Review: Sarazen’s Claim by Isabel Wroth

Posted September 27, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sarazen’s Claim by Isabel WrothReviewer: Holly
Sarazen's Claim by Isabel Wroth
Series: Sarazen Saga #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 24, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 306
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In answer to all the very important comments, this is the professionally re-edited version, previously released on July 24th. This book is PART OF A SERIES. Not a HEA and not a Cliffhanger...somewhere in between.

One hundred and fifty years ago the most powerful countries of Earth built and launched five ships. Ships meant to carry what remained of humanity out into the space beyond their known galaxy to find a new home. As a third generation botanist, it never occurred to Clary Starborn that she might some day be in charge of anything other than her little lab. That changed the day their ship was attacked by an alien species straight out of myth.

As commander of the Sarazen armada, Tarek had seen some poor excuses for spacefaring vessels. The one currently being attacked by the Na'ah was to date, the worst. So primitive in its design, Commander Tarek was fascinated it had even survived the harsh vacuum of space. Or the time it had taken to launch it. The species was unfamiliar to him, but initial scans suggested the beings within here somewhat intelligent. Though the ship was outside Sarazen territory, it was his duty to eradicate the Na'ah wherever he encountered them. He had not anticipated that by his actions, the course of his life would be forever changed. By a soft, delicate being who studied flowers and trees. One scent, one touch, was all it took to be Claimed.

Clary was born on the Starsong, one of 5 ships launched from Earth with the last of humanity. When their ship is attacked by a snake-like alien species she is able to save a handful of others in an escape pod. They, in turn, are saved by warship Commander Tarek, a Sarazen warrior. The Sarazens are a shapeshifting race of warriors who search their whole, long-lived lives for their one true mate. To the shock of both the humans and Sarazens, Tarek is called as mate by Clary. Several of the other rescued humans are called as mates to the Sarazen Warriors, too.

Even more shocking, when they are given blood transfusions from the Sarazens, the human women gain the ability to shift. Not just the half-form of Sarazen females, either, but the full shift of Sarazen males. Amid this discovery a treacherous plot is uncovered and Clary and the other humans find themselves in grave danger on the Sarazen home planet.

This was an unexpectedly dark sci-fi romance. The tone of the book is somewhat light, and there are some over-the-top themes, but I was surprised by the dark deeds done by the humans and others. Forced sterilization, rape (off-page), domestic violence, eugenics, etc. The pacing was a bit slow here and there, and the book was rather long, but overall I really enjoyed it. I liked how strong Clary and the other humans were, and how adored they were by their mates. There’s a lot going on in this book, and over the course of the series, but I was never bored or impatient while reading.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Sarazen Saga

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin

Posted September 26, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Last Seen Alone by Laura GriffinLast Seen Alone by Laura Griffin
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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When they face the most baffling missing person's case of their careers, a fiercely ambitious lawyer and a homicide detective have no one to turn to for help except each other, from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.
Up-and-coming attorney Leigh Larson fights for victims of sexual extortion, harassment, and online abuse. She is not afraid to go after the sleaziest targets to get payback for her clients. Leigh is laser-focused on her career--to the exclusion of everything else--until a seemingly routine case and a determined cop turn her world upside down.
Austin homicide detective Brandon Reynolds is no stranger to midnight callouts. But when he gets summoned to an abandoned car on a desolate road, he quickly realizes he's dealing with an unusual crime scene. A pool of blood in the nearby woods suggests a brutal homicide. But where is the victim? The vehicle is registered to twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Adams. Searching the car, all Brandon finds is a smear of blood and a business card for Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law.
Vanessa had hired Leigh just before her disappearance, but Leigh has no leads on who could have wanted her dead. Faced with bewildering evidence and shocking twists, Leigh and Brandon must work against the clock to chase down a ruthless criminal who is out for vengeance.

Excerpt

Brandon found his partner exactly where he’d expected. Antonio stood beside the food truck in front of the courthouse, pumping ketchup onto a pair of hotdogs.

He glanced up from his lunch as Brandon approached.

“How’d it go? She know her?”

“I don’t know,” Brandon said.

“Well, did you ask her?”

“Yeah. She said Vanessa Adams isn’t a client.”

Antonio frowned. “So, what’s the problem?”

“She lied.”

“How do you know?”

“I could tell.”

Brandon couldn’t say how, exactly. But he had a nose for BS. And Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law, had been lying through her pretty white teeth.

“But why would she lie about knowing Vanessa?” Antonio asked.

“No idea,” Brandon said.

With his hotdogs fully loaded, Antonio stepped away from the food truck. Day or night, rain or shine, his partner never missed a meal. Even after grabbing less than three hours of sleep, he’d shown up for work this morning with bag full of breakfast tacos. The kid worked out like a maniac and was constantly scarfing down food.

“These are good.” Antonio said around a mouthful. “You want one?”

“No.”

Brandon glanced back at the courthouse, where the security line still stretched all the way to the park.

“She’s hot, though.”

