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Lady of Silver, Shona Husk

Lady of Silver, Shona Husk

Lady of Silver (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

I’d enjoyed a couple of Shona’s stories and liked the sound of this, a hopefully new series.
It turned out to be a great read, a perfect balance of romance and fantasy. The main characters were interesting and felt very real and that’s always important for me. If they and the plots don’t feel as if they could happen (in the event magic etc is real..or maybe it is??) then I just don’t enjoy a story.

Shona takes the vampire legends and makes some subtle changes, the way they are made, where they begin and how to kill them.
She brings in a new (to me anyway) group, the Albah, a group that can do certain magics, that share Elf features and felt very Fae descended to me. They keep hidden from humans, scared of past repercussions, the witch hunts and bigotry.
They’re a race that’s slowly dying, as though they can have children with humans, only those from another Albah will produce males. They don’t have ambitions to dominate humans, just want to live peacefully and enjoy their lives.
The dangerous part of them is that they can be turned into the undead, called Albanex, vampires who aren’t pretty, sparkly, romantic, brooding heroes, but creatures that need blood to continue, and who kill relentlessly to get it.

The Albah thought they’d got rid of the last of the Albanex and that the ways to make them had been forgotten centuries before, but then local killings get blamed on a cult, Saba gets involved and the dangers to her stack up. Not only to her though, to anyone important to her, which now includes Detective Morgan.

Dale is a sceptic and doesn’t like her at first, thinks she’s a charlatan, but he’s been advised to ask for her help and does so reluctantly.
From the first meeting there’s a sizzle between them and soon they seem as if they can’t resist each other, even though they want to.
He doesn’t know what she is though, and doesn’t know that the man he thinks is behind the killing is more than that, that he can’t capture and imprison him. Saba has to decide what’s safest to do for them all, how much to reveal, what’s the best answer.

My only criticism is that it was perhaps a little too light and slick in parts, especially the ending, the way the problem was resolved. That just felt a little too easy, a bit too simplistic given the dangers so far, and that’s why for me its a four and not a five star read. If you want an uncomplicated read that feels genuine maybe its a five for you, I just needed that little bit more.

I really enjoyed this story. Its not a solid, complex fantasy, ala Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Debbie Reynolds etc. but a lighter one, easy to read, easy to follow, but with a storyline I quickly got drawn into.
Its a stand alone read, but there is more from this world to come with Saba’s sister taking the lead in the next book. Its a series I’ll happily read, and probably reread when I have more books so can read through the stories, immersing myself fully into their world.

Stars: Four, a fun, light fantasy and I look forward to the next one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

An Unseen Attraction, KJ Charles. Dating Ryan Alback, J.E. Birk

An Unseen Attraction,  KJ Charles

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities) by [Charles, KJ]

Genre:  romance,LGBTQIA.

I love KJ Charles writing style, very apt for the era she brings to her stories. It feels very much as if one is there in the time period, from the descriptions of characters, what they wear, their occupations, what they do and how they meet, the actual buildings, the London smog.
Even the actual wording used is full of things I have to look up, occupations now unknown or rare but common then, words I’ve never heard of but which seem so apt to the time and are so enriching to the story. (Gamahuching from one of the first novels of hers I read – what a fabulous word).
I hate the trend for dumbed down books, where words all seem to be three syllables or less!

We think of UK history as being mainly white people, and yet when people were so often seen as property they were brought back from other countries as such, and its not uncommon to see people of every race and colour in the cities in UK. KJ often weaves them into her stories.
I loved Clem, half Indian, with a very real backstory, one that happened so very often. He’s an amazing man, and I could see just how his slow and careful nature led to bullying as a child. He needed time to assess, to think, to speak and society both them and now doesn’t like that. People ( me) get bullied of they don’t grasp instantly what’s to be said or done. I don’t have so much difficulty now, but as a child I was very silent, always worried about saying the wrong thing, needed to mull over conversations, think carefully before answering or I’d get flustered just as Clem does. I feel for him.
I sympathised with  Rowley too ( sounds like slowly – I loved that quip!) When he’s talking about his glasses, he describes how someone discovered he needed them, and says how it never occurred to him that he wasn’t seeing what others could. I was ten when a teacher noticed I was very short sighted, until then everyone just thought I wasn’t very bright, was clumsy and slow…so I understood perfectly how Rowley felt without his specs. Mine are a lifeline to the real world. Rowley has had a difficult upbringing too, not uncommon for them time but wich of course affects his personality. He’s so understnading opf Clem, so in tune with what he needs, they make a breat pair. You just want them to be happy, to be left alone.
There’s as usual lots of sex, but not the eternal but dull stuff so often found, where it feels like pages and pages of the same thing.
Clem and Rowely have a varied and intersting way of love making, and again that fits, when sex was something not mentioned in polite society, sex between same sex people forbidden. Even something simple like a quick touch on the hand, a passing clasp of the shoulder could mean so much.
Sometimes I think we miss just how sensual a touch or glance can be, how it can have so much meaning between two people. When things have to be worked at, when they had to find ways round society’s constraints then a simple look could carry a world of meaning.

Once more we’ve some wonderful characters, a careful, slow burn romance, one that simmers, builds very gently, with each wondering about the other. Given the penalties for homosexuality at the time they had to be extraordinarily careful.
I loved the taxidermy descriptions, though they were really interesting I did have to skip the more queasy parts….wimp I know!
You won’t find edge of seat drama here, no histrionics, or death defying stunts, but plots that develop cleverly, lead us around wondering who and why. Though I’d an inkling this time of the Who, I’d no idea of Why, and its a real quest for answers, very much time period apropos.
With a terrific cast and setting, a mystery that weaves all parts of the story together and introduces characters that hopefully we’ll meet in later books, and its another winner. I look forward to more from this group.

