Genre: Paranormal Romance

Guest Review: Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler

Posted September 18, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Her Dark Half by Paige TylerReviewer: Tracy
Her Dark Half by Paige Tyler
Series: X-Ops series #7
Also in this series: Her Perfect Mate, Her Lone Wolf, Her Wild Hero, Her Fierce Warrior, Her True Match
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
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four-stars

Trevor Maxwell
Coyote shifter with an attitude
Covert operator
Trusts no one, especially his devastatingly beautiful new partner

Alina Bosch
Former CIA, newest operative on the covert team
Hired to spy on her partner
Motto: "Never be deceived again."

Coyote shifter Trevor Maxwell is teamed up with CIA agent Alina Bosch to catch a killer. But when the mission becomes much more dangerous than they expected, they're going to have to ignore the attraction between them and learn how to trust one another to come out on the other side...

Alina was working for the CIA when she was recruited to the DCO (Department of Covert Ops).  She was hired by the director, Dick Coleman, and partnered with Trevor Maxwell specifically to keep an eye on him and report back to the Dick.  She didn’t realize that would be her mission when she took the job and frankly doesn’t feel all that great about it.

Once Alina starts working with Trevor she starts to think that something isn’t right.  Dick told her that Trevor was one of the shifters that killed the former director, John, but she’s starting to think he’s got it wrong.  She doesn’t necessarily trust Trevor but she thinks he might be more on the up and up than the Dick is.

Trevor doesn’t trust his new partner.  He certainly isn’t going to tell her that he thinks that Dick had something to do with John getting killed.  He’s trying to investigate without anyone knowing – especially Alina. His instincts are telling him to trust her but he just doesn’t know.  The longer they work together the more he realizes that Alina can be trusted.  He ends up telling her everything and not only do they work better as partners but they finally act on the sexual tension that’s been brewing between them since day one.

This was a wonderful semi-conclusion to the on-going story arc.  We learn so much about all of the bad guys and what they’ve been up to.  The shifters that went on the run in the last book show up again and then of course we have the relationship between Alina and Trevor.

The romance in this book really took a back seat to everything else, imho, but that was actually ok.  I think if the author had tried to work too much of the romance into the story it would have been imbalanced as there was SO much going on.  The story really needed to focus on finding John’s killer and outing the bad guys.  That being said, the parts with Alina and Trevor and their romance were made all the sweeter when it was just the two of them.  I really liked both characters and thought they were perfect together.

I truly liked the book a lot until I got to the epilogue.  I wanted to scream and tear my hair out after reading it as I found it so frustrating.  I can’t even give you a hint as to what it was but if you have been reading the series and then read this book you’ll understand what I mean.  I really wish the author would have just laid that particular issue to rest but she didn’t. Hopefully the storyline won’t get too monotonous with the same stuff happening.

I really enjoy reading the X-Ops series and recommend it if you like shifter romances.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 15, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #9
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
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four-stars

HE SAYS . . .I, Aidan the Divine, am . . . well, divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome, with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal-born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings who don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely.

SHE SAYS . . .I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . .

My minute or so of lazy Googling didn’t give me a definitive answer, but this book feels like a partial conclusion (or at least a pivot point) in G.A. Aiken’s long running Dragon Kin series, since it resolves a couple conflicts in the series and checks in with tons of past characters. If you haven’t read the whole series, I’d argue you can still pick up the book and enjoy yourself, but I do think you’ll get more out of it if you’ve read at least a couple other books from the series. (You especially should read book 1 because that’s Annwyl’s book, and I love me some Annwyl!)

This time, the hero is Aidan the Divine, and the heroine is Branwen the Awful. If you’ve ever read a Dragon Kin book you know the names are totally ridiculous (and OMFG so hard to keep track of), but I do love the way the women are usually given brutal and powerful titles while the men often get the pretty and silly ones. In the grand tradition of the series, Branwen does indeed live up to her brutal name. She’s a tough, deadly military leader, but I really loved that she also has a lightness that some of the other heroines of the series don’t have. And Aidan is a cute match for her. He’s gorgeous and kind, and he is clearly smitten with Branwen even at the start of the book. He knows he has to wait patiently for Branwen to come around, though, and it showed how perfect a match he was for her.