He turned around. “What’s that?”

“The attorney.” Antonio smiled. “Don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”

Brandon didn’t comment. He’d have to be dead not to notice. Leigh Larson was definitely hot. The skirt, the heels, the sleek dark hair pulled back in prim bun.

But the main thing he’d noticed was her eyes. They were forest green, and they’d gone from surprised to wary the moment she noticed him watching her. She’d taken one look at him and tried to hightail it out of there.

Not exactly the response he usually got from women. Criminals, yeah, but not women in general. She’d said she was late for court, and that explained the rush, maybe, but it didn’t explain the lie.

Leigh Larson had lied to him—he was sure of it. What he didn’t get was why.

“Well, we may have a better lead anyway.” Antonio crumpled his first wrapper into a ball and pitched it into a trash bin before chomping into the second hotdog. “The lab called while you were in there. They just got the Toyota in. Who’d you talk to over there?”

“Jane,” Brandon said.

“Oh, yeah? Well, she must like you because they bumped us to the front of the line. They’ve already started processing the vehicle and get this. The smear on the door? They did a quickie test and confirmed the blood is human.”

Brandon wasn’t surprised. After four years in homicide, he was good at reading stains. The real question was, did the blood belong to Vanessa Adams, who was still apparently missing after abandoning her car on that highway more than fourteen hours ago?

And then there was the pool of blood Antonio had discovered in the woods. It was no small amount, and one look at it had prompted Brandon to get on the phone with his lieutenant to request a team of CSIs out there, stat, to process the scene.

Brandon took out his phone now and pulled up the photo he’d taken last night. The blood pool—still coagulating—had been discovered beside a burned tree stump. The sight had put a lead weight in Brandon’s gut as he tried to imagine what happened. Someone had been injured or worse, and the logical candidate was Vanessa. Had she been shot? Stabbed? Bludgeoned?

Despite combing the area, they’d turned up no shell casings or drag marks—nothing beyond that one pool of blood by the stump in the woods.

At this point, they didn’t know if that blood matched the smear in the car, or if it was Vanessa Adams’s. To determine that, they needed DNA tests, which meant submitting samples to the notoriously backlogged DNA lab, and jumping to the front of that line would take a hell of a lot more than a friendly phone call to Jane, especially since their case wasn’t even officially a homicide.

Yet.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Laura Griffin

author photo

Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novellas. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages. Laura is a two-time RITA® Award winner (for Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Her book Desperate Girls was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by Publishers Weekly. Laura lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.


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What Are You Reading? (581)

Posted September 24, 2021 by Casee in Features | 2 Comments

Casee

I read a book called Rise (Rock God #1) by Cassandra Robbins this week. It’s one of those gritty, dark, steamy romances that I’ve been into lately. It ticked off all my boxes plus some. I’m about to start Echo (Archer’s Creek #1) by Gemma Weir. I love a good MC romance & finding new authors so this could be a win-win for me.

I’m listening to The Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood. I always knew that I loved this book, but listening to it has made me love it even more.

Holly

I am still reading Anna Carven. I finished reading Electric Heart and  Darkside Blues, then Brilliant Starlight. That rounded out the Dark Planet Warriors series. Then I went back to the spinoff series, Darkstar Mercenaries. I read Shattered Silence and now I’m reading Fractured Souls.

I also listened to Pride and Prejudice on audio. It was my first time listening to the Rosamond Pike narrated version and I highly recommend it.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Review: Eversworn by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Eversworn by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Eversworn by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #3
Also in this series: Everlong, Evermine
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person, First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Steal the salt. Bind the grimoire. Escape the male.

When an exchange of stolen goods in the Feriana marketplace turns sour, Isabeau stumbles from the encounter bruised and laden with new orders to complete an even larger heist. With her child’s life at stake, there’s no room for error—or allies.

Armed with a lethal book of spells, she strikes a dangerous bargain with Roland Bernhard. Steal a shipment of salt from the Feriana colony, and she’ll have her freedom—and her daughter. It’s all she’s ever wanted. At least it was…until she runs into Dillon Preston.

Dillon is out of commission after a mine explosion, and itching for a distraction. He gets it when the female who saved his leg arrives at the colony with nothing but flimsy excuses and even flimsier attire. She’s after something, but is it him—or the salt?

Trapped in a desperate bid to gain true freedom, Isabeau is willing to sacrifice her life for her daughter’s, but Dillon has other plans. He wants a package deal, and he’s not willing to lose either female, even if it means the future king of Sere’s head will roll.

Warning: This title contains a heroine desperate to save her daughter and a hero determined to make them a family. It also includes wings, horns and other assorted appendages.

Eversworn (Daughters of Askara #3) by Hailey Edwards is the final book in the series. The plot of this book was my favorite of the three. I liked the setting and the intrigues and court politics. Though this doesn’t end in a cliff-hanger, some things are left unresolved so there may be another book in the future.

