Tag: Guest Reviews

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino

Posted May 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee CarlinoReviewer: Tracy
Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross, Sebastian York
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes
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two-stars

A powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio... Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection."

So…have you ever read a book and you kept thinking to yourself, “I need to stop reading this!” over and over again?  I have, and it’s definitely not a fun experience.  This book was like that.  It was like a car accident that you just couldn’t look away from – horrible, yet you just had to see what was happening.

In this story we start in present day with Penny who is a 35-year-old woman who was once planning on being a dancer.  She now sits out in front of her old dance studio that turned into a Subway in hopes of talking to the building manager about renting the space when the lease runs out on the Subway.   Her best friend of 14 years, Gavin, comes up and tells her that he’s moving to France with his girlfriend.  Thus begins the flashbacks of how Gavin and Penny met and their tumultuous relationship throughout the years.

Penny and Gavin met when they were each talked into doing a blind kiss for a psychology study.  Their chemistry is off the charts and almost immediately they are practically inseparable.  Penny, however, tells Gavin that she can only be friends with him.  Between her studies and her dancing, she can’t concentrate on a romantic relationship and asks him to wait until graduation.  He agrees, even though he wants Penny for his own.  By the time they graduate, Gavin is dating someone else but longing for Penny, Penny is injured and won’t dance again, and then soon after that she’s pregnant and getting married to someone else.

Fourteen fucking years go by with Gavin and Penny stating they’re just friends but yet acting like a couple in every instance except taking that final step.  No, no kissing or screwing, but they spoon and touch and tell each other just about everything, including that they love each other – just as friends, of course. Please – don’t insult my intelligence.  The story revolves around their lives and the non-stop angst of their relationship and the changes it goes through.

This story was a mess!  I have to hand it to Carlino – she wrote the book in such a way that I felt like I needed to keep reading to find out how the shit show that was Gavin and Penny turned out. That fact actually earned this book an extra star, which is sad, really.

The story was about Penny and Gavin’s lives and families as well so there were a few secondary characters in the book.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to know any of them very well so it was mainly focused on Gavin and Penny.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks and I found that annoying.  I didn’t really like Penny at all and wasn’t a huge fan of Gavin’s either.  I thought he could have grown some balls over the years, but that didn’t happen.  On top of not liking the story, I was hoping that I would at least get a great ending with Gavin and Penny getting together.  Didn’t happen.  They did get together, but the ending was a farce and completely rushed. It actually shouldn’t have surprised me that is was bad, but it did.

Overall I disliked this book, obviously, and don’t recommend it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

two-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Slave by Cheryl Brooks

Posted May 23, 2019 by Ames in Features, Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Slave by Cheryl BrooksReviewer: Ames
Slave by Cheryl Brooks
Series: Cat Star Chronicles #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 314
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He may be the last of a species whose sexual talents were the envy of the galaxy

"I found him in the slave market on Orpheseus Prime, and even on such a god-forsaken planet as that one, their treatment of him seemed extreme."

Cat is an enslaved warrior from a race with a feline gene that gives him awesome beauty, fearsome strength, and sensuality and sexual prowess unmatched by any other males in the universe. Even filthy, chained, and beaten, he gives off an aura of power and virility and his feline gene gives him a special aura.

Jacinth is an intergalactic trader on a rescue mission and she needs a man she can trust with her life.

She has spent years pursuing her kidnapped sister from planet to planet. Now her quest leads her to a place where all the women are slaves. "Jack" needs a slave of her own-one who can masquerade as her master.

Enmeshed in a tangle of deception, lust, and love, they must elude a race of violent killers and together forge a bond stronger than any chains. The first book in wildly popular Cat Star Chronicles, a paranormal romance series featuring heroes with a feline gene that gives them remarkable sexual powers.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on May 5, 2008.

Slave, Cheryl Brooks debut novel, is an interesting mix of galactic roadtrip/rescue mission and romance. It starts with “Jack” (Jacinth) needing to buy a slave so she can rescue her sister. Jack’s sister is being held on a planet where the men are in charge and they literally lead women around on chains. And Jack needs to find someone to be her “master” that she can trust. So she decides on the most humanoid slave up for sale.

“Cat” (Carkacund Tshevnoe) is Zetithian-similar to humans, but with feline-ish features. A warrior, Cat has been enslaved for a very long time, and his masters have not been the most kind of creatures.

When Jack buys Cat, she tells him what’s up (rescuing her sister) and when he doesn’t respond, she quickly sets him free, gives him some money and goes back to her starship to figure out a new plan. But when Jack is attacked, Cat quickly comes to her rescue and Jack decides to bring him along on her mission.

