Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens
Narrator: Natasha Soudek
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 96
Length: 3 hours and 47 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

A blue moon rises, bringing with it magic and danger to a sleeping Denver.

Brandy Svensson mourns her lost soldier fiancee and struggles to move on. Her own near-death experience has brought her an odd "gift" – she has a telepathic connection with cats. She's coping with life’s changes until the night she finds a lost jaguar cub, just the start of the greatest changes of all...

Dak, a warrior Pantherman, is alarmed when his baby nephew, the Chief of the klatch, vanishes. Dak must find the infant before his enemies do...or be branded a murderer and risk igniting warfare among the clans.

When the cub turns into a human baby, shock and confusion flood Brandy. And when a full-grown jaguar arrives to claim him, then transforms into a man, fascination sweeps through her. Dak's protective instincts are triggered by this lovely woman, and the certainty that he's followed by a killer.

Drawn together in their fight to protect the baby, Brandy and Dak confront the enemy and the final choice threatens. Will the feral magic they've discovered together save or doom them?

I was looking for a short listen for my morning commute when I came across this one. I love Owens’ HeartMates series and figured I’d give this one a listen.

Brandi wakes up one morning after a near death experience and can telepathically speak to cats. Some months later when one of her ferals tells her another cat needs her help, she isn’t as shocked as she should be to find a panther shifter cub. When his uncle shows up to get him, Brandi learns they’re from an alternate universe and enemies are after them. Together she and Dak must work together to get his nephew home in one piece.

The narrator was so.freaking.slow. I ended up listening to it at 3x speed and even then I felt like it drug on a bit. That aside, the story itself was good. It was just a short story that ended too soon, but I liked the world and the way the story developed. It ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. I’d continue reading if this turns into a series.

3.0 out of 5

three-stars


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Books Holly Would Hate If She Read Them Today

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 4 Comments

While formatting some old posts, I came across some reviews I’d written for books in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Reading my reviews, I started to wonder if I read those books today, would I still give them such high marks? Just reading through my reviews had me shaking my head. I gave up reading some authors years ago, because I know that, while I loved them in my youth, they’d never hold up to my reading standards now.

Chasing PerfectAlmost PerfectFinding Perfect

Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect and Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Released 2010-2012
Publisher: HQN Books
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Reviews: Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect, Finding Perfect

Return to where it all began—the romance, the friendships, the community, the warmth and laughter of Susan Mallery’s New York Times bestselling series Fool’s Gold.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Fool’s Gold, California, is a charming town like no other, where newcomers and locals alike find endless—if unconventional—opportunities to fall in love.

From Charity Jones, a city planner hired to create jobs that will keep the town’s men from moving away, to Liz Sutton, still trying to shed the stigma of being the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Pia O’Brian who, despite having a disastrous romantic track record and the parenting skills of a hamster, has inherited three frozen embryos, Fool’s Gold is overflowing with quirky characters, passionate moments and heartfelt emotion.

I really enjoyed this series back when, but just reading my reviews had my blood pressure up. I’m glad I enjoyed the books when I read them the first time. I definitely won’t be going back to read them again.

Almost HeavenAlmost Heaven by Judith McNaught.
Released: June 1, 1991
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Romance

#1 New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught crafts a powerful and unforgettable tale of two willful lovers in a twisting path of secrets throughout nineteenth-century Great Britain.

The Countess of Havenhurst, Lady Elizabeth Cameron, possesses a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thorton—notorious gambler and social outcast—her reputation is shattered. Thorton, rakishly handsome but with a mysterious lineage, embarks on a voyage to Elizabeth’s heart. Unfortunately, this journey is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge. Destined for each other, yet wary of the other’s motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love, from London’s drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands. Will Elizabeth find true love or is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

McNaught was one of my favorite authors back in the day. I was always swept up in her tales and so anxious to see what would happen. Almost Heaven was a particular favorite. Ian. Sigh. I know if I read it today the drama would be too much. As it is, just the memory of all the drama Elizabeth creates makes my teeth clench. I’m going to keep my happy memories of JM and stay far, far away from re-reading this book.

The GiftThe Gift by Danielle Steele
Released: February 5, 1996
Publisher: Dell Books
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Romance

On a June day, a young woman in a summer dress steps off a Chicago-bound bus into a small midwestern town. She doesn’t intend to stay. She is just passing through. Yet her stopping here has a reason and it is part of a story that you will never forget.

