Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mini-Review: Christmas In Tahoe

Christmas in Tahoe

by  

Blurb:

Silicon Valley actuary Ann Smith is an expert at calculating probabilities, but lately the odds haven’t been in her favor. Two years ago her fianc√© died a week before their planned Christmas wedding, leaving Ann heartbroken and alone. When a friend suggests heading up to Lake Tahoe for a long Christmas weekend of skiing, wine, and relaxation, Ann thinks it might be just the thing to help get her life back on track. But Ann’s plans go awry when her friend cancels at the last minute, and Ann ends up driving to Tahoe with Chase Deckert, a sexy snowboarder who pushes all her buttons.
Chase Deckert is a man who lives by his own rules. A few years ago his business partner betrayed him by selling out their biomedical research for a quick profit. Chase left science far behind and now spends his days snowboarding in Tahoe, wanting nothing to do with the dog-eat-dog world of Silicon Valley. Chase has closed his mind and his heart and only believes in one thing: fate. But fate seems to be in a giving mood, because joining him for Christmas is a brave, beautiful woman who shows him the true meaning of the season and helps him rediscover a part of himself he’d long forgotten.
Fueled by the mountain scenery, the season, and their unbelievable chemistry, Ann and Chase end up learning more about each other—and themselves—than they ever imagined possible. Can one long, steamy Christmas help them realize they’re meant to be together? Or when the holiday is over will they be right back where they started?

Review:

Wow, though I’ve never been to Tahoe or really seen the mountains, after reading Elisabeth Barrett’s new Holiday story I feel like I was there with her H/H racing down the slopes and sitting inside a snow locked cabin in the mountains.  I have always been partial to Holiday romances because it seems to make the love affairs even more magical and this story was an excellent addition to my holiday collection.  Set in, of course, snowy Lake Tahoe, our story introduces us to two people who have been burned in life, by love, luck, and circumstance.  Showing us the need to overcome the sadness that life throws at us, Barrett gives us the moving story of a woman who has lost herself in recent years and is determined to regain her independence and a man that has forced himself into an isolated lifestyle to keep anyone from penetrating his walls.  But when these two come together there can only be life changing experiences and the fiery explosions of two passionate individuals.
Ann has had a tough few years, losing her fianc√©, but more importantly losing herself in his loss, and she needs to come to terms with her new single status and find her inner strength again.  The plan is simple: a girls' weekend in Tahoe with her friend, over Christmas, to allow her to put the past to bed and start fresh. But the plan goes awry from the beginning when her friend is detained and sends Chase to take Ann to Tahoe instead.  Instantly Ann finds an intense attraction to Chase, one that has been missing for a long time, and though she is wary of him at first, his courteous actions and determination to take care of her form an immediate bond.  When they finally make it to Tahoe, the joy Ann finds with Chase as they play together on the mountain begins to bring her back to life and reminds her how much having someone to share the fun of life matters. Chase is falling hard for Ann, sees the courage so many overlook in her and knows that being with her is wonderful.  However, can he give up the hurt he has nursed for so long so he can have a future with her and find himself again too?
Christmas in Tahoe was a great holiday read, but I think that the spirit of the romance could be enjoyed any time of the year.  The magic between Ann and Chase is apparent from the instant they set eyes on one another.  Whether they are playing, loving, or just talking through their past hurts together, you can see that they understand each other and the deep connection between them is undeniable. The passion between them was certainly an integral part of the story, but the emotions they explore together; the building of their relationship, while fast was meaningful and believable—which so many shorter romances are not.  I would love to see an epilogue or maybe a connected story down the line, because though I know that Chase and Ann have found their HEA, seeing them again would be great since they were such enjoyable characters.  I haven’t read many of Ms. Barrett’s stories but if they are all like this, I will definitely be reading any future stories I can get.  Thanks for an awesome holiday fix!

