Source: Library

Lightning Review: Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall

Posted July 11, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Darkness Dawns by Dianne DuvallReviewer: Holly
Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Series: Immortal Guardians #1
Also in this series: Darkness Dawns, In Still Darkness
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 345
Length: 10 hours and 39 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

In this dazzling, sensual novel, Dianne Duvall beckons readers into a world of vampires, immortals, and humans with extraordinary gifts…where passion can last forever, if you’re willing to pay the price…

Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control…

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible—when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect...

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall is the first book in the Immortal Guardians series. I read the spinoff series, The Aldebarian Alliance, first, then picked this up to see what I missed. I listened to the audiobook, which narrated by Kirsten Potter, a favorite of mine.

Sarah is a professor on break for the summer. She’s leaving electronics behind and focusing on growing a garden and decompressing. She’s doing some late night gardening when she comes across a man being attacked. She comes to his aid and brings him home. Roland is a centuries old Immortal Guardian. His colleagues and friends call him “anti-social”, but he has good reason to keep away from people and trust no one. Except Sarah gets under his skin. He doesn’t want to want her, but he can’t stop himself. When it becomes apparent that Sarah may be in danger for her part in helping him, he knows he’ll have to keep her with him. If only he and his brethren weren’t Immortal Vampire Slayers she knows nothing about.

I liked this story, but I thought the romance came on pretty fast. Sarah learned about the existence of paranormal beings and fell in love with one in like a day. That aside, the world building was good and I’m excited for the next book.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Immortal Guardians

three-half-stars


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Review: Bombshell by Sarah Maclean

Posted April 27, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bombshell by Sarah MacleanReviewer: Holly
Bombshell by Sarah MacLean
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Hell's Belles #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 394
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.

Bombshell is the first book in a spinoff of Maclean’s Scandal & Scoundrel series. I purchased the ebook, then requested the audiobook from the library since I have a long commute every day. I really like the narrator, Mary Jane Wells. I did struggle with the first couple chapters of the audiobook because there are a lot of characters and names that are introduced or discussed. Since I didn’t read the original series, I wasn’t familiar with any of them and it was confusing trying to keep everyone straight. After the first few chapters I easily fell into the story. I ended up switching between the ebook and the audiobook.

As much as this is the start of a new series, I do feel like I was missing some key information by not reading the previous Talbot sisters’ books. I may go back and read the series just to catch up.

I really enjoyed Sesily. She’s woman comfortable with herself and not afraid to go after what she wants. I loved her friendship with the other Hell’s Belles, and how they worked behind the scenes to fight injustices. I also liked that she didn’t take responsibility for the actions of anyone else.

I also enjoyed Caleb. He was able to hold his own against Sesily, which was good considering what a strong personality she had. I did become frustrated with the way his “big secret” was hinted at over and over again, but not revealed. That’s a personal preference. I don’t like when the reader is kept in the dark, especially since I had already guessed most of it. The romance was sweet, but honestly it was Sesily and the Belles who stole the show.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross

Posted February 21, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Witches Get Stitches by Juliette CrossReviewer: Holly
Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross
Series: Stay a Spell #3
Also in this series: Wolf Gone Wild, Don't Hex and Drive
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 390
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Violet Savoie has a plan. A dream, rather. To open her own tattoo shop, which caters to supernaturals in need of permanent charms. As a powerful Seer, she has the potent magic to cast every kind of spell. Except the kind to give werewolves control over their beastly side. And her business partner Nico needs help in the worst kind of way.

Nico Cruz has a secret. A motive, rather. To subtly stalk and seduce Violet until she finally recognizes they are fated to be together. Ever since their heated encounter in Austin on New Year’s Eve two years earlier, he’s been dying to get his hands—and his tongue—back on her body. He knows a woman like Violet can’t be courted in the usual way. Luckily, Nico has no scruples about misbehaving to get what he wants.

But when his former pack roams into town, and an old friend is far too interested in Violet, his focus shifts to the threat venturing into his territory. Nico may come across as the quiet, broody one, but the intruders are about to regret stepping foot in New Orleans. And when Violet goes missing, no charm or spell can keep Nico’s wolf at bay.

Witches Get Stitches is the third book in the Stay a Spell series by Juliette Cross, which features the Savoie sisters, powerful witches who own a bar in New Orleans. Nico and Violet had a connection in the first book, Wolf Gone Wild, and I was really excited to read more about them.

Violet is a powerful seer. She also has a unique gift – she can imbue tattoos with spells. She goes into partnership with Nico in a tattoo shop as she works on refining her craft. She and Nico had a passionate encounter, but she did a divination for herself and realized he wasn’t the one, so she’s been keeping him at arms length.

