Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mini-Review: Merry Christmas, Baby

Merry Christmas, Baby (Lucky Harbor #12.5)

by Jill Shalvis

Blurb:

Wild child Chloe Thompson can't believe how much things have changed. She still can't get enough of her sexy husband Sawyer, but he seems to prefer working to thinking about impending fatherhood. So tonight, a very pregnant Chloe is escaping her troubles at the town Christmas party.
Sheriff Sawyer Thompson hopes surprising Chloe at the party will give him a chance to set things right. But as the snow begins to fall and the wind rages, he wonders whether he can make it back in time. While mother nature conspires to keep Sawyer and Chloe apart, an unexpected arrival will require them to kiss and make up . . . and ring in the happiest holiday Lucky Harbor has ever seen.
Themes: Holiday, suspense, finales
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
What a way to end a series that has kept us all entertained and brought us to a small town full of characters and intrigues.  I was sad to learn the series was ending, but when this unexpected novella popped up on my radar, acting as a sort of epilogue for the series, I knew I just had to read and review it.  While it was pretty short, there were lots of laughs, sweet reminders of love, and the forever knowledge that love can get us through it all as long as the relationship grows with the lovers. 
The story revolves around the holiday party for the town and Chloe’s determination to attend, even if she has to go alone, hauling her pregnant ass out into the world without her husband.  There has been a bit of distance between Chloe and her husband Sawyer, since the new of two becoming three was shared.  But while she has her own fears about becoming a mother, her greatest fear is of losing Sawyer with this new development in her life.  Sawyer has been dealing with the changes in his own ways, but he reminds her quickly that they are meant to be and he will stand by her no matter what.

I loved seeing the rediscovery of the love between Sawyer and Chloe, getting to see all the other characters that have come together throughout the entire series, and knowing that this town has found its stride and will always come together for one another. There is love, laughter, and fun as we learn all about Chloe’s fear and the challenges of a free spirit settling down and starting her own family.  I was not surprised that I loved this short story, being that I have always loved anything by Shalvis, but I was surprised just how invested I became in Chloe and Sawyer finding their way again.  Ending the series with this story was a stroke of genius and though I wish it wouldn’t end, it ended on a high note for sure.  Farewell Lucky Harbor!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: On the Naughty List

On the Naughty List

by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Sugar Jamison, Beth Ciotta

Blurb:

The most wonderful time of the year is back with On The Naughty List, bringing perennial favorite holiday stories from Lori Foster and Carly Phillips, along with two Christmas stories that delighted readers a year ago. This sexy anthology will make you want to give your heart to Christmas again and again…
Lori Foster has two co-workers plan a Christmas party side-by-side-and discover a love worth celebrating in Christmas Bonus.
Carly Phillips explores a "mistletoe moment" when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead--and gives him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more in Naughty Under the Mistletoe.
In Sugar Jamison’s Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York to find the father of her young son. Instead, she finds his stuffy older brother, Ben. Ben can’t help but admire her tenacity—and her bold beauty. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit?
Beth Ciotta brings two friends who, after years apart, together at home for the holidays. They don’t seem to have much in common anymore, but when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine if they are better off as "just friends"? Or could it be that true love was there all along? in Some Kind of Wonderful.
Themes: Holidays, Anthology, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Overall this was a very good anthology of short holiday romances.  Though it turns out I’d already read two of them, it was great to get to reread them and relive the holiday loves that developed in the most unlikely of places.
Christmas Bonus was a story I’ve read in the past, but it doesn’t take away from its greatness.  The story revolves around two coworkers that have each been hiding their attraction to one another for many years, but the time has come for them to embrace the desire and find out if there is a chance for a relationship.  This story was fun and sexy, with a sweet undertone of long awaited love and the chance for two people to find their places individually and as a team.  I loved Eric and Maggie, the two of them making a perfect match and seeing them finally share their love made the holiday theme all the sweeter. 
Naughty Under the Mistletoe was also a reread for me.  Toni was a sexy elf that makes the ultimate snafu, sharing a passionate kiss with her crush’s twin, Max.  The intense connection she feels during their embrace is unexpected and slightly frightening, but she is not going to scare off that quickly and will find a way to seduce him.  Max has never felt this kind of connection with a woman and refuses to let her slip away, but he knows that he will have to tread carefully to have his chance at a relationship with the sexy elf who has grabbed his heart.  But when a shocking discovery pushes Toni to run far and fast, Max has to track her down and overcome her fears so they can have a chance together.
In Some Kind of Wonderful, we get to see a long standing friendship morph into a sensual and loving relationship.  Maya left her small town a long time ago hoping the make a difference and find her way in the business world.  But the time has come for her to return home and when she does she finds herself faced with her childhood best friend and the man that has sparked new life into her heart.  Zach has returned from war a wounded man, emotionally and physically, and he is not ready to face the attraction that has sparked for his best friend.  Trapped together in a cabin during a blizzard, Zach and Maya have to come to terms with their new feelings and when they decide to explore their passion, a new love is discovered.  I loved, loved, loved Zach and Maya’s story and wish it could have had a full length version of this story to keep me warm on a long winter night.  Zach was a perfectly wounded character and Maya was the bright and optimistic force that was sent to him to pull him out of the darkness of his past.  There was a surprising Scroogesque moment of two in the story, but overall I must say it was a great holiday read.
And last but certainly not least, Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, takes us on a woman’s journey to the family of her ex in hopes of making a better life for her infant son, never imagining just how much her life would change.  Though I am not usually a woman that is baby crazy, I will have to say that this was my favorite story of all four in this anthology.  Dina was full of heart and her compassionate nature shines again and again as she pulls Ben out of his shell and reminds him of the importance of love and laughter in life.  Ben was a bit like scrooge in several ways, but for the most part he was just a man whose life has left him jaded and alone, his family pulled away from him and his friendships few and far between.  When these two forces collide the explosion is no less than nuclear.  The romance and magic of the holiday season brings them together in unexpected ways and as the passion heats up, the subtle waves of love and longing bring them into a true and lasting relationship.  I would have loved a full length novel even more of this story than the others, and will definitely keep my eyes open for more from this author. 
All-in-all, On the Naughty List was a great group of holiday romances revolving around family, happiness and the spirit of the season.  Even being someone that doesn’t celebrate “Christmas”  the magic of the season and the love that shines this time of year is found in spades in these stories.  I love a good holiday tale, and this anthology was one that was worth every second of the time it took to read it. 

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


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Dangerous Surrender

Dangerous Surrender (The Serafina: Sin City #4)

by Katie Reus

Blurb:

A cold-blooded killer wants her dead.
After her friend is murdered right before her eyes, Taylor uses her wits to escape with just a bullet wound, thankful to be alive. But now the killer isn’t the only one after her—the cops are, too, and Taylor’s not sure she can trust them—or anybody else in her life in California. She decides to turn to her old friend in Vegas, racing there with just the clothes on her back, only to arrive and realize he’s off on his honeymoon. Desperate, she breaks in and crashes.
A former Marine is determined to protect her.
When former Marine Roman MacNeil finds a gorgeous stranger unconscious and bleeding in his friend’s shower, his first thought is to help her . . . until she tries to knock him out with a vodka bottle. Lucky for Taylor, Roman isn’t a man who goes down easily. When he realizes the trouble she’s in, he’s determined to protect her—whatever it takes. As they’re thrust into a deadly situation they discover an attraction they never bargained for. But a determined killer is closing in, and time may be running out.
Themes: suspense, erotica

Rating: 4.5 starsHeat Rating: 

Review:

The Serafina staff strikes again.  Reus wins again with her tale of a woman that is in over her head and a man that is determined to keep her safe, from all dangers.   This series has taken many interesting turns through the staff of this hopping Vegas hotel and the men and women that capture their hearts.  I love the series and the original as well, but I find myself becoming more and more intrigued as the series unfolds and more is uncovered.  Always full of passion, intrigue, danger and suspense, the Serafina series will keep you on the edge of your seat through each story, even if they are shorter than I’d like.
I enjoyed very much seeing Taylor lean on Roman, something it is obvious she rarely does, but the danger surrounding her is too much for her to handle alone.  Roman never imagined that the intruder he discovers in his buddy’s house would lead him into such an intense new passion, or into such life-threatening dangers.  The connection they feel for one another is obvious from the very beginning but neither of them are ready for the intensity.  As the dangers around them slowly begin to unravel, their intelligence, determination, and skills keep them safe and uncover the truths that have put Taylor into trouble to begin with.  Seeing them deal with the villains, in some interesting and unexpected ways, reminds me of the greatness of the imagination and wit that is a trademark of this author. 
Taylor was a sexy and sweet woman, but one that has been alone so long that she finds it almost impossible to trust others with anything, much less her life.  She is the kind of woman that has always fended for herself, but when she begins to trust in Roman she finds that they are a great team.  Her feelings for Roman are conflicted in many ways and she is willing to take a chance with him and find a way to indulge their desires.  She is clever in more ways than I can even imagine, and I wish I had her skills and imagination in dealing with her enemies.  Roman too is sexy as hell and his strength is not only physical but in his strength of mind and will as well.  When he finds himself faced with a wounded, but very sexy Taylor, he is conflicted on helping her, but he’s willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and keep her safe until they can uncover the truth of the crime she is accused of.  Roman has been a guy I wanted to learn more about for a while now and seeing him kicking ass for Taylor and giving her everything she needs again and again reminds me that there really are good guys out there that will keep a woman safe and make her his top priority. 
Roman and Taylor’s story was packed with action as they worked together to thwart a killer, prove Taylor’s innocence and keep them from being killed.  Many times when there is this much action the romance gets pushed to the side, but that is definitely not the case with this story.   Roman is sexy, sensual and passionate in all he does, but seeing him falling for Taylor is awesome, sort of like seeing a mouse bring a tiger to his knees.  Taylor is a sweetly sexy woman, one that is naïve in some ways, but so world weary in others that the juxtaposition of her strength and vulnerability is what makes her a unique and interesting woman.  I have enjoyed each story in this series more and more, and am more than positive that I will enjoy each story in the future even more.   I look forward to what is next and can’t wait for both this series, and the original it spun off from to continue.  Keep up the good work Katie.

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


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: One in a Million

One in a Million (Lucky Harbor #12)

by Jill Shalvis 

Blurb:

As the brains behind wedding site TyingTheKnot.com, Callie sees it all: from the ring to the dress, the smiles . . . to the tears. It's that last part that keeps her single and not looking. Getting left at the altar will do that to a girl. But when Callie returns to her old hometown, she finds that her sweet high school crush is sexier than ever. And he makes it hard to remember why she's sworn off love . . .
Tanner is a deep-sea diver with a wild, adrenaline-junkie past—and now his teenage son is back in his life. How can Tanner be a role model when he's still paying for his own mistakes? It's hard enough that gorgeous Callie has appeared in town like a beautiful dream, challenging his best-laid plans to keep his heart on lockdown. Though there's something about being around her again that makes him feel like he can be the man she—and his son—deserve. Little Lucky Harbor holds their past; can it hold a beautiful new future?
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The saga of Lucky Harbor is coming to an end, and much like the title of the final full-length novel this experience has been one in a million.  I have read many similar series, some even by Jill, but Lucky Harbor has become a favorite place to visit and one that I will revisit often by rereading in the future.  Jill is an author that infuses each story within each series with a depth of feeling and level of wit that is unmatched by many authors of the genre.  I have enjoyed every moment of this series and will hold out hope for a future return, maybe even an introduction to the second generation of these families.  While I am sad to see it end, Tanner and Callie’s story is the perfect way for this series to end and brings a wonderful roundness to the series. 
Tanner and Callie’s story is heavy on the emotions that can often leave a person broken and in desperate need of a second chance to find happiness.  Callie has been badly burned and her cynicism about love, though admittedly ironic considering her profession, leaves her pushing away any chance at love,  but lust is something that she is unable to deny, especially when it come to Tanner.  Tanner has his own issues with his past relationships, but Callie pulls at him like no woman ever has, making him want to take another leap of faith.  As their emotions are deepened they see that being together is not as simple as they thought.  The entanglements of their lives and hearts are unpreventable, especially when there is a very important third person in the mix—Troy, Tanner’s teenage son.  When push comes to shove, can they each get past the traumas of their pasts so they might have a chance for a long and happy life, filled with love and family? Or will they forever remain at odds and alone?
Tanner has drawn me from the beginning of this final trilogy, definitely my favorite of the three Boat Boys, but getting to see him come into his own as a man and father was a very fulfilling experience.  He has always been the type of guy that gives himself to all those around him, often to the detriment of his own desires, and he’s gotten the short end of the stick a lot of his life.  He is finally getting the chance to be a father to his son, even if Troy is a quintessential broody and troublemaking teenager.  Tanner is determined to understand Troy and find a way to be a true father to him, but even more important he is finding a way to integrate Troy fully into his life, even including Troy in his relationship with Callie.  Callie on the other hand is resisting his attempts to deepen their relationship at every turn, though she is more than willing to have him in her bed.  But digging past her walls while he deals with his own issues leave Tanner understanding that he has to finally grow up if he is going to find his happiness and have a full life with his family and love.
Callie is seriously screwed up! Not only has she dealt with all the drama and angst of the brides she plans for in her bridal business, but she was also once left at the altar by her fiancé.  Callie has since decided that no man will ever have her heart again, even if her body is stirred to the brink of insanity by the sexy and enigmatic Tanner.  When she decides to embrace the lust they are both feeling, Callie lays her ground rules to protect her heart, but there is no way she can really keep up her walls against a man like Tanner, especially as she begins to fall in love with Troy too.  She thinks that there might just be a chance for her to overcome her fears, but truly opening up to the chance her heart could be broken leaves her unwilling to give Tanner that second—or third—chance to prove he is the man for her.  I was sad to see just how closed off Callie kept herself through most of the story, but I knew there was no chance she could keep herself from falling for Tanner in the end. 
Well the end has finally come, the Lucky Harbor bachelors have all met their matches and the women that have found escape traveling to this town through Jill’s novels will have to find another group of sexy, sweet and sinful men to fill their hearts.  Tanner is the type of guy that any woman would want chasing after her and trying to get into her heart,  a man that is devoted to his family to even the detriment of his own desires, but when he meets Callie there is a shift in his life that makes him readjust his priorities.  Callie has been disappointed by so many people in her past, her parents, her lovers, and even her friends, forcing her to wall off her heart against any chance to find love.  Callie and Tanner are two people that have lost their ability to trust in love, but together they can indulge in their passions and find a way to find their happiness and make a family and watching them find their way together was the most enjoyable part of this laughter and tear-filled story.  Not to spoil anything but there is another unexpected love match that is uncovered in this story, bringing the series full circle and allowing a truly heartwarming ending.  I laughed a lot in this story but cried just as much, leaving me emotionally wrung out and trying to prevent tears as I closed the page on the final full length novel in the world of Lucky Harbor.  While I’m sad to see the end, even knowing there is a sweet short story soon to come that will serve much like a series epilogue, One in a Million lives up to its name and more, proving Jill’s greatness once again. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mini-Review: My Highland Spy

My Highland Spy (Highland Spies #1)

by Victoria Roberts

Blurb:

This Highland Laird won't bow to the Crown
Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.
But this lady spy might make him...
Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess-a job easier said than done-she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.
If she doesn't betray him first
Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

