Tag: 3.75 Reviews

Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

Posted September 14, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla VaneReviewer: Holly
A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Series: A Gathering of Dragons #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC, Audiobook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 555
Length: 15 hours and 16 minutes
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Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil - until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

I’ve been waiting for Milla Vane (aka Meljean Brook) to return to writing for years. When this book popped up on NetGalley, I actually squee’d out loud. Then I started it and…wasn’t in the mood. It had nothing to do with the book, I just wasn’t feeling a dark epic fantasy at that time. Fast forward to this month; I saw the audiobook and decided to purchase it. I’m really glad I did. I ended up loving the narrator.

Maddek is determined to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of a neighboring kingdom. When the traditional path is closed to him because of the alliance, he decides to take his revenge in another way…by killing the heir to their thrown. The problem? Yvenne is nothing like he expected. She’s small, weak and nothing like the warrior queen he expected. She’s also just as determined to bring her father down as Maddek is. Though he trusts her not at all, he agrees to take her as his wife if it means being able to kill her father and brothers.

The overall theme of this novel is very dark, and so are the actions of both characters. Maddek was bent on revenge and could see nothing else. Yvenne was determined to kill her father and claim her kingdom. She was also determined to make Maddek into a king, whether he wanted it or not. Yvenne was fierce, for all her physical frailty. I loved how she stood up for herself, and wielded her tongue like a weapon. I liked their dynamic, though his vow that he would rip her tongue out if she spoke of his mother was frustrating. I understood Maddek’s need for vengeance, but I didn’t love the way he treated Yvenne. I wish he’d have wised up a little sooner. In the end, I forgave him because Yvenne did.

I did think it moved a bit slow in parts and the world-building took some time, but I enjoyed the book as a whole.

3.75 out of 5

A Gathering of Dragons

four-stars


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Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 7, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersReviewer: Holly
A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
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Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sliding home…for a lifetime
The girl next door…
Or a grand slam love?



Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?
Nationally Bestselling Author

I hadn’t read Alers before, but I was in the mood for a sweet contemporary when I found this while browsing NetGalley. I’m a total sucker for Single Mom/Sisters who step up stories, and the premise appealed to me. I had a few issues with the writing, but I really liked the story overall.

Zoey’s parents unexpectedly pass away when she’s 18, and she fights to get custody of her two younger brothers, who are 6 and 8. She’s put her life on hold to raise them, but it’s been ten years. When her youngest brother graduates high school, she plans to finally realize her dream of attending nursing school and maybe travel a bit. Until retired Major League Baseball star Sutton Reed moves in next door…

Sutton only planned to spend a year in his hometown while he worked out his next plan after he retires from the majors, but one look at his sexy new neighbor and he knows he’s in trouble. Zoey is everything he ever wanted in a woman, and mentoring her younger brother Harper fulfills him in unexpected ways. Convincing Zoey they should be together long term will take all of his skill…but he’s playing to win.

I loved the relationship between Harper and Zoey (the older brother, Kyle, has joined the Marine Corps and is only mentioned in this book). She had a hard road taking on her brothers and raising them to be men, but she never shied away from it. She was strong and knew herself well. I really enjoyed her character, and her family.

Sutton was also a great character. He was raised by a single-mom and wants nothing more than to work with kids and settle down with his own family now that he’s retired from the majors. He really falls in love with Zoey and her brother, and I loved how committed he was to them both.

There were a couple continuity errors, but they didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

This was a sweet book, focused on family and love. I liked the romance and the way Zoey and Sutton came to care for and rely on one another.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Wickham Falls Weddings

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cardenas

Posted September 3, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 10 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Strongest Shape by Tessa CardenasReviewer: Tracy
The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cárdenas
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 28, 2009
Genres: M/M
Pages: 232
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three-half-stars

After his boyfriend breaks up with him, fashion photographer Caleb Moss finds himself alone in Los Angeles looking for work and friends. He finds both in a group of aspiring musicians, who offer help through their connections. But while building a strong friendship with Scott and Chris, a startling sexual tension flares to life among the three men, and Caleb is afraid the new friendships will fall apart.

It won't be easy for Caleb, trying to find his way when Scott and Chris invite him into their relationship. They face criticism from their friends, but they'll struggle to stay together because they have discovered a three-fold love.

This review was originally posted on August 10, 2011.

