Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Mercury Striking (The Scorpius Syndrome #1)

 With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynn Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynn is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…
Danger has never looked quite so delicious…
Themes: post-apocalypse, suspense
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
So, where to start with this one… I guess I should start with the fact that I am a huge fan of Rebecca Zanetti and have enjoyed several of her series in the past, so when I saw that she was starting something new I was thrilled.  I read the prequel that was part of an anthology and enjoyed it immensely, so when I had the chance to read this story it was a no-brainer for me.  That being said I was a bit disappointed in this first book in the series. I understand there has to be a lot of world building in these types of world-changing events stories, but the usual emotion and love that I can feel from Rebecca’s characters was a bit lacking for me.  I enjoyed the overall story arc, and seeing Jax and Lynn so devoted to helping those around them, even at the expense of their own lives was a great way to show that even in the worst of times humans can come together to do great things.  Jax was a hardass, but in a way that was understandable because of his past, however his unwillingness to really try to make a connection for most of the story, even when he was bedding Lynn, made him seem like an jerk.  I can tolerate a little bit of that, but at times he was too much on an asshole for me.  Lynn was an interesting character though, strong and vulnerable by turns, but she gave her trust to Jax pretty quickly and she became a part of his world just as quickly, ingratiating herself with his people and finding her footing in his community.  It was nice to see people still able to band together and protect the vulnerable even if sometime their efforts were to no avail and of course others came together to wield power over the weak instead.   The fear that this could someday really be something we have to deal with gives this story a certain edge of reality to it, because honestly this is something that is way more than just possible.  The passion between Lynn and Jax was obvious, even when he was being an ass, and I enjoyed seeing Lynn use her heart and soul to keep Jax from falling too far into darkness and ultimately making him a better man, a better warrior, and an ultimate leader of his people.  As they say, behind every great man is a great woman and this story proves the truth of that in spades.  I am interested to know what will happen next to this shattered society, but hopefully there will be just a tiny bit more actual relationship building as well.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: First Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2)

First Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2)

by Gwyn Cready 

Serabeth’s no-good fiancé is dead, and she needs a husband fast, or she’ll be ruined. Her indignant and handsome captive will do just fine, if she can keep her mind focused on the business at hand...
Gerard is a love-'em-and-leave-'em ad exec who opens the door to a wild party in 21st century New York and wakes up in 18th century Edinburgh with a hangover and a beautiful, disinterested new “wife” who says he has “served his purpose.”
What the kilt
Themes: historical, time-travel
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Ok, so I gave it a shot. But once again I was left feeling a sense of lacking in this time-travel romance.  I have read so very few novels with this theme that have actually been able to keep my attention or favor.  I enjoyed the story overall, but to be honest there was way too much back and forth going on about Sera’s goals for real clarity and relationship building.  Instead of being a romance it seemed more like a story about time travel, with some relationship stuff thrown in for fun.  I liked Gerard for the most part, though he seemed like he would never get the hang of being a good man, as opposed to a selfish butthead.  He had some real moments of gentlemanliness but they were thrown in with misogyny and self-interest to the point I was confused about his true character. Sera was also shown as a very selfish woman; yes I get that she started the story with a mission to save her fortune, but honestly the single-minded way that she went after the money, to the disregard of everything including the safety of herself and her friends was a bit irritating.  There was some real potential in the story, with some fun moments, but the chemistry between Gerry and Seta was lacking, mainly because there wasn’t enough time for them to build the passion, I think.  I will say that once they both started to think about someone other than themselves there was some light at the end of the tunnel.   And once Gerard makes his stance to claim what he wants, despite what he thinks he should want, I liked him a lot more.  In the end I think I will have to read the next story just to see what happens with their friend Undine, the witch that has brought her two friends’ lovers into the past for them.  If you are really into time travel romance you will probably enjoy this series, but it’s just something I have never been able to connect with so it’s not my cup of tea overall.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

ARC Review: A Wild Ride (Thompson & Sons #4)

