Publisher: Self-Published

Guest Review: Ancient Heat by Kira Shayde

Posted July 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Ancient Heat by Kira ShaydeReviewer: Tracy
Ancient Heat by Kira Shayde

Publication Date: June 10th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 332
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three-stars

She's trapped in another woman’s body…and the other woman is a werelion.

Nicole Abramson gains more than razor-sharp claws and a taste for raw meat. With a latent telekinetic talent, she’s a weapon to be used in a millennia-long war, but will she serve or resist? Fighting for her life, Nicole rails against the thief who stole her ordinary and safe life, even as she seeks comfort from the woman’s intended mate, the gorgeous Sander Evans.

Although drawn to her outspokenness, Sander keeps Nicole at bay while he defends his clan. Werelions and humans don’t mix, yet he can’t deny the passion igniting between them, particularly with her body in heat. As the danger around them amplifies, they’ll need more than courage and strength to fight for their newfound attraction—and their lives.

Nicole wakes up in a strange room, in a strange bed, with a strange man in her room.  To say she’s freaked out is putting it mildly.  When she finds out that she’s in someone else’s body, all hell breaks loose.

Apparently her brain/soul was put into the body of a shapeshifter named Marseille who is “engaged” to the alpha of the Werelions, Sander.  When he finally believes that what Nicole is saying is true he’s pissed off, to say the least.  They head to Nicole’s house (about 3 hours away) and find Sander’s intended living quite happily in Nicole’s body.

It seems that Marseille never intended to mate with Sander – she was just there because the elders had a plan that involved Nicole helping their kind win a war against their enemy, the Followers.  Everyone is mad but despite that Nicole and Sander start getting closer.  Or do they? Every time Nicole thinks they’re on the same page, Sander pushes her away.  Nicole cries and then he feels bad and then the cycle happens again.

Nicole can definitely help the werelions with the enemy but when she starts to fall in love with Sander she’s confused.  What will happen when she gets back in to her human body – he’ll hate her.  Can they even be together if they survive an attack by the Followers?

There were a lot of good things about this book. I liked the premise, and the writing was definitely engaging.

Unfortunately there was just as much bad as good. The heroine of this story annoyed the ever-loving shit outta me with her whining and constant pity parties. While the hero was better he was still a bit of a bastard at times.

Werelions actually think that humans stink.  Like, they have an odor that can hardly be tolerated. Sander says he has feelings for Nicole but if she goes back to her human body what will happen?  When Nicole asks Sander if he had a choice of being with Marseille in Nicole’s body or Nicole in Marseille’s body, would he overcome his aversion to humans to be with his intended his reply is ridiculous.  He says – would you have sex with a dog?  Seriously?  He thinks humans are dogs but he’s falling in love with Nicole? Ugh.  My brain was just fried by that point.

Between Nicole’s ups and downs and her supposed telekinetic abilities that no one except the elders even knew about, including Nicole, it was all a bit much.  I do have to say that the author’s imagination is pretty darned creative.  Her Werelion/Follower war was inventive and that’s what kept me reading.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Joint Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Posted July 6, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen & Elle KennedyReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Stay by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: WAGS #2
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: June 20th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 295
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four-stars

Can you fall in love with someone you've never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch--an anonymous virtual assistant service--is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it's against the rules for her to check his file, she's 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting...until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He's still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth--that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won't show her pretty face.

But it's nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can't fix. Hailey can't resist the offer. Matt can't resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn't have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Rowena: This month, Holly and I are reviewing Stay by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy. Stay is the second book in their WAGS series and it features Matty Cakes Eriksson and Hailey Taylor Emery.

Hailey is a total hockey fan. She’s loyal to her team and has the biggest crush on Matt Eriksson. She also runs a virtual assistant business and one of her biggest clients is Matt Eriksson. At least she thinks he is. She doesn’t know for sure because he marked the privacy box on his initial form but she’s pretty sure Sniper87 is Matthew Eriksson, the star of all of her fantasies.

Matt is divorced and with the help of his virtual assistant, he’s building a home that his kids will feel comfortable in when they come to stay with him. He couldn’t do half of what he’s doing without his virtual assistant, HTE and he’s developed his own crush on her. He finds himself flirting with her and wanting to meet her. Whether it’s a good idea or not is the question…

What did you think of the book, Holly?

Holly: I really liked it. Somehow I skipped the first book in the series, so this is my first taste of the WAGs. I really liked how well-blanaced the story was. Sometimes we were dealing with Hailey’s baggage, sometimes Matt’s. Sometimes it was the trials and tribulations of Hailey running her own company, sometimes Matt’s hockey schedule.

