Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: The Ghost (Highland Guard #12)

The Ghost (Highland Guard #12)

by Monica McCarty 

Blurb:

Joan Comyn swore allegiance to Robert the Bruce the day she witnessed England’s barbarous king torturing her famous mother, Scot patriot Bella MacDuff. Now the mysterious beauty slips into men’s hearts like a specter and entices England’s most illustrious barons to unwittingly divulge their secrets, then shares them with her king. Known only as the Ghost even among her Highland Guard brethren, Joan has become the most wanted spy in England.
The man determined to uncover her identity poses her biggest threat yet. Alex Seton once stood with Bruce but now fights for the enemy. Though Joan knows she must avoid the handsome warrior or risk discovery, his knightly chivalry touches a place in her long since buried. When his suspicions grow apparent, Joan realizes she must do everything in her power to stop Alex from revealing her mission and convince the powerful fighter to join forces with the Highland Guard once more. But as the ultimate battle in the great war approaches, will Alex chose love or honor?
Themes:  Historical, Scotland, series finale
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The war that shaped a nation and the amazing men that shaped the war have finally come to the final battle, one that will be won or lost because of the love of one woman for her country and the man that she never should have fallen for. I have followed this series since the very beginning, watching men come to terms with their role in an army of marauders, barbarians, and heroes and I have loved every minute of it.  Seeing the end in sight made me delay reading Seton and Joan’s book for as long as I possibly could, but sooner or later I knew I would have to see if Dragon could unmask the Ghost and, when he did, if he would find a way to keep them both alive.  McCarty is an author that puts so much time and effort into her research that you often feel like you are living the lives of historic characters as if it was factual history.  Her skill with character building in an historic setting is one that is impossible to replicate.  So many authors of contemporary and especially paranormal romance get the benefit of being able to create their very own worlds for their characters, but historical authors have that extra requirement of blending their fiction with fact and only the truly great authors—which Monica definitely is—are able to get the job done.  So even though it was sad to see the end of the Highland Guard series I was anxious to see how the war ended and how each of the Guardsmen grew into the leaders they were always meant to be.  And of course I know that whatever Monica does next will be no less exciting and I am looking forward to reading it—though I have no doubt I will be rereading this series at some point in the not too distant future.
Alex “Dragon” Seton has been a crucial character in this series from the beginning, first training with the Highland Guards and then switching sides to join the English in the war, though he never switched sides in his heart.  With his loyalties being questioned by both sides, Alex has had to walk a fine line for years as he worked to bring about a peaceful ending to the war.  When he arrives at the border with the lead charge for the English King who is shortly coming behind him Alex is set on getting the leaders of the English army to convince the king that a truce is the answer instead of direct battle.  Joan “Ghost” Comyn knows that she should stay away from Alex, her identity as the spy for Bruce’s Guardsmen the greatest secret of the war and she cannot give herself away this close to helping her king to win the war.  As the two find themselves circling one another the danger increases exponentially the closer they each come to the truth of their hearts;  Alex falls hard for Joan, but when he finds out her secret their loyalties to opposing sides of the war is destined to come between them, even though Alex is determined he will have her despite that.  In the end it comes down to a single question for these two lovers—can they save a nation and free it from tyranny while still finding a way to preserve their love and their lives?
I LOVED finally seeing Joan all grown up and having come into her own as both a beautiful young lady and as a talented spy for the crown that she serves.  Women are so seldom given such an active role in an historical romance, but as with previous characters in this series, Joan is a take no prisoners type of woman and there is no way she will sit on the sidelines of war that will shape her future as much as any man’s.  Joan was a great characters, even as I worried for this risks she took with her safety and her sanity, and I was rooting for her in every task she undertook.  The trauma of her past has led her to take an active role in shaping her future instead of scaring her into submission like it would so many other women of her time and station.  She’s obviously intelligent, cunning, and courageous but even more she is compassionate, empathetic and loving to those that truly earn her respect and regard.  Seeing her in action as a spy was interesting as I never really gave much thought to how a woman could keep herself safe and uncorrupted while playing the dangerous spy game, especially in a world where women were simple chattel to be traded at the worst and treasures to be shelved and protected as best.  I would love to see other characters like Joan in the future and can definitely say I want to be like her when I grow up.
Alex, oh Alex, what can I say, except that I really missed seeing him on the right side of the war.  Alex, from the beginning, was a man with more honor in a single pinky that most of the English nobility and even royalty that led the charge on subjugating the scots. Even though he switched sides in the fight, his loyalty to Bruce never wavered and seeing him coming to terms with the truth that the English were just as dishonorable in their methods as the Guard was difficult and just a little bit heartbreaking.  It is tough to watch as a man learns that everything he believes in and stands for isn’t to be found in the men he has defended and fought beside, that in fact the Guard is more honorable than any of the English knights that he has always grouped himself with.  Dragon was a character that confused me several times, mainly because I’m not used to the warriors I read about being so intellectual and emotional in their choices.  Alex’s empathy for the people, his desire to keep the innocents from being caught in the power struggle between opposing kings, is what made him such a  great character and what made him change sides in the first place.  Seldom did leaders focus on the little guy being hurt when he would be gaining so much political power and monetary reward.  In the end Seton finds his way back to the side of righteousness and is able to bring about a mostly safe and quick win for the Scots. 
This series certainly ended on a dramatic note; The Ghost was full of emotional drama, the traumas of falling in love in a time of war, and the true connection that two people with the same goals can have.  Seeing Monica end this story by bringing Alex full circle, returning him to the fold of the Guard was enough in itself to make me cry, but add in that Bella’s daughter—all grown up and a master spy—supplies the key to winning the war, had me in tears several times.  Alex is the type of man that every woman wants to find for herself, intelligent, determined, and devoted to honor and love in all facets of his life.  Watching Alex grow and develop into the man he was always meant to be, despite the death threats and danger from his former friends makes me realize that all men (or women) simply need to consider all sides of a problem to know, in their hearts, the best course for their lives.  Joan was a strong female heroine and I enjoyed getting to see her skill as a spy as well as her passion for her king and country and her selflessness as she gives her all, even willing to die, for her beliefs.  Obviously she was the type of woman that could never be broken, even though Alex comes close to accomplishing it a few times.  The heat and fire between these two is undeniable and when they aren’t fighting it the sweetness of their love is one that brought tears to my eyes more than once.  Alex and Joan have both gone through a lot during this series and to finally see them get their HEA bought only one thought to my mind: ABOUT DAMN TIME AND DEFINITELY WELL EARNED!
This series ending is a little bit heartbreaking mainly because as I got to see more of the Guardsmen fall in love I became more and more invested in their lives, almost as if I was living their lives right alongside them.  Monica’s skill and flair for sexy Scottish warriors and passionate Scottish (or sometimes English) women is enough to guarantee that I will enjoy anything she writes, but the Highland Guard series will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Even after Alex and Joan found love, I wondered how so many men, so close to a king that has scraped and clawed his way onto the throne would be able to live long happy lives.  Luckily Monica knows her readers well and gave us a glimpse many years down the line of all the Guard members and the lives they have led.  The peace and freedom from English reign was hard won and sadly historically didn’t last long, but seeing Bruce and his closest warriors all find a little piece of happiness in the middle of death and destruction gives me hope that, even in our present climate of politics and war, there will be one intrinsic fact that continues—love heals all wounds and can make or break a war. If you haven’t enjoyed the Highland Guard series from the very beginning I highly recommend you do so, even though you will be tempted to jump right in with Alex’s story, because if you did you would be missing out on a great adventure with these amazing men and women as they work to change the world. Can’t wait for whatever masterpiece comes next from the heart and mind of Monica McCarty, but I can tell you one thing for sure, whatever it is I want a copy ASAP.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Smoke and Fire (Dark Kings #9)

