Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Wrecked


Wrecked
Wrecked by Meljean Brook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Interesting Little Story

"So the chase was on. And this time Caius meant to end it."

THE STORY: Elizabeth Jannsen has been running from her father's hunters for years. Two years ago, Caius Trachter, an indentured servant, found her and was escorting her back to her father when she escaped and was believed dead. Now he has found her again, but he says that he wants to protect her and help her escape.

OPINION: I found this story not as compelling or emotionally complex as the others in the Iron Seas world. Many of the same elements were involved but they didn't connect as well for me as others in the series. I did like the story of Elizabeth and Caius and I really liked their characters, but perhaps the length of the story was too short for such a story to be told in a complex manner. Their problems were resolved too quickly and the action part of the story actually detracted from the romance. However, that is a small complaint for a story that overall I found interesting and enjoyed reading.

WORTH MENTIONING: Brook does an interesting job of putting into consideration technology and the morality and ethics involving them. Even though these books have a historical context, they clearly also are a commentary on current and future technologies.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story even though I did not find it as compelling or complex as many of the other stories. It does give an interesting view of a different group of people in the Iron Seas world.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WRECKED is one of the Iron Seas novellas. It can be read independent of any other the other books. Although it takes place in the same world, it is not dependant on any other book.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.



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Review: The Affair: One Night...Nine-Month Scandal


The Affair: One Night...Nine-Month Scandal
The Affair: One Night...Nine-Month Scandal by Maya Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Average Romances

This edition is a compilation of two novels:

THE AFFAIR by Maya Banks: This is the third book in the Anetakis Tycoons series. This is the story of the third brother, Piers Anetakis who has the most tortured background of the brothers. He meets Jewel Henley and has a one night stand with her. The next morning they discover that she is the assistant that has been hired for him. Because he has a rule about being involved in any employee, he has her sent away. Five months later, she contacts him to tell him she is pregnant. While he doesn't believe that the child is his, he insists on caring for Jewel just in case. This is the story of two people who don't trust one another. I generally liked the story, but didn't like it as much as the other two in the series. The constant mistrust and misunderstanding is tiring in the story and feel repetitive. I was satisfied for a one time read but this isn't a book I would reach for again. Rating: 3 stars.

ONE NIGHT...NINE MONTH SCANDAL by Sarah Morgan: Kelly Jenkins is an English schoolteacher who was jilted at the altar by Alekus Zagorakis. Four years later, they meet again and have a one night stand. When Kelly ends up pregnant, the two have to work through the lack of trust and understanding that doomed their relationship the first time. This story had a great premise and I liked the beginning. Unfortunately, once Kelly tells Alekus of her pregnancy, the story lost all steam for me. I wasn't interested in the resolution because everything was built on lack of communication. Rating: 2 stars.



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Review: The Bride: In the Rich Man's World


The Bride: In the Rich Man's World
The Bride: In the Rich Man's World by Maya Banks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Banks Book Good, Other One Not So Much

This is a compilation of two books. I decided to give the overall rating to just the Maya Banks book because I liked it so much and I actually purchased it for that novel. The other book was so unimpressive that I didn't want to rank the Banks book lower because of it.

THE BRIDE by Maya Banks: This is the second book in the Anetakis Tycoons series about three Greek brothers. This is the story of Theron Anetakis who has decided to settle down with an appropriate woman and have a family. He ends up having to take responsibility for Isabella Caplan who is a ward of a sort of his family (they are managing her trust). While Theron wants to consider Bella a child that he remembers, she refuses to allow him to see her that way. Bella has come to New York with a purpose: to seduce Theron, the man she has loved for years. I really liked this story. It is a series romance so it is not deep, but I loved the sassy determined Bella. The story is a bit predictable, but the characters make up for it. Rating: 4 stars.

IN A RICH MAN'S WORLD by Carol Marinelli: Amelia Jacobs is a celebrity reporter looking to become a business reporter. When she gets the assignment of meeting and reporting on Vaughan Mason, it goes so poorly that Amelia thinks her career is over. Instead, she ends up being invited to travel with Vaughan and ends up falling in love with him. When she finds out that her newspaper has been lying to her it is too late to save her relationship with Vaughan. I wanted to like this story. The setup was interesting, but I never felt a connection between the characters. I was completely annoyed with how Amelia blames Vaughan for not trusting her when she did the identical thing to him and never apologized! The resolution was too quick and I ended up disliking the book. Rating: 1.5 stars.



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: The Mistress: Wanted: Mistress And Mother


The Mistress: Wanted: Mistress And Mother
The Mistress: Wanted: Mistress And Mother by Maya Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Banks Book Decent Read

This is a compilation of two books:

THE MISTRESS by Maya Banks: This is the first book in the Anetakis Tycoons series. Marley Jameson lives with Chrysander Anetakis. On the day she discovers she is pregnant, he tosses her from their home and his life because he believes she has betrayed him by selling company secrets to his competitors. Leaving their home, Marley is kidnapped. Three months later she is found and Chrysander finds out that she has amnesia and is pregnant with his child. The two build a relationship while she does not recall their relationship and dangers still lurk over who actually is the corporate spy and what happened to Marley while kidnapped. I liked this story, but it wasn't compelling. The entire story was too convenient and I had a difficult time believing Chrysander's change of heart. I liked the story but it isn't a re-read. Rating: 3 stars.

MISTRESS AND MOTHER by Carol Marinelli: Matilda Hamilton is a landscape designer who takes a job building a garden for the daughter of Dante Costello. Dante is a famous defense attorney whose wife was killed in an auto accident a year ago. His daughter has had serious behavior problems since her mother's death. Matilda and Dante end up having an affair. There are struggles with the past for both. This was a completely boring story. I didn't buy any of the twists in the story and the ending was too pat and convenient. I would not read this story again. Rating: 1.5 stars.



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Review: Riveted


Riveted
Riveted by Meljean Brook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Decent Romantic Adventure

"People never believed of others what they couldn't imagine of themselves."

THE STORY: Annika Fridasdotter is from an Icelandic village where only women live. When her sister is exiled because of an action that Annika took but her sister took the blame, Annika decides to find her sister and return her to their home. For four years Annika has been traveling around the New World searching. On one journey, she meets David Kentewess a scientist who is searching for his mother's origins in order to fulfill her last request. David was severely injured as a child and now has mechanical legs, an arm and an eye. As a result, he has been discriminated against and doesn't really believe that he will ever find a woman for him. Their adventure leads them through the wilds of Iceland and into the hands of a mad man who may kill them all.

OPINION: I liked the action adventure story, but I felt this book was more disconnected from the world that Singh has created in her other books in the series. To me, it seemed a pale imitation of the other two books in the series. I also liked Annika and David, but didn't feel the deep connection between them that existed between prior couples. Their conflicts seemed more external than internal. They quickly resolve their internal conflicts and seem only to be waiting for Annika to realize that she is in love. Parts of the novel were so beautifully written -- especially the climatic rescue scene -- but as a whole I didn't find it as compelling a story as prior novels.

WORTH MENTIONING: For a book that some claim is about exploring sexuality because Annika is open to falling in love with either a man or a woman, I didn't find the book really involved in that discussion at all. She is not exploring her sexuality when readers meet her except for being interested in David.

FINAL DECISION: This story was good, but no where near as good as the first two books in the series. The adventures were interesting but I didn't like the romance as much.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RIVETED is the third book in the Iron Seas series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Tethered


Tethered
Tethered by Meljean Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Further Fabulous Adventures

"Love the great disrupter...It ruins all of our grand schemes, destroys our reputations."

