They may not be made for each other, but animal instincts are impossible to ignore.
Madisyn Drake is a rare breed of cat shifter…a loner, unpredictably wild, and emotionally distant. A recent betrayal has left her ready to sharpen her claws on the next man she sees…until a prowling wolf with steel-gray eyes and a brooding dark edge challenges her distrust. No matter how fully he satisfies her touch-hunger, Madisyn’s not ready to open up again, even if it is oh so gratifying.
Bracken Slater has earned his reputation as an indomitable predator. Once broken by grief and guilt, Brack is feeling alive again, thanks to the heady scent of this independent feline. Convincing her that they’re meant for each other is going to take more than branding Madisyn’s beautiful neck. She’s not interested in joining an unfamiliar pack, much less answering to an alpha. But when threats from both their pasts take shape, their unexpected destiny may be the only thing that can save them.
Echoes of Fire is the fourth book in Suzanne Wright’s Mercury Pack series. It follows Bracken Slater as he finds and courts his mate, Madisyn Drake. Jill Redfield narrated and I really enjoyed her for the most part. She does the voices well and overall I like her voice. I did struggle with two things, however. 1) She spoke in a very forceful way as Bracken, which often made him come off as controlling instead of caring. 2) She did a kind of valley girl, breathy thing during the love scenes that drove me absolutely batshit crazy. Still, I listened to all the books in both the Mercury Pack and Phoenix Pack series’ and she narrates them all, so obviously those things didn’t completely ruin the stories for me.
Throughout the series Bracken was kind of lighthearted and sweet. When his family is murdered right in front of him, including his nephew whom he was holding at the time, it changed him. Now he’s broken and angry, with no outlet for his pain since he wreaked vengeance on those who stole his family from him. When he’s hit by a car and has a moment of openness, he feels the mating connection to Madisyn Drake. They’ve been circling each other for years, rubbing each other the wrong way and denying their mutual attraction. Madisyn is a lone feline shifter who has no desire to join a pack or be stuck mated to a man who doesn’t even like her. But Bracken knows he can’t let her go. She fills something inside him and he knows he’ll never become whole without her.
I really loved how Madisyn was described like Grumpy Cat. She was an angry little cat, but unexpectedly so. She looked so sweet and adorable no one expected her to turn feral and whoop the shit out of everyone. She was the perfect match for Bracken in every way.
My heart broke for Bracken and his struggle to find his footing after his family was murdered. The fact that he was holding his baby nephew when a bullet passed through him and killed his nephew just made it all the worse. His fire and intensity were well contained until then. Now he has a reputation for being ruthless. I liked how well Madisyn balanced him out and how determined he was to put her first, even though he had so many dark parts inside himself.
I don’t really care for the suspense plots in Wright’s novels. The villains are always easy to spot and I often end up scratching my head over some of the decisions the pack makes in their pursuit of them. But the romance and friendships more than make up for any frustrations I feel.
While I enjoyed the entire series, Echoes of fire is hands down my favorite. Bracken and Madisyn made a wonderful couple. His intensity and anger were tempered so well by her inner strength I couldn’t help but love them.
It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg.
No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.
Roni Axton is a warrior. She is hard and tough, definitely not girly and frilly. She gets bored in social situations and would rather suck on a lollipop than converse with just about anyone. She knows this about herself so she’s confused when Marcus Fuller starts paying attention to her. She’s not like any of the girls he’s dated before and he’s “dated” A LOT of women. She doesn’t tell him but she secretly likes his attention because she is definitely hot for his body. He plays in most if not all of her sexual fantasies.
Marcus is tired of the women who don’t want him for anything but sex. He’s tired of clingy women and he’s hot for Roni. No, she’s not like the women he’s dated in the past but she’s definitely a challenge. Slowly but surely he quietly works his way into her life and they decide to stay together – even though they aren’t mates. In fact they go so far as to tell each other that if the others mate did show up they’d have to quietly get rid of them. Lol
While the romance between Marcus and Roni is going on both of their packs are working to discover A) who tried to kidnap the son of the Phoenix packs alpha pair and B) who is running a horrible website called snm.com that displays videos of hideous violence. They figure out that a jackal pack is behind it all but finding out where they’re located is not easy. The two packs will stop at nothing until the creators of the website are gone for good and the site taken down.