Smoke and Fire (Dark Kings #9)

by Donna Grant

Blurb:

She wanted to touch him. There had always been something about being in his arms that made her feel as if she could tackle anything and the world wouldn't dare get in her way...
SWORN TO PROTECT
A dragon shapeshifter and a computer mastermind, Ryder is sent to guard Glasgow after a devastating Dark attack. But when memories of an explosive affair come back to him-in the flesh-Ryder cannot help but want to protect the woman who haunts his dreams. Even if means shifting into the dragon he was never supposed to reveal...
DRIVEN TO DESIRE
Kinsey could never get enough of Ryder. His every touch only left her wanting more. But now that she's seen him in his true form, Kinsey's world is rocked to the core. She knows that to stay-and feel-alive, she must be with Ryder. But is Kinsey's passion worth the risk of danger that comes with being a part of Ryder's dark and fierce world?
Themes:  Dragon-Shifters, Fae, Magick, Paranormal
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The battle rages on and once more a woman is brought into the world of the dragons as a pawn to bring down the Dragon Kings, but luckily her good heart and the love of a good male will keep tragedy from striking. Long time readers of this series have been wondering just who holds Ryder’s heart and we finally get to meet her in their love story.  I love this series because of the way that Donna can seamlessly integrate so many storylines into one beautifully put together collection, much like a skilled weaver bringing together opposing colors into a masterful tapestry. Ryder has been hiding the truth of his past from his friends for  several years now, but when Kinsey arrives at Dreagan, stunning him and throwing them both directly into the path of danger and deception, there is no way for him to hide the way he feels about her. Kinsey has loved Ryder for four years, even after seeing him shift into a terrifying monster, and she is just as stunned to realize she has been used to get information on him and his brethren. She knows she's innocent, but only with Ryder’s help can she prove it to the other Kings to prevent them from killing her.  I enjoyed seeing how Ryder and the other residents at Dreagan were able to show Kinsey that even though the men aren’t exactly human, they love just as strongly and are determined to protect the very humans that are out to destroy them. Ryder was so sweet as he tried to get Kinsey to accept him back into her heart, even knowing that she feared him and he had hurt her badly with his abandonment.  I could feel every moment of his fears, angst, and determination to win her back and was rooting for him, even when he became an ass for a little while because he believed the lies.  It was also strange to see a king, even knowing what we already knew about Ryder, so dependent on and skilled with technology, the way Ryder’s brain worked reminded me that a flexible and well used mind could be just as sexy as a built and practiced body, and if one could have both, well there’s just no denying that a woman would find Ryder irresistible.  Kinsey on the other hand pissed me off in the beginning.  She loved Ryder so deeply and his betrayal cut her to the bone, and seeing him as a Dragon so many years later obviously shook her up, but she refused to use her logical mind, which was almost as amazing as Ryder’s, to figure out that his leaving her might have had something to do with his amazing—and very LARGE—secret. Once she began to understand that Ryder was simply a man like any other—flaws, dumb mistakes and thoughtless actions, and all—she became the woman I knew she was under all that pain.  It was also fascinating to see how they blended so well, not just in the bedroom, but also in their work and the way they were able to come together to figure out the danger stalking them.  I may have been surprised by Ryder and Kinsey’s story, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.  I am looking forward to more in this series and learning more and more about these fascinating males and the women that take them down a peg. 
And as always Rhi has had an integral role in this story and it was interesting to see her growing and changing, while remaining at the heart the woman she truly is.  The way the story is going though, I’m wondering if in the end she will be getting back with her Dragon King or if she is destined for another path.  Time will tell on that, but I surely hope we will learn the secret of who he is, even if they don’t end up together in the end. *tear*

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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

ARC Review: Hot SEAL Lover (HOT SEAL Team #2)

Hot SEAL Lover (HOT SEAL Team #2)

by Lynn Raye Harris 

Blurb:


