Tag: Sci-Fi Romance

Throwback Thursday Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens

Posted September 5, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #11
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Thief , Heart Duel , Heart Choice, Heart Quest , Heart Dance , Heart Fate , Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Fire, Heart Legacy, Heart Change, Heart Sight (Celta's Heartmates)
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: August 7th 2012
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

On the faraway planet Celta, there are some things you can never tell—until someone discovers your Heart Secret…

When a virulent disease killed the woman he loved and her baby, Garrett Primross was left alive, a reluctant survivor. Now, as a private eye, he strives to banish the memories of his past and rebuild his life. The Healers of Celta have something else in mind: Discover why he survived.

He is monitored by Healer Artemisia Panax—his HeartMate, a love he never pursued. Still mourning his loss, he refuses to acknowledge her. Since her family was publicly disgraced, she's used to such treatment. She wants nothing more than to guard her livelihood and protect the secrets she's sworn to keep.

Thrown together by duty, Garrett and Artemisia find the body of the last Black Magic Cultist who ruined her family. Suspicion flares, but they have little choice but to investigate the crime together. When their own lives are placed in danger, they realize that denying their HeartMates is only denying their own future.

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

This review was originally posted on August 7, 2012

This is book number eleven in Owens’ Celta’s HeartMates series. While past events are mentioned, I think this can be read as a standalone.

Garrett is the sole survivor from his small estate of a terrible disease. When it took the girl he loved three years before, he vowed never to contact his HeartMate. He didn’t want to soil the memory of his first love, nor did he want to risk his heart again. Now they’re being forced to work together to help find a cure, since the disease is back. He tries to keep her at arms length, but can’t deny he’s drawn to her.

Artemisia’s family was cast out of their home after they were falsely accused of being part of a cult. They have since been tasked with taking care of BalmHeal, the private sanctuary of Celta that’s only available to those who are in desperate need. The entire family has been sworn to secrecy. She knows she has a HeartMate, but figures he never tried to contact her because of the scandal. And she’s ok with that. Mostly. She does want a family, however, and she hopes to find someone she can marry. She can’t deny an attraction to Garrett, but he’s a patient and therefore off limits. Plus, he’s kind of grumpy and prickly.

Even after their forced time together (while Garrett undergoes infection – he’s the only one on the planet who is immune – so they can hopefully find a cure), Garrett doesn’t want to claim Artemisia as his HeartMate. He wants to remain true to his first love and he resents that Artemisia makes him feel things for her.

With this novel, Owens moves firmly into the second generation of Celta families. I’m kind of torn here. I really like that we’re moving into a new generation and seeing outside the First Families. On the other hand, I kind of miss the sense of the world we got from the First Family’s point of view.

This is a darker novel. Garrett suffered through a traumatic event and there’s is a lot of pain and grief inside of him from it. He takes out his anger and guilt on Artemisia more than once. As we learn more about the events that shaped his past, it’s easy to forgive his treatment of her. Where I struggled was his complete about-face with her. One minute he didn’t want her as his HeartMate and the next he decided to claim her. That might have killed the novel for me, but he really had to work for it. If Artemisia had fallen at his feet as soon as he announced his change of heart, I don’t think this would have worked as well.

I enjoyed both characters. Artemisia was a strong woman who was doing her best to make her way in the world, despite the scandal that still hung over her head. I only wish more had been done about the director of the Healing Hall she worked at. I was hoping for a comeuppance and was sorely disappointed in that regard.

Celta is such an interesting world, so easy to fall into. I can never wait to get the next installment and when I finish a new book, I always want to go back and re-read the old ones.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Celta’s HeartMates

three-half-stars


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Review: Touch of Frost by S.E. Smith

Posted April 24, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Touch of Frost by S.E. SmithReviewer: Holly
Touch of Frost by S.E. Smith
Narrator: David Brenin
Series: Magic New Mexico #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 30, 2014
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape, Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 249
Length: 5 hours and 57 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Lacey Adams lives in the small town of Magic, New Mexico, where she devotes herself to the animals at her Touch of Magic Animal Shelter. The strange assortment of animals helps heal the pain and loneliness inside her since the death of her husband three years before.