Stars: Five, a fabulous start to the trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Dating Ryan Alback,  J.E. Birk

Dating Ryan Alback by [Birk, J.E.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounded fun, and was, but I found it a little too sweet, cutesy.
A good read, just not a great one for me. That’s fine though, others love sweet’n’light, cute’n’fluffy.

I liked both characters, there wasn’t anything to dislike. The setting, how they met, was a little stretching credulity to think either would do that when they both value their privacy, but the reasons given helped.
I could see why they’d connect, but though I felt a good friendship between them I didn’t feel the love, sexual tension, must-be-together feeling I need in romances.

When it went wrong, well I could see why Ryan reacted that way, but he was a bit OTT knowing only too well how the media screw things up, print anything regardless of the truth just to make money. I didn’t feel his past excused his antagonistic reaction. He’d been let down badly by a lover – it happens, and it was wrong to still be reactive, rather than proactive and his agent and friends were advising. Then to behave so callously to Jason. #justnoton

Then Jason, he’d also got a difficult past, but I felt he was far too forgiving when Ryan eventually came calling. It just didn’t feel right, I felt he should have held back more, make Ryan realise just how badly his actions hurt.

Family and friends on both sides added to the “cute” feel, they were all supportive, loving, protective, and that part felt detached from real life where sadly so much prejudice goes on, so many people are vicious gossips, always put to knock people down.

It was a sweet story, cute characters, a HEA but too sweet, too nice for me to rate higher than a three, I needed more connection between them and more angst.
Its exactly what some readers want though, look at any book and you’ll see some love it and others hate it for exactly the same reasons. this isn’t one for me to keep but may be just what you’re looking for.

Stars: Three, a happy read, but too nice for me to keep, just a one off read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel, Lara Adrian. Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel,  Lara Adrian

For 100 Nights: A 100 Series Novel by [Adrian, Lara]

Genre:  romance, General Fiction (adult)

Well, I looked back to my review of book one on getting this – as usual its quite a time and many, many other stories since I read that. I couldn’t remember the minor details, just the very basic facts.
That’s the main reason I prefer to read trilogies/duos etc back-to-back, so the story stays fresh in my mind. It just loses impact for me when its months or more between parts.

So, moan over, what about this part? Well, I loved it once more.
Once the story started filtering back into my brain I was able to pick up connections, though possibly missed some – I’ve found with trilogies that when I do a back-to-back read there’s always things I’d missed, little hints and snippets that I passed over unnoticed.

Avery, I really like her but…sometimes I get irritated when she takes the least logical course of action. She has to, to let the plots advance that way they do but there are times when I feel an action could have been written differently, so as to make her not such a berk…to not let her do things I feel she wouldn’t have.
I do like the art snippets – as an artist myself I appreciate seeing just how hard it is to get work seen and sold. So many books make someone pick up a brush, and from that first picture they get fame and fortune really quickly. real life isn’t like that, there’s many, many artists like me who have a shed full of unsold paintings 😉
And the food…mmmm….got my mouth watering! Food scenes can be very raunchy and erotic and thats shown well here.
I love the way her secrets finally came out in part one, but got the feeling – especially after that ending – that there’s more to come. And there is, something huge, though looking back perhaps not quite so unexpected…

Dominic, another rich, I-don’t-do-commitment guy. Seems the romance genre is full of those, and usually they fall in the end. Will Nick though or can he hold out?
Looking at his past he’s cut loose as soon as there’s any kind of real emotion hits a relationship. Will he do it this time, or does he feel more for Avery? Its clear she’s in love with him, and she’s told him so, and thats been the thanks for a good time, and on-your-way message from him before. She’s still here though.

Its a great story, more secrets from both characters coming out, lots of searing sensual sex, and a solid plotline backing it.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that’s a must-have for me, sex without story is just boring, bland, dull. I know there are a couple of books made up purely of sex scenes from different books – to me they’re pointless, and I just can’t see why they sell so well – takes all sorts though 😉

I’d kind of half guessed at one of the secrets, but not the whole thing, and that played out very well. Katherine is here again, and I actually managed to feel sorry for her, when after book one I really disliked her. I still don’t actually like her, but can understand her a little better now.

The ending – wow – didn’t see that coming, and gah…cliff-hanger. Hate those, but fingers crossed next book due out very soon. Its middle of Feb now and it’s due this spring so on the way I hope!

Stars: Five, another hot and sensual instalment with lots of surprises and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

Breaking the Girl by [Webb, M.C.]

Genre:  romance,General Fiction

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the premise sounded interesting. What does happen when a porn star gets tired of his/her work? Why do people get into this line anyway?What happens when they fall in love?

So, I was looking forward to what would unfold, but sadly this book was a huge fail for me.
I found the characters flat and dull, and the situations veered from boring and bland to start, then going from ludicrous to simply unbelievable. As usual though what doesn’t work for me is just what makes a story perfect for others, and this book has lots of 5star reviews. I’ve often bought books that garner one and two star reviews as what others hate is just what I love. Its all down to that personal choice issue, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that You won’t.