Rating: 5 stars

Rose Rating: 

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



Friday, November 29, 2013

ARC Review: Unclaimed

Unclaimed (The Amoveo Legend #5)

by 

Blurb:

Tatiana Winters, from the Timber Wolf clan, is a spirited veterinarian who wants nothing to do with the Amoveo—the ancient race of shape-shifters who live secretly among humans. But when the Amoveo Prince's horses fall sick, Tatiana reluctantly heads to his ranch to help.
When she meets Dominic Trejada, a handsome warrior from the Tiger Clan, they instantly clash and sparks ignite. But when danger stalks near, they will have to find a way to trust each other if they want to stay alive.

Review:

Once again the animal natures that we have come so far from and deny we even have are brought to the forefront in this magical story of two shifters that fate and circumstances have pushed together allowing them to find the undying and abiding love that we all search for: a true mate for eternity. The Amoveo series is one that has captured my attention from the very beginning and one that I am thrilled to know will keep my attention until the very end. Sara Humphreys brings to life the animal shifters that fill our imagination and show us the more human side of animals while revealing the animal natures that all humans still have deep inside them.  The story of two people, brought together by fate, but unwilling to allow the fickle nature of fate to dictate how they live their lives.  Can they overcome the nature of their fated mating to see the uniquely special chance they have to find love and happiness in each other’s arms?  If you haven’t read any of the previous stories you might be a bit lost on the overall storyline, but you will enjoy this book alone and you won’t be disappointed by Dominic and Tatiana’s story.
Tatiana's reluctance to immerse herself in the Amoveo world begins her story, and is ultimately the one factor that could make or break her future.  Tatiana’s beloved sister, Layla, contacts her on behalf of the leaders of the Amoveo, requesting she travel to their stronghold to assist with an emergency medical insult to their beloved horses.  Though she is more than reluctant, she can’t let her sister down.  She travels  to their ranch in the mountains, determined to just get the animals taken care of and then get the hell out of town. But once again Fate decides to play with her life, placing her directly in the path of her destined mate, the one being she never wanted to cross paths with.  Dominic is a sexy man, and the attraction between them is immediate and terrifyingly intense.  When he expresses his own desire to forgo mating, to maintain his position as a Guardian, Tatiana believes she has cheated fate, but in the end the desire and emotions wrapped around them become too much.  When their feelings become entangled, leading them both down a road they never wanted to travel, Dominic and Tatiana have to decide if the happiness they find together is worth the compromises to their desired paths or if they will live apart, denying the instinctual need to be together.
Tatiana is stubborn, hardheaded and determined to thwart destiny at every turn.  Though she understands the concept of fated mates, she refuses to acknowledge that it has any role in their choice of who to love, marry, or build a life with.  Resisting the connection between her and Dominic is difficult, but her willfulness is one of the very things that attracts Dominic to her in the first place.  I loved how strong she was, but at some point I just wanted to tell her to grow up and get real.  Though he is her destined mate, the emotions they feel for one another are real and the fates cannot force love to blossom—more it just allows the one person who is most perfectly matched to find you and gives you undeniable hints to allow you to find that mate.  Dominic is a wonderful man.  Though he has his moments of pigheadedness as well, he comes to tryst in his feelings much more quickly and gives his heart to Tatiana wholly, determined to show her in the only ways he knows how deep that love really goes. At turns he is sweet, dangerous, brave, and cowardly; while his own emotions often terrify him, he will not allow Tatiana to hide from his or her own, forcing her to accept their connection and showing her just how great they could be together.  He also has some wickedly sexy uses for his magic, a few that I would love to experience firsthand.
The romantic and sensual connection between mates is well portrayed by Tatiana and Dominic’s mating.  While their minds tell them repeatedly to stay away, that desire for one another runs too deep to be denied.   The passion that pulls them together leads to heated arguments and ever more sizzling make-up sessions.  As their bodies and animal natures tell them they are meant to be together, pushing their bodies to the brink and making their animals crazy, neither seems willing to give up the path they have traveled all their lives, just for a relationship.  And as the sex gets more intense, bringing with it a deepening of other emotions as well, both of them learn more about their own natures and discover that having a perfect mate might not be so bad after all. Seeing their friends and the connections they have to their mates, brings conflicting feelings to the forefront too, making them both wonder if having a life together might well be worth the sacrifice of their previous plans.
The overall storyline that has moved through the entire series came to some interesting and unexpected conclusions as well, and I fear that since most of the loose ends have been wrapped up, soon the series will come to an end—unless there are some drastic new developments. The purists continue to plague the Amoveo, leaving the Loyalists to clean up the mess left by the demolition of the Purist breeding program.  That gave this story some heart-wrenching drama that will probably be the focus of the next book in the series.  On the other hand are the human hunters out to kill the Amoveo, ones that are finding new and terrifying allies, but thankfully this seems to be a longstanding problem. Hopefully this will allow for future drama to provides continued stories in the series.
Unclaimed is a story about love, fate, betrayal and fighting the circumstances that often leave us fighting out own natures to the very end.  Dominic and Tatiana have a tumultuous and fiery courtship, one that leads them through treacherous water and teaches them both that sometimes changing their plans is necessary to find their true path to happiness. The dangers around them intensify their emotions and make it even more imperative that they learn to trust one another and with trust they might well develop love. I cried a bit near the end when a startling truth about one of their friends was discovered, one that I’m sure will be looked into in more depth during the next book (HOPE HOPE HOPE), but sometimes the beliefs we hold must be painfully shattered before the truth can be faced and true happiness discovered. Sara Humphreys is rapidly proving herself to become a true force to be reckoned with, bringing her Amoveo shifters to life and allowing us into the world she created for them.  Cannot wait for whatever happens next, and hopefully the series will last a long time.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Rose Rating: 

