Friday, February 23, 2018

Audiobook Review: I Like Big Dragons and I Cannot Lie by Lani Lynn Vale

Series:     I Like Big Dragons #1
Pub. Date:Jan. 18, 2018
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrators:Mason Lloyd
Kendall Taylor
Length:5 hrs 44 min

You guys all know that I am a sucker for dragon stories, so this book (title and blurb) intrigued me. When I saw that the hero would be the Prince of Dragons, I thought dragon shapeshifters. But this story involves dragon riders... and the dragons are sentient and communicative with the humans. I loved that aspect.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

ARC Review: The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

Series:     Eternity Springs #14
Pub. Date:Feb. 27, 2018
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:368 pgs

I'm not gonna lie - I was totally sucked in by this cover. I just love the look of the colorful house in a small town Colorado setting... the whole thing is just appealing. I have not read any of Eternity Springs books, and I have not previously read Emily March. So I was trying something new here. And I'm glad I did! I want to move to Eternity Springs now... and I definitely need Celeste working her matchmaking magic to set me up.

Side note - while I didn't feel lost without having read the earlier books in the series, there is a ton of character crossover and maybe some spoilers for previous books. There was probably also some world building having to do with the town as the series has progressed. So you may want to start at the beginning instead of jumping in at Book 14 like me.

Monday, February 19, 2018

ARC Review: True to You by Jennifer Ryan

Series:     Montana Heat #2
Pub. Date:Feb. 27, 2018
Length:384 pgs

True to You is the second book in the Montana Heat series. I have not read the prequel, Protected by Love, or the first book, Escape to You. I don't think its absolutely necessary to read the earlier books to keep from feeling lost, but there is discussion and maybe some light spoilers about the earlier books in this one.

I have been very curious about areas of the Northwest lately - particularly Montana and the Dakotas. I hope to visit now that I'm living on this side of the country. I wish this book had focused more on the setting, but I understand that the main focus was our romance and the hero's undercover assignment. I was just expecting a little more of that cowboy feel based on the cover.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Audiobook Review: Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

Series:     Ravenels #2
Pub Date:May 31, 2016
Narrator:Mary Jane Wells
Length:10 hrs 59 min

I can't believe it's taken me so long to get to the second book in the Ravenel's series, especially when I loved Reese Winterborne so much in Cold-Hearted Rake. I do recommend that you read these books in order as Helen and Reese's story really begins in the first book.

Helen Ravenel is an oddity in her family, the meek and genteel sister in a family of outspoken and wild siblings. In Marrying Winterborne, we see Helen come out of her shell and go after what she wants most in the world - freedom and Reese Winterborne. I was so proud of Helen for the courage and tenacity she displayed and truly went after what she wanted. I was even more impressed when she discovered a horrible secret and she was inclined to put her integrity and the well-being of others before her own happiness. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ARC Review: Rough Ride by Kristen Ashley

Series:     Chaos #4.5
Pub. Date:Feb. 13, 2018
Publisher:1,001 Dark Nights
Length:273 pgs

Rough Ride is the latest book in Kristen Ashley’s Chaos series, and you definitely don’t want to skip this novella in the course of your reading.

If you have been following the series, you may remember Rosalie from early on, as the ex-girlfriend that Shy scraped off when he got with Tabby. Hurt and looking for her slice of happy, Rosie got involved with another motorcycle club, Bounty, through her new man, Throttle. Only Bounty is not on the right side of right like Chaos, and they have gotten embroiled in crazy ol’ Benito Valenzuela’s crime syndicate. In an effort to get her man free and clear of the mess, Rosie began informing on the club to Chaos. As you can imagine, things did not go well for Rosie when Bounty discovered her perfidy. On the mend and vowing off men, Rosie is not ready for the whirlwind of the Chaos family. I liked Rosie and what we learned of her character. This was a short novella so there was not a ton of character development, but I liked what I did see. She was loyal to her family and had good role models in her parents. It seems like Rosie’s dad was something special, and she was looking for a man to follow in the same footsteps. Like many of us, Rosie made some wrong choices, but she recognized the good when it was finally in front of her. I was glad that she didn’t try overhard to push it away, and was brave enough to accept what Chaos and our hero were offering.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ARC Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton

Series:     Play-by-Play #14
Pub. Date:Feb. 13, 2018
Length:344 pgs

In the latest Play-by-Play novel, Jaci Burton has moved slightly away from the realm of professional athletes and provided us a story involving Olympians. I believe this is the first story I have read involving Olympic athletes, so it was a nice change of pace. While I don't typically watch the Winter Olympics, this story coming out during the start of the games has me curious enough to take a gander.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Audiobook Review: Dirty Scoundrel by Jessica Clare

Series:     Roughneck Billionaires #2
Pub Date:Nov. 21, 2017
Publisher:Berkley Intermix
Tantor Audio
Narrator:Rudy Sanda
Chandra Skyye
Length:222 pages
9 hrs 15 min
Source:NetGalley / Hoopla

This is another book from my blogger shame pile. This one appears to have fallen through the cracks in the midst of my move. I remembered enjoying the first book of this series, Dirty Money, so I wanted to make sure that I read this one. If you haven't read the first book, you will want to know the the Price Brothers are small town Texas roughnecks. They grew up dirt poor in a trailer, then got lucky and it it big in the oil business.  That's how we now have four roughneck billionaires who haven't been so keen to move out of the trailer park.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Series:     Highland Fairytale #3
Pub Date:Sept. 20, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Ruth Urquhart
Length:9 hrs 30 min

The Lady and the Highlander is a recognizable retelling of Snow White. The Highland setting gave the story a unique twist, as did the villainous scheme of our heroine's evil stepmother. As this series has progressed, I have noticed more of a magical nature to the stories. While When a Laird Finds a Lass only had a touch of magic, this installment of the series was infused with magic and poison and a truly evil villain.

Laire Macleod is one of the twelve daughters of the Fearsome Macleod of Glen Uhler. When Laird Macleod marries again, strange things start happening. Laire's sisters are drinking all night and sleeping all day, and acting oddly birdlike. Her father is so besotted with his new wife than he can't spare a glance for his beloved daughters. And there is definitely something scary and unnatural about Laire's new stepmother (Bibiana) and her servants, even the intriguing huntsman. When Laire realizes what is happening, she has no choice but to flee the danger and find help from someone more experienced. Laire was a good heroine, determined to help her family no matter the danger to herself. I admired that. She was also able to see beneath the facade erected by our hero to see the good and honorable man beneath.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

ARC Review: A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

Series:     No Ordinary Hero #3
Pub. Date:Jan. 30, 2018
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:320 pgs

I started this book when I was sitting on an airplane last week (right before I got the dreaded flu from one or more plague passengers), and I had to put it down. The prologue made me feel a bit like I was missing the backstory, so I was worried that this was not a series that you could read out of order. However, I gave it another shot today and I read it in one sitting! For anyone else who hasn't read the earlier books... you are fine reading the series out of order. The prologue confused me at first because you come into the story in the middle of an argument. But that was cleared up and I understood the structure once I got to the first chapter (which takes place 10 years after the prologue).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

ARC Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Pub. Date:Feb. 6, 2018
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:435 pgs

This book is outside of my normal genre, but I have been wanting to try this author for quite a while. When I saw the blurb was about Alaskan homesteaders, I knew that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and start with this one. I get sucked into those Alaskan Bush People type shows from time to time, and I have always wanted to go to Alaska, so I knew that the subject matter would be interesting. I have to say that Kristin Hannah is a master storycrafter and I will definitely be adding more of her books to my TBR.

