Tag: Berkley

Review: Master of the Night by Angela Knight

Posted August 8, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Master of the Night by Angela KnightReviewer: Holly
Master of the Night (Mageverse #1) by Angela Knight
Series: Mageverse #1
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: October 5th 2004
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 296
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three-half-stars

American agent Erin Grayson has a new mission: romance international businessman Reece Champion. Seducing the handsome millionaire could put her that much closer to the revenge she craves against a murderous organization.

Erin doesn't realize she's being manipulated by the very group she hunts. Champion is actually an agent of the U.S. government.

He's also a vampire.

Reece senses the latent supernatural powers hidden within Erin, powers as dangerously irresistible to him as her lush body and hot blood. Yet he also knows that yielding to their mutual desire will make them pawns in a deadly game—a game in which their opponent is, quite literally, a monster.

To survive, Erin must embrace talents she never knew she had—and trust a man who is Master of the Night.

I was in the mood for Arthurian romances and asked for recs on Twitter. This series was the first one mentioned. While it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in terms of Arthurian legend, I found the series to be pretty cracktastic. I read 5 full-length novels and 3 novellas back-to-back.

In Knight’s world, Arthur and his round table actually exist, but they’re immortal vampires charged with saving humanity from itself. Merlin and Nimue are aliens from another planet who realized early on civilizations needed subtle help to keep them from wiping themselves out. They created the vampires to watch over humanity and work from behind the scenes to keep them from completely destroying themselves. They must remain in the shadows, for those on Earth must never know they exist.

Reece Champion is the vampire champion of the United States. He’s investigating a sudden surge in cult activity when he comes into contact with Erin Grayson. Erin is a Latent, a descendant of one the round table knights. 1 in every 10 of their offspring can be turned into a Magi (female witch) or Magus (male vampire). Having sex 3 times will trigger Erin’s Latent gifts and open her up to the powers of the Mageverse. The problem is, if she isn’t compatible, channeling that much power can drive her insane and she’ll have to be executed.

It turns out Erin is investigating the same cult activities, but she doesn’t realize Reece is on her side. She’s investigating him as the possible leader of the cult. It isn’t long before they realize there’s more going on than either of them are aware. When they end up locked in a cell together so Reece will trigger her change, they’ll have to decide if they can trust each other enough to work together. The only way out may be by changing Erin, but without a deep personal connection, she might go insane.

I have to admit, the premise caused me a to raise an eyebrow at first. Having sex three times is the only way to release someone’s powers? Okayyy… But it wasn’t as hokey as I expected it to be. I did have to suspend disbelief somewhat to buy the insta-love in each book, but the world is really interesting and the characters drew me in.

Aside from my issues with how quickly they fell in love, I really liked both Reece and Erin. They were both capable and committed to their cause. Erin worked hard and had a deep well of inner strength that appealed to me. Reece was a stand-up guy all around. I did buy their connection, but it just came about too soon.  I enjoyed the way the plot progressed. There was enough action and adventure to keep me interested even when I was a little iffy on the romance.

Someone described these as being “cracky” and I’d agree..the series is totally cracktastic. I couldn’t put it down.

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

Posted August 4, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey BallisReviewer: Rowena
How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
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three-stars

A dare between friends leads to startling revelations and simmering tensions in the latest novel from the author of Wedding Girl.

Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world's most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again.

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn't seem so lonely--until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?

Readers Guide and Recipes Included

How to Change a Life was the first book that I’ve ever read by Ballis. I’ve heard great things about this author before so I’ve always wanted to try her out but never got around to it until I got this book for review. My initial thoughts right after I finished this book was, “A little slow, a lot wordy but still okay”.

So, this book follows Eloise as she reconnects with her high school besties. Eloise, Lynne and Theresa were high school friends who drifted apart and come together at a funeral, 20 years later. They reconnect by daring each other to live life outside of their comfort zones with each other for help.

Eloise is a personal chef who always dreamed of owning her own restaurant but never pursued the dream so she has learned to be content with taking care of her clients and treating them like family. She likes her life just fine, or at least she thought she did until she was shown just how out of touch she is with her happiness. She hasn’t dated anyone since her last boyfriend, years and years ago and she isn’t in any rush to date anyone since she’s still got some scars from Bernard in Paris (the ex-boyfriend) but with the help of her friends, she starts putting herself out there and she really comes into her own because of all of that.