He’s the golden boy with a secret past
When Nicole Adams abruptly cancels their secret fling, Troy Thompson is stunned. The sex between them is sizzling, but she’s ready to move on—find a reliable guy, settle down, pop out a few babies. The thought of Nic in another man’s arms is maddening. And while her agenda freaks him out, Troy knows there’s no one in town nearly good enough for her. No one, that is, except him.
She’s his redemption and his future
Nicole doesn’t regret her sexual romp with Troy, but when he insists on taking the next step with her—marriage and parenthood—she figures he’s out of his mind. Troy? Husband and daddy material? Oh, he’s sexy beyond belief, with the ability to melt her panties with a single command, but the man’s not known for being responsible. Trying for forever with Mr. Frivolous? Everyone thinks it’s a fool’s game.
Everyone except Troy, who’s determined to make Nicole see the real him under the shiny exterior.

Themes: erotica, contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
The side story of the Thompson family has come to an end, and the ending though bittersweet was a wonderful read.  This series is actually a spin-off of the Six Pack Ranch/Rocky Mountain House series and focuses on the Thompson family that runs the local garage.  Each of the four brothers and their little sister have all found love now, some in the most unlikely of places, and have started their own families.  Troy is the last Thompson to fall and when he does it happens in a big way.  Troy and Nicole have been fooling around in secret for months now, without even their families knowing what’s going on, but when Nicole is ready for the next step in her life she immediately dismisses Troy as a part of that future.  But no one dismisses a Thompson male and Troy is determined to prove to her that he is the perfect man for her.  Nicole is the type of heroine that makes you wonder; she seems shallow at first, unwilling to look deeper into the one man she actually has chemistry with, just because he doesn’t seem to be the perfect type of man and allows her fears of what others might think to keep her away.  Once she gives Troy a chance and actually takes the time to really observe how he interacts with family and friends, she sees the deeply loving and sacrificing man he is and comes to know that she could make a life with him.  That knowledge gives her the backbone to stand up to anyone, including her own judgmental family because she knows the truth of her man and that’s all that matters.  Troy was the subtle hero, the man that everyone counts on without realizing they do.  He gives everyone he loves what they crave to be happy, changing his personality to meet the needs of those people and has been doing so since he was a kid.  Getting to see the true Troy as he falls in love with Nic was fascinating as even she didn’t know that side of him until he decided to stop hiding his light behind the lights of his family.  This story was packed with passion, chemistry, sweetness, laughter, and love.  Even in moments when the world is crumbling around these two and their fears are at their highest, they find a way to laugh and smile for each other, and that to me is the ultimate expression of love.  I was sad to see this story end, but alas there are only so many brothers in this family, unlike the extended Coleman family.  I am looking forward to seeing glimpses of the family in future Rocky Mountain House stories as they blend and interact with the Colemans, and maybe down the road Vivian will revisit the Thompsons for a small update on the family.  Another hit Ms. Arend, but no surprise there. 

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire (Dead in the City #4)

The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire (Dead in the City #4)

