Publisher: Self-Published

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Posted June 8, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #5.3
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 32
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

A short story in the Kate Daniels universe. Kate recruits her teenage ward, Julie, to search out a missing student whose location spell has her hidden somewhere on campus…

I’m doing a complete read of the Kate Daniels and I have fallen hard for every one of these books. When we first meet Julie, she’s this scared little girl who just lost her Mom and is on her own. I was super thrilled when Kate took her in and with each passing book, seeing Julie grow more and more comfortable in herself and in her place in Kate’s life (she’s got a long way to go but I see progress and that’s great!) makes me love her all the more.

This was a fun short story featuring Julie and it was a lot of fun seeing her personality away from Kate. She’s really growing into her own person and I really like seeing it. Julie is smart and she reminds me so much of Kate that I smiled my way through this entire story. When she slides that Lennart name into her interrogation with the dragon, I laughed out loud. She showed that she can hang with the big dawgs in this book and I cannot wait to continue watching her grow into her own. I’m a big Derek and Julie fan (sorry Ascanio) so I welcome any and every story featuring Julie front and center. More, please!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8.5, Gray Wolf #1
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: NYLA
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 84
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an original novella, set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring fan-favorites, Derek, and Curran and Kate’s very independent ward, Julie.

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

Man, I’ve been looking forward to this story ever since I found out about it. Derek has been one of my favorite characters in this series from the jump. I ugly cried over him in Magic Strikes and I have loved him more and more with each passing book. Derek is Kate’s ride or die and seeing him go through it over the course of this series really hit me in my feels. He’s one of the good ones and I’m absolutely thrilled that we might be getting more books featuring him (we are, right? I mean this is the first book in the Gray Wolf series so I just kind of assumed). I really enjoyed the little bit that we got of Derek at center stage in this story and my hopes are sky high that Derek and Julie are going to become a thing.

This story has Derek on a mission to track down some bad guys that popped up on Curran’s radar and his mission puts him in Julie’s path, who plants herself right in the middle of Derek’s mission and seeing them work together to figure out what’s going on and then put their plan of attack into action…together was just great. They’re a great pair and I so want more books featuring them. Ilona Andrews does such a great job with making readers fall in love with their characters and readers will definitely fall in love with Derek and Julie. Derek’s protective streak and Julie’s fierce loyalty where Derek is concerned (and her undercover love for him) make for a fantastic story and I’m so here for more. I definitely recommend this short if you need just a little more Derek and Julie. You won’t regret it.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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Joint Review: His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare

Posted June 2, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: His Bride for the Taking by Tessa DareReviewer: Ames and Rowena
His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 89
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

*This novella was originally published in Rogues Rush In: a Regency Duet (2018), by Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell

It’s the first rule of friendship among gentlemen: Don’t even think about touching your best friend’s sister.

Sebastian, Lord Byrne, has never been one for rules. He’s thought about touching Mary Clayton—a lot—and struggled to resist temptation. But when Mary’s bridegroom leaves her waiting the altar, only Sebastian can save her from ruin. By marrying her himself.

In eleven years, he’s never laid a finger on his best friend’s sister. Now he’s going to take her with both hands. To have, to hold…and to love.

Rowena: His Bride for the Taking is a novella by Tessa Dare that was originally published in the Rogues Rush In anthology. It’s a brother’s best friend’s romance and it was such a sweet romance that I wasn’t even mad that it was so short.

So, Sebastian made a promise to his best friend Henry Clayton long ago. Henry’s sister Mary is off-limits but when Henry died, Sebastian promised that he would take care of Mary. It’s been hard to keep his hands off of Mary because he’s always been a little bit in love with her but when she needs him to step up for her, he doesn’t hesitate.

Mary Clayton is all alone in the world. Her father and brother are both long gone, her brother’s title having gone to a distant cousin, and the only person that is really around for her is her brother’s best friend Sebastian Ives. When Mary is stood up at the altar, Sebastian steps up for her, and things really take off from there.

I really enjoyed this short read. I thought the romance was light, and it was fun and I felt the chemistry between Sebastian and Mary. This was another winner for me.

What did you think, Ames?

Ames: It was definitely a winner. For being so short there was a lot of story! I am kind of slumping due to all the craziness happening in the world and this was the perfect little tidbit to keep my reading momentum going. I usually shy away from novellas but I’m glad you chose this one.

I liked the friends-to-lovers plot. I liked that Sebastian was a wee bit younger than Mary. She was her own independent woman but Sebastian proved he was someone she could count on, and he recognized that she was her own woman.

And the humor! That scene, with the ‘Swedish’ bed and the discussion around putting it together and directions. That had me laughing, thinking about putting Ikea furniture together. haha

Rowena: Ha, yes. When they were putting the bed together, fighting about putting the bed together, and talking about “surplus”, I couldn’t stop laughing. Tessa Dare is really good at bringing the humor and for such a short story, she packed it real nicely into this one.

I hear you about the reading slump. 2020 has really kicked my ass so I’m happy to finally be reading again and the quality of this one made me super happy. I liked that both Sebastian and Mary had a history together and that they genuinely cared about each other so it made everything we find out, everything going on make sense.

