Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Release Day Blitz: Total Surrender (Sin Brothers #4)

In celebration of the release of Book 4 in the Sin Brothers Series, we are flashing back to the last story and rereading and reviewing Blind Faith, Book 3 and the story of Nate Dean. 


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Blind Faith (Sin Brothers #3)

by Rebecca Zanetti

Blurb:

A betrayal he couldn't forget . . .
For Nate Dean, love is a four-letter word. As part of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be ruthless soldiers with an expiration date. They were loyal only to one another . . . until Nate laid eyes on the woman who stole his heart and blew his world apart. Now, years later, his family is still paying the price for his mistake. But as time runs out, there's only one person who can save his family: the very woman Nate swore he'd never trust again.
A love she couldn't deny . . .

The moment Audrey Madison spies Nate across a crowded ballroom, she can barely breathe. He's just as undeniably sexy as she remembers, yet there's an edge to him now that's as irresistible as it is dangerous. When he asks for her help, Audrey can't refuse. But she has secrets of her own-secrets that, if Nate ever discovers them, may cost them both their lives. .
Themes: paramilitary, contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 The third story in the Sin Brothers series was full of ups and down, surprises, betrayals, and the love of two very damaged, confused, and ultimately perfectly matched people on a quest to keep evil from continuing to spread darkness over their lives. I have enjoyed the previous books in this series very much but Nate’s story gives so much more death to the emotions of these trained killers and I found myself rooting for him every step of the way.   I will admit this book got a little bit more complicated in terms of villains, but it was down so well that it just seems to flow and make perfect sense. The little glimpses of the other brothers and their women was interesting as well, and finally finding out the truth out their youngest brother made the story perfect. I am looking forward to where the series heads next.
Nate is a wonderfully dangerous man, one who lives his life determined to never make the same mistake twice and to protect his brothers—an now their women—at all costs.  He never imagines that he is fit to have a woman of his own, and really the only one he’s ever wanted is Audrey, the daughter of the woman he has hated all his life with everything in him.  She once broke his heart, but he never imagines he would find her working with the enemy and the truth of that shakes him up quite a bit.  As they get to know one another again, Nate learns that his instincts are not to be ignored and Audrey is more than willing to remind him of her true nature.  I liked Nate for the most part, though he annoyingly jumps to the worst conclusion about Audrey every time something that looks bad happens, but thankfully he gets over that near the end.  He is obviously a gorgeous man, but his arrogance comes from his skills and abilities more than from his looks or innate charm. It was interesting to see him interacting with his brothers and their wives and to see how his changes when the thought of impending fatherhood hits him.  There was a gooey softness at the center of that hard and thick shell surrounding Nate’s heart to be sure.
Audrey was my favorite type of heroine: a compassionate woman on a mission to save the world.  Or at least the portion of the world she had her life wrapped up in.  She is determined to bring down the commander for his horrible experiments without putting her mother, or the Dean Brothers into danger.  She is finally ready to enact her plan with things start to go terribly awry.  First Nate explodes back into the life, then she is placed into mortal danger when someone discovers her connections to the commander, and finally by the commander himself when she is forced back under his thumb.  Really Audrey just had a bad couple of days! But she never once lets herself lose focus on her goals, protecting herself, her new family, and bringing down the bastard who caused it all. Her love for Nate is obvious from the very first second and I loved how she forced him to accept that love and admit to his own feelings for her.  She is sweet and na├»ve in some ways, but worldly and dangerous in her own right in other ways.  Her very determination to not accept defeat is what makes her ingenuity and craftiness so much sharper. I liked how well thought out her plans were, though I felt like she should have just cut ties with her sociopathic mother a long time ago, but when those plans are turned completely upside down, she is able to roll with the punches (literally in some cases) and find a way to win every time.  An undefeatable woman on a mission to keep her loved ones safe—heady stuff!
Overall this series has caused me a few tears, especially the glimpses we get into the terrible “childhoods” (and I use that term very loosely here) that the dean brothers lived through. Even though Nate was trained almost from birth to be a killing machine—as were his brothers—he never stopped looking for a better more normal life, including falling in love with Audrey at a young age and never being able to move on.  While Audrey may have given up Nate the first time to keep him safe, neither of them are willing to let their love go a second time, instead determining that only together can they defeat the commander and find a way to be happy and safe, together, forever.  Audrey was a great character, one of those women that you can hold up as a role model.  Overcoming the ghastly beginning to their lives, both Ante and Audrey show that the nature of love cannot be trained out of the heart, no matter how hard someone tries to change you.  Their ability to love was remarkable under these circumstances, but never for a minute did I doubt they would find their HEA and defeat the commander, one way or another.  I cannot wait to find out what happens in the final book in the series coming soon (I hope). Another hit series for Rebecca Zanetti as far as I’m concerned.
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


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And now the blurb for the final book in this awesome series, releasing today in all format and at all major retailers: 

Total Surrender (Sin Brothers #4)

by 

A fight he must win . . .

