Source: Publisher

Review: Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Posted September 30, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Lethal Nights by Lora LeighReviewer: Casee
Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man―and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But her ex-husband moved among some shady characters, and now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost―one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon. . .and never letting go?

Lora Leigh is one of those authors I just can’t quit. I feel like I’ve outgrown her, but it just doesn’t seem to matter. I keep coming back for more. In Lethal Nights, we’re taken back to the Brute Force series. This is the third book in the series and my first of the series. That’s fairly uncommon as I don’t generally read out of order. I didn’t feel very lost while I was reading, so it’s safe to say that you can jump in anywhere in the series.

Brute Force has made a deal with Emma Jane Preston’s in regard to using her house as safe house when they are in need of one. This is a common practice for Brute Force though they don’t generally go looking for people. The situation is different for Ilya Dragonovich who is drawn to Emma Jane from the beginning. He knows that the time isn’t right for Emma Jane as she just started divorce proceedings. He leaves her with a kiss, promising that he will be back for her.

It’s a year later and Emma Jane is in trouble. She’s becoming the target of multiple assassins and no one can figure out why. The trail seems to be non-existent which worries Ilya. Coming back into Emma Jane’s life was what he planned all along, but not because she was in danger.

Emma Jane knows that she will fall for the man with the dragon tattoo on his face. His dragon seems alive to her, which she knows is impossible. What she doesn’t know is that it is alive, but only to the person that is meant for the man.

It took me a long time to read this book. It was very slow moving at first. When it did get going, it really got going. I liked the meat of the story as well as how it concluded. While I don’t generally read very many romantic suspenses anymore, I really ended up liking this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Brute Force

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Posted September 29, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I cannot quit Lora Leigh. There are certain things about her books & writing that drive me bonkers, but her stories and characters are incredibly compelling. Lethal Nights is no exception. Emma Jane and Ilya’s story was really good. As usual, I was sucked right in & didn’t get spit out until the last word. If you like romantic suspense and steamy sex, this book is definitely for you.

Sunday Spotlight: Lethal Nights by Lora LeighLethal Nights by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Also in this series: Lethal Nights
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 294
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man―and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But her ex-husband moved among some shady characters, and now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost―one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon. . .and never letting go?

 
 

Excerpt

Excerpt from Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Ilya Nicholas Dragonovich.

Son of the Dragon. She thought she’d heard somewhere that that was the literal translation of his surname. If so, it fit him from head to toe.

Emma Jane stared back at the tall, dark vision of pure danger and dark, carnal sex appeal and wondered why she wasn’t shaking in her size 6 sneakers. A normal, everyday woman should never be forced to face such men. Just being in their presence drove home the fact that there might be pleasures, experiences, and hungers that would always be denied.

His sunbronzed face was covered on one side by a menacing tattoo of a dragon, red eyes glaring at her from just above his left brow. Rough-hewn features were arranged with a hint of aristocracy, but for the evidence of a once-broken nose and the shadow of scars beneath the dragon. The icy stoicism in his pale green eyes and expression called to her and made her heart ache as he stood before her, made her want to reach out and touch him.

She wanted to stroke him.

There was something about him that was just so primal, elemental. He was a force of nature. He made her heart race.

He expected her to be frightened. The man she’d always called Dragon when she saw him in the society pages stood on her front porch, all but glaring down at her. He seemed to be awaiting a less than welcoming response. She probably should be frightened. Would have been, but instead she was charmed.

“How can I help you, Mr. Dragonovich?” Was that surprise in his gaze? If so, she’d better hurry and relish the victory, because she had a feeling it wouldn’t last long. “The society pages precede you,” she assured him with a grin, pushing back her nerves. “I recognize you.” She wagged her brows. “‘Russian Lothario on the Loose’! I believe you had two young women of European royalty on your arm that night.”

The slash of his dark brow arched slowly, causing the head of that tattoo to tilt its snout just enough to look curious.

She decided in that moment she was in love with this man’s ink.

“If you recognize me, then perhaps you could invite me inside,” he suggested, the subtle flavor of his Russian accent sending a tingle up her spine. “I have an offer I’d like to discuss with you.”

An offer? For her?

She was ordinary. Men like him did not offer women like her anything.

“What kind of offer?” She couldn’t exactly hold back her suspicion.

Was that a grin edging his lips? A hint of amusement in a man who the paparazzi swore never smiled?

“The kind that ensures you keep your home when your divorce is final, and one that aids an agency I represent. I refuse to stand on your doorstep while you consider it though.”

An offer to save her home when she was certain her estranged husband was indeed going to be able to force her to sell it? Okay, she might want to hear this.