The time is the 1950s, when life was simpler, people still believed in dreams, and family was, very nearly, everything. The place is a small midwestern town with a high school and a downtown, a skating pond and a movie house. And on a tree-lined street in the heartland of America, an extraordinary set of events begins to unfold. And gradually what seems serendipitous is tinged with purpose. A happy home is shattered by a child’s senseless death. A loving marriage starts to unravel. And a stranger arrives—a young woman who will touch many lives before she moves on. She and a young man will meet and fall in love. Their love, so innocent and full of hope, helps to restore a family’s dreams. And all of their lives will be changed forever by the precious gift she leaves them.

This is a book I read at a time in my life when I needed the story. Thinking back, I’m sure much of it was problematic, but at the time I didn’t see the flaws. I was swept up in the tale of this brave girl who was on her own, dealing with an unwanted pregnancy in the 1950s. The story truly touched me. There’s no way I’d feel the same if I read it today, but I’ll keep my fond memories.

Prince of DreamsPrince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas
Released August 1, 1995
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Review: Prince of Dreams

A wealthy and bitter exile, he most dangerous and desirable man in all of England, he burns to possess a proud, headstrong beauty who is promised to another. But winning Emma Stokehurst’s exquisite hand through threats and determination does nothing to fill the empty spaces in Nikola’s heart—until passion’s magic carries the handsome, tormented prince back to a bygone era of splendor and romantic dreams. For there his destiny awaits him in a distant life. And in one remarkable woman’s tender touch—achingly familiar but gloriously new—he must seek the elusive promise of ecstasy . . .and learn, at last, to love.

This is an old school novel by Lisa Kleypas. I love the last 1/4 or so of this book. Adore it, in fact. But the first 3/4 are pretty rough to get through (and yes, Nikolai did cheat ::wince::). I don’t know that the last 1/4 would make up for all the terrible if I read it now.

Night PlayNight Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Released: August 1, 2004
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Bride McTierney has had it with men. They’re cheap, self-centered, and never love her for who she is. But though she prides herself on being independent, deep down she still yearns for a knight in shining armor.

She just never expected her knight in shining armor to have a shiny coat of fur…

Deadly and tortured, Vane Kattalakis isn’t what he seems. Most women lament that their boyfriends are dogs. In Bride’s case, hers is a wolf. A Were-Hunter wolf. Wanted dead by his enemies, Vane isn’t looking for a mate. But the Fates have marked Bride as his. Now he has three weeks to either convince Bride that the supernatural is real or he will spend the rest of his life neutered–something no self-respecting wolf can accept…

But how does a wolf convince a human to trust him with her life when his enemies are out to end his? In the world of the Were-Hunters, it really is dog-eat-dog. And only one alpha male can win.

I loved Bride and Vane back in the day. Adored them. I loved how petty Vane was, getting back at Bride’s ex. How cute they were together, all of it. But I can’t imagine reading the book now and feeling the same way. I grew out of SK some time back.

via GIPHY


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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan ByrneReviewer: Holly
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels, #6) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #6
Also in this series: The Highlander
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 333
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book I’ve read in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. A friend was talking about it and it piqued my interest, so I downloaded it from NetGalley. We saw quite a few of the couples from previous books, but I don’t feel like I missed much by starting here. It read fine as a stand-alone.

Lorelie was crippled as a child and therefore rarely leaves the family estate. When she finds and rescues a young man who’s been beaten nearly to death, she finds sudden purpose for her life. Caring for him becomes everything to her. They fall in love, but he disappears without a trace. For 20 years she longs for him, until one day he returns. But the devilish pirate who returns to avenge her isn’t the same boy she once knew and loved…or is he?

I really loved the first half. The angst and emotion from both main characters really pulled me in, as did the suspense of who, exactly, the boy with the dragon tattoo was. Unfortunately the story lost me somewhere around the halfway point. I think I’d have liked to see less focus on the emotional aspects of the book and more on the action. I know, I know, that’s not something us romance readers generally want. But the purple prose of the love-scenes along with the heavy focus on the “L” word really pulled me out of the story. Plus, the amount of time spent on how each character was feeling made the story feel heavy and bogged down.

I really loved parts of it – most notably the hero’s devotion to his lady – but I’d have liked to see more focus on the outside conflict, and more action.