At the start we learn Payton was homeless when picked up, desperate and I understood why she’d maybe go for something like this. She’s naive, gullible, but it was too hard to take that this innocent, untouched, precious girl would see Axel and fall in love, right from the off. She’s seen some of his vids and “jumped at the chance” Really? Reluctance as its her last option I can understand, but being excited at having sex with a porn star, being trained for porn films? I thought it was the money she wanted, but she seems to want the experience too, even looking forward to it. She says she can’t wait to get close up to certain parts of him..She talks about him as if she knows him, and yet she’s just seen his vids ( not sure where when she was homeless, don’t expect shelters go in for pay per view porn 😉 and doesn’t actually know him. She’s no idea what kind of person he is, kind or cruel, helpful or grasping, caring or just ready to beat her into shape. He could have been more like Travis, a sadistic, cruel, sex fiend.

Axel sees her and says she’s got “full, not-too-big breasts on an hour glass figure”. Fair enough so why does he then say in the next sentence that she’s long and lean, but a bit on the thin side?
Still, he’s being paid good money so back to his place they go. Its downhill from then on for me basically, nothing much happens really, they’re in his home, talking about sex and porn, why, how and when…and then bam – and its all action, violence and a totally unbelievable last third. No way to explain to the Law – which his friend Reece is part of – what went on, and as the story continued it just lost what little credibility remained for me.

** Warning: there’s a pretty nasty rape scene towards the end (not Axel) Those who’re affected by such scenes may wanr to avoid that **

This is probably one of the harshest reviews I’ve ever written and I hate doing that, authors work hard on a story, and bad reviews must hurt, but if reviewers aren’t honest about how they feel then reviews become pointless. Two stars from me simply means that I personally didn’t like it, NOT that its a bad book. No-one can make that decision, only how we feel as individuals.

I’ve not read other books of Ms Webb, and maybe they are great, they do seem to be a different genre, and perhaps I’d love them but just not this one. who knows?
I can see on Goodreads that there are some 5* love it reviews, so I felt I had to put in full all the things I really didn’t like about it for balance.
Ultimately its up to each reader to make their own choice, maybe the things that irritated me here you won’t bother about and can ignore.
I’ve loved some stories others have one and two starred, that illustrates just how subjective reading choice is, though I hated this you may love it for all the reasons I don’t.

Stars: Two, sadly I just did not get along with this story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Claiming Mister Kemp, Emily Larkin, Guarding Mr. Fine, HelenKay Dimon

Claiming Mister Kemp, Baleful Godmother 4,  Emily Larkin

Claiming Mister Kemp (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series ~ Book 4) by [Larkin, Emily]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

Well, I’ve not read any of Emily’s stories, and this is the fourth in a series….but it reads as though each are stand alone though connected, and the description appealed to me 😉
Historical M/M – for me the Queen, the 5* Gold Standard of this genre is K J Charles, I love her works. This stands up pretty well against that for me, and I really enjoyed the story. There are earlier books, which I’d like to read, and in fact book one is free so that’s on my kindle 😉

I loved Tom, so clear about his love for Lucas even at a time when it mean death if it was discovered. Awful isn’t it how we treated anyone in love in a non conventional way back then – and in many places still do 😡  Tom has served his country loyally, risked his life for small reward and yet if he’s caught with a man he faced being hung.
Lucas, he’s so scared to admit his feelings. Its clear to those close to him but he won’t even admit it to himself, and talking to Tom when he forces the issue he’s sticking to the conventional “unnatural” etc. As for anal sex – I have to look up the term they used, was new to me and I’ve forgotten it – there’s no way he’ll consider that. Back door Usher – that’s was it, perfect for the age in which the book is set.
That’s one of the things that makes historical books so real, when the characters speak as they would back then, use terms familiar to that age. When Tom is talking about paint colours I had to look some up, hazarded a guess as an artist myself but they were colours I’ve never heard of, superseded by more modern ones.
I love when an author takes the trouble to do relatively small things like that which have a big impact on how I feel about a novel. Its research many fail to give credit to and just don’t do but can make a massive difference to how real novels feel. Its something that KJ Charles does all the while, and what makes her books feel so special to me.

There were times I wanted to shake Lucas, thought him a coward he was bringing such distress to Tom in his refusal to act on what they both felt. Then I had to remind myself just what they were risking, and it puts his fears into context better.
Even today in the UK many people find it difficult to acknowledge their sexuality, and there are no criminal charges now, just bigots to face,but that’s still tough, especially when they’re sometimes within the family we love.

Holding up this would be/won’t be romance is a great cast of characters, snippets of real history, and events, and plots that fit the story perfectly. Its a fun read, one I thoroughly enjoyed..

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Guarding Mr. Fine,  HelenKay Dimon

Guarding Mr. Fine (Tough Love) by [Dimon, HelenKay]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

I didn’t realise I’d read one of Helen’s books back in 2014…not surprising as she’s a prolific author.

This sounded a fun read so I waded in, and got hooked into Seth and Rick’s romance.
I love that they’ve-hooked-up-but-now-its-awkward scenario. Rick and Seth had a quick, steamy interlude in a club back room and that’s it. Or so they think, so imagine the shock when next day Seth finds out Rick is the person he’s bodyguard for.
Rick knows who Seth is via the paperwork, and has his own issues about that, but has no idea what he looks like until he walked in the door!

Well, that visceral attraction that had them hot and sensual in the back room is still there.
Rick’s had relationships before but Seth? Not really. He’s just broken up with the closest he came to one with his ex, Elizabeth. She felt he wasn’t there enough, and when he was, he wasn’t “there” with her anyway.
They can’t keep hands – and other body parts – to themselves though, and what was a one off becomes more and more, until Seth can’t bear the thought of anything happening to Rick.

There’s a lot of danger surrounding this post though, Rick isn’t really the new Consul, but an agent looking into the supposed suicide of the old one.
He and Seth uncover a dangerous plot that could get them killed, and they come very close to it more than once. The suspense part and action of the story worked well for me. I don’t want it too in-depth that I get lost but do need it to feel real.

There’s lots of action here, lots of on-going drama, and some cracking snarky lines that made me smile.
I liked Seth and Rick, they worked well together as colleagues and as lovers. Could they continue after this post was done though? Would Seth even want to or would he do his usual fast exit?
As well as the romance there was a decent storyline – and I’m all about that, a proper balance of sex v story, and here it worked well.
The characters were well thought out, very real feeling though I’d got an inkling of who was the bad guy early on. Makes a change for me to get it right 😉
I loved Nathan too, love the banter he and Seth had, being comrades from other dangerous jobs had led them into a special trust, only found when you rely on the other when you’re risking your lives.

I did enjoy the “why do straight guys always think we’ll hit on them” talk – I was having that chat just recently with son number two. Its something that always puzzles me, straight guys don’t fancy every woman that crosses their path so why do so many of them assume a gay guy will fancy them?

Stars: Four, a fun read, with a good balance of sex and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted, Crownover, Jay

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted,  Crownover, Jay

Riveted (Saints of Denver, Book 3) by [Crownover, Jay]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve read quite a few of Jay’s novels now, some I love, some are still good but not quite such a hit with me. Riveted falls into that category, and its really difficult to pinpoint why.

I love the characters, the settings, the realism of it all. There is irrational bigotry around, those who see skin colour and not the person, and when that happens to Dash and his brother  it felt so very genuine. I’m naturally fairly dark-skinned/tanned looking, though English through and through, and used to get bullied at school back in the sixties for my appearance, so I understand that affects people though I only had a small taster.
Its sad but a fact of life, people that are in any way different get picked on by ignorant bullies.

Poor Dash, what a tragic background and I kind of understood why he joined the Army as a teen, and how the awful things he’s seen since affected him. I still wasn’t quite convinced though of his reasons for a) not going home and b) feeling he wasn’t good enough for Dixie, that something would happen to her. Thank goodness that girl has some real sticking power!

Dixie – well, we need more like her in the world. she’s everyone’s friend, works hard, always has something nice to say, and always there ready to help.
She’s like a Pollyanna type but without the cringing sweetness, there’s something real about Dixie, something that makes her beautiful in spirit without feeling sickly sweet.

The sexual tension between those two – off the wall, and wow when Dixie finally wore him down – or maybe it was just that he stopped telling himself he wasn’t good enough, sparks flew.
They’re perfect together, but that HEA has a few barriers on the way.

There’s some terrific secondary characters here too, who really caught my eye. Its a lovely story, a beautiful romance, with genuine feeling people and places. I could feel the sunshine, and here on a murky February morning in the UK just remembering that feel cheers me up.
Given all that why haven’t I gone for five stars? Well, its hard to say, I did enjoy it but…sometimes I found myself drifting, not concentrating on the story, and other times I just had to put it aside for a while, and that doesn’t happen with five star reads. I just can’t work out exactly why though.
It’s clear its a five star read for many and that’s great to see. I just wish it had been that for me, but it fell marginally short.

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Retribution, Shana Figueroa

Retribution,  Shana Figueroa

Retribution (Valentine Shepherd Book 2) by [Figueroa, Shana]

Genre:  romance,

This is classed as Romance by genre but it’s also paranormal and fantasy as both Val and Max have visions of the future, and have found there are others like them, with a group known as Alpha seeking to control them.
Somehow I missed book one of this trilogy, but read the amazon sample, which gave me enough to understand the characters, and most important, their visions and the Alpha group, who seem to have far reaching tentacles.

In Vengeance they went through a harsh time, got close, came together and then parted. Val felt Max deserved more, someone better than her, that being together would give in to the Alpha group who want them to have a child so they can take and control it….she wanted him to be happy, and it seems like he is, he’s to be married in two months to Abby.
All is not how it seems though, Max is trying to have a normal life, but however hard he tries he can’t forget Val and what they had, can’t let go of his anger that she wouldn’t fight for them.
Abby seems to know something is wrong but is taking an ostrich approach, ignore issues and all will come right – except they don’t. Max is abusing medication to deal with his issues, and hiding it, telling himself he’ll stop soon.
Even though I missed book one I can still feel that Max and Val belong together, there’s a pull whenever they meet, a feeling that they are two halves of a whole, something that’s missing when he’s with Abby or Val with Sten, her Ex, currently not a friend but not a total enemy either.

Val gets a new case for her and PI partner Stacey. A local young lady, Margaret, has gone missing. As soon as her mum shows Val a picture she recognises her from a recent vision, murdered and washed up on a local beach. She knows it hasn’t happened yet but there’s only a short window before it does, so she needs to move fast. She does a bit of enquiring and finds she needs to attend a rich mans secret club, and calls on Max to help her get entry.
Abby isn’t happy to find out Max met with Val when she asked for his help, but he tells her Val just wanted money, and as usual she turns a blind eye to anything else.
Of course being Max he checks things out first and that brings him into real danger again.

I’m not sure about Abby, whether she really loves Max, or just wants the position as his wife, and the prestige. She comes from a wealthy family so doesn’t seem like its money, but she just seems blind to the turmoil and unhappiness Max is in. Maybe he just hides it well, maybe she just doesn’t know him well enough?
Val of course thinks he’s found the nirvana she hoped he would but can’t help being jealous, wishing he was still with her, she still loves him. Meanwhile she’s in an odd sort of sex only relationship with Sten, a crooked cop who may be working for the people who want to control Max and Val. Strange eh?
Many of the characters in this book all seem to have weird connections, Val was in a relationship with Stacey for a while in their youth, before deciding she preferred men, though Stacey is still into women, and Max hasn’t told Abby he’s been with a man before.
There’s lots of quirks like this is the book, so you can never guess just quite what’s going to happen, with whom, what will come out about the past, and where the story is going next.
People have the oddest of connections, and they key players here have more than one between them.

Its a tough and gritty read at times, sex without love, without Like even at times, people dying who are integral to the story I thought, and then they’re gone. Shana isn’t afraid to kill off people, so even the “good” guys die here.
Its a scary read, the lust for power is a very human thing and its what makes books like this so realistic, there are people who will happily do anything to be at the top, to have control.

I enjoyed the way the story played out, the twists and turns, the weaving together people who seemed not to have a connection and then….
There’s lots of dangers to almost all the major characters, and Val’s visions of both her and Max keep having different endings, though sadly ultimately not happy ones, and she wonders how she is affecting the future. She’s unsure if it is possible to change bad events to happy ones, especially the ones involving her and Max. She can’t sit back and do nothing though, and once more she and Max are involved in a dangerous scenario, risking their lives.
.
Stars: Five, a great read, and sometime I want to read book one, but for now am waiting 🙂 for the final part!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1, Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1,  Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic Book 1) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, general fiction (adult).

I found Melissa’s books by way of the Boundary Magic reads on KU – I love KU!! Risk free way of trying books for a small sum each month. Melissa’s novels tend to be in trilogies with some side ones in novella form.
I think if I’d come to this one without having read any of the others maybe I’d have struggled a bit more, as it is I missed the last Scarlett novel – it’s on my kindle for reading now 🙂 – and there were things I didn’t wholly follow.
Its a stand alone read though, even though part of a trilogy. this particular story wraps up but its clear there’s more to come.

I love the characters in this series, vampires and werewolves, witches – with a very, very few boundary witches who specialise in death magic, and Scarlett, a null – someone who temporarily wipes out paranormal elements whenshe is close to them, so vampires and werewolves are human when next to her, and witches unable to use their powers. Evens out the field a bit!

Scarlett has been involved with the supernatural world for sometime, and lives with werewolf Eli. She gets a strange message from Molly, a good friend some time ago but they’ve not seen each other for years. She takes Shadow, her Bargest ( sort of supernatural dog) and goes to see what’s wrong. Scarlett is like that, when someone needs help she wants to give it if she can. She gets a horrible surprise though when she finds Molly blood soaked and her 12 housemates dead….

Of course the Vampire Trials are coming up next day, a two day event held every three years where the three supernatural leaders gather with their members and decide over grievances. Scarlett knows the punishment for killing like this is death, but Molly doesn’t know why she did it, its not her nature, nor really any vampire, to kill and feed this way.
She wants to prove Molly was set up, but time is short. the other leaders aren’t looking beyond the obvious, and the perpetrator behind events seems determined to get Molly killed at the trials.

Its another riveting, exciting read. Scarlett has changed a lot from last time I read about her, and she’s grown in confidence and ability.
She likes her job, feels she’s doing something useful, and even though it brings her into danger again and again, she thrives in the planning and doing of making things right. Eli isn’t so happy, they love each other but he can’t understand why she persists in doing this job that risks her life again and again, and she can’t seem to make him understand its what makes her happy. Rock and hard place, and I felt for them both.

Jesse is back in a big way in this book. I love Jesse, but the poor guy is in a rough place, taken for a ride by his ex wife, who wanted his fame and money more than him. Tough stuff. When Scarlett seeks his help he’s not keen at first but soon the deadly duo are back in action. They really do work well together, trusting each other and knowing what each can and can’t do.
With Shadow’s help they’ve a huge task ahead, find the perpetrators and bring them in quickly or Molly dies. Vampires – actually all Supernaturals, have a harsh but much needed rule, risking humans knowing about them means death. Its too big a thing to do half measures, there are rarely excuses accepted, so Scarlett and Jesse need to find out what’s going on ASAP.

Once more I loved the story, loved the characters and the way it all played out. There are no hated “quick fix” solutions here, those where someone gets a new, unheard of so unpractised power just at the crucial moment. I hate those, I want what happens here, where the solutions come from attributes we already know about, from skills practiced, from accepted traits of the characters.
Its got a kind of bittersweet ending, one that made me sad but also made me think maybe what I wanted from very early in these books might finally happen…..

Stars: Five, a great start to another trilogy 🙂 I’m looking forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death, Kim Harrison

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death,  Kim Harrison

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death (Hollows Prequel) by [Harrison, Kim]

Genre:  Sci-fi and fantasy

I’d just been thinking it was maybe time for a reread of Kim’s Hollows, a fab series, one of the first I bought when I got Kindle number 1.
Its not a light, fluffy, romance + alpha hero tale, but one with some dark moments, demons that aren’t all romantic underneath, vampires who’re out only for themselves, and will kill without a second thought if they think they need to, werewolves, witches, pixies and fairies, and ley line magic, lots of that. And yet wrapped up in that IS a romance, the story isn’t some dark, macabre horror as it sounds, and there’s so much fun, so much mystery as to what can and will happen. Great characters and it’s a series you can read over and over.

