Hell & High Water: THIRDS, Book 1

Hell & High WaterAuthor: Charlie Cochet
Book Name: Hell & High Water
Series: THIRDS
Order: #1
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy/LGBT
Rating:  Good

Blurb:  When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Review:  This is one of those books that has a lot going for it that is really pretty good, but has a handful of things that just rubbed me wrong and kind of threw it off.

Overall, the story line is pretty good and kept things interesting, though I picked up the bad guy and a lot of details right off the bat, so it fell more into the predictable range after that.  Where things got weird and kept yanking me out of the story is with the characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I really kind of liked them, but they just didn’t quite work for me.

Both of the main guys, Dex and Sloane, are these supposed tough guy cops with lots of experience, Sloane even being more badass as he is a shifter.  Yet… their general personalities and several situations contradict those facts.  Dex is constantly getting his ass handed to him, whether by several people at a time or sparring with Sloane.  This happens several times throughout the book, even towards the end when it is up against only one guy.  Compound that with some of Dex’s personality and antics that gets thrown around in what is supposed to make him funny, but it makes him seem kind of weak and cowardly (the funny usually worked, but in a really weird way).  Sloane didn’t bug me quite as much as Dex, but we hardly saw any of what should have been his potential strengths.

There are certain job types or rolls that really do take a certain kind of personality to fit those rolls.  That may seem a bit stereotypical, it is still something of an expectation people have.  In what is darn near a SWAT like team or even a kind of military group, the personalities of both Dex and Sloane just don’t quite always work.  Dex especially as there are times that he just really kind of comes across as the nerdy guy everyone beat up on rather than as a tough cop.  Sloane’s was more in how his thoughts and emotions were presented along with his more “off duty” personality.  Enough that it was hard for me to stay immersed in the story and that ended up overshadowing what could have been a really good story.

Throw into that mix a story that doesn’t really have any clean resolutions by the end of the book and this was a mostly good, but frustrating read.


Shatter: Phoenix Rising, Book 4

ShatterAuthor: Joan Swan
Book Name: Shatter
Series: Phoenix Rising
Order: #4
Genre: Romance/SciFi
Rating:  Good


Blurb:  For seven years, Halina Beloi has been in hiding. But she’s never forgotten Mitch Foster, the long, lean man she had to leave behind. Until, that is, Mitch shows up with a list of questions and a 9mm in his hand.

All Mitch knows is that Halina broke his heart and disappeared. But new information has surfaced implicating her as a player in the deadliest game of Mitch’s life. This time, he’s not letting go without answers. Now terror, danger and heat will fuse them together or shatter the future. . .

Review:  This has been something of a roller coaster series for me.  Each book progressively got closer and closer to breaking the bounds of believably.  As a SciFi book that is kind of the point and you are willing to let that go for the sake of the story, but this one just pushed all of that right out the door.

Not sure if this is the last book in the series as the major, overarching story line gets resolved in this, but it is honestly kind of a let down resolution after all the drama this series built.  Also, when you take into account all of the secrets and the level at which they are being kept, it is incredibly hard to swallow and believe this resolution.  It just didn’t work.

I was disappointed by Mitch’s story because he has been this attitude filled badass so far and we didn’t really see any of that out of him here.  I also expected to get a better understanding of why and how he is such a badass with all the cool connections.  Again, didn’t get that.  Halina didn’t really have a personality that balance or complemented him.  It was nearly impossible to connect with her and believe in their relationship.

Also hard to not choke on was Owen.  In the last book, he was desperate over the loss of Jocelyn, the one who supposedly was the reason his marriage didn’t work, yet days later he is all about the FBI agent who he supposedly had this really deep connection with in the past.  Yeah, not buying that either.

Some books in this series have been really good and others just haven’t.  I hated that this one fell into that second category.


Rush: Phoenix Rising, Book 3

RushAuthor: Joan Swan
Book Name: Rush
Series: Phoenix Rising
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/SciFi
Rating:  Excellent


Blurb:  Jessica Fury, Washington lobbyist, has money, connections, and her own firm. But five years ago she had something better: happiness. Her firefighter husband, Quaid, was handsome, courageous, and crazy about her. Then one day he walked into a chemical inferno–and never walked out. Jessica has been through hell to get back on her feet. And then a rumor surfaces that could bring a miracle or shatter her world–again.

Q has been a prisoner forever. He’s honed his mind and body into weapons. He’s developed abilities no one else understands. But he’s still at the mercy of a cabal of ruthless men, who blank his memory, test him like a lab rat, and tell him lies. Although his past has been erased and his future looks grim, instinct tells him he has a woman to live for. What his mind can’t remember, his body can’t forget. . .

Review:  Much better than the last one!  I really loved this one.  The concept of having this really deep connection to another person, then to believe that person died only to find out years later that they are actually alive, but they have no memory of what created that bond is powerful.  It is heart wrenching.