3 out of 5

Victorian Rebels

three-stars


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Audiobook Review: For the Love of English by A.M. Hargrove

Posted October 16, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Audiobook Review: For the Love of English by A.M. HargroveReviewer: Holly
For the Love of English by A.M. Hargrove
Narrator: Jason Clarke, Erin Mallon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 15, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 377
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-half-stars

From
USA Today
Bestselling Author, A.M. Hargrove, comes a New Adult, Single Dad, Sexy, Stand Alone Romance.

Single dad, Beckley Bridges, is sexy as hell. No, really, he’s the hottest thing since the sun was created. Honest to God, crack an egg on him and the thing will sizzle.So what’s the problem? He’s also a gigantic jerk. I hate the bastard. I try to avoid him at all costs. But for some reason, everywhere I go he seems to show up.

Only the real issue is his daughter, English.She’s an adorable quirky first-grader who’s the sweetest thing since iced tea.And she’s one of my students but also the love of his life.So I have to deal with him on a professional level. It’s not easy. On a scale of easy to hard, dealing with Beckley Bridges is like nails screeching across a blackboard.

But when English’s mother tries to gain custody after abandoning her on Beckley’s doorstep as an infant, he’ll do anything possible to keep English under his roof.

That’s how he ends up propositioning me.

And crazy as it sounds?


I find myself considering it.

This is a full-length novel that includes mature content not suitable younger readers.

I’m a total sucker for hot single dads. We could get into all the reasons why, but let’s just say these are my crack and leave it at that. Beck was a super hot single dad. He was intense and focused when it came to his daughter, English, and I loved how great he was when it came to being her parent. The chemistry between Beck and Sheridan was pretty thick. I liked that aspect of their relationship. I also liked how the relationship between Sheridan and English developed. I also really liked the narrators. Both did great voices and didn’t annoy me at all.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

1) The stupid contrived drama toward the middle of the book that separated the couple. It was just that, stupid and contrived. Both their reactions were over the top and the resolution was flat.
2) The even more stupid and contrived reason for them to get married in the first place. In the realm of reality, this charted somewhere around the Earth really just being a small glass ball some purple and orange alien is spinning on its finger.
3) The entire plot based around English’s bio mom. The.Entire.Plot.

Had this been a straight up contemporary romance about a grumpy hot single dad who accidentally falls in love with his daughter’s first grade teacher, I’d have been all over it. The writing was smooth and I liked the romance itself. As it is, the rest really marred my enjoyment. I’m surprised my eyes didn’t roll out of my head.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted October 16, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2) by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #2
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published, Nalini Singh
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 409
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rulebreaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

Rebel Hard is the second book in Nalini Singh’s Hard Play series and it follows the best friends of the couple in book 1 as they journey toward their own happily ever after with each other. We first meet them in Cherish Hard when they meet each other and kiss and kiss and kiss and then Nayna runs away. In Rebel Hard, we find out where Nayna went and what happened with Raj.

I didn’t think that I would like this book as much as I did because Nayna low key got on my nerves in the last book. I didn’t really connect with her running away after every encounter she had with Raj. It felt childish and I didn’t really want or care about reading her story. I’m glad that I changed my mind and read this book because I ended up really enjoying getting to know both Raj and Nayna. Raj was everything and even though Nayna frustrated me throughout this story, I ended up really liking her.

Raj Sen is a traditional man that wants to live a traditional Indian life. He wants a wife and a family to come home to every night and he thinks he found that partner in Nayna Sharma but Nayna is just realizing that living her life being the good and dutiful daughter to her parents has chipped away at her identity. She doesn’t want to be the dutiful daughter. She doesn’t want to live her life for her parents, so that her parents don’t hurt the way that they were hurt when Nayna’s older sister ran away and eloped but she also doesn’t know who she is without family obligations holding her down. So it’s really unlucky for her that she comes to this decision to strike out on her own when she meets the man that she does see a future with.

Getting both Raj and Nayna’s background, their backstory brought their relationship and their romance together for me. I connected with the ties that their culture binds them with. I saw a lot of the Polynesian culture in the Indian one (haha, even the whole kava stuff) and the sneaking around even though you’re a grown ass woman reminded me of the times that I did the exact same thing with my friends. The pressure to marry the right person for your parents, to be the perfect daughter, to not shame your father’s name, I connected with all of that and made Nayna’s story real for me.

I thought Nalini Singh did a great job of writing characters that understood and loved each other, supported each other enough to want them to chase their dreams. I thought Raj was the perfect hero for Nayna and I really, really loved him. Nalini Singh did her thing with this book and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff. She’s one of the good ones.

4 out of 5

Hard Play

four-stars


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