So seeing a prequel I was excited, its several years since I first read it but I can remember feeling confused about parts of The Turn, what exactly happened, and how and why, so this is just perfect for both folk new to the Hollows, and for those of us who’ve read it but got questions.
We meet mainly Trent’s parents, see how they got together and I’m ashamed to say I can barely remember anything of them from the main series. They’re both clever scientists, leaders in their field and have a fierce rivalry.
Trent’s dad Kal is a total jerk, viciously cruel, totally amoral, made me see a bit where Trent got his initial prejudice from. He’s always done his best to knock down Trisk from when they were kids, his jealousy knowing no bounds. I did feel for him a bit when we read about how much of his childhood was spent in pain, knew about the constant surgeries and tweaks to his genetic code he’d had. That’s tough on any child.
Doesn’t excuse the way he was so cruel to Trisk though, always reminding her she was an upstart Dark Elf, not like the Kalamacks with their long heritage keeping them pure. Trouble is though those Pure Elves, the bloodlines they were so proud of, was what was helping them die out, they were having huge issues reproducing.
Poor Trisk is hampered too by the 60’s view of females, little women that should be chained to the kitchen popping out babies, certainly not leading scientific advancements, that should be left to the men. If by chance they did make a break through, well they should be pleased a man would take over and get it published and maybe let their name be credited as one of many helpers….Gah! that was so spot on, I was just a kid then but is so how life was! I love Trisk, one of the good people, who wants to do what’s right, regardless of personal cost.
Her human colleague Daniel is another like her, and he was a terrific addition. Made it easy to see how the whole coming out to humans part was decided. There were people for and against, but with Daniel in front of them, the way he’d dealt with such a lot in a short time and still helped those not human as well as the humans helped sway the decision.
Along with Orchid of course, who was a great character and help fill the missing shoes of Jenks. I can’t write his name without thinking “Tink’s little red panties” – he had a phrase for every occasion, and Orchid has a similar curse ridden mouth!
We meet Quen too, a young Quen and maybe an explanation for why he’s always been so loyal to Trent. I love Quen, always the man in the background, always there protecting, overseeing and yet unseen much of the time.
Alongside that there’s Al the demon of course, Piscary, Rhynn, and a few others from the main series.
Another reviewer mentioned Rachel’s dad, and I can’t recall much about him, and missed that – I need to go back and look…I’m sure there’s other nods to the main series I’ve missed.

Stars: Five, a fabulous story, well worth reading before or after the main series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers (Common Law Book 2) by [Sherwood, Kate]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

This is my fourth Kate Sherwood read, two were five stars, one was three – that’s how it goes for me, liking an authors writing style doesn’t mean I’ll love all their novels 😉 Still, Long Shadows, Common Law 1, was a five and I was keen to see where Wade and Jericho (Jay) would go next.

This is one of those excellent slow burn romances that I love, where we can feel just how attracted each person is, feel the sizzle, the heat, the tension whenever they are together. Right now though they’re not together, not even close to that, still feeling their way round each other, but though everything seems stacked against them I just can’t help but feel them being together is something that’s almost predestined, fated, just has to happen at some point. But when, where and how still isn’t clear!
Wade and Jay had a relationship 15 years ago and then Jay left…didn’t stay in touch, didn’t contact anyone, and now he’s back. He and Wade are on opposing sides of the Law though, with Jay being undersheriff, his also close friend Kayla is sheriff, and Wade has a rep as a criminal.
Although he’s never been caught doing anything wrong, whenever there’s trouble somehow he seems to have a connection. This book shows that once more, with people believing Wade’s hand is in the mix of murders/drug smuggling and biker wars.

Its not as clear cut as Wade not being caught though, everything that makes the locals ( and the out of town Feds) think he’s guilty is circumstantial, and how much is jealousy from the locals and frustration from the feds?
Wade doesn’t not cooperate, on the surface he’s friendly, calm and helpful, but we all know that what he isn’t saying is far more important than what he is telling them.
Jay struggles to concentrate when he’s with him, the Wade of now is wrapped up with his memories of past Wade and both have the tendency to make him forget everything, and that doesn’t bode well for a man of the Law.

All the old team are back, Jay, Wade, Kayla, Nikki – Jay’s fathers wife and her two kids, the feds who still seem to distrust Jay and shut him out as much as they can, and there’s a few new people, with the bikers being a main thread of this story.
It starts with the burning of Wade’s bar, and a text from him to Jay that no-one is there.
Jay was terrified Wade was inside, panicking over all the things he wanted to say and hadn’t, and then Wade texts him back this brief, ambiguous reply in response to Jay’s question over where he was. Does that mean he knew the bar was burning as he was involved? Jay hadn’t told him, and once more he’s left with the dilemma, does he show Kayla the text as he should as her deputy, knowing he’ll drop Wade into trouble if he does, or should he keep quiet?
Its typical Wade, laconic information, words that can have more than one inference, and poor Jay, I so felt for him. The more he gets caught up with the town the more he feels for Wade.