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



Thursday, November 21, 2013

ARC Review: Prince of Shadows

Prince of Shadows (Paladin Warriors #3)

by Tes Hilaire 

Blurb:

Valin has never quite fit in among the rest of his Paladin brothers. His power to manipulate darkness and slip into the shade puts him at odds with the Paladin's purpose of eradicating evil with the power of God's Light. Only his dark edged humor hides his true nature from his brothers.
But when he meets the vampire, Gabriella, something he thought was long buried begins to awaken within him. It is forbidden for a warrior of the Light to love a creature of the Dark. But maybe he was never made for the Light to begin with…

Review:

The saga of the great warriors for heaven, the Paladins—former angels sent to earth to combat the evil that plagues mankind—returns for the third installment. Tes Hilaire's series is one that I can never go into with any expectations because for sure they will be challenged at every stage.  The overall story of these warriors is ever changing as well, but with each new story the characters change and become more and more interesting.  Valin's story was one that was, at turns, frustrating and amazing, as these two very damaged individuals came together and learned to trust and love again.  Tears, laughs, action and emotion build this story up and teach us all that having faith is the only way to every reach a happy ending. Can’t wait to see what happens next in this series.
Valin's story begins with his search for the vampire who stole his heart at the end of a previous big battle, though most believe she is dead. Valin knows that the pretty redhead is still alive and he won’t give up until he finds her.  When he stumbles upon her one night while patrolling, he can’t keep himself from following after her and using all his powers to find her again.  When he does finally locate her, he is surprised to find she is working with a group of warriors who are battling the same evil, but trying to stay under the radar of the Paladin warriors. Gabriella is determined to keep her distance from the frustratingly sexy Valin, though he makes it harder every moment they are together.   Working together seems to be a logical choice, especially since Valin refuses to leave her side, but as they grow closer and their emotions become entangled, the danger to their hearts and missions becomes too great to risk.
Valin is one of those characters that falls into the most interesting category; neither wholly light nor dark, he exists in the realm of gray, the realm of shadows where he feels most at home, until he meets Gabriella, who brings more light to his world and reminds him that fighting for the good in the world is his most important mission. He is definitely one of the sexiest men around, and his inherent gift gives him the special addition of often ending up butt-naked! And really who could complain about that little added pleasure.  While he is strong willed and determined, to be sure, he has a bit of a soft underbelly that only Gabriella gets to experience.  Gabriella has her own issues she is dealing with, being a daughter of a terrifyingly disturbed demoness, unknown to her father, and turned vampire by the most sadistic of vampires that have ever existed. She knows that letting Valin into her heart will put them both in more danger, but resisting him is harder for her than accepting her imminent death.  Gabbie is definitely a badass chick, but even when she is kicking ass, she goes out of her way to protect those around her, whether friend or family, to ensure they survive no matter the cost.
Valin and Gabbie are connected from the moment they met in the caves where she was held hostage, though Gabbie denies it with her every breath. Valin is determined, once he catches her, that Gabbie won’t get away from him again. When he finally corners her, forces her to deal with the connection between them, the passion that flares is palpable to the reader in every word of the page. Valin knows that it won’t be easy to keep Gabbie from pulling away from him, but he refuses to give up and makes damn sure that he uses all the tools in his arsenal to win the war for her heart. Gabbie on the other hand doesn’t want to have these feelings for Valin, but finds herself too deeply involved from the start.  When the end comes, both Valin and Gabbie sacrifice it all for one another and only the intervention of an extremely unexpected individual will allow them to earn their HEA.
Overall this story was one that left me crying, laughing, and thrilled.  We got to know several more characters in the Paladin contingent as well as the troops of half human/half Paladin warriors. Valin and Gabbie are both interesting characters in their own rights, but seeing them working together, loving together, and finally finding their HEA, through a bit of terrifyingly heartbreaking and ultimately remarkable circumstances, far surpassed the greatness of their individuality.  The heat between them is amazing to observe and seeing them together in the end despite it all shows that their faith was rewarded. Tes Hilaire certainly has a unique take on the war of good and evil and all the troops for both sides. I can’t wait to see where she will take the Paladin warriors and their allies in the coming pages of the series.  The one thing I always take from her books is that change is eternal and embracing the changes in ourselves and others is the only way to understand the world around us and within us as well. Can’t wait to find out what’s next!