Dark Instincts is the fourth book in the Phoenix Pack series and it was another great story. I really love the dynamics in the pack – in this book both packs: Phoenix and Mercury – and love reading about them.
In this story Roni is, imho, hilarious. She’s definitely not had an easy life and has been coddled by her brother and mother since an attempted rape 12 years earlier. It has also put a fair amount of guilt on her as well as her brother had to go to juvie for killing the men who tried to rape her. She loves being a warrior but she’s highly intelligent and gets bored easily. She spends a lot of time in her wolf form to try and get away from the coddling of her family. Marcus comes along and doesn’t put up with her crap and I loved it. He knew what she needed and how to handle her – or in some cases not handle her – and he did it well. Marcus was not a stupid man and was open to doing things a different way in order to get what he wanted – Roni. The romance was incredibly sweet and I loved that once they got together there wasn’t a whole lot of angst between the two of them.
I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I’m hoping that Wright keeps writing about this great group of shifters.
Rating: 4 out of 5
This title is available from Montlake Romance. You can buy it here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
It was so nice waking up this morning with no alarm and then instead of freaking out because it didn’t go off and I’m late, I luxuriate in bed and don’t worry about going anywhere today if I don’t feel like it. Fuck yeah. lol I love my days off. Oh and Happy President’s Day. 🙂
Not much happening around here so I’ll just get on to what I read last week:
I started off the week with After the Rain by Daisy Harris. This is the story of Henri who’s used to living the high life with his ex-boyfriends and Logan who is from Texas and proud of it. Logan knows he’s gay but has never even kissed a man. Logan and Henri share a tent on a camping trip and things steam up. Good story of two very different men finding each other. You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5
Next I read Redeemed by Sandy James. This is book 3 in the Safe Havens series and it was a good one. Sara heads to White Pines, Montana to see her brother, Ty, after she finally gets herself out of the brothel she was forced to work in. Caleb is at the train station expecting his mail order bride to arrive. There’s a bit of confusion, to say the least, and next thing you know the two are married. When Caleb finds out the truth he’s not a happy camper – to say the least. This was another great story and I’m so happy I read it. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
Vampire Most Wanted by Lynsay Sands is book 20 in the Argeneau series – can you believe it? This one was pretty different from the others as it was darker. It was really good and we learned a lot about a particular character from a previous book. My review will post tomorrow. 4 out of 5
I can’t believe I forgot to add For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding! The story was about a real estate agent who puts an add for a house in the paper and it’s sabotaged. The add says horrible things about the house. She gets fired but is determined to save her career. She goes to the own of the house – who she lusts after madly and offers to sell the house for free. The two hit it off but he’s a broody artist with secrets and she’s got secrets of his own. Good story and I really enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)
When the Duke was Wicked by Lorraine Heath is the first book in a new series. Grace is the daughter of a duke but a woman who needs to marry for love. She’s certain that this is the only way she can marry. She’s stymied though as to when she can tell that a man truly loves her. She seeks assistance from her old friend the Duke of Lovingdon and even though he doesn’t want to he finds himself giving her advice about men. This one was really great and I’ll be posting my full review either this week or next. 4/4.25 out of 5
Last for the week was Carnal Secrets by Suzanne Wright. This was a much anticipated read for me as I loved her first two books in the Phoenix Pack series. This book has Shaya who has finally run and her pack has hidden her away from her mate, Nick. Nick knows that Shaya is his mate but hasn’t claimed her for months. Nick has his reasons but he never shared those with Shaya. Now he’s off to find his mate and finally claim her – hoping she’ll have him. This was not quite as good as the first two books in series but still really good. I loved seeing the softer side of Nick and the tougher side of Shaya. While this was a great read it was a little slower than books 1 & 2. I’m not sure where the term Carnal came for the title because I thought it had less sex in it than the previous books. I could be wrong. 🙂 4 out of 5
Sorry this was delayed by youngest was sick YET AGAIN and I just didn’t get around to it yesterday. I need to do something to boost that girls immune system cuz she catches every damn germ that goes around her school!