The dynamic between Jessica and Quaid is so genuine feeling.  There are so many places where that dynamic could have devolved into areas that make a reader seriously dislike the characters because they come across as whiny or weak willed, but that isn’t the case here.  It is handled in such a way that they come across as struggling, but still determined and strong.  They were so much easier to connect to.

I really kind of thought for a while that we’d see a huge resolution to the overall series and not just this story, but we end up really kind of hanging a bit at the end of this one.  I think this one is probably my favorite of the series so far.

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


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.

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


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.

Blaze: Phoenix Rising, Book 2

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


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.

Undying Legion: Crown & Key, Book 2

Undying LegionAuthor: Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith
Book Name: Undying Legion
Series: Crown & Key
Order: #2
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy/Historical/Steampunk
Rating:  Really Good


Blurb: With a flood of dark magic about to engulf Victorian London, can a handful of heroes vanquish a legion of the undead?

When monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane comes across the gruesome aftermath of a ritual murder in a London church, he enlists the help of magician-scribe Simon Archer and alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther. Studying the macabre scene, they struggle to understand obscure clues in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics carved into the victim’s heart–as well as bizarre mystical allusions to the romantic poetry of William Blake. One thing is clear: Some very potent black magic is at work.

But this human sacrifice is only the first in a series of ritualized slayings. Desperate to save lives while there is still time, Simon, Kate, and Malcolm–along with gadget geek Penny Carter and Charlotte, an adolescent werewolf–track down a necromancer who is reanimating the deceased. As the team battles an unrelenting army of undead, a powerful Egyptian mummy, and serpentine demons, the necromancer proves an elusive quarry. And when the true purpose of the ritual is revealed, the gifted allies must confront a destructive force that is positively apocalyptic.

Review: Started out as expected after the last one, just jumping right in to the action.  Then it slowed down quite a bit for a little while before picking back up again.  I didn’t see quite as much action in this one as the last.  Also got way more on the gadgets and stuff and really not a whole lot on either the alchemy or the magic from our main characters which was a little bit of a let down.

This just had a slightly different feel to it than the first book.  While still really good, it just wasn’t quite the same, so not quite as good.  I’m hoping the next one is more in line with the first.

Fever: Phoenix Rising, Book 1

FeverAuthor: Joan Swan
Book Name: Fever
Series: Phoenix Rising
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/SciFi
Rating:  Excellent


Blurb:  Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish. . .

But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with a ripped body, a determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble. . .. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. . .

Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.

Review:  I really didn’t know what to expect with this book.  I’d never read anything from this author and I’d actually passed over this a few times as I’m not a huge fan of the prison theme.  Have to say that I’m thrilled that I took the chance on this because it was way more than I thought.

This was the complete package.  Kick ass characters, cool and unique story that you start reading and look at the clock and realize that hours have gone by without a thought, very well thought out build on the romance part of the story and that is balanced with the rest of it so that no one aspect overrides the others.

Teague is a bad guy that is actually really a great guy willing to do some questionable things to protect what matters to him.  I love the fact that he is battling with his morality and trying to balance that against what he needs in life.

Alyssa is so not a cupcake pushover.  She is loaded with personality and her own sense of doing what is right.  Her reaction and views towards Teague are spot on all the way through the story, forcing both herself and Teague to be completely real.

Even though my library didn’t have this classed as SciFi, it actually is.  It isn’t dripping in it, but it is definitely part of the backbone of the story.  That aspect along with conspiracy, relationships with friends and family (loved Mitch!) along side the romance helped to completely round out the story.

While this is one of those stories that spans only a handful of days, the way the author writes this makes the romantic relationship work.  She took the time to develop a trust between the characters, not magically making it just happen.  There is absolutely doubt and mistrust in the beginning and makes her characters work to prove they are worthy.  I cannot say how refreshing it is to read an author that takes the time to put the details in the story to make me believe it.  Sure, there are a couple of things that are just a tiny bit on the lucky/convenient/perfect side, but even those are done well enough to still work.

Needless to say, I loved this book.  I’ve already got the next one in my queue and will probably end up bumping its way to the top of that list.

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key, Book 1

The Shadow RevolutionAuthor: Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith
Book Name: The Shadow Revolution
Series: Crown & Key
Order: #1
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy/Historical/Steampunk
Rating:  Really Good


Blurb: They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane–but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Review: Loved this!  It was a really cool, fun, inventive book with lots of incredibly interesting and spunky characters.  Kind of a newer concept for me, but it really worked.

This was yet another book that was mostly focused on a male main character, but was a bit more balanced as we got to see perspectives from several of the characters, not just the one.  The magic system in this was different than what I’ve seen in other books, with the idea that there are different types of practitioners and how they access magic along with those that are more alchemists rather than just magic users.  How those differences were blended worked really well together.

I got a huge kick out of Kate’s snarky attitude and Simon’s rather debonair persona played together nicely with that.  Each of the other supporting characters were really unique.  I would have loved to have had Penny in more of the story.

