Source: Audible Escape

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Posted November 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Library, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

The award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare and Silence for the Dead, presents another mesmerizing gothic story of intrigue...

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is available for the Audible Escape package. I downloaded it after finishing Silence for the Dead, because I wanted more from St. James and because I enjoyed the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, quite a bit. This gothic romance is perfect for the fall season.

Ellie Winter is a psychic Medium. When a rival Medium, Gloria Sutter, is murdered and her brother shows up asking for Ellie’s help in finding her, Ellie agrees reluctantly. She and Gloria had been friends once upon a time, but Gloria betrayed Ellie in a devastating way and they hadn’t spoken in years. If Gloria hadn’t left a note with her brother “Tell Ellie Winter to find me”, Ellie probably would have told him no. As it is, despite her anger and hurt over Gloria’s betrayal, she can’t walk away.

James Hawley is an investigator for the “New Society”. He, and his colleagues, try to verify or debunk psychics. He was instrumental in declaring Ellie’s mother a fraud, but something about their case has always bothered him. As the only verified true psychic – something he helped prove – Gloria had a lot of notoriety in London. Discovering if his findings are part of the reason she was murdered has James helping Ellie.

This is the second novel by St. James I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, but it was still a creepy, lovely tale. I quite enjoyed the setting – mid 1920s London – and the glimpse into the life of a true Medium who can see and summon spirits. Ellie’s talent in that regard came across well. I enjoyed her as whole, in fact. She was independent and strong, yet had a vein of vulnerability and loneliness running through her that made her easy to connect with.

I enjoyed the mystery of why Gloria Sutter was murdered, and by whom. I had the majority of things figured out, but still there were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This was a cozy, atmospheric Gothic novel not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Trade Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: Cyclone #1
Also in this series: Trade Me, Hold Me
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 279
Length: 7 hours and 45 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

Trade Me is the first book in Courtney Milan’s Cyclone series. I enjoy her historicals, but mixed reviews put me off reading this series when it was released (not to mention my own misgivings about authors who switch from historical to contemporary coughJulieGarwoodcough). When I saw it in the Audible Escape package, I decided to give it a try. Xe Sands narrated, and though I struggled with it in the beginning, I came to really enjoy the way she read the story.

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who is barely getting by. Between her own needs and trying to help her family out, she’s living under the constant strain of not having enough money. When golden boy Blake Reynolds, the son of a billionaire, makes an offhand comment about the “poor” in one of her classes, Tina snaps back at him. To her surprise, Blake offers her a trade – she can move into his house and live with his money, and he’ll take on her responsibilities. The catch? She’ll have to act as his girlfriend so his father doesn’t find out about their trade. Tina is torn, but the money is hard to turn down.

Blake is dealing with his own struggles, and having money isn’t making them any easier. He hopes this time away from his life will give him the chance to get things back under control. But he’s finding that Tina is better for him than he ever imagined. As they spend time together, they realize some of their secrets are easy to get past..while others may break them.

I really liked both Tina and Blake. The blurb made them sound more hostile than they were. It wasn’t so much “You could NEVER live my life”/”YES I CAN”, but more “you don’t understand”/”let me try”, which I actually appreciated more. I liked that both Blake and Tina had their own struggles. One might say the adage “money can’t buy happiness” applies here, but so does “..but it sure would help.”.

I enjoyed the romance and how these two came to care for each other as they got to know one another as their secrets were slowly revealed. This is where the novel truly shines for me. Tina and Blake were such an unlikely pair, yet their formed a true, strong connection that came across very vividly. They truly became friends, which made their jump into romance easy to believe.

I really liked Adam and Blake’s relationship, and the love/embarrassment struggle Tina had with her parents. Family ties can be both a blessing and a curse, and I think Milan really showcased that here. The love, pressure, guilt and happiness came through so well, I really connected with both Tina and Blake in this area.

Overall this was a great story with flawed, multi-faceted characters. Though I struggled with the ending, I can’t deny this was a smart novel and I really enjoyed the depth of the characters.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Cyclone

three-half-stars


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Review: Take This Regret by A.L. Jackson

Posted October 30, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Take This Regret by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Take This Regret by A. L. Jackson
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Series: Regret #2
Also in this series: Lost to You
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 5, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 299
Length: 9 hours and 25 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

There are some mistakes we make that we will regret for the rest of our lives. For Christian, it was the day he betrayed Elizabeth.

Christian Davison has a plan for his life. He is determined to become an attorney and to one day take his place as partner in his father’s law firm. Nothing will stand in his way, not even Elizabeth Ayers and their unborn child.

After Christian cuts her from his life, Elizabeth spends the next five years struggling to provide for her daughter and willing to sacrifice anything to give her child a safe, comfortable life. For five years, Christian has regretted the day he walked away from his family and will do anything to win them back just as Elizabeth will do anything to protect her daughter from the certain heartache she believes Christian will bring upon them.

When Christian wrestles his way into their lives, Elizabeth is faced with asking herself if it is possible to forgive someone when they’ve committed the unforgivable and if it is possible to find a love after it has been buried in years of hate.

Or are there some wounds that go so deep they can never heal? They say everyone deserves a second chance.

Lost to You and Take This Regret can be read as Stand-Alone Novels. Recommended reading order: Lost to You, Take This Regret, If Forever Comes

This book picks up where Lost to You ended. Christian and Elizabeth are both happier than they have ever been. Although Elizabeth had her reservations about being in a relationship with Christian, he’s proving that all her fears were for naught. Then she finds out she is pregnant and everything goes straight to hell. After telling Christian, he gives her an ultimatum. Him or the baby. Elizabeth is devastated, but chooses her child over the man she thought loved her more than life.

Fast forward five years. During a chance meeting at the grocery store, Christian lays on the child that he abandoned. After feeling a connection that he’s never felt before, Christian knows (again) what a big mistake he made all those years ago. Now he’s determined to get to know his child, even if he has to go against Elizabeth to do it.

I had a hard time with this book. How does Christian deserve redemption after deserting Elizabeth and Lizzie? It just didn’t compute in my mind until he started making amends and showing that he really had change. This book was about forgiveness and a relationship that was so intense, the feelings never died. I really ended up liking this book.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Regret

four-half-stars


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Review: The Cursed by Alyssa Day

Posted October 23, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Cursed by Alyssa DayReviewer: Holly
The Cursed by Alyssa Day
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: League of the Black Swan #1
Publisher: Berkley, Self-Published
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy
Pages: 282
Length: 8 hours and 1 minute
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

New York Times bestselling author of the Warriors of Poseidon series Alyssa Day returns with a thrilling new series of paranormal romance and a heated battle between good and evil fought to the death on the streets of New York…

Bordertown private investigator Luke Oliver’s beat is the dimensional fold in Manhattan between the human and supernatural realms. But now a secret from his past—the League of the Black Swan—has surfaced. Because Luke isn’t any ordinary P.I. He’s the Dark Wizard of Bordertown, and he never backs down from a fight.

But this time the fight threatens his life and his heart. Rio Jones, the only woman he loved, needs his help against a deadly menace. Luke pushed her away once before, so she’d never fall prey to the curse that threatens to destroy him. He swore he’d never let her go again.

Luke and Rio, with the help of the newly reformed League, must keep evil forces from taking over Bordertown—all the while battling a passion on the razor’s edge between danger and desire. And going to take everything they have just to stay alive.

I discovered The Cursed by Alyssa Day while browsing Audible Escape and decided to give it a go. Shortly after I checked the author’s website to see the series had been cancelled by the publisher and no follow up book has been released. The description says this does not end in a cliffhanger, so I continued on with it. While there isn’t technically a cliffhanger, the story is left open and I’d have liked answers to some of the questions left open.