Anyway, I did manage to get away on Friday night and went to the beach with some friends. I couldn’t stay the whole weekend but we had a great time visiting, playing games and eating. 🙂 Here’s the view from the balcony off the back of my friends condo in Oxnard
On to what I read – (sorry these descriptions/my thoughts will be abbreviated today):
I started off the week with a short read by AR Moler called Not an Elf which is the story of a man who is near death from a brain tumor who decides to spend his last days at his friends remote cabin. He is debating killing himself when he meets a man who is actually Fae and the two fall in love. This was very sweet and I enjoyed how much was said in so short a book. 3 out of 5
Next up was True by Erin McCarthy. This story is in the New Adult genre and though I don’t read that genre very often I really liked this one. Yes the college girl eventually got involved with the bad boy but it was more he looked worse than he actually was and I liked that about him. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)
Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks was the final book in the McCabe Trilogy. The story is about Caelan who steps up to the plate and marries a neighbors daughter when his brother falls in love with someone else (book 2). Rionna has been raised as a boy but Caelan wants to change that. The story is about the couple dealing with their lust, dealing with Caelan’s desires to change Rionna and how she deals with that and Rionna’s clan coming to terms with an non-MacDonald being Laird. Not my favorite of the three but still a very good story and written well. 4 out of 5
Built 4 It by Daisy Harris was the story of a guy working in a lab where they do experiments on reanimated corpses and the lab worker falling for one of said corpses. It was interesting. 🙂 You can read my thoughts here. 3 out of 5
The Law of the Jungle by HL Hoston & Eleanor Bruce is about a college kid from Nebraska who gets picked up by a millionaire in a club in NY where the kid is going to school. This was an ok story about their night together but kind of just a “night in the life” type read. 2 out of 5 (free short from ARe)
The Break In by Sloan Parker is the story of a guy who breaks in to his ex-lovers apartment to feel closer to him. It seems like it would be pretty skeevy but it was very sweet and I really enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 (free short from ARe)
Trying to Score by Toni Aleo was next up. This is book 2 in the Assassins hockey series. The story was about a couple who had once been together and now 7 years later the man wants to get back together. She’s not all over that like he thinks she should be. Could be his child she’s trying to hide from him. You can read my thought in my review here. 3.5 out of 5
Wicked Cravings by Suzanne Wright is book 2 in the Phoenix Pack series. A shapeshifter novel that deals with a woman who’s inner wolf was once frightened and now wants to hurt whoever she’s near when her human shifts. Because of this the woman, Jaime, hasn’t shifted for 4 years. Dante is Beta of the pack and rather than see her banished because of her itchy trigger wolf he becomes her guard and so much more. This was a great second story in the series. I really like the world that Wright has created and am looking forward to reading more. 4 out of 5
Surrender to the Earl by Gayle Callen deals with Audrey who is blind who seeks help from Robert who was in the army with her now deceased husband. They create a false engagement to get her out from under her fathers thumb but it soon becomes real – after Audrey deals with her independence, etc. This was good but I had some issues with both Robert and Audrey, unfortunately. 3.5 out of 5 (releases 5/28/13)
Last read for the week was Bad Company by KA Mitchell. I really like Mitchell’s writing but this one just wasn’t as good as the others I’ve read in the past that she’s written. Kellan is trying to give his dad the big “fuck you” because his dad has thrown him out and cut him off. As Kellan hasn’t ever had a job he’s not sure what to do. He thinks that maybe convincing his dad he’s gay would send him over the edge so he looks up his old best friend, Nate. Nate’s not thrilled about helping but does. As Kellan lives with him they soon find themselves falling in love. It was a good story but I just found it so improbable that it couldn’t ring true for me. 3 out of 5
I’m a little behind this week – so sorry. For those of you who know I work at a church all I have to say is that it’s Holy Week. The week before Easter is a incredibly busy week for me and frankly I was so exhausted when I got home last night I couldn’t have written a coherent sentence if I wanted to! Luckily it’s a short week for me since I have Friday off so I’ll have 3 days to recover. :P)
It was a pretty exciting week at the Tracy house last week. My youngest, after 4.5 years, got her black belt in Taekwondo this past Saturday. She did a really great job and I’m just so damned proud of her I could hardly stand it. The test was 4 hours long so after she was done she was almost too exhausted to enjoy it, poor thing. A few months ago she had decided that she wasn’t going to continue after she got her black belt but now that she has it she’s reconsidering so we’ll see what comes next. I put together a video that is made up of various parts of the test so but it’s fun. She actually had to learn Korean terminology and the Korean national anthem for the test, which is on the vid (sorry it’s a bit shakey).