This story centers around 3 men, Caleb, Scott and Chris. Caleb is a fashion photographer who followed his boyfriend out to California from New York and then got dumped. He meets Jason who introduces him to Scott. Scott is dating Chris but Chris is on tour (Scott and Chris are both singer/songwriters) and Caleb is warned to not get too chummy with Scott as Chris will be extremely jealous.

When Chris gets home, however, he’s not jealous and the trio become friends. Caleb finds himself liking both men but he doesn’t want to set Chris’s jealousy off so he avoids the couple for a couple of weeks. Chris and Scott go looking for him and bring him back into their fold. They want to be closer friends, in fact, they both like Caleb and want to be a trio instead of a pair. Caleb isn’t sure it will work but he decides to go for it. The trio have their work cut out for them but it’s the work that makes the book…work.

This story really has one main focus and that is the relationship between these 3 men and all of its quirks. Chris and his possessiveness, Caleb and his insecurities and Scott and his devil may care attitude. I really like that aspect of the book as we got to see in depth stuff about the men. How they dealt with letting their friends know about the relationship, as well as their parents, or not. I loved how the men stuck together through thick and thin. Yes, Caleb had to have his breathing time and his space at some points but it was good.

Were there things about the story that I would have liked to have seen? Of course. I would have loved to have known more about the men and their jobs. We know that Chris and Scott are singer/songwriters but not to what level. Near the end Caleb mentions something about what would happen if they were ever signed so I assumed they weren’t at that level. Yet, Chris was on tour at one point and recordings were mentioned. It was a bit confusing for me and I either wanted to know more…or less. lol

One of the things I wish for in most of the books I read is more communication! In this story the guys were horrible at it – especially Chris and Caleb – and didn’t want to be “girly” and share their feelings. If you can’t share them with the ones you love who can you share them with? Of course the non-communication fed into Caleb’s doubts about his place in the relationship but I very much liked how the men worked it out.

Overall it was a good book. I’m not usually a fan of m/m/m stories but this one definitely worked for me.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Dream Maker by Kristen Ashley

Posted August 31, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Dream Maker by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee & Holly
Dream Maker by Kristen Ashley
Series: Dream Team #1
Also in this series: Quiet Man
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 544
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Dream Man and Rock Chick series comes a brand new story about love, friendship, and the bonds of sisterhood. Evie is a bonafide nerd and a hyper-intelligent chick who has worked her whole life to get what she wants. Growing up, she had no support from her family and has only ever been able to rely on herself. So when Evie decides she wants to earn her engineering degree, she realizes she needs to take an alternative path to get there. She takes a job dancing at Smithie's club thinking this would be a quick side gig, where she can make the money she needs. But with her lack of dancing skills and an alpha bad boy who becomes overly protective, Evie realizes this might not be as easy as she thought.Daniel "Mag" Magnusson knows a thing or two about pain, but the mask he wears is excellent. No one can tell that this good-looking, quick-witted, and roguish guy has deep-seated issues. Mag puts on a funny-guy routine so he can hide his broken heart and PTSD. But when Evie dances her way into Mag's life, he realizes that he needs to come face-to-face with the demons of his past if he wants a future with her.

Dream Maker is set in the same world as the Rock Chicks and Dream Man series. We were first introduced to Hawk and his men in Mystery Man, and more recently we got to know them in Quiet Man. Dream Maker follows Evie, a stripper, and Mag (Daniel Magnusson), one of Hawk’s commandos.

Holly: Kristen Ashley is one of my favorites. Her novels are all very similar, but it’s easy to fall into them. This was one of the better ones of hers I’ve read in awhile. You’re still pretty new to KA. What did you think of it?

Casee: I really, really liked this book. I think it’s one of KA’s better books. Of course it could have been shorter, but I was so into the story that I didn’t really care. I’m so glad I read Quiet Man first. I know it’s a prequel, but it was sure nice to know what was going on.

Holly: I’m not one for reading in order, but I think reading Quiet Man first is a good idea. It sets the stage (stage, get it? ha ha) for this novel and gives us a better understanding of why Evie and Mag were set up together.

I really liked how close knit the group was in Quiet Man, and I think some of that was missing here. I wanted more interactions between Evie and the guys. But I still really liked it.

Casee: I really liked Evie’s personality. I loved her quirkiness and her loyalty (although misplaced) to her family. I loved how she called Mag “Danny” and he got annoyed when she called him “Mag”. So stinking cute.

I felt that some of the closeness of the group was missing as well. I really liked Lottie’s interactions with the guys in Quiet Man. While Evie did interact with the guys, it wasn’t on the same level.