From here, the story develops alongside their journey. And it’s a good story, if a wee bit long.

Slave is told from Jack’s point of view. And the dialog between Jack and Cat reveals a lot to Cat’s feelings, which is always a good thing. Stories are sometimes hampered by only hearing the main character’s inner thoughts, but Cat is a very straightforward kind of guy. That was interesting. And Jack’s an interesting character as well. She’s grown up as the older sister to a very beautiful sibling. So she doesn’t value herself as a woman. She’s afraid to open up to Cat because she feels that once he meets her sister, he’ll want to be with her sister. So she’d rather not set herself up for heartache. And Jack is most of all a practical character. My kind of gal.

There’s also an interesting relationship between Jack and Cat. She bought him, but then set him free. But he still feels like he belongs to her. And then they go to a planet where Cat is seen as the Master and Jack the slave…but Jack is still the master although Cat is no longer a slave. LOL The dynamics are fun, if nothing else.

I enjoyed how the story played out, but it did drag a little in the middle.

Grade: 4 out 5.

This book is available from Sourcebooks. You can buy it here or here.

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Trouble with Vampires by Lynsay Sands

Posted May 21, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Trouble with Vampires by Lynsay SandsReviewer: Tracy
The Trouble With Vampires by Lynsay Sands
Series: Argeneau #29
Also in this series: Immortal Ever After (Argeneau #18), Runaway Vampire, Immortal Nights, Immortal Unchained, Twice Bitten
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 380
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three-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For close to three thousand years the imposing, impossibly handsome Santo Notte has fought in armies across the world and battled his own, more personal enemies. Of all the places he might expect to encounter his life mate, a quiet corner of upstate New York doesn’t seem likely. But as soon as he makes contact with history professor Petronella Stone, while hunting down a suspected rogue immortal, he knows that she will be the greatest adventure of his eternal life.

He expects her to be surprised, confused, even overwhelmed. What he doesn’t expect is that Pet has a secret history of her own. There’s no mistaking the mind-blowing, mutual pleasure they share. But as Pet struggles to protect her nephew from a danger lurking too close to home, Santo realizes there’s another threat to her safety—him. And claiming their passionate future will be impossible until he leaves his past behind, forever…

Petronella is babysitting her nephew when someone tries to break into her sister’s house.  She is saved by the guests staying at the house next door, but she recognizes them as immortals and doesn’t trust them at all.  What she really doesn’t expect is that the immortal named Santo would really be someone she fell in love with.

The immortals are at the house next door because they have followed a rogue vampire to a house on that street. When Santo can’t “read” Pet he’s shocked that he’s finally found his life-mate.  He’s even more shocked when he finds out that she knows about immortals.  Unfortunately the only experience she’s had with immortals is bad.  It takes some time to convince Pet that not all immortals are evil like the ones she experienced and that he can protect her and his nephew from the rogue.  What he can’t do is woo her properly because he has no experience.  He may fumble his way through but Santo finally wins the girl.

This was a cute story in the Argeneau series.  I liked the fact that Pet knew about immortals – even though she didn’t have all the facts.  Some things needed to be explained to her but for the most part she was in the know.  This was something different in the series and I liked that.  Santo and Pet were cute together.  I liked how protective they both were of her young nephew.

What I didn’t care for in this book, and what shocked me, was how dark a part of it was.  I’ve never read a Sands book that has dark undertones, and I truly don’t want to again.  It not only described the horrible way in which Pet’s sister & mother died, which was absolutely horrible, but then it went onto Santo and how his entire family was murdered.  OMG, both stories were horrific, but getting both in one book? No, thank you.  I read Sands because I know I’m going to get light romance – that was not this book and I didn’t care for it.

Except for those two parts of the book the rest was pretty light and I liked it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Argeneau

three-stars


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Guest Review: Highland Crown by May McGoldrick

Posted May 20, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Highland Crown by May McGoldrickReviewer: Tracy
Highland Crown by May McGoldrick
Series: Royal Highlander #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 312
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Inverness, 1820Perched on the North Sea, this port town―by turns legendary and mythological―is a place where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts.

WANTED: Isabella DrummondA true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery―and fury―in a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate into even stormier waters. . .and her heart into flames.

FOUND: Cinaed MackintoshCast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself. . .until Isabella saved his life―and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can keep her safe to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to sacrifice to be together…for eternity?