Piper Oliver knows she can't trust him. They warned her that the tall, dark, and sexy black-ops soldier Jory Dean would try to win her over with his steel-gray eyes and deadly charm, but she won't be conned by this man they call a traitor. All she has to do is figure out the science necessary to save his life, and she's done. Something isn't adding up, though, and she won't rest until she uncovers the truth-even if it's buried in his deep, dangerous kiss.

A passion she can't resist . . .
Jory will do anything to reunite with and save his brothers-even kidnap the gorgeous woman who's working to deactivate the deadly chip in their spines. But the forces determined to destroy his family won't let them go so easily. Keeping Piper alive is more than he bargained for-and so is his burning desire for her. But with every second bringing him closer to certain death, can he afford to lose himself in her hot and willing embrace?
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We’ve got a fantastic Rafflecopter giveaway which includes a grand prize of all three books in the series, plus an ARC of TOTAL SURRENDER, a “Who Shot Jory Dean?” T-shirt and a Blind Faith dog tag:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Hot Rebel

Hot Rebel (Hostile Operations Team #6)

By Lynn Raye Harris

Blurb:

Victoria Royal is a traitor. Or so the U.S. government believes. Victoria was once a promising sniper in the Army, but now she’s gone rogue—worse, she’s just landed in the middle of a Hostile Operations Team mission in the desert and blasted it all to hell.
Nick “Brandy” Brandon doesn’t expect to run into Victoria when he’s bugging out from a mission gone wrong. It’s been more than three years since she disappeared from the sniper course they were in together, and he’s finally stopped thinking about her killer curves and smart mouth.
But now she’s back—and she’s far more dangerous than Nick ever believed possible… Is she really a traitor? Or is there something more at stake? He has to decide fast—because time’s running out and too many lives hang in the balance…
Themes: black-ops, contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Returning to the shadowy world of black ops operatives and mercenaries, Harris reveals the darker side of military action and the operators that are keeping the world safe… or not.  The motives of the operators become the driving factor in this story as Nick and Victoria work together to find a way to bring down a terrorist and rescue her sister all at once. Harris has the ability to take the most war-torn and dangerous of settings and turn it in to the perfect place for her heroes to fall in love and she writes with such detail, it’s like I’m right beside the characters experiencing everything, while also being able to read their minds.  With a truly unique writing style, Harris brings her characters to life, which is sometimes scary with the villains, and makes you believe that even the most unbelievable of plans can succeed.  I have been a fan of this series from the beginning and love all the characters.  I’m really looking forward to the next story about Iceman.
Nick and Victoria are by no means strangers, but "friend" is a stretch as well, when they run into each other on an Op in a small country in the Middle East that is riddled with terrorists.  Victoria has just ruined Nick’s operation to bring down a tyrant, for money no less, and the glitch in his plans throws him almost as much as running into Victoria, who disappeared from sniper school years ago and who Nick believes is a Traitor.  Victoria is torn, knowing that her assignments will be aiding terrorists beats her up inside, but it’s her only hope if she has any chance of finding and rescuing her little sister, who was snared in the web of the villain Victoria's being forced to protect.  When she agrees to help HOT in gaining the knowledge they need to bring down both the terrorist organization and her boss, she never imagined just how much her life would change.  As the danger increases around them, Nick and Victoria are no longer able to keep their personal feelings separate, their chemistry undeniable any more, and they quickly begin to fall for one another.  But even working together will they be able to accomplish all their goals and get out alive… Or will this HOT mission be their last?
I really loved this story, with all the expected drama, danger, and action of a good military suspense, and the sweetness and passion of a great romance, combining into the perfect combination.  Nick is a guy that refuses to believe he will ever settle down and give up his illustrious reputation as a ladies' man.  While he is sexy as hell, a bit arrogant at times, and a serious badass, it’s obvious, his feelings for Victoria will truly make him into a hero, giving him the ultimate motive for his missions.  Seeing his gentleness when dealing with Vic, even when he didn’t understand just how to handle a situation, reminds that even the most hardened of warriors have their soft spot.  His interactions with his teammates were almost as interesting, and I loved getting glimpses of the other guys, both married and single.   I also loved the family dynamic that the author worked into the story, giving just that little hint of his past and the way he lives his life, and paralleling his sense of duty to family to Victoria’s, giving them a solid foundation of understanding to overcome her defection. 