The Great Alone is not a happy story by any means, but it is poignant and captivating. The narrator of the story is Lenora "Leni" Albright, whom we followed as she came of age in the 1970s following the Vietnam War. Leni's father, Ernt Albright, has returned home a changed man after years as a POW in Vietnam. As he suffers from (likely undiagnosed) PTSD, Leni and her mother, Cora, do everything they can to appease Ernt, including following him to the Alaskan wilderness to get away from what he sees as the deterioration of society.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Charmer by Avery Flynn

Series:       Harbor City #2
Pub. Date:Nov. 31, 2017
Tantor Audio
Narrator:Tatiana Sokolov
Length:282 pages
7hrs 35min
Source:NetGalley / Hoopla

This is my first time reading Avery Flynn, and I have to apologize for this review being way late. This is one of the books that fell through the cracks when I was moving across country, so I've pulled it from my blogger shame list with one of my new year's goals to get caught up.

I haven't read the first book in the series yet, and I didn't feel like I was lost or missing information. So if you are reading these out of order, you should be fine.

Hudson Carlyle is our wealthy and artistic hero, and younger brother to Sawyer (hero in The Negotiator). Hudson is a fun-loving and smooth-talking flirt, who hasn't met a woman whom he can't charm. Well, that was the case until he met our confidently nerdy heroine, Felicia Hartigan. When Felicia doesn't fall for his alluring wit, Hudson devises a scheme disguised as an experiment to make Felicia redirect her interest his way. I really liked Hudson. He was a lot of fun and a little dirty, and definitely got things steamy when it counted.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Audiobook Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Series:      Prospero's War #1
Pub. Date:Jan 21, 2014
Publisher:Recorded Books
Narrator:Morgan Hallett
Length:11hrs 52min

I've had the Prospero's War series on my TBR for quite a while, so I was happy to find this audio copy at my library. I was able to get my print books of the series signed by Jaye Wells last year... but I can't read those! So I will probably be doing this series in audio unless I can find room in my ebook schedule anytime soon.

The Prospero's War series takes place in a magical urban environment, in a city that sounds much like New York. There are the magical (adepts) and the mundanes, and both clean magic and dirty magic at play. The world building wasn't extensive (and didn't need to be) but the magical development will prove to be interesting as the series progresses.

So Kate Prospero is our heroine and main character in this series. Kate is patrol cop who has met her glass ceiling it appears due to her sordid history of growing up in a dirty magic coven. When Kate is given the opportunity to join the Magical Enforcement Agency (MEA) task force, she thinks things are going to start going her way. Only her life is about to get much more dangerous. I really like Kate as a heroine. She is not perfect and is relatable in her imperfection. Despite this being an urban fantasy, I found Kate's character to be somewhat realistic and I could see myself hanging out with her if she jumped off the pages of the book. Her struggle with magic, and the relationship with her brother gave Kate enough vulnerability to soften the edges of her character. However, Kate also proved herself to be a capable law enforcement officer and willing to put herself on the line. I also liked that the author didn't make our heroine invincible. I think her injuries and struggles helped make her character more realistic.

One thing I was missing in this story was a defined love interest. I think there are two possibilities, but there was no movement in one direction over another. While I don't need romance in every urban fantasy... I think the stirrings of a relationship would have given me something to look forward to in future books. (Not that I'm uninterested, I will definitely be continuing the series.)

There are an abundance of secondary characters. Between Kate's friends and teammates, plus a few acquaintances and a dubious love interest, there are lots of personalities mixing it up. It wasn't overdone, however. None of the characters seemed superfluous, and each one has his or her defined role to play in the story.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy or strong female heroines, I would recommend this series. 

Purchase Links

Prospero's War

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ARC Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Series:     Sins for All Seasons #1
Pub. Date:Jan. 30, 2018
Length:384 pgs

Beyond Scandal and Desire kicks off a new series from Lorraine Heath, Sins for All Seasons, featuring a family of unwanted by-blows sent off to a baby farmer as infants. I love that Lorraine has taken this sad and tragic historical detail and given it a lighter spin, while staying true to the life that faced bastards and the lower classes of the day.

Historically and most notoriously in the Victorian era, baby farmers would accept custody of unwanted children, usually by-blows, in exchange for a fee. Unfortunately, a good number of baby farmers pocketed the payment and killed the infants. Lorraine has put another spin on this baby farmer and matriarch, Ettie Trewlove. Rathering than planting the babes in her garden, Widow Trewlove raised five bastards to the best of her ability, and they are to be our adult heroes and heroines of this series.