I thought it was cute how they both sort of anonymously developed crushes on each other.

Rowena: I read the first book and think you should go back and read it. It was just a great as this book. It’s Blake and Jess’ book so seriously, go back and read it. 🙂

I agree with you on how well balanced this book was. I appreciated the hell out of that because I wasn’t left wanting more from either of the main characters so that was good. I really enjoyed getting to know both Matt and Hailey and thought they were too cute together.

What did you think about Matt’s ex-wife?

Holly: Honestly I don’t know what I think about her. On the one hand she was terrible to Matt, but on the other hand she apologized in the end and seemed to come around. I don’t know if I fully buy into how easy it was, though. One confrontation and all is well?

I thought Hailey’s relationship with her ex was more complicated and more ..real? I liked that it wasn’t easy for her to run the company with her ex, but they both worked hard to come to a good place together both personally and professionally, if that makes sense?

Rowena: I liked that Matt finally told her where to put her stupid judgments of the way that he fathers their girls but like you, I didn’t completely buy it. I think on Matt’s part, he said what he had to say and while he didn’t completely forgive her, he was done with her and her new boo. He had Hailey and the girls and that was enough for him.

Yeah, I liked reading about Hailey’s complicated life working with her ex-husband and when she opened his sex box, I laughed out loud. Because…damn.

Okay, am I the only person that thought Hailey’s pervy client was O’Connor? LOL.

Holly: OMG! I thought that too!! I just knew when they finally met him in person or was going to be O’Connor. I’m kind of disappointed it wasn’t. Haha

I think you’re right about the way Matt felt, I guess I’m more surprised that she was so quick to apologize after. Based on the way she acted throughout I fully expected her to continue to be a bitch.

I laughed out loud several times. The incident with her ex’s sex toys had me rolling.

I really loved Jenny and the friendship between her and Hailey. I’d love to see her get a book. Do you think O’Connor and the figure skater will be next?

Rowena: Haha, I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one. I mean, I get that O’Connor needs to be redeemed because I knew that he was going to get his own book, but it still would have been funny if that pervy client was him. I do think that the next book is going to be him and the figure skater.

Who else do you think is going to get a book? I can’t tell.

I really like Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy writing together. I hope they continue writing all of the books because I loved all of the books that I’ve read by them so far.

I liked Jenny too but who would she get with? Lemming? Was that his name? I forgot already. LOL.

Holly: I’m not sure who else will get book either. Definitely O’Connor and the figure skater. And I hope Jenny. Aside from that i have no clue.

You mean Lemur? Haha. That would be hilarious. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I really liked the friendships between the women (Jenny and Hailey, plus the WAGs) and the men (Matt with his teammates) and the romance. I liked how well balanced it was. I did think the situation with his ex-wife was resolved a little too easily, but that was a minor complaint.

I’m giving thus a 4 out of 5. You?

Do you think Jackson and Melinda will get a book?

Rowena: It’s got to be someone on the team because the series is called WAGS so whoever gets a book has to be a WAG, right? That’s why I don’t think Jackson and Melinda will get a book. Jackson isn’t a hockey player so he can’t make Melinda a WAG.

Yeah, Lemur or the guy that they call Lemur cause I know that’s not his name either.

Same. I think that Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy need to write books together forever. I enjoyed this one and am looking forward to more. I was talking with Nath the other day and she mentioned how similar this book was to Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen and I agree that the stories are pretty similar but it didn’t bother me. I enjoyed both books and thought that there were enough differences for both books to stand out for me.

For me, this book was a 4.25 out of 5 read. Good stuff!

Holly’s Grade: 4 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Shadowbound by Bec McMaster

Posted June 26, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Shadowbound by Bec McMasterReviewer: Jen
Shadowbound by Bec McMaster
Series: Dark Arts #1

Publication Date: May 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 377
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three-half-stars

When a powerful relic goes missing from a secret society that dabbles in the occult, Miss Ianthe Martin is charged with finding it at all costs. She needs help, but all clues point to someone on the inside being the thief. The only sorcerer she knows that can't possibly be involved, is the very man she saw locked in Bedlam a year ago...

The mad, bad, dangerous Earl of Rathbourne.

When the seductive Miss Martin appears in his Bedlam cell, Rathbourne fears he's finally lost his mind. The devilish sorceress played a hand in his incarceration, and now she comes asking for help? Perhaps she should begin by begging for mercy...

But Ianthe's offer of freedom is one he can't refuse, although he has a clause of his own to add. She may bind him with her power–the only way to still the demons haunting him–but for every day spent under her command, the nights will be his... to wreak delicious revenge on her willing flesh.