Isabella Drummond is a surgeon, married to a doctor.  They had lived in Edinburgh for six years and had a stable if unexciting life.  Her husband, Archibald, was a reformer, however and when it came down to a day of strikes, he was killed and Isabella ran for her life with her sister and her step-daughter.  She was now being pursued by soldiers who think that she was part of her husband’s radical dealings, and the people in charge of the group of reformers were after her as well so she won’t tell the authorities any information.

When the book opens Isabella is in northern Scotland at a small cottage with a woman who is none too happy for her to be there.  Isabella was helped by her friend Sir Walter Scott who then implored his solicitor to help.  The woman was the solicitor’s aunt.  Isabella’s sister and step-daughter had gone with the solicitor to book passage on a ship to America.  The small town on the shore where she is staying is a rough one.  The villagers gather any items from ships that wreck on the rocks and shoot any survivors so they can’t argue about it.  Nice.  This happens when Isabella is there and she ends up saving one of the men who is the captain of a ship.  When a villager finds out about the man and Isabella they end out having to leave the cottage and take the aunt with them.

They end up fighting for their lives while staying with a relative of the man they saved, Captain Cinaed Mackintosh, but in order to do so they have to act like man and wife.  After just a short period of time together they fall in love but Isabella is unwilling to bring Cinaed into her troubles even though he’s already knee-deep in them.  The pair have to save themselves as well as Cinaed’s relative and decide if they want to leave for America or stay and fight for their country.

This was a good story that I enjoyed.  I’m not normally a fan of country politics in my romances but I have to say this one was well done.  I did think that the H/h fell in love way too fast for me, but I considered the year and went with it. Lol

I loved the fact that Isabella was a doctor/surgeon.  Everyone looked at her funny when she helped others, but she was so good at what she did. I loved that McGoldrick made her a doctor, rather than just a wife who was running for her life.

Because of the politics I’m not sure I’ll read further in the series. That said, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good Scottish historical romance with some political intrigue.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan

Posted May 15, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 418
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

48 hours2 covert operatives1 chance to get it right

Maddox Kinkade is an expert at managing the impossible. Tasked with neutralizing a lethal bioweapon, she turns to the one person capable of helping her stop the threat of pandemic in time: the love of her life, back from the dead and mad as hell at her supposed betrayal. Recruiting Cole to save millions of lives may be harder than resisting the attraction still burning between them, but Maddox will do whatever it takes...even if it destroys her.

When Maddox crashes back into Cole Matthews' life, he wants to fight back. He wants to hate her. But the crisis is too strong to ignore, and soon the two former lovers find themselves working side-by-side in a breakneck race to stop a world-class killer with a secret that could end everything.

It’s a secret agent book! I am always down for a good spy thriller, and this book didn’t disappoint.

Maddox Kinkade is an elite operative with a covert government organization trying to stop a bioterrorist attack. The problem is, the person they need help from is none other than the fiance she thought dead. For his part, Cole Matthews let Maddox think he was dead because she betrayed him. He doesn’t particularly care about helping the US government, but he doesn’t want to look the other way as people are murdered. Plus, he finds he’d still do anything for Maddox. They have to move beyond their past together and go all in to find and stop the terrorist threat.

Maddox is my favorite kind of heroine–she’s prickly, smart, and so very capable. She can fight with the best of them, and I adored seeing Cole slowly realize he didn’t need to protect his little woman. Cole was even pricklier, however. He feels so betrayed and hurt by Maddox, and it makes him snippy and mean at first. To be honest, the whole betrayal was a bit vague in my mind–it had something to do with Maddox telling her CIA father information about Cole’s Russian organized crime family. However, to me it seemed more like the real issue was that her family was in law enforcement while his were in crime! “Betrayal” or not, it didn’t seem realistic that they could have worked out when they were so young. They both needed to grow up and get the perspective of a little time and space.

The terrorist plot was great. You know who they’re chasing, and you get lots of scenes from his perspective. I love the cat-and-mouse story, where the killer seems to always be one step ahead. I also love a good “traitor in our midst” plot, and this book had that as well. In short, the plot ticked my buttons!

As with most action romances, there were some things that didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t know why the agency let Cole in on the operation. I get that they don’t have to follow the “regular rules” of law enforcement, but no way would they let a civilian (and one connected to organized crime no less) in on a case like this. Plus Cole’s family and their crime connection was not well explored. His dad was supposedly trying to go legit, but his brother is not, and what exactly did Cole have to do with anything? There’s also a little bit of melodrama in Maddox’s past. (Small SPOILER ALERT for a content warning: there’s talk of miscarriage in the book.) But listen, I don’t read action romance for the accuracy or relatability. None of this bothered me enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book!

This was an excellent story from a new author, and I cannot WAIT to read more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


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