Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: Maybe This Christmas (Colorado Ice #3)

Maybe This Christmas (Colorado Ice #3)

by Jennifer Snow 

Blurb:
All wrapped up . . .

One more game. That's all that stands between NHL star Asher Westmore and a major career milestone. But then his brother bashes him against the hockey boards, sidelining him for months. Over Christmas holidays, no less. If staying off the ice doesn't drive him crazy, staying with his family will. The only bright spot amidst the mistletoe and twinkle lights: His best friend, Emma, is a physical therapist. And working out with her improves his body and his spirit.
One last time. Emma Callaway was in trouble the minute she and Asher added benefits to their friendship. How is she supposed to resist a funny, caring guy who makes her toes curl? Her heart was safe while he lived in a different state. Now that he's back home recuperating, though, it's only a matter of time before she blurts out her feelings. Emma's only hope is that with a little holiday magic, she'll get the best Christmas gift of all.
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Long time friends with benefits to short term lovers… yeah that could never go wrong, right?
This story is further proof that men are not so bright when they lead with the wrong head, or at least when they try to convince themselves that is what they are doing.  This latest story about one of the Westmore brothers, hockey legends and men that have no problems finding women until the one woman they want for life finds them, was a challenge to read.  Mainly because it reminds me of the thick-headedness of so many men.  Jennifer Snow has a way of creating characters that are perfectly believable  in their behaviors and putting them into situations that challenge them to change their spots, or in this case prove that they have been hiding their true colors all along.  Emma has been in love with Asher for as long as she can remember but she refused to hold him back or give up her own dreams so he could live his, but when their friendship became something more they continued to hook up whenever the chance permitted.  But when a catastrophe leaves Asher sidelined in his hometown and in need of Emma’s skills as a healer he never imagined that his feelings for her would be impossible to hide, even from himself. I fully appreciated the predicament that Emma found herself in and wasn’t sure how I would have handled it myself, but I do know that she was a woman determined to do everything she could so that the love of her life never had to give up his dreams; that kind of sacrifice makes her a great woman in my book, much better than me for sure.  Some might say that she was silly to give up her own dreams for Asher’s but I have always believed that when you truly love someone you will give up any and everything to see them succeed and find their happiness, even  if it means it isn’t with you.  Asher was too much for me at times and I wanted to slap some sense into him, but his petulance was finally forgivable when he showed that he was really just terrified of losing Emma altogether.  Asher has loved her for so long, hiding that feeling until they both could meet their professional goals, keeping the hope and love buried until what his brain thought  was the right time to explore it fully.  Of course that was his real problem; the brain knows nothing about love and should never lead an emotional decision.  I enjoyed seeing Asher and Emma rubbing against one another, every now and then rubbing the wrong way and causing some friction, but mostly proving to one another they truly were meant to be.  The heat between them is unmistakable and I can honestly say that I don’t understand how they kept their friends and families from knowing about them for so long. There were also a lot of growing pains for these two in their own rights in this story and I loved the way they blossomed individually as well as a couple, finding their way in the world despite obstacles and drama.  Jennifer Snow makes the most mundane of topics and settings fascinating and I find myself really wanting to travel to Colorado to find myself a sexy hockey hottie.  Thanks for another round of fun Jennifer.

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Storm Gathering (Scorpius Syndrome #4)

Storm Gathering (Scorpius Syndrome #4)

by Rebecca Zanetti 

Blurb:
Even before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Greyson Storm was a lone wolf navigating minefields. As a kid, he learned to take a hit and find safety. As an adult, he joined the military and quickly learned how to protect and defend. When the world ended, he created a mercenary camp with military precision, no entanglements, and a promise to avenge a fallen friend. As part of that vow, he kidnapped Maureen Shadow, but now that he has let her go, her blue eyes and intriguing mind keep haunting him…
As possibly the only Biotechnology Engineer still living, Maureen Shadow might be humanity’s one hope to survive the aftermath of Scorpius, making her frighteningly valuable to both allies and enemies. Even after sexual tension explodes between her and Greyson, she’s not sure which camp he belongs to—friend or foe? Worse yet, survival may mean thwarting his prime mission, putting her in even more peril. When danger and seduction collide, there is no safety in this new world.
Themes:  post-Apocalyptic
Rating:  4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
This series, set in post-Apocalyptic America, is not something I thought I would enjoy to be honest, but as time progresses I have found myself more and more drawn in to the stories and characters, most probably attesting to the skills of Ms. Zanetti. The characters are intriguing, the plot lines not really that different from everyday life once boiled down to the basics and the love stories truly the focus.  Maureen and Greyson’s story has been building for a while now and I enjoyed the way Zanetti backed up a bit to give readers the full experience in case they happened to have missed previous stories in the series.  Greyson has become a leader of a small group of men he has turned into soldiers, just trying to survive and working toward the goal of finding and stopping a sociopath bent of spreading the pathogen that already wiped out 95% of the world’s population even farther.  Maureen, a plant biotech engineer is just focused on what comes next and protecting the most important factor for a chance of human survival, the food source we need to survive.  When he kidnapped her, using her as leverage against her brother, he never imagined he would lose his heart to her and ultimately change the course of his life for her.  I was thrilled to get a chance to read this story and as strange as it sounds the story really is about just two things, finding love in a world spinning out of control and believing so much in that love that no obstacle is too big to keeping that love alive and strong.  Maureen was a kickass heroine and I loved watching her go head to head and toe to toe with not only Greyson but all the alpha men around her including psychopathic presidents and her extremely badass brother.  The love she feels for the men in her life won’t stop her from kicking some sense into their brains and it certainly won’t stop her from pointing out when they are making huge mistakes.  Her intelligence, spunk, and sass made her one of my favorites in this series to date, and I have no doubt that if she has anything to say about it, the human population will soon thrive again and have no problems rebuilding an even better and stronger civilization.  Greyson is the type of guy that keeps his word once he gives it, but he doesn’t let a promise made in the heat of the moment keep him from understanding that sometimes a promise needs to be broken if the greater good will benefit from it.   When he allows himself to show it, he can be so sweet and sensitive, but in the world they now inhabit, he doesn’t believe he can allow his guard down enough to show it, except when he is alone and safe with his woman.  Together they throw sparks at every turn, but there are also so many sweet and endearing moments of love and serenity that we wonder if the world around them has simply stopped, until it rudely intrudes of course.  I am looking forward to seeing who falls in love next in this series, though I have my suspicions and seeing where Zanetti takes everything with their future survival.  I can still say that I don’t love post-Apocalyptic series, but I always throw in the caveat “except for the Scorpius Syndrome series by Rebecca Zanetti” when I say it now. Keep the magic coming, Rebecca.

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane #12.6)

Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane #12.6)

by Elizabeth Hoyt 

Blurb:
A heartwarming stand-alone novella from New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Hoyt!
Adam Rutledge, Viscount d'Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday - and Adam loves his grandmother, so he'll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they're forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he's ever met....
Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she'll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it's the one gift this mismatched pair can't wait to unwrap.
Themes: Historical, Christmas, Novella
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 Well I believe it has finally come to an end.  The Maiden Lane Series, which so many of us have enjoyed for years has ended, not with a bang, but with a sweet sigh of love and holiday cheer.   I knew going in that this was the last of the series, one that I personally have been enthralled by from the very beginning when I stumbled across the first book in a used bookstore and thought it looked promising.  Since then I have enjoyed the ups and downs of society maidens, street urchins, sexy gentlemen with secrets and secret societies in need of destroying, but always there was the undeniable passion and sensuality that were hidden but never forgotten in the population of Victorian England.  I love Elizabeth Hoyt’s writing and her characters are always so lifelike and full of intrigue that I have yet to read a single chapter that didn’t have me dreading having to put the book down to eat or  sleep before I could pick it back up again.  This story is one that was unexpected but no less connected to the series.  Sarah St. John is the sister of one of the previous heroes in another story and played her part in his story well, but now it is her chance.  When Adam Rutledge is traveling with his grandmother to their country home for the holidays and their carriage is damaged, he finds himself begging for refuge from the St. John family in their country home.  Sarah and Adam have always shot sparks when they are in the same room, their differences of opinion on so many subjects being the smallest issue, the biggest being that Adam lusts for her while she seems to disdain his very existence. The more time Adam and Sarah spend time together,  though, the more they are unable to deny the attraction between them and soon find themselves trying to come to terms with their connection.  Adam has obviously been free with his liaisons in the past, but he regrets it now that Sarah won’t give him the time of day because of his indiscretions.  He has his work cut out for him, but truly as Sarah gets to know him for herself she comes to know that he is so much more than just his reputation.  I liked the fact that Sarah is slowly able to see past the fact that Adam has a reputation with the ladies and gives him a chance to show his true nature.  Adam would be a man easily found even in this day, his reputation as a ladies man hiding the fact that he is just afraid to commit to a loving relationship, but once he finds a woman that challenges him he falls and falls hard for her.  I enjoyed seeing these two fall together and find a way to forgive one another’s pasts and form a strong relationship together.  The passion and lust between these two leads them into a rather quick physical relationship, but just as quickly the emotional longing between them comes to the forefront and their hearts connect on the deepest level possible.  I loved seeing this couple find love as the way to wrap up this series, a soft and sweet way to end a series that has been packed full of action, drama, and danger.  While I am sad to see the end come, I am looking forward to whatever comes next for Elizabeth and can guarantee that I will be one of the first in line begging to read whatever it happens to be. Thank you for the experience and the magic of this series, Ms. Hoyt.

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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: The Christmas Cowboy Hero (Heart of Texas #1)

The Christmas Cowboy Hero (Heart of Texas #1)

by Donna Grant

Blurb:
’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays―even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.
Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wit’s end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby―and the inescapable longing in his heart―off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
Donna Grant, one of my favorite paranormal authors, has taken another shot at a contemporary series, set in the steamy and sexy landscape of a Texas cattle ranch and this time she scores big.  Her last foray into contemporary was not my favorite series, but I really liked this book and can say for sure that I am removing her from the typecasting of “paranormal author”.  This series is set on the East Ranch and revolves around the East family, focusing on the sexy oldest son Clayton, a former Navy SEAL who has returned home to help his family when some strange goings on leave his family in dire straits.  Being home for only a short time Clayton soon uncovers a cattle rustling operation has been eating into his family profits and when he catches one of the rustlers red-handed is determined to see him brought to justice, despite him being just a kid.  But when the kid’s older sister and guardian comes to bail her brother out Clayton finds himself too intrigued to press charges, instead proposing an alternate solution for punishment.  Soon Abby and her brothers are both pulled into the Clayton family and becoming more and more integrated as members of the family, including the passion that is becoming more impossible to deny between Abby and Clayton.  Abby never imagined a man like Clayton would give her the time of day, so when he pursues her, convincing her to not only join the ranch but to give him a chance to steal her heart, how can she say no?  But then the awful truth comes out, putting all the East family including the newest additions of Abby and her brothers in serious danger.  This story grabbed my heart right away reminding me why I love Donna’s writing so much, pulling me into the story and making it hard to come out to live my life in the real world.  I loved seeing Clayton come to terms with his past with Abby’s help as well as accepting that having Abby in his life would make staying on the family ranch forever as easy as breathing.  His skills from the navy came in handy too,  which made the story that much more fun and interesting and his protective nature came out more than once with that sexy alpha behavior so many of us love.  Abby on the other hand was so sweetly in denial at times that I wondered if she would ever accept that she would be welcomed into the East family along with her brothers simply because of the woman she was, not just because of what she could do for them.  While it is definitely a departure from her paranormal writing, this book gives us the heat, imagination, and sense of familiarity in her heroes that makes Grant’s writing so enjoyable and I was thrilled to have that back even without the sexy dragon shifters.  I am looking forward to the next story in this series and truly cannot wait for who might find love next as well as hoping to see some of these characters again soon.   