I love these guys, the friction between them, Jay trying to do what’s right morally, but struggling when it comes to Wade, Wade and his manipulations. I feel Wade knows Jay better than he knows himself, I think he’s a good guy, they both are but Wade hides it.
I haven’t worked out whether he’s just running his town the way he thinks benefits it, skirting the law deliberately or whether he’s maybe part of something bigger on the legal side. Who knows? Maybe I’m totally off tangent thinking that, but Wade is so closed, so careful and so manipulative that everything he says and does can be taken in many different ways. Is he using Jay for his own purposes, giving him info he knows Jay will feel he has to pass on to Kayla and the feds, or is he just trying to keep Jay safe?
Kayla, she asked Jay to stay, to take a huge pay cut from his city posting and help her keep the town safe, but she doesn’t seem to fully trust him when it comes to Wade and TBH its easy to see why. Sometimes Jay doesn’t trust himself. So far its all worked out well, but is that because Wade was directing it that way or purely coincidence?
What about the feds, first they don’t trust Jay but do trust Kayla, now it seems to have turned around, so what’s really going on there?
What about the murders, how can Jay keep his town safe when the feds aren’t giving him info over such serious things as that?

Its a book that’s perfect for me, sizzling romance, great characters, small mysteries to puzzle out and lots of false trails. By the end we can see what has happened but we still don’t really know why, whether it worked that way by default or by clever planning. Jay’s getting to know the way Wade works, but still struggles with the morality of having such strong feelings for someone who may well be a murderer, drug smaller, involved in some serious crimes. Poor Jay. He wants to think the best of Wade but he’s hampered by that tricky stuff, evidence that seems to point Wade as guilty but doesn’t quite fit, can be seen in different ways.
Wade I just love, such a clever, sexy man and for me he’s not a murderer but has perahps found ways to skirt round the constraints of legalities to get the results that are best for the town and its inhabitants.
There’s some real steam coming off the pages in this book, although its mostly touches, glances and words, very little real action, but that makes it so much hotter, so that when they do kiss, one touch and bam….its explosive.

A fabulous story once more, carefully paced, flowing easily and taking the reader along a will they wont they/is he guilty or isn’t he/how can they ever actually make it as a couple journey?
Eternal optimist that I am I know Kate will work it out for them eventually but how, when and why…well, thankfully there’s more books to enjoy to read about that!

Stars: Five, perfect second book, advancing the story and opening up the plots for lots more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff, Wolf Moon, Lisa Kessler, The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1, Holley Trent

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff

Mark of the Moon by [Dranoff, Beth]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

Looks as if this is a debut book, I can’t find anything else Beth has written and its a really good start.

I loved the idea of this series, and from the beginning I was quickly brought into the action.
There’s a few issues though that stopped it being a five star read for me, though I think it has that potential. Maybe if it is a debut book, and Beth learns more as she writes –practice makes perfect and all that – hopefully later books will grow and evolve into the kind of reads they could be.
Think of some of the early books of now well known authors, some have really polished their craft as they get more used to the world of creating stories from nothing, and making us readers believe in them.

The biggest issue for me is that Dana spends so much time “in her head” mulling things over, rambling to herself, that the story becomes tell-not-show and that format really doesn’t work for me.
There’s also a lot of action, so much so that at times it becomes hard to sort out who’s doing what and why, what’s really going on, and I ended up seeing Dana escape yet again but uncertain of how, or why it happened. That’s possibly because I found myself skimming some of her meanderings, and some of the what felt like repeated attacks.
I’m the kind of reader that needs answers, needs to know that the protagonist gets free using skills I know she or someone else already has. I don’t like new-skills-discovered-at-the-critical-time kind of read, the quick fix answer where they are in a scrape that looks inescapable and then someone comes in, does something hitherto unknown, and everything is perfect once more.

That said I love the characters, the mystery of the seven moon pack – or whatever they were called, wondering who Ansell is, the triangle (or quad?) of Jon, Dana and Sam, with jealous Claude making up an unwilling fourth!! I’m kind of confused over that, as Jon tells her after the first crisis she finds herself in that Claude is an ex, that there’s nothing between them. However Claude doesn’t seem to feel he’s an ex, more a current, and the interaction between him and Jon seems to back that up – so what is the truth?
I like Jon, can feel he genuinely cares for and about Dana, but his relationship with Claude is odd, and i didn’t see how he could let go the things Claude did and said when he cares so much for Dana.
I liked Sam too, but he’s more complex that he first appeared, and did things that made me feel somewhat differently about him.

There’s some serious heat in the scenes in this, with some very sensual sex going on but…I could have done with a bit more attraction between them, not just sexual, lust, physical but emotional, actually liking each other, wanting to support and help.
Jon seems to do a bit of that, but in an understated way, and it’s really hard to tell if he’s doing it because he likes Dana, or whether he just feels its the right thing to do, kind of old school traditional behaviour that many vamps show.

I think – and I really hate to say this as usually I’m banging on about stories being too simplified – this series will work better as it grows, as Beth works out what she wants her characters to be, where she wants them to go and how. Once they know who they are, then maybe their actions will become more simpler, more understandable instead of the random we see curretntly,, and we won’t need this constant rescue from unnamed sources with untold skills.

Its a great idea, and by the end I can see that its going to get more complex, so something needs to go, or to get more slick and polished or the plot(s) along with non stop, over-complex and over-explained action is going to spoil what could be for me a terrific 5* series.