Frost is a Star Ranger. He travels the star systems, bringing intergalactic fugitives to justice. When a maximum-security fugitive escapes from the mining prison, he is sent after him. Only this time, the fugitive has violated a major law… he has traveled to a distant forbidden planet inhabited by a race that has not mastered space travel yet.

Now, he is in a race to find the fugitive before those on the planet known as Earth discover there are not one, but two aliens on their world. Things become complicated when Frost discovers his heart is not as frozen as he thought when a young human female is taken hostage by the fugitive. What he doesn’t anticipate is her unexpected resistance – both to the fugitive and to him.

Frost is forced to make a decision that is guaranteed to put him on the most wanted list when he follows his heart and kidnaps Lacey. He knows that some things are worth the risk. What he doesn’t know is that Lacey has a few secrets of her own.

* First published in the anthology, Feel the Heat.

Touch of Frost is the first book in the Magic, New Mexico series by S.E. Smith. This is the first book I’ve read by the author. I found it book while browsing the Audible Romance Package for sci-fi, then ended up downloading the ebook. The blurb is a bit misleading in that I expected a straight-up alien kidnapping story, but instead got a magically filled UF/F/SF.

Star Ranger (aka intergalactic Bounty Hunter) Frost is ready to retire to help his brother run a business on their home planet when he’s given one last assignment; Find escaped convict Taar and bring him back – dead or alive. Taar has stolen a transport and ended up on a primitive planet called Earth. Frost is determined to get this mission over with quickly, and figures it’ll be easy since Earth is filled with nothing but savages. He doesn’t expect the inhabitants of Magic, New Mexico to be filled with magical creatures of unimaginable power.

Lacey Adams is a widow who runs the Touch of Magic animal shelter in Magic. She and the other inhabitants of Magic hide in plain sight, using their magic as they see fit, but never exposing it to outsiders. She doesn’t have a choice when two alien species show up. Frost is determined to make her his, but Lacey won’t open her heart up again.

I really loved how the heroine kept saving herself – and often the hero, too. That was probably my favorite part of the book. Around the 60%-70% mark it kind of went off the rails for a bit and ended up being over-the-top campy, but it came back toward the end. Though it wasn’t perfect and some things really bothered me, I enjoyed the story overall. Definitely lighter fare, but fun. I’ll be trying more from this author soon.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Magic, New Mexico

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

Posted September 20, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea SinclairReviewer: Casee
Hope's Folly (Dock Five Universe, #3) by Linnea Sinclair
Series: Dock Five Universe #3
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 425
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a ragtag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be if he can get his command ship-the derelict cruiser called Hope's Folly-functioning. Not much can rattle Philip's legendary cool-but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She's the daughter of his best friend and first commander-a man who died while under Philip's command and whose death is on Philip's conscience.

Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly minted rebel leader, once she learns the truth about her father's death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but their lives at risk? It's an impossible mission: A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

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

This review was originally posted on March 25, 2009.

I was never really a fan of sci-fi romance until I read Games of Command. I absolutely loved that book and it was in my top 5 reads of 2007. Hope’s Folly is the third book in the Gabriel’s Ghost universe. I know it will shock many of you to know that I haven’t read Gabriel’s Ghost or Shades of Dark. Yes, you read that right. I actually started with the 3rd book in the series. Even though I am allergic to reading 1st person, after reading Hope’s Folly, I have to go back and read both Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark.

Admiral Philip Guthrie has little hope that he will be able to get the slagging (I love this word, btw) mess that is Hope’s Folly to Ferrin without getting himself or his crew killed. When he meets the crew, he is shocked to learn that one of his crew members is Rya Bennton, the daughter of his best friend. The ten year old girl who flicked peas at him across the table and begged him to shoot his weapon has grown into a woman that Philip is drawn to. Philip doesn’t have time to question his attraction to woman he once dubbed Rya the Rebel. He has a ship that’s falling apart and someone trying to sabotage the small chance they have of making it to Ferrin alive.

