Format: eARC

Guest Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Posted September 21, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Tracy
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 391
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart.

Catalina Baylor is wrapping up an investigation for House Baylor Investigative Agency, her family’s PI firm, when she’s attacked by beasts she’s never seen before.  She discovers that they are a blend of mechanical and biological constructs that are controlled by magic, which aren’t supposed to be able to exist together.  Since she is the Deputy Warden of the State of Texas, she calls the Warden, Linus Duncan, and tells him.  He immediately instructs her to go to Montgomery Investigations, Inc. and take over a case.

The case involves the death of Prime Felix Morton from House Morton.  He was one of five Primes from different Houses that were working on a reclamation project. They were trying to reclaim The Pit, which is a flooded, swampy area in the middle of Houston.  Catalina must now interview the other four Primes to try to discover who killed Felix.  She certainly doesn’t expect to run into Alessandro Sagredo when she gets to MII, as she hasn’t seen him in six months, but that’s what happens.  Alessandro was hired by Lander Morton to kill whoever murdered his son, Felix, once the killer is exposed.

Catalina is determined to keep her distance from Alessandro, despite the fact that he’s resumed his bodyguard-of-the-Deputy-Warden duties.  Alessandro has discovered that a man that he has been after for years is now looking to kill Catalina, if not her whole family.  He’s going to keep Catalina safe if it kills him.

Catalina has to deal with her feelings for Alessandro, keeping herself and her family safe, dealing with her grandmother Tremaine who is a wolf in wolf’s clothing, and balancing her House duties as well as her Deputy duties.  It’s a lot, especially with finding out that there is something in the Pit that is sentient, and it plans on taking over Houston completely.

I love Ilona Andrews books.  Seriously, I’ve never read an IA that I didn’t like.  The world building alone rocks my world, then they add in some romance and boom, I’m hooked.  This book was another amazing addition to the Hidden Legacy series.

I really didn’t like Catalina the first time I read Sapphire Flames.  Amazing book, but I was on the fence about her.  The “I love you” when it came to Alessandro was out of nowhere and based on nothing, and I wasn’t feeling it.  I recently reread SF and Catalina grew on me.  I still didn’t like the “love” part of the story, and actually disliked Alessandro somewhat during the second read, but the book was still crazy good.

In Emerald Blaze all of that dislike went away.  Though it’s only been six months since the last story ended, I felt Catalina had grown.  Becoming Deputy Warden of the State of Texas, and working with Linus, did her a hell of a lot of good and I could see the changes in her.  Alessandro, as well, was a different person.  His snarky personality wasn’t completely gone, but he seemed to take life more seriously and he was actually open and communicative with Catalina.  Loved it!

The rest of the story, besides the romantic parts, was super great.  Not that they weren’t, but they weren’t the focus.  I love the creatures that IA comes up with and it blows my mind that their minds work like that! The fact that the Baylor family, as well as Alessandro, have to work out these puzzling details and use their wits and intelligence to solve whatever issues arise makes me like them and the book even more.

I can’t tell you much about it as that will completely ruin the story for you, but I highly recommend this book.  If you haven’t read this series yet you are definitely missing out!  Start with Burn for Me and don’t stop until you’re done with Emerald Blaze.  You can thank me later.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn

Posted September 18, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery FlynnReviewer: Tracy
The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 330
Add It: Goodreads
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two-stars

Hadley Donavan can’t believe she has to go home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding. She’s gonna need a wingman and a whole lot of vodka for this level of family interaction. At least her bestie agreed he’d man up and help. But then instead of her best friend, his evil twin strolls out of the airport.

If you looked up doesn’t-deserve-to-be-that-confident, way-too-hot-for-his-own-good billionaire in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Will Holt. He’s awful. Horrible. The worst―even if his butt looks phenomenal in those jeans.
Ten times worse? Hadley’s buffer was supposed to be there to keep her away from the million and one family events. But Satan’s spawn just grins and signs them up for every. Single. Thing.

Fine. “Cutthroat” Scrabble? She’s in. She can’t wait to take this guy down a notch. But somewhere between Pictionary and the teasing glint in his eyes, their bickering starts to feel like more than just a game…

Hadley Donavan is a Nebraska girl who left the ranch to live in the “big” city.  She’s been working and loves her job, but her best friend’s brother shows up to an event that will make or break her next promotion.  They are arguing, but end up getting caught kissing in the coat check and Hadley gets fired instead of getting a promotion.

Will Holt is a man who has been hurt by gold-diggers in the past.  He is attracted to Hadley but refuses to admit it.  He’s talked himself into hating her and treats her like shit.  He is determined to get her away from his brother, Web, and prove that she’s just after his millions.