Monday, January 29, 2018

ARC Review: The Emerald Lily by Juliette Cross

Series:     Vampire Blood #4
Pub. Date:Jan. 29, 2018
Length:281 pages

The Emerald Lily is the conclusion to Juliette Cross' Vampire Blood series, which featured retellings of some of our favorite fairy tales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and now, Sleeping Beauty. These were all really unique stories loosely based on the original fairy tales with some very grown up twists. I do not recommend reading these stories as standalones, you will want the continuing story arc that starts with our Cinderella vampire slayer in The Black Lily

Friday, January 26, 2018

Audiobook Review: Dragon Unbound by Katie MacAlister

Series:       Dragon Falls #4
Pub. Date:Sept. 20, 2017
Publisher:Audible Studios
Narrator:Tavia Gilbert
Length:3hrs 37min

I think Dragon Unbound is the final installment of the combined Dragon Septs series, and that makes me super sad. I just love Katie MacAlister's dragons!

This installment features the First Dragon, that mysterious and haughty demi-god who popped up here and there in previous books. You may recall that he is Baltic's father, but he seems to seek a special relationship with all of our characters. I love that the First Dragon visits all new dragons and welcomes them to world, and it shows a sweet side to his arrogant nature. The First Dragon is somewhat separated from reality, so his trying to understand modern vernacular, amenities and foods was quite humorous. But Katie's dragon books have all been humorous and just a great good time. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

ARC Review: Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Series:     Highlanders #5
Pub Date:Jan 30, 2018
Length:384 pgs

Whenever I see a new Lynsay Sands historical, I get grabby hands! I know every book is going to be a quick fun read that has me laughing out loud, and Surrender to the Highlander was no exception. While you can probably read these books as standalones, I think you will have much more fun with the series if you start at the beginning, with An English Bride in Scotland

I am totally head over heels in love with the Buchanan family. While I think my favorite is the broody and scarred Aulay, I can't deny that I would love to hang out with the fun-loving Buchanan brood who tease and taunt each other at every turn. Our hero in this installment is Neils Buchanan, the third son in the family line-up. Saidh Buchanan, the sole sister who is currently large with child, persuades the boys to go check on her friend who had been ill and stopped responded to messages. The boys reluctantly make their way to Drummond keep and quickly discover that someone wishes the Drummonds harm and has been doing a speedy job of dispatching of the family. Neils was a great hero. He was a large lusty lad who was protective over our heroine and determined to discover who meant her harm. Neils wasn't as humorous as some of the brothers, but his reaction to humorous situations was endearing and made me love him all the more.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ARC Review: Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Series:     Torpedo Ink #1
Pub Date:Jan 23, 2018
Length:462 pgs

I have been totally excited about this new series from Christine Feehan. I was a little worried as its a spinoff of the popular Sea Haven series and, despite my work on reading her back list, I haven't read this entire series yet. While there were a few areas where I wished I had the backstory, for the most part I was fine reading this without reading that earlier series.

So... Torpedo Ink. A motorcycle club and family forged in horrific circumstances. Seriously, the back story on these guys (and girls) is so sad and intense and sometimes hard to read. So it was emotional as hell y'all. In addition to their tortured background, these guys are trained assassins and most have some special ability. There were only light paranormal elements, not enough to really classify this as a paranormal romance, but a nice blend of fantasy and dark reality to make our characters more interesting.

Monday, January 22, 2018

ARC Review: Baby, I'm Howling for You by Christine Warren

Series:     Alphaville #1
Pub Date:Jan 30, 2018
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:320 pgs

It's been quite a while since I have read a werewolf book, and even longer since I have read Christine Warren. I can't say why other than I am behind on her series and I just haven't had time to catch up lately. Anywho, I really like the premise of this new series she has created in Alpha, Washington - a town full of misfit shifters who don't quite fit in elsewhere or with packs of their own kind.

