Publisher: Amazon Publishing

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. SmithReviewer: Holly
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Vine Witch #1
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 263
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith is a debut historical fantasy novel. This was an Amazon First pick. The audio add-on was only $1.99, so I snagged that with it and ended up listening to the whole book. The narrator did a wonderful job with the story.

Set somewhere near the turn of the century in France (automobiles are just becoming popular, though the year is never mentioned), The Vine Witch follows Elena Boureanu as she beats a deadly curse and returns to family winery Château Renard, the only home she’s ever known…only to discover it’s been sold and life as she knew it is changed forever.

For seven years, Elena has been stuck as a toad, forced to eat poison to fend off a deadly curse. When she finally breaks free, she returns home to Château Renard with vengeance in her heart. She’s convinced her former fiance is the one who cursed her when she broke off their engagement, and she plans to make him pay. When she returns home she finds all of the land has been hexed, not just her. It’ll take all her skill as a Vine Witch to untangle the mess of hexes…something made more difficult by the new owner’s refusal to believe in witches.

Jean Paul left a prestigious law firm in the city to become a winemaker when he saw the renowned Château Renard was available for sale. He wants nothing more than to produce amazing wine…using science, not the superstitious “magic” the locals claim is responsible for the good – and bad – in the land. When Elena returns, he’s suspicious of her, but if she can teach him the secrets of her famed grandfather, she’ll be worth her weight in gold. As he and Elena become close, he realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye..and everything he thought he believed may be a lie….

This was a lovely fairytale-esque novel, filled with mystery, intrigue and magic. I truly enjoyed both Elena and Jean Paul, as well as the world Smith created. The melancholy of the vines, the hexed land and the shadowy figures responsible truly came to life. I figured out early on who the villains were, and how Elena came to be cursed, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

This was the fantasy Gothic novel I’ve been craving. The Vine Witch shines bright.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Vine Witch

The Glamourist (Coming 2020)

four-stars


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Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 16, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Complicated by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First, Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 567
Length: 18 hours and 22 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

When small-town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn't be stronger, but the timing couldn't be worse.

Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids and himself is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that's perfect for them - a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She's learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that's what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can't fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta's finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that's happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely...Complicated.

This book is the first Kristen Ashley book that I’ve listened to on audio. The length of her books is daunting. This one was over eighteen hours. 18. 1-8. That’s crazy. The only author that I’ve listened to for that long is Karen Rose. I was more than pleasantly surprised that I loved this book and actually wanted more of it.

Hixon Drake is newly divorced. Something he never wanted and never understood. Hix and his wife Hope seemed to have the ideal marriage. Things changed overnight. In a year he found himself out of their family home and divorced. The only thing that matters to him now are his three children.

Hix and his family moved to a small Nebraskan town that Hope was from when his children were younger. Hix is now the town sheriff. The only crime that has happened on his watch was a barn being covered with graffiti. Hix has no intention of falling into another relationship. Then he sees Greta Dare sing and the local watering hole. There is an instant, sizzling attraction and one thing leads to another.

Greta always watched Hixon Drake from afar, but he was married at off-limits. Now he’s in her bed and she has been with no one better. Then he leaves her in the most hurtful way and she realizes that he’s just like any other man. Greta swears that she will never fall under Hix’s spell again.

That’s easier said than done. They live in a small town and word of their night together travels like wildfire. Suddenly Greta is the talk of the town, something she doesn’t want to be. She lets Hix talk her into giving them a try, but there are obvious obstacles that can’t be overcome. Her mom. Her brother. His wife. His kids. Murder.

I really, really liked Hix and Greta’s story. It’s really a story about two people that have been dealt a really crap hand in life. They find each other and realize that life can be what you make it. Everything in their life is…complicated.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Black Sheep by Meghan March

Posted September 4, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Black Sheep by Meghan MarchReviewer: Case
Black Sheep by Meghan March
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
Series: The Dirty Mafia Duet #1
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Casee's 2019 New to Me Challenge, GoodReads Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a story of untold truths and one man’s redemption in the Dirty Mafia Duet.

