Tag: Juliana Stone

Throwback Thursday Review: His Darkest Embrace by Juliana Stone

Posted November 5, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: His Darkest Embrace by Juliana StoneReviewer: Casee
His Darkest Embrace by Juliana Stone
Series: Jaguar Warriors #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 361
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A solitary hunter with no regard for the human world, Jagger Castille is a shifter living on the edge. A woman who calls him enemy will give him reason to live...
Jagger is a creature of the night—Skye Knightly soars in the sun. Natural adversaries, they are now joined in a mission entrusted to Skye's family centuries ago: nothing less than the salvation of the Earth.
Wounded and bitter, Jagger sought escape in the solitude of the jungle, driven by a need to disappear forever...until a mysterious shifter who calls to his soul and feeds a yearning long forgotten pulls him from his dark path. A courageous warrior, Skye's passion is equal to Jagger's—but can she trust a man whose secrets are as devastating as her own?
Each is the other's sole hope for survival. But a dark and twisted truth is leading them toward the ultimate sacrifice for a love they may never live to claim.

This review was originally posted on October 26, 2010.

I was really impressed with His Darkest Hunger. Really. The way it ended, with Jagger just disappearing into the jungle left me with high expectations for His Darkest Embrace. That turned out to be unfortunate because everything about Jagger was disappointing. He was an overbearing, egotistical arsehole who thought he knew what was best and that was that. It was enormously dissatisfying.

Skye is running from jaguar shifters—bad ones—when she is saved by one. As an eagle shifter, Skye is at her peak strength during the day. It’s her misfortune to get chased during the night when she can’t use her gifts. When she is saved by a jaguar shifter, she has little hope that she will survive. He seems almost feral which doesn’t give Skye much hope that she will accomplish her goal of saving the world. Yes—saving the world.

Jagger took to his jaguar form planning never to return. After so much pain and loss, Jagger can no longer bear to deal with human emotion. (Is that lame or what?) When he comes to Skye’s rescue, he is forced to shift, bringing all his emotions roaring to the surface. Of course the first emotion is raging lust. The lust he feels for Skye is all consuming and makes him all but mindless.

Things were going along quite swimmingly until Jagger’s friends and family catch up to them. At this point, they tell Jagger that Skye is an enemy and he decides to immediately believe them. He starts to treat Skye as his prisoner instead of a lover, which really teed me off. Honestly, it was such a one eighty after how hot and heavy he was feeling before that I just couldn’t get behind it.

As for Skye, I really found myself admiring her courage. By closing the opening between the realms, she is not only killing herself but surrendering herself to a lifetime of living in hell. How can you not admire that? Even when she started have feelings for Jagger, she was still determined to do what needed to be done. What I didn’t buy was how quick she “fell in love” with Jagger. How could she fall in love with such a jerk? Honestly. I’m still wondering.

I’m also wondering if the next book is going to be as disappointing as this one.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5.

Jaguar Warriors


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Guest Review: The Day He Kissed Her by Juliana Stone

Posted April 1, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Jen’s rthe day he kissed hereview of The Day He Kissed Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #3) by Juliana Stone

He can’t wait to leave…

Mac Draper finally has everything he’s always wanted: An amazing career. A New York City apartment. He’s this close to being free of his past forever. But a mind-blowing encounter with the sexy yet tough-as-nails Lily St. Clare has him delaying his plans to put Crystal Lake in his rearview mirror for good.

She’s finally found a place to stay…

For Lily St. Clare the charming small town of Crystal Lake is her haven – a place she can hide from her famous, back-stabbing family. It’s as close to happy as she’s ever been. Until an unforgettable night with tall, dark and tortured Mac Draper gives her a glimpse of what true happiness feels like.

Lily can’t help but melt a little under the sizzling heat of Mac’s touch. But Mac’s scars run deep, and Lily’s afraid she may be falling for the one man who can never return her feelings…

I was in the mood for a small town contemporary and I’ve been looking for a new series to dig into, so I decided to give this book a shot. Regrettably, this story didn’t come close to satisfying me. There are so, so many things about this book that make me angry (e.g., grammar errors, poor word choices, too-convenient ending, an underdeveloped plot moppet, etc.), but covering them all would just be too much! Consequently, I have tried to distill my disgust down to just the essentials, a concentrated shot of 100-proof disgust, if you will. Because this book really did not work for me.