Renny Landry has always heard about the almost mythical Alphaville, but she knows that making it to the town is her last chance to get away from the danger on her tail (literally). Being pursued by goons sent by an obsessed stalker coyote, Renny is both so close but also not quite close enough when she makes her last desperate attempt for freedom. But fate intervenes and sends Renny into the path of a reclusive alpha werewolf that could be her salvation, and much more. Renny was a pretty good heroine. She wasn't a runner, which was a plus. Sometimes I did feel like she was too nonchalant about her safety, but I understood her wanting to start a new life and not feel like she was running scared all the time.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Audiobook Review: Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

Series:     Stephanie Plum #24
Pub. Date:Nov. 14, 2017
Publisher:Random House Audio
Narrator:Lorelei King
Length:6 hrs 8 min

I had so much fun with Stephanie and Lula in this latest installment of the Stephanie Plum series. After the last year of extreme political burnout, I was a bit worried when Stephanie and Lula started taking on paid protesters and snowflake villains, but Evanovich brought our current reality to life in such a humorous way that I found myself laughing out loud as I was driving along home for the holidays.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

ARC Review: Scoring with the Wrong Twin by Naima Simone

Series:     WAGS #1
Pub Date:Jan 15, 2018
Length:236 pgs

Scoring With the Wrong Twin is the first book in the new WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) series by Naima Simone, and the whole series promises to be a steamy page-turner. Our current and future heroes are members of the Washington Warriors football enterprise and the best of friends. This hot bunch surely turns heads where ever they congregate, and I certainly wouldn't mind the cold and rain of Seattle if I had the chance to snag one of these warriors.

Monday, January 15, 2018

ARC Review: Destiny by A.D. Starrling

Series:     Seventeen #6
Pub Date:Jan 12, 2018
Length:401 pgs

I cannot believe that its been more than 2 years since I started the Seventeen series... it seems like it was just yesterday! I am such a huge fan of this series and author, and the individual books have made it onto my Top 10 list every year since I started reading them. While the end of the series is always a little bittersweet, there is good news for all of us fans and definitely lots more to come from this amazing author.  If you have not started this series, you will need to start at the beginning with Hunted, as there is a continuing story arc and you don't want to miss anything. Starrling has a fantastic attention to detail and her research and inclusion for these books is extraordinary. In fact, if I could do it all over again, I would have taken notes and created a series bible as I was reading. There is a lot to remember! (Though she does do a good job recapping things that are necessary to the next installment.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Audiobook Review: Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison

Series:     Elder Races #2
Pub. Date:Aug. 2, 2011
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Sophie Eastlake
Length:13 hrs
Source:Audible Romance Pkg

Following the death of the dark fae king, the Elder Races storyline continues with fairy princess and heir to the dark throne, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle, attempting to claim her rightful place in the fae hierarchy. Unfortunately, that proves to be a life-threatening feat for the otherwise beloved Tricks, and she finds herself at the center of an assassination plot. Luckily all those years in public relations for Cuelebre Enterprises made Tricks the darling of the Elder Races and earned her some very tough and powerful friends. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

ARC Review: Small Town Siren by Lexi Blake

Series:     Texas Sirens #1
Re-Relase Date:Jan. 9, 2018
Publisher:DLZ Entertainment
Length:322 pgs
Source:Inkslingr PR

This is a book sure to make all my smutty followers happy, because it was ooh la la steamy. Or given that we are operating in Texas for this series... I should get my southern on and say it was just plain HAWT.

We meet Abigail Moore as a teenager in small town Texas, where she has quite the reputation for being a wild child. Unfortunately, Abby's reputation was undeserved and her life was made difficult by a snooty old woman, mother to her childhood boyfriend. Jump ahead 20 years and Abby is returning to help her ailing mother, and she finds that not much has changed with the snooty old folks of Willow Fork. I felt so sorry for Abby and the way she was treated as a teenager, however I wished she had a little more backbone as an adult. Otherwise, I really liked Abby as a heroine. She was fun, but also responsible. I admired the fact that she built a life for herself after she was run out of town at such a young age.