When Rio Jones witnesses a young girl being kidnapped in Bordertown – a place full of magical beings between the Realm and San Francisco – she knows she needs help. She goes to Luke Oliver, the Dark Wizard of Bordertown. The PI is sexy as sin, but has made it clear he isn’t interested. She doesn’t want to go to him, but she knows he’s the only man who can help. Luke turned Rio down for her own good, but he knows he isn’t strong enough to walk away from her twice. When she requests his help, he knows he’ll do anything he can to keep her safe – and to keep her around.

The world was interesting and the early chapters really pulled me in. I enjoyed Rio and Luke, both, as well as the secondary characters. As the story wore on, I became more and more frustrated with the way Rio and Luke both put their heads in the sand and refused to deal with all the questions concerning Rio’s past. Everyone but her seemed to know who she was and what was coming, but rather than follow up they both just sort of ignored everything. Plus, the way things were glossed over about Luke’s “curse” and how quick both of them were to storm off in a huff was annoying.

I really liked certain aspects of the book, and I would have read another had it been available, but overall this was a pretty underwhelming listen.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5

League of the Black Swan

two-half-stars


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Review: Aris by Sarah J. Stone

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Caution: This book may include potentially sensitive content, including but not limited to: Sexual Violence or Abuse.
Review: Aris by Sarah J. StoneReviewer: Holly
Aris by Sarah J. Stone
Narrator: Connor Brown
Series: Stratham Dragons #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Length: 3 hours and 17 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-star
Series Rating: one-star

Aris and his brothers have been sick their entire lives. Every day Aris comes closer to finding a cure. One day his visions show him that the key is a human woman in need of help. He must find her.

Sophie has spent the last seven years of her life locked away and abused by a man who promised to always take care of her. She’s nearly given up hope on ever getting free until she makes contact with the man of her dreams. Is he actually real or is she going crazy?

Can Aris save her from herself and help her heal before it’s too late for both of them?

Content Warning: Explicit love scenes, and piles of sexy shifters. Intended for mature audiences only.

I like how the content warning in the blurb doesn’t mention the massive amounts of on page abuse and sexual assault the female MC suffers.

Content Warning: Explicit love scenes, and piles of sexy shifters. Intended for mature audiences only.

TRIGGER WARNING! Sexual assault and abuse galore.

I found this while browsing the Audible Escape package and thought I’d give it a try. The narration, blurb and cover made me think this would be a lighter PNR, but that wasn’t the case. The book opens with the heroine trapped in a basement being sore abused by her step-father. She mentally connects with our hero, Aris, who turns out to be a dragon shifter suffering from some sort of illness.

He and his brothers-of-the-heart – five boys who banded together – are all suffering from the same thing, yet none of them know why or how to fix it. Aris connects with his biological mother in a dream and learns he’s a half-breed dragon – half Black dragon and half Golden. According to dream mom, until he accepts both halves of himself and finds the missing third part of his soul (the heroine, natch), he – and all his “brothers” – will die.

Sophie has been a captive for 7 years, since she was 14 (so it says in the beginning of the book) or 15 (end of the book). She’s been plotting her escape and trying to keep hope, but she’s almost at the end of her rope. She’s been dreaming of Aris (though she didn’t know his name) for years, but didn’t think he was real until they connect in a dream and he sees her as well. Now she’s determined to hang on until he can rescue her.

I liked the premise of this story, but honestly it was a hot mess. Inconsistencies galore. At first she was raped, then not. She was in the basement for 5 years, then 7. She was severely traumatized by her abuse (understandably so!), then she was strong so it didn’t matter. Things were glossed over or hinted at. Honestly, I could have let a lot of that go, but about halfway through we suddenly switched to the step-dad’s POV and that was just too much. I ended up finishing it, because I was curious to see what would happen with Aris’ illness, but I’m sorry I wasted my time.

At first the narrator bothered me, because he’d occasionally stumble or pause in strange ways/places, but after reading some of the reviews on GR, I’m convinced it was the poor writing in the book. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Rating: 1.0 out of 5

Stratham Dragons

one-star


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