Publisher: Pocket Books

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Posted August 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranReviewer: Holly
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 388
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
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four-stars

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything...and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.

I remember when The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran was first released. There was much fanfare and everyone seemed to love it. I often have bad luck when it comes to books everyone else loves, so I put off reading it. Years went by and, though it’s been sitting in my TBR pile for a decade, I never did read it. Casee chose it as one of her picks for me for our Summer Reading Challenge, so I dug it out. It turned out to be a lovely read.

This is a dark, complex read. Emmaline, our female lead, suffers much trauma. A shipwreck, then war in India. She is much affected by her trials and tribulations, and that came across well on page. I was fully wrapped up in her journey. Part one, especially, was hard to get through. So much violence. There was somewhat of a disconnect in Part two, however. I found myself getting impatient with the story, and also struggling to readjust to life in London ballrooms. Which, I think, speaks well of the author and how well she brought me into Emma and Julian’s story in India.

As for the romance, I truly felt the connection Julian and Emma had. I also felt their anguish at all that had come between them. I did find some of their actions not in keeping with their characters, however. Especially when they reunite in England. But I was able to move past it. Something I had a harder time moving past was all the exclamation points Duran used! They were relentless! Sometimes two or three per paragraph!

Still, all in all, I think Casee chose well for this one. Shocking, I know.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Stone Cold Heart by Laura Griffin

Posted April 25, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: Stone Cold Heart by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Stone Cold Heart by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers #13
Also in this series: Deep Dark
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When local rock climbers stumble upon abandoned human bones in a remote Texas gorge, Sara Lockhart is the first to get the call. She has a reputation as one of the nation’s top forensic anthropologists, and police detective Nolan Hess knows she is just the expert he needs to help unravel this case. Although evidence is scarce, Nolan suspects the bones belong to a teenage climber who vanished last summer.

But as Sara unearths strange clues, she finds chilling similarities to a case from her past—a case that now threatens to rock Nolan’s community. While Sara digs deep for answers, the stakes rise higher as another young woman disappears without a trace. Investigators work against the clock as Sara races to discover the truth, even if her harrowing search brings her face to face with a stone-cold killer.

In the latest Tracers book from Laura Griffin, we’re back following a Delphi Center employee. This time it’s Sara Lockhart, a forensic anthropologist.

There’s not much to say about the plot of the book that isn’t in the cover copy or that doesn’t spoil some of the mystery. This is a much more twisty, turny mystery than some of the other Tracers books, and I enjoyed that about it. Sara’s expertise and instincts are invaluable to uncovering the extent of the crimes and piecing together who might have done it. It’s a fun ride, but not necessarily a solution you can “guess” (or maybe I’m just not clever enough, haha). I love the nerdy investigation details that Griffin uses in this series, and Sara is a prime example of that.

The romance between Nolan and Sara is a fine little love affair, though not exactly a passion for the ages. Sara is pretty reticent to get involved with Nolan because of a bad past relationship. It’s a bit cliche and does perhaps go on too long, but I did appreciate that she wasn’t whiny or angsty about it. She just wants to focus on her career and not get distracted by a relationship. I like that she’s confident and smart and happy with that. Nolan is fine, too. Pretty stereotypical cop character, although he does totally respect Sara’s expertise and autonomy which is always good to see. There’s no getting around that their relationship is a bit of a slow burn, and I felt like they don’t get much past the beginning embers in this book. I have hope for them in the future, though!

I enjoyed this book and am always happy when we veer back into the smart science nerds at the Delphi Center. I think it would be a fun read for Tracers fans, and even readers new to the series should be able to pick up this book with no trouble.

Grade: 3.5 out of 4

Tracers

three-half-stars


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Review: Wicked Abyss by Kresley Cole

Posted April 8, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Wicked Abyss by Kresley ColeReviewer: Casee
Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole
Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Series: Immortals After Dark #18
Also in this series: A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #2), Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark #5)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 464
Length: 13 hours and 3 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

This fairy tale doesn’t end with a kiss in this spellbinding Immortals After Dark tale from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole!

The terrifying king of hell...