Stars: Three and a half. A really good start to a series that has the potential to become a favourite for me, but still needs some fine-tuning IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Wolf Moon,  Lisa Kessler

Wolf Moon by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  romance,

I’d read and enjoyed the first five books in this series, but somehow missed book six…still, these can be read as standalone stories so that didn’t matter.

There is an overall story arc to the series with the Nero connection, but that seems to have taken a real backseat in this book.There are references to Nero and the people within it, but its a very minor part of the book. I’d have liked to see more Nero involvement, without it this becomes just a shifter romance, and there’s a deluge of them on the market.
Lisa’s writing is always very good, but the Nero connection gave this series the edge IMO.

So we meet Luke and Raven. We do hear from others in his pack, but in this book they’re very much in name only, its mainly just Luke and Raven and the Sedona Pack.
Poor Raven, turned against her will and against werewolf rules, is trapped in the Sedona pack. I really felt for her and her sister, stuck there with her.
The pack Alpha is in league with Nero, and is growing his pack quickly, against werewolf law and tradition, mating the females up with whoever he wants to reward to breed more werewolves. He wants a strong and loyal pack, and is searching out and turning people with abilities to help him achieve that, if they don’t have close family and won’t be missed.
Forget the fated Mate connection, he’s not interested in that, just in rewarding those men loyal to him with females, and the ladies don’t have any say in the matter.

What an awful life. Raven is determined to escape with her sister, and when she meets Luke and they touch, the need grows stronger and they discover they are mates.
Luke hates the thought of her going back to the pack, but she must, to save her sister and to prevent war on Luke’s pack. That looks inevitable though when they learn of the Sedona Alpha’s plans and the Nero connection.

I loved Luke and Raven, but the story felt a little slick, everything fell into place too well, even when there were issues they were dealt with quickly.
Compared to earlier reads this one did feel very simplistic, maybe I just needed more Nero connection, a bit more angst and anger.
I’m kind of confused about the Nero crew too, as to which way the major players are swinging, what side are they really one, are they playing bluff or double bluff? I like that kind of thing, trying to work out what people really have in mind.
Compared to that intrigue the Sedona stuff just seemed to flip by too easily, issues sorted too simply.

Its still a fun read, still a great addition to the series but looking back at my past reviews the ones I’ve enjoyed the most have been the ones where Nero takes a stronger part.

Stars: Four, a good read, but I needed a bit more Nero to make it a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1,  Holley Trent

The Demigod's Legacy by [Trent, Holley]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

I didn’t realise this was a spin off series, and of course I’d not read the Desert Guards. Didn’t matter though, there’s enough info given for me to follow the story, but I do want to read the other books at some point, they sound fun.

I’ve read a few of Holley’s contemporary romance reads a while back, but none of her very very many paranormals….she has an easy to follow writing style, with some sharp humour which keeps the feeling of light-heartedness in the story.
Its a kind of easy, relaxing read rather than deep dark drama. I like both, very much depends on my mood which I want to read.

So this book – a fun read, made me smile at some of the things that happened. I loved the main characters of Dee, Cruz and Tito, and they all felt very real. Cruz especially – five going on fifteen. she was a real sweetie kid.

I really felt for poor Dee, dumped like that, Tito promising he’ll be back and then she’s stuck, pregnant and alone, with only her sister for support. That must have made the early days very tough, especially as she’s no way of contacting Tito, other than trying many times to send a message via his cousin.
She never hears back but now she’s found out where he is and has driven her and Cruz to see him. I’d have been pretty riled at him too.

I started off really disliking Tito, hated what he’d done, and his reaction when he first sees Dee isn’t great, nor did he take the news he’s a father very well. If I’d been Dee I think I’d have got in the car and gone…but somehow his family and friends sort of bamboozle Dee into staying, and his Godess mother tells him to pull himself together basically.
Of course once I knew his past I understood why he’d left Dee, and really felt for him, he was just trying to do the right thing even though it hurt him.
He’s still allowing that to impact the current situation though, and Dee just isn’t sure whether he really wants her now, or just wants his daughter,Cruz, and her by default as Cruz’ mother, as he can’t really explain what he is without sounding crazy…

Of course the tale gets more tangled with endless Foley friends and cousins in every corner it seems, and poor Dee was as confused as i was, especially before she knew the truth about them.
They were trying to make excuses for Tito’s behaviour, and persuade her to stay without being able to explain so much of what was going on.

Where I struggled was the ending, it got to a point where I felt it was kind of rushed, overly complicated at times and at other it was just Problem, wham – problem gone, far too quick and simplistic. I needed something between the two, to be able to see what was going to happen, how it was resolved and how they kept humans from finding out what they’d done.
It seemed to me a magical clean sweep was done very quickly every time there was a fight and/or a death, but it wouldn’t really have been as simple as that surely? There would have been times when other eyes were around, when they didn’t clean up quick enough?

I wasn’t really sure why her parents and other relatives were involved, that wasn’t really needed IMO and the way that plotline played out was certainly unreal and felt unnecessary.
I couldn’t see they could have covered things up so slickly, that everyone would have been so accepting of what had been happening and the consequences. I’d rather things there were left as we first knew them.
Though I’d really enjoyed the novel til the end section, those issues were what made it a four star not a five. Again had I read Desert Guards maybe I’d have followed it better – who knows?

One thing I did like was the historic references, Aztec names etc – I kept looking them up each time I came across one and learned a little more interesting facts about ancient Aztec culture and Gods. That was fun and gave an edge of reality to the story.

Stars: four, a fun supernatural read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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