With her main instructors
With the Grand Master
Other than that it was a pretty quiet week so I’ll get on to what I read last week. It may seem like I read a lot but really 6 of these were either shorts or novella’s so that counts as like 1 book, right. 🙂
I started off the week with Six Years by Harlan Coben. This is a mystery about a man and a woman who fall in love and spend 3 glorious months together. Jake knows that this is the real deal – like forever – and he knows Natalie feels the same. Unfortunately after 3 months she breaks up with him and then almost immediately invites him to her wedding to another man. After the ceremony she asks him to respect their marriage and never try to contact her. He promises but after six years he sees an obituary for the guy she married, Todd, and goes to the funeral. Surprise, surprise, the wife that Todd has had for many years, and has teen kids with, isn’t Natalie and Jake is more than confused. He’s never stopped loving Natalie and he won’t give up until he finds out what happened to her. This was a really good book that I just couldn’t put down. I read it in one sitting and I couldn’t figure out what was going on – which I loved. I hate when I figure it all out before the big reveal. Anyway, really good and definitely worth the read if mystery’s are your thing. You can read my full review here at Book Binge. 4 out of 5
Next up was Timeslip by Clare London. This is the story about Kevin who has the hots for his more than uptight new boss, Marcus. Kevin is really confused when Marcus starts showing up in his room. Marcus feels real but he can puff out at a moment’s notice. The reasoning behind it all was really quite clever. While the story was pretty short I really loved the whole premise and of course the way Clare wrote it I was completely involved. 4 out of 5
Next up was Light the Fire by JL Merrow. Kurt is sad and alone 2 years after his partner was killed. He gets frustrated by Matt in the gym as he just seems too…out there and perky. Kurt decides to give Matt a chance and things work out. I love Merrow’s stories and this one was no different. I could feel the pain and loneliness that Kurt was feeling, especially when he went to visit Raoul’s grave but I loved seeing him giving life a chance again and it was just a good story. 4 out of 5
Icicle by Natalie Vale was about Sean who has been in a serious relationship with Zack decides that he needs to go and do. He’s not sure what he needs but he’s got the bug and ends it with Zack, and not in a good way. Now it’s 10 months later and he gets caught in a snow storm and is close to death when he gets saved by Ezra. Ezra is a wanderer of sorts himself and he helps Sean see that sometimes home is the place you need to be. Good story with a paranormal aspect to it. 3.75 out of 5
Next was Second Son of a Duke by Gwen Hayes. This is the story of two men who force their siblings to marry. They’re more or less ambushed but they make the most of it. After a horrid wedding night they start to see each other in a different light and end up falling in love. It was a cute story but not real deep. 3 out of 5
Most Likely to Succeed by Kate Davies is the story about Kelsey who was voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school. Now it’s time for her high school reunion and she’s ashamed and embarrassed because she feels she’s done nothing with her life. Her old friend Nathan is there and while they become lovers he also shows her that taking care of your family is definitely something to be proud of. You can read my review here. 3.75 out of 5
Let it Be Me by Kate Noble is about Bridget who is an accomplished pianist who would like nothing more than to study with composer Vincenzo Carpenini. After he fails to show in England as she was told she talks her family into a vacation in Venice and goes looking for him. She ends up as his student but only because he’s in a competition to save his own skin. His companion, Oliver Merrick, thinks more of Bridget than he does the music and they end up falling in love. This was a great book. I loved the descriptions of the music and what it portrayed and how it made a person feel. Just a great story. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)
My next read was Only Lycans Need Apply by Michele Bardsley. This is the story of Moira who is an archaeologist and has almost discovered the resting place of ancient vampires. She’s interrupted in her dig by Lycans and vampires both good and bad who want what’s in the tomb. Moira finds out she’s a different being than she thought and only she can open the tomb, with help from Lycan, Drake. I found this story to be entertaining and I liked the whole good vs. bad vampire and the adventure of opening the tomb but I thought the romance itself wasn’t much. It was kind of meeting, attraction, sex then love. It happened way to fast, imho and the characters really knew nothing about the other at all. A bit frustrating but the rest was pretty good. 3.5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)
