Genre: Action & Adventure

Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Posted August 22, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Fire Touched by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Holly
Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: March 8th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban, Romance, Paranormal, General, Action & Adventure, Contemporary
Pages: 352
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four-half-stars

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as “a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herself.”* Now she’s back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer...   Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.   Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?   *Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.

When last we left Mercy and Adam, his ex-wife, Christy, had spent several weeks making Mercy’s life hell, they’d fought a volcano god and Mercy brought a Tibicena (a mythical dog that guarded the volcano god) into the pack.

I was fairly frustrated with Adam and Mercy both by the time I finished Night Broken, the previous entry in this series, so I started Fire Touched with caution. I’m happy to report all my concerns were addressed well before the halfway mark. This entry brings new trouble to the Pack, but also clears up some lingering issues from previous books.

Mercy gets a call from her human cop friend Tony asking for help with a “huge monster” that’s perched on a bridge, eating cars and people. The pack races over there and discovers it’s a Troll. After battling it and sustaining heavy injuries to many pack members, Mercy claims the city as pack territory and vows to defend it. As the Fae are still trying to prove their power to the humans who refused to see them as anything more than meek pushovers, this causes major issues. Especially after Mercy grants sanctuary to a child the Fae desperately want, as he’s been living in Underhill for years and seems to be accepted their in a way they no longer are.

Mercy has settled into the pack now, and people are beginning to look toward them more for support and protection. Claiming the Tri-Cities as pack territory was the right move, but she gets a lot of flak for it from the pack, since they weren’t consulted (and neither was Adam) before she made her declaration. I really enjoyed seeing Mercy take on more leadership in the pack. Not that she wasn’t hands-off before, but her place in the pack seemed more secure, as did her role as Adam’s mate and Alpha.

The plot featuring the Aiden, the Fire Touched boy was especially intriguing. The twists and turns of the plot made for an engaging read.

One thing did make me very sad, however.

View Spoiler »

Aside from that, there was quite a bit of humor. I laughed out loud several times while reading, especially in the beginning.

Fire Touched was a fascinating, thrilling tale from start to finish.

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Posted July 12, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Fan the Flames by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #2
Also in this series: Gone Too Deep, In Safe Hands
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Amateur Sleuth, Contemporary, Action & Adventure, Thrillers, Small Town & Rural
Pages: 448
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three-half-stars

He's a firefighter.He's a Motorcycle Club member.And if a killer has his way...he'll take the fall for a murder he didn't commit.

Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath?and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms. When she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a gang war, with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

Search & Rescue Series: On His Watch (novella) Hold Your Breath (Book 1)Fan the Flames (Book 2)Gone too Deep (Book 3)In Safe Hands (Book 4)

Let me just state right off the bat while I totally get why some people love them, I generally don’t like motorcycle club books. I frequently have issues with the criminal element, especially when the hero or heroine is directly involved, and it just knocks me out of the story. But I really, really loved Hold Your Breath, the first book in Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series, so I decided to take a chance on the second book, which features a hero in motorcycle club and a heroine who owns a gun shop. While I had some issues with this book, I enjoyed it more than I expected.

We met the hero, Ian, in book 1. He’s a firefighter in this town in the Rocky Mountains, and he’s also a member of a local motorcycle club. Rory is his friend and owner of the local gun shop. When she defends herself from an attack by some members of Ian’s club, it puts her on the wrong side of the club sets off an even greater conflict for Ian. Ian has to protect Rory and himself. Moreover, the murder investigation from book 1 is still continuing here, and Ian gets unhappily tangled in that case as well.

Let’s start by talking about the MC! Ian has been involved in the club since he was a kid, and they basically took the place of his absent biological family. He is also a firefighter, though, which means he’s part of the close-knit team that includes police, fire, and search and rescue. Obviously, his work colleagues are on a different side of the law from his club. This causes lots of conflict for Ian, and it makes people on both sides angry at him. I thought his continued loyalty to the club made sense, though, because even though he does not like their criminal activities he feels like he owes them something.

I grew up in the club. They’re family. I can’t abandon my family, even if some of them make pisspoor decisions. 

I think what saved the MC plot line for me was that Ian eventually does have to take a stand for what is right, because the club crosses a line. I appreciated that Ian and everyone else could see that line, too.

The other characters in this series are fantastic as well. We get to see more of Lou and Callum, the couple from book 1. We also see more of the other colorful personalities in town. I particularly loved the firefighters. With one exception, they are a strong and supportive team, and they are on Ian’s side despite the conflicts his club membership brings. I liked that, and I liked that Ian had people like that in his corner. The dialog between the firefighters was snarky and had me laughing repeatedly.