What did you think about Mary’s little shenanigans?

Ames: Ok, usually I wouldn’t like shenanigans like Mary’s, but her and Sebastian were so good together, I didn’t mind. I mean, she didn’t keep it a secret forever right? And he wanted her. I think if this had a been a full length novel, I would not have cared for her actions. I don’t know, I’m not explaining myself well. But Mary didn’t act out of malice, so it was ok.

What did you think?

Rowena: Same. I think because by the time they were married and already well into the first couple days of their marriage, we know that Sebastian was madly in love with Mary but had that not been the case, I think I would have been more mad. I also liked that we got to see Sebastian run the gamut of emotions over her actions and it wasn’t slipped under the rug. They dealt with it and they moved on from it and I respected that.

I really liked both Sebastian and Mary. Their shared love for Henry (Mary’s brother) was sweet and their friendship was even sweeter. I loved that they bickered and they laughed with each other and I really liked that they were both in love with each other from the jump. Gah, what a sweet story.

This was such a short romance but it really packed a wallop of a story and I was here for all of it. I would have liked a longer story but I didn’t feel like it really suffered without it. This is one of the better novellas that I’ve read and I’d give it 4.25 out of 5 stars. What about you?

Ames: I’m giving this one a 4.25 out of 5 as well. It was a feel good story in these dark times. The humor was spot on and the characters were great. I felt their chemistry and loved their back-story.

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Dirty Charmer by Emma Chase

Posted May 24, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 6 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. 🙂

I love me some Emma Chase. She is pure goodness. I get all the feels when reading her books. I’m really looking forward to diving into this one.

Sunday Spotlight: Dirty Charmer by Emma ChaseDirty Charmer by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #5
Also in this series: Royally Matched (Royally, #2), Royally Endowed (Royally, #3), Royally Yours
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 264
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Abigail Haddock is stunning, sensible, and some would say . . . stuffy. But it’s not really her fault. She was raised in one of Wessco’s oldest, most affluent, aristocratic families—“stuffy” is their middle name. So is successful. Abby’s working overtime to distinguish herself as a top-notch physician, just as her family legacy demands.

She doesn’t have time for nonsense.

Tommy Sullivan’s all about nonsense.

Sure, he’s an elite bodyguard with lethal skills and co-owner of the renowned, S&S Securities Firm—protector of the wealthy and titled. But he’s also rowdy, fun and thoroughly irresistible.

Tommy knows how to have a good time, and he’s never seen someone more in need of a good time than Abby. The lass needs long, wet, filthy kisses—STAT—and he’s just the man for the job.

It doesn’t take long for a wildly sexy, sinfully satisfying, no-strings attached arrangement to turn into something more. Something sweet and addictive and real. But Tommy and Abby are too royally stubborn to admit it.

Opposites attract, everyone knows that. But can they last—can they love…for forever?

Excerpt

Abby

“I want to kiss you, Abby. More than I can remember wanting anything, in a long time. I want this. You. And I think, deep down you want it too.”

I can almost taste him. It. The kiss. I know how good it will be.

Perfect.

And a very bad decision. The kind that opens up all the boxes—Pandora’s and all those other Greek gods, whose names I can’t remember right now.

By most measures, parachuting out of a plane is also a very bad decision. But people do it all the time. Because they love the fall. The flight. The feeling of soaring air and whipping winds.

I’ve never been the jumping sort. But with him—a reaching, yearning, desperate part of me wants to give it try.

“Open your eyes, Abby.”

When I do, I’m met with warm honey-brown eyes—like they’re lit from within.

“Three . . . two . . . one . . .”

I’m going to say yes.

The word is there on my lips, the tingling, thrilling taste of it on the very tip of my tongue. Because I want this—the brush of his lips, the feel of his hot skin and firm muscle beneath my palm. The feel of him everywhere.

It’s been so long since I wanted anything just for me.

But before I can speak the words, his head turns away, snaps around in the direction of the front room. His shoulders are tense and the tendons of his neck are pulled taut.

“Are you expecting someone?” he asks very quietly.

Instinctively, the volume of my voice matches his.

“No.”

That’s when I hear it. The jostle of the front doorknob. The sharp whine of the hinge as it opens. And then . . . footsteps, slow but distinct.

Someone is here. Someone is inside my flat.

Oh my.

Oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my . . .

Without a sound, Tommy Sullivan pulls a gun from the inside of his suit jacket. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a handgun up close—it’s black and weighted and looks right at home in his grip.

“You didn’t tell me you were armed!” I whisper-yell.

“Shhh.”

“Do you have a permit for that? Do you know the statistics on—”

His large hand covers my entire mouth.

“Shush.” He looks down at me with an expression I’ve never seen on his face before—hard, harsh and deadly serious. The kind of look that says he could kill a man with his bare hands, and walk away whistling a merry tune afterwards.

“Stay.”

And without a sound, he slips out the kitchen door.

But I don’t stay. Because I’m not a dog.

But mostly because . . . what if something happens? What if there’s more than one of them? What if they manage to get the upper hand?