THE STORY: Yasmeen and Archimedes Fox (from HEART OF STEEL) have settled into married life when an old acquaintance of Archimedes' comes requesting help. When they are thrust into another adventure, this time they also have to deal with the weakness and the strength that love gives them.

OPINION: I loved this novella almost more than HEART OF STEEL itself. This novella is really all about dealing with love and the potential weakness that it brings. What this story demonstrates it that love is also a powerful strength. I think that Meljean could write a whole series of these adventures because the actual adventure part of the story is almost as compelling as the romance part. I really do love this extended epilogue where the characters get more time to adjust to their love and deal through some of the problems that come with actually living with love rather than just falling in love.

WORTH MENTIONING: Still want to read more about Scardale.

FINAL DECISION: For fans of HEART OF STEEL this is mandatory reading. A beautiful examination of being in love and dealing with the reality of it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TETHERED is the companion novella to HEART OF STEEL. Readers should start with that book.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4.5 stars.



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Review: Heart of Steel


Heart of Steel
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Action Adventure with A Deep Romantic Heart

"Don't let her go soft for a man."

THE STORY: Yasmeen is Lady Corsair, the mercenary captain of the airship by the same name. She tosses the adventurer Archimedes Fox from her airship when he makes a foolish attempt to take control. Despite his certain death, Archimedes manages to survive and makes a deal with Yasmeen to split the profits from a valuable da Vinci sketch that he had acquired from the zombie invested Venice. Yasmeen is determined to keep a cold heart because she knows that no man can accept her as his superior. Archimedes knows that he will fall in love with Yasmeen and she will break his heart. The adventure the two of them face will not only be recovering the valuable sketch, seeking revenge on the thieves but also the adventure of falling in love.

OPINION: I was not a fan of Yasmeen in THE IRON DUKE and I started out not liking her much here either. Quickly, however, I began to understand her motives and her pain and as she began to have feelings for Archimedes, I began to like her more. The relationship between the two was incredibly beautiful as it developed. Here was a woman with great pain in her past and a determination to be cold. Yet Yasmeen is not a cold woman at all. Archimedes in an incredible hero. Funny and romantic and deeply determined to feel everything in life, he is a perfect companion for the woman determined not to feel. Their romance was deeply moving and I wanted to read more. The adventure story was also quite exciting. It felt like an Indiana Jones adventure in the best way. I just kept turning the pages late into the night wanting to know how things turned out.

WORTH MENTIONING: HEART OF STEEL is followed by a companion novella TETHERED that should be mandatory reading for fans of this book. Tethered operates as an extended epilogue of HEART OF STEEL giving readers a look at the settled married life of Yasmeen and Archimedes.

FINAL DECISION: Absolutely fabulous. This love story grew on me as the book progressed. I loved both the adventure and the slow building romance between these two.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEART OF STEEL is the second novel in the Iron Seas series. It can, however, be read apart from the first novel.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



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Review: If Winter Comes


If Winter Comes
If Winter Comes by Diana Palmer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Old Fashioned Series Romance

THE STORY: Carla Maxwell is a young reporter. Bryan Moreland is the mayor. His wife and daughter died in a car accident and he doesn't plan on marrying again. Carla and he are attracted to one another and yet the inherent conflict between politician and reporter presents some problems. When Carla's investigation into potential graft at city hall points at Bryan, it looks like they have no future together.

OPINION: This is a classic old-fashioned romance. A young virgin heroine who wants the hero. A middle aged hero who has a tragic past. A conflict that ends up being a misunderstanding where the heroine is too foolish to actually check her sources until after she makes a horrendous mistake. The hero and heroine only come together after a life and death accident. This story is nice enough, but it is definitely a product of its era. I liked the story but it is one of those quick and easy romances that I probably won't remember in a week.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book was originally published in 1979 as a series romance.

FINAL DECISION: I liked the story as a one time read but it is easy to see that it was written in 1979 because of its outdated characters and themes.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.



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Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: The Humbug Man


The Humbug Man
The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Sweet Gentle Novella

"Tate Hollister lived alone, which wasn't surprising to his nearest neighbor."

THE STORY: Maggie Jeffries is a widow with a nine year old son who comes to visit the ranch left to her by her deceased husband's grandfather. Her son worships their neighbor Tate Hollister. Tate is a taciturn neighbor who is grumpy and doesn't want anything to do with Maggie or her son after the death of his own family. A stormy Christmas, a boy determined to build a family may bring these two together.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite Diana Palmer stories. It is short but sweet and gentle and there are no misunderstandings to separate the hero and heroine. It is really just about two people getting to know one another. In fact, considering the backgrounds of the hero and heroine, I would have expected more angst and discord, but this story is really about finding love for Christmas. An easy, sweet read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short novella written in the 1980s so it does have some anachronistic material in it.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this novella. There are no misunderstandings and despite their pasts no real conflict here. Just two people getting to know one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this story 4 stars.



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Review: Snow Kisses


Snow Kisses
Snow Kisses by Diana Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Sweet Classic Diana Palmer

THE STORY: Abby Shane is a 22 year old fashion model from New York who returns to her hometown in Montana and the man who she has loved since she was fifteen. Now she doesn't want anything to do with men after having been assaulted on the streets of NY. Cade McLaren has loved Abby for years but when she left for New York without a care, he was devastated. This is a story of two people who love one another but who cannot tell each other that fact and so numerous misunderstandings threaten to tear them apart forever.

OPINION: I really like this story even though the entire conflict is based upon two people who cannot tell the truth to one another. That is the annoyance that prevents this book from being a five star. I really like the characters and their relationship with one another. Many of Palmer's romances are based upon misunderstandings so I expect it when I read her book, especially the older ones.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a reprint of a series romance from the 1980s so it is a short novel or a long novella length.

FINAL DECISION: The sweet intense romance overcomes a plot based upon misunderstandings.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Review: Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City


Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City
Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City by Meljean Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Extended Epilogue for The Iron Duke

THE STORY: This novella is a continuation of the novel THE IRON DUKE. Mina and Rhys "The Iron Duke" have been married for eight months and both are having problems adjusting to their relationship. This book is about them working on their marriage and Mina's investigation of a murder that might in fact endanger her husband.

OPINION: I loved getting another glimpse of Mina and Rhys and see how they are adjusting to there marriage. The two are so wonderful together and I loved seeing that they are in fact having a happy ending. I think Brook could have a whole series of mysteries involving Mina and her work. This novella is a wonderful treat for fans of THE IRON DUKE. It really relies upon knowledge from that novel and I would recommend that readers start there and consider this novella as an extended epilogue for the novel.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was intrigued by Scardale and the mess he has gotten himself in. I hope to hear more about what happens with him.

FINAL DECISION: For fans of THE IRON DUKE, this novella is a special treat. It is a sweet wonderful addition to Mina and Rhys' love story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MINA WENTWORTH AND THE INVISIBLE CITY is a companion novella to THE IRON DUKE. Readers should read THE IRON DUKE first because this novella is about the continuing relationship of MIna and Rhys from that novel.

STAR RATING: I give this story 4.5 stars.



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Review: The Iron Duke


The Iron Duke
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Don't Be Discouraged By The Steampunk Theme

"Fight with me, Mina. Please."