Rya Bennton can’t believe that her commanding officer is Philip Guthrie, the man who has been the subject of her fantasies for many long years. After saving his life on Kirro Station, Rya refuses to relinquish the duty of seeing to Philip’s safety. When things continue to go wrong on Hope’s Folly, Rya is convinced that they have someone on board that is trying to sabotage the crew. Rya is determined to find out who it is before s/he can get to Phillip or cause further harm to Hope’s Folly.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rya and Philip as a couple. While I liked both characters individually, I wasn’t feeling it between them at first. Age was a huge factor for Philip and it was something that he wouldn’t let go of. He would go between lover and father-figure which was kind of creepy. His internal dialogue was pretty funny, though, and it didn’t take me long to get on board with these two. Rya was also pretty amusing. When she decides to go against Philip’s orders so she can ultimately save his life, she’s afraid he’s found out before she can implement her plan.

Rya racked her brain for Imperial Regulation Fifty-Seven A, any of the paragraphs, but she didn’t know Fleet regs like she did ImpSec ones. And maritime law—law. The brig suddenly loomed large again.

Maybe they’d just confine her to her cabin. She could probably hack into that lock.

“Fifty-seven A, sir? No. Unless you mean…” Welford’s mouth opened the closed quickly. He swallowed, hard. “You can’t be serious. Sir.”

Rya stared at Acting Captain Welford. God and stars. They were going to make her walk
the plank. Or whatever the deep space equivalent was of that. Jettison her out a cargo hatch?

“I’m dead serious.” Philip held out his hand toward her. “Rya.”

Her own flew to the Carver at her side. Dugan had taken inventory, told Philip the trank was missing. Now they were going to strip her of her weapons and space her. They probably thought she meant to kill him. God, no. Just knock him out for a little while, long enough to get through the gate, long enough he couldn’t sacrifice himself.

Wasn’t she at least entitled to a trial first?

“Rya,” Philip repeated. “Over here. Now.”

Name, rank, serial number. Name, rank, serial number. Say nothing incriminating.
Name, rank, serial number.

She stepped toward him, raising her hands slowly out from her sides.

Philip frowned, head tilted slightly.

Behind her, Welford snorted out a laugh. “She doesn’t know Fleet regs, Admiral. She thinks we’re going to arrest her.”

Rya really was a rebel; always wanting to go against regs if she thought that it would save Philip’s life.

Linnea Sinclair does a remarkable job of drawing the reader into the story. The action in the book was amazing and I found myself holding my breath more than once. Once I started reading Hope’s Folly, I had a ridiculously hard time putting it down. Though the first few chapters lagged a bit for me, once the book gets going, it goes fast.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Dock Five Universe

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Posted March 1, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn FrankReviewer: Holly
Hunting Julian (Gatherers, #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Series: Gatherers #1
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

As an Advocate for his colony, Julian Sawyer travels to Earth to bring back the Chosen--women who possess energy potent enough to help revitalize his people. The stunning, silver-clad beauty who strides into his club one night radiates a sensual magnetism unlike any he's encountered, and Julian realizes that Asia Callahan is not just Chosen, she is his kindra: his one true mate.

For months, Asia has tracked the beautiful and mysterious Julian across the country, convinced that he's behind the disappearance of her sister and a dozen other women. She's prepared to believe he's a ruthless killer, but when she presents herself as bait, she discovers that the truth is far more shocking. Taken to a strange, hazardous realm she never knew existed, Asia will face the ultimate choice--between abandoning the life she's always known, and forsaking a passion as dangerous as it is powerful.

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This book was originally posted on February 16, 2011.