The story is about Mackenzie Draper, a successful NYC architect who grew up in the town of Crystal Lake, Michigan. Mac came from a terrible home, with an alcoholic dad who physically and emotionally abused his wife and children. Mac comes back to Crystal Lake for a short visit that he ends up extending into a summer architecture job. While back home he gets involved with Lily St. Clare, someone who, by way of a massive coincidence, he happened to have had an anonymous one night stand with months ago. Lily is an artist living in Crystal Lake because her best friend (who is also Mac’s best friend and the subject of book 2 in the series), lives in the town. They start out agreeing their fling is going to be casual, but when things get more serious neither is sure whether they can make it work.

Let’s start with the one thing I didn’t mind so much–Lily. When she was consistent (more on that later), I liked her. She stands up to Mac a few times and calls him on his BS, and she is independent and doesn’t collapse into a useless heap when it looks like things might not work out. That version of Lily was fun to read about. I didn’t buy the ridiculous insta-lust between Mac and Lily, but eventually the sex scenes are reasonably sexy (with one exception**).

The problem is, Lily was portrayed a bit inconsistently. Sometimes she’s described as this party girl who has sex in back alleys and can never settle down, and other times she is described as being less experienced at sex, her friends act as though she’s vulnerable, etc. She is strong and pushes back at times, but then she totally ignores Mac’s very questionable behavior. The cover blurb, and indeed some sections of the book, make her family history out to be a big factor in her life, but aside from some brief scenes with her drug addicted, reality show-starring sister and some mentions of her parents, there is no serious discussion of how those things impacted her or even what the deal with her family really is. I haven’t read the other books in the series so perhaps her family situation is explained in greater depth elsewhere, but even if that is the case Mac wasn’t present for any previous explanations. I need to see something in this book about how Lily feels about it all and how it impacts her relationship with Mac. With no exploration it feels like scenery, not something integral to understanding Lily’s character.

But the rant-inducing part of this story is really Mac. He does things in this book that convince me he is unhealthy and in no position to enter a relationship. He pretty clearly has a drinking problem. At several points in the book, he goes on benders, including one multi-day bender, in order to “forget.”

He had a bottle of whiskey at the cottage, and he was thinking that some alone time with Jack [Daniels] was what he needed right now.

He’s on a first name basis with his whiskey, and this isn’t the only time he expresses something like this. Y’all remember his father is a major alcoholic, which Lily is aware of, right?

“I drink too much.”

“Yeah, you do. But do you drink because you need it? Do you drink to cope?”

“No,” he said after a few moments. “I drink to forget.”

Oh, that’s different then! Lily is totally right to ignore that warning sign! And then there’s the physical abuse element. Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

1) Mac is ridiculously jealous, even at the very start of the story when he barely knows Lily. He gets angry that she has a male friend that she brings to a party they attend. Did I mention that he only even learned her name the day before? He goes so far as to angrily say “[S]he belongs with me” after the woman he’s barely even spoken with spends time with the date she brought to the party. Yeah, no that’s definitely not creepy.

2) Mac is not only jealous but physically possessive, too. The morning after they start sleeping together, Lily has to go outside half naked in Mac’s clothes and comes upon some of his guy friends and their kids who’ve come over to go fishing. Aside from the fact that Mac is a pretty big asshole and actively worsens her embarrassment, he doesn’t mind that all the guys saw hickeys on her neck.

Except that Mac kind of liked the sight of them on her skin. They were his marks. On her skin. Marks he’d put there while he’d been inside her.

So he enjoys physically marring her skin because it reminds him, and everyone else, that she’s his? Holy shit, you guys.

3) Mac has some major anger issues. He’s described as having “blinding rage,” “absolute rage,” “a hundred parts rage,” and “red-hot rage.” Granted it’s mostly his family that sets him off, never Lily, but doesn’t this trigger warning bells for anyone given that he comes from an abusive home?