So what didn’t I like? First, I had some trouble relating to Rory. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her, but I just struggled to connect with her. She’s funny and self-sufficient but that wasn’t quite enough for me. Her parents were seriously unbalanced doomsday preppers who lived in a secret bunker and tortured Rory with apocalyptic drills and training. I did like that Rory somehow managed to claw her way up from that dismal childhood but it was hard to understand. Now she owns a gun shop, and the story was very, very heavy on the gun talk, which got kind of boring for me.

What was most problematic for me, though is that Rory sells illegally modified firearms to known criminals like Ian’s MC. I kept thinking how scary and dangerous that was and how it led to all the trouble Rory finds herself in during this book. The book kind of ignores the illegal gun sales by saying “well, the MC wasn’t doing anything THAT bad”, but it’s admitted that the club members have killed people before so…? I had trouble understanding why otherwise law-abiding Rory would have such a blind spot there. Like book 1, Fan the Flames is written from Rory’s point of view, so the fact that I had trouble relating to her made it a bit harder for me to get into the story.

I thought Rory and Ian had some good chemistry, but I didn’t think we saw enough about where that came from. Again, seeing just Rory’s point of view of course limited my perspective a bit, but I wasn’t quite sure what started Ian’s attraction. I got that Rory was inexperienced with men so naturally she’d be reluctant to act on her crush on Ian, but what motivated Ian? Why did he have a crush on sheltered, socially awkward Rory? Why did he wait so long to act on it, and what suddenly and very abruptly got him moving at the start of this book? I really would have liked to hear his side!

I was hoping this book would be a home run for me, but even though it wasn’t I can definitely say it’s the first MC book I genuinely enjoyed. Other MC fans will probably enjoy this one even more than I did.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Until Death by Cynthia Eden

Posted July 5, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Until Death by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
Until Death by Cynthia Eden

Publication Date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Military, Action & Adventure, Contemporary
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three-half-stars

When Ivy DuLane witnesses a murder during the madness of Mardi Gras, she enters a deadly cat and mouse game with the killer. The city has gone wild with the annual celebration, and Ivy has to rely on sexy homicide detective—and her ex-lover—Bennett Morgan for help.

But with every moment that passes, the killer grows bolder, and the body count starts to rise.  It soon becomes very hard to tell the innocent from the guilty…especially since Bennett is keeping dark secrets of his own.

Ivy DuLane is a private investigator in Mobile, Alabama who sees a woman being stabbed during the city’s Mardi Gras parade. As she gets involved with the case, she also comes in contact with Detective Bennett Morgan, her past love who has returned to town after many years. When it appears that the murder is not a solitary occurrence and that it is related to Ivy somehow, the two have to work together to figure out what is going on as well as come to terms with their past.

I enjoy Eden’s writing, but most of her heroes are definitely the alpha-iest of all the alphas. Bennett is certainly bossy and gruff, though not quite as obnoxious as some of her other heroes, which I appreciated. He judges Ivy pretty harshly as a spoiled princess who doesn’t understand anything about how hard life can really be. Of course, a lot has happened in Ivy’s life since she and Bennett had dreamed of a life together, and she is much tougher and savvier than he realizes. I enjoyed seeing her prove him wrong. Those of you who like second chance love stories, this will fit the bill. Poor Ivy and Bennett were drive apart by others and by their own insecurities, and it’s a little painful to read about. There is a lot of hurt and mistrust to work through, but their mutual attraction continues to draw them both and eventually open a path to reconciliation. Don’t think there is going to be a ton of heartfelt conversation, though. Ivy and Bennett talked enough to satisfy me, but just barely. 

The mystery plot was overly complicated, I thought, but it did keep me guessing and interested until the end. Ivy has a complex and painful family history that comes into play here. Her brother has a particularly heartbreaking role in this book, and he doesn’t really get his own happy ending. While it’s not filled with gore, it is kind of dark and sad at times.

This is a solid if not exceptional romantic suspense with some good sexual chemistry and a plot that will keep you guessing.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Ironheart by Nico Rosso

Posted February 8, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Ironheart by Nico RossoIronheart by Nico Rosso
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: January 18th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Action & Adventure, Fantasy
Pages: 125
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four-stars

Love is a battlefield...
Superhero Vince “The Anvil” can take on knives, bullets, and bombs, but he’s not invincible. It was a hard hit when Kara, AKA “Snapdragon,” flew off after their explosive affair. And he’s especially vulnerable when she returns, looking for his help.
Kara is new to the superhero game, and villain TechHead is too much for her and her teammates to handle. He’s determined to use their combined power to fuel his ultimate weapon. Her only chance to take him on is with Vince’s brutal skill. But bringing Vince into the fight leaves her exposed to the white hot passion that had scared her away in the first place.
When TechHead captures Kara, Vince will stop at nothing to rescue her–even if it means sacrificing his heart.