But, this series isn’t really about relationship development. There’s no deep dive into characterization, no slow build up of tender feelings. All the books follow a similar formula, with lots of sex and lots of the woman being too busy kicking butt to realize that maybe she actually likes the guy attached to the penis she’s been enjoying, until she finally gets a clue and it’s the end. The appeal of this series for me is the way it’s so female-centric. The tone was set in book 1 with Annwyl, who is the baddest of all the badass warriors. (Seriously, she makes a major appearance in this book and she literally single handedly conquers hell. This lady ain’t messing around.) There’s been a lot of talk about female rage in fiction recently, and this series has that in spades. The women don’t get victimized, don’t get pushed around, don’t get dominated. They are the meanest, the strongest, and the smartest, and they rule the world. It is an incredibly satisfying fantasy, and I love to pick up a Dragon Kin book after I’ve read a few too many books about women getting held back, abused, slut shamed, and murdered. 

I think this book is one of my favorite installments in this series because I liked seeing the past characters and I enjoyed Branwen and Aidan. If you’ve read any of the others I think you might like it too. If you have read some and didn’t enjoy them, or if you don’t like raucous, funny, violent fairytales, you should probably move along.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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Retro-Review: Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Posted September 13, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro-Review: Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon.Reviewer: Rowena
Acheron (Dark-Hunter, #12) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark Hunter #12
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 31st 2009
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 806
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five-stars


Eleven thousand years ago, a god was born. Cursed into the body of a human, Acheron spent a lifetime of shame. But the strongest steel is forged from the fires of hell…

Acheron's human death unleashed an unspeakable horror that almost destroyed the earth. Then, brought back against his will, he became the sole defender of mankind. Only it was never that simple. For centuries, Acheron has fought for our survival and hidden a past he'll do anything to keep concealed. Until a lone woman who refuses to be intimidated by him threatens his very existence. Now his survival—and ours—hinges on hers, and old enemies reawaken and unite to kill them both. War has never been more deadly...or more fun.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Rowena and I were both obsessed with the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, once upon a time. Even so, by the time this book was released I’d given up on the series. In fact, despite my love for the earlier books, I couldn’t even bring myself to read it. I was tempted after this review, but I just couldn’t do it.

This review was originally posted on August 11, 2008

Hero: Acheron Parthenopeaus
Heroine: You’ll have to read it to find out
Grade: 5 out of 5

…MAJOR SPOILERS WILL BE IN THIS REVIEW SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED THAT THERE WILL BE SPOILERS APLENTY IN THIS REVIEW AND YOU CAN’T BE MAD BECAUSE THIS BOLD ASS WARNING IS FOR YOU…

Wow.

There’s so much to cover in this review that I’m almost afraid to begin. Sherrilyn Kenyon does a remarkable job of pulling those emotional heartstrings inside you to drain every bit of emotion out of you. During the first part of the book, even though I was at work reading this (naughty wench that I am) tears streamed down my face as I read what turned Ash into the man that I know and love now. My heart seriously broke each and every time something new would come up and I just felt so hot damn bad for him.

Then there was Ryssa. Naive but courageous Ryssa, who only wanted to take care of him. The sister who loved Ash more than anyone ever dared to show and gosh, it got to a point while I was reading where it was almost too much for me to read. It was hard to push through that first part of the book because there was so much bad in it. So much that Ash suffered, so much crap that Ryssa unknowingly flinched his way just by caring about him. When it happened with Val and Zarek, I understood but in his book, I was mad at Zarek for being so hot damn mad at Val for trying to help him but in this book, I got so mad at Ryssa because as nice as she was to Ash….she only made things just THAT much worst for him. For every bit of kindness she showed him, he paid for it tenfold and I just wanted her to leave him in peace, the way that Ash wanted her to. I would get so mad each and every time that Ryssa would come around because I knew that something bad was going to happen to Ash and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see that loving Ash the way she did (even if she couldn’t help loving him) was hurting it far more than it was helping him.

I know that she wanted him to know that someone loved him, unconditionally, no matter what and I could appreciate that but I hated that she made things worst for Ash because ooh I wanted to kill her father and her other stupid ass brother, Styxx so frickin’ bad. I wanted their blood on my hands (bloodthirsty wench that I am) and don’t even get me started on their Uncle Estes.

sigh

I could get myself worked up over this book so easily which just goes to show how involved in this story I am, which also goes to show how good a job Sherrilyn Kenyon did with the first part of this book. There were times earlier in the book when I wished that Ryssa would just stay the hell away from Ash, she brought him more pain than anything and I just wanted him to have some kind of peace but she was always getting him into trouble and it was through Ryssa that I had an inkling for why Zarek hated Valerian because though Val meant well, he brought more bad than good and it had to have hurt badly and they just kept being nice and nice which made things so much worst for Ash and Zarek.