by Sara Humphreys 

He wants eternity?
Dakota Shelton is a vampire cowboy with a penchant for cinnamon lollipops and Johnny Cash. Though highly skilled and deadly dangerous to his enemies, he's still a Texas good ol' boy at heart. And he has that heart set on wooing Trixie LaRoux-the most badass punk rock chick in town-the old-fashioned way.
Over her undead body...
Trixie is tough as nails and sharp as a silver stake-the last thing she wants is a man to sit on a porch and not grow old with. So it'll take going to hell and back fighting a new threat to vampires before she admits Dakota's courtship makes her blood hum. Turns out chivalry's not dead after all.
Themes: vampires, witches, paranormal
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
 I have been a big fan of Sara Humphreys ever since I stumbled across her Amoveo series several years ago; her unique take on shifters, vampires, witches and other paranormal beings continues to amaze me and this newest addition to the spinoff Dead in the City series was just as intriguing.  Humphreys takes us deep into the underground and undead world of New York City, one that the humans don’t even begin to guess they are clueless about.  Serious changes have come to this society recently with long forgotten secrets being uncovered, cross-species matings, and battles brewing that no one realized they needed to be worried about.  Dakota and Trixie’s story was just as vital and interesting to the overall plot in this series as it was as a stand-alone novel.  Trixie is the kind of character that makes me want to dig deeper into their minds and learn all about them.  She obviously has secrets, ones she’s kept even from her coven, women she has long looked at as being her only true family.  She is faced with a startling attraction to a male that she knows would completely change her world, but resisting the sexy and lethal cowboy is becoming increasing difficult.  When Dakota came to New York a few years ago we all enjoyed seeing his playful laid back country boy wats clashing against Trixie’s punk rocker hard-ass personality, but under all that swagger is a truly loving and sweet male—Trixie’s perfect mate.  I loved seeing these two find their way through the morass of drama that they found themselves in and finding a way to deal with their fears and hang-ups in order to find one another’s hearts.  The passion between them is undeniable and the moments that they give in to it make me feel like I need a cold shower, but the truly great moments between them happened when they dropped their guards and were able to truly show their love and caring for one another.  Trixie’s past and the truth of her heritage was just the icing on the cake in my opinion and I, though I think I might be a long shot, hope to see her again in future novels as she moves further with her new powers.  All in all a really great story that I can see myself reading again and I am waiting anxiously for the next novel to find out who will find their mates and where these changing times will take Olivia’s family and coven.

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Double Review: Alpha Crew Book 1 (At the Edge & Edge of Surrender)

At the Edge (Alpha Crew #1) and 

Edge of Surrender (Alpha Crew #2)

by Laura Griffin 

Dive into Part One of this heart-pounding romantic suspense story, which continues in Edge of Surrender: Alpha Crew Part Two!
When Emma Wright’s government plane goes down over the Philippine jungle, she’s forced to survive alone until an ultra-elite SEAL team goes in after her. As the leader of Alpha Crew, Ryan Owen is no stranger to challenges, but he’s never tackled anything quite like this sexy, smart, and resourceful woman. The mission is to get Emma home safely, but danger is everywhere, and Ryan’s unexpected desire for Emma could be a deadly distraction.
Back home in California, Ryan’s mission is over—but Emma’s has just begun. She knows her plane crash was no accident, and she’s determined to uncover the truth about what happened—even if her quest for answers puts her at risk. Torn between duty and desire, Ryan searches for a way win Emma’s heart while protecting her from an invisible enemy who wants her dead.