One night in the sheets is all she wants…
Christina Girard is a lady. But she’s a lady whose world is about to implode. She’s done everything right, but she can’t escape the taint of scandal when her husband cheats on her with another man. She’s broken, her spirit battered, her confidence at an all-time low.
Then she meets Navy SEAL Remy Marchand, and parts of her she’d thought dead flare to life. Except Remy is part of the Hostile Operations Team, the Black Ops group her brother works for, and that means NO in flashing neon letters. Yet Christina’s tired of always doing what’s expected. Just once, she wants to saddle up and ride a tattooed, dirty-mouthed bad boy before she kicks him to the curb and goes on with her life.
One night is not enough to put out the fire…
Remy Marchand burns with guilt and regret that he couldn’t save his twin sister from her abuser. He lives his life slaying dragons for the innocent and vulnerable. He thought Christina needed his strength and protection too, but he was wrong. After a single night of pleasure, she disappears from his life.
But then his SEALs get tasked with a mission: infiltrate war-torn Qu’rim and get Christina out before the enemy finds her. With bombs exploding, blood spilling, and survival not certain, Remy protects Christina from harm while vowing not to succumb again to her sweet temptation.
One night is only the beginning…
But life in a war zone is intense, and vows mean nothing in the face of danger. Giving in is inevitable. Staying alive is not—especially when the greatest menace still waits for the perfect moment to strike…
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
I was so very thrilled to discover that the HOT team would be expanding and continuing with the induction of fresh blood in the form of some serious Sexy SEALs and I have not been disappointed yet.  The HOT series is one that I was skeptical about in the beginning because I have read so many series that are so similar, but Ms. Harris has a unique take of a lot of the issues that military men face and I am always surprised to see the depth of her characters and her love stories in the midst of death and destruction.  This newest installment is one that brings together the two teams seamlessly in the best possible way—love between two people that are seemingly so different but in the end are perfect for each other. 
We have met Christina a few times, through her brother Matt who is the HOT alpha team leader that first fell in love in HOT Pursuit, but we are finally getting more of the details we wanted with her story.  She is the kind of woman that I think I could be friends with, despite her fears of moving on and being betrayed again, because honestly what woman wouldn’t feel this way after what she went through.  She is a true lady, sweet and compassionate, while still being willing to take charge if needed and keep those around her safe and sane.  I was upset with her for the way she acted in the beginning of this book, primarily because I HATE when heroines appear to be too wishy-washy, but I was able to forgive that and it was great to learn more about her as she learned more about herself.  Sometimes a woman needs to go through trauma to come out her true self on the other side, much like the forge strengths steel with the most intense heat imaginable. 
Remy was an interesting mix of macho bullshit and gentle southern man, but underneath it all he was the kind of man that goes after what he really wants, even if the person he wants doesn’t realize she needs him.  Remy is a SEAL, which normally would be plenty of reason to love him, but his other traits give a reader so much more reason to love him.  He begins his relationship with Christina, determined that it will be more than just a fling, wanting something deeper, despite her instance to move from zero to sixty way too fast, but he’s willing to oblige his lady.  His anger is more than justified, but that doesn’t stop him from loving and needing to protect Christina when she is placed in serious danger.  There is no question of his ability to kick ass and take names, but what was really interesting about seeing him in action was his intelligence and ability to stay calm and focused in spite of all the drama and distractions.  I enjoyed learning more about Remy and seeing him open up to Christina, while he pried her heart open to insert himself inside it, and it’s obvious that he will be a devoted and loving mate for her for their entire lives.  Oh and need I mention that he’s a sexy Cajun hottie?  Nope, I think that’s a given in all our minds.
If you’re looking for the kind of read that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering just what the hell could happen next, I highly recommend HOT SEAL Lover.  Harris has a way of bringing readers into the lives of a group of people that the general populace will never meet, let alone get to know, even though we all know they exist out there; her ability to force her H/h into life threatening situations while still giving them a chance to fall in love is unparalleled and a true talent that is hard to find in this day and age.  Remy and Christina are obviously made for one another and will have a long and happy life together, even though they will fight and argue, because the connection goes soul deep and nothing will ever come between them once they are truly committed to one another. Remy is a sweet and sexy alpha male, determined to make Christina accept that she needs him as much as he needs her and even when things go wrong, his love for her is unbreakable.  Christina has her ups and downs, betrayed and unable to trust again, but when she meets and falls for Remy she is terrified that he will be like other men in her life her fears get in the way of something that could be truly beautiful.  Thankfully Remy is able to show her that she is safe with him and she finds a way to get past her fears and show Remy that she could truly be the mate of his heart.  The passion between these two is off the charts from the moment their eyes first meet and the more intense the situation they find themselves in, the hotter the fire between them burns.  I am looking forward to whatever comes next for these sexy Navy guys and the other members of the HOT team. Another masterpiece Lynn, keep them coming!