Every family has a black sheep. In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman. Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born. I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood. I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes… until I met her. Drew Carson turned my world upside when she walked into my club looking for a job. Now, my honor and my life are on the line. Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand. She's worth the fallout.

This is the first book I’ve read by Meghan March. It was available on Audible Escape, so I thought what the hell. I’ll try it. I’m so glad I did because I am really loving this author even though I want to strangle the heroes. Meghan March has something special, that’s for sure.

Cannon Freeman was born into the mob. His father, Dominic Casso, runs the mafia with an iron fist. Dom treats Cannon like a pile of poo, yet Cannon feels loyalty to him for taking him into his home after his mother was murdered. It’s pretty messed up, but Cannon can do nothing but be there for his father. Cannon runs a club for the elite. It’s about the only legit business that the Casso’s own. When Drew Carson comes in for an interview, Cannon knows he’s pretty much screwed.

Drew Carson is working at the club for one reason and one reason only: to bring down the Casso family. Her father was found hanging in his apartment, but Drew has never believed it was a suicide. It’s confirmed when she finds a file full of facts and pictures of Dominic Casso. Now she has her finger on the Casso family and she’s not letting any of them get away with her father’s murder. Not even the man she’s found herself wanting.

Now that Drew is in his life, Cannon finds himself standing up to his father for the first time in his life. He’s going to protect Drew from Dom, no matter what the cost. As Cannon and Drew begin an affair, Cannon begins to realize that Drew has something to hide. He’s determined to find out what it is. He doesn’t care about her secret, he just wants to protect her.

So the fact that Cannon has almost a blind loyalty to Dom, I’m making it sound like he’s a doormat. Not so. Cannon is a strong man that has been dealt an impossible hand. All he is trying to do is be a part of the family. Drew becomes his family and Cannon will die to protect her.

I really enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end. There are a lot of obstacles that Cannon and Drew had to overcome and I found myself impatiently waiting for the next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Dirty Mafia Duet

four-stars


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Review: Untamed Delights by Suzanne Wright

Posted August 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Untamed Delights by Suzanne WrightReviewer: Holly
Untamed Delights by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Phoenix Pack #8
Also in this series: Wild Hunger, Wild Hunger , Carnal Secrets
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 381
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Return to the sensual and feral stirrings of the Phoenix Pack as a woman who’s already bound to one man is tempted by a wolf who’s bound only to his nightly desires.

Cat shifter Mila Devereaux can’t help but see it as a betrayal. That her one true mate imprinted himself on another female was hard enough to accept. Struggling to be at peace with her loveless fate, she doesn’t fight the suggestion of entering an arranged mating. Then she meets Dominic, a pack enforcer with a notorious reputation. It’s in his very scent. This irresistible playboy—and delicious badass wolf—is making Mila’s fantasies come alive again.

Alarming, compelling, and heady with sensual energy, Dominic is an expert at making women shed their inhibitions. Now everything about him—his killer smile, his perfectly sculpted body, and his smooth-as-honey voice—is drawing in a captivating new catch. But for the first time in his life, Dominic is feeling more than a fling. He finds himself tantalized by a female who makes him think of forever. He wants all of Mila and won’t be satisfied until he has it.

As the passion grows wild, so does the risk. They’re falling in love in the shadows and secrets of their pasts. And it’s threatening to destroy everything Mila and Dominic are fighting for. And are destined for.

Untamed Delights is the final book in Suzanne Wright’s Phoenix Pack series. I’m sad to see the end of it, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from Wright.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting Dom’s book. He’s the one who constantly tossed cheesy lines at all the women in previous books, but you could tell there was more to him.