Web is supposed to be Hadley’s wedding date for her sister’s wedding in Nebraska.  She wants a buffer so that her family won’t ask too many questions and she can have an excuse to not spend too much time with them.  Unfortunately, Will ends up attending when Web gets food poisoning.  Hadley is furious but has no choice but to deal with him for the week that they are in Nebraska.

I can’t say that I read too many haters-to-lovers romances and now I know why.  I don’t like them.  I don’t like that the “heroes” always end up treating the heroines like crap and it just makes it harder for them to redeem themselves.  In this story Will really liked Hadley, but was jaded by his past and couldn’t believe that she was just friends with his brother. Because of this he was just mean to her, for most of the book (he was nice for about a chapter), I might add, and his groveling at the end didn’t redeem him in my eyes.  He was an idiot up until the last couple of pages before the epilogue.  Yeah, no, that doesn’t work for me.

I found Hadley annoying.  She did get better once she got around her family, thank heavens, but even then, I didn’t really understand her.  I get that she had portrayed her life in the city as perfect in order to prove to her family that she could make it.  I get that she didn’t want too many questions asked by her family and that’s why she brought a buffer.  But really?  Hadley’s family was amazing and not the judgmental family I expected.  They were not the type of family that needed things to be perfect – they were supportive no matter what.  So her growing up in that family but yet not knowing them at all?  Just weird.  The puzzle pieces didn’t fit for me.

Unfortunately this was not a fun read for me and I found myself skimming a lot because there was a metric ton of introspection, which just got old after a while. I think I’m in the minority when it comes to my feelings on this book so you judge for yourself whether it works for you or not.  For me, that would be not.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose

Posted September 17, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Closer Than You Think by Karen RoseReviewer: Casee
Closer Than You Think (Cincinnati Series, #1) by Karen Rose
Series: Cincinnati Series #1
Also in this series: Alone in the Dark (Cincinnati Series #2)
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 688
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Your Back and Did You Miss Me comes the newest novel by “the queen of romantic suspense” (Crime and Punishment).

Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Both boon and bane, her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day.

But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.

Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.

This review was originally posted on April 14, 2015.

Closer Than You Think was the best book I’ve read in ages. It actually drove me to write a review. A lot of you don’t remember me, I’m sure, but I actually used to read and review books regularly here at Book Binge. O_o. Now, I hardly read and when I try to review, the cursor just sits there are stares at me. The it’s asks me “Well,are you just going to sit there?”. No, I’m not. I’m turning you off and going to take a nap.

As it happened, Closer Than You Think was a book that I could not put down. I finished it in two days and that’s only because of running my daughter around to soccer. Onto the review…Faith Corcoran has changed her name, took all her money out of the bank and leaves Florida for Cincinnati, where she just inherited a home from her grandmother. After being stalked by the man she put in prison for over a year.

The first night she arrives home, the key doesn’t work to the lock, so he heads back down the winding hill. Coming back the next day after getting the power turned on and the locks changed, Faith runs into what she thought was an animal, but soon realizes is a young, terrorized, horrified woman. Faith’s car goes over the embankment but she quickly climbs up the bank to make sure the woman is all right. Finally the cops get there.

When Deacon Novak arrives at the scene, he doesn’t know what to think. Faith brings out his primal instincts, but he knows she has to be on the suspect list until they can cross. Her off. After all, the victim seemed to come from her house as it was the only one between the accident site and her house. The only problem with the house is that someone has been using the basement as a torture chamber and no one has any idea.

They have multiple suspects; a stalker that may have followed her up from Florida. Two uncles that may have an ax to grind because she alone inherited the house. Or one of the uncles could be working with the stalker. Or it’s someone other than all three of them. All you do know is from the killer’s pov, he wants her dead. Badly.

Karen Rose writes some of the best sociopathic villains I’ve ever read. That’s part of the reason I can never put her books down. I’ve also been waiting to read Deacon Novak since he was first introduced in the books. Karen Rose does write some of the best suspense out there, but she also writes some of the best romantic suspense. Deacon and Faith were drawn to each other from the beginning. Deacon couldn’t help but want to protect Faith. As for Faith, as cheesy as it is, she feels an animal attraction to Deacon which is not like her at all. When you put all these elements together, there is nothing I didn’t like about the book. There is a lot of family stuff I left out, but suffice to say if you don’t read this book, you’re missing out.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Cincinnati

four-half-stars


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Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.75 out of 5

A Gathering of Dragons

four-stars


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Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Wickham Falls Weddings

four-stars


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