Shadowbound is the first book in a new series from McMaster, but instead of steampunk London, this time we have a magical London. I love historical magical series about fighting a world-ending evil, so while this particular book had some faults, I am still 100% here for the series.

At the start of the book, Lucien, the Earl of Rathbourne, is locked away in Bedlam. To say he’s a physical and mental mess would be an understatement, and the time in Bedlam has taken it’s toll. For various reasons, Ianthe needs his help, though, so she goes to get him out. He has vowed revenge against her because she was the one who captured him, but he knows she’s his only ticket out of Bedlam, so he agrees to be magically bound to her temporarily. The pair have to find out who stole a magical artifact that just might lead to the end of the world. You know, NBD.

I enjoyed both Lucien and Ianthe as characters. If you like broody, damaged heroes, Lucien will tick those boxes for you. It’s not my favorite trope, but I liked that Lucien a) has legitimate reasons to be damaged and b) develops some self awareness and realizes that others have had some bad shit in their lives too. (But if you like damaged heroes, just WAIT till you get a load of future uber-damaged hero Sebastian. We meet him and his heroine Cleo in this book, and their story is heartbreaking already.) Ianthe is perhaps a little less memorable, but still fun to read about. She’s magically powerful and very, very capable. She has a lot of secrets, and you can see the stress of juggling them all wears on her, but she is determined to keep them to protect those she cares about.

This book is sexy, but the sexy premise felt forced to me. As part of his agreement to magically serve Ianthe and get out of Bedlam, Lucien basically demands sex. I get that he didn’t have a lot of bargaining power, but the way he decides to get his revenge is by…giving her really good orgasms? You show her, Lucien! The book also then has to go out of its way to stress that Lucien would not really have forced Ianthe and that she was totally on board, so I guess it was just some elaborate bluff on his part? To me the premise felt like it was supposed to add some kind of dark edginess, but instead it was just unnecessary. Ianthe was into Lucien and didn’t need the artificial set up to have sexual tension. I also didn’t love that Ianthe held onto her secrets so long. I understand her motivations and don’t necessarily think she was wrong, but the problem was it created an imbalance in her relationship with Lucien. She actually never chooses to tell him her secrets until her hand is forced near the end, and then it’s all action until the conclusion. I needed to see more genuine trust build between the two.

Because this is a first book in a very complicated world, it suffers from a lot of info dump. There are tons of names, places, and rules that get thrown at you. The magical system isn’t really explained, which is ok because it clearly makes sense to the characters, but I did want to know just a little more about how the magical world relates to the “real” world of historical London (magic users don’t seem particularly trusted by the normals, but they all live together).

Despite my issues with this book, I loved the world and the premise of the series. Book 2 is out already and I’ll definitely be picking it up.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Lip Action by Virna DePaul

Posted June 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Lip Action by Virna DePaulReviewer: Tracy
Lip Action by Virna DePaul
Series: Kiss Talent Agency #1

Publication Date: April 23rd, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 195
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three-half-stars


Marissa

Appearance is everything to my upper-crust mother, but when she insists I take back my pedigreed-but-cheating ex? I’d rather stab myself with a salad fork. So I blurt out I’m dating someone new. Someone like…that smoking-hot, vaguely familiar guy across the restaurant, who could be the next James Bond.

Turns out he’s the star of my favorite, cheesy, sci-fi soap opera. (Don’t judge me.) One minute I’m fantasizing about Borg and his green-hued abs. The next, Simon Dale is making me an offer my sex-starved body can’t refuse.


Simon

I’m up for a breakout movie role that’ll launch me off the B-list, but I don’t need a script to read the scene between Marissa and her mum. Even though I’m a London gutter rat who never rubbed elbows with a Royal, I easily slip into the role of Marissa’s doting boyfriend. Why? I need a favor in return— a steady girlfriend, just long enough to convince the producers I’ve changed my wild ways.

Trouble is, I’m going all Method on this relationship—and close to losing the one thing that could break me. My heart.

Marissa is kind of Hollywood royalty because of her family’s money.  She doesn’t feel that way and just wants to live her life as a normal person.  Her mother, however, has very different ideas.  When Marissa tells her mother that she broke up with her long-time boyfriend because she found out he’d been cheating on her for 6 months her mother freaks out like it’s the end of the world.  Not that he’d been cheating on Marissa but that she broke it off.  Nice mom.  Not.  Marissa’s mom is insisting that she get back together with her boyfriend but Marissa refuses.  She sees a guy in the country club they’re at and makes up a story saying that she’s already seeing someone new.  Due to a set of circumstances she actually meets the guy and it turns out that he needs a fake girlfriend as well.