Mila Devereaux, a Pallas cat, knows who her True Mate is, and she and her cat are salty because he imprinted on someone else. She wouldn’t accept him now even if he did come for her, because she feels he betrayed and abandoned her by choosing someone else. She wants him to be happy, but that doesn’t lesson the feelings of betrayal. She’s having a hard time living as part of her Pride, since she’s in constant contact with her True Mate and the shifter he chose. Dominic isn’t interested in finding his True Mate. He wants a partner, and he’d rather do the choosing than have fate choose for him. He’s wanted Mila for years, but after they spend a little more time together he knows he has to have her. He sets out to win her and her cat over.

I really liked the way he and Mila chose each other, though I did struggle with the whole fated mates aspect. Dominic choosing to be with her, despite knowing he has a True Mate somewhere in the world was sweet, but I was mildly bothered by the fact that Mila was just okay with it. As someone who felt betrayed by her True Mate choosing someone else, I thought she should have felt some kind of way about doing that to someone else.

That aside, I liked their relationship and watching them come together. I liked watching Dominic fall for her, and go all in. They had great banter and a lot of chemistry. It was also great seeing some of my favorite past characters, though I could have done without Greta and her constant sniping. That was funny 15 books ago. Now, not so much.

I didn’t care for the “villains”, but then I rarely do when it comes to SW’s books. Still, Wright always gets me wrapped up in her world, and this book was no exception.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Phoenix Pack

four-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Huge Deal by Lauren Layne

Posted August 20, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Huge Deal by Lauren LayneReviewer: Casee
Huge Deal by Lauren Layne
Narrator: Samantha Cook, Zachary Webber
Series: 21 Wall Street #3
Also in this series: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street, #1), Hard Sell (21 Wall Street, #2), Huge Deal , Hot Asset , Hard Sell , Huge Deal , Hot Asset, Hard Sell
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 7 hours and 19 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Even for a top-gun banker, temptation this hot is quite a gamble, in a sexy Wall Street romp from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

An alpha among the wolves of Wall Street, Kennedy Dawson rose to the top of the pack by striking the right contracts at the right times. But there’s one deal that’s been giving him a run for his money—a pact to never again let his assistant, Kate, get under his skin. She may be smart, gorgeous, and sharp as a whip, but she’s definitely off-limits.

Kate Henley isn’t a banker, but she knows a thing or two about risk management—specifically, about managing her attraction to her smolderingly sexy boss. She already fell once, and Kennedy showed no sign of paying a return on her investment. So when Kennedy’s brother starts pursuing her, Kate figures she has the best of both worlds. Jack is charming, rich, very attentive, and the spitting image of his older brother.

It’s also making Kennedy think twice. But to win Kate’s heart, he’ll have to broker the deal of a lifetime…and prove he’s worth the risk.

This is the second book that Rowena chose for both Holly and I for our Summer Reading Challenge. While this book was Rowena’s favorite in the series, it comes in second for me.

Kate Henley is Kennedy Dawson’s executive assistant. She keeps his life running smoothly, both professionally and personally. It’s been years since Kate first came to work for the three best friends. Years since Kate fell in love with Kennedy Dawson. After years of not being noticed and then overhearing Kennedy say that she’s not appealing in the least, Kate works on getting over Kennedy. Which she does.

Kennedy Dawson is very old-fashioned. He likes his life well-ordered and boring. After years of being single, he’s dating a model which is out of the norm for Kennedy. Everything is going along exactly how Kennedy planned, which involves no messy emotions and certainly not love. Then he starts seeing Kate in a way that he’s never seen her before.

Kate doesn’t want Kennedy to notice her. She got over her crush on him years ago and she’s not looking to go back and pine for him. Kennedy ends up being more persistent than she ever expected and pursues her with a single-minded focus that she’s only ever seen in him.

I really did enjoy this book. I expected Kate to be love sick over Kennedy, but that was not the case at all. She was a very strong woman, which I always appreciate. Kennedy was very likable as well. I really enjoyed their story. I feel that this was a good conclusion to the 21 Wall Street series.

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

21 Wall Street

four-stars


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