Category: Reviews

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Posted August 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #3
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven...

Devil in Spring is the third book in the Ravenels series. I didn’t read the previous two books in the series, and I don’t feel I suffered for it. This stands alone well.

Pandora has no intention of ever marrying. She knows she’s considered peculiar by the Ton, but she doesn’t mind. She’s biding her time through the season while she works on designing board games. So no one is more shocked – and angry- than she when she inadvertently gets caught in a compromising position with none other than Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, and he’s forced to offer for her. She’d rather suffer the scandal than be tied to a man, especially a rake like Gabriel.

Gabriel knows his duty is to settle down and marry the right kind of woman. One who will be an asset to him in every way as he will eventually inherit a Dukedom. She must be poised and proper, able to run a large household without trouble, and maintain dignity and decorum at all times. Unfortunately, the woman he’s about to be shackled to is the exact opposite in all ways. She’s loud, runs off at the mouth, has the strangest notions and can’t seem to keep a thought in her head. She’s also fascinating, and more passionate than any other woman he’s ever met.

As they try to navigate a betrothal together, they learn neither is exactly what they first thought, but they may have found the exact thing they needed all along.

It was lovely to revisit Evie and Sebastian, yet the real draw here is the unlikely romance between Gabriel and the wallflower Pandora. I loved what a free-thinker Pandora was, and how Gabriel came to love her for her unconventional thinking. Kleypas is a fabulous storyteller. Even after all these years, her stories remain fresh and entertaining.

4.25 out of 5

The Ravenels

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan

Posted August 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Dark Slayer by Christine FeehanDark Slayer (Dark, #17) by Christine Feehan
Series: Dark Series #17
Also in this series: Dark Nights (Dark #6.5, #9.5), Dark Wolf (Dark, #25), Dark Promises (Dark, #29), Dark Carousel (Dark, #30), Dark Legacy (Dark, #31)
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A rumor has persisted in the vampire world of a dark slayer—a woman—who travels with a wolf pack and any among the vampires who meets her is slain. Mysterious, elusive and seemingly impossible to kill, she is the one hunter who strikes terror into the hearts of the vampires.

Ivory Malinov is that woman, betrayed by her own people, by her family, by everyone she held dear and she hunts during the night with only her pack to sustain her sanity. She has not spoken to or been with any other person for a hundred years other than to feed from or slay. She stumbles across a body on her way back to her lair and discovers—her lifemate.

He is Razvan, branded a hated criminal, detested, feared and loathed by all Carpathians—he is also a dragonseeker of one of the greatest lineages of all Carpathians. Held captive nearly his entire life by his grandfather, the Carpathians bitterest enemy, he is seeking the dawn to end his terrible existence.

This is a story of two people, horribly betrayed, wounded in spirit, fighters to the death, who must struggle to unite against a common enemy.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on August 17, 2009

As I mention anytime I review a book in this series, Dark Prince was the first paranormal I ever read. Even with the monotony over the last few years, I still won’t stop reading this series. I think that Dark Slayer is a big turn for the series. CF finally closed a story arc that has been a long time in coming and has started a new one (which has been briefly touched upon). My hope is that it brings new life into the series.

Ivory Malinov has long been thought dead. Betrayed by the prince’s son (Mikhail’s brother), Ivory was cut up into little pieces and left for the wolves to feed on. Yes, I realize this is disgusting and it made me cringe a little each time Ivory thought/talked about it. Using her Carpathian ability to talk to the wolves, she convinced them to bury the pieces of her with a promise that she would take care of their pack “for all time”. [A little side note: That phrase is WAY overused. It really gets old.] So Ivory has to stay in the soil for centuries so she can put the pieces back together. When she rises, her only mission is to hunt the vampire. She has gotten so good at killing the vampire that they refer to her as the Dark Slayer.

When she is heading back to her lair, she sees a Carpathian lying in the snow. She instantly knows that he is her lifemate and she is compelled to get him to safety. The last thing Razvan wants is to be saved. He has finally escaped the mage, Xavier, and there is nothing more he wants than to die. In earlier books, I would compare Razvan to The Ghost in Nalini‘s Psy/Changeling series. You never quite knew if he was good or bad. Right when you think he was good, he did something bad. It was very confusing. So obviously we now know that Razvan is good. Not only that, but he has been horribly abused and used for centuries.

While Ivory and Razvan silently agree not to complete the ritual that would make them lifemates, they decide that they will bring Xavier down together. Razvan is hesitant at first b/c Xavier has been able to possess him at will and Razvan doesn’t want to hurt Ivory. She convinces him that he is stronger than he has ever been and he can beat Xavier.

So the story arc of Xavier comes to an end in this book, which was nice. The problem with the infant mortality rate is also addressed further. I think that will be prominent in the books to come. What is obvious is that Ivory’s brothers (all vampires) have banded together to bring down Mikhail. Since vampires are usually solitary creatures, it should make for an interesting arc.