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply (Heart of the Wolf #19)

Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply (Heart of the Wolf #19)

by Terry Spear

Blurb:
Wolf shifter and park ranger Eric Silver is committed to his job policing spectacular San Isabel National Forest, and he's hot on the scent of some mysterious wolves who are up to no good. When Eric's investigation leads him to cross paths with forester Pepper Grayling, he's fascinated to learn this she-wolf is her pack's leader -- strong, independent, and definitely not looking for a mate.
With unknown dangers on the prowl, Pepper is tempted to give in to her attraction to Eric and align her pack with his. But Pepper's been pursued by many alpha males--all out to take over her pack and gain her hard-won territory--and Eric is a born leader. How does Eric earn the trust of a she-wolf who's been betrayed so often in the past?
Themes:  shifters, paranormal
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The always fun and sweet world of Terry Spears's wolves has expanded with an all new pack coming on the scene and bringing with them their very own issues, troubles, and chances for love.  I have been a fan of this series from the very beginning and have enjoyed the journey, with all its highs and lows, but I’m thrilled to say Eric and Pepper’s story was a high point.  I love the Silver pack and they are always interesting to watch fall in love.  There has never been a more alpha family of male wolves and seeing them fall in love and find their mates is always a good time.  Eric is a great hero to watch work his magic.  He is humble, sweet, sexy and fun while still being alpha enough to keep a woman from thinking she has to take care of everything herself.  He’s a great brother and cousin and has given up a lot to keep his family and pack safe over the years so when he meets Pepper you are rooting for him to have his HEA from the very beginning.  Seeing him melding with Pepper’s pack and find his place in her life was unexpected even though he is more laid back than some alpha wolves, but he truly treats pepper as a partner and sometimes even lets her lead.  Pepper has a huge chip on her shoulder when it comes to alpha wolves, but Eric is the perfect match for her, even though she’s the only one unable to realize that fact.  She is a warrior to the core, protecting her little pack from outside invaders and finding a way to give them all the love and support they could ever need.  She is sweet and sensual and, when she allows herself to fall for Eric, shows the fun side of her wolf nature as well.  These two were made for each other from the beginning, they just needed to get over their personal fears and find a way to come together, and luckily the reader gets to come along on their wild ride to find love.  Passion is certainly not something lacking for these two alpha wolves and as they navigate the waters of their possible relationship that passion sometimes burns right off the pages.  I am looking forward to meeting more of the Silver and Grayling Packs and hope they are prominent in future stories. If you’re looking for a fun story about sexy wolf shifters and the crazy antics they sometimes find themselves up to, then I highly recommend the Heart of the Wolf series by Terry Spear.  And of course her Heart of the Jaguar series is just as good for those of you that are cat people. ;)