THE STORY: THE IRON DUKE takes place in an alternate history where the Mongol Horde invaded England and controlled it through nanotechnology. The Iron Duke, Rhys Trahaearn, freed England when he destroyed the Horde tower and is therefore a great national hero. When a report of a dead body at his home is called in, Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth wonder if she will lose her job when she is forced to arrest the Iron Duke for murder. There is an instant attraction between the two: Rhys is determined to find her price to possess her and Mina knows that any relationship between them will destroy her and her family. While the two investigate the death and end up on an adventure that threatens the lives of many, they also struggle with their unexpected relationship and feelings for one another.

OPINION: THE IRON DUKE is not a novel I ever would have chosen on my own. I would have read the description and turned away. I would have missed something great. This book is more than its genre. It is a well-written elaborate world created to encase a wonderful epic romantic adventure. A reader must accept the world building which is a combination of sci-fi, paranormal and historical. Once a reader can overcome that hurdle, the story is a great adventure. There are pirates and battles and exotic locations. There is also a murder mystery. I loved that the book is also a story about a people recovering from invasion, occupation and slavery and the racism that results for mixed race people. At it's heart, however, THE IRON DUKE is the story of a man and a woman who seemingly cannot be together in this world and how they adapt and change themselves and the world in order to be together. Mina is strong and determined and has faced racism and sexism and demonstrated her competence and importance as a person. She refuses to demean herself to Rhys and instead gains his respect. Early on, he begins to care for her in ways he doesn't expect and changes for her. In a society where relationship structures were destroyed by the occupation, neither has a good sense of what love would entail and yet it is clear to the reader that they fall in love with one another and yet cannot find an easy way to have a relationship. The balance between the world building and the relationship is perfect here. The book left me wanting to read further about how Rhys and MIna would change the world.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a great companion novella to THE IRON DUKE that gives readers a glimpse into the married life of MIna and Rhys. MINA WENTWORTH AND THE INVISIBLE CITY should be read by anyone who likes this novel.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. It is not a book I would have chosen on my own because I would have never voluntarily chosen a steampunk novel. I would have made a great mistake because this is an action adventure romance that is wonderful and I highly recommend it to those with an open mind.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE IRON DUKE is the first book in the Iron Seas series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Here There Be Monsters


Here There Be Monsters
Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Unexpectedly Fascinating Prequel Novella

THE STORY: Ivy Blacksmith is desperate to leave London so she barters the only thing she has, her body, to the pirate captain Eben "Mad" Machen. She is given the opportunity to escape, however, and runs. Two years later, Eben has tracked her down and intends on keeping their bargain. What Ivy doesn't know is that Eben is in love with her and has been since they met.

OPINION: This is an interesting story. I loved how Eben is a sweet loving man who must compete against his own bad reputation that he needs. The relationship between Ivy and Eben is gentle and allowed time to develop. His determination to find her even after two years shows his devotion to her. I also liked that Ivy is shown to be competent and inventive. I really was surprised by how interested I was in this story and I continue to read the series because the stories are fascinating.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novella is part of the Steampunk romance genre. I found the conventions of the genre a bit strange but I gave it a chance and was sucked in by the romance between Ivy and Eben.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked the story of Ivy and Eben. He is sweeter than his reputation suggests and I really liked his struggle to protect his crew with his reputation but also want Ivy to know the true man he is.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is a prequel novella to the Iron Seas series. It can be read independent of the other books.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.



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Review: The Blushing Bounder


The Blushing Bounder
The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Standalone Prequel Novella

THE STORY: Temperance is newly married and hates her husband. They were forced to marry when Edward Newberry kisses her in public. She hates him because he betrayed her. After spending time with her in the park where she began to care for her, he orchestrates her ruination and their marriage and their move to London. Edward, however, has other motives. He loves Temperance and will do anything to save her as she dies from consumption.

OPINION: This novella is a prequel to Brook's steampunk romance, THE IRON DUKE. It is the first book I have read in the series and I really enjoyed it. Admittedly, I found the conventions of the steampunk genre a bit strange, but I caught on quickly. I really loved Edward who will do anything, even if Temperance ends up hating him, in order to save her life. Their romance is sweet and I was interested to read more of this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This genre was different than anything I have read before and I had to be a bit patient in allowing the story to develop.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story. I found Temperance and Edward's story interesting and I wanted to read more of this series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is a prequel to the Iron Series series.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.



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Review: The Rake


The Rake
The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



More Pedestrian Now Than When First Published

"In a way, they were opposite sides of the same coin: the rake and the reformer, both stubborn and proud."

THE STORY: Reggie Davenport is the "Despair of the Davenports". He is a rake and an alcoholic and has done little productive with his 37 years. When his titled cousin gives him his old family estate for his own, Reggie begins to change his life. When he arrives at the estate, he is surprised to find out that his impressive steward is actually a woman. Alys Weston is a lady who ran from her engagement and has lived a decade taking care of herself and now her three wards. When Reggie agrees to give her a chance to prove herself to him, the two begin an interesting friendship. Alys's secrets and Reggie's alcoholism threaten them both.

OPINION: This books, when written, was a groundbreaking novel. To so explicitly have an alcoholic hero who is struggling to become sober as the novel progresses was novel. Such serious themes are more commonplace today and this novel suffers as a result. I liked the story between Alys and Reggie, but I never felt the strong connection with the characters and their journey that would encourage me to read this book again and again. Even the alcoholic story seems to be somewhat quaint now. It is difficult to accept how easily Reggie becomes sober. It seems likely that he will relapse as there are no real challenges that he faces to his sobriety in the book other than the heroine leaving. By the end of the book, he has only been sober for months. I might have felt better if we had an epilogue years in the future showing their happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: I have read many Putney books and I only really loved one, SILK AND SHADOWS. That book is one of my favorite all time books. I have found all the rest of her books forgettable. People whose opinions I trust really love her books, but I have come to the conclusion that her books are not for me. Doesn't mean they are not good books. She is definitely worth a try to see if her style is one that a reader appreciates more than I do.

FINAL DECISION: Many people point to this book at one of Putney's best. I have never thought it much more than a standard, unsurprising story. When it was written the story of an alcoholic hero was groundbreaking, but these types of stories are much more common now. I liked the book, but it is not one that I would return to again.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is connected to THE DIABOLICAL BARON. It is not necessary to read that book to appreciate this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: The Other Duke


The Other Duke
The Other Duke by Jess Michaels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



"Love is a weakness I cannot afford and do not desire."

THE STORY: Serafina McPhee has been betrothed to the Duke of Hartholm since she was six years old. Her fiance was a brutish abusive man and Serafina has always wanted to find a way out of the marriage. Just before the wedding, her fiance dies. Serafina's reaction is utter joy until her father tells her that she will still be marrying the Duke of Harthom -- now she must marry the heir, Raphael "Rafe" Flynn. Rafe didn't want to be Duke and he certainly doesn't want to marry Serafina. Neither has a choice, however, because the contracts have been signed. The two come to an agreement: Serafina will provide Rafe with an heir and a spare and she will be able to live her separate life. When Rafe discovers Serafina's abuse at the prior Duke's hands, he is determined to show her the pleasure that can be found in their marriage bed. In the process, two people who entered their marriage as strangers find something special together.