Rating: 4 stars

Rose Rating:

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



Friday, November 15, 2013

Mini-Review: A Vampire's Christmas Carol

A Vampire's Christmas Carol

by  

Blurb:

This holiday season has bite.
Ben Prescott hates Christmas—he’s a vampire, and to him, there’s certainly nothing jolly about the holiday season. While the humans are running around being merry, he’s hunting in the shadows. Ben plans to spend the holidays his way…by stalking deadly prey.
But fate has other plans for Ben.
Three visitors are coming Ben’s way…A demon who will force Ben to face his past, a ghost who will show Ben the present he could have, and a shifter who will reveal the darkness that waits in Ben’s future. Unless Ben can change his ways, he may just turn into a real monster, one who can’t be saved by anyone or anything.
’Tis the season…to be undead.
Ben’s redemption rests in the hands of the one woman he loved and lost—Simone Laurent. If Ben is going to have a chance at being more than just the beast in the darkness, he has to prove himself to the lovely Simone. A very hard task, considering that, once upon a Christmas Eve, Simone died in Ben’s arms…

Review:

I admit I have only read a few of Cynthia Eden’s stories, usually when they were in an anthology with an author or story that I just loved, but this story though short was a pretty good read.  I went in to the story expecting an interesting twist on the classic Dickens story and I got just that, with some hot loving thrown in, of course.  I will say that I enjoy Eden’s writing style and her imagination can’t be criticized, but I do often find myself lacking that connection with her stories that I love in a good romance or erotica story. That being said, I did enjoy AVCC and would happily read her stories again.
This version of the classic begins with Ben, an avenging vampire, being confronted by his demon friend, aptly named William Marley, who prevents Ben from making his latest kill and begins the redemption of Ben’s soul. Ben travels with William to his past and shows him the night that be became a vamp and the night he lost the love of his life, forcing him to relieve the pain and face the truths of those actions.  Then his lost love Simone returns to him as his second visitor of the night and shows him the hidden parts of his present to teach him that things are not always as they seem.  But the moment they are together Ben can’t resist renewing their love and Simone is more than willing to be taken by Ben.  When her time is up, Ben’s final visitor shows him the true horror that his future holds if he doesn’t change his ways, prompting Ben to remember the man he was before he became a vampire and find the light within himself.  Unfortunately, this chance as redemption for Ben comes at a high price and when the secrets of his past come to light, will Ben be redeemed or fall into the never ending dark, dragging down the only light he’s ever had when he falls?
Ben and Simone’s story was short but heartfelt, sexy but emotional, and one that has enough imagination to make this spin on the classic one that I plan to enjoy each holiday season.  It was fun seeing Ben forced to face the changes within himself, but also uncovering secrets that were kept from him for many years.  Simone is certainly a very angelic woman, sacrificing her happiness to make sure that Ben doesn’t turn into a monster, knowing that the goodness inside him is worth redeeming, that their love is enough to fill him with light.  Eden handles the twists well and gives you a very enjoyable journey into human nature and the true nature of the season and love.  I haven’t enjoyed many of the twists on Christmas Carol I’ve seen or read, but Ben and Simone were a great couple and their story was great.  I would have loved to see it be a bit longer, maybe getting a little more time to rekindle their love, but I guess for the short time they have together they definitely brought the heat and naughty togetherness I was hoping for.
Rating: 3.5 stars