She stepped back. Not that she trusted him, but the call she’d put through to her cousin Mikayla Steele’s husband ensured help was on its way. It wasn’t every day a dragon stood on a girl’s doorstep and she couldn’t be too careful.

“I called my cousin’s husband, Nikolei Steele, when you stepped from your car,” she warned him. “He’s a badass and he’ll mess up your pretty face if I ask him to.” He stepped inside, and the once-spacious hallway suddenly seemed much smaller. He towered over her, surrounded her, the warmth of his body sinking into hers in a way that sent a shiver up her spine.

“Good choice.” He nodded, his gaze direct, as curious as his ink now appeared to be. “Nik Steele’s a good man. We’ll just wait for him . . .” He tilted his head to the side, causing his dragon to watch her as though with interest. “I must admit though, I don’t think I’ve ever had a beautiful woman call me pretty.”

Was that amusement gleaming in his eyes? The faintest hint of a smile at his lips?

“It’s the dragon.” She shrugged, narrowing her eyes on the iridescent scaled face. “I think he’s flirting with me.”

Brute Force

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters’ intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared.

Lora’s family and her writing life coexist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora finds her life filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes.


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Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted September 26, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Jen
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"The Orchid Throne is a captivating and sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss! High stakes. Remarkable worldbuilding. Unique and compelling characters. A slow-burn romance that’ll make you combust.” — Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

"The Orchid Throne captures from the first page and doesn't let go as Jeffe Kennedy weaves a timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming greed and deceit. You will fall for Lia and Con and root for them with every breath you take. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time."- Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Lia, Queen of Calanthe, has spent the last few years of her life playing a dangerous game. Her island nation is one of the few who has not been taken over by the brutal Anure and his Empire. Lia is supposed to marry Anure, but she has been skillfully putting him off. She knows time is running short, and she is desperate to find a way to protect Calanthe, regardless of what happens to her. Con led a revolt of slaves against the Empire, and he arrives in Calanthe hoping to further his cause. Lia and Con are drawn to each other, but neither particularly trusts the other. Lia has to decide whether to throw her lot in with Con or give in to the Empire.

There is a LOT happening in this book. Kennedy has created an incredibly rich world, and for that reason this book has some info dump in it. Normally, too much of that bores me, but here I was fascinated. It helps that the world of Calanthe in particular is gorgeous and mysterious and full of magic, making you want to hear more about its secrets. I was particularly (and surprisingly) engaged by the political games Lia must play. In many ways Con’s accusation that she has lived in luxury while people in the world are dying at the hands of the Empire is completely justified. Calanthe has been spared the cruelty everyone else experienced, and most of the residents are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge that privilege. Lia believes she’s doing the right thing, but you can see the other side of that argument too. However, that safety has come largely because of Lia’s own sacrifices in recent years. She deeply understands the expectations her subjects have of her, her role on the political stage, her role as a potential wife, and how to use subtlety, charm, and ruthlessness when necessary to get what she wants. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her weigh her options, work behind the scenes, and use all her available resources to save her kingdom. She has been sheltered, but she is also very, very good at being Queen, and everything she does, she does for her kingdom, not for herself.

Con and his people have experienced a LOT of trauma (and CW for talk of abuse, torture, rape, and slavery), but somehow he is still a kind man. He is particularly sweet and vulnerable in his interactions with Lia, and it was both heartbreaking and lovely. His life has been so horrible–you just want to see things go right for him for a change. You can tell he is still growing into his role as a leader, and I can’t wait to see where he goes in the future. He and Lia both bear the weight of expectation and loneliness, and by the end it appears that they will both be made better by their union.

I didn’t realize before I read the book that this isn’t a finished story, nor would I quite categorize it as a romance (maybe just the first installment of a romance). While Con and Lia do have some great sexual tension and do end up together (and have some very hot sex!), it doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. By the end, there is some tentative trust and agreement between them, but they aren’t fully a team yet either. Really, this book is set up for the world and the conflict, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Not knowing that, I was very disappointed when I got to the end and realized there would be no resolution. That did temper my enjoyment of the story a bit.

I did love this world and these characters, though. I want to see Lia and Con grow into true partners, and I want to see how they can fight against the Empire. I will be waiting with baited breath for future books in the series.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Posted September 23, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #12
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Blade, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper, Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3), Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's War
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see. . .

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . .

This war could end them all.

This book is everything. Everything I love about the Guild Hunter series. Everything I love about Raphael and Elena. Everything. It had me on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, sighing, tearing up, smiling. I went from one emotion to another in the blink of an eye. That is Nalini’s superpower. She pulls you in and doesn’t spit you out until the last page. Maybe not even then.

Spoilers from the series will be abundant in this review, though I will try to keep spoilers from this book to a minimum.