OPINION: This is a sweeter book than I had expected. Although Rafe is referred to as a rake, he is clearly a loving and caring man. Although he had not expected to wed Serafina, he treats her gently from the moment he meets her and is almost too perfect. Despite the heroine's past, this story is lighter than might be expected. Not lighter in the sense of being funny, but rather the story is not as dark as might be expected. Much of the book is about how Rafe gains Serafina's trust both in and out of bed. I found Serafina's insistence on living a life apart from Rafe to be somewhat annoying considering how wonderful Rafe is. I did understand her continued insistence on wanting her freedom because it was the first time she was allowed the possibility of choosing her own life. She was afraid of changing her mind because it was the first choice she actually had gotten to make. There is also a small mystery in the book, but I did not find it compelling because the villain was obvious.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers should be aware that the heroine is recovering from abuse from her dead fiance, her fiance's mother and her father. The abuse is from various people sexual, physical and emotional. The book does not dwell on the abuse itself but the heroine's reaction to it.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book and found the characters of the series to be interesting. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE OTHER DUKE is the first book in The Notorious Flynns series. The other two books of the series apparently will be the sister and brother of Rafe both of whom are introduced in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.



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Review: Revealing Ruby


Revealing Ruby
Revealing Ruby by Lavinia Kent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



"Intimacy was dangerous. it made one wish for things that could not be."

THE STORY: Ruby aka Madam Rouge is the madame of a brothel. She is called upon to deal with a dissatisfied customer. Captain Derek Price was a man with an intriguing dragon tattoo who attracted Ruby when she watched him with one of her house girls the night before. She spent more time than required checking on him. Derek is on his way to a marriage that will help his family but that he doesn't want. When he sees Ruby he wants her, but she insists that she doesn't take lovers from her brothel's clients. The intense attraction between Ruby and Derek is not something either really wants to walk away from.

OPINION: This is a hot little story. These are two people who do not want any intimacy from their relationship and yet cannot help but find kindred souls in one another. The story is intriguing in that the author is able to provide much insight about the characters while the focus of this novella is on the sexual relationship between the characters. In the same way that the relationship between Ruby and Derek is really more than sex even while they deny it, this book is more than the sexual acts that are depicted therein. I was glad that this novella did not end with a quick pat happily ever after because both Ruby and Derek have deep complications in their lives, but I will be seriously annoyed if there is not a resolution to their story in a future book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers should note that this novella ends on a cliffhanger and the relationship between Ruby and Derek is not resolved by the end of the novella. Although there is no explicit indication that there will be future installments of their story, I hope these two will end up with a happy ending.

FINAL DECISION: I was very intrigued by this novella. I found Ruby and Derek to be interesting characters and I was intrigued by the beginning of their story. I would give this a lower rating if I didn't believe that there is more to come of their story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: REVEALING RUBY is a novella in the Bound and Determined series. This novella can be read independent of the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in order to provide an honest review the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.



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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Redbird


Redbird
Redbird by Diana Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Sweet Novella Connected with Sutton's Way

THE STORY: Hank Shoeman is a musician seeking solitude when he finds out that a reporter is hunting him. Determined to protect the lead singer of his band from unwanted publicity, Hank kidnaps the reporter. He finds out, however, that he has actually kidnapped a veterinarian. Poppy O'Brien is a sweet, caring woman. When she is stranded with Hank, she soon finds herself interested in getting to know this prickly man. The question is whether either can trust a relationship that occurred so quickly.

OPINION: I liked this book because the characters were sweet and old fashioned. I liked that the story is really about the two of them getting to know one another. The story is uncomplicated and not too in depth or memorable, but I liked it as a one time read.

WORTH MENTIONING: The only sex in this book is in marriage and is not too explicit.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book at a simple, uncomplicated read.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This novella is a sequel to SUTTON'S WAY. In SUTTON'S WAY, the heroine is in a rock band. This book features one of the band members and gives an update on the couple from SUTTON'S WAY. It is completely unnecessary to have read that book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.75 stars.



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Review: The Diabolical Baron


The Diabolical Baron
The Diabolical Baron by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Two Romances Neither Completely Satisfying

THE STORY: Jason Kincaid, Baron Radford needs to marry so he decides to draw his fiancee's name from a bowl because he cares so little who he marries. He draws the name of Caroline Hanscombe. Her family pressures her into accepting Jason's marriage proposal. That's when things go crazy. It turns out that Caroline's chaperone, Mrs. Jessica Sterling, is the woman that Jason loved as a young man. Now widowed, the attraction between Jessica and Jason hasn't diminished. At the same time, Caroline meets Richard Dalton who is the secret heir to the Davenport fortune and title. The two end up falling in love as well. Misunderstandings and confusion ends up with four very unhappy people.

OPINION: I thought this book was promising when I began reading the story of Jason and Jessica. There wasn't really anything developed between the two, however. Their entire story is based upon the past and there is little to explain their continued attraction or how their relationship works. The story between Richard and Caroline was better because at least readers got the chance to see how they fell in love. Ultimately, however, both romances got shortchanged in this novel. Either romance on its own could have been a good book. Instead, two stories were smashed in together and neither was fully developed. I was disappointed because I felt that either story had great promise.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book definitely is on the sweet side since there is nothing more than kissing depicted.

FINAL DECISION: I almost liked this book. Unfortunately, with two romances I think that both got short changed in the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DIABOLICAL BARON is connected with THE RAKE. The hero of that novel, Reggie, is the semi-villain in this novel.

STAR RATING: I give this book three stars.



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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review: Shield of Winter


Shield of Winter
Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Awaken the Empaths

"To be an Arrow is to be an island, devoid of attachments that create vulnerability."

THE STORY: Vasic is an Arrow with the ability to teleport. He believes himself beyond Silence and irredeemable because of what he did to help preserve Silence. He knows he has not future...until he meets Ivy Jane. Ivy is a reconditioned empath who has lived her whole life believing that she is flawed. When the psy-net becomes more infected, the governing coalition realizes that empaths must be awakened to try to restore the psy-net to health. Ivy gives Vasic hope and the two begin a sweet romance.

OPINION: I loved how the darkness of the story and the sadness and pain of Vasic and Ivy's past was paired with an almost sweet and gentle romance between the two. It was unexpected and gave lightness to a story that could have been dark. SHIELD OF WINTER continues to have much of the humor that is present in most of the Psy-Changeling novels. What was interesting to me is how normal the developing relationship between Vasic and Ivy felt even as they were involved in extraordinary events. That compelled me to keep reading to find out how things would be resolved.

WORTH MENTIONING: There were small scenes with Kaleb and Sahara from HEART OF OBSIDIAN and I really enjoyed seeing how they are dealing with their relationship and how Sahara is keeping Kaleb in line.

FINAL DECISION: I love Vasic and Ivy's story. In the midst of darkness and death and potential calamity, I found their almost innocent love moving and sweet.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHIELD OF WINTER is the thirteenth book in the Psy-Changeling series. Singh's series creates a complicated and intricate world in her series and while this book can be read separate from the series, I think it is best appreciated as part of the collective. Each individual book builds on the world and its mythology so that the characters and events resonate more with the background knowledge of the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.



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Review: Archangel's Shadows


Archangel's Shadows
Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The Story of Ash and Janvier

"She is my eternity."

THE STORY: Ash and Janvier have a history. Ash has hunted Janvier down because she is a Guild Hunter and he is a vampire. Janvier, however, has always managed to resolve his problems such that Ash is never able to take him in. For several years the two have been involved in a strange courtship. They both know that they have feelings for one another. Ash, however, is determined to stay apart from Janvier because she knows that they have no future. When the two work together to track down a dangerous killer, the sexy flirtation gets more serious.