I picked this up on a whim out of my TBR pile. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a sci-fi novel featuring aliens from a different plane of existence. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the premise in the beginning, I admit the story sucked me in the more I read. I enjoyed the world. Frank’s description of Beneath and the creatures that inhabit it were well done. I also enjoyed Julian. Though it was hard to take his actions in the beginning, I think Frank did a fairly credible job of redeeming him.

Asia was harder to take. Although I understood her actions in the beginning (if I’d been kidnapped I image I’d have tried to escape/flout authority, too) they became increasingly hard to excuse away as the novel progressed. Although that isn’t my main issue. My main issue was her insistence that she “wasn’t made for forevers and happily ever afters”. That’s it. That was all the resistance between her and Julian. It wasn’t the fact that she was from Earth and he wasn’t, or that he brought her to his world without her permission, or that his people needed her to feed them energy, all of which I could have understood. Instead it was just “eh, I’m not a HEA type of girl”. She based this on nothing more than the fact that she was jaded and hadn’t ever had a lasting relationship. Considering the amount of resistance she put up, that was a very flimsy excuse.

Beyond that, there were several holes in the plot. The idea that Julian and Asia had to have sex in order to feed his people energy was somewhat outlandish, but so was the rest of the plot, so I could set that aside. It was harder to set aside disbelief over other things, such as the way Julian and Asia constantly fought with each other. That hampered the progress of the romance, so I didn’t find their feelings for each other believable.

I did like that Frank added more depth to the “destined” angle of the plot. Though Julian and Asia were “kindra”, meaning soul-mates, they didn’t immediately fall in love or accept they were meant to be together forever. Well, Julian did, but that’s to be expected since he’d grown up with the knowledge that it might happen. The fact that Asia resisted simply because it was “meant to be” was refreshing when compared to many other novels featuring the same trope.

Having said that, I’m willing to cut the novel a little slack because it’s the first of a new series. I did enjoy the world enough that I plan to read the next entry, Stealing Kathryn.

3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Posted March 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Silver Shark by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kinsmen Series #2

Publication Date: September 16th 2011
Pages: 96
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Claire Shannon is a killer. She uses no weapons, only her mind.

Born on a planet locked in a long war, Claire is a psycher, a woman with the ability to attack minds and infiltrate a biological computer network where psychers battle to the death. But when the war abruptly ends, Claire must hide her psycher's ability to survive. She is deported to a new planet, a vivid beautiful place, where she meets Venturo Escana, a powerful psycher, whose presence overwhelms both her mind and her body.

She thought she had left war and death behind, but now she must fight for her new life and this battle might just cost her everything...

Claire Shannon was born on the war planet Uley. For eons two companies fought over the right to use the planet’s resources, which meant nothing existed there but war and death. It was a gray planet with very little to do but fight, prepare and sleep. Claire is a trained Psycher, someone who can enter the bionet (think psychic plane, like the internet, Matrix style) and navigate through to access data and/or kill enemies. She’s a soldier. All comforts have been given up for the sake of the war. When the war suddenly ends, Claire hides her true self so she isn’t killed on sight (psychers are considered much too dangerous to be allowed to live) and ends up getting deported. Her new planet is filled with light and color, sounds, textures and strange flavors. For someone who lived with nothing but gray, it’s a lot to take in. But she’s determined to fit in and do her best.

She’s given housing, clothes and a job at the outset. She becomes the personal assistant to Venturo Escena, a  self-made businessman and psycher himself. She needs to fly under the radar so she isn’t killed for being a psycher herself, but she’s a true leader, she can’t help but push for more – for herself and others. It isn’t long before she’s indispensable to Venturo…or before she’s half in love with him. When one of her countrymen comes to her for help, she knows she can’t turn them away, even though it means possible exposure of who and what she really is.

The romance is secondary to the rest here, but it really worked. Andrews’ excels at building complex, multi-layered worlds. Both planets were easily imagined, as was Claire’s determination to live and succeed in her new life. I do wish this had been longer, or that there were more books in the series. At 96 pages, this ended much too soon. The conflicts were resolved, but I wasn’t ready for it to end.

3.5 out of 5

three-stars


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