Rose Rating: 

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



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Darkness Awakened

Darkness Awakened (Darkness #1)

by Katie Reus 

Blurb:

Years ago he ended things between them to protect her…
As leader of one of the fiercest werewolf packs in the south, Finn Stavros is in full battle mode 24/7. He has no choice—he’s one of the few beings strong enough to fight the Akkadian demons, whose mysterious escape from hell threatens the entire world. With the battle turning bloodier by the second, Finn is ready for anything…until his vampire long lost love shows up on his doorstep in desperate need of his help, sending his heart into a tailspin. He agrees to help her, unaware that she carries a shocking secret that will turn his life upside down.
This time, he’s not letting her go…
Vampire Lyra Marius curses the day she met Finn. The ruthless werewolf promised to love her forever, but he rejected her instead—before she could share her life altering news. Pregnant, kicked out of her coven, and cast aside by the love of her life, Lyra struggled to raise their rare shifter-vampire daughter Vega alone among humans. When the 16-year-old is kidnapped and used to fulfill a frightening prophecy, Lyra swallows her pride and turns to Finn for help. But how long can she fight her feelings for him and keep him from guessing the truth about who Vega really is? As they race against the clock to save their daughter, they must defeat the lethal threat imposed by demons infiltrating the human world and a hell gate that could not only reveal their existence to mankind, but destroy the world in the process.

Review:

Another great new series by author Katie Reus begins with Darkness Awakened, a story of lost love, rediscovery and the power of family and love. While I have read several of Reus's series in the past, I have only began the Moon Shifters series which I suspect provided the basis for this series as there are many similarities.  I have enjoyed this new series and am looking forward to more, and though this story was shorter than I expected, it was no less a great novel and an interesting introduction to a fascinating world of supernatural beings.  Reus writes with extreme attention to detail, a deep understanding of “human” emotion, and a unique twist on many supernatural myths, but the best and most important part of any Reus novel is the ability to take two such different people and bring them together in a deep and lasting love that will leave you breathless in wonder and share the passion of the ages with you. 
DA begins with Lyra returning to the one man that she has always loved, the one who turned her away seventeen years ago, seeking his help in rescuing her daughter who has been kidnapped by someone that wants to use her blood to open a portal to hell. Finn is amazed and terrified all at once to have Lyra back in his life, to have another chance to keep her at his side, but the fear she is facing is one that could force the distance between them even wider if he doesn’t help her overcome it and save her daughter. But as they get closer and closer to saving Vega, uncovering treachery and working together, Lyra’s guilt over the secret she holds makes feeling any connection with Finn impossible to deal with.  But the passion between them has never died and when they are unable to keep from embracing that heat, Lyra is forced again to try to reveal the secret she has kept for decades.  And when the secret comes out everything changes for them all forever. 
Finn is sexy as hell for sure, though I expect nothing less from Reus, but sexy is just the beginning of the draw of Finn.  Loyal, steadfast, and strong, Finn is the ultimate Alpha male.  He is sweet and loving to those that make up his family and provides the security that they need to feel safe and grow.  He leads his pack with a strong and fair hand while maintaining the wisdom and guidance that has made all great leaders loved.  When he is around Lyra and Vega you see the softer side of Finn and it makes you melt, even as you cry for all the lost time he and Lyra have suffered. Lyra is a kick ass momma and a great female lead.  She is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe, even sacrificing her own heart and sanctuary to return to Finn and beg for his help.  But seeing him again brings up all the feelings she had turned from and smothered since he kicked her to the curb.  She is a strong woman …er vampire, and a mother bear who you don’t want to keep from her cub.  When she is in action, fighting for her safety and her family’s, she is deadly grace and when she is snuggling with her man she is a wildcat that will make any man sweat. Together Finn and Lyra are explosive, whether in the bedroom, fighting together, or fighting each other, and it is beyond sexy to see the fireworks between them even after being apart for almost two decades. 
The best thing about any supernatural story is the chance to explore different worlds and different species.  Reus does that better than most, not limiting her stories to just werewolves or vampires but bringing in many different beings: dragons, demons, jaguars, and even hybrids.  Finn and Lyra break your heart, fill your soul, and make you flash hot as they rediscover their love and rekindle the passion that made them so great together all those years ago. Working through their problems as they find a way to save Vega and bring them together as a family, shows Lyra and Finn the great team they make and shows us that even though love can sometimes be pushed away it never dies and all it takes is a spark to bring it back to burning conflagration. This great new series is one that I am looking forward to venturing deeper into.  I’m hoping Victoria and “Drake” are the next to get a book (hint hint), but whatever comes next I know I will enjoy it immensely and look forward to the next in the Darkness series.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Rose Rating: 