The scorching-hot romance between Emma and Ryan that began in At the Edge: Alpha Crew Part One concludes in Part Two of this sexy, suspenseful adventure!
Ryan had one job: keep Emma safe at all costs. But after a night of passion, Emma takes off and Ryan soon realizes he’s not the only one looking for her. Can he figure out who’s after the beautiful government aide, and why, before she falls into the wrong hands… if she hasn’t already?
Emma’s fighting to get justice for her fallen comrades, but she can’t do it alone. She needs Ryan’s help, but that means trusting him--and dealing with the out-of-control desire blazing between them. Can there be any future for a marked woman and a man trained to kill? She hopes they live long enough to find out…
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: Part 1: 3 stars
              Part 2: 4 stars
              (Combined as one read, 3.75 Stars)
Heat Rating: 
Ok so I would normally write separate reviews about two novels released separately, but it wasn’t until after I requested these that I realized it was a single story just in two parts.  So it’s my bad, but I read them back to back; so I decided to just write a combined review. That being said…
Laura Griffin, one of my favorite romantic suspense series, has decided to dip her toes into the world of Spec Ops operators with her new Alpha Crew series.  We get to meet an all new gang of hot and sexy men, ones working hard to keep the world safe for very little recognition, and I thoroughly enjoyed not only getting to know them but getting to see them in action.  Emma, personal assistant to the wife of the ambassador to the Philippines, has just found herself the sole survivor of a plane crash, stranded in the middle of an island jungle, and determined to keep herself alive until help arrives.  She is a resourceful woman but totally out of her element.  Luckily for her a team of SEALs has been sent to search for survivors and investigate the crash.  Wandering the jungle, lost, hungry and injured Emma is beyond relieved when she stumbles upon Lt. Ryan Owens filling his canteen.  Ryan has been captivated by thoughts of Emma ever since he was briefed on his mission but when he finally sets eyes on her, the visceral reaction to her surprises and unsettles him.  Working together, along with the other members of the Crew, Ryan rescues Emma and gets her back stateside, but not before she lays a passionate and outrageously wonderful kiss on him, right in the middle of life threatening danger.  Needless to say he is surprised when she tracks him down at a bar several weeks later, but the attraction and chemistry between them are just as palpable.
Emma is totally grateful that she survived her ordeal in the jungle, but now she’s determined to have the truth about the crash brought into the open.  She’s been asking questions of every government official she can and has come to the attention of too many people—people that really don’t want the truth exposed.  Tracking down Ryan seemed like a great idea, for more than one reason, but his fire and ice reactions to her leave her even more confused and self-conscious.  As she and Ryan are drawn into a dangerous world of lies and corruption they have to deal with the emotional connection between them, one that goes far beyond simple lust and pheromones and into a depth of love that is swift and unquestionable.  With their lives hanging in the balance, trusting one another is difficult, but Ryan is determined to keep Emma alive and safe, even if it means forfeiting his own life. 
I enjoyed reading these stories very much, but coming from a standpoint of two separately released stories I have to say, ugh!  The first story was a lot of world building and setup for the overall story, but there was certainly no lack of passion between these two, but it was obvious this story was going to be very fast paced and there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of getting-to-know-you time before Ryan and Emma fell headlong into love.  The first section ended well with a scary cliffhanger, one that would have made me crazy had I not had section 2 ready to read right then.  The second one however seemed to be confused a bit; the first chapter seemed to almost want to recap the story from the first section, as if they are a second book in a series, instead of just the second part of the same story, which I found unnecessary. Read together though these two stories are wonderfully written and make me very happy that Laura is trying something a little different than what she usually writes.  If you are a fan of Laura’s you might be a little surprised by the length of the stories (even combined they were much shorter than her normal length Tracers novel), but if you’re looking for a good single evening read that will be filled with action, intrigue, sensuality, and a love that is filled with hope, sadness and light, I recommend you pick up both of these stories and get to know Alpha Crew.  I am really looking forward to what’s coming next, and kind of hoping that Jake’s story is next! *wink, wink; nudge nudge, Laura*

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review: Rocky Mountain Romance (Six Pack Ranch #7)

Rocky Mountain Romance (Six Pack Ranch #7)

by Vivian Arend 

Second chances are the sweetest—and the hottest.
It took a spectacularly embarrassing break-up to knock Steve Moonshine Coleman off his lazy butt. In the ten months since that night, he’s changed his ways, and now that Melody’s back in town, it’s time for this sweet-talking cowboy to convince her to get back in the saddle with him.
A return to her veterinary position in Rocky Mountain House was always in the cards for Melody Langley. Getting back together with Steve? Never part of the plan. He had lots of potential but zero ambition, and there’s no way she’ll accept anything less than a man who can keep up with her, in and out of bed.
But the new-and-improved cowboy is impossible to resist, so Melody issues a challenge. Three months to prove he’s reformed. Three months of Steve orchestrating one sexual indulgence after another—wicked distractions from the old boys’ club Melody faces at work and Steve’s growing responsibilities.
He’s got one shot to prove with more than words what’s in his heart and soul.
Themes: contemporary, erotica
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
The epic breakup of previous novels has come full circle with a story of love and second chance, one for the ages for sure.  I loved seeing Steve finally grow up and try to be the man that he was always meant to be.  Many of his cousins have already found the loves of their lives and seeing them coming together and beginning families of their own seems to have finally had a profound effect on the immature but rakish Coleman.  A year before, when Melody walked out of his life, Steve knew he’d lost something special and knowing that gave him the boost he needed to change his life around completely.  When Melody returns he has a plan to get her back…but she throws down a challenge that no red-blooded Coleman male can resist.  Melody never imagined that Steve would be so changed when she returned, but giving him a chance to prove it opens her own heart up to the dangers of falling in love with a Coleman.  I loved seeing these two people grow and learn from their mistakes, dealing with the flaws inherent in us all and finding a way to look past their differences to the love they so obviously have for one another.  The heat between them burns up the pages from the first moment they come back together, but the sweetness and tenderness is always there.  Steven and Melody made a perfect couple and getting to see their extended family and friends again, lovers who’ve come together in past books and Colemans who haven’t yet found their mates alike, was a wonderful return to Rocky Mountain House life.  I am really looking forward to the next few stories in the series, though I know they mean the end of a long tradition and a group of people that have made me laugh, cry, and fall in love for several years now.  Another masterpiece of romance, Vivian!