Contrasting Nick’s understanding and sweetness is the prickly and sometimes bitchy Victoria.  She has had to depend on herself for so long that she truly doesn’t really know how to count on another person.  She is determined to get her sister to safety and give her a chance at a better life, having had to forfeit her career to her sister’s mistakes, but she pushes everyone away emotionally—and sometimes physically—making it difficult to truly like her at first.  But she begins to grow on you as she is humanized by her attraction to Nick and her obvious reluctance to truly sacrifice the safety of her country if she can help it.   Not to mention who doesn’t love a female that is blazing a trail into a world run and stocked with males, and being a badass while she is at it.  I will say that I was pissed at her for always jumping to conclusions and being on the defensive when it came to HOT, who are SO obviously the good guys, and Nick in particular, but I can understand her unwillingness to trust after you learn about her past.  It was nice to see her find a way to get her sister free, protect herself and Nick, and ultimately stop a terror cell that would have been a serious issue. 
In the end, I must say that I loved HOT Rebel and having gotten to know Victoria and Nick was great.   With all the vivid detail, attention to facts and understanding of black ops, and the characters that drive the story, ultimately Harris has given me just the type of story that reminds me why I love romance so much.  Nick is the typical alpha guy, going through women faster than underwear and determined to stay single, but when he meets his match, he doesn’t understand just what that means in his life.  While he is sexy, sweet, dangerous, and kick-ass, there were moments I had to question his intelligence as he pushed and pulled with Victoria’s emotions and made me want to head-slap him, ultimately he learns that having the woman meant for him at his side doesn’t make him less of a man, in fact it makes him a better man and a happier one.  Victoria is more of an enigma in the beginning, hiding all her pain and confusion behind bravado and action, trying to convince Nick and herself that she doesn’t need him or his team, but when she finally comes to terms with the truth of her situation, she wizens up and discovers that trusting a partner and working with a team are not necessarily a bad thing.   I was pissed as the ending approached at first, but thankfully, Harris was able to pull an HEA out of her hat and keep me from throwing my kindle at the wall. :) I am dying to find out what’s coming down the line for Iceman, since we got several little hints and clues about his life in this story.  Harris strikes again and the magic lives on.

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


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Blood Assassin

Blood Assassin (The Sentinels #2)

by Alexandra Ivy

Blurb:

They are the outcasts of humanity. Blessed with power. Cursed by fate. Driven by passion. The Sentinels have returned. . .
Out Of The Shadows
At six-foot-three and two-hundred-fifty pounds, Fane is a natural born guardian. A flawless mix of muscled perfection and steely precision, he has devoted years of his life to protecting a beautiful necromancer. But after she found love in the arms of another, Fane has been a warrior adrift. He swears allegiance only to the Sentinels. And no woman will ever rule his heart again. . .
Into The Fire
Not only a powerful psychic, Serra is that rare telepath who can connect to minds through objects. When the daughter of a high-blood businessman is kidnapped, Serra agrees to help. But when she stumbles onto a conspiracy involving secrets sects and ancient relics, her life is in mortal danger--and Fane is her only hope. Is the warrior willing to risk his body, his soul, and his heart, for Serra? Or will one last betrayal destroy them both?
Themes: magick, witches, paranormal
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
Well this story had some interesting characters reluctantly coming together all for a little girl.  With dangerous allegiances though comes the inevitable understanding that not everyone has entirely altruistic motives and not everyone is out for person gain,  with all the shades of gray in between the black and white of good vs. evil, Ivy takes us through a world of magic users that is completely different from any I’ve ever read.  I have been a fan of Ivy’s series since the beginning of her Guardians of Eternity series and when I discovered she was starting an all new world I knew I was going to jump right in.  This second full length novel jumps off right where the last story ended and delves deeply into the lives of two people that have loved each other for ages but been separated by their duty to their people and the world.  If you missed the first story in the series you may not understand just all that Fane and Serra have been up against as they tried to find their balance together, but you will certainly not be lost as there is plenty of filling in and info to keep you informed.   I enjoyed the story to the extreme and am looking forward to future stories—and dying to see Wolfe get a story since I think I know who is heroine will be!
Now that Callie no longer needs the bond and protection Fane has always given her, he has decided it is time for him to return to the Tibetan mountains and serve his people as a Sentinel trainer.  Serra learns of his plans and her anger and hurt knows no bounds, but she will try one more time to get Fane to admit his feelings for her.  Serra’s hopes are dashed however, when Fane continues to push her away and her anger makes her sloppy, which sadly puts her right in the path of a deadly assassin determined to use her skills to find his kidnapped daughter, no matter the danger that puts Serra into.  Luckily Fane learns quickly that Serra has fallen into trouble and is determined to track her down and save her, but the assassin mastermind will not be defeated so easily. Working together with the assassin and his men, Serra and Fane overcome all obstacles and dangers to accomplish their mission.  The truth becomes darker and darker as the bigger picture comes to light and the full truth of Bas’s life and legend are uncovered.  Fane quickly decides that he will no longer keep his emotions in check, giving in to his desires and claiming Serra as his own, the one thing he has been fighting all their time together.   In the end, the only way they will find a way to be together and live their lives in peace is working with an unlikely ally to bring down an even darker evil.
Serra is one kick ass bitch, with some serious psychic skills and a damn hot wardrobe—a beautiful role model.  Though Fane has pushed her away for years, she never let go of the hope that one day he would see her, really see her, and admit to himself and her that he wants her.  Though she is determined to get her man, she doesn’t let that desire stand in her way, in any way.  When she is roped into a dangerous mission to save a little girl, she never imagined that Fane would come to her rescue and claim her as his, finally and irrevocably.  Her conflicting desires, believing in Fane’s sudden turnaround and protecting her heart from further hurt, leave her open to the psychic and emotional drama circling around her, but it won’t keep her from fulfilling her promise and gaining her freedom.  As they learn more about their new reluctant allies, Serra begins to understand that her mission is fluid and keeping evil from overtaking their world will be her ultimate duty.   She was beautiful, sweet but deadly, and willing to use her outrageous skills to accomplish what no one else might ever be able to solve.  However her greatest strength is her willingness to forgive Fane's stubborn unwillingness to give their love a chance and move on with an open heart and mind to have a shot at a future with Fane. 