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review: Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf #23)

Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf #23) 

by Terry Spear 

Blurb:
Tangling with a White Wolf--Best Christmas Ever, or Real Trouble?
Romance writer Candice Mayfair never missed a deadline in her life--until an accidental bite from a werewolf puppy turns her into an Arctic wolf shifter. She's forced to isolate herself in the wilderness to cope with her unpredictable shifting while she works on her deadlines. After all, for Candice, Christmas is just another day.
Enter private investigator Owen Nottingham, a wolf shifter hired to find Candice so she can collect her inheritance. They have a real problem: she must arrive home in human form, and that's not happening during the full moon. Besides, Owen has a new mission: to convince the pretty she-wolf her best move is to join his pack in time for Christmas...and to prove he's the only wolf for her.
Themes: Paranormal, Werewolves
Rating: 3.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 The long running Heart of the Wolf series continues with a fun and heartwarming love story between two lovers that find one another quite by accident after missing their chance many years before.  Fans of the series will recognize many of these characters and if you enjoy this author’s work in general you will realize right away that this is a more direct follow-up to the previous novel in her Heart of the Jaguar series where we finally got a cross-over between the two.  Now that the wolf and jaguar-shifters have learned of one another the world will never be the same, but I have to tell you I am thrilled by that and was a big proponent of that from the beginning.  Owen and Candice have a few challenges to face in their pursuit of happiness but they are by no means faced with enough to keep them apart as they slowly begin to come to love one another.  Owen arrives on Candice’s doorstep, sent by her uncle to get her to accept her inheritance or forfeit her claim on it once and for all, but he quickly discovers that she is the she-wolf of his dreams.  Candice has been living an isolated life, making money from her writing and learning as she goes how to be a wolf in a world where she never knew werewolves even existed until an unlucky encounter with a wolf pup many years earlier left her with an unfortunate side effect. Together they travel to Owen’s pack and Candice learn more about not only being a wolf, but also how nice it is to be part of a pack, how to trust in those around her, and ultimately how to love the mate of her heart now that she has found him.  I enjoyed this story, and LOVED the little twists and turns thrown in along the way, a few of which even surprised me, which is not so easy to do after having read all of the stories in this series.  Always fresh and fun, Terry manages to keep her writing interesting for readers and sweet while still throwing in enough drama and danger to give her couples a battle to work through together.  I am looking forward to seeing who falls in love next and hope we stay with this little white wolf pack for a little while before jumping to one of the other packs, but, if not,  I hold out hope we will come back to everyone so we can see more of Candice and Owen, and maybe see the pups as they grow.  Another magical read with heart, sweetness, and passion to keep the dark of winter at bay on a cold snowy night.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane (Maiden Lane #12.5)

Once Upon a Maiden Lane (Maiden Lane #12.5)