Simon is an actor on a TV show where he’s an alien.  He really needs a big break doing some serious film work but no one believes he can do it.  He’s got a playboy reputation and the producers of the one big film he’s being considered for think his reputation will be bad for publicity.  Simon’s not the person they think he is.  He grew up in the streets of London but he got him and his sister out.  He lives simply and saves his money as he doesn’t feel he deserves better.  When he meets Marissa he tells her that it’s all fake but the more time he spends with her the more he can’t get her out of his head.  Unfortunately they’re ruse depends on the producers believing them as well as Marissa’s parents never finding out who he really is.

This was a cute story.  It was a pretty simple fake relationship story but I like the way the author threw some curve balls in there for us.  Having Simon grow up as a London gutter rat was an interesting aspect of the story and of course that effected almost all of his decisions.  He was a good guy and not an actor that made some money and then lived lavishly.  He lived above a bar and saved his money.

Marissa was a woman who had lived under her mother’s thumb for so long she truly didn’t know how to get out from under it.  Being with Simon made her look at her life differently and want to stand up to her mother and do what she wanted with her life.  She grew a lot during the course of the book and I liked who she was at the end.

The relationship with Marissa and Simon started out as just playing a part, then just sex and then more.  Of course neither admitted it which is always frustrating when that happens with characters but I liked that they worked it all out in the end.  Overall it was a fun book and I definitely enjoyed reading it.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Graffiti in Love by G.G. Andrew

Posted June 15, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Graffiti in Love by G.G. AndrewReviewer: Tracy
Graffiti Love by G.G. Andrew
Series: Love and Lawbreakers #1

Publication Date: February 11th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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four-stars

KaveMan is a London graffiti artist--world famous, wealthy, brilliantly creative. And Laurel Xavier hates him.

Laurel, a laid-off city planner, is bitter from compromising her dreams and still losing her sensible job. So when she gets a glimpse of the mysterious KaveMan, whose dream is apparently painting others' property in her hometown of New Haven, she's determined to find him, unmask him, and ruin his so-called career--even if it means losing some shoes and self-respect in the process.

But why does chasing KaveMan make her feel more alive than she's felt in years?

KaveMan isn't used to sharing his real self, let alone his real name. But when he's caught by Laurel Xavier, he starts to realize the one woman he yearns to whisper his secrets to is someone who would scream his identity from the highest rooftop. That would mean the end of his work, his passion. It can't ever happen.

Unfortunately, he bloody well can't seem to stay away from her.

Laurel is a frustrated city planner who’s been laid off.  She hates graffiti and doesn’t approve of KaveMan and his “art tours” that he does around the world.  When he ends up in New Haven, where Laurel lives, she appalled that he’s defacing her city.  She almost catches him at one point when she’s lecturing at Yale but he evades her. From then on she’s determined to catch him and turn him in.  No one knows who he really is and she wants to bring him out into the open.

KaveMan aka Jamie manages to stay away from Laurel until she writes an editorial piece in the local paper.  She basically tells him that if he wants something to paint, he can paint her yard fence.  When she wakes up one morning and finds her fence painted white – along with fairies and elves – she’s shocked.  When the man himself actually knocks on her door and introduces himself as KaveMan she’s not sure what to do.  She’s incredibly attracted to him but how can that be when she doesn’t like what he does?

Despite her feelings on his art Laurel eventually finds herself in bed with Jamie and falling for him.  Their relationship is complicated by so many things – the least of which is that he’ll be leaving a couple of weeks.  Both Jamie and Laurel have to learn to trust – not only in each other but in their feelings.

This was such a sweet story.  I truly didn’t think that it would be because of the whole graffiti aspect of the story.  I guess I thought it would be a bit grittier but I was pleasantly surprised at the romance in the book.  I loved watching Laurel and Jamie come together and fall in love.  GG Andrew has a lovely sense of romance and that has come through in  all of her books that I’ve read.

The story also involved Laurel’s sister, Kim, who is a kleptomaniac.  She’s gotten in trouble with the law more than a few times but she’s trying to be better.  When a new cop moves into town he has no idea about Kim’s “issues” and they’re incredibly attracted to each other.  Unfortunately when Scott finds out who Kim is he’s probably not be so attracted any longer.  This part of the story was a bit sad.  Kim truly had a problem  – as well as a criminal record – but wanted Scott to see her as someone else.  Since this says that it’s book 1 in the Love and Lawbreakers series I can only hope that we get to read Kim’s story in an upcoming book.  I look forward to it.

The story was sweet and funny with a good portion of sexy to top it all off. I definitely recommend this book.  I know I’ll be re-reading it sometime in the near future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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