But after meeting Neeve, a Pavlovan female and saving her from a bunch of Etruscan extremists, he’s fairly certain his life will never be the same again. 

Neeve can’t believe she’s found a mate from Earth who has no understanding of the concept of a bonded telepathic triad. Can she convince him to return to Pavlovan, meet her exalted but complicated family and finally convince him that adding a third to their bond will be the best decision he’s ever made? 

Book two in the Triad series of erotic science fiction romance.  Warning: contains erotic sexual content involving one woman and two men.

Review:  While this has all the steam a good erotic romance needs, it is a little lacking on the story end of things, which is a bit on the unusual side for a Kate Pearce book.  What story line is there, ends up dropping all kinds of loose ends and leaves it feeling incomplete.

For me, I had a hard time actually linking any of the characters because there just wasn’t enough substance to them to get to know them, which makes the rest just seem a little week. If all you are looking for is the hot, steamy and creamy, then this will suit just fine.  If you want a little more actual story, then, maybe not.

Sixty Five Hours: N. R. Walker

Sixty Five HoursAuthor: N. R. Walker
Book Name: Sixty Five Hours
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Cameron Fletcher and Lucas Hensley are advertising executives who have Sixty Five Hours to pull together the campaign of their careers.

Sixty Five Hours to get along. Sixty Five Hours to not kill each other. Sixty Five Hours to fall in love.

Review:  The characters in this are fun and quirky, loaded with personality.  They came across as very real,  not contrived.  You can’t help but enjoy their energy.

A little on the short side (I would have loved to have had more of these guys), but this is a seriously fun read.

Vicious Cycle: Vicious Cycle, Book 1

Vicious CycleAuthor: Katie Ashley
Book Name: Vicious Cycle
Series: Vicious Cycle
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Deacon Malloy’s life is dedicated to the Hell’s Raiders motorcycle club. Tough, hard, and fast with his fists, he serves the group as sergeant at arms. But his devil-may-care approach to life is thrown for a loop when the five-year-old daughter he never knew existed lands on the club steps.

Alexandra Evans is devoted to all her students—but there’s always been something about Willow Malloy that tugs at her heart. There’s an aura of sadness about her, a girl in need of all the love Alexandra can give. When Willow stops coming to school, Alexandra’s search leads to a clubhouse full of bikers…and a father hell-bent on keeping his daughter always within sight.

The moment Deacon sees Alexandra, he has to have her in his bed—and he’s never met a woman yet who couldn’t be persuaded. No matter how attracted she is to Deacon, Alexandra refuses to be just another conquest. But it’s Deacon himself who could be seduced—into a brighter future for himself, his daughter, and the woman he’s falling for against all odds.

Review:  This is pretty much your standard MC club romance that falls slightly on the darker end of the spectrum without being all out ugly.

A couple of things kept this from being a higher rated book by my standards.  The story line and connections seemed just a bit too contrived and convenient for my taste.  It is all just a little bit too far over the top convenient and perfect to work for me.

I like Alexandra.  She seems like a solid, strong personality, but it was kind of hard to buy the fact that she would so easily fall for, trust and except such a seriously bad guy with what we know of her.  There is no reasoning based on her personality and background that she would ever be interested in the bad guy.  Sure, she has her share of not so pretty in her history, but nothing that would indicate that she had a true wild side or interest in the bad boys.  It made it hard to make her relationship with Deacon believable.

I’ve read enough MC books to get the culture and the lingo.  I also get that someone new to this genre might not.  It still kind of bugged me that the beginning of the book kind of felt like a primer for MC books the way it introduced terms by immediately and, in some cases repeating, the explanation.  A little creative writing could have presented opportunities for the characters to explain these things without making it feel like you were reading and MC dictionary.

While this was a decent book, it definitely wasn’t great.