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review: Nightwalker (The World of Nightwalkers #5)

Kamen is a Bodywalker, an ancient soul reborn in one human host after another. He’s also a prisoner of his own kind: for it was Kamen who released Apep, the deadly god who threatens the existence of their world. To atone for this grievous error, Kamen accepts an urgent mission: to convince the other nations of the Nightwalkers to set aside their centuries-old conflicts and band together. If he fails, all will be lost. And no tribe presents a greater challenge than the Wraiths, the spectral beings who are feared and despised for their lethal deathtouch.
Kamen makes first contact with a stunning, ghostly pale beauty named Geneviève. Part Wraith and part human, scorned as a half-breed, Viève shares the hunger for redemption—and for connection. Her scintillating touch holds the kiss of death, and yet it makes Kamen feel more alive than ever. Soon his lips are pressed against hers, sending Viève into fits of desire and forging a bond that breaches the divide between them. Now they must unite all the Nightwalkers, from Vampire and Shadowdweller to Djynns, and fast—for Apep is ready for war.
Themes: demons, shifters, paranormal
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
I have to begin this review by saying that I resisted reading this story for a long time, not because I feared it would be bad, but because it was so sad to see a series I had loved, one I’d followed through all the world changes from the very first Nightwalker novel, Jacob, coming to an end.  I resisted with all my might, but finally couldn’t resist anymore and I can honestly say that thought I was sad to see it end, the ending was wonderful. There has been a war brewing in this world for long time coming and the tide has turned with the switch of bodywalker Kamen to the side of good.  Kamen thought all these years he was working on the correct side, trying to end a war and making decisions his people could be proud of, but when he inadvertently brings a dangerous being to their world, he knows immediately he needs the help of the Politic Bodywalker, and other Nightwalker clans as well to find a way to defeat the coming evil, otherwise the entire world with be in peril.  Kamen is tasked with bringing all of the groups of the Nightwalkers together to break a millennia old curse so they can truly work together.  His first task, bringing the Wraith’s to the table is one that leads him right into the arms of the sweet Geneviève, part Wraith, part human, and fully his perfect mate.  Viève has been mistreated all her life, but finds in Kamen the strength she needs to stand up for herself and find a way to work with him to battle the coming darkness and to save all her new friends. Viève and Kamen had their issues but immediately found a common ground and it becomes obvious that their feelings for one another are growing by leaps and bounds.  In the end their love is what brings the evil imp god to his end and leaves the world safe for all the Nightwalker Clans.  As sad as I am to see this series end, seeing all the old couples and getting to watch them come together through all their differences was an influential moment, reflective of our own issues with accepting differences of race, religion, creed, nationality and anything really that stands out from the norm.  A subtle but wonderfully written commentary on our current political climate, surrounded by the action, passion, and love that is always to be found in a Jackie Frank novel.  Keep the hits coming, Jackie.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.