Source: Purchased

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Posted November 11, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Narrator: Kirsten Potter, Brittany Pressley
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Horror, Gothic, Thriller
Pages: 327
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

I recently had a Zoom call with some book friends and Wendy the Super Librarian recommended this novel. It had been in my TBR pile for awhile, but I moved it to the top. I usually enjoy novels by St. James, but this one was of the better ones I’ve read in awhile. The creepiness of the motel, the alternating story-lines and the mystery of what happened in the 1980s was gripping.

When Carly’s mom dies of cancer, she learns of an aunt she never knew existed..one who disappeared in the 1980s that no one ever talks about. Determined to connect with her family history, she travels to Fell, New York, to see if she can uncover what happened.

In 1982, Viv Delaney hitchhiked to Fell, New York and took a job as a night clerk at The Sun Down Motel. She expected it to be a stop-over point on her way to New York to pursue a career in acting. But strange things are happening in Fell, New York, and creepy things go on at night at The Sun Down. It isn’t long before Viv is wrapped up in the mystery of several local missing or murdered women.

The story alternates between Carly in the present and Viv in the 1980s. Carly is trying to figure out what happened to her aunt, and we’re given small pieces of the puzzle from Viv’s point of view in the 80s. I really enjoyed the two narrators and how the story was woven between the two time periods. I figured out pretty early on where things were headed, but I still enjoyed watching the story unfold.

I was slightly disappointed in the end, but I’d still definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a creepy, Gothic mystery.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy Reid

Posted November 4, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy ReidReviewer: Holly
Accidentally Compromising the Duke by Stacy Reid
Series: Wedded by Scandal #1
Also in this series: Accidentally Compromising the Duke, When the Earl Met His Match
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Publication Date: May 30, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 256
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

England, 1817. Miss Adeline Hays is out of options. Determined to escape marriage to a repugnant earl, Adeline plans to deliberately allow herself to be caught in a compromising position at a house party with the much kinder man she’d hoped to marry. Instead, Adeline accidentally enters the wrong chamber and tumbles into the bed of the mad duke.

Edmond Rochester, the duke of Wolverton, is seeking a wife to care for his two daughters. A young lady of sensibilities, accomplishment, and most importantly, one who he is not attracted to—a complete opposite of the bewitching beauty who traps him into marriage. But despite the lust he feels for his new duchess, Edmond is resolved to never allow them intimacy, refusing to ever again suffer the tormenting loss of a loved one.

When Adeline’s father says she must marry an old lecher who attacked her in a garden, instead of the man, Mr. Atwood, she’s formed an attachment to (because he’s untitled and therefore isn’t acceptable), she decides to take matters into her own hands. With the help of her friend Evie, she orchestrates it so she’s caught in a compromising position with Mr. Atwood. Only she ends up in the wrong room and accidentally compromises the Duke of Wolverton instead.

Edmond is in town to find a bride. His wife and lady love died 3 years prior. He vowed never to wed again, until he realized his young girls need a mother. He’s determined to marry a woman he could never care for. Only he ends up in a compromising situation with Adel instead, and knows he must do the honorable thing and marry her..even if she does set his blood on fire. Adel is determined to draw Edmond out of his dark despair, and Edmond is just as determined to keep himself separate from his family.

I liked this book, but not as much as My Darling Duke. Edmond was pretty much a jerk until close to the very end of the book, and I wanted better for Adel. I also didn’t love that the main conflict centered around them having children, as that’s one of my least favorite tropes. Even so, I liked Adel and Edmond separately, and I really loved his girls. I also enjoyed the romance. Not Edmond pushing her away, but those times he actually let her close. The way she drew him out and helped him enjoy life was wonderful.

I’m on the fence about continuing the series, however, since I didn’t love the secondary characters who are featured in the next two books. I’m going to take a break and come back to the series later.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Wedded by Scandal

three-half-stars


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Review: Sebring by Kristen Ashley

Posted October 23, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sebring by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Sebring by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #5
Also in this series: Knight, Creed, Raid, Deacon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First & Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 446
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
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five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Nick Sebring has issues. Born feeling like an outsider in his own family, growing up under the shadow of a brother who could do anything, Nick isn’t that great of a guy. But when this culminates with Nick lashing out to hurt his brother through the woman he loves, Nick turns inward and makes some decisions about the man he intends to be.