by Elizabeth Hoyt 

Blurb:
Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancee, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth---to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself . . .
Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him---ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world---or in his heart.
Themes: Historical, Novella
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
 The series is getting closer and closer to the end and while I am sadder than I can say to see it ending, I am enjoying these little stories wrapping up the series for the supporting characters that have grown up on the pages of the books from the first to this fourteenth story.  Hoyt manages to always entertain no matter the seriousness of the subject or the craziness of whatever is happening to her characters.  Mary Whitsun was an orphan we first met when she was a young girl helping out at the orphanage run by the heroine in the very first novel in the series, and we have watched her grow up through each story.  She is now the nanny for that woman, minding her two children and is perfectly happy with her position in life, until Henry Collins comes into her life and throws everything into chaos.  Henry never thought to come across the long lost woman he was once affianced to in a bookstore, living life as a servant, but when he finds himself craving her and longing to make her his, he is even more surprised the lengths he will go to in order to make her his in truth.  As he leads Mary into Society he slowly works to make her fall in love with him, like he has already fallen for her, but when an awful truth is revealed, will that love be strong enough to endure and keep them together or will the obligations that Henry has always bowed to keep him separated from the woman that has come to mean life or death to him?  I loved seeing Mary find love, even if she had to go through some serious changes in order to find it.  While she certainly had to jump through a few changes to become “acceptable” to society in order to marry Henry, the changes I mean are more internal in that she finally had to come to understand that a man’s station isn’t what makes him worthy of her or not and once she did she made him prove his worth to her.  She maintained her true nature despite the frivolousness of the society she was being thrust into, and in the end found happiness not because of money but because of the love of her family, friends, and her man.  Henry has his moments of true idiocy, but his moments of enlightenment luckily outweighed those allowing him to smarten up in time to keep from losing Mary for all time.  Mary and Henry had a lot of challenges personally, socially, and emotionally, but working together they were able to overcome all odds and find happiness which is the most important part of any life and what makes a life truly well-lived.  There is only one book left in the series and while I am dying to know what happens next I find myself reluctant to close the final page on the series that has become one of my favorite historicals in a long time. Luckily, I know Elizabeth will have something up her sleeve and coming to us very soon, so while I say goodnight to Maiden Lane, I will never say goodbye to Elizabeth Hoyt or her amazing imagination.

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mini Review: Maybe This Summer (Colorado Ice #2.5)

Maybe This Summer (Colorado Ice #2.5)

by Jennifer Snow 


Blurb:

Always a wingman . . .
Owen McConnell is used to being ignored. After all, it's only when he appears as the Colorado Avalanche's team mascot that he gets all the attention. When the costume is off, women tend to gravitate toward his famous hockey player friends. But after he meets lovely, damaged Paige Adams, he knows he can be the star player for her. She's raising funds for the hospital burn unit, and Owen's determined to help her out---and sweep her off her feet.
The burn unit has been near and dear to Paige's heart ever since the doctors helped her after a vicious attack. Yet the scars---both emotional and physical---haven't faded as much as she'd hoped. She's closed herself off from relationships, and the thought of opening up is terrifying. But Owen's sexy charm might be just the push Paige needs to start loving again.
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 So this story had so many feels in it that I had to confine myself to my bathtub with my glass of wine and plate of chocolate covered strawberries to keep my family from thinking I was hormonal as I read the story.  One moment I was laughing the next I was crying and then I would be on fire from the heat of passion between these two.  I won’t deny that there are often many emotions in a romance novel that grab me by the heart strings but this story was exceptionally emotional and so well-written that I could not put it down. Owen and Paige have both been through so much in their lives and neither of them are the best at putting themselves out there for fear of getting hurt, but when push comes to shove they are so perfect for one another that I was thrilled to watch them fall in love.  This series has been one that I enjoyed form the very beginning after stumbling onto it as a netgalley first in a series read, a new to me author and one that I have added to my auto-read list.  Owen runs into Paige when he is playing backup, again, for his best friend and though she doesn’t seem to see him, he remains determined to get her attention and to show her that the connection he feels is reciprocated.  Paige feels that connection too, but it scares her; after a tragedy left her scarred she hasn’t been able to trust any man to love her for who she is now and hasn’t the courage to put herself out there for the rejection.  Owen slowly wears her down and soon she sees that the sweet and loving man he is will never let her down and that he just might be right that he is the man for her. The heat between these two when they quit fighting it was enough to keep my bath water from needing to be replaced (wink* wink*) and I was thrilled to see the way they handled one another’s perceived physical defects.  Ms. Snow obviously understands the human nature to take even the smallest physical flaw and amplify it in our own minds until it is entirely out of proportion until the right person reminds us just how beautiful we truly are. I enjoyed every second of this story, even though I was exhausted emotionally after reading it, feeling like I had lived every moment right along with the characters, and I cannot wait for the next in the series.  I can see that I will be keeping Jennifer on my shelves for a long time to come. Thanks for another great experience Ms. Snow, keep the masterpieces coming.   

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