As a boy, Abyssian “Sian” Infernas had his heart shattered by a treacherous fey beauty who died before he could exact vengeance. Millennia later, a curse has transformed him into a demonic monster—just as she’s been reincarnated. Sian captures the delicate but bold female, forcing her back to hell.

Meets his match.

Princess Calliope “Lila” Barbot’s people have hated and feared Abyssian and his alliance of monsters for aeons. When the beastly demon imprisons her in his mystical castle, vowing revenge for betrayals she can’t remember, Lila makes her own vow: to bring down the wicked beast for good.

Can two adversaries share one happily-ever-after?

As Calliope turns hell inside out, the all-powerful Sian finds himself defenseless against his feelings for her. In turn, Lila reluctantly responds to the beast’s cleverness and gruff vulnerability. But when truths from a far distant past are revealed, can their tenuous bond withstand ages of deceit, a curse, and a looming supernatural war?

I highly enjoyed this book. Kresley Cole’s books always hit the perfect balance between serious and funny. Right when it seems to get almost too deep, the story turns light and humorous. That is what I love post about her writing. I have been reading the Immortals After Dark series since the time when there were only three books out. The books used to come out fast and furious, now they just sort of trickle out every few years. I didn’t read Wicked Abyss when it first came out. I have no idea why. Then I bought it and didn’t read it. Then I decided to try it on audio. I ended up doing a combo of listening/reading which I was extremely happy with.

Princess Lila Barbot has been cast out by her fiancé for her parents crime against him. She’s been banished to a place where she has to actually dress up like a princess (Disneyland). It was honestly, quite actually hilarious. The her fiancé returns and tells her that she can return to her home and marry him if she goes to Hell (actual Hell) and finds out everything she can about the demon Abyssian “Sian” Infernas.

Sian has been cursed into a demonic monster form. No longer is he the handsome man he once was. When Lila arrives in his realm, he knows exactly who she is. She’s the woman who betrayed him, reincarnated. Although she has no memories of her former life, Sian remembers every horrible thing that she did to him and what he did in the name of “loving” her. He remembers her betrayal and has vowed vengeance for centuries. It doesn’t matter to him that Lila isn’t the same person, she’s close enough.

As Sian gets to know Lila, he realizes that she is nothing like his first love. She isn’t deceitful and above all, she’s actually kind. She’s also determined to get out of his captivity regardless the cost to her. It does take too long after that for Sian realizes that he doesn’t want to let Lila go because he actually loves her. He just has to make her love him. Then he finds out that she’s been hiding who she truly is and everything goes to hell. Literally. Still, Lila doesn’t let Sian get away with his fits of temper. That was one of the things that I loved about Lila. She stood up to Sian from the beginning. He could have easily overpowered her in every way, but she wouldn’t let him.

I have to share one of the passages that made me actually laugh out loud when I was reading it. This happened when Lila quite literally barred Sian from Hell and she sent him a note to let him know.

Demon,

Hell is now mine. You locked me in a dungeon; I locked you out of our godsdamned house. In the immortal words of a very wise mortal:

Everything you own in the box to the left.

Field advantage is key, and the joke’s on you.

Game, set, and match,
Calliope I, Queen of Sylvan and Pandemonia

P.S. If you or your allies make any move on Sylvan, I will retaliate against the Møriør tenfold. Do not test me.

The world building that Cole has done with this series is simply beyond comprehension. She doesn’t seem to break the rules of the world she’s created here. That seems almost unheard of these days when it comes to paranormal/fantasy/UF. If you haven’t tried this series and you’re a fan of paranormal romance, I highly suggest this series.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Immortals After Dark

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Posted February 11, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly HarperReviewer: Tracy
How to Run with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #3) by Molly Harper
Series: Naked Werewolf #3
Also in this series: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Down, Boy

Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham that's a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her own paws off every delicious inch of him.

The problem is, Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not quite-legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Anna's been dreaming of returning to a semi-normal life, but now she's experiencing a strange new urge . . . to join Caleb in running with the wolves.