4) SPOILER: Skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. Mac actually HAS hurt a woman in anger…more than once! Mac tells Lily about an incident in his past, where he got into a fight (while he was in an “absolute rage”) with a guy his girlfriend was flirting with. While trying to break up the fight, the girlfriend got elbowed in the nose by Mac. Lily is all sympathetic and loving, not the least bothered by the story. So of course, guess who else gets elbowed in the face when Mac is in one of his rages? Our girl, Lily! (Plus he also does this in a public place in front of his impressionable nephew, and he goes to jail overnight because of it.) Perhaps I could excuse it once as a genuine accident, but twice sounds more like a pattern to me. At BEST, Mac is so filled with anger that he literally cannot control himself.

Jealous? Check. Possessive? Check. Filled with rage? Check. Has a history of violent behavior? Check. Family history that includes all these things and more? Once again…check.

So does Lily realize how toxic he might be and back away? Does she demand that he immediately enter therapy or possibly even rehab to deal with his demons before she begins a serious relationship with him? Does she even call out his behavior and enter a long term relationship with eyes wide open about the risks?

No, she excuses his serious problems and acts like her love will fix it all. Even when Mac himself acknowledges he’s out of control and genuinely worried about hurting someone, Lily and all his friends instead brush off his concerns as evidence that he’s just scared of love.


Listen, romance novels can explore the darker side of relationships, but I didn’t feel like this book actually dealt with any of that darkness in a productive way. Mac is portrayed as a slightly tortured but genuinely sweet hero who just needs love, not a potential abuser with a history of addiction and violence. I didn’t want to read about him, and I didn’t buy that he and Lily could have any sort of HEA, at least not without some serious, extended professional help. I actually was in a bad mood after ending this book. Not only did I not enjoy the writing style, but I was really disgusted with Mac. I just couldn’t get on board.

Grade: 1 out of 5

**There was one part I reread three times, because I was sure I had misunderstood it. Lily and Mac are getting busy, and this happens:

[H]e could count the freckles across the bridge of her nose. They looked like little bits of pale gold. He bent forward and licked them, feeling like he was going to come apart when he heard her gasp.

Wait, he licked the bridge of her nose? Not kissed, but licked? I assume her gasp was one of shock that he would think that was hot, because…really? Seriously, someone please let me know in the comments if I am just crazy and this would actually be a turn on.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

Posted October 8, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

All he wants this Christmas is her.

In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face his past. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine.

Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again.

Since Jake was about 17, hanging out with his friends, he’s wanted Raine to be his. Unfortunately for him his twin brother Jesse laid claim to Raine and Jake was left to pine for her. Jump to years later and life has taken some major turns. Both Jesse and Jake entered the military and Jesse gets killed in Afghanistan. Not long after Jesse’s funeral we learn that Jake couldn’t handle being in his hometown and takes off to parts unknown.

Our story starts when it’s been about 18 months since Jesse’s funeral and Jake’s subsequent bug out. He’s still not dealing well with Jesse’s death and his feelings for Raine. Raine is in a deep depression for a multitude of reasons having to do with both Jesse and Jake and neither one of them knows how to handle what their going through.

This story was much more somber and intense than I thought it would be. With Raine being in a depression and just sleeping for days on end, not being able to get up and function it was just so sad. She tried to function but she really just wanted to crawl into a hole. Yes, she had friends and she had Jesse’s family but to her way of thinking she just didn’t matter anymore. It made my heart ache for what she was going through.

For Jake it was his guilt over the day Jesse died and how he felt he should have done something different in order to cause a different outcome. Of course there was nothing he could have done but that’s not what he believed. He also was torn about his feelings for Raine. He’d always loved her but felt he shouldn’t show those feelings just because his brother was dead. It was really a rock/hard place situation for him. Raine would make him happy but the guilt over Jesse would make him miserable. I couldn’t imagine what he was going through but Ms. Stone did a great job of getting me into Jake’s head and helping me feel what he was feeling.

Then there were Jake and Jesse’s parents. They were just fantastic and a wonderful addition to the story. I’m not sure this book would have been as good without their presence. They added an element to the story that was quite moving and I loved it.

Overall this was a very emotional read. Don’t pick this one up if you want fun and light – that’s not what you’ll get. What you will get is love and the trials two people live through before they can be together.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

Juliana Stone

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What I Read Last Week

Posted October 7, 2013 by Tracy in Features | 0 Comments

Greetings my friends. How the heck are ya?