And OMGOSH Ash’s powers? Holy shit shit shit…damn damn damn, holy crap in the pants, are you frickin’ serious right now?

Wow.

…and dude, I LOVE APOLLYMI! The fierceness of her love for her son is to be admired, I mean I don’t agree with the way she took care of some of those problems she had but man, I couldn’t fault her reasoning.

And goodness, I loved seeing the beginning of Ash and Simi. It was seeing him with Simi that softened my heart toward him and made me love him more and more until I was near bursting with my love of his character. Goodness, Ash is seriously the best hero EVER written.

When we got to the present, I was glad for it because the past prepared me for what was to come and it explained so many of my questions (if not, all of them) from before. Questions that I have waited YEARS to get answers to and I’m so glad that I better understand Ash from before and Ash from now.

Soteria was a great heroine, I remember her from The Dream Hunter and I’m not mad about the pairing of her and Ash together because she completed Ash. She saw the Ash that we all know and love and she loved him like nobody else from this series ever could. I’m so glad that Ash’s heroine wasn’t Satara, like I thought before because I seriously hate that biznitch and am not mad at Nick, one bit.

There are so many things that I could say about this book but I don’t have enough time. There were so many great things about this book, seeing Ash finally realize that he’s not alone in anything anymore. He’s got the family that he’s always wanted in the Dark Hunters and their wives…and in Soteria. I can’t seem to call her Tory like she likes to be called because I don’t see where the hell they got Tory from Soteria? Tera? I can see that…but Tory? Nope, not seeing it at all but maybe that’s because I’m not Greek, who knows.

A lot of options were opened for the other characters in this book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to find out more about Savitar, Jaden and Nick because I’m thinking Nick is going to be Artemis’ next pet. I think he’s going to be the one to replace Ash and oh wow, that’s going to make for some interesting reading, for sure.

This book was really good, at first I thought that maybe it didn’t hold up to my expectations but then I changed my mind because I loved this book, a whole lot more than I was expecting to (because no mortal could have met my expectations of this book) and whether it held up to my expectations was moot since I loved everything about this book, I loved the old Ash, the new Ash, the story, the characters and I was over the moon to see everyone come together to get Ash’s back, even Savitar and Jaden did their little bests to help Ash out because he finally needed it. For so long, Ash stood alone and it was just good to see that he didn’t have to this time around.

LOVED IT! LOVE LOVE LOVED IT! And now I want more…haha. I’ve got to ask though, how many of you readers out there who have read Ash’s book, played Savin’ Me by Nickelback over and over after you read the book?

I DID! How many of you guys are listening to Saving Me right now?

I AM!

LOL.

5 out of 5

This book is available from St. Martin’s Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

five-stars


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Guest Review: Werebiker by Paige Cuccaro

Posted September 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Werebiker by Paige CuccaroReviewer: Tracy
Werebiker by Paige Cuccaro
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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two-half-stars

Years after she thought she left town for good, Jillian is back and has enlisted the help of her older brother’s ex-best friend (and the man who broke her heart), Jack, to track down her sister-in-law, who’s fallen in with a rival biker gang—but Jack knows they’re werewolves, and that he has to protect Jillian at any cost, even if she hates him.

Jill is shopping for a motorcycle when she runs into Jack, her brothers ex-best friend.  He refuses to sell her a bike when she tells him what she wants it for.  Her brother is coming home from his military service and his wife is MIA.  Jill has found out that she’s been hanging around an MC called the Hellhounds.  When Jack finds out he’s determined to keep her away from the Hellhounds but Jill is too determined to let it go.

Jack knows that the Hellhounds are bad because he once was one.  The night before he was set to take off to basic training with his best friend, Jill’s brother, he was attacked and turned into a werewolf.  The guys in the Hellhounds have a way of mesmerizing women so that they never want to leave their side.  This is what has happened to Jill’s sister-in-law, Carrie.  Despite Jack’s warnings Jill makes bad decision after bad decision going after Carrie but there’s only one way to get her back to her brother’s side and that’s to find the cure for the “virus” that has infected the Hellhounds.

This story had an interesting blurb and premise so I thought I’d give it a try.  Unfortunately there was a lot about it that just didn’t work for me.  First, Jack and Jill’s antagonism toward each other – it just didn’t feel authentic.  Yes, they had every reason to be mad at each other but it felt forced.  Jack also did everything in his power to keep Jill away from the Hellhounds and she was so freaking stubborn she put herself into trouble more than once and had to be saved.  It annoyed me that she was being so stupid!

When it came to the romance – it fell flat for me.  Jack and Jill (don’t even get me started on the names!) had kissed at one point but Jack had walked away.  Jill’s feelings were hurt but she’d never given up hope that they could one day be together.  Jack wants to stay away from her because of what he is but can’t seem to do it.  The romance ended up feeling rushed, especially at the end, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Overall the story is mildly entertaining, but I can’t say that I recommend this book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper

Posted September 5, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel CooperReviewer: Jen
Highland Dragon Warrior by Isabel Cooper
Series: Dawn of the Highland Warrior #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Legend claims When Scotland fell to English rule The Highland dragons took a vow: Freedom at any price.

The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.

What he needs is Sophia.

Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she'd learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she'll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon's claws...

Dawn of the Highland Dragon Series: Highland Dragon Warrior (Book 1) Highland Dragon Rebel (Book 2)Highland Dragon Unleashed (Book 3)

What People Are Saying: "The mix of hard-headed realism and fantasy in this novel is enchanting..."--Barnes and Noble Reviews for Legend of the Highland Dragon "An outstanding read! ...fast-paced, smartly written...impossible to put down."--RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 Stars, Top Pick! for Legend of the Highland Dragon"Smartly written, fast-paced, and brimming over with magic and surprises, this is exactly what readers crave."--RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Stars, TOP PICK! for Night of the Highland Dragon

Cathal MacAlasdair is the youngest in a long line of dragon shifters. He’s currently managing the family’s lands while the rest of his family is away at war, but he’s unhappy. He kinda wants to be back fighting but also kinda doesn’t, and he is feeling the immense pressure of being responsible for the entire clan. When alchemist Sophia Metzger arrives seeking a favor, he thinks she may be able to help him solve a particularly painful crisis involving his childhood friend and some dark magic. Sophia has to work to figure out how to save Cathal’s friend, which ends up being a more dangerous task than anyone anticipated.

This book was kind of a mixed bag for me. One thing that definitely worked was Sophia. She had a confidence that was just wonderful to read about. She’s very, very good at her profession, and while she isn’t afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something, she’s confident in what she does know and isn’t afraid to trust herself. Even better, Sophia was just as self-assured in her personal life as well. She is honest and open with Cathal once she decides what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to make decisions about what is best for her life. This kind of confidence could easily stray into cockiness or impetuousness, but instead Sophia is extremely thoughtful, never making decisions without first turning the problem over her mind and examining it from all angles. It’s her intelligence, instinct, and bravery that save the day in the end.

She and Cathal were a lovely pair, too. He has learned to develop that same confidence in his decisions as a leader of armies and son of a lord, and while he doesn’t relish leadership he does what must be done. Most importantly, he trusts Sophia. While he wants her to be safe and worries that he can’t keep her that way, he still lets her make her own choices about dangerous situations and respects her authority. They had some great chemistry too, and the slow build up of their relationship ensured lots of steamy tension. I kept thinking these two were going to make a really dynamite pair in whatever they choose to do with their lives in the future.

But some things definitely didn’t work for me. Probably the biggest was the magic system, I guess you’d call it. It was kind of a mix between physical potions, woo-woo spiritualism, and some undefined “magic”. I was mildly intrigued, especially by the way it tied into religion in some places, but the descriptions of things like brewing potions were intense and overly detailed. (First book info dump? Perhaps this problem will be resolved in future books in the series.) Frankly, I was bored with most of it and by the end I was skimming some of that stuff, especially because there were so many long, draggy stretches of time where it was just Sophia working. There were also a lot of real historical details thrown in, and my knowledge of medieval European history is minimal at best. While I was interested in the bits about Jewish history (Sophia is Jewish, which is so rare in romances), overall I found the history tedious. To top it off, I also was not a huge fan of the writing style. It’s not technically flawed, but I found the writing to be dense and more of a slog than I prefer.

While I liked reading about Sophia and Cathal, I was probably not the ideal reader for this book. If you’re a fan of medieval romances with some magic thrown in and don’t mind denser prose, this might work even better for you.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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