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

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Review: Enemy Mine

Enemy Mine

by Katie Reus

Blurb:
Their families are sworn enemies…
When Kiernan and Melina spent one passionate night together a year ago, they never thought that it would change their lives forever. While the attraction was undeniable, wolf shifter Melina Rodriguez knows it takes more than passion to combat a century of family animosity—even if she can’t manage to get dark, handsome Kiernan out of her head.
But he won’t let her go.
After a year of relentlessly pursuing the one woman he shouldn’t want, vampire Kiernan has finally convinced sweet, passionate Melina to give him one more chance. When their hot Miami night of flirtation is violently interrupted, he has to convince her to put her life in his hands. With an unknown enemy targeting her and their own families against their union, he knows he’ll have to show her that he’ll do anything to keep her safe. And he doesn’t care who gets in his way.
Themes: vampires, shifters, paranormal
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
What’s not to like about a hot, sassy, fun read about a vampire and the sexy she-wolf who grabs his attention and ultimately his heart.  Enemy Mine is the perfect late night read to carry you into dreamland wishing for your very own hot-as-hell vampire to keep you on your toes.  I really enjoyed reading Melina and Kiernan’s story and seeing them find a way to get past centuries of family drama and prejudice to find a way to share their true love.  Kiernan was definitely a sexy male that had his heart set on the she-wolf that ran from his bed after a hot night almost a year ago.  Once he discovered her identity it wasn’t hard for him to understand why she ran, but he was just as determined to prove to her that he was the male for her.  His tenacity and willingness to do whatever it takes to keep his woman and make her happy made him the best kind of hero in my opinion.  I also enjoyed seeing him in action kicking butt and taking names when needed.  Melina knows there are a lot of reasons not to take Kiernan back to her bed, and certainly even more not to lose her heart to him, but there is just no stopping the love between them.  She has a strong will and can stand up for the important things in life, even if it means making her family accept that times are changing and they need to let go of the past difficulties they’ve had with Kiernan’s Clan. The chemistry between Melina and Kiernan is off the chart of course, but the fun they obviously have together and the way they bring each other out of the sometimes dark lives a vampire and shifter can find themselves in is what made their story great.  I am hoping to maybe have other stories about this group of Vampires and wolves because there were certainly some interesting characters.  Overall a great standalone novella with hints of favorite characters from the Darkness series and I hopefully we get more about these folks soon.


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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: Barely Breathing (Colorado High Country #1)