Things here are good. The kids are on Fall break at the moment (all week for the youngest and just Mon. & Tues. for the oldest) so I’m trying to find activities to keep them occupied. I don’t get the week off so that makes it a bit difficult.

My youngest daughter had her first promotion test in her quest for her 2nd Dan in Taekwondo. She did great, of course. She doesn’t actually get a different belt, just a white star that gets sewn onto her black uniform. I’m not sure how many stars she needs before she can test for her 2nd Dan but I’m sure it’s a boatload. 🙂 Here’s a vid that I put together of the various parts of her test. There were a couple of things I left out because people were blocking my taping. WE know what they are but everyone else would have looked at it and said, “what the hell is that?” lol

At my church this weekend we had the Blessing of the Animals service. We had church in the courtyard instead of indoors and there were lots of cats and dogs, a bunny and a bearded dragon. Very cool. Our cat, Echo, is not really a people person. She loves HER people but when a visitor comes over she’ll run and hide and stay there for hours until the person leaves. She also loves to look out the windows in our house but doesn’t like it when we take her outside – she also doesn’t like her carrier so taking her to the blessing was interesting. She was very vocal on her way to church and when I told my daughter to take her out of the carrier for the blessing she didn’t want to for fear that Echo would jump out of her arms and run away. She didn’t – yay! and was actually pretty darned calm. She was still meowing pretty loudly when we took her to the blessing but other than that she did wonderfully. She even let people come up and pet her! I kept trying to take a picture of her and every time I did she’d hide her face. OMG it was hilarious. So, this is what I got…shy kitty. Yes, that’s Echo’s face hiding in my daughter’s armpit lol

Giveaways!  (Yikes, almost forgot completely!)
Winner of the Steam Bath: Sweaty Gay Erotica giveaway is ELF.
Winner of My 2013 5 Star Reads (so far) giveaway is Timitra.

Congrats to both of you!

Anyway, on to what I read this past week:

First for the week was The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone. The story is about a man and woman who have been friends forever but she was once married to his twin who has since died. He’s been in love with the woman for forever but obviously never acted on those feelings since she was unavailable. The couple deals with their feelings for each other as well as guilt and depression. I’ll post my review for this one later this week.

Next up was Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha (aka Moira Rogers) that I picked at All Romance eBooks as a freebee recently. The story is set in dystopian world where there are sectors outside of the city, i.e. rebels and/or those that got kicked out of the city for one thing or another. Noelle is a councilman’s daughter but after two arrest – 1 for drinking and 1 for fornication she’s kicked out of the city. She gets taken in by the O’Kane gang who runs Sector 4. There she meets Jasper and has to learn to get past the shame of enjoying those things that she’s been told all her life are wrong. This was a really good book. I very much liked the story and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. This is an erotic novel so there was an abundance of sex but I thought it worked in well with the story. 4 out of 5

Next up was Long Shot by Hanna Martine. This is a friends to lovers/reunited love kind of story. Jen used to spend every summer in Breann, New Hampshire starting at 8 years old. That summer she met Leith and they continued to be friends every summer she arrived from Iowa. When she was 18 she showed up and their friendship became much more. Leith asked her to stay with him but she was off to college. Now it’s 10 years later and Jen is back in Breann to help plan their Highland Games for them. Jen and Leith meet once and they soon discover that the passion they shared hasn’t died with a 10 year separation. The story was really good and I loved so many things about this book. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Taming the Alpha by Adriana Hunter was the story of Nikki who is a stripper and meets Jax when he is desperate to find a mate (he’s a werewolf) and decides to hit the strip joint. They have a connection and hit it off but he’s not sure how the pack will accept her. To say he was ashamed of her would be putting it mildly as he never introduced her to anyone the entire book. He doesn’t even tell her he’s a werewolf until the last few pages and then she’s all, “I don’t care, I love you!” Ahem. Yeah, ok. Then there’s his strange reaction to her best friend (and we never find out why) and the completely unsolved murders that occur in the book. The novella was just the first part of the series but I felt like I should have gotten a whole lot more info by the end of the book. 2 out of 5 