Best Kind of Broken: Finding Fate, Book 1

Best Kind of BrokenAuthor: Chelsea Fine
Book Name: Best Kind of Broken
Series: Finding Fate
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/New Adult
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Pixie Marshall wishes every day she could turn back time and fix the past. But she can’t. And the damage is done. She’s hoping that a summer of free room and board working with her aunt at the Willow Inn will help her forget. Except there’s a problem: the resident handyman is none other than Levi Andrews. The handsome quarterback was once her friend-and maybe more-until everything changed in a life-shattering instant. She was hoping to avoid him, possibly forever. Now he’s right down the hall and stirring up feelings Pixie thought she’d long buried . . .

Levi can’t believe he’s living with the one person who holds all his painful memories. More than anything he wants to make things right, but a simple “sorry” won’t suffice-not when the tragedy that scarred them was his fault. Levi knows Pixie’s better off without him, but every part of him screams to touch her, protect her, wrap her in his arms, and kiss away the pain. Yet even though she’s so close, Pixie’s heart seems more unreachable than ever. Seeing those stunning green eyes again has made one thing perfectly clear-he can’t live without her.

Review:  Funny. Sad. Sweet. Heartbreaking. Warm. Tragic. Beautiful.

This book just kind of takes you everywhere and pulls it all out of you.  One of the best romances I’ve read in a really long time.  Especially a new adult romance (which is typically not my favorite anyway).

I don’t rave about books, even ones I like.  I nitpick and point out even the little things that bugged me no matter how much I liked it or how well written.  This book?  It deserves raves.

The characters were amazingly done.  Both twisted and broken, but still so full of sweet and love.  They tug on your emotions on every level.  Even more rare for me, I fell in love with them both right away, even before I knew a tiny fraction of their story.  And that story… holy cow, did Ms. Fine get it all so very right.  I went from laughing at their antics to being on the verge of tears for them as more of them gets revealed.

This is just a beautifully written story that is going to stick with me for a very long time.

Broken Vows: Fall of the Fair Isle, Book 1

Broken VowsAuthor: Rowena Cory Daniells
Book Name: Broken Vows
Series: Fall of the Fair Isle
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  It has been six hundred years since Imoshen the First, Causare of the T’En, brought her beleaguered people across the seas to Fair Isle. The magical folk mixed with the natives, bringing culture and sophistication, and made the island one of the wealthiest, most powerful nations in the known world.

In one night, all is lost. Imoshen, namesake of the first Empress, is the last pure-blooded T’En woman, left behind when her kinfolk went to die in defense of their homeland. The savage Ghebites, barbarians from the warm north, have conquered Fair Isle, and their general, Tulkhan, claims her as his right of conquest.

Proud and fierce, trained in arts of war and possessed of extraordinary healing gifts, Imoshen must choose to submit to the barbarian soldier and save her people’s heritage…or to die in a futile gesture of defiance.

Review:  As a first book in a new series and author for me, this was really good.

The cultures of both the Ghebites and the T’En are very different from each other but incredibly interesting.  It is easy to get caught up in the difficulties that arise in trying to force these two cultures together in any meaningful way.

This was a tad bit on the slow side at times waiting for either some action or resolution or progress to speed things up a little bit.  Part of that is just because we have so much to learn about the world and the characters and what is going on as the story drops you in right at the point where one culture has just conquered the other one.

I was also a little frustrated by the back and forth on the two main characters and their view towards each other.  It is understandable with the position they are both in, but that is a tension building technique that can get old if overused.  This comes close.  I still really enjoyed the story overall and will be grabbing the next one soon.

 

Lady of Light and Shadows: Tairen Soul, Book 2

Lady of Light and ShadowsAuthor: C. L. Wilson
Book Name: Lady of Light and Shadows
Series: Tairen Soul
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  She feared the dark visions and the magic within her. And she dreamed of the miraculous love that could save her.

Like an enchanted fairy tale prince he stepped from the sky to claim her—the Fey King, her destiny, her one and true love.

But behind the mesmerizing beauty of Rain’s violet eyes Ellysetta saw the passionate hunger of the beast . . . and a sorrow, deep and ancient, that she alone could heal. Only for him would she

embrace the frightening power that dwells within her. Only with him at her side could she confront the shadows that haunt her soul. For an epic battle looms on the horizon—and only united can they hope to turn back the armies of the darkness.

Review:  This second book was just as excellent as the first in this series.  It was definitely more intense.  Normally, that level of on the edge of your seat kind of tension pulls me away from a story because I’ll need to get a break from it for a bit.  This pushed those limits for me, but there were just enough breaks throughout to keep me dug deep into the story.

We get to see Ellysetta pull out the backbone that we were promised in book one as well as the promise for even more later.  She isn’t going to shrivel up the second she is challenged or forced to face difficulty, she is going to face it kicking and screaming the whole way.  We also get to learn a bit more about where exactly she gets her magic.

Rain shows that he isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, but is willing to own up to them.  I want to say that I didn’t like the biggie one he made, but if you think about the weight of years and the beliefs that those years ingrained in him, you can kind of understand it.

While there is a tiny bit of the “miraculous save” kind of thing going on here, really, no one character carries the entire weight of those saves.  Usually, it takes many people to pull them off and that is refreshing as far as I’m concerned.  I love the teamwork.

Just loving this one all around.

 

 

Shades of Milk and Honey: Glamourist Histories, Book 1

Shades of Milk and HoneyAuthor: Mary Robinette Kowal
Book Name: Shades of Milk and Honey
Series: Glamourist Histories
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Historical
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

Blurb:  Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right-and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Review:  Shades of Milk and Honey definitely has the flavor of a classical literature romance.  It is well written and the slight magical bent to the story is a pretty interesting concept.

That said, I think this just wasn’t my type of book because I found it rather bland outside of those magical touches.  It was incredibly slow for the majority of the book.  About the only part that got intense was the very end.

The characters were all difficult to like.  Melody and the mother were shallow and self absorbed people and reminded me of Cinderella’s step mother and step sister with some of the attitudes they expressed.  Jane was pretty dull outside of her magical talent.  Very few of the other more minor characters came across as anything other than snooty.

The romantic aspect is really kind of non-existent outside of Jane’s head until the very end.  Again, what there was was just not all that interesting.  I get to some extent that her personality and the approach to the romantic side of the story is a product of the time, but I’m not a fan of characters that come across as uninteresting and lacking self esteem.  When the character spends the majority of the book infatuated with one character and then, “Because he noticed me” from another was suddenly in love, just doesn’t sell me on the relationship.  Yes, it is a product of the time and the writing style, but that is one of many reasons why it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Again, this is a good book, if you like this style and type, but I just really couldn’t get engaged.

Blaze: Phoenix Rising, Book 2

BlazeAuthor: Joan Swan
Book Name: Blaze
Series: Phoenix Rising
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/SciFi
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  With a man like him, every mission becomes personal. . .

Ever since FBI agent Keira O’Shay started tracking a young boy named Mateo, she’s felt a connection even her empathic abilities can’t explain. She needs to save Mateo from the cult leader holding him hostage. Nothing can interfere with that–not even the reappearance of Luke Ransom, the hot-as-hell fire captain she’s regretted walking out on for three long years.

Losing Keira left Luke vulnerable–in every way. When they were together, the powers each possesses were mysteriously enhanced. But it’s the sexy, surprising woman beneath the tough exterior that Luke’s really missed. Even if she betrayed him utterly. And even if agreeing to help her uncover a government conspiracy means watching his life and his heart go up in flames again. . .

Review:  This is a great follow up from the fist story.  I’m still loving the intrigue and world that is going on here like I did in the first book.

The only reason that I dropped the rating for this after such a high rating on the first book is the fact that the back and forth attitude from Keira kinda drove me nuts.  I really didn’t like her all that much.  We even got a little bit of that out of Luke with his jump to conclusions attitude.  I’m beginning to wonder if the waffling character trait is becoming a peeve of mine.  It negates the strong, badass personality that a character is supposed to have.