While this does have a touch of the Steampunk vibe, we didn’t see an overwhelming amount of it, but it was well balanced.  Some of what we did see were really awesome concepts, but a few pushed the boundaries of believability because of the practical application of the apparent technology of the time didn’t seem to fit.  Even then, it works well because they are amazing anyway.

I’m hoping like crazy that the next book in the series is as good as this one.

Total Surrender: Sin Brothers, Book 4

Total SurrenderAuthor: Rebecca Zanetti
Book Name: Total Surrender
Series: Sin Brothers
Order: #4
Genre: SciFi/Romance
Rating:  Really Good


Blurb:  A fight he must win . . .
Piper Oliver knows she can’t trust him. They warned her that the tall, dark, and sexy black-ops soldier Jory Dean would try to win her over with his steel-gray eyes and deadly charm, but she won’t be conned by this man they call a traitor. All she has to do is figure out the science necessary to save his life, and she’s done. Something isn’t adding up, though, and she won’t rest until she uncovers the truth-even if it’s buried in his deep, dangerous kiss.

A passion she can’t resist . . .
Jory will do anything to reunite with and save his brothers-even kidnap the gorgeous woman who’s working to deactivate the deadly chip in their spines. But the forces determined to destroy his family won’t let them go so easily. Keeping Piper alive is more than he bargained for-and so is his burning desire for her. But with every second bringing him closer to certain death, can he afford to lose himself in her hot and willing embrace?

Review:  This is the way an exciting, action and drama filled romance should be written.  Both of the main characters are amazingly wrought and full of personality.  Their chemistry on the page is really quite perfect.

As the 4th book in the series, it holds its own along with the ones that came before it and is just as good.  It was awesome to get to finally find out more about the last brother and to get his story.  I was not even remotely disappointed after finishing this.

When I read the author’s note at the beginning of the book, I was under the impression that this was the last book in the series.  They way it was finished, though, left a lot of potential for the author to come back and add to the series, but from another direction because there are still some unfinished strings just hanging out their ready to be pulled on.  Nothing frustrating, but definitely interesting.  While it would be awesome if we got to see more from this, it also wouldn’t be heartbreaking because we did get closure for all of the major characters that have been the focus of the books to this point.

The Keepers: Alchemy Series, Book 1

The KeepersAuthor: Donna Augustine
Book Name: The Keepers
Series: Alchemy Series
Order: #1
Rating: Mediocre/Didn’t Like
Genre: SciFi

Blurb:  Two days ago, Jo Davids was a waitress by night and a college kid by day, with the unnerving problem of objects floating around her.

One Day ago, Jo’s sexy boss, Cormac, noticed her for all the wrong reasons when she witnessed a man transform into a monster in the basement of his casino.

Today, Cormac ordered her shot. If he’s real lucky, she won’t die. Because if she does, all hope is lost.

Review: First off, I gotta say that the blurb attached to this book is really pretty misleading.  It leads one to believe that it is going to be some sort of shifter book.  That is so not the case here.  If the blurb actually gave a better indication of what the book is truly about, I seriously probably wouldn’t have read it at all because it just isn’t the kind of SciFi book I’m into at all. It is actually a book more about other planets, wormholes, and alien species and I honestly have no interest at all in reading those books.  They just aren’t my thing.  While there is one character that does apparently shift, that is only a teeny tiny part, not at all the focus.

After I figured that out, I honestly did by best to not let that influence my opinion of the quality of writing and whether or not the story was well done.  Even pushing aside my personal preferences on genre, I still do not like this book at all.  So much of it just didn’t work for me.  Whether I like them or not, I’ve read books with the alien species theme before that were really well done.  This one just wasn’t.

If you are going to write about people that come from different worlds, whether they be more fantasy type worlds like Faerie or actual other worlds as in planets, one of the things that just doesn’t work is to make those different people all look like normal Earth humans in their natural form.  I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.  You could get away with them blending in by explaining it somehow with magic or glamor or illusion, but again, not the case here.  This book very, very briefly mentions viewing a portion of another world through a wormhole and describing the sky as purple.  It isn’t believable that the people that come from that planet do not look the least bit different than humans, but it is obvious at a glance that the world looks nothing like Earth.

It is also going to be a huge, difficult pill to swallow when you say that some of those species are Fae and werewolves.  Yet, hello, they look just like the guy next door.  If you are going to break from the traditionally held beliefs and myths behind a culture, you cannot break it so completely and have the story work.

The other big failure when it came to this book were the characters.  By the time I finished reading, I couldn’t decide if I actually hated the main character.  I definitely didn’t like her enough to want to learn more about her.  She was self-absorbed, ditzy, wishy-washy and utterly annoying.  There were so many things that the character “thought” and her perceptions of others that made her beyond able to find anything at all redeeming about her.  None of the other characters were really any better.

I would say that this probably isn’t worth your time unless you are really, really bored.