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt was last for the week and it was a good one. The story is the love story between the Duke of Wakefield and the companion of the woman he’s courting. Messed up much? Artemis is actually a wonderful character with just not much going for her in life. She has a brother in Bedlam who was accused of murder and has barely a penny to her name, not to mention her love of a Duke who refuses to marry her. sigh I’ll post my review of this one next week. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

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What I Read Last Week

Posted February 14, 2011 by Tracy in Features | 10 Comments

Greetings all!
Hope you had all had a wonderful week last week.  My was…interesting.  I’ll leave it at that as I’m sure you have no desire to hear my woes.
On a good note – my little one went to a father/daughter dance with my hubby.  They were so cute together!  I don’t have a picture of the two of them together but I will eventually as I guess a “couples” photo was taken while they were there.  I’ll post that when I get it.  I did take this one though – so cute!
So on to what I read this past week:
I started off with His Darkest Embrace by Juliana Stone.  This is the second book in the Jaguar Warriors series.  This is the story of Skye who is an eagle shifter and Jagger who is a jaguar shifter and their romance.  Of course their people have been enemies with each other for forever so it makes things a bit hostile between them.  I read this one for The Book Binge and you can read my review here if you’d like.  3 out of 5
Next up was The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan and Victoria Dahl. This was a book with 3 novella’s in it.  The first two stories were about the guys who literally lived next door from the women but the third was more about a woman who found the boy next door type attractive.  All good stories.  You can read my review here if interested. 4 out of 5
After that it was The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle.  This was a great story about a Polish woman who is in England to find a husband and the Marquis who she’s attracted to.  Great book. I’ll be posting my review this week. 
My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was One Night in Boston by Allie Boniface.  This was a story that brought 3 people together after – you guessed it – one night in Boston.  Maggie is about to lose her business and her home (all the same building) if she doesn’t pay back mortgage.  She decides to ask her step-brother, Dillon, for the money but she hasn’t seen him in 6 years.  She enlists the help of an old friend in Boston and heads to a ball that she hears Dillon is to attend.  But when she arrives she finds the love of her life that she let go 10 years before. But the flame is not dead for either Maggie or Jack.  I liked the basic story of the book.  It was hard to read at times because of all of the flashbacks that Maggie, Jack and Dillon were all having and sometimes I found it hard to try and piece the story together – it got a bit easier after a time.  I liked Jack and Dillon but Maggie was a bit annoying, I must say.  She wanted control of everything and I didn’t blame her on some subjects but on other issues I just wanted to smack her.  Like breaking up with Jack way back when because she couldn’t have children and that’s not what he needed in his life.  How about you tell him you can’t have children and then let him decide if it’s something he can handle?  I also felt that the ending was wrapped up a bit too easily without knowing how it all played out.  I was left with the assumption that love would conquer all and we all know that doesn’t always happen. 🙂 3.5 out of 5
After that it was The Admiral’s Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly.  This was a total impulse buy and I’m so glad I bought it.  Sophia is a paid companion who is a coin away from the workhouse.  She takes the mail coach to Plymouth from Bath but when she arrives the lady she is to be companion to has died.  With no money to get back to Bath and no work available she decides to spend her last coin on a cup of tea.  Admiral Bright is waiting at the Drake hotel for the woman he is about to marry for convenience reasons only.  He decides to take the bull by the horns and ask Sophia to marry him as he needs a wife and she obviously needs someone’s help in a desperate way.  But she has a secret from her past that may ruin everything.  This was just a sweet romance that was heartwarming.  Both the Admiral and Sophia had such big hearts and good souls and I loved reading about them not only helping each other but other people in need as well.  There was some angst – you know that secret of Sophie’s had to come out – but overall it was a charming love story. 4 out of 5
Last on the list for the week was Moon Burning by Lucy Monroe.  This is book 3 in the Children of the Moon series and told the story of Barr who is now Laird of the Donegal clan (previously of the Sinclair clan from the last book) who is a wolf shifter and Sabrine who is a raven shifter.  Another good addition to the series.  I read this for The Book Binge so I’ll let you know when my review posts. 4 out of 5
My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!

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