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



Sunday, November 10, 2013

ARC Mini-Review: Once Upon a Highland Christmas

Once Upon A Highland Christmas (Scandalous Scots 0.5)

by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Blurb:

 Warrior Grim Mackintosh understands why his friend Archibald MacNab has decreed there be no trace of Christmas in his castle. After a devastating attack destroyed everything-and everyone-in Archie's life, he prefers to stew in his own misery until the holiday passes. But Duncreag has seen enough tragedy. Grim decides to throw a grand Yuletide feast, one that the bards will sing about for years to come, one that will remind his laird how beloved he is. He can't do it alone, though. Grim needs an accomplice . . .
There's nothing Breena O'Doherty won't do for Archie, so she's thrilled to help Grim with his plan. Yet she has a Christmas wish all her own-to win Grim's heart-and this might be her only chance to make it come true. As Breena and Grim work together to bring the joy of the season to the cold, gloomy castle and to the heart of the cantankerous chieftain, an undeniable passion ignites between them. But when a shocking secret about Breena's past comes to light, threatening everything she holds dear, will it ruin Christmas in Duncreag forevermore?

Review:

Once Upon a Highland Christmas was my first foray into the holiday season this year and it was a wonderful beginning to the holidays.  I have never before encountered this author, but the cover and blurb were just too much for me to resist.  I love a good historical, especially a Scottish romance, and of course who doesn’t love a good holiday story to kick off the festivities.  Though I wasn’t sure what to expect I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked this author’s writing, there was a lot of heart, cute little twists and the fun of two people that are already in love but holding it so close to themselves that they haven’t let the other person see the truth.
Breena is determined to bring the holidays back to the Highlands.  She arrived in Scotland through a string of tragic circumstances, but has come to see Castle Duncreag as home and wants to bring it back to the life that once made it shine.  When she stumbles into Grim’s plan to do just that, she never imagines he might have a second more personal goal in mind as well. As Breena and Grim work together to bring the holidays back, they both begin to see the life they could share.  It becomes painfully obvious that they have both been misinformed about their chances of being together, and when the truth is revealed they are able to truly be together.  However just as they are able to find their love and happiness, bringing the holidays back and sharing their love with the entire clan, someone from Breena's past comes back and threatens their chances at a future.  
Grim and Breena are an interesting pair.  They have loved each other from afar for quite some time, but they both thought that the other was unattainable. Grim is a strong and sweet warrior, one that is determined to make his friends and family as happy as they can be.  He makes me think of a big old sweet teddy bear of a guy with a side of strong and sexy that keeps him from being a wimp.  The best part about him is that he sees the truth in others even if they don’t see the greatness in themselves. And he sees greatness in Breena.  Breena has wanted Grim since the beginning, but as a former captive Irish slave girl, she doesn’t think she is good enough for the gorgeous highland knight.  When they finally come together it is a sweet and loving kind of passion, one that is obviously going to be long lasting and allow them to overcome any challenges together.
Not knowing what to expect, I can honestly say that Once Upon a Highland Christmas was a new beginning not only for this series but for a new author for me as well. Grim and Breena's story was sweet and full of heart; it was well written, with a vivid imagery and detailed environment that made you feel like you were right there in medieval Scotland riding through the snow packed mountains from castle to castle, and of course the requisite twist was beautifully done and proved that even the most humble of beginnings can hide a truly royal heart.  Seeing Grim and Breena work together to bring back the spirit of Christmas, or Yule in the case of Grim, and overcoming the challenges they face was an eye-opening experience that reminds you of the power of a couple in love. I will be looking forward to future stories in this series and other books by Ms. Welfonder.  A great holiday read that will remind you of the true meaning of the holidays whether you are Christian or following an older path.
Rating: 4.25 stars