And as he does this, he falls in love and truly learns the man that he’s grown to be.

When his love is murdered right before Nick’s eyes, Nick knows he has to avenge her. He knows how he’s going to avenge her. And he has no qualms using Olivia Shade to exact that vengeance.

Olivia Shade has grown up on the outside of her family too. Her problem is that they don’t want her outside. They want her all the way in, right under their thumbs. She pays the price for seeking escape and learns her lesson—she’ll never see a dawn where she wakes up free.
Then she meets Nick Sebring, and even as she fights it, the hope that died years ago starts to blossom. She can find love. She can have a man of her own. She can be happy. She can be free.

Olivia hopes while Nick schemes.

However, as Nick peels back the layers of all that is Olivia Shade, he finds something surprising. He understands its fragility. He falls in love with its beauty. He seeks to protect it.

But he forgets to protect his Livvie from one thing: Nick Sebring.

You know how you feel when you read a freaking amazing book? Sebring is that for me, which makes it really difficult to review. I really want everyone to read this book, but you have to read the entire series to understand Nick’s journey. I didn’t have extremely high hopes for this book because Nick Sebring wasn’t exactly a lovable character in the previous books. He was a total ass. I should have had faith in Kristen Ashley. By the time I was done with this book, I absolutely adored Nick and Olivia. It’s one of those books that I thought about for days after finishing it.

Nick always felt like he grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Knight. After Nick intentionally hurts Knight’s woman, Nick starts to realize what he has become and he doesn’t like who he has become. Because Nick is so hated by his family, it was easy for the FBI to recruit him to be their confidential informant. The FBI, with Nick’s help, is trying to take down the Shade Empire. When everything comes to a head, the woman Nick loves is shot in the head right in front of him. Nick vows revenge on the Shade family and will do anything to get it. Even pretending to be interested in Olivia Shade.

Olivia knows her family is bad, but she truly didn’t understand how evil they were until Nick came into her life. There are few things that Olivia has that are her own, but Nick becomes hers. It’s well known that Nick worked with the FBI, so when Olivia’s family finds out she’s involved with Nick the shit hits the fan. Olivia knows it can’t last with Nick, but she’s going to have something that’s her very own, separate from her crazy family.

Olivia always thought Nick was too good to be true. It turns out she was right. Nick is there to spy on the Shade family and he’s pretending to love Olivia to do it. While it did start that way, Nick fell in love with Olivia. She’s the complete opposite of her father and her sister. She doesn’t want to be in the drug business yet she can’t escape them. Olivia thought that Nick was her chance to get out, but she soon learns what he is really doing in her life.

Nick will not give up on Olivia. He never thought he could love anyone else, let alone a Shade. While getting to know her, Nick realizes how different from her family that she really is. He swears to get her out of that life and away from her family. Then she finds out the truth about him and Nick has a fight on his hands trying to convince Olivia that his feelings for her were true. I just couldn’t get enough of this book and these two characters. They are both so broken.

“Because I’m the man who’s gonna eat taco extravaganza, whatever the fuck that is, just because you made it. I’m also the man who’s gonna put the effort into making you come for me after, more than once, even though it’s highly likely taco extravaganza is gonna sit in my gut like an anvil. And I’m also the man who knows every day I wake up you mean more to me than you did the day before. And I’m the man who knew meant a fuckuva lot to me yesterday, so you meaning more today means everything. And I’m the man who’s got two priority missions. To get you free of a life you hate and to get you to a place you smile, frequently and easily.”

How can you not fall in love with Nick Sebring? If you read this book and you don’t love it, well, that worries me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

five-stars


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Guest Review: Things Hoped For by Chencia C. Higgins

Posted October 19, 2020 by Lillie in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Things Hoped For by Chencia C. HigginsReviewer: Lillie
Things Hoped For: A Vow Series Spin-Off by Chencia C. Higgins
Series: The Vow Series #4
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 129
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Can two women who only want to be loved, find a home in each other when the world around them is moving too fast for them to settle down?