When Isabeau was purchased as a slave by a wealthy and powerful man, she thought her prayers had been answered. He was kind and treated her very well, and they quickly fell in love. It wasn’t until she became pregnant that he changed, and she realized he was not her savior at all. For several years, he has kept their daughter prisoner while Isabeau has been the a healer and right hand to Emma, liaison between the freed Avanti slaves and the Askarans. During that time, she has been forced to secretly feed information to him in exchange for proof that her daughter is alive and well. When her master ups the stakes and tells her she must steal the next shipment of a vital mineral, instead of just a small piece, she knows it means the end of her friendships and her time in Askara. Left with no other choice, she travels to a mining outpost with the intention of stealing the salt shipment, using the need to check on her former patient, Dillon, as her reason for the visit.

Dillon knows something is up with Isabeau. She wouldn’t visit for no reason, despite her claims she came to check on him and his injury. She’s either up to something or she finally decided to explore what’s between them. When her treachery comes to light, he knows he can’t let her get away…and not just because she’s a traitor. She’s his true mate, and it’s a compulsion to follow her.

Both Isabeau and Dillon made me angry at times. Isabeau didn’t have a lot of choices in her life, but I really didn’t like how everyone gave her a pass for all she’d done. Yes, they said their trust was broken, but that aside it was shrugs all around and “We get it”. I don’t really believe everyone would be so understanding, especially those who loved her and though of her as a friend. The romance was kind of sweet, except that part where she betrayed him at every turn.

The battle with her master and the political intrigues was much more interesting to me. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, and as I said, this was my favorite of the three for that alone. While I’ve really loved some of Edwards other books, but this series isn’t my favorite. I doubt I’ll re-read them, and I’m not really interested in another book, if she’s planning to continue the series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Daughters of Askara

three-half-stars


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Review: Evermine by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Evermine by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Evermine by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #2
Also in this series: Everlong, Eversworn
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person, Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 201
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He can be a slave to his past…or allow her love to free him.

There’s such a thing as too much change. Emma’s sister is mated. Revolution is brewing in her home realm. The last straw: her would-be mate is back from the dead and back under her skin—yet when it comes to the last five years, he’s not talking.

Desperate for a chance to start her own life, she answers the queen’s call to ensure equality for all of Askara’s newly freed slaves. It’s the perfect opportunity to escape a heartbreak in the making named Harper.

Harper loses a piece of his fractured soul when Emma walks away. His lies were meant to protect her from torturous years that drove him to the point of madness. Instead, when he comes to her a year later to help avert a crisis in a freed-slave community, the wedge those lies drove between them is firmly in place.

As their new lives collide with old wounds, they race to stop a threat that could not only destroy the queen, but send Harper back to the hell he escaped. Emma must decide if the man she still loves deserves equal rights to her heart.

Warning: This title contains torn pants, ripped gowns, and sand in uncomfortable places. It also includes one overcompensating villain, one gnarly priest, and two battered hearts willing to give this thing called love one last chance.

Evermine (Daughters of Askara #2) by Hailey Edwards follows Emma, whom we met in the first book. I enjoyed her quite a bit in Everlong and was curious to see how things would turn out for her. Fair warning, this is a dark novel that deals with dark themes. Please review the Content Warnings before reading this book.

Emmaline was born into slavery. As the bastard daughter of the Queen of Askara’s consort, she was raised to be the personal slave of the princess Madelyn. They grew up as sisters, and Emma would do anything for Maddie. Now that Maddie has found her mate Emma knows she needs something more. When the evil Queen is overthrown by Maddie’s older sister and slavery is abolished, Emma agrees to return to Askara to act as liaison between the Avanti former-slaves and the Askarans. If that gets her away from her fated mate? All the better. She knows she can’t face Harper after the way she betrayed his memory when she thought he was dead, plus he refuses to share his past with her. It’s a recipe for disaster. But still, when Harper requests her help to uncover a plot against the new Queen, Emma knows she can’t refuse, even if being near him is nothing but torture.

Harper has always known Emma would be his. He meant to protect her by refusing to share his past with her; he never expected it to push her into leaving him. Now that they’re together again, he’s determined to prove to her that they belong together. Though he isn’t sure she can accept all of him, he knows he has to try.

This is a complex and multi-layered world. I highly recommend reading this series in order. A lot of the events that happen here are related to what happened in the first book.

I really liked Emma in the previous book. She faced things head on and wasn’t afraid to get in someone’s face if she needed to. That was true here as well, though she seemed less sure of herself at times. Plus, she had an addiction that I don’t really think was properly addressed.

View Spoiler »

Harper was a prisoner for 5 years. Literally kept in a cage and used and abused, he’s determined to give others better. He was a strong character and I loved how determined he was to save those he cared about. I didn’t necessarily love him and Emma together. They weren’t great about communicating, and her reasons for keeping him at arms length seemed forced at best.

I enjoyed the world and overarching storyline enough to immediately start the next book, but this isn’t my favorite series from Edwards.

3.5 out of 5

Daughters of Askara

three-half-stars


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