OPINION: I liked this story but I never connected with Ash in the way that I have the other women in this series. I really liked Janvier, but I just didn't feel the connection with her. I also thought that the story was not as interesting as others in the series. I quickly figured out the villain and because I didn't connect with Ash as much, I didn't like this one as much. That being said, there hasn't been a bad Guild Hunter novel and the continuing story of the other characters kept me interested in the novel until the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: I completely adore Naasir and can't wait to find out who he tracks down as his mate.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story because Janvier is a sexy Cajun who adores Ash. I just never connected with Ash as much so it is not one of my favorite stories in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S SHADOW is the seventh book in the Guild Hunter series. This book can be read apart from the other books in the series, but I recommend reading the novella ANGELS' PAWN before reading this novel because it features Ash and Janvier when they first worked together.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Archangel's Legion


Archangel's Legion
Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



War Has Finally Arrived

"Eternity would mean nothing without you. For no power on this earth would I trade my Elena."

THE STORY: Guild Hunter turned angel Elena and her lover Archangel Raphael begin preparing for the archangelic war that is coming. Strange, destructive occurrences begin happening: angels falling from the sky, rivers filled with blood and vampires dying of diseases that should not exist. It will take all of their friends and allies together along with their strong relationship in order the defeat the evil that is overshadowing New York.

OPINION: After two books about the people around Elena and Raphael, this book returns to the power couple of New York. Powerful, dramatic and sexy, this book shows the growth that Elena and Raphael have made in their relationship. This book is filled with action because war is coming to New York and this book doesn't shy away from depictions of the battles. While not overly graphic, it is more so than other books in the series. I was also very interested in the developments in Elena's relationship with her father and siblings. Revelations about the past provide context and understanding for Elena's father. I liked that Singh is still finding new information to give us about Elena and Raphael.

WORTH MENTIONING: My new favorite character is Naasir. Singh has done such a great job tempting the reader with the mystery surrounding this guy.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Powerful, I especially like that real progress is made on the overarching story of the series at the same time Elena and Raphael's relationship evolves. Also loved seeing all the characters in the series make an appearance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S LEGION is the sixth book in the Guild Hunter series. This book is the culmination of the storyline of the other books in the series and therefore depends upon the knowledge gained in those books. I think that readers should just start at book one and read on.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.



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Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: Archangel's Storm


Archangel's Storm
Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The Story of Raphael's Spymaster Jason

"She wanted to run her finger over the blade of him even if it made her bleed, wanted to dance too close to the flame, wanted to take a risk that could destroy her."

THE STORY: The angel Jason is the Archangel Raphael's spymaster. He agrees to go to the court of the Archangel Neha to help discover who murdered her consort. In order to be trusted, Jason agrees to a blood tie with Princess Mahiya who has a shadowy function in Neha's court. Jason and Mahiya attempt to uncover a violent murderer while a passionate attraction blooms between them. While Jason will never tie himself to anyone, he is fascinated by Mahiya who isn't who she appears to be.

OPINION: I liked this book, but not as much as others in the series. The emphasis on Neha's court made me miss the energy of New York and the more aggressive Elena and Honor. Mahiya is not the weakling that she appears to be, but her strength is more subtle and she puts up with a lot from others. I liked how Jason empowers her, but I did not find the story plot as interesting as the others in the series. I want to emphasize, however, that this book is still good, just not as compelling to me as the others. In fact, my favorite parts of this book are about Dimitri and Honor.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the second book where the focus of the story is on one of Raphael's seven rather than Raphael and Elena.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story, but I was not as interested in the workings of Neha's court as I am in New York.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S STORM is the fifth book in the Guild Hunter series. This book can be read independent of the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Review: Archangel's Blade


Archangel's Blade
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Dimitri, the Vampire, Meets His Match

"I will love you even when I am dust on the wind."

THE STORY: Dimitri is the second in command to Raphael, the archangel. Dimitri is a sexy often cruel vampire. After losing his mortal family, Dimitri allows no woman close to him. He meets Honor, a guild hunter, when she is brought in to consult on a murder. Honor was viciously attacked by vampires and wants nothing to do with them even though she cannot help being fascinated with Dimitri even as she is repelled by him. Dimitri decides to help Honor gain justice and also intends on taking the hunter to his bed.

OPINION: This is a story about violent pasts, about loss and love. Honor's assault is well depicted and her slow journey to reclaim herself was heartwrenching and powerful. I loved the story between Honor and Dimitri as he is determined to never love again and yet he cannot resist Honor. Singh always gives her heroines great strength and power and gives them companions who appreciate those strengths. I enjoyed this book as a break from the Raphael and Elena story. I hope to read more about the other characters in the Guild Hunter world.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the first book in the series to not focus on Raphael and Elena. I was glad to read about the other characters in the series even though Raphael and Elena remain my favorites.

FINAL DECISION: I liked the story of Honor and Dimitri but it took me a while to accept the big twist in the story. It struck me as a little too pat a resolution, but I still liked the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S BLADE is the fourth book in the Guild Hunter series. It can be read independent of the other books in the series without missing much.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.



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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Angels' Flight


Angels' Flight
Angels' Flight by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Great Collection of Guild Hunter Novellas

A collection of four novellas. Readers should take note that the novellas are out of order for where they take place in the series.

ANGEL'S WOLF: This novella takes place after ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT. It is the story of the vampire Noel who was almost killed in an attack. He believes he has been set aside by being sent to the court of the angel Nimra. He soon discovers, however, that Nimra has need of him. Dangers abound in this story and a mystery of who is threatening Nimra is interesting enough to provide a platform for the romance between Noel and Nimra. Noel is especially interesting as being such a damaged soul. It was nice seeing his happy ending. Rating: 4.25 stars.

ANGELS' JUDGMENT: This is a prequel novella to the Guild Hunter series. This novella introduces Sara who is the leading candidate to be the new Guild Director. She meets Deacon who is a slayer tasked with tracking down rogue hunters. Deacon has arrived to be a bodyguard for Sara because the Angels have a habit of testing potential directors in deadly ways. The two are in search of a rogue and end up in a romantic relationship that has no future because Sara's very public new job does not mesh with Deacon's very private responsiblity. I liked this story and did not feel that I needed to know any other information other than what was introduced in this story. It interested me in reading more about the series. Rating: 4 stars.

ANGELS' PAWN: This is a prequel novella that tells the story of a guild hunter, Ashwini and her association with a vampire, Janvier. Readers should be aware that this is a short story and merely introduces the possibility of a relationship between Ashwini and Janvier. Ashwini has hunted Janvier before but he has always managed to resolve his problems before Ashwini had to take care of him. Now she needs his help when an angel wants her to track down a missing vampire. This story is funny and sexy and I really want to know what happens between Ashwini and Janvier. They seem to have a doomed relationship considering the fact that he is somewhat immortal and she is human. Dark and delicious reading. Rating: 4.5 stars.

ANGELS' DANCE: This novella is about Galen a 275 year old angel who is the weapons master for the archangel Raphael. He meets Jessany, who is also an angel and is the historian and teacher. She is over 2500 years old but has lived a solitary existence because she has a deformed wing and thus cannot fly. When Galen meets her he is determined to court her and become her lover. This story is amazing. For such a short story to paint such a vivid picture of the Guild Hunter world was unexpected. I loved this intense story between the two. Both Jess and Galen are emotionally damaged and their relationship allows them both to heal. I loved that their relationship is allowed to take time so that by the time the story reaches its end, there is no doubt these two are perfect for one another. ANGELS' DANCE is a prequel novella to Singh's Guild Hunter series. Rating: 4.25.