Fane has loved and resisted Serra from the first time he saw her all those years ago, but his duty to Callie and his determination not to give in to his possessive desire for her has kept Fane from embracing her many offers to come to her bed.   With his release from his bond to Callie, he is set adrift, with no clear purpose any more, and in need of grounding.  Deciding to return to Tibet in hopes of finding his balance again, he knows he is hurting Serra, hates himself for it, but can see no other course for them.  Everything changes when Serra is basically forced to do the bidding of a deadly assassin that will go to any length to rescue his daughter, even at the expense of Serra’s safety.  Seeing her in such danger shows Fane that there is no way he could ever leave her and he gives in to the decades of desire and makes her his lover. Though she gives him her body, he senses the walls she has put around her heart, protecting herself from the sudden change in their relationship, and will do anything for her to break down those walls and give herself to him body, heart and soul. Fane is deadly, sexy, and dangerous, but his sweetness when handling Serra and his obvious affection for her, even when she is spitting mad, makes him the prefect sexy alpha male.  Strong and deadly men are a dime a dozen in romance novels, but a truly sexy alpha male, with a deep core of honor, affection and love for those he brings into his heart, along with a strong sense of duty and determination, are few and far between and Fane is a wonderful example of all these traits rolled up into one gorgeous beast.
I haven’t found too many stories that can truly keep me engaged right until the end, with plot twists, romance, passion, and action all balanced into a great glimpse into a world of magic and intrigue, but Blood Assassin and the Sentinel series have it all.   Ivy is a master storyteller with the ability to keep a reader on the edge of your seat even as your emotions are grabbed by the dramas in the characters lives and the love that develops between her characters.  Fane is a dedicated warrior, a Sentinel charged with protecting the people of his world and ours, and has given his entire life to his responsibility. Serra is a warrior in her own way, using her psychic skills to capture bad guys, save innocents, and uncover plots that will put her world in danger, but the one thing she has always longed for is a chance to be with the man she has loved for decades.  Fane and Serra finally discover that the passion they have felt for each other in the past is just the top layer of the emotion that will keep them together for decades to come.  Even as they work together, along with their allies, to bring down a dangerous kidnapper, masterminding a deadly game that will put the entire world in danger and could bring down the entire civilization for the high-bloods, their emotional revelations are what makes the story great.  I enjoyed every second of this story, whether Fane and Serra are fighting each other, fighting with each other against their enemies, or giving in to their desires in the bedroom, the fire burning between them is undeniable and palpable.  I cannot wait to see what comes next in this series, but I’m sure that I will love whatever it is.  As a side note there is an intriguing secondary plot in this series between the Tagos and Mave of the high-bloods and I am dying to see where, if anywhere, that relationship might lead.  If you aren’t a fan of Ivy already, this series will make you one and starting with this book is definitely going to pull you into the world of High-bloods and the sentinels that protect their world.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: Marked