I have to say, Violet frustrated me. She acted very immature about her attraction to Nico. I wish she’d been more open and honest with him, instead of just ghosting him, or picking fights for no reason.

Still, I liked the underlying message about inclusion, and the way she and Nico changed things for the werewolves. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Stay a Spell

three-half-stars


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Review: Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross

Posted August 4, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette CrossReviewer: Holly
Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross
Series: Stay a Spell #1
Also in this series: Don't Hex and Drive, Witches Get Stitches
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 396
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

What's the worst thing that can happen to a werewolf? Unable to shift for three months, Mateo Cruz knows all too well. His wolf has taken up residence in his head, taunting him night and day with vividly violent and carnal thoughts. Convinced he's cursed, he needs the help of a powerful witch before he literally goes insane.

​Evie Savoie has always obeyed the house rules of her coven--no werewolves. They're known for being moody and volatile. So, when a distempered, dangerous werewolf strolls into the bar and almost strangles one of her late-night customers, she's ready to bounce him through the door. But the desperation in his eyes when he begs her to help him softens her heart and convinces her to bend the rules.

​What Evie doesn't know is that Mateo's wolf has a mind of his own. And now that she's in his sights, he wants only one thing. Her.

Wolf Gone Wild is the first book in a new paranormal series from Juliette Cross, a new-to-me author. This was a fun, light-hearted paranormal romance. Mateo Cruz is not currently one with his wolf – in fact, Alpha (the wolf in question) has taken up residence in his head and won’t stop his constant chattering. Not to mention, he can’t shift. He’s desperate to get his curse broken before he goes feral and Alpha takes full control.

Evie Savoie and her sisters are one of most powerful covens in New Orleans. They don’t have a lot of rules, but her oldest sister and the leader of their coven is adamant – no werewolves. But Evie can see Mateo’s struggle and wants to help him.

This book was a lot of fun. Funny, without being campy. I have to say, it was Alpha who first drew me in. His constant snark and dialogue in Mateo’s head was hilarious. I also loved Evie. She was a total geek, into SciFi and comics. I enjoyed how their relationship developed. They became friends first, then moved into something more. The mystery was easy to figure out, but that was secondary to the romance for me anyway, so I wasn’t bothered about it. Parts in the middle did seem to drag a bit, but I was so entertained by the rest I didn’t care. I loved Evie’s family, and how they embraced Mateo.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Stay a Spell

four-stars


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Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

Posted February 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite WelshReviewer: Holly
The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh
Series: Sarah Gilchrist #1
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and perhaps worst of all her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city's ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St. Giles Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah's patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patients, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh's dank alleyways, bawdy houses, and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh's most lucrative trades, and in doing so, puts her own life at risk.

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, a beautifully drawn setting, and fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

I chose this audiobook because the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, is lovely. I was browsing the audiobooks she’s narrated on Audio Plus and came across this one. I thought the blurb sounded interesting, and I’ve been in the mood for gothic mysteries lately. This novel is set in the Victorian era.

Sarah Gilchrist was sexually assaulted by a peer, and therefore “compromised”. As a result, she’s been sent to Edinburgh to live with her aunt and uncle while she attends medical school. She, and a handful of other girls, are the first female students studying to become doctors. Their plight is difficult, but Sarah loves medicine and truly wishes to help those in need. She volunteers her time at a low-end clinic for prostitutes, which is where she meets Lucy. Lucy, a young proustite, is pregnant and very upset about it, but Sarah sees a lot of herself in Lucy and can’t stop thinking about her. This is why she’s shocked and upset when Lucy’s body turns up as a dissection specimen a few days later. They claim Lucy committed suicide, but things don’t add up and Sarah begins to investigate. Her main suspect is none other than one of her professors, but as she gets deeper into her investigation, the more she realizes she may be in danger as well.

I enjoyed the narration, and the story was told well, but the main character, Sarah, made a lot of questionable decisions. She was forced to spend time in a Sanatorium after her attack because she kept blaming her attacker. Plus, the novel was extremely dark and depressing. Just when I thought things couldn’t be any more bleak, we’d be hit with another sad, sorry fact about the fate of women and their lack of rights in the 1890s.

I appreciated the strength of character it took for Sarah to stay on her current path, despite (or perhaps in spite of) the misfortunes she suffered in the past. But her blithely following said path without a thought to her safety or the consequences of her actions was frustrating. I wasn’t surprised by any of the revelations, but I did enjoy Sarah’s surprise, so I guess there’s that.

Though I enjoyed parts of this, I don’t believe I’ll continue with the series. Sarah didn’t endear herself enough for me to want to read more books from her point of view.

3.25-3.5 out of 5

Sarah Gilchrist

three-half-stars


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