This is one of the better books of the series. I went back and re-read some and there are only a select few heroines I like. Ivory is definitely one of them.

4.25 out of 5.

This book is available from Berkley.

Dark Series

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Posted August 16, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #1
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new romantic suspense series, which is a spin-off from Griffin’s always dependable Tracers books. Instead of focusing on the Delphi Center or the police, we get to dig into Liam Wolfe’s private security firm. Liam was the hero of book 9 in the Tracers series, and while we don’t get to see him much we do get some brief glimpses of him and his profiler brother Mark. You definitely don’t need to have read any of the Tracers books to jump into Desperate Girls, though.

The cover copy for this book is really not an accurate portrayal of the plot, so let me try and summarize things a bit more precisely. (And that title is similarly meaningless. I can only assume the publisher is trying to cash in on the popularity of the “Girl” thrillers, even though this is not that kind of book. It is firmly a romantic suspense.) Brynn Holloran is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. When it appears a case from her past has come back to haunt her and the others involved, her boss hires Wolfe Security to handle things. Erik Morgan is the lead for her security detail, and they quickly butt heads. Brynn doesn’t see the need for security and is simply focused on her big upcoming trial, but as the threats escalate she realizes the danger she’s in. Of course, she and Erik have an inconvenient attraction that complicates matters.

Probably my favorite part of the book is Brynn. She is a really, really good defense attorney, and it was fun to read about her legal strategizing. She is excellent at reading people, at seeing patterns and motives, and at telling a story for a jury. I particularly love the way she makes no apologies for her job or her tactics. She admits she’s not above using her looks to sway, impress, or intimidate. There’s a scene where she calls out Erik for his hypocrisy by pointing out his appearance is an important part of his job too, and I gave a silent fist pump at that. She is perhaps a bit ridiculous in her continued insistence that she doesn’t need so much security, but I could overlook that one blindspot.

I really enjoyed Brynn and Erik together, too. We never dig too deep into Erik’s story, which I would have liked, but we do get some time to see Brynn and Erik together. I appreciated that Erik likes her for her strength and her intelligence–he respects her job and how hard she works at it. They have some good physical and emotional chemistry, and I believed they would be a good long-term couple. This is a stereotypically fast-moving romantic suspense relationship, however, so YMMV depending on how you feel about that trope.

We meet some fantastic secondary characters in this book, too. I particularly enjoyed the police detective Lindsey, who seemed brilliant and not afraid to go her own way. I definitely want to hear more about the other Wolfe Security team members as well.

In my opinion, this is a solid start to this spin-off. This book was a bit more suspense and less police/forensic procedural than the Tracers series, but I appreciated the different vibe.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Raphael by D.B. Reynolds

Posted August 15, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Raphael by D.B. ReynoldsReviewer: Holly
Raphael (Vampires in America, #1) by D.B. Reynolds
Series: Vampires in America #1
Published by Imajinn Books
Publication Date: April 15, 2009
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 248
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
half-star

Malibu, California-home to rock-and-roll gods and movie stars, the beautiful, the rich . . . and vampires.

Powerful and charismatic, Raphael is a Vampire Lord, one of the few who hold the power of life and death over every vampire in existence. Thousands call him Master and have pledged absolute loyalty on their very lives. But when, in a brazen and deadly daylight attack, a gang of human killers kidnaps the one female vampire he'd give his life for, Raphael turns to a human investigator to find his enemies before it's too late.

Cynthia Leighton is smart, tough and sexy, a private investigator and former cop who's tired of spying on cheating spouses and digging out old bank accounts. When Raphael asks for her help in tracking down the kidnappers, Cyn's happy to accept. But she soon realizes her greatest danger comes not from the humans, but from Raphael himself.

Battling Russian mobsters and treacherous vampires, and betrayed by those they trusted, Cyn and Raphael find themselves fighting for their lives while caught up in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both.

For our Summer Reading Challenge, Casee, Rowena and I chose 5 books for the others to read. We tried to choose books we thought the others would enjoy, though they may not have chosen to read them on their own. Or I did, anyway. I don’t know what Casee was thinking. I did’t care for Raphael at all. Why Casee thought I’d enjoy it is beyond me. 1) It features vampires, which I hate. 2) It ends in a cliffhanger, which I hate. 3) Did I mention the vampires? Ugh.

Raphael is the Vampire Lord of the United States. Though thousands have pledged their loyalty to him, he’s still betrayed and the one who means more to him than anyone else in kidnapped. Since humans helped with the kidnapping, Raphael engages of the services of PI Cynthia Leighton. She’s a former LAPD officer who once saved a vampire. Since then she’s often given cases they need help solving. This one is more dangerous than most, but Cyn is up for the challenge. Or so she thinks. Until she realizes she’s majorly attracted to Raphael. Since nothing good can come of that, she determines to focus on the case and nothing else. The problem? Raphael is attracted to her, too. And he doesn’t want to ignore what’s between them.

