Friday, February 28, 2014

ARC Mini-Review: Sensual Surrender

Sensual Surrender (The Serafina: Sin City #2)



I’m ready to move on. Please don’t search for me. Please just let me go.
The note on the kitchen table shatters Jay Wentworth’s world into bits. Ellie is his lover, his soulmate, his best friend…she’s the woman who stood by him through the aftermath of a horrible explosion, the woman he’s planning to propose to. He’d do anything for her…except let her go. With his fierce protectiveness kicked into overdrive, he teams up with Ellie’s Hotel Serafina boss, billionaire Wyatt Christiansen, to find her. Ellie is family at the casino and they take care of their own.
Ellie is devastated when her secret past finally catches up with her. Stupid to think she could bury the mistakes of her youth and find happiness with a good man. Leaving Jay rips her heart to shreds, but it’s the only way she can protect him from the dangerous people she once ran with. And deep down, she fears he’ll never be able to forgive her for hiding her past from him.
The closer Jay gets to the truth about Ellie, the deeper he plunges into danger. He’ll move heaven and earth to save her, but if she can’t trust in Jay’s love it might be too late for both of them.
Themes: Erotica, contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Another fast paced and emotion packed story of redemption, love, and the challenges of giving your trust to the one you love.  Sensual Surrender takes us through the relationship of a couple we met in a previous novel, so while they were already established, we get to see a whole different side of their relationship and watch them grow and change together.  Being a spin-off of the Red Stone security series, the Serafina series carries many of the same themes throughout and we get to visit some favorite characters from the first series.  There is always plenty of action, drama, and sensuality in a Katie Reus novel, but getting to see the softer side of these alpha guys is what keeps readers returning for more.  I also enjoyed the expanded length of this story and hope that they continue to get longer as the series progresses, but in the meantime the story packs a major punch, no matter its size.
Ellie and Jay have been together almost a year, but she has never really given up the secrets of her past, nor does she intend to, until the past comes back to bite her in the ass.  Determined to protect all her new friends and most importantly Jay, Ellie strikes out on her own in an attempt to get away from her past once again, and hopefully find a way to make it stay away this time.  But she underestimates Jay’s unwillingness to lose his Soulmate.  When he discovers she has run, he immediately sets out to bring her back and battle her dragons, if not for her, then at least with her. Though he is hurt and frustrated with her decisions, she is like a habit that he doesn’t even want to try to kick.   With the help of their friends and some unlikely allies, Jay and Ellie are able to ensure her past stays gone for good, but will that be enough to allow them to overcome the pain of Ellie’s attempted desertion? Only if Jay can forgive her, will they be able to find their happy ending and built a life together.
Jay is seriously the perfect guy! He is sweet to Ellie, loving to his family and friends, determined to overcome all obstacles, but still remains strong, naughty, and sensual.  When he is faced with the choice of losing the woman he loves or chasing after her into unknown circumstances, he doesn’t even think twice before throwing himself into danger to keep her safe.  Even his anger and frustration are sexy as he works to reconnect with Ellie and earn her unconditional trust.  Seeing him in action as he works to jump the hurdles to keep Ellie safe, you get a glimpse into the operator he obviously once was and the cunning and successful security agent he still is.  Ellie is a woman of contradictions.  Her convictions and vulnerabilities often leave her at loose ends, as she makes decisions meant to keep her friends safe, without worrying about the danger she might be placing herself in.  She so obviously loves Jay and her friends, but refuses to let her past indiscretions place them in the line of fire. When her plan backfires, putting her man into even more danger, she takes a stand and decides to give him her trust so that they can keep each other safe.  Finding that inner strength in her made me realize that she was indeed a perfect match for Jay.  She was stubborn but fearful at turns, but never gave up on her biggest goal—keeping Jay safe, in hopes they might one day have a future.
Sensual Surrender turned out to be more than just a story of a woman running from her past, it is really a story of a woman surrendering her heart to the man she loves so they can have a future, surrendering her fears to the faith that together they can win against any challengers.  I liked Jay in the last two books he appeared in, and getting to see him finally find a long lasting love was fulfilling.  Ellie is one of those characters who can’t see the forest for the trees, but when Jay finally opens her eyes and heart and she sees the wonderful life they could have, she becomes a force to be reckoned with.  The overall plot was well structures with action, suspense, