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In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston
Honey Badger Chronicles #2
Paranormal Romance
March 26, 2019 by Kensington

KINDLE * GOODREADS * AUTHOR WEBSITE

Oh, how I love Shelly Laurenston. And her wolves. And lions. And wild dogs and honey badgers and ligons and hybrid polar bear/lions. And as of now her fabulous, easy going sex machine pandas. Oh, Shen…

Stevie and Shen’s book was just as I suspected it would be. A hilarious, crazy good time that I didn’t want to end. Stevie is the brilliant, excitable MacKilligan sister and I was fascinated by her from the moment she was introduced in the first book in the series, Hot and Badgered. Shen is Kyle Jean Louis Parker’s bodyguard/babysitter and since Kyle and Stevie, both child prodigies, are good friends Shen spends a lot of time in the wacky MacKilligan household.

It took me a minute to really get into Stevie and Shen’s story, but it usually does. Laurenston has created a huge, interconnected world and I love it, but it always takes me until at least 15% to find my footing and figure out what is going on. There is a lot going on… from Stevie getting some much needed help with her anxiety disorder and settling down (just a bit, not too much) to a side plot of a dangerous scientist who is experimenting on hybrid shifters. This is definitely a book that needs to be read as part of a series and not as a standalone. In fact, I would recommend reading this author’s entire backlist, in order, first.

I feel like the romance between Shen and Stevie was more developed than the romance in the first book in the series between Charlie and Berg. It was still kind of quiet, but sexier and more defined. Sometimes in Ms. Laurenston’s books the romance gets kind of lost amid all the madness and mayhem, but I felt like Stevie and Shen’s romance shined.

So now the wait begins until the next release and Max’s story, which I’m sure will be a wild, maybe slightly bloody, entertaining ride. I look forward to it.

Final Grade- B

Favorite Quote:

She glanced at the receptionist who managed her therapist’s office. Frowning a little, she leaned in and said, “I think we need to involve Max.”

Shen shook his head. “Sister’s are not my scene.”

“That’s not what I mean, perv.”

“You started it,” he murmured. Then he winked and she didn’t know whether to punch hi or put his cock in her mouth.

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Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke
Not Dead Yet #1
Paranormal M/M
February 4, 2019 by Carina Press

Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.

His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.

As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.

I’ve always enjoyed this author, whether she writes alone or with a partner, but I must say I think this is my favorite of her works to date. Not Dead Yet is a fun, exciting paranormal romance featuring two interesting heroes and a cast of secondary characters who I can’t wait to get to know better. It’s also a second chance romance which is absolutely my jam.

Wes Cooper is a ghost. Sometimes, anyway. He uses his ability to ghost in and out of existence in his work as a recovery specialist. Recovering what you ask? Well, anything and everything and most of the time the rightful owner doesn’t want to let go of it. But it keeps the bills paid and Wes living comfortably. Then he walks in on a murder in progress and his life is turned upside down.

He makes an anonymous call to the police, but after talking to his best friend he also makes a call to this former lover… who happens to still be on the police force. He and Hudson haven’t seen each other for 33 years, but Wes is just as attracted to him as the day they met. This Hud seems a little darker, a little harder, but just as unforgiving of Wes’s recovery jobs as he ever was. But they begin to work together anyway.

There is so much to love about this PNR. I went in expecting another tropey, ghostly paranormal and was pleasantly surprised to discover that everything about this book felt fresh. I can honestly say I haven’t read anything like it. The mystery was very well done and left me a bit surprised at the end.

The romance between Wes and Hudson was super sexy and I enjoyed seeing them make their way back to each other emotionally. I won’t go into the reasons why they broke up, but it was realistic and I expect these characters to have to continue to deal with it as the series progresses. They have a lot of history between them and behind them, I have a feeling it’s going to take a while for them to work through it. Which is fine by me, I’ve got a little crush on snarky, cranky Wes.

I’m absolutely stoked that this is going to be a series. I’ve already put book two on my TBR list. Give Up the Ghost has a release date of June 3, 2019 and I can’t wait.

Final grade- B+

Kindle * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * Goodreads * Author’s Website

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Lionheart by Thea Harrison
Moonshadow, #3
Paranormal Romance
October 3, 2018

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote: “It was good to be free. Good to be home.”

As Lyonesse is slowly being destroyed, it’s ruler, King Oberon, sleeps deep within his palace, the victim of an assassination attempt.  His only chance at a cure comes in the form of the top Elder Race surgeon, Dr. Katheryn Shaw. When she arrives, her presence awakens him though he is no longer the man he was before. His only means of survival caused his emotions to be stripped from him. Now Katheryn must find a way to not only cure his body but also his soul. Because Queen Isabeau is coming to finish what she started and unless Oberon can come to care about Lyonese and his people again, it will fall forever.

The 3rd story in Harrison’s Moonshadow trilogy gives us King Oberon’s story and the final conclusion to the war between the Fae Courts. Set in the same world as her Elder Races series, the focus here is on the Fae demesnes and the ongoing war.  Easily read as a standalone, you do not have to read the Elder Races to enjoy though I do recommend starting with book one of this trilogy-Moonshadow. If you have been following the series, you will remember that Oberon had vanished and Lyonesse has been shut off from the world by the Light Queen’s Hound-Morgan le Fae. Those who managed to escape are seen in book one, rallying for help while book two deals with Morgan Le Fae and his battle to escape Isabeau’s control.

Fans of the Elder Races, especially Dragos, will definitely love King Oberon (King of the Daoine Sidhe) who exhibits the same sense of power, arrogance, and all-encompassing passion. As old as Dragos, Oberon was celebrating the Winter Solace when Morgan le Fae bespelled him. Oberon was forced to put himself into a coma to save his life and the lives of those around him. Unfortunately, when he went to sleep, his power went unchecked and the city became a frozen tomb. When he realizes his domain has been breached, he awakens with a fury, seeking to destroy that which has dared to disturb him.

Pieces of dried fruit lay sprinkled over the trampled crimson-and-gold bedspread like confetti, and there was the sharp, aromatic scent of cheese. Curious, he pawed at a small, overturned tub. As he flipped it over, one of his claws sank into soft butter.

He licked it off as he took in other details. Amid the rubble was a fur-lined cloak and a strange piece of clothing that looked like a formfitting blue coat, and another odd, lightweight sheet of something that looked like metal but was pliable and made of a foreign substance he had never seen before.
The interloper had planned a ravishment, and she had brought… snacks?

Dr. Kathyrn Shaw has been a mainstay throughout the Elder Races series. She has saved the day on multiple occasions and her assistance in Moonshadow opened the door to the fight that ends in here. One of the Wyn and trusted by the inner circle surrounding Dragos, she has the moxie and strength to hold her own against the bigger creatures who exist. Intelligent and witty, I found her calm demeanor, crisp mannerisms,  and innovative ideas quite amusing as she pits herself against one of the most dangerous creatures in the demesnes.

Silkily, he asked, Cat got your tongue?

Very funny. Her grumpy mental voice sounded much better than her physical voice did. Okay, I apologize. I am so very sorry for what happened—

Come down here and face me properly, or are you too much of a coward to do so? He threw out the challenge carelessly. He had no real expectation she would comply. If they stood face-to-face and she was grounded from flight, he had no doubt he could easily destroy her.And she certainly didn’t seem to be motivated to continue the confrontation on the ground. Instead, she told him in a steady, crisp voice, Oberon, you’re going to die unless you consent to medical treatment.

That voice. That sounded exactly like the voice that had wound through his dreams, interrupting his nightmares of Isabeau. He snapped, I did not give you permission to address me by my name.

She retorted, I don’t really give a shit.

When Kathryn and Oberon come to an “understanding” the real work begins.

Harrison does an excellent job in here of not only expanding on the history and politics of the Fae courts without overburdening us with recaps and unnecessary information while slowly building a romance between two strong-willed people. Warriors who are honor bound to care for those around them. The enormity of their precarious situation is tempered by sharp wit and moments of compassion and sorrow. I love that Kathryn gives Oberon no quarter. She treats him like a patient and slaps him down when he gets a little too autocratic.  She has served under Dragos for centuries…Oberon is a piece of cake.

“What other symptoms have you experienced since the attack?”
[…]
I remember having the emotions, but I no longer experience them. In fact, I only feel two things anymore: anger and lust.”

She stopped writing, suddenly inundated with the memory of yesterday’s encounter. The feeling of his mouth moving so urgently over hers as he speared her with his tongue. The delicious sense of weight as he shifted to lie on top of her, and the thick, heavy feeling of his erection pressing against her hip. For one shocking, mindless moment it had been glorious.

His voice sounded softly in her ear, deep and dark as the ocean and rough with the lion’s purr. “But I do feel anger and lust very deeply, Doctor.”

She had gotten so lost in her reverie she hadn’t noticed he had come around to her side of the desk, and she nearly leaped out of her skin. “For crying out loud, Oberon! Back up and give me some personal space!”

She listened to her own exclamation with deep dismay. That was supposed to have come out much more sharply than it had. Instead of sounding disapproving and offended, her voice had sounded as breathless as a gasp.

“Are you sure that’s what you really want?” Callused fingers traced the line of her jaw, down the side of her neck, and lightly pressed against the very spot where he had sucked so hungrily at her pulse. She remembered. Oh, she remembered it all too well. The shadow of his body fell over hers on the desk as he bent over her, and his lips brushed against the sensitive shell of her ear as he whispered, “Or wouldn’t you rather experiment with just how deep and hard my feelings can really go?”

Oberon had her rattled. He knew he did.

But suddenly she laughed, and the bright, carefree sound broke the sensual spell he had begun to weave over them both. “Did you really just say that to me? My lord, that line was bad.”

She wasn’t funny.

Though heavily driven, the strong narrative and steady bites of action and intrigue keep the storyline flowing at a brisk pace. Favorite characters from both series make appearances to this readers delight. I enjoy any interactions with Dragos and the New York demesne, especially when clues are given to what is coming new.  We also meet back up with couples from books one and two. I was a little disappointed we did not see Queen Titania and Queen Tricks. As part of the fae demease, it was odd they weren’t a part of this trilogy. I especially loved the scenes with Robin aka Puck. Heartfelt, his journey has been a tough one and everything he went through to save his king was heart wrenching. 

Your king is going to die unless something is done for him. Why didn’t you want to bring Annwyn and the troops with us?”

He stamped at the snow desultory. Other than tangling his mane and tail, the wind and the massive cold didn’t seem to affect him at all. “I wanted to judge you for myself while they weren’t around. If you were a threat, I would take care of you.” He looked at her sidelong to see how she took his words.

He might be old, unpredictable, and dangerous, but he had nothing on a cantankerous, bullheaded dragon. She said gently, “You were looking after your king.”

“He told me to guard his place and watch them. A long time ago, Isabeau took me and held me captive for years. I failed him once. I won’t fail him again.”

Lionheart leaves readers happy with it’s firm resolution to the main conflict yet just enough open to allow her back into this world again. As always, Harrison gives readers an adventure overflowing with action, suspense, humor, romance, and just enough tragedy to make the journey unforgettable.

Grade: B

Prior Thea Harrison Reviews

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What I read this week:

Band Sinister by K.J Charles
Historical M/M
October 11, 2018 by KJC Books

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved. This might even be my favorite romance by KJ Charles. I was scrolling through twitter a while back and came upon a tweet by the author saying that she had gone “Full Heyer” and that there were all the tropes my heart could possibly desire and from that moment on I was all in. Virgin country gentleman forced into close proximity with his dastardly (but not really), rakish Baronet neighbor who is rumored to be a heathen who hosts orgies and has all kinds of disreputable friends? Hell, yes.

The main storyline is rather uncomplicated. The siblings Guy and Amanda Frisby live in the small village of Yarlcote. They are financially dependent upon their aunt and rather isolated from society. Their nearest neighbor is Sir Philip Rookwood, who also happens to be the brother of the man their mother ran away with. To say there is animosity between them would be an understatement. But when Amanda badly breaks her leg while out riding, Rookwood Hall is the closest location where she can recuperate safely. Her doctor says she can’t be moved until her leg starts to heal, and she can’t stay by herself in such a disreputable household. Which means Guy must stay by her side.

Guy and Philip have a sweet, sensual relationship that is lovely as it blossoms and grows. Guy is sheltered in his thinking at first and I believe he is seduced just as much by the radical new ideas and easy acceptance offered to him by Philip and his friends as he is by his desire for his neighbor.  They debate, they argue and laugh. There is music and entertaining dinner discussions about religion and history and the world. Just as Guy’s mind is challenged, his sexuality awakens and he begins to have all these feelings for his neighbor. I loved how their entire relationship was framed around consent. I loved that this couple was completely honest with each other about their feelings for each other, and their feelings for other characters who held important places in their lives. It made their HEA all the more delightful and believable.

I also loved the racial diversity of Band Sinister, and also how different sexual orientations were represented. Philip has a broad, interesting group of friends and I’m desperately hoping that Ms. Charles decides to continue telling stories in this world. For instance I would love to hear more about how Harry and Sheridan met and connected. Pretty please.

Yes, I know. I said loved a whole heck of a lot in this review. But in my defense, this book is really, really good. Go one-click, you won’t be disappointed.

Final Grade: A

GR * AMZ * BN

Sentinel of Darkness by Katie Reus
Darkness #8
Paranormal Romance
October 16, 2018 by KR Press, LLC

This is one of those series that whenever I see a new release I snap it up quickly. They are such easy, quick reads. I didn’t even know who the characters were, or how they were connected within the series, when I picked Sentinel of Darkness up. All I knew was that one of the main protagonists was a dragon shifter and the other a human. Once I started reading it was super easy to understand where this couple fit into this world.

Dagen meets his mate when he is stuck in an elevator with her on his way to a meeting with a local woman about some real estate. It turns out Keva is the woman he was supposed to meet and she knows about the existence of his kind and has a relationship with several members of his clan. Once he meets her, he knows that he is his forever and sets out to woo her. His protective instincts get all riled up when Keva’s abusive ex-boyfriend’s brother comes around and starts terrorizing her. It doesn’t take much for this couple to fall for each other. A few dinners, a dragon out to protect his mate, and BAM… it’s love.

This was another super fast, fun read by this author. Dagen and Keva do have the instalust, instamate thing going on but, I expected it and it worked in this short novella length story.

Final Grade- B-

GR * AMZ * BN

My TBR:

Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh– I’m right in the middle of this one and so far…!!!!!! I”ll talk more about it in next Monday’s post

Fury by Rachel Vincent – This is the last book in the Menagerie series and I was happy with the way it wrapped up. Review to come next Monday.

Escape by Emmy Chandler– The first book in the Project Veritas series, which is a spin off from this author’s Prison Planet series. It will be available on Amazon and KU on October 25th.

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Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert
Released: October 1, 2018
Paranormal Novella
Self Published

Reviewed by Mandi

This is a super quick novella, and I really wish it had been longer because I loved these two – but I’ll take what I can get.

Chastity’s family has been hunting werewolves for generations. It’s in her blood, but due to a prophecy spoken when she was born, her parents have made her sit on the sidelines for all of her family’s hunting fun. When a man repeatedly comes into the bakery where she works, she knows two things – one, he is a werewolf, and two, he is very attractive.

Luke is indeed a werewolf, and prefers three things:

Luke Anthony was a simple beast, curse of the moon aside. He asked for very little: creatures to devour, excellent Wi-Fi, and a complete lack of human company, to be specific.

Simple indeed! It takes a lot of concentration and study to pass as a “normal” human, and he tries very hard around Chastity. With one sniff, he knew she was his fated mate. It gave him his first erection, which is a constant in his life now. He is very attracted to her, and wants so badly for any type of interaction. Preferably, interaction that will eventually lead him to mating with her, but even just a simple conversation would thrill him. But he is nervous that he may scare her.

She was special, and shy, while he was an apex predator with a burning desire to sink his teeth into her arse. How was he supposed to convey all of that in a way that wouldn’t scare her shitless? He had no idea. Just the other day, he’d Googled How to ask a woman out without making her fear for her life—but the results hadn’t been particularly helpful.

She finally gives him the time of day, and she agrees to watch a Halloween movie at his house. She comes off as very shy and coy, and Luke tries very hard to not frighten her with his more carnal instincts. But Chasity knows he is a wolf, and wants to prove to her family that she can hunt. She wants to take him down!

But when things turn romantic, it’s not quite going to go Luke’s way. She ends up straddling him with harmful silver hidden on her thighs, and shoves a silver knife into her chest – Luke is so surprised that his quiet crush has skills!

 He was admiring her calves and considering her excellent takedown technique when she demanded, “Is your dick still hard right now? Seriously?!”

Since the answer was quite obvious, he didn’t bother to confirm. Instead, asked, “Are you trying to kill me?”

She responded by stamping on his head.

As I said, I would have liked more time with these two – partly to explain the world and backstory more, and partly to allow Luke to retain his less than human interactions for longer – before he becomes too charming. A fun, quick read.

Grade: B

Kindle l Goodreads

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Stygian by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dark Hunter, #27
Paranormal Romance
August 28, 2018
Tor

Reviewed by Tori

Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years, believing myself to be something I’m not.

Someone I’m not.

Lied to and betrayed by gods, Daimons, and Dark-Hunters, I’ve struggled to find my way in a world where I’ve been cursed since the moment a vengeful goddess prematurely ripped me from my mother and planted me into the womb of an innocent woman who thought me her son.

Trained as a slayer and predator, I’ve learned to fit in and stay low. To become a tool for evil. Until I was sent to kill the one woman I couldn’t. My hesitation cost her, her life.

Or so I thought. In an act of betrayal that makes all the others pale in comparison, I’ve learned that things are not what they seem in this world and that my Phoebe still lives.

Now I will have to travel into the very pits of Hades to try and save her, even as everyone around me attempts to steal what little soul I have left. There’s only one person at my back and I’m not sure I can trust her either, for she was born of an enemy race. Yet sometimes the road to redemption is one that singes us to our very core. And if I fail to find the answers I need to save Phoebe, more than just my wife will die.

We will lose the world. Both human and Daimon.

~Urian of the House of Aricles

I want to first note that there will be some spoilers in this review. Can’t be helped. We are 27 books in. You can’t start here. If you do, you will have no idea what is going on. I started at the beginning and I’m confused.

I’m not sure where to begin with this review so it’s going to see a little rambly.  Urian has always been an enjoyable secondary character, one of many in Kenyon’s stable,  though not a staring player. That was until he teamed up with Archeron after his father, Stryker, attempted to kill him.  Alone and heartbroken after his secret wife was murdered, he vowed Stryker enemy #1. He became much more noteworthy after he befriended Styxx only to learn Styxx and Bethany were his real parents and the reason behind his “abduction.”  We thought we knew it all but as with most of Kenyon’s crew, there is always more to the story…and now we get Urian’s.

Stygian is set up just like Acheron and Styxx. Beginning in the past, the story slowly brings us to the present and ends with a glimpse into the future. A hodgepodge of various other key events from previous books (Kiss of the Night, One Silent Night, Acheron, Styxx, Son of No One, & Dragonsworn) fills the book. The first half is Urian’s childhood and foray into adulthood. We see how deeply he loved his mother, father & siblings. We once again see how Apollo cursed his people and why and how those results birthed the Daimons. Frankly, a majority of the book is really nothing more than a recap of everything that has happened since Kiss of the Night from Urian’s point of view. There are so many plot inconsistencies and character 180s; I had to keep dragging out the other books to see if maybe I was remembering things wrong.

No, I wasn’t.

And I don’t even want to get started on all the answers we thought we would be getting that didn’t happen.

None.

I’m not sure if I’m the only one feeling this way but in my opinion, Kenyon has jumped shark so many times I have no idea what is going on half the time anymore. The continuous copy/paste doesn’t help. Multiple plotlines and the misdirection Kenyon introduces with her POV stories have the main arc branching in so many directions that I feel Kenyon has begun to lose control of the series. She has begun to cross-promote characters from other series as a way to create some cohesion but in reality, it only adds to the confusion.

For example, in Dragonsworn, we see her referencing her Lords of Avalon series and using the Camelot canon to create yet another storyline.  In Death Doesn’t Bargain (Deadman’s Crossing series), we interact with Ash, Savitar, and the Malachai. I think Kenyon is leading up to the Malachai’s defection or Apollymi’s lover, Kesser. Who, by the way, is a new addition.  Oy vey. This universe is out of control. And Kenyon isn’t addressing any of it. We still don’t know who is messing with the timeline (first addressed in Retribution & later in Styxx). Has anyone else figured out M’Doc is related to Nick yet (Dream Hunter)? I’m still lost on why Max betrayed Falcyn and where/what the hell is Tiyana Devereaux (Son of No One)? And for the love of God, what is the connection between Jared and Jaden? Besties? Siblings? Lovers? This has dragged out long enough.

I need answers, not another 20 books.

Urian’s evolution from his childhood and the events that led up to his switching sides was interesting. I liked seeing his relationship with Stryker and it drove home the pain felt by what the other viewed as the ultimate betrayal. Everything else was fodder. Once we crossed over into the present,  I had to wonder why so much time was spent on his past. Nothing Urian did in his past affected the world much beyond his own. What I really wanted to see some of the emotional fallout from all the revelations we had garnered from Styxx. There was hardly any dealings with Styxx and Bethany. These are his parents that he was STOLEN from. Ripped from the womb and magically embedded into another woman. Come on! They don’t even get a solid page of interaction. How could Kenyon ignore this HUGE moment? And then Kenyon completely glosses over Urian’s pain and anger towards Apollymi.

WTH?

I think the worst part for me, the point where I felt so let down, was Kenyon’s dealing of Urian’s personal life and his ex-wife, Phoebe. Every book that has featured Urian has never failed to mention at least once of Urian’s complete and utter devotion to his dead wife. He lost everything when she was murdered. That was his shtick-the forever grieving widow.  Kenyon destroys all that by alluding to Urian’s multiple relationships and the fact that he proclaimed to have loved them all. Can I buy he’s had other women in his life? Sure. After all, he’s centuries old. But there has never been a mention in any other book of a previous lover. I was honestly shocked when Dragonsworn introduces one of those lovers and we get nothing from Urian. Nada. He’s all quiet as a churchmouse. Then we see the same scene here and it’s completely different. He’s shocked she’s alive and internally exclaims his feelings towards her never ended. She is apparently his HEA and a way for Kenyon to further integrate the dragon storyline into the main one. But what about Phoebe? Kenyon’s clumsy attempt to sidestep the obvious and ram through her endgame was disingenuous. As was Phoebe’s attitude towards Urian and the whole situation.

[spoiler effect=”simple” show=”Spoiler”]Why was it necessary to make her the bad guy? I find it hard to believe that Kenyon couldn’t have found a better solution. And Stryker with his “Oops, my bad,” about the whole situation. *sigh*[/spoiler]

The ending comes at us fast with minimal effort on Kenyon’s part. I can’t say I’m super disappointed because I honestly wasn’t expecting this book. I thought it would be Savitar’s. In fact, I’m still sitting here wondering as I type this WHY he even got this major of a reveal. Did I like it? Eh. It was okay but more because I’m used to this world and characters. I think we give more leeway to stories we have formed an attachment with. I just really wish it wasn’t so crammed full of recycled content. Especially coming off of Dragonsworn. I miss the old Dark Hunter books that were strong in the romance department with uncomplicated storylines.

Grade: D+

Previous Sherrilyn Kenyon Reviews

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Cross Breed by Lora Leigh
Breeds #23
Paranormal Romance
September 25, 2018
Berkley

Reviewed by Helyce

Note:  Might be a little bit rambly…

I remember when I found the Breeds. I came upon a book at my local used bookstore. I don’t remember which one it was, but it fueled my love of science fiction with its very imaginative theme of altering genetics and creating a completely different species by splicing animal and human DNA. Not a human who could shift into an animal–something completely different. When I realized this was a series, I headed back to my used bookstore and bought every single one they had.

I was hooked!

Over the years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this series. It became repetitive and didn’t feel as if there was much of a story arc, until recently. And don’t get me started on the editing, or should I say, complete lack thereof. One of the books was shipped to retailers with a whole chapter missing. There were huge inconsistencies, and no rhyme or reason sometimes; BUT I hung in there and dealt with all of that because of Cassandra Sinclair.  She had sparked my interest from the moment she was introduced as a little girl. Cassie is special because she is not just a wolf Breed, but she also holds the genetics of a coyote. As a little girl, she was revered and protected for her gifts, especially her gift of sight. Cassie made appearances here and there throughout the series as she grew up and began working closely with Jonas at the Bureau of Breed Affairs as the most knowledgeable person with respect to Breed Laws.

Also over the years, we’ve been teased with a male Breed who was never far but always in the shadows.  He and Cassie developed a secret friendship of sorts, as for whatever reason Cassie grew to trust him and had called upon him to help her over the years. There was always a debt to be paid, however, and Cassie always went into it willingly and always paid up. This secret Breed was dangled before us for several books and though I had my suspicions on who he might be, my hopes were dashed when that Breed got his own book and mate in a previous release.  When Cassie’s sister is mistaken for her and kidnapped, Cassie wastes no time in contacting this Breed for his help. His price this time is steep, however, as he asks for one night with Cassie. For her sister’s safety, however, she agrees.

If you’re a fan of this series, and you’ve stuck it out, you may have had suspicions on who Cassie’s secret Breed was, but I was shocked (and I have to admit, a little disappointed at the beginning) to learn that it was a character named Dog.  Yeah, stupid name…but Dog is a Breed that has been around for a long time. He is a coyote Breed suspected of working with the GeneticsCouncill, who are of course the Breed’s worse enemy. But Dog has always played by his own rules as he skates the line between factions as a double agent.  He’s done whatever he’s needed to do to keep himself and his people safe, all the while keeping to an agenda of his own. He’d known that Cassie was his mate due to an encounter many, many books back, but he waited six years to claim her.

Though highly anticipated, I kept my expectations low, because I have read every single book in this series and have experienced the ups and downs that tend to happen in a long running series. I have enjoyed the story arc a bit more since Jonas’s book and the return to Window Rock, New Mexico to revisit events from earlier books in the series, but Leigh uses some previously used strategies to cause conflict here, so part of the book is same old, same old.

Within this mating between Cassie and Dog, we learn so much more about both these characters. Cassie long believed what everyone else had believed where Dog was concerned, so the fact that he turned out to be her mate caused much distress and conflict. But the revelation of the mating is nothing compared to everything else that is revealed about not only Cassie but of Dog’s parentage.  It was exciting to see everything that Cassie had always held back within herself, come rising to the surface to reveal her true nature. Like Jonas and Graeme, Cassie is a primal.

All in all, Dog being Cassie’s mate took me by surprise, but by the end of the book, I was okay with it.  As far as ‘mating heat’ goes, I was pleased to see that while there is a fair amount of sex in this book, it didn’t overwhelm the story has it’s been known to do in previous books.  I sense a shift in where this story is going, though I couldn’t guess quite where that is at this point. I love that it ends with Graeme and his conniving plans. Like Cassie, Graeme seems to just know things.  He is incredibly smart and super sneaky in his ways.

I always said that I stayed with this series to get to Cassie’s book, but I really don’t think I’m ready to quit, just yet.

Grade: B

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Hello friends, it has not been a good reading week.  I had 4 books drop on 9/4 and I only read one and a half. I had high hopes of relaxing and reading over my Labor Day Weekend, but it just didn’t work out that way for me. I’m more hopeful for the upcoming weekend.  My kids have settled in to their college routines and have their own plans for the weekend, my hubby also has plans for the weekend, so I’m crossing my fingers for some reading and me time.


Maverick by Cheryl Brooks (Cat Star Legacy #1)
Science Fiction Romance
Released: September 4, 2018
Sourcebooks Casablanca

I was so excited to be back in the world of Ms. Brooks’ imagination.  I read and enjoyed the original Cat Star Chronicles series that introduced us not only to her famous Zetithians, but to many other planets and worlds and to the inhabitants of those worlds.  In every shape, color and size, some humanoid like, a lot of them not human at all, but in Ms. Brooks’ world there is always some way to communicate and a lot of inter-species canoodling.  Of course, there are humans from earth too, and they just happen to be biologically compatible to some of these off-world species.

This new series will center around the children of the original cast. In this first book, we meet Larsanken “Larry” Tshevnoe who is now an adult with his own ship.  He cruises through the galaxy with his trusty navigator, Brak, who is a Scorillian-think gigantic talking praying mantis. Larry is a communications expert and he travels around fixing other ships communications devices.  He stops on Barada Seven in the hopes of locating his childhood friend Althea, a female Zetithian that he grew up with on his parent’s ship. Althea is an empath. She left her family and friends and moved to Barada Seven to escape the constant noise in her head, her empathic gifts picking up everyone’s feelings. If that wasn’t enough, Althea’s mother is a witch, and she’s inherited some of her gifts as well.  All those gifts made it difficult for Althea to function so she left home and settled on Barada Seven where for some reason the land didn’t scream in her head and she could live in the jungles and not be bombarded by everyone’s feelings.

It’s been four long years and Larry has missed his friend. Larry wants to ask Althea to come home with him to use her empath skills to read a girl that he kind of likes. It’s difficult for a Zetithian male to trust that a woman is into him for himself or because of the rumors surrounding the Zetithian males exceptional “skills” during sex. Because of this, he hasn’t been physical with anyone for fear of making a huge mistake. Althea misses her family so she agrees to go with him.

I didn’t realize how much I missed this world and though it’s been about 4 years since the last book in the first series, it was like coming home. Ms. Brooks does a great job of giving just enough back story, and while having read the previous series would definitely enhance your reading experience, it’s not necessary.  

From the moment it’s revealed that Althea couldn’t read Larry’s emotions, I knew exactly what that meant and just settled in to see how their friendship would bloom into love. Things progress a bit slow as Althea fights what she’s feeling and tries to ignore all the hints her body throws at her.  She also doesn’t want to come between Larry and any woman he might be interested in. But in the world of the Zetithians, if you’re meant to be mated, there is no stopping it.

A side story introduces half siblings of both Larry and Althea and bring a bit of excitement when Larry diverts course to pick up Keplok and Dartula who have broken down. We later learn that they were on a mission to find something special that was taken from their home planet and had set out to retrieve it. They now need Larry’s help and his ship.  The addition of these two characters brought a lot of humor to the story.

Ms. Brooks’ writing style has really matured since the first series. While we still got a true feel for these sexy Zetithians, I really appreciated the fact that I wasn’t overwhelmed with explanations and descriptions of snard, joy juice, or coronal/penile acrobatics. There is more emphasis on the story, the characters and the people and things they encounter. I did miss the multitude of alien species from the first series though.  Brak is a kick with his dry humor, but a lot of the alien species that I remembered from before are not mentioned until near the end.

This a fun, over the top, fantastical adventure that always makes me ask, “how does she come up with this stuff?”  I’m so glad Ms. Brooks decided to revisit these characters and give us the next generation.

Grade: B

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Awaken the Darkness by Dianne Duvall (Immortal Guardians #8)
Paranormal Romance
July 10, 2018
Self Published

Blurb:  He awakens encapsulated in dirt with no knowledge of how he came to be there. Riddled with injuries, he can remember neither his past nor who he is. Nor can he remember what he is. But surely no mortal man could survive being buried deep beneath the earth. All he knows with certainty is that the soothing voice and presence of the woman moving around above enables him to endure the agony of his wounds. And he will do whatever it takes to be with her.

When Susan first sees the old two-story house for sale, such warmth and longing fill her that—against all reason—she makes an offer. It will take years of hard work and money she frankly doesn’t have to fix up the place. So she can’t explain why she bought it. She also can’t explain what compels her to spend hours one night, digging in the basement until she unearths a man. A man who still lives and breathes despite having been buried alive. A man whose intense brown eyes glow amber with pain, declaring him far more than ordinary. Susan knows she should keep her distance. He has no memory and possesses gifts that would make most fear him. But as the two work together to unravel the mystery of his past, she finds herself drawn in by his teasing nature and tender touch. So much so that she loses her heart to him even as they find themselves hunted by unknown enemies who are ruthless in their quest to capture them.

A few books back, the Immortal Guardians waged war against the uprising of a vampire army.  The guardians struck hard and took out the whole military type base. In the process, a beloved guardian, Yuri, died.  Yuri’s best friend and fellow guardian Stanislav, saw him get beheaded. In his shock and grief, the vampires he’d been fighting get the best of him and he is also taken down and assumed dead by his fellow immortals. His body was never fund and Seth, the guardian’s leader, did not feel the disconnection he normally feels when an Immortal Guardian dies, so he refused to give up hope that Stanislav may still be alive….somewhere.  

To be honest, I’d assumed Stanislav was lost alongside Yuri in the epic battle against the vampire army. So I was surprised that his character was being resurrected. I also forgot a lot of the details regarding the big vampire army fight. Recent releases have felt…sporadic; there was a gap of two years between book 6 and 7. From a timeline perspective, this book takes place 2 years following that fight; and Duvall starts this story off in Stanislav’s head, so we have an understanding of how he came to be buried underneath the home that Susan ends up renting.

This book is unlike all of its predecessors in that it takes place almost entirely in Susan’s home, away from the other guardians, with total focus on Stanislav and Susan.  After she digs him up, Stan is weak, needs blood and food. Stan doesn’t remember who he is or what happened; but he knows ‘what’ he is and his instincts guide him. I struggled with Susan’s easy acceptance of Stan, her lack of any real fear and the fact that she believed all his excuses about why they shouldn’t seek outside help. Of course, Stan uses his emphatic gifts to help Susan feel calm, but not in a manipulative way…he never wanted her hurt or afraid and truly worried that someone might still be after him.

Along the way, Stan slowly remembers little things, and it’s clear that he and Susan are attracted to each other.  But Stan refuses to move forward because he can’t remember and worries that he might have a significant person in his life.  When Susan prompts Stan with a ‘what if’ scenario and asks, “who do you call?” Stan rattles off a number and things progress quickly after that.

From a romance perspective, this story delivers.  Even with the nature of Susan and Stan’s crazy meeting, there is focus on this couple as they find their way to love.  Susan is all in and one might claim an insta-love quality to their romance; however, within the boundaries of this story it works. Of course, the story truly comes together once Stanislav is reunited with his fellow guardians.

While getting Stanislav back is great, I still feel like we are in a sense of limbo. The guardians still have the same semi-unknown foe, and are powerless due to the fact that the enemy has access to the serum that can take down an immortal.  And forgive me if I bitch about the fact that we got very little page time with Seth and no Zach at all. Duvall isn’t giving up the goods on exactly who or what Seth is. So while the romance was pretty good, and this is a full length book, it really didn’t advance the story or bring anything new to light.

Grade: C

***

Audio Book Review – Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Recently, I have had some tasks at work that allow me to listen to books via Audible while I work.  This is the best thing in the world you guys!  I never thought I’d be able to listen to a story being read to me, but my experience so far has been great! Over the last few weeks I have listened to and enjoyed the following books by Keeland and Ward:

Mister Moneybags-released April 10, 2017, I so enjoyed this take on mistaken identity.  Bianca gets stuck in an elevator with a man who she thinks is a delivery man based on how his dressed.  Little does she know that she is talking to the very man she is supposed to interview, Dex Truitt. Dex is so taken with Bianca, even as she’s saying some not very nice things about him, that he creates a second persona for himself in order to spend more time with her.  Full of OMG and LOL moments this was a super fun listen.

Rebel Heir and Rebel Heart (The Rush Series #1 & #2)-released April 9, 2018 and May 28, 2018–Rush and Gia meet when Gia does a favor for her roomate and takes a shift at a bar/restaurant in the Hamptons. Of course Gia can’t tend bar to save her life and when the owner, Rush shows up he is not happy at all.  But he gives her a second chance and hires her on as the hostess a job Gia is much better suited to. This story was great. Rush has worked hard for his successes, even though he has to deal with a father and half brother who wish he was never born. He and Gia seem to hit it off and begin dating.  Just when things are getting serious, some unforeseen event brings everything to a screeching half. Book one end with a bit of a cliffhanger. Luckily both books have been released so you can jump from one to the other with no waiting in between.

Sex, Not Love by Vi Keeland-released June 30, 2018.  I’m currently listening to this one.  Hunter and Natalia meet at the wedding of their friends.  Nat catches the bouquet and Hunter catches the garter. Hunter is super sure of himself and Nat doesn’t really want to have anything to do with him.  Both have incidents in their pasts that have them leary of trusting another person with their heart. So they agree on a strictly physical relationship of sex, without that messy love stuff.  So far that’s not really working for them…

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Hi everybody!! Tori here. Due to time constraints from a new job, Helyce was nice enough to let me slide into her space today to review two of my FAVORITE authors, Jennifer Estep and Molly Harper.

Venom in the Veins by Jennifer Estep
Elemental Assassin, #17
Paranormal Romance
June 12, 2018
Self Published

Gin Blanco, restauranteur and Ashland’s latest boss of its underworld, is shocked when Stuart Mosley, Finn’s boss and Gin’s friend, is assaulted and almost kidnapped. Between parties and date night with Owen, Gin’s investigation a new player in town who has a  bone to pick with Gin. Vampire Alanna Eaton has come back to Ashland to buy back the family estate and pay Gin back for the murder of her mother, Amelia. A member of The Circle like her mother, Alanna has resources galore at her back and a reputation for a killer bite but so does Gin and when push comes to shove, Gin proves that the venom in her bite is deadly.

Jennifer Estep’s deadliest assassin is back and once again must use her skills to protect a friend in the 17th installment; Venom in the Veins.  Set in the small town of Asheville, North Carolina, Gin aka The Spider, a former assassin for hire turned queen of the underworld, has experienced multiple changes since the beginning.  A former loner who was an assassin by night and restaurant owner by day, Gin’s alter ego is now out in the open and she is surrounded by friends, family, and a lover. When her favorite banker is attacked, Gin must search her past to find answers. Solid world building and a well-established character base have left the bulk of entertainment to the plotlines, but I fear the time has come to Estep to wrap it up. The feeling of deja vu is strong as we follow a familiar path and watch Gin once again fight a new enemy for things she has done in the past. The push on the arc was welcomed and I like that Estep is still able to surprise me with the actions of a longtime antagonist. While I enjoy this series overall for its female-centric arc,  I’m ready for the final battle between Gin and the Circle. 

Grade: C+

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Ain’t She A Peach by Molly Harper
Southern Eclectic, #2
Contemporary Romance
June 12, 2018
Gallery Books

Frankie McCready, the town coroner, and local embalmer is not pleased her one-night stand has relocated to Lake Sackett and has been hired on as the local interim sheriff. With her teen nemesis causing mayhem and destruction with his pranks, his parents threatening her job, and her parents’ overly smothering love, Frankie has enough to deal with without being shadowed by an overzealous cop trying to prove a point.

Eric Lindon left the Atlanta PD for Lake Sackett due to an “incident” involving a Segway and zombies (don’t ask). He was not impressed by Frankie’s houdini act after they spent the night together and is even less impressed by her now. The town’s laid-back attitude leaves a lot to be desired but Eric finds it growing on him…if he could just get Frankie off his mind.

I love Molly Harper’s writing. Zany humor, eclectic characters, outrageous storylines, and pure southern charm light up the pages as Harper revisits her fictional town of Lake Sackett, GA, picking up the storyline from Peachy Keen. As always, the family is the base on which love and laughter rest. This quick read doesn’t disappoint with its hilarious narrative and smooth flowing storyline. Harper hits the nail on the head as she talks on the idiosyncrasies of small-towns, multi-generational families living and working together, and the power of love. The slow-burning romance works best with this couple as Frankie and Eric must work through their own issues before they can truly accept and act on their attraction. Of course, no Molly Harper book is complete without the usual cast of supporting characters whose own crazy antics will leave you in tears as they offer advice, shoulders to cry on, escape plans, and dogs to adopt.  I adored Frankie’s parents, especially her father. Understandable in their overly protective ways, I liked how Frankie gently cut the apron strings. The ending was a tad far-fetched, but it all worked out perfectly in the end. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Frankie and Eric’s story and can’t wait to read book three. I am crossing my fingers it will be Duffy’s story.

Grade: B

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