Anna is getting off work at the grocery story in a small town in Alaska when she hears arguing – then a gunshot…then the shooter who is trying to get away runs into her Pinto and it blows up.  Not the way she wanted to end her work day!  She goes to see if anyone is hurt (you know, because of the gunshot) and finds a wounded man.  She manages to get him into her car and starts driving.  She can’t go to her hotel because police will probably be investigating, and she can’t talk to cops because she’s on the run. When she finds a hotel and helps the wounded man inside, she starts to realize that there’s something about him that she’s familiar with – he’s a werewolf.

Anna is very familiar with werewolves as she’s been a werewolf pack doctor for the past four years. Not just a pack, but the pack that includes this man’s family members.  She doesn’t tell him right away that she knows who and what he is but when he agrees to take her to Anchorage if she’ll help him with some of his bounty hunting jobs, she agrees.

Caleb takes random jobs throughout the area – some legal, some not.  Anna isn’t thrilled with the thought of some of these people getting “taken in” for minor issues so as she becomes Caleb’s assistant, she directs the jobs.  When she finds out that Caleb might know more about her than she thinks, she takes off. Caleb, however, isn’t about to let the woman who is his mate get away from him now that he’s found her.

This was a cute book. I’ve recently discovered a love of Molly Harper books and this one proved to be just as good as the others.  I didn’t want to read this series originally – probably because the cartoon cover and title threw me off a bit. Fortunately I got past that, and what was inside the cartoon cover was worth reading.

Caleb and Anna were great together.  I really liked that Harper made Anna wary of Caleb for quite a long time.  A woman who is on the run isn’t someone who trusts easily, and Harper didn’t make her accept Caleb too quickly and that worked for me.  For Caleb’s part we only saw him from Anna’s POV, which was frustrating.  I would have loved to have gotten inside Caleb’s head to see what was going on in there.  He was a good guy who didn’t have a great job.  He was good at it, and it definitely paid the bills, but he didn’t love it.  Having Anna with him changed his outlook on the job, I think, and I loved that.

Overall it was a good read and one I enjoyed.  If you haven’t picked up a Molly Harper book yet, you should.  I read a couple of books of hers before, but they didn’t hit me right at the time.  I recommend this series, the Mystic Bayou series and the Southern Eclectic series to start – all really good.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Naked Werewolf

four-stars


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Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Posted January 28, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1) by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Series: Naked Werewolf #1
Also in this series: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #3)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 371
Length: 9 hours and 12 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Northern Exposure

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf is the first book in Molly Harper‘s Naked Werewolf series. I avoided these books in the past because the covers and titles made me think they’d be super campy, which I don’t like. Though they’re on the lighter side, they aren’t campy at all. I really liked this book.

Mo Wenstein has moved to Grundy, Alaska from Georgia to escape her well-meaning but very overbearing hippy parents and a broken engagement. As the child of hippies who believe in living off the grid in a family commune, Mo has the skills she needs to live in the wilderness. The only downside is her contentious relationship with local resident Cooper Graham. They rub each other the wrong way..which is too bad, since he’s hot as sin and all Mo wants to do is rub herself all over him.

Well, that cinched it. He was an asshole. I was definitely going to end up sleeping with him.

She manages to find a job right away in the local saloon/restaurant. She makes friends pretty easily and settles in fairly quickly. Things are going great until one day she opens her front door to find Cooper on her porch naked, with a bear trap on his ankle. Turns out he’s a werewolf. Once his secret is out, Cooper quickly moves in on Mo.

Harper’s writing voice really works for me. Mo’s adventures in Alaska were fun to read about. I liked how well she settled into small town, back country life. She easily made friends and I loved reading about her interactions with the residents of the town. Having just visited Alaska this past summer, I was really able to picture the town itself and imagine the residents.

I did struggle a bit with Connor’s actions, and how much Mo let him get away with. I also had a hard time with Amanda Ronconi’s voice for Connor. Normally I love AR’s narrations, but her voice for Connor was awful.

Still, I loved the snarky heroine, small Alaskan town and the way the romance developed between Mo and Connor. Harper delivers again.

3.75 out of 5

Naked Werewolf

four-stars


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