The story also follows her friends as they complete their list but for the most part, the story revolves around Eloise. Eloise, as she makes changes in her life, lets people in and falls in love. I liked Eloise and I liked the story but for the most part, it was slow going and the dialogue was very wordy. Especially the foodie stuff. I kept waiting for something to pop off but nothing really happens. Sure, Eloise evolves as the story goes on but that’s about it. I guess I never felt like I was a part of the story. I felt like I was being told what happened and …that’s it. All of the food stuff went right over my head and I glossed over a lot of it because I didn’t think it was necessary. They didn’t really add anything to the story being told so I could have done without it.

The other characters were nice additions to round out the cast. I liked Eloise’s clients and her friends. They were interesting and charming. The overall story was interesting and I liked it enough to try another one of Stacey Ballis’ books.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Posted July 25, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Wired by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Wired by Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard Series #13
Also in this series: Wired, Wired
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…and longing for more . . .

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a Julie Garwood contemporary and unlike a lot of others, I don’t mind them. Sure, I’m a bigger fan of her older work but her newer stuff does its job of entertaining me. I liked this book fine but I will say that I liked a lot of her other contemporaries a lot more.

I’ve been curious about Liam Scott ever since we met him and I was curious to see what his character was really all about since at one time, I didn’t care for him and then he grew on me and yet, I didn’t feel like I really knew him. Going into this book, I was all about getting to know Liam and it’s a bit disappointing to say that I still don’t feel like we quite got to know him.

Wired follows Liam Scott as he investigates a mole in the FBI and he needs the help of a really smart hacker that looks like sin on a stick. Her name is Allison Trent and she’s just about finished with college and wondering what happens next. He needs her help so she agrees to help him with this project but when she finds his mole, she’s out of the FBI. She’s not interested in working for the FBI. Each day that passes, Allison works on trying to find the mole and Liam works on trying to not jump her bones. It’s not easy because Liam is always with her. Whether he’s supposed to be or not, he keeps her near and he wants to help her with everything in her life. Her work. Her punk ass guardians and anything else that she’d let him help her with.

The romance between Liam and Allison was kind of abrupt. It felt more like lust for a huge chunk of the book because I couldn’t quite believe that they were in love with each other. That they fell in love so quickly. There was something missing in the romance that didn’t win me over completely. Maybe it was because after the book was done, I didn’t feel like I knew Liam as much as I hoped I would. Allison seemed like the perfect woman. She was the genius computer hacker that the FBI was drooling over AND she was gorgeous as shit. A freaking model to boot! Allison was too perfect to be real even with her shitty ass upbringing. I didn’t fully connect with either of them and that was disappointing.

Overall, this book was okay. I liked the book fine. I enjoyed the story even if the romance lacked meat. Liam had potential to be a fabulously sexy hero but I was a bit let down that we don’t really get much of Liam, the man. We get a whole lot of Liam, the FBI Agent. Allison was a strong heroine but I didn’t fully connect with her because she was too perfect. All in all, it was a good story but nowhere near one of Garwood’s bests.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Posted July 5, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Wired by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Casee
Wired by Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard Series #13
Also in this series: Wired, Wired
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…and longing for more . . .

If I had to pick one word for this book: tepid. The romance was tepid, the suspense was tepid. The whole thing was just tepid. Allison intrigued me, Liam intrigued. Together? Not so much. I just don’t understand what happened to Julie Garwood. I know authors grow as writers, but don’t they grow to be better? I saw glimpses of her trademark humor, but she fell short of the mark. It’s sad, really. Then again, when our expectations as readers are so high can authors really meet them? I say they should. They’re the ones that set those expectations by being so freaking amazing. Don’t be mad, Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent is basically a genius. A walking computer. She can do a thousand piece puzzle in twenty minutes. Who does that? It takes me like two weeks. She’s a hacker that likes to help people. Allison doesn’t like breaking the law, but she does it out of the goodness of her heart. Please. Every time she would tell herself that, I would roll my eyes. That’s exactly what the judge would tell her as she was getting sentenced. It’s not surprising that she didn’t like it when the FBI came calling.

Liam Scott only sees Allison as an asset. At the beginning. It doesn’t take long for him to see under the surface. Allison can’t turn away the family that abused her when she was growing up. Not physically, but in every other way. She supports them financially when she is basically on a student budget. She signs a contract to work for the FBI to keep her cousin out of jail. Allison has a soft heart and she can’t say no.

Allison has plans and working for the FBI does not fall into those plans. She has a software program that is going to change the tech world. Problem with that? Someone stole it. Good thing about that? She has a safeguard built in. Between her family and someone trying to hurt her, she and Liam begin a non-relationship as she likes to call it. Allison is far from worldly, but even she can only watch him walk out the door so many times.