Rose Rating: 

As a small personal aside I loved seeing the author show the meshing of the holidays from the perspective of the old gods, Yule,  and the Christian holiday of Christmas.  Being pagan it was a lovely difference from the typical strictly Christian perspective of the holidays in a romance hovel.  Well Done!

Happy Holidays to all however you celebrate!

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



Sunday, November 3, 2013

ARC Mini-Review: Midnight's Surrender

Midnight's Surrender (Dark Warriors #8.5)

by Donna Grant

Blurb:

Dale has been on the run - on the run from himself and the demons that haunt him.  However, when he comes across a stunningly beautiful woman he cannot resist, he knows that he must do whatever it takes to possess her. She is a Druid with secrets of her own, but he is drawn to her like no other.  Even when danger closes in around them, Dale knows that the true threat is to his very soul, which he will sacrifice in order to save her.

Review:

Midnight’s Surrender is the perfect ending to a series that has taken you through time, space, emotional turmoil, and the discovery of all different types of defenders of the human race. While the official ending of the series was the previous full length novel, Dale’s story gives a final chance for a character that left us wondering to find himself and his own HEA.  The story, though short was full of passion, emotion and the magical connection inherent in any Grant novel, especially the Dark Sword/Warriors series.  Though I doubt we’ll see anymore from this character I feel happy to know that he finally found his place in the world and won’t be left out in the cold after the hell he was put through.  Thanks for tying up this loose end in the best way possible Donna, couldn’t have given the series a better postscript if I'd tried (or been brave enough to attempt to try anyway).
Dale has been on the run since the battle that almost killed him at the end of Midnight’s Captive, and he has been led to a fate he never imagined by the magic of a druid that he’s destined to be with.  He has traveled across Scotland to the small island of Coll and when he finds the source of the tempting magic, he finds himself unable to turn back, though he feels he isn't worthy of embracing the pure light and love that the magic exudes. When Rennie wakes up on her couch with no memory of how she got there and comes face to face with her rescuer, she is instantly attracted to him as no other has ever attracted her before.  She has kept herself apart from others for so long because of her magic, but being around Dale just feels right.  As they learn more about each other and their feelings blossom, a dark danger lurks in the shadows determined to kill Rennie and take her magic for their own.  Working together to unlock the true strength of Rennie's magic is the only way they can win, but will that be enough to save Dale and give them a future?
I was blown away when I found out about this story coming so close on the heels of the series finale, Midnight’s Promise, but I knew as soon as I read the hero’s name that I just had to read it.  Dale is one of those characters that you always thought you understood until he would surprise you.   He was a bad guy with a sweet side who you really wanted to be able to like, but knew that he was fighting on the wrong side.  Without the influence of Jason Wallace leading him continuously down the wrong path, Dale is finally able to show us the man he really is.  A Warrior and protector in every sense of the word.  Seeing him fall in love with Rennie and bring out her confidence in herself and her magic was a great conclusion to the entire series.   If you’ve never read the series you might be a bit confused, but I look at this story as a gift from Donna to all her loyal readers, showing us that even the most misunderstood of her characters can find their happiness and the love of their lives as long as they make the right decisions and travel the often more difficult path of righteousness.
Traveling through time, watching defeats and victories with our heroes, and of course watching each Warrior find his mate makes the series one of the best I have ever enjoyed.  And though I know the series is technically ended, I have a feeling we will be seeing more of them in the continuing Dark King Series. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Rose Rating: 