While this did bug me, I like enough of everything else that is going on in this series to overlook that part enough to still enjoy this book.  I do hope that the characters in the rest of the books don’t come across in the same way.

Burning Alive: The Sentinel Wars, Book 1

Burning AliveAuthor: Shannon K. Butcher
Book Name: Burning Alive
Series: The Sentinel Wars
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: CAUTION : readers MAY feel the heat coming off the pages.

They are the Sentinels…

Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love

Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee but instead ends up in the mans arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen’s presence.

Together, they may become more than lovers they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drakes people.

Review:  This was really a pretty good book.  There are a few things that kind of come across initially as a cookie cutter paranormal type romance shtick, but they blend in well with the world that is created here and actually end up being a little different so that worked out.

I have a tendency to dislike “fated” type mating scenarios.  This, while it has that flavor still gives a bit of uniqueness that I like.  I especially like the fact that the pairing is really a true partnership rather than one person being a dominant personality while the other one is week.  And it is there, ultimately, because of choice, which was awesome.

For me, this was a pretty fresh concept for this genre and I really enjoyed it.

 

 

Dancing With Werewolves: Delilah Street, Book 1

Dancing With WerewolvesAuthor: Carole Nelson Douglas
Book Name: Dancing With Werewolves
Series: Delilah Street
Order: #1
Genre: SciFi/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:   It was the revelation of the millennium: witches, werewolves, vampires, and other supernaturals are real. Fast forward thirteen years: TV reporter Delilah Street used to cover the small-town bogeyman beat back in Kansas, but now, in high-octane Las Vegas — which is run by a werewolf mob — she finds herself holding back the very gates of Hell. At least she has a hot new guy and one big bad wolfhound to help…

Review:  I had a hard time deciding how to rate this as I’m still not actually sure if I liked it or not.

The story is pretty good and I like where it is going, but there is a lot that is going on throughout the book and sometimes it is hard to follow.  It took me quite a while to even really get into the story because there are so many metaphors and similes and random comparisons that sometimes just do not make sense or send you off track and you have to go back after reading a couple of paragraphs to figure out what was just said or what was actually meant.  There were several times where it got really confusing.

It is also a little confusing as to what all kinds of supernatural creatures are in this little world.  There are obviously vampires and werewolves, but most other references talk about dead or undead, but apparently not in reference to vampires.  The couple of actual attempts to describe some of them are a bit convoluted and drawn out and you still are scratching your head by the time you get to the end of the description.  What I did get was pretty interesting, I just wasn’t really understanding it.

There is a somewhat spacy vibe that comes across several times throughout the book with regards to the main character.  You never really know why she gets that way.  A couple of times I thought it was because of some outside influence, but I don’t think that is the case.

We also never actually know what her deal is.  We get a glimpse that she has some weird thing with mirrors.  She does something that, we yet again don’t really know what or why, that effects Ric and his powers.  She is a vampire magnet for some reason and apparently has a body double, that again, we never actually learn anything about.

By the time the book is over, you realize that not one thing was actually resolved.  The murder that was discovered in the very beginning of the book was only barely touched on with any kind of revelation and that little thing is a long way from completion.  You have no idea who or what the guy she is working for is.  Same with her dog (because he is obviously way more than just a dog).  There are so many twists and turns and crazy plot goings on it was hard to keep track of them all and yet not one of them was totally resolved by the end of the book.

The majority of the times she was somewhere in an effort to learn more about the crime, the actions and questions and situations end up, again, really confusing and often left me wondering what the purpose even was of that part of the story.

I can’t say that I liked this, but I can’t really say I hated it.  It was just weird.  I probably lean a bit more towards the don’t like because reading really shouldn’t be this hard, but I’ll probably be grabbing the next book in an effort to see if any of the pieces get any kind of an ending, but I don’t have a lot of expectations for it.