What if he needs me?

I pull the drawer open, careful not to make any noise, and grab the thick, hefty wooden rolling pin that I’ve never actually used to roll anything. It’s just one of those things you get when you move into your own place.

I give it one practice swing, then tiptoe out the kitchen door . . .

Royally

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: May 2020

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 Emma Chase

New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase writes contemporary romance novels known for their clever banter, emotion, and sexy, swoon-worthy moments. Her books have been translated in over twenty languages around the world.

Emma lives in New Jersey with her amazing husband, two spirited children, and two adorable but badly behaved dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.


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Sunday Spotlight: Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen

Posted May 17, 2020 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 6 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. 🙂

Another Brooklyn Bruiser book? Yes, please! I really like that Bowen has connected her True North and Brooklyn Bruisers series. In this book, we’re getting Dave Berringer from Bountiful’s sister’s book and she falls in love with a Brooklyn Bruiser so yippy skippy, I can’t wait to read this one! I’m super stoked to be featuring an excerpt from this book for this weeks Sunday Spotlight. Check it out.

Sunday Spotlight: Sure Shot by Sarina BowenSure Shot by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #9
Also in this series: Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter , Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Brooklynaire, Rookie Move, Overnight Sensation, Superfan , Superfan
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 307
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A new stand-alone hockey romance from USA Today bestseller Sarina Bowen.

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, sports agent Bess Beringer is ready to make some changes. Armed with a five-year plan—indexed and color coded—she’ll tackle her personal life with the same zeal that she brings to her successful agency.

A big, tall, ripped hunk of hockey player who’s just been traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers is not a part of that plan. Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz has a lot of baggage. He’s a ride-or-die loner with a bad reputation. He’s on the rebound. He’s also the sexiest thing on two legs, and for some crazy reason it’s Bess that he wants.

She knows better. But then she falls stupid in love with him anyway. And for a while it seems like maybe he’ll do the same.

Until she asks him for the one thing he can never give her…

Excerpt

“Hey, Rebecca!” another player says, grabbing the owner’s attention. He’s not just any player. Eric Bayer is one of the veterans I was meant to replace. Bayer is only a year or two older than I am, but he retired last season after one too many knee surgeries. “Did you happen to see… Oh, there it is!” Eric Bayer reaches under the caterer’s table and emerges with a tote bag. It’s covered in bright pink bunny rabbits. He pulls a baby’s bottle out of the sack and begins to shake it. “Just in time,” he says.

I search my brain, trying to remember if I ever met his wife. But I come up blank. I thought he was single.

“Do you need to heat that up?” Becca offers.

“Nope. The little miss likes it cool or warm or any temperature at all.” He pops the protective top off. “Here she comes now.”

I glance toward the half flight of stairs to the house, and my heart fails. Because it’s Bess who’s carrying a chubby little baby girl out into the yard. The baby is propped snugly on her hip and clutches a lock of Bess’s striking red hair in her tiny hand.

Bess is too distracted by the baby to look at me, which is a good thing because I know there’s shock written all over my face.

“Wow, Rookie,” she says to Eric. “That’s a very manly diaper bag you have there.”

“You shut up,” he says with a smile. “Thanks for the free babysitting.”

“Who says it was free?” Bess asks, handing the baby over.

That’s when I remember to breathe. Because Bess isn’t Eric’s wife, and that’s not her baby. Not that I should care. It doesn’t have a thing to do with me.

What the heck is wrong with me? Back in the day, Bess and I weren’t even serious. We had a wonderful, physical fling.

Before she broke it off, without telling me why.

Brooklyn Bruisers

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: May 2020

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 Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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Review: Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews

Posted May 12, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Gifts by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #5.4
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 24, 2011
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 100
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Dinner date after a hard workday should be heavenly. Of course, dates between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels don’t always go as planned. Undead run amok, heads are chopped off, lawyers are deployed with extreme prejudice, and drunk vikings call people out.

Novella is after Magic Slays, same time as Andrea in Gunmetal Magic, both intersect.

Note: This novella can be found at the end of the Kindle edition of Gunmetal Magic.

This was a short read that takes place during Andrea and Raphael’s book, Gunmetal Magic. Instead of following Andrea and Raphael, this one is all Kate and Curran. They’re trying to go on a date but being who they are, they can’t just go on regular dates like normal people. Trouble follows them around like the plague and it found them before their dinner order could be delivered.

These little short stories shouldn’t be as good as they are. They’re too short but holy cow does Ilona Andrews find a way to make things work and make them good. This was another read that I ate right up. I just adore this series and reading it all in order, while everything is fresh in my head is the way to go. It’s one of the only reasons that I haven’t kicked myself for waiting so hot damn long to read this series. All of the books are out so I can read the heck out of them, one right after the other without any waiting. This is great, you guys!

This book features all of the reasons that I love both Curran and Kate. They’re such great characters on their own but I really enjoy seeing them together. There is nothing boring about them or their lives and I will probably be re-reading these books over and over again for the rest of my life. This was another great addition to an already fabulous series so I definitely recommend it.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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