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Review: Archangel's Consort


Archangel's Consort
Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Paranormal Mystery Thriller and Fierce Romance

"A lot of women have trouble with their mothers-in-law." Raphael's look was priceless. "My mother is an insane archangel."

THE STORY: The story of Elena the vampire hunter turned angel and her lover, the archangel Raphael, continues. Elena and Raphael begin investigating a series of strange events where rage and madness seem to take over various people in the world. Such events portend that one of the ancient angels is awakening from sleep. Raphael fears that it is his mother causing these events. His mother, who left him severely injured while she was half mad. In a story dealing with parents, Elena is still dealing with her estranged father and the memory of her mother's death. Threats of Elena also test Raphael's promise to allow Elena freedom. Part murder mystery, part thriller, ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT investigates the role that Elena plays in Raphael's life.

OPINION: This novel is about parents. Both Elena and Raphael have complicated parental relationships. The trust between the two grows as they heal each other from the pain of those relationships. This book is almost like a murder mystery as everyone attempts to discovery what is going on. Singh writes such a detailed and amazing world that readers cannot help but be compelled to discover more about all the characters. I find the story compelling and am interested in the fact that these characters and their relationships just keep developing as the books go on.

WORTH MENTIONING: I kept thinking when reading this book that this series reminds me of the early books of JD Robb's In Death series. This series is paranormal and that book is futuristic crime but in many ways the books have a similar feel.

FINAL DECISION: ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT expands the relationship between Elena and Raphael in a powerful way. The novel investigates the pain of parental relationships. Both Elena and Raphael have complicated relationships with their parents and parental memories and this book brings that storyline to the forefront. I enjoy how I learn more about these characters and this world in every novel.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT is the third book in the Guild Hunter series. While the book can be read independent of the others, it is part of the continuing story and is best appreciated when read after the first two books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.



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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: Archangel's Kiss


Archangel's Kiss
Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Paranormal Suspense and Political Intrigue Mixed with Romance

"We die . . . We die together. That's the deal."

THE STORY: Elena Deveraux has fundamentally changed after the events of ANGELS' BLOOD. Now that she has changed into being an angel, Elena has entered Raphael's world and has to find her way. There are deep political divisions and maneuvers between the archangels. This book is the story of Elena remaking herself, the new relationship between Elena and Raphael, and the political threats that surround them.

OPINION: Although ARCHANGEL'S KISS is the same series as the first book in the series, Singh has made this book fresh and different. While the first book in the series was more suspense oriented, this book is more political thriller. Because Elena is a new angel, she also has to make fundamental changes in her life. Also, this book investigates Elena's past and how she became who she is. The perfect mixture between external story and internal, emotional conflict, this is a book that satisfies on both an intellectual and emotional level. I especially love the character of Elena. She is strong and determined but also deeply loving. She is deeply haunted by her past and the murders of her older sisters and this book exposes many of those secrets. I couldn't wait to start book three and I'm glad that I didn't discover this series soon and thus have to wait months for another book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Singh has created an interesting world with fascinating characters. Reading the book, I want to know more about the pasts of those characters. Luckily, I know that the stories of those characters are coming.

FINAL DECISION: I found Archangel's Kiss to be fascinating. It is a paranormal crime drama and also a political intrigue book. I also loved the evolution of Elena's character and the developing relationship between Elena and Raphael.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL'S KISS is the second book in the Guild Hunter series. Because the books are the continuing story of Elena and Raphael and therefore can be best appreciated by reading the books in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



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Review: Angels' Blood


Angels' Blood
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Fabulous First Book In Series

"She'd never met a more deadly being in her life."

THE STORY: Elena Deveraux is a vampire hunter, a Guild Hunter whose job it is to track down vampires and return them to their masters, the angels. Elena is summoned by the Archangel Raphael who controls New York. Meeting an archangel is dangerous business for a mortal and Elena is terrified by their confrontation even as she struggles to hide it. Elena has been chosen as the best of the hunters to hunt a creature more terrifying and dangerous than any Elena has tracked before.

OPINION: This book was amazing and completely different than I expected. It was so compelling that I immediately started reading the second book in the series and then the third. The series is about Elena and making her way in the world of angels and vampires and humans. Elena is strong and yet damaged in deep emotional ways. I was completely enthralled by her story because this book just begins to hint at the depth of Elena's story. I also loved the story between Elena and Raphael. I have a weakness for dark and dangerous heroes who teeter on the edge of being the villain. The story is lush and dark and yet Elena is not a woman filled with darkness. Billed as urban fantasy, I think this book is more personal and emotional than I would have expected.

WORTH MENTIONING: ANGELS' BLOOD is the first book in the series but Elena's story is not concluded in this book. The ending of this book was unexpected and made me immediately turn to book two.

FINAL DECISION: This book is fabulous. Singh creates a fascinating world with unique rules and inhabited by fascinating individuals who are complex and compelling.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ANGELS' BLOOD is the first book in the Guild Hunters series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: A Measure of Deceit


A Measure of Deceit
A Measure of Deceit by Jess Michaels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Good Conclusion to the Series

THE STORY: Grace Hollis, Duchess of Jameswood is the author of the "naughty" book that has taken society by storm. The Ladies Book of Pleasures was written by Grace anonymously and she has kept the secret for years even as the book helped her two closest friends find love. That secret is threatened when Connor Sheridan begins to make the rounds in society. Connor is the publisher and editor of The Ladies Book of Pleasures and he has decided to enter society in order to find the mysterious author known as "the Lady" because despite the three years of correspondence between them, Connor does not know the Lady's identity. When the Lady stopped writing to Connor six months before he became determined to find her because he had fallen for her through their correspondence and also he has been receiving increasingly vitriolic notes threatening the Lady. When he meets Grace, Connor is attracted to her and the two soon begin an affair despite the secrets each of them is keeping.

OPINION: I liked this book as a light read. It is not a funny or humorous story, but it is not dark or depressing. Although Connor and Grace has significant secrets between them and not everything turns out happy, the story does not have the angst that it could otherwise have. This keeps the story lighter and more focused on the relationship between Grace and Connor. I liked the story, although because the two ending up falling in love during their long correspondence together, I wished that I could have learned more about their interaction. Although the sexual relationship between the two was hot, I didn't get a good sense of their emotional connection which arose primarily from their correspondence. The villain of the story was quite obvious but the ending of the story was my favorite part because I felt there was more emotional connection between the characters. Overall, I liked this book but it doesn't have the emotional resonance to demand re-reading. I consider it a light one time read.

WORTH MENTIONING: The heroes and heroines from the first two books make significant appearances in this book. It was nice seeing the three women resolve some of the issues in their relationship.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book as a pleasant read. The story despite its premise is not a dark story. It is a simple, pleasant read.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A MEASURE OF DECEIT Is the third and final book in The Ladies Book of Pleasures series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Night Shift


Night Shift
Night Shift by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Four Paranormal Novellas

NIGHT SHIFT consists of four paranormal novellas. Of the four authors, I had only read Singh before this collection. Overall rating: 4 stars.

SECRETS AT MIDNIGHT by Nalini Singh: Part of Singh's Psy-Changeling series, this novella features Bastien Smith (Mercy's brother). Bastien is a DarkRiver leopard and one day he scents his mate on the street of San Francisco. When he finally discovers who she is, he knows there is something different about her. Kirby is a schoolteacher who is alone in the world. The story has a twist that is different from other stories in this series. This story was great. Bastien was a great hero although I had less interest in Kirby as a person but her ultimate story was very interesting and added to the Psy-Changeling universe. Rating: 4.25 stars.

MAGIC STEALS by Ilona Andrews: This novella is part of a series that I have not read. That made no difference, however, because I found the story easy to follow, with interesting characters and a tight storyline. Dali is a weretiger who is involved with Jim Shrapshire who is a werejaguar. Dali feels that she is not a good match for Jim because Dali thinks herself as clumsy and not a strong fighter. Dali does good magic instead. I thought the story was really funny especially when Dali is attempting to hide Jim from her mother. I thought the story was interesting and I loved how Jim is clearly attached to Dali who doesn't really believe in herself. This story intrigued me enough to want to read more of this series. Rating: 4 stars.

LUCKY CHARMS by Lisa Shearin: This is the story of Makenna Fraser who is a new employee for the SPI, Supernatural Protection Investigations. Makenna is a seer who can see the actual creature underlying any disguise. She is partnered with Ian Byrne who is the star of the company. On Makenna's first day, she and Ian are in search of a quintet of leprechauns who have evaded their bodyguards. Their search takes them through strip clubs and a sex club. The story is all about the case and there was little character development or any relationship between the characters. I know that there are other books in this series, but this story was not enough to make me interested in reading more. Rating: 2 stars.

THE BEAST OF BLACKMOOR by Milla Vane: Kavik is known as the Beast of Blackmoor. His homeland has been taken over by an evil ruler and when he is refused his request by the goddess Vera, Kavik, who is fifteen, insults the goddess and finds himself given a curse instead. Years later he meets the woman who will be his downfall. Mala, High Daughter of the House of Krima is one of Vela's chosen and on a quest of her own to save her own destroyed homeland. Her task: to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. I really liked this story. The hero is very dark and tortured but Mala's persistence wins him over. Both of the characters are strong warriors and work well together as partners. The story is also very sexy especially for such a short novella. Rating: 4.25.





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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: Heart of Obsidian


Heart of Obsidian
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



One of the Best of the Series

"To fight evil, you have to understand the dark."

WARNING: This review contains spoilers that detract from the wonderful slow revelation of information that Singh has done in the novel. I would recommend reading this book and enjoying the journey. It is fabulous!

THE STORY: Kaleb Krychek is a Psy councilor, a cardinal Tk (Telekenetic) and perhaps the most powerful and dangerous man alive. Throughout the series, it has been unclear whether he is good and evil. Raised by a serial killer, at times helpful to those in need, no one knows what his motives are. For years, Kaleb has had only one motive: to find Sahara Nightstar who may be the only person more powerful than Kaleb and he believes that with her by his side, he will be able to take over the PsyNet. When he finds her, Sahara has been tortured and striped of her identity. This book is all about Kaleb's motives, his history and his murky history with Sahara.

OPINION: HEART OF OBSIDIAN may be the best written and most complex of the Psy-Changeling novels. Singh keeps the motivations and history of Kaleb hidden for most of the book. Best of all, she doesn't engage in revisionist history to make him a clearly heroic character. He remains as complex and a creature of the dark at the end as he is in the beginning. His love for Sahara is his redeeming trait and it is she who brings him into the light. I loved their story. For a story that so often strays into the dark, Singh has given them a past that is also sweet and beautiful. I loved every moment of this book. There are some books that end far too quickly -- not because of a defect in the story but because the story is so compelling that the reader doesn't want the book to end. HEART OF OBSIDIAN is one of those books. Having read it once, it is already in my favorites and I know I will revisit it again and again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book reveals a tremendous amount about what was happening on in the previous novels that the reader was unaware of. I appreciated that Singh has in a way been writing this novel since SLAVE TO SENSATION.

FINAL DECISION: I absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of the dark, mysterious hero who may or may not actually be the villain. Beautifully written, the way the mysteries are revealed are compelling and keep the reader completely engaged.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEART OF OBSIDIAN is the twelfth book in the Psy-Changeling series. This book finally brings to a close an overarching story that has been going on since the first book of the series. This book can be read independent of the other books of the series because the focus is so much on the couple but it is best appreciated as the culmination of the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give HEART OF OBSIDIAN 5 stars!



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Review: Tangle of Need


Tangle of Need
Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book of Transitions

TANGLE OF NEED is unlike any other book in the Psy-Changeling series. While there is a romance in this book between Adria and Riaz, it is also the book of the civil war amongst the Psy and also a continuation of the love story of Hawke and Sienna from KISS OF SNOW.

THE STORY: TANGLE OF NEED is the story of Adria, a wolf changeling who has left a relationship with a less dominant male that lasted a decade but ended in anger and resentment. She meets Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant. While the two are attracted to one another, Riaz is rude and belligerent. He is unhappy about the attraction because he thinks it is a betrayal of he mating bond that he found with a woman but could not realize because she was already happily married to someone else. When the two agree to have a friends with benefits relationship they soon find out that feelings are very complicated. The secondary story is about Hawke and Sienna and there relationship finding its footing as the two approach their mating ceremony.

OPINION: This book for me felt like part two of KISS OF SNOW because the most interesting part was about Hawke and Sienna and the war between the Psy factions. While the romance between Riaz and Adria is billed as the top story, it felt like a secondary romance. I just found the other two stories much more compelling. I thought the twist on the romance between Riaz and Adria was interesting but it was just more interesting to read about the other events in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: The final reveal in this book made reading the entire book worth it.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book primarily because of the continuing storyline of Hawke and Sienna. The story of Adria and Riaz while interesting was not sufficient on its own to sustain the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TANGLE OF NEED is the eleventh book in the Psy-Changeling series. It is highly dependent upon the overarching storyline of the series. In many ways it feels like part two of KISS OF SNOW.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: Wild Invitation


Wild Invitation
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Great Set of Four Psy-Changeling Novellas

WILD INVITATION consists of four novellas about the Psy-Changeling world. The first two stories are about secondary characters in the DarkRiver leopard pack and the second two stories are about secondary characters in the SnowDancer wolf pack. Overall rating: 4.25 stars.

BEAT OF TEMPTATION: This novella is a prequel to the Psy-Changeling series. It is the story of the DarkRiver leopard healer Tamsyn and Nathan Ryder, a sentinel. Although Tamsyn and Nathan are destined to be mates, Nathan refuses to approach Tamsyn because he wants her to have a chance to explore and consider life before settling down. Tamsyn is angry at Nathan because she wants him now and doesn't appreciate him deciding what is right for her. A prequel to the series, the events of this novella occur before SLAVE TO SENSATION. I liked the romance between Tamsyn and Nathan. I read this novella before any other book in the series and understood exactly what was happening. Rating: 4.25 stars.

STROKE OF ENTICEMENT: This novella is the story of Annie Kildaire, a human and Zach Quinn, a leopard changeling. Annie is a schoolteacher for changeling cubs. The drama in the story is around Annie's fears of having a long term relationship with Zach because she fears that he will tire of her and abandon her. I liked this story although it was the least memorable of the collection for me. Rating: 4 stars.

DECLARATION OF COURTSHIP: This novella is the story of a dominant SnowDancer wolf lieutenant Cooper and the sweet submissive wolf Grace who catches his interest. The couple's courtship was mentioned in PLAY OF PASSION and this novella gives their story. Cooper is determined to court Grace but she worries that her submissive nature will ruin any relationship they may have. I really liked this story because the relationship is different from the others in the main novels of the series and gives a different view of what dominant and submissive is in the changeling world. I smiled at this story because Cooper does the hard sell in courting Grace with tons of gifts and sexy, naughty notes. A sweet addition to the series. Rating: 4.25 stars.