Marked (Dark Protectors #7)

by Rebecca Zanetti

Blurb:

Janie Kayrs has known Zane almost her whole life. He was her friend in the dream world. She trusted him. But that was before he kidnapped her, spiriting her away to an isolated cabin to learn what her dreams never told her. Like how dangerous he looks. How he got on the wrong side of the negotiating table. And how much sexier he is in real life…
Zane is a battle-hardened warrior, used to command and solitude. But Janie has drawn him from the minute they met. His need for her could destroy everything he’s worked for, but the risk is too sweet not to take it. They call her the Chosen One. But when it comes down to the questions of peace or war, life or death, safety or passion, it will be Janie who makes the choice…
Themes: vampires, demons, witches (Oh My! J )
Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
We have waited a long time for Janie and Zane’s Story, and it was worth every second of that wait! There was so much going on in this story that with any other author I don’t think it could have been written as well as this one. The ultimate battle ensues, the family dynamics are changing, and the dreaded Virus-27 has finally found its true mark.  There is really no way to explain just how much I loved this book or how sad I am that it is over—though I am thrilled to share that a spin-off series has been reported and is also hinted at in the epilogue, which in itself just about drove me crazy!! If you’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning like I have you’ll understand just why I wanted this story so badly, but for newcomers I think this story will definitely make you want to go back and read from the beginning. There was just enough visiting of previous couples, exploration of family and greatness of character that you just won’t be able to resist—heck I wanted to go back and reread the series myself, just didn’t have time. As an ending to one of the greatest series I’ve read in ages, Marked, fulfilled every unspoken promise to readers and left you salivating for more while still providing the closure and true ending for this decades long story arc.  Zanetti is truly a gifted author and I find myself falling more in love with her as I read each story and each new series and Marked is definitely a testament to her ability, imagination, and awesomeness.
Marked is the final story in a decades long (in book time) development of characters and was always meant to ultimately end with Zane and Janie either coming together to bring peace to their world, or being the defining leaders in the war that would decimate their peoples.  They have been playmates in their dream world, friends, and have each fallen in love with the other in their youthful hearts, but when they finally meet in person and the truth comes out, there is no way Janie can come to terms with the changes.  When he claims her for his own and takes her into isolation far from her family, Janie has to find a way to undersatnd the true man he is and decide if she can have a future with such a being.  But with the outside forces pressing down on them, the only way Janie and Zane will ever have a chance is complete trust and understanding, which for these two is an almost impossible task.  Finally, we learn the truth about the Kurjan Virus and are on the edge of our seats as we deal with the fact that there may not be a true happy ending, because even with hard won peace after a long war there will always be scars—emotional, psychological, physical and cultural.
Janie has lived through so many traumas in her 25 years, being the “Chosen One”, for all the beings that exist alongside the humans in our world.  Long prophesized to bring an end to the war between cultures, and possibly to destroy one or two of those cultures, Janie has been kidnapped, stalked, attacked, and detested by many for most of her life.  Though she has learned to defend herself there was never a chance of her defending her heart against Zane, not once she pulled him into her dream-world so long ago and slowly fell in love with him.  While she has grown into a seasoned warrior and nurse, working alongside the Vampires that have adopted her into their family, she has always known her destiny was going to require her to give up her dreams and possibly her life to bring peace to her world. When she and Zane are finally alone together there is no denying that she is attracted to him beyond any man that has ever been in her life. Her strength of character and her ability to forgive and love is immeasurable and I was thrilled to see that she was able to get past all the issues pushing them away and find a way to keep Zane for her own.  I found myself increasingly interested in her as a person, not just as the Chosen One, but also in the fact that she is determined to bring peace about no matter what it costs her personally.  I also loved seeing her kick ass and takes names and handle the dominating and alpha men that she is surrounded by, proving once again that a man is only as good as the woman or women that are backing him. 
Zane has kept half of his heritage from Janie for the entirety of their relationship, knowing that it would put them on completely different sides of the war, but when he is finally ready to reveal his secret the shockwaves it send through their worlds are numerous.  Zane has loved Janie since they were children, knowing she was meant to be his, but never allowing for the possibility that he would be able to claim her in truth.  He has worked so long behind the scenes to find a way to bring about peace and mostly to protect those he loves, including Janie, that coming out into the open and being able to claim her is a whole new experience for him.  I was a little less thrilled about Zane, though he becomes one of those characters, you can’t help but love, mainly because as misguided as his plans and methods are, there is no denying that he gets things done and in the end finds a way to get what he wants. I did love how surprised he seemed to be to find himself in a relationship with a woman that challenged him left and right, one that demanded he face his feelings for her and the hard truths that he’s had to keep hidden all these years behind a mask to keep himself and his loved ones safe. For being such a hard-ass, it was nice to see his softer side, here and there, as he fell in love with Janie and found a place for himself in her life and her world. 
Marked was the perfect ending to a long series that has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans for the past four years, through 20 years in their world and all the changes that have come to lead to the war to end all wars between the Realm and their Allies and all those they call enemy. Janie has always known her destiny and has accepted that she might not make it to her twenty-sixth year, but through all that time, she has found her heart pulled to Zane and hoped one day to have at least a chance to be with him. Zane on the other hand spent his life knowing that the truth of his parentage would come between him and Janie, but he was determined to keep her safe and find a way for her meet and survive her destiny as the Chosen One.  Seeing these two longtime friends come to terms with their love and find a way to build a relationship despite all the obstacles between them and the drama of their live was like watching two stars collide to form a new world. Passion explodes between Janie and Zane any second they are within each other’s eye-line or hell even within their telepathic range and there is no denying that the chemistry between them is combustible to the extreme.  When the final battles are all fought and the dust settles, their world will never be the same and the new foundation will be built on love and understanding, with leaders that will keep the peace between nations.  I found myself crying a lot during the end of this novel, but when the story ends all the happiness for the characters comes through and the tears dried up and the smile on my face was huge enough to make people curious about what was affecting me.  I will say that the very end of the epilogue about broke my heart and left me salivating for the next grand story arc to take place in this world.  Zanetti breaks your heart, shows you true love, and leaves you wanting more, fulfilling all the readers' desire for a happy ending and bringing to life the loves and experiences of amazing characters that truly live life to the fullest.   Sad to see it end, but thrilled with how it happened and looking forward to what might come next in this world from the imagination of a magician disguised as an author.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: Unchained