Themes: historical, highlanders, spies
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Being my first experience with writing by Victoria Roberts, I was unsure what to expect, but the title and cover for this novel made it too interesting for me to resist and I can say with all surety that I will be continuing this series as it develops. A vivid setting in one of my favorite places and times, full of intrigue, mystery and the hidden secrets that were customary during this time period, and interwoven with a story of two people that never expected to find love in an enemy, My Highland Spy will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end wondering just how Ruairi and Ravenna will find a way to love.   It should also be mentioned that the wit and cleverness of the heroine in this novel, something that is often overlooked in even modern fiction, make the characters shine and gives the reader the chance to live vicariously through this fabulously written heroine. 
Ruairi and Ravenna both captured my interest, with their disparate, but equally compelling stories and the way they are able to overlook the differences in their backgrounds to find a way to enjoy their time together, even knowing there might be an end that doesn’t include a  happily ever after.  Ravenna has landed her most dangerous mission since she began spying for the crown but she doesn’t understand just how dangerous until she finds her heart and body being pulled like a magnet toward Ruairi.  Ruairi also never imagined he would find such intense feelings again,  much less be feeling them for a Englishwoman, someone that he knows he shouldn’t trust, but that he can’t seem to deny.  As the two of them explore their desires and both grow fonder of each other, there is the feeling of the sword of Damascus hanging over their heads. Will they be able to escape the pain that their broken trust can cause, or will they let their duty stand in the way for their love?
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Ravenna’s adventure across the border and into the wild and barbaric highlands, where she found that the people are much the same, though certainly more passionate than her own countrymen.  As her eyes are opened to the truth of the highlanders she has been sent to spy on, Ravenna begins to understand that she is never going to be able to betray Ruairi’s trust and love.  But fate—and a nosey and meddling sister—leave Ravenna with no option but to defend herself to the man she has come to love more than anything or anyone else.  Ruairi opens his heart after a long time and finds that Ravenna might just be the mate to his heart and the perfect woman to fill the hole in his family, but now he has to come to terms with the truth of who and what she is, and the lies she has told from the beginning.  Showing his true depth of character and just how great a man he is, Ruairi is able to find a way to forgive and go after the one thing that will make them both happy.  Obviously a sexy and intriguing pair, Ravenna and Ruairi were a match made in the highlands (yup I said that), and I found myself falling in love right along with them.  I am looking forward to seeing where this author takes us next, and suspect I know who will have a chance to find love in the next story.  In the meantime, I will carry the happy memories of another wonderful historical romance that makes me wish I’d been born in a different time and place, and after all isn’t that what reading is all about? Sláinte!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Double Danger

Double Danger (A-Tac #6)

by Dee Davis 


Blurb:

Ignoring his instincts once cost Simon a vital op-and the life of his best friend, Ryan. Now as escalating, violent attacks hit A-Tac, another person he loves is in danger. Homeland Security agent Jillian Montgomery's investigation has suddenly brought her back into Simon's life, and unless they can learn to trust each other, their dangerous mission will fail.
After her husband Ryan's death, Jillian dedicates herself to saving others. She can't afford to be tempted by Simon, even though his every touch reignites the desire they once shared. But in the last desperate minutes before disaster strikes, their second chance at love might be the most lethal trap of all . . .

Themes: secret agents, suspense, contemporary


Rating:   4.25 stars

Heat Rating:  


Review:

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this series wasn’t over with the last book.  Simon, being a new addition to the team is a bit of a mystery but I’m happy to learn more about Simon in his very own story.  Double Danger is exceptional, full of danger and mystery, but the love between Jill and Simon is built during the turmoil of their investigation.  Dee always writes stories full of danger, intrigue, and addresses the fears deep in the minds of every individual—the fear of the unexpected and unplannable.
Simon is dealing with his new assignment on the A-Tac team, when he has a chance encounter with the love of his life, the woman he hasn’t seen in years, since he caused the death of her husband. When he sees Jillian for the first time in ages, his world explodes—literally.  Caught in an explosion in a hospital, Simon saves Jillian’s life, but before they can reconnect she disappears again.  So when the new Homeland Security Liaison arrives as A-Tac to brief the team, Simon is stunned to see that it’s Jillian.  Now he has to work with Jillian and the team to beat a terrorist, while resisting the pull that Jillian still has on him. But as time progresses he starts to question if resisting is really what he wants to do.
Jillian has spent the last several years since her husband’s death trying to make sure that no one else is ever put in the place she was.  Preventing other women from having to deal with the loss of their husbands has led Jillian to a career with Homeland Security, but she never imagined she’d be wrapped up in something like this, or that she’d ever see Simon again.  Working in such close quarters, dealing with the daily danger of the hunt for the bombers, is making it more and more difficult for Jillian to deny that she loves Simon. Still. Racing against the clock they have to come to terms with their relationship and face the truth that sometimes you find love in the strangest places and denying that love is more work that just giving in.
Jillian and Simon’s love story began many years before we ever get involved with them, but seeing them reconnect and rediscover that love was amazing.  Though the love scenes were a bit hurried at some points, mainly due to the nature of their jobs, they were definitely passionate and the sensuality that sparks whenever they are in the same room is obvious.  I would say it was probably even more interesting to see these two reconnecting and uncovering the secrets they each held than seeing a new romance bud.   They were great characters to watch fall back into love and knowing they were able to do it while the world came crashing down on them, several times, was awe-inspiring.
I have loved this series since I ran across in randomly a few years ago.  Seeing the growth of the team and how new characters blended into the existing structure has been great.  And the whole premise of their secret identities is just too awesome to discount.  Hasn’t every college kid ever wondered what really goes on in the sacred halls of their professors offices...? Well now we know! :) Simon and Jillian were awesome together and the way Ms. Davis can tangle and knot a story plot is too great for words.  You never know when something will blow up in your face!  If you haven’t read the whole series, don’t despair, Simon’s book is a great story all on its own.  But I guarantee that after reading it, you’ll find yourself grabbing the rest of the series and reading all about the other members of A-Tac.   Can’t wait to read the finale when we finally learn all about the Secrets of Avery and he gets his own HEA (I Hope)!

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Twisted

Twisted (Eternal Guardians #7)

by 

Blurb:

Nick –Leader of the half-breeds and the last true hero. He’s spent his life fighting a dark pull toward the gods. A pull he now knows is linked to his father Krónos and the Titan’s plan to escape from the Underworld.
But Nick’s hidden powers are coveted by more than just his father. Imprisoned by Hades, Nick battles every form of torture imaginable as the sadistic god schemes to break him. Only one thing is keeping him sane. One woman who gives him the strength to fight the relentless darkness. She has a dangerous plan of her own, though, and as Nick’s powers grow stronger, even she might not be enough to alter his destiny.
As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Nick’s allegiances are tested. And no one knows whether he will choose to fight for good or succumb to the sinister lure of evil. Not even him.
Themes: paranormal, mythology, deamons
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Another dark and twisted foray into the world of the Eternal Guardians, descendants of the world's greatest heroes, each with their own cursed mating to overcome and the challenges inherent in being descended of the cruelest gods to every inhabit this world. I stumbled on this series and was instantly attached, mainly because of the author’s obvious understanding of classical Greek mythology, which is a personal favorite of mine.  It was such an unexpected and intriguing twist on what I’ve always known and written so well that I knew immediately I would be a fan to the very end and I have yet to be disappointed in any way.  Elisabeth Naughton has so many different series that I have read, giving each new offering the chance to make me love them, and while I enjoy her other series, the Guardians will always hold an important place in my heart, mind, and shelves.  This newest edition was an even darker experience, with torture, emotional tragedy, and the lessons learned at the hands of one’s enemy, but in the end the power of love is the most important factor and leads to victory once again.  If you are looking for a fluffy romance, with none of the darker underbelly of a relationship, this story—really this series—is maybe not the one for you, but for a true portrayal of love overcoming all and two people finding each other in even the worst of circumstances you can’t go wrong with any Guardians story, and Nick’s especially.
Cynna has made a deal with the devil, one that is forcing her to make some choices that are seriously against her nature, but there is no way she can see to get out.  One of the worst duties she has during her service is overseeing the torture of others, but none effects her more than her interactions with the most important prisoner.  Nick, an Eternal Guardian and unawakened god,  has given up his freedom in exchange for the life of his soul mate,  who just also happens to be his twin brother's wife.  His torture has one goal, to bring his god powers to life, so they can be stolen from him, but Cynna cannot bring herself to continue the torture of such a good man.  When the danger becomes too much, Cynna plans a daring escape for herself and Nick, but the danger follows still. As they fight for their lives and find a way to fix the problems facing them all, Cynna and Nick find that the passion between them is undeniable and their feelings are becoming more intense.  But the most important lesson for anyone in love is that sacrificing for love is never really a sacrifice, and sometimes by giving the ultimate price, you can earn the ultimate reward.
Cynna and Nick were both interesting characters, with darker natures than some, but they were by no means evil in any way, even though for a little while they both lost their way. Nick has battled his inner darkness all his life, being pulled in a  thousand different directions, but never understanding the power that lives inside him won’t make him evil, it’s the way he chooses to live his life, but the god powers inside him are what make him strong. Being around Cynna brings out his strongest and darkest desires, but he knows that he has to keep himself distanced from her.  When they escape captivity and return to Argolea, they are each faced with terrifying decisions and having to deal with their pasts and densities; Nick is having a terrible time trying to handle all the decisions weighing on his mind and the people pulling him in different direction.   Cynna is the only one that is able to keep him centered and bring him any semblance of sanity.  Falling in love with Cynna was never in his plans, but when he can no longer deny his feelings, Nick will give up anything to keep her in his life.  With the ultimate battle looming on the horizon, Cynna and Nick will decide if they are able to look past their fears and have a chance for a future together. 
Cynna’s choices have led her to a place she never imagined, her quest for vengeance leading her to forfeit her life to the demon that offered her a chance for that revenge.  Sadly, she didn’t really think her decision through and is now trapped in an untenable situation.  She has watched Nick’s torture for months now and the wall around her heart has begun to crumble, forcing her to accept that she is being overcome by the evil surrounding her day to day. Seeing a chance to redeem herself she escapes, bringing Nick with her and hoping that by helping him escape she is able to redeem herself in even some small way.  She is one of those characters that you can just tell you’d love to be friends with, sassy, sarcastic, but still with a heart for the people around her. She obviously loves her people, even to the point that she will forfeit her own happiness for the good of all.  Loving Nick makes her an even better person and faced with the chance to save her world, or save herself, she makes the choice that labels her a true hero. 
Twisted is a story of embracing and overcoming the darkness in us all, finding the balance that makes life interesting and brings us all to the choices that shape our lives.  More than living up to the title, Nick and Cynna’s story of love and loss is one that is a battle of dark and light and all the actions that shape the lives of these two deep and bent but not broken characters.  Nick has always lived for his people and now has to learn to live for himself, this is the only way for him to find balance and keep his sanity as his powers awaken. Cynna learns an important lesson too, that sometimes what we know isn’t the whole truth and that the half-truths we believe can often lead to life-destroying choices.  As they each find their paths, it become apparent that those paths are interwoven and they will have a chance at a full and happy life, only if they are able to walk them together.  The passion between Nick and Cynna was extremely intense, often bordering on brutal, but the softness that sneaks through every now and then makes the shadier desires even more intense and reminds that love and passion can be expressed in many ways, but it is still love.  The overall plot of the series continues with some interesting developments, Nick’s god powers being the most crucial, and I wonder where the story will go next.  I’m not sure whose story will come next, but I know I will be reading it for sure the second it becomes available.  The Eternal Guardians have captured me and I am a more than willing prisoner of these sexy, witty, sometimes sarcastic, and always-fascinating warriors.     
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.