Growing up in an intolerant town, Latrisha Martin was used to shrinking the most important parts of herself. She hid her loneliness within a busy life and kept the yearning in her heart tucked away from those closest to her. Just as the façade became too heavy to maintain, Trisha received wise words from a strange woman that helped redirect her life's journey. On a whim, she relocates to Houston, and while adjusting to a new normal, she finds that those desires she'd once hidden begin to manifest in ways she never imagined.

With her star attached to a rocket ship, Xenobia Cooper was quickly transforming from a locally known talent into a name known in households across the nation.

Viewed as an overnight success to many, the only thing that the veteran of the Houston underground music scene hadn't prepared for was living a life without someone to come home to at the end of the day. A reckless tweet sent out in the middle of the night brings an influx of women with stars in their eyes, but they all lack the key component that Xeno is looking for. A chance encounter after her largest show to date and she's convinced that those things she'd hoped for are just within her grasp.

The Vow SeriesTo Buy a Vow - Book 1To Build a Vow - Book 2To Break a Vow - Book 3Things Hoped For - Book 4

Things Hoped For is a spin-off from The Vow Series but can be read as a stand-alone novella.

Trisha packed it all up and moved to a new state to find a better life. One without boundaries or shame. One that, maybe, included love. On her second week in the city, she meets up and coming Houston rapper Xeno and sparks fly for both of them. They are aware this isn’t a hookup, it’s something special, and deserves to be treated that way.

I loved the way Higgins wrote Xeno and Trisha as individuals and as a couple. Xeno remained humble with her fans but also confident and assured in how her hard work, talent, and dedication brought her to her level of success. And that confidence shows in her dating style.

Trisha knew she could never have the life she wanted by standing still, so she made the necessary changes with strength and courage but was still wary of the ultimate vulnerability of falling in love.

Together, they made this sweet, sexy, no-angst slow burn romance a delight to read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Featured Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Posted October 15, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Featured Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1, Kate Daniels #9.5
Also in this series: Iron and Magic, Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 18, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 394
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…

But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming.

Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?
As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

Iron & Magic by Ilona Andrews is book 9.5 in the Kate Daniels series, and follows Hugh D’Ambray, Kate’s sort of step-brother and the anti-hero of the series. Roland, Kate’s father and father-figure to Hugh, has banished Hugh for his part in not bringing Kate to his side. Now Hugh is adrift. Without Roland’s magic there’s a gaping hole inside him. But his Iron Dogs need him, so he makes a deal with a devil…in exchange for a place to live, he’ll marry the White Witch and provide protection for her people.

Holly: I’ve been anxious for you two to finish this series already. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for you to have read this book.

Rowena: I’d say that that first 30-40% of the book dragged a little, and that’s why I was so over their bickering and fighting but things really kicked into gear for me when the Pack shows up to pick up the shapeshifter family. Oh man, Ascanio!! It was so good to see familiar faces and Ascanio always makes me smile so I was happy to see him.

Casee: I don’t know why but this isn’t one of my favorites. There were things I liked more than disliked. Actually, I didn’t really dislike anything. I was over it by the time I finished the book. The narration wasn’t great and the story just dragged for me. I think it would have been different if I would have read the thing.

Holly: I thought the first quarter-half of the book moved slow as well, but like Rowena, it picked up for me when the Pack showed up. Actually, even before then. When Elara and Hugh started working together for their people, that’s when it picked up for me.

Tell me, what did you think of Hugh as a hero?

Casee: I never really thought of Hugh as “bad”. I never really thought about him as a hero either. If anything, he’s most definitely an anti-hero.

Rowena: Hugh used to get on my damn nerves because of his interactions with Kate but I never hated him. I saw him as an anti-hero and am pleased that he got his own book so that we can see more of what makes him, him. I’m glad that we got to know him better in this book and I really enjoyed this one.

Holly: Hugh annoyed me, too, but I could never hate him. I especially loved him in Magic Rises. I really came to like him in this book. When he plays the good ‘ol boy, I cracked up. He was a right bastard in the beginning of this book, though. I didn’t hate him, but I wanted to smack the crap out of him a couple times.