I just didn’t feel these two together. We got a ton of Allison’s backstory. Too much actually. Liam, not enough. Or maybe we did and I just skimmed it. I admit to some skimming. I was bored and wanted to jump ahead to some action. Liam was very protective of Allison, which was nice to read. I was just happy that the book ended.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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Blog Tour: What We Learned from Julie Garwood

Posted July 5, 2017 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 4 Comments

With the release of Wired, Julie Garwood’s latest FBI/Buchanan novel, Rowena, Casee and I took the time to reflect on our first Garwood, our love for her and how her novels shaped our reading..and our lives, as silly as it may sound. We learned a lot about ourselves, the world and our reading preferences from those early Garwood novels.

Blog Tour: What We Learned from Julie GarwoodWired (Buchanan-Renard, #13) by Julie Garwood
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…and longing for more . . .

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What We Learned from Julie Garwood

Casee: The first book I read by JG was Honor’s Splendour. The first thing I really noticed was the selflessness of Madelyne. All she ever wanted was to escape her brother. Yet when she had the chance, she stayed to help his enemy. The second thing that really stuck with me was the humor. JG has a way of writing humor that remains with you long after you have finished one of her books. Honor’s Splendour is still one of my favorite books to this day.

Holly: My first Julie Garwood book was Killjoy, a contemporary romantic suspense novel. It was also my first foray into romance (outside of a few brief illicit Harlequin’s from my t(w)een years). I don’t remember a lot of the finer details now, but the happy ending was enough to convince me to pick up more books by her. My second read was The Gift. While it will never be my favorite, the historical setting and spunky heroine had me clamoring for more. It wasn’t long before I’d glommed her entire backlist. I fell into each new tale, fully immersed in the lives of these fictional historical characters.

Although these books aren’t perfect, I learned a lot from reading them. The heroines were all strong enough to know their own minds; to endure trials and tribulations without faltering. They were honest and kind, and often had to work around men (and women) who wanted to suppress them. But in the end they came out on top. The heroes were all strong, manly alpha-types who didn’t need nothing and no one..until a tiny slip of a woman strolled into their lives and flipped everything upside down.

I remember reading Honor’s Splendour and just melting when Duncan realized he loved Madelyne, long before she realized she loved him in return. Judith and France-Catherine, from The Secret, taught me that best friends really are forever, and can endure anything. Even backgrounds as far apart as English and Highland Scots.

When Nicholaa defeated Royce in The Prize with nothing more than a sling and a rock, I cheered. And when he realized he hated the woman he’d forced her to become by trying to mold her into what he thought a woman should be, I realized it was better to be yourself than change to fit someone else’s mold.

Even now, more years than I care to admit later, I can pick up a Garwood novel and be transported.

Rowena: For me, Julie Garwood will always be the author that taught me what true friendship looks like. From Judith Elizabeth and Frances Catherine to Ramsey and Brodick and Connor, Quinlan and Crispin, there are plenty of friendships that look a lot like family. Friendships that are solid and true. Sure, they don’t always get along and they fight sometimes but at the end of the day, they have your back and you have theirs.

I’m fortunate to have found friendships just like those with a little help from Julie Garwood herself. I met Holly and Casee on the JGBB and we came together through our shared love of Garwood’s books. We’re not perfect by any means but I still love them and know that they love me. Like Judith and Frances Catherine, there isn’t a thing that I wouldn’t do for them.

It doesn’t matter how many times I read these books, the thing that always sticks out to me are the friendships. I adored how Judith traveled to freaking Scotland to be there for her best friend and how there wasn’t a thing that Quinlan and Crispin wouldn’t do for Connor. The knowledge that no matter where they were or what was waiting for them at the end of the tunnel, they would walk through fire for each other and I loved that. The loyalty, the camaraderie, the friendships…those are my favorite things and Julie Garwood captures them so effortlessly. It’s why she’s one of my favorite authors.

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About the Author

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It’s no surprise that Julie Garwood became a writer. Growing up in a large family of Irish heritage, she took to storytelling naturally. “The Irish relish getting all the details of every situation,” she explains. “Add in the fact that I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life I learned that self-expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick.”

Creating stories was always a passion for Julie, but she didn’t focus on making it a career until the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young adult books, she turned her interests to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published in 1985, and there has been a steady parade of bestsellers ever since. Today more than 40-million copies of her books are in print, and they are translated in dozens of languages around the world. One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production on CBS.

Whether the setting be medieval Scotland, Regency England, frontier Montana, or modern-day Louisiana, her themes are consistent: family, loyalty, and honor. Readers claim that it’s the humor as well as poignancy of her novels that keep them coming back for more. Julie described her goals this way: “I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.”

Julie lives in Leawood, Kansas, and is currently working on her next novel.


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