Casual Sex Friday by Evie Kiels was next. Ben and Calvin went out a while back and Ben was bored out of his freaking mind. Now Calvin asks Ben out every Friday and Ben has to repeatedly say an adamant no. Ben thinks he’s got Calvin figured out but when Calvin finds Ben in the park watching a live feed of people having sex on a website. Calvin takes over Ben’s fun from there and Ben sees that there’s a whole other side to Calvin he’d never known existed. This was another cute story with lots of sex and not too much depth…definitely entertaining. 3 out of 5
Semper Fi by Laura B. Cooper and Christopher Cooper was my next read. Hot cover, not so hot book. (I’m gonna just copy and paste what I put on Goodreads): Mattie gets drunk dialed by her boyfriend of 7 1/2 years, Travis, and since they’re in different states he asks if he can screw someone else cuz he’s horny. She says, “hell no” and he says, “we’re done.” She heads to the airport so she can fly to where he is and see him face to face. We get the impression that she’s going to just talk to him to see what’s up but later in the book we find out that she was going to break up with him. She’s stuck at the airport all night because of a storm and meets Logan who is a Marine who is on his way back to his unit after attending his father’s funeral. The two hit it off and talk for hours. Next think you know they’re kissing AND having sex behind the ticket counter at the gate (and getting caught)! Seriously! This scene was so ridiculous I just laughed. She had “heaving breasts” and “raging nipples” and when he looked at her “steam rose from his eyes.” OMG what a crack up! I was a bit perplexed by Mattie’s insistence that Travis not sleep with anyone else and then she’s goes and does it in public with a guy she just met. Double standard or what? Logan falls hard and fast for Mattie but Mattie doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in her life and can’t decide what she wants to do about the two men. The story goes on to deal with Mattie and Travis, Mattie and Logan, Mattie and her family, Logan and the memories and demons he’s dealing with, and it kind of goes off into a weird area with Logan’s dad and his kinky sex habits. It’s a story that had a great idea but it was just written oddly, imho. What started out as a fun romp tried to become too deep and it just didn’t work. 2 out of 5
The Duke’s Tattoo by Miranda Davis is the story of Prudence who was banished by her brother after an incident with the Duke of Ainsworth. Nine years later and she has the man kidnapped, drugged and tattooed but then discovers it’s not the right Duke of Ainsworth. Jem, the current duke wants to get back at the person who did this but when he figures out who it is and then meets her he wants something completely different – her, permanently. But Prudence is an independent woman and isn’t falling into Jem’s arms. The story was cute and I loved the humor and witty banter that Jem and Prudence had going but imho things were dragged out way too much and I found myself wanting things to move along. Prudence on one had was wonderful and the other so incredibly dense I wanted to shake the woman at times. In the end it was a good story and I’m glad I read it. 3 out of 5
Last for the week was Feral Sins by Suzanne Wright. Latent shifter Taryn Warner is the healer of her pack but treated like crap – even by her father – because of her latency. She is approached (in an unorthodox way) by Trey Coleman who wants her to act like his True Mate for 3 months so that he can build an alliance with her father’s pack in order to fight his uncle’s pack. The couple have their issues but they can’t stay away from each other in the bedroom. This doesn’t make things easy as they can be mates but each of their real True Mates died previously. The story is mostly a love story with a great number of incredibly hot sex scenes involved. We got a tortured hero in Trey and a snarky, sarcastic, smart-ass heroine in Taryn and I loved them both. Taryn was awesome. I know a lot of people don’t like the snarky bitch heroine but if done right they are wonderful. Taryn kind of reminded me of Sara Morrighan in Shelly Laurenston’s Pack Challenge (another book I love to pieces) in that she was an alpha female who was underrated and pushed aside for what is thought her handicap, but doesn’t take shit from anyone. Her snappy comebacks to Trey’s grandma (who was a bitch) were wonderful and I laughed each time. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series. 4 out of 5