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



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review: Rogue's Passion

Rogue's Passion (Iron Portal #2)

by Laurie London

Blurb:

 Hidden within the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, Iron Portals separate the modern and ancient worlds. Only a chosen few, Warriors of the Iron Guild, know their locations.
For years, Olivia Crawford has kept a low profile in order to keep her para-ability secret. If the army finds out she’s a Healer-Talent, they’ll force her to work for them—just like her brother who was taken as a boy and never seen again. But when a terrible explosion rocks New Seattle, she risks everything to save the injured, including a handsome stranger with secrets of his own.
Blaming himself for the death of a friend, Iron Guild warrior Asher Kane vows to bring those responsible to justice. After he's hurt on a mission and nursed back to health by a beautiful yet mysterious woman, this dangerously sexy bad-boy finds himself falling for her…even as he struggles to stay away.
But stalking them on the streets of New Seattle is a cruel and vengeful evil—one that threatens to destroy them both…

Review:

 Another great story in another great series by a fabulous author, to be sure.  This series is one that took me a bit by surprise when I found out about it.  The first story though short was very entertaining and I enjoyed reading it as well as its sequel.  The Iron portal series is set in a strange alternate reality where our world and another have crossed and only the magic inherent in the warriors and people of the other world can keep greed and evil from destroying both. Book two revolves around a familiar character, one that I fell in love with and was waiting to have his story in my hands. I was thrilled to find out that the very next book in the series was to be Asher's and once I started reading I wasn’t able to put the book down. This new series is one that I am enjoying thoroughly and cannot wait for more. 
Asher and Olivia’s story begins with a rather unexpected shaking of the earth, caused by a bomb set to cause havoc and destroy the lives of innocents caught in the crossfire of the war.  When Asher runs across Olivia in the aftermath of the bombing, they both quickly discover that there is more to the story with them both and they must band together to prevent their deaths—or worse.  Olivia is determined to maintain her freedom and knows that being with Asher is her best chance to keep out of the reach of those that would capture her.  Asher is instantly attracted to her and determined to have Olivia in his bed, but he never imagines that emotion could come into play, as he’s always been a sex-for-fun-only kind of guy. But when they both become attached to one another, they must work together to overcome a common enemy and make sure that they both survive the dangers. But once the danger is passed the decision remains—do they put aside their differences and embrace the future that could lead them both to all new heights?
Asher is a sexy beast of course, alpha, demanding and bossy in all the best ways, and kinky on top of that. When he uses his advantage to get Olivia right where he wants her he wastes no time making a mark on her life and teaching her just how enjoyable men can really be.  When he is having fun with her or showing the love he has for his men, his dog, or his world, you see a whole different side from the hard-as-nails and terrifying warrior of the Iron Guild. Olivia is a combination of a strong and willful woman and a scared mouse.  She’s spent many years running from the army, hiding her abilities to keep herself from being forced into service.   She has had several hard knocks in her life, but she maintains her optimism and isn't willing to give up living her life just to keep hiding.  When Asher bursts into her life, she is reluctant to help him and more than terrified that he might be a real danger to her.  But the only danger seems to be to her heart, as she falls deeper and deeper in love with him and begins to wonder how she will survive when he leaves to return to his world.
The world this book is set in is one that is unique in many ways, but the strangest is the differences in the growth of their societies.  Getting to go through the portal and return to a simpler time, before all the modern advances of the world complicated matters, is exciting.  Asher and Olivia are a perfect match, with their vulnerabilities and strengths balancing each other and their determination to protect each other and their world from harm.  It was also fun to see Rickert and Neyla, as well as meeting some of the other warriors that are going to hopefully get their own stories soon.  If you like twists on the truth of reality you will love this series, not to mention the heat of passion that flows between these warriors and their women is beyond measure.  I for one plan to grab each story hot off the presses to get my Iron Guild Warrior fix.  Another great series Ms. London, keep up the fantastic work.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Rose Rating: 

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