Unchained (Men in Chains #3)

By Caris Roane

Blurb:

ABDUCTED
Stalked by a vampire. Stolen in the night. Seduced by a lover. Anthropology student Shayna Prentiss wakes up to find herself trapped in a world she never knew existed—with a man she cannot escape…nor resist.
ENSLAVED
Drawn to her beauty. Driven by lust. Doomed by his destiny. The vampire Marius knows he must bond with this captivating mortal with hidden powers…or both their races will be destroyed forever.
UNCHAINED
Bound by a blood chain that seals their fates together, Marius and Shayna must stand and fight the ultimate enemy—a madman hell-bent on destruction who will test every ounce of their strength, their power, and their passion. When the final weapon is unleashed, will their love remain unbroken? Or will darkness shatter their chains…for eternity?
Themes: vampires (both good and bad), Magick
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
I have to say I have had mixed feelings about not only this author, but also this series in the past, thankfully Marius and Shayna’s story was awesome and I am looking forward to more great stories in this series in the future.  Though there was a conclusion for the major battle and that overall story arc, I am hoping the series will still continue in another direction perhaps. The previous two novels in this series were good, but they were missing a little something and Caris seems to have found it in this third story. That being said there is no doubt that Ms. Roane is a gifted writer and a woman with a very fluid imagination.  Her attention to details, world building, and dramatic flair is wonderful, though in previous novels there seemed to be a lack of romance between the lusty H/h’s, but that was not to be found with this novel.  Throughout this story, the characters developed a depth and emotion that was a bit lacking previously and I thrilled to see it.  Marius and Shayna’s story was often heartbreaking and just as often sweetly fulfilling and the love that develops in the end is lasting and obviously destined. 
Marius has finally escaped from under his father’s evil thumb and is able to embrace his chance to bring that bastard down, but he needs the help of a human woman, Shayna, to find the weapon his father seeks. Shayna is ripped from her world and forced to face the truth that has been hidden alongside the human realm since the beginning of time, but the most startling realization is how attracted she is to Marius, a man who isn’t quite a man.  Unwilling to give up her goals for her life, Marius has to show her the true extent of his father’s ruthless evil so she will help the vampire nation to defeat this dictator, but even though she gives in to their need, she knows she will have to return to her world soon. The passion between them leads into uncharted territory as she begins to have deeper feelings for Marius and finds herself wondering if they could have a life together.  When the long awaited battle between both sides of the battle is fought, will Marius be able to keep Shayna safe and by his side? Or will they forever find themselves separated by their desires and destinies?
Both Marius and Shayna were great characters, though for vastly different reasons.  Marius was a devoted brother and defender of his people from the time he and his brothers escaped the disgusting hands of their sadistic father.  The guilt he has carried that entire time has kept him from entirely embracing his powers and keeps a distance between him and his brothers.  It was terrifying to see him relive the torture at his father’s hands and I cried a lot for him in those moments, but the strength of character that keeps him from becoming like his father is not to be overlooked.  His gentleness and understanding when dealing with women in general and Shayna specifically shows that even though he is a ferocious fighter, he uses his strength and skill to protect others and keep them safe especially from his father’s twisted plans.  I loved seeing him come in to his own and embrace all his strength in order to rescue Shayna and find a way to finally kill that bastard Daniel. His obvious verve for life stems from being tortured and trapped as a child and seeing him share that verve and passion with Shayna as she learned more about his world was magical.
Shayna however is a bit socially stunted and has gotten herself into and thankfully out of a bad relationship because of that.  She has dedicated her adult life to the study of cultures, both modern and ancient, and has never really found her match in a man, at least not until she meets Marius.  Though he lives in a deadly and dangerous world, his world also has many beautiful parts and she is infinitely intrigued by the new world she’s moving in. Burned by her last lover, Shayna finds it difficult to trust her instincts with Marius, but as she sees his true kindness and nature she knows there is no way she can resist him.  But even though she is falling for him, she is determined to return to her life and academic future.  While I was sympathetic to the issues she was dealing with, Shayna bugged me a bit here and there, but maybe because it was anathema to me that she wasn’t immediately willing to help the tens of thousands of women being held as slaves by the evil Daniel.  Once she comes to her senses and embraces the mission completely, I began to like her and her intellect and wit reminded me a bit of one of my friends so ultimately I couldn’t help but like her, even if I didn’t always get her.
Action-packed, full of plot twists, and awesome world building, Unchained, is a story of a man with a mission to rid his world of evil and find peace for himself, his brothers and his people. Marius is one of those tortured alpha heroes that you just want to drag to bed, wrap yourself around him, and keep him safe from all the emotional damage that can leave a person broken, but he’d fight you ever step of the way (well once he got what he wanted from you in bed). Driven by guilt and a need for atonement, he is the man that will forever battle those that seek to take advantage of those weaker than them, and his passion for retribution carries over into other parts of his life.  Shayna is a bit of an egghead, often getting wrapped up in her own thoughts, but she is a good person and in the end almost pays the ultimate price to keep her new friends and family.  Both of these characters are loving, strong, determined, and smart as hell, leaving no doubt that they are going to defeat their enemies, no matter how long and how many deaths it takes. Well written characters, both hero and villain, interesting side stories and lots of sexy love scenes round out this paranormal masterpiece and make you wonder just what else the author might come up with in the future.  Unchained may well turn out to be the end of this series, but if so, it certainly is going out with a bang.

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


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mini-Review: Love is a Battlefield

Love is a Battlefield (DreamMakers #2)

by Vivian Arend

Blurb:

He’s ready to admit she’s all grown up…
After two tours of duty, former Army Ranger Jack Hunter is back in the US, working to keep DreamMakers a brilliant success. Now that his best friend’s little sister is home from college, it’s time to retire his hands-off policy and take action. He wants Pepper Wilson in his bed, but seducing the feisty redhead could be dangerous for more than one reason.
She’s ready to push all his buttons…
Pepper is tired of being bossed around by everyone in her life, especially arrogant, annoying, overbearing Jack Hunter. While she can’t deny the man is out-of-this-world gorgeous, his alpha routine is getting old. His steely determination proves a match for her own, though, and the attraction simmering between them ignites into fiery passion.
But can their wild sexual exploration turn into more without someone getting burned?

Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Returning to the strange and unexpected world of commando matchmakers, Love is a Battlefield is the story of two long time friends that finally come to terms with the fact that they are meant to be together.  Arend and Kennedy have been two of my favorite erotica authors for a long time now and having them go semi-mainstream was surprising, but I should have known their books together would never be without the heat I wanted and loved.  The first books in the story was interesting in many ways, but I really loved this story more than the other. Pepper and Jack were both hot as hell and interesting characters and the overall story was filled with drama, twists, and surprises right to the end.  If you haven't read book one you might be missing out on a lot of the subtext in this book, but you'll get filled in enough as long as you are careful to read between the lines.  I am dying to see who and what comes next and know that the new members of the teams added in this book will give us a lot more in this series for years to come. 
Pepper never imagined when she snuck home in the dead of night that she'd be faced with an angry and hungry Jack, who is no longer willing to deny their attraction. Jack has looked at Pepper as an annoying little sister for so long, that when he suddenly sees her simply as a beautiful woman he's not sure exactly how to handle himself.  When the passion between them is no longer hidden they have to accept the changes in their personal lives, while each of them comes to terms with how their new relationship affects all those around them.  When things start to go awry in their lives they never suspect that their enemy is right under their nose the entire time.   Will they discover the culprit before their relationship is brought to an abrupt end or will they have a chance at a future?
Overall this story was awesome.  Usually in this type of longtime-friends to lovers story there is a somewhat awkward adjustment period, but in this case as soon as they made the choice to be lovers they jumped right in with both feet and all the passion imaginable.  Pepper was a strange mix of confidence and vulnerability, definitely a woman coming in to her own and finding her place in the world.  Jack has some serious issues to come to terms with as he finds his heart sinking into Pepper's hand,s but seeing him dealing with the craziness with all the sweetness and strength of a true alpha man, I fell in love with him a little bit myself.  If you are a fan of commandos or military guys this series will be a new twist for you as these strong and dangerous guys have a new mission in life that will help other men be the men they need to be for their women.  I love this series so far and am looking forward to Dean, Colby and hopefully Gillian's stories in the near future.   Keep the magic coming you two. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Review: Light My Fire

Light My Fire (Dragon Kin #7)

by G.A. Aiken

Blurb:

The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few months - and she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight... gods! That endless name!
But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female.
Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming?
Themes: paranormal, dragons, magick
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Ok folks now for a serious departure from the mainstream:
 I had the pleasure of an advanced reader copy for the newest G.A. Aiken Dragon kin novel and I loved it.  That being said I can see why there might be mixed reviews, but for anyone that's a fan of the sarcasm, wit, and violent hilarity that is this author’s trademark, Celyn's story of falling into lust then ultimately love is a perfect return to this world. I enjoyed all the craziness and the way that Celyn interacts with his family and his woman, Elina, who was her own brand of insane to say the least.  There were so many hilarious moments in this book, arguments and one-liners that would have you laughing until you were in tears, but ultimately the romance was written in such a way that only a true fan could love.  In the end if you haven’t read any of these novels you will definitely find yourself lost to any of the subtleties of this series, and the character’s greatness might elude you in their overt craziness, so I suggest reading the whole series of course, but Celyn's story will be enough to keep you laughing and sighing as long as you keep an open mind. 
Being that this book is so not mainstream, I’ll be keeping my review out of the box as well. Where normally I would explain the story, there was so much going in this story I couldn’t even begin to summarize it and the characters are so unique there is no defining them.  That being said I totally loved this book and both the main characters.  Getting to see many of the previous couples, from Celyn's family, both immediate and extended, was also a unique gift.  When the ultimate plot is finally revealed and the world gets even more complicated, I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering which side would win, which is not normal by any standard, mainly because at a lot of times the bad guys looked like they’d win. The romance between Celyn and Elina was unique to say the least, with sexy, silliness, and just plain weirdness that defines these characters leading to a love that often made me ask myself "WTF?". I am dying to see where the series goes and finding out how the world has changed after all these disputes and battles have played out.  I wonder if the twins and their cousin will get a novel soon, because seriously I’d love to see the people those three fall in love with.  And when it comes to the newest generation of Halflings all I can say is... DAMN.  Aiken strikes again, leaving behind a masterpiece of weirdness and greatness.    
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensaftion was provided.