Blurb:
Lexi Jewell left Scarlet Springs twelve years ago, vowing never to return to the eccentric Colorado mountain town where she grew up. Now, here she is—over thirty, out of a job and with little choice but to move back in with her father. Lexi knows it’s just a matter of time before she runs into Austin Taylor, her first boyfriend and her first heartbreak. She’s determined to show him she’s over him—until he steps out of a pickup truck and back into her life, looking sexy as hell in his mountain ranger uniform.
As far as Austin is concerned, Lexi can turn her snazzy little convertible around and drive back to Chicago. After all, she ripped his teenage heart apart and turned her back on the town he loves. But from the moment he sees her again, he can’t get her out of his mind. Even her smile messes with his head.
When an evening of conversation turns into something else, Lexi and Austin agree to be friends again—with benefits. But as Lexi starts making plans to return to the big city, Austin realizes he’ll lose her a second time unless he can show her that what she’s searching for has been right here all along.
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating:
Review:
A much beloved romantic suspense author has decided to try her hand at a new direction, taking readers into the small town of Scarlet Springs where the men are beyond gorgeous, the women are spunky and the weirdos have just the right amount of oddness to make life interesting.  I admit to being skeptical when I first heard about this because Pamela is just so good at writing her characters into overly intense and terrifying situations and I wondered if she could bring out the emotions in just everyday life, even as she made her men exciting, adventurous and still kind of dangerous.  But I was definitely proven incorrect in my fears! Pamela manages to keep the badass lifestyle of her hero, who while admittedly isn’t in the most deadly branch, is in fact a law enforcement official that finds himself in danger more than once. And that doesn’t even take into account what the crazy man does for fun! If you aren’t the type of person that enjoys climbing deadly rock faces and hanging from ropes 300 feet off the ground, a lot of the appeal and even some of the lingo will be lost on you, as it was me, but luckily Pamela included a glossary for those of us that have never even seen a rock gym in person. :)  All that being said, the important parts of Pamela’s past stories are still very much in evidence here.  Alpha heroes with just enough flaws to keep them human, heroines with an inner strength they never expected they had, and the love between two people that will transcend all issues that come up in their lives.  My only complaint was that the story was too short and I’m dying for the next already. 
Austin and Lexi have a past, one that has haunted them both for most of their adult lives, and when Lexi returns to their small hometown in Colorado to help her father neither of them expected their lives would collide once again.  Lexi has hit a serious speed bump in her professional life, and honestly doesn’t have much of a personal life anymore, so when her father and stepmother split up, she decides it’s time for a trip back home to help in the best way she can.  Austin was her first in every way, including her first heartbreak, and seeing him again is traumatic, especially when he is so cold and unwilling to even treat her with civility.  Austin can’t believe his eyes when he arrives to a dispatch call to find the girl who broke his heart a decade earlier standing on the side of the road.  His life has been much simpler without her, working as a Ranger, volunteering for the Search and Rescue team, and avid rock climbing in his free time, not to mention the women in his life are never allowed close enough to break him like she once did.  Now that she’s back the chemistry between them is still undeniable and as fate and friends throw them together again and again they both decide to throw caution to the wind.  But can two people that once meant so much to one another have a simple fling and then go their separate ways, or are they both just setting themselves up for an even bigger heartbreak?  And when Lexi finds herself in a truly dangerous situation will Austin be able to hold it together long enough to save her life to give them a chance to love one another?
I can honestly say that I loved both of these characters from the very beginning and just learned to like them more and more as the story evolved.  Lexi is obviously not the type of woman to let many people beat her up.  The only two men that have ever been able to truly hurt her are Austin and her father.  Seeing her take her stand against allowing her father to hurt her, getting herself away from that situation and deciding to let him fix his own mistakes in my opinion made her a better woman and daughter. She has grown so much since she made the awful choice that separated her from her lover, but that change in her will allow a truly deep and adult love to grow.  I also loved seeing how brave she was and willing to face fears to learn to embrace something so important to Austin and show she is willing to do what it takes to spend more time with him, and let’s be honest who doesn’t love a woman that wants to volunteer at a wildlife rescue?  Certainly not someone I would snub my nose at.  Austin, at first was a bit of an ass, but once he was able to get over his youthful hurts he shows readers just how good of a man he has become, making him a true match for Lexi.  His real sexiness is in how he cares for those around him, be they two or four legged (though we’d have to have a talk about his friendship with things that slither), and when he allows himself to care for Lexi again he becomes an even better man.  His friendships with his team members show a true ease of self and confidence that is very rare.  I enjoyed seeing him fall in love with Lexi again, even as his adventurous and playful side took them into some extremely sensual and fascinating experiences.  Gotta love a man that knows what he’s doing with ropes!
Barely Breathing is the type of contemporary romance that readers crave and will draw fans that might never have tried some of Pamela’s work that was marketed as romantic suspense.  While it lacks the constant life and death draw that some required, the excitement and action isn’t lacking in my opinion at all.   Lexi is a woman that has had to come home to find out that her place in the world was right where she began and with the man that always held her heart.  She has grown and changed and finding her place again in her hometown and even in her family was a journey that readers will enjoy taking with her.  Austin has to learn to let go of grudges in order to embrace the second chances that many of us never get and when he does he sees that life without Lexi might be worth living, but it’s certainly not as fulfilling or vital without her by his side. The passion and sensuality between Lexi and Austin jumps off the page from the very first moment they clap eyes on each other again, undeniable to those around them and certainly to the readers.  The drama, both physical and emotional, keeps the story from being too sappy or bland and there is no way that reader will be able to put this story down once they start it.  Pamela has blown me away again, with an all new world, and I cannot wait to learn more about the characters in this small Colorado town.  Her obvious love for her state and rock climbing shines through and you can feels true connection to her through her words and her characters. Thanks for proving me wrong Pamela and giving me another fabulous series to look forward to.  Now get your butt back in front of that computer and give us book 2! :D
*ebook provided by author (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Review: Dark Alpha’s Demand (Reaper #3)