Ironheart was previously released as part of the Holding Out for a Hero anthology.

Ironheart was my very first superhero romance, and I liked it!

Vince and Kara, otherwise known by their superhero names “The Anvil” and “Snapdragon”, had an intense but brief fling a while ago, but Kara broke it off abruptly. After that, Vince ends up dropping out of his superhero group and disappearing to live a normal life, though he mostly spends his time pining after Kara. When she shows up out of the blue at the same time as some thugs attacking him, Vince is suspicious, but still hot for her, naturally, so he gives her a chance. He and Kara seem to be reconciling, until Vince realizes Kara hasn’t been entirely truthful about her reason for finding him again. Can they put aside their issues to help stop a super villain?

This story is short, but it was so much fun! Rosso creates a mostly fleshed-out, albeit narrowly focused, superhero world. Vince and Kara’s powers are explained (as much as any superhero powers are ever “explained”), and they actually have character arcs. Vince has to accept what he really wants, which is to be a superhero, and to be with Kara. Kara needs to accept all the parts of herself and embrace who she really is in order to be the best superhero, and partner, she can be. They both change and find out more about themselves and the other person in the course of a story, which is not an easy feat in a shorter book.

Probably the neatest part is that Vince and Kara are both super–no one has to save anyone else, or at least it’s not the same person always doing the saving. And really, Kara’s powers are cooler and probably more powerful than Vince’s, but it’s a total non-issue for Vince. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously either. It isn’t mocking superheroes, but it also acknowledges that superheroes are kind of funny too, which I liked. And have you ever wondered what would happen if superheroes had sex? Well, this book provides one potential answer: shit falls down and/or lights on fire. I assume that means no sex in a bed for these two or the fire department would have to be involved! (And apparently Kara’s powers allow her to make a little internal birth control device, hands down my favorite contraceptive reference EVER in a romance.)

Because the book is short, it’s inevitable that some things would not be as well explained as I would have liked, like who/what exactly gave Snapdragon her powers, what was going on with The Anvil’s group (Omni Force), how exactly the superhero political/organizational structure works, etc. I could overlook a lot of those details though because they didn’t take away from the relationship storyline. I did roll my eyes a bit at how Vince seemed so broken up over losing Kara when they’d hardly been together long (weeks? maybe only days? I wasn’t clear). He still thinks of her every day months later and is tortured by her memory. Really? Seems kind of melodramatic, Anvil! I believe these two had an intense connection, but maybe they needed a little more time to explore it. I loved the two of them once they were back in contact–I just thought the back story was weak.

I know there are a few other superhero romances floating around (and I will most certainly be looking for them now), but not many. I am honestly puzzled why there aren’t more, given how popular superheroes are lately. I sure hope there will be a series coming from this world because it was a ton of fun, and I’d love to hear more about some of the side characters.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars

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Guest Review: Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Posted January 26, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Impostor Queen by Sarah FineReviewer: Whitley
The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Action & Adventure
Pages: 432
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four-stars

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I absolutely loved this book. It was such an engaging fantasy. The world was fascinating, the magic was awesome, the characters were great, the plot was engaging. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the main character, and she was more ‘eh’ than actual ‘dislike.’

The story follows Elli as she moves from (forcibly) pampered princess to outcast, and it’s very well handled. Probably because Elli was kicked out after they discovered she didn’t have magic, rather than her running away. That allowed to her to have this genuine, deep-seated devotion to her country and a desire to do best, and when she found herself living in a shack in a cave and working hard for the first time in her life (or working at all for the first time!) she had that drive and motivation to prove/improve herself to keep her going. I really liked that about her. What I didn’t like was the way she seemed really, really young in some parts. Honestly, when the book started, I thought she was supposed to be eight or so. (She got better. Sorta.) I also didn’t like how, when she did discover her unique powers, instead of doing literally anything with them she just sort of flailed around and let them control her. She had most of winter to experiment, and she didn’t get proactive until the last few chapters. It didn’t seem to fit with the rest of personality, which was very intent on learning how to be ‘useful’ in every single other way except magic.

Also, she was thoroughly bisexual, so that was awesome.

I liked the world in this book, which had magic, culture, and geography all intertwined into one awesome whole. Secret sects! Wars! HISTORY! Bizarre inheritance rituals! I loved how well it all came together. The plot was rather introspective and focused a lot on the characters and the world, until the action at the very end, but I was interested enough in said characters and world that I didn’t really care. Mostly because the world was the unique part of the book, and when the action did happen it was kind of predictable. (I have a theory, one which I’m pretty sure is correct, there were some glaring hints, but I’m going to have to wait until the sequel to be proven right. Sigh.)

All in all, a solid YA fantasy that I would recommend to any fan of the genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reading Order

Impostor Queen

four-stars

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