Holly: I liked certain aspects of Evie’s character, but she also made some dumb decisions based on her insecurities. I was really glad to see how things progressed with her through the novel.

I agree. It wasn’t the same. I mean, I guess it makes sense that not every girl will have a connection with them, but usually KA is big on that kind of thing.

Casee: Did you like any of the secondary characters? I’m not sure I liked any of them. Not a whole lot anyway.

Holly: I don’t like the Rock Chicks. They’re annoying. I did like the other strippers and Mag’s friends, but they played such a small part. I definitely didn’t like Evie’s family.

Casee: Favorite part of the book?

Holly: I know it’s weird, but it was when Evie was a bitch to Mag and called him a manwhore and he got pissed. Something about his reaction really worked for me. Yours?

Casee: That is weird, but totally understandable. My favorite part was when she told her mother off. What a bitch that woman was. She cared more about her son being in jail than her daughter being kidnapped. Bitch.

Holly: I was glad she told off her mom, but honestly I wanted to see her tell them all off. I did like that her sister came through in the end, though. I also liked that Evie was super judgmental about her sister, then realized the error of her thoughts. I like how multi-layered KA’s characters are.

Casee: Where does this fall in comparison to your favorite KA books? This one ranks pretty high for me. I really, really enjoyed it. I would give it a 4.25 out of 5.

Holly: It’s mid-range for me. I prefer her older books. In terms of her more recent releases, this is better than most, but not my favorite. I’d give it 3.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 4.25 out of 5.
Holly: 3.75 out of 5.

Dream Team

four-stars


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Review: My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid

Posted August 28, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: My Darling Duke by Stacy ReidReviewer: Holly
My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid
Series: Sinful Wallflowers #1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 377
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Miss Katherine Danvers is a desperate wallflower. Her family is on the brink of financial ruin, and it is up her to save her mother and sisters from a life of indignities. So she transforms herself into the incomparable Kitty Danvers, the fiancée of the enigmatic and reclusive Alexander Masters, Duke of Thornton—once dubbed the mad, bad, and dangerous catch of the Season.

Ten years ago, society and the woman Alexander Masters loved called him a monster, after a tragic accident left him scarred and confined to a wheelchair. His heart exists in cold, lonely exile, until he learns he has a fiancée—a deceptive, clever, and utterly intriguing woman he's never met. Miss Danvers will now learn the consequences of engaging herself to the beast, for Alexander is determined to make her his. Soon, they are involved in a chase, a clash of wills, and though he once vowed to never love again, he burns for the enchanting Miss Danvers. And denying his heart may cost him an exquisite love that happens only once in a lifetime.

My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid is the first book in the Sinful Wallflowers series. My friend and fellow reader Nikki recommended this to me. I’m a sucker for all things Beauty and the Beast, so I had to download it as soon as she told me the premise. I’m so glad I did.

Miss Katherine Danvers is a wallflower, a desperate one. Her father died and left them with nothing. She and her friends, other desperate wallflowers, vow to do something daring to change their circumstances. She has a very short window in which to get her sisters married, so she does something daring..she creates a new persona and claims to be the fiance of a reclusive Duke. He hasn’t been in society – or even the country – in years, so she figures she’s safe enough. Only things keep spiraling out of her control..before she knows it she’s installed in a new rental house in a better location, riding around in a hired carriage and has a new wardrobe…all courtesy of the unsuspecting Duke.

Alexander Masters, The Duke of Thornton, withdrew from society 10 years ago, after a house fire killed his parents and left him badly scarred. He knows he can never take a wife, but he’s very intrigued by this woman claiming to be his fiance. Rather than calling her a liar, he goes along with it, curious beyond measure. Kitty is nothing like he imagined her to be, and he can’t seem to stay away from her. But he can’t sire children, and he doesn’t want to take a wife when he can’t be a true husband.

This was a sweet story. The end was a little over the top cheesy, but I can’t deny I was smiling while I read it. I loved Katherine and Alexander. Their reactions to each other weren’t the expected ones, and I was here for it. I really liked the friendship between Kitty and the other wallflowers, too. They had a strong bond and I really liked how they confided in each other, and encouraged one another to be bold and brave. I also liked Alex’s relationship with his sister, and his servants. They were a family, for all that he was in charge of them.

As I said, some parts were overly cheesy, but I liked how supportive Kitty and Alex were of each other. I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Sinful Wallflowers

four-stars


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