Dark Alpha’s Demand (Reaper #3)

by Donna Grant

Blurb:
There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you...
My secret is an ancient one. I exist to exact vengeance on the Fae for their wrongs per Death's orders. When I’m sent as a spy to one of the most treacherous, deceitful places in any realm – the court of the Light Queen – things go awry. Neve captured my soul with just a look from her seductive gaze. She is who I want, who I crave…who I hunger for. But someone has set out to kill her – and expose me. I’ll destroy any man – human or Fae – who brings harm to her, for she is the light my soul can’t risk losing…


Themes:  Fae, Magick, Paranormal

Rating: 4 stars


Heat Rating: 

Review:
The battle between Death’s warriors and the male she once punished for breaking her rules is heating up and now the damage is spilling over into other worlds.  If you are a fan of Donna Grant and have read her Dragon Kings series you will recognize a few of the characters in Talin’s story, but if you haven’t grabbed up this series as well, I highly recommend you do so.  This series about the Reapers, the fae that make up Death’s somewhat small army is beyond intriguing, with all the passion you expect from Grant in a shorter format, just making everything even more intense for both the readers and the characters.  I always jump at the chance to read a Donna Grant novel and haven’t been disappointed in any of her work.  

Talin’s mission has taken him deep into the heart of the Light Fae kingdom, the Queen’s court, but his mission is only one of the reasons he keep returning.  Neve, a beautiful Light Fae, has captured him, body, heart, and soul, and he cannot stay away from her, even though he knows they have no future.  Being a Reaper Talin has accepted that he will never find a woman he can truly make his own, but there is no resisting the pull between Neve and himself.  But when that love puts her and her family in the path of the Reaper’s enemy, Talin will do whatever it takes to keep Neve safe, even though he knows it means giving her up and possibly forfeiting his life.  Once Neve understands the danger their love puts them in she has no regrets, even if that love is the end of them both, she wouldn’t give up her time with Talin for anything.  I loved meeting this new heroine, Neve, and was beyond thrilled to see another strong female kicking ass along with her male.  Neve was led by her heart when she started her relationship with Talin, but even after she learned the truth of him she didn’t walk away, unwilling to give up any time with him.  She was a lady in every sense of the word, but in the end her love and strength are what kept her safe and kept Talin from turning into the very thing they were all fighting.  Talin was one of those flawed heroes that we female readers love to meet.   He obviously knows that he will have to give up Neve but he can’t keep his hands off her and when she steal his heart there is no way he can protect her from the fallout of their relationship.  His willingness to do whatever it takes, for the good of all, shows that sometimes sacrificing one’s happiness, no matter how much it hurts, is what is required.  I like Talin quite a lot—though I was angry at him initially for putting Neve in danger—and it is obvious that loving Neve made him into a better man and warrior, giving him a reason to continue the endless war he can’t escape.   


If you are looking to escape into a world of magic, passion, sensuality, and love for an evening Dark Alpha’s Demand will be a wonderful choice, even if you haven’t been following along with the story.  Talin and Neve’s story of love conquering any enemy is one that I can see myself coming back to again and again.  I cannot wait to find out what happens next for these warriors and am looking forward to the next story. 
P.S. for those of you that are Dragon King fans, we get to see a lot more of Rhi is this story and learn a few interesting tidbits, but still the big secret remains just that, a secret I would kill to know!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.