Archangel’s Prophecy ended on a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger for real. I almost divorced Nalini for that. Okay, that would never happen, but still. A cliffhanger like that? The last year has been hard, not knowing if Raphael and Elena would come out of the chrysalis alive, if Elena would be herself, the possibilities were endless with the Cascade working to do a hard reset on the world.

The Cascade is organic. It is always changing. It has been around before now and it will be around again (assuming everyone survives). The Cascade has made it clear that Elena is to be sacrificed. It is clear she is to be an instrument to be used to manipulate Raphael. The love that Raphael and Elena have for each other and the strength of their bond can’t be manipulated. It is put to the test to be sure, but nothing can tear these two apart.

Elena went into the chrysalis with her wings cut off by Raphael himself. They both knew that it was unavoidable. They both could only hold onto hope that her wings would grow back. When they do emerge from the chrysalis, View Spoiler ».

While they were in the chrysalis, Dmitri has been holding New York together with the help of Archangel’s Caliane and Elijah. Raphael emerges at just the right time; vampires are starting to run rampant in the city without their Archangel to remind them who’s da boss. One thing I adored about this book was that it showed the bond that Raphael had with his Seven. It’s always been there, yes. We’ve always been able to see and feel it. This book just showed it a little more. It will get to you more than it has before. If it doesn’t, I worry about you.

The showdown between Raphael and Lijuan finally arrives and holy hell, Nalini does it justice. The battle is long and bloody and fucking awesome. I loved how real she made it. It was phenomenal. It just did their feud justice. This book, the title, the cover? Everything is so well done that I can hardly find anything wrong with it. Except View Spoiler ». That almost made me cry. I’ve come to expect this when reading Nalini’s books. I get all the feels.

I know this review was all over the place. I’m okay with that. I felt the exact same way while reading this book. You’re welcome.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Guild Hunter Series

five-stars


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Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 19, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #1
Also in this series: The Blacksmith Queen
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.  The Old King Is Dead With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.  Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned … 

I have to start this review with two points of context. First, I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. I enjoy everything Shelly Laurenston/GA Aiken writes, and I particularly love this book. I just wanted to lay that out at the start of this review because there will be some squee. Second, while it pains me to say it, I would not call this book a romance. There is a satisfying, HEA romance storyline in it, and it’s a lovely one, but the romance is only a small part of the plot. Therefore, it’s not a romance, and if you go in expecting that you may be disappointed. That said, the book is so good, and I am all in on this world and these characters.

It’s hard to summarize this book without spoilers, so I’ll just let the cover copy do that. What I can talk about, however, is the main character Keeley Smythe. I love her! She is a blacksmith who runs her own shop, and she is capable AF. The opening scene, where she kicks the asses of a whole group of baddies in order to save a defenseless young man, just sucks you right in and shows you what kind of person she is. She is strong, she is fearless, and she is by and large very cheerful. She is also incredibly devoted to her family, and it was so great to see. Basically most of what she has done in life has been to protect and serve her family, but she isn’t resentful and doesn’t play the martyr. She does it because it needs doing–she is a woman who quite simply gets shit done. Aiken’s heroines are pretty much all capable and strong, however. What sets Keeley apart is that she’s really…nice. She loves the people around her despite their obvious faults and despite, in some cases, them being seemingly undeserving of her love. I love her for it.

The rest of the characters in the book are also amazing, particularly Keeley’s family. One thing I love about Aiken’s characters is that they have faults but are still deserving of their own happiness. Keeley’s family isn’t perfect, but they are ALWAYS interesting. There are so many conflicting personalities and agendas, and you get the sense that this book only revealed the tip of the iceberg of what’s really going on. I particularly loved the dynamic between Keeley and her sister Gemma. I am definitely hoping to hear more of Gemma’s story in the future! This book is also set in the same universe at the Dragon Kin books. We’ve also heard allusions to the queen we know is Annwyl, and hopefully we’ll get even more crossover later. (Hoo boy I’d love to get a scene of Keeley and Annwyl together!)

As for the romance, it may be small but it’s cute. Caid is taciturn and grumpy, but his grumpiness is no match for Keeley’s exuberance and kindness. It was fun to see her grow on him until she had wormed her way right into his heart. They were a great match, and I could see how his support would be so valuable for Keeley going forward. While I would have loved to see more page time for the romance, even my “romance or GTFO” heart was satisfied enough at the end of this book.

I know the small amount of romance will disappoint some, and as usual Aiken’s campy, violent fairy tale style is not for everyone. I, however, loved this book and I just want more. I want more of seeing Keeley come into her own, I want more story for the rest of Keeley’s family, and I want more of this world.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5.

five-stars


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