Here’s the thing. Cyn was an idiot. Right from the beginning she made questionable choices, ignored her instincts and threw common sense right out the window. Multiple times throughout the book she does and says things that make no sense, put herself or others in danger, or are, in general, ridiculous. I didn’t understand her motivations or her thought process, which made it really hard to connect with her. There’s literally a point in the book where she’s like (and I’m paraphrasing here): “This is a really bad idea. I shouldn’t do this. It’s not safe and none of the things are adding up. But eh..I’m just going to do it anyway. It’ll probably be fine.” Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t fine.

Also? This book features one of my biggest pet peeves in Romantic Suspense. Now, before I go on I want to say that I’m more forgiving of PNR than straight RS, because we’re dealing with fantasy elements, you know? Vampires don’t really exist, so of course I can’t hold the actions of the characters to the same standards I would a straight contemporary. But either way, the MCs having sex in the middle of a dangerous situation? Totally kills it for me. In this case, they’re in the middle of a shootout in a warehouse. Raphael partially rips a dude’s arm off. While he’s crawling around on the floor in the actual room, they start having sex. Right there. In front of dude half missing an arm. With dead bodies littered throughout. WTAF?!?! No. Just no.

Added to that, the writing is pretty choppy. So many times they’d be talking about something and then, mid-paragraph, switch gears. It made for an awkward reading experience. I didn’t understand why Raphael wanted her, or why he acted the way he did with her. His reactions seemed so out of context.

To add insult to injury, the book ended on a cliffhanger. Between the choppy writing, ridiculous actions of both the hero and heroine and the cliffhanger, this was a complete chore to get through. I love Casee like whoa, but this was a major fail.

1 out of 5

Vampires in America

half-star


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: One Wedding, Two Brides by Heidi Betts

Posted August 15, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Wedding, Two Brides by Heidi BettsReviewer: Tracy
One Wedding, Two Brides (Fairy Tale Bride #1) by Heidi Betts
Series: Fairy Tale Bride #1
Published by Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: Judy 23rd 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 263
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Jilted bride Monica Blair can’t believe it when she wakes up next to a blue-eyed, smooth-talking cowboy in the middle of nowhere and with a ring on her finger. It had sounded like a great plan at the time. Get married, get revenge, and get her money back. So why is she cleaning out stables and trying to keep her hands off the hot cowboy helping her?

Ryder Nash would have bet his best Stetson that you’d never see him walk down the aisle. But when the city girl with pink-streaked hair and a frog tattoo hatches a plan to expose the conman who married his sister, no idea is too crazy. And even though Monica might be the worst rancher’s wife he’s ever seen, he can’t stop thinking about the wedding night they never had.

What was supposed to be a temporary marriage for revenge is starting to feel a little too real...

Monica is devastated when she opens her Chicago paper and reads a wedding announcement for her fiancé, Matt.  But she’s not the bride in the announcement!  She hops on a plane and while she knows that she won’t make it to stop the wedding, she knows that she has to do something to let Matt know that she found out about the deception.  While on the way to Nevada she ends up getting drunk and crashes the reception and starts spouting off.  She’s hauled out by the bride’s brother, Ryder.

Monica tells Ryder that she needs to get back at Matt and let him know the huge mistake he made by marrying someone else.  The only way, according to her drunken mind, to do that is to get married as well. This will supposedly infuriate Matt because she’ll be the perfect wife.  (Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.)  She says she’ll pay Ryder $50,000 to marry her – a marriage of convenience, of course – and then they’ll get it annulled when she feels Matt has been bested (as he’s so competitive).  So, Ryder’s farm is failing and he needs money, desperately, so while he knows that marrying Monica isn’t smart he needs that money.

The next morning Monica wakes up and can’t remember anything.  She’s horrified that she married this man she didn’t know and then lets him know that she doesn’t have $50,000 because Matt stole it from her before he married Ryder’s sister. Ryder is shocked but determined to get the money back from Matt, so they decide to stay married and work together.

While I enjoyed this story at times, there were plenty of parts that annoyed me.  Ryder was one of them.  He was very concerned for his farm, I get that, but it made him seem pretty self-centered in the way he acted.  He went along with Monica’s schemes but never graciously.  Monica and I had a love/hate relationship as well.  I thought she was an idiot at the beginning, but she made up for it by the end of the book.

This is intended to be an overall light-hearted book and that’s what it is – there’s not a lot of depth.  It was cute and funny at times so that kind of made up for the parts where I found myself rolling my eyes.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,