TEXTURE OF INTIMACY: This novella continues the romance between Lara, the SnowDancer healer and Walker Lauren, Psy defector. Their romance was detailed as a secondary romance in KISS OF SNOW. This novella begins after the events in KISS OF SNOW. Here Lara and Walker are mated but are learning to live together and build a life. Sweet and beautiful and more a love letter to the entire series, I enjoyed this story as a coda to KISS OF SNOW. It gives readers a chance to focus on Lara and Walker and to demonstrate that they have an honest happily ever after. This story was my favorite because I was already invested in Lara and Walker's story and was happy that they got extra time. Rating: 4.5.



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Review: Kiss of Snow


Kiss of Snow
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



One of the Best of the Series

"You have the power to tear me to pieces, to wound me so deep and true that I'll never recover."

THE STORY: KISS OF SNOW continues Singh's series about the world where humans, changelings (human animal shapeshifters) and Psy (those with psychic abilities) live. As readers of the series will recall, the Psy have been subject to Silence for 100 years. Silence was the stripping of all emotions from the Psy intended to protect them from the damaging effects of emotions. Now Silence is breaking down and there is a struggle for power between factions of the Psy and humans and changelings.

"Nothing about Sienna Lauren had ever been easy."

Sienna Lauren is Psy. Her family defected to the SnowDancer changeling pack when Sienna was a teenager. Sienna is X-Psy which is a mysterious and rare designation. X-Psy means that Sienna is a living weapon. Most Psy of her designation do not live long and no one has lived longer than 25 years. Sienna is now nineteen and is a soldier for the SnowDancer Pack. Since their first meeting, she has known that she has wanted the Alpha of the SnowDancer Pack.

Hawke is the alpha wolf of the SnowDancer den. He is arrogant and protective and dominant. He has wanted Sienna since he first saw her, but he knows that he cannot do anything about it. He has believed her too young and also he knows that he cannot give her what she needs.

"Hawke's mate is dead. He buried his heart with her."

The wolf that Hawke knows would be his mate died as a child. Since wolves love only once, Hawke does not believe that his wolf will allow him to love Sienna in that way. Because he cares about her, he doesn't want to hurt her. At the same time, Hawke cannot keep away from Sienna.

OPINION: This is the book that readers of the series have been looking forward to because Hawke and Sienna's relationship has been hinted at in many of the books of the series. I loved the relationship between Hawke and Sienna. He wants her desperately but he cares too much about her to want to hurt her. At the same time, Sienna doesn't want Hawke to dictate their relationship and demands to be treated as an equal. They are both strong, difficult people and they strike some serious sparks off of one another. Their story is intense and complex and I was enthralled the entire time. Entwined with the culmination of the overarching story of the impending attack on the changeling packs, Singh has created a story that is a suspense story but also a deeply moving romance. This is a story that I immediately wanted to reread. It was my favorite book since SLAVE TO SENSATION and is definitely on par with that story. I think the two can be read together as bookends to a portion of the Psy-Changeling story.

The book also has a sweet secondary romance between Lara, the SnowDancer healer and Walker Lauren, Sienna's uncle. An addition to the story that doesn't detract, the story is a sweet contrast to the more angst filled difficult romance between Hawke and Sienna.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the series will be pleased to know that finally Sascha and Lucas' child is born. Having both Alpha couples in this book was a treat.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. I consider it one of the best of the series. Action packed and emotional and written in a way that makes a reader want to keep turning pages, I highly recommend it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KISS OF SNOW is the tenth book in the Psy-Changeling series. This book brings to a conclusion some of the stories that have been present in the series since the beginning. A reader could enjoy this book apart from the others in the series although I recommend starting at the beginning. Hawke and Sienna's story has been going on since the beginning of the series and has more meaning having followed their journey.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars!



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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: Play of Passion


Play of Passion
Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Changeling Romance Between Two Wolves

In a series that is most often about the romances between Psy, Changelings and humans, PLAY OF PASSION is a rare story between two changelings who are members of the same pack.

THE STORY: Indigo Riviere is the most dominant female wolf in the SnowDancer pack. She is a lieutenant in the hierarchy. Drew Kincaid is the pack's hunter meaning that he is charged with tracking down and eliminating rogue wolves in the pack. The story begins where Drew has decided to pursue Indigo who he has been interested in for years. Drew has serious challenges, however, because Drew is four years younger than Indigo and she outranks him in the pack and she worries about having a relationship with a wolf who will begin to resent her dominant status. As for the overarching story, the Psy Council has fractured and the different groups are beginning to make moves to seize power which threatens the Psy, the changelings and the humans.

OPINION: I liked the romance in this story, but the attraction of this book for me was the fact that the overarching story regarding the Psy struggle with silence is reaching a critical point. Singh does a great job of creating relationships with strong, independent women and showing relationships where they do not become weak and dependant. This book shows the struggles that women face when having a relationship. I also liked the look into a more "typical" relationship between two wolves. The books of this series usually mix and match the three groups: Psy, changeling and human. I liked getting more information about the SnowDancer wolves who have been part of the series since the beginning and yet have been the more mysterious changeling group.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a great scene in this book where some interesting people are in the same room together for the first time. The overarching story is reaching a critical point.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book. The romance is interesting and I liked seeing old favorite characters. I especially am interested in the overarching story which has reached a critical point.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PLAY OF PASSION is the ninth book in the Psy Changeling series. While the romance is self-contained, there is an overarching story that reaches an important point in this book. New readers may be lost because there is no recap. Instead, new readers should start with SLAVE TO SENSATION which is a great book!

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Review: Bonds of Justice


Bonds of Justice
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Psy-Human Thriller

"We fit, you and I . . . two broken pieces making a whole."

THE STORY: Detective Max Shannon is assigned to work with Sophia Russo, a J-Psy on some suspicious deaths surrounding one of the Psy Councilors. Max is human but has an unusual natural mental shield. Sophia is a Justice Psy who finds in people's minds evidence of crimes. Years of touching the worst of the world means that Sophia is falling apart. Her mental shields are breaking down and she knows that soon she will be sent to Rehabilitation where she will be mentally destroyed. Before she falls apart, Sophia realizes that she wants to investigate her attraction to Max. The two are soon involved in one another and investigating plots that threaten the stability of the entire world.

OPINION: I liked this book because it was most concerned with moving the overarching story forward. The book is more of a suspense thriller than the typical Psy-Changeling book. There are three basic stories: the romance, the story of a murderer that Max and Sophia were investigating and the question of who is killing the Councilor's trusted advisors. Max and Sophia had an interesting relationship. They both come from broken families where they were abandoned by their parents. That similarity allows the two to get close to one another where their instinct is to stay apart. Singh does such an amazing job with the Psy-Changeling novels because they are interesting political dramas and deeply emotional book about love and emotion and what makes us human.

WORTH MENTIONING: The overarching story of the series is clearly reaching a critical point. Readers of the series will be interested to see reveals regarding the murky motives of various recurring characters.

FINAL DECISION: While not one of my favorite books of the series, this book is different because it is more of a thriller. The books spins out more of the overarching story and I especially like the shades of grey of characters that seemed completely evil in the past.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BONDS OF JUSTICE is the eighth book in the Psy-Changeling series. The romantic story is one that is self-contained and can be read by a new reader. The book, however, also makes big moves in the overarching storyline of the series that might be confusing for a new reader.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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