Rowena: Hugh is a dick but holy cow, I like him. When that Senator came to bother Elara and Hugh put on that show for him and those mercenaries? My bloodthirsty ass jumped for joy. I also surprised myself because I didn’t know that I liked that kind of punishment. You learn something new every day, I guess. LOL.

Casee: One part of the book that sticks out for me is when Hugh confronted Roland. I thought it showed how far Hugh came as a hero/man. He even said that he’d never let Roland do anything to Kate’s child, which was surprising. I do want to learn more about Elara and her power. She’s one scary bitch. Who didn’t take any shit from anyone and was beloved by her people.

Rowena: Was Hugh “redeemed” for all of the shit that he did to Kate and everyone else in the previous books? What do you guys think? For me, it’s a little complicated but I’m glad that I know what drove him and that he feels the way that he does about his previous actions. I felt like Elara was right, he isn’t the same guy that we knew from before and I’m glad for that but I’m still mad about Aunt B, about Curran’s injuries, and about all of Magic Rises. I’m choosing to blame that all on Roland though.

Holly: I don’t know that I’d say Hugh was redeemed, exactly, but having a reason for why he did what he did makes things easier to swallow, I guess. It helps that the reason why was a good one, a believable one.

Rowena: There were also times when the strategy meetings and just meetings, in general, bored me. Like, there were too many long, technical explanations that I was like, do we really need all of this? But overall, this one was fun. I spent a lot of time saying, “What the fuck?” because seriously, what is Elara? I felt the exact same way that Bale did in that tunnel. Freaked the fuck out.

Holly: I agree the pacing of this one was slower than most of Andrews’ books. I understand we needed to see a lot of Hugh and the way his mind worked in order for us to move past what he did to Kate, but still. It was hard to stay focused at parts.

Casee: I found Elara to be a strong heroine. While the fighting got old, when it came down to it, Elara and Hugh had each other’s back.

Holly: I am looking forward to the next book. Do you two intend to read it?

Casee: Yes, I plan on reading it.

Rowena: I definitely plan on reading the next book. I like Hugh and Elara. I like, and am interested in getting to know the other Iron Dogs too. Do you guys know if it’s going to be another Hugh and Elara book? Since this book was in third person, I wasn’t sure. What is the next book about? Are we going to delve into what the heck kind of people Hugh aligned himself with because in that final battle when they gathered together and started chanted, I was like, WTF is going on here? And then when, was it Savannah? When she went freaking crazy with her power?

I’d say that through about half of this book, I looked like this:

Thank goodness for Ilona Andrews because these books really kicked my reading slump to the curb. Two books in 4 days? Yes, please. More of this, please.

Holly: I can’t even begin to tell you how effing excited I am that you’re reading again? SO.Freaking.Excited.

Rowena: curtsies I’m back, bitches. Yay, me.

Overall though, I enjoyed this one. The last half of the book made up for the slow start and I’m glad that I stuck with it because Hugh and Elara ended up being a lot of fun together. I loved the way that they had each other’s back, even until the very end. I am mighty curious about what made Roland run the way that he did from Elara. Also, I hoped we would see Deirdre in the end. I really wanted to see her again but oh well. I’m giving this 4 out of 5 stars. What about you guys?

Holly: I believe there are 3 books planned about Elara and Hugh. Ilona Andrews said in a blog post earlier this year they had put it on hold because the tone is really dark and a main character dies, and they’re just not in the right head-space to delve into that right now. I have to assume we’ll learn more about Elara and her powers, and hopefully more about the Iron Dogs, too.

The last half was definitely better than the first, but overall, I enjoyed it. I would give it 4 out of 5. I can’t wait for you two to read Magic Triumphs now. <3

Casee: Hugh was so interesting when he was trying to kill/“date” Kate. I don’t know why (actually it was probably the narrator), but I just lost interest in Hugh. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to read the next book though.

I really enjoyed Elara. She saved the book for me. Her & the Iron Dogs. I give this a 3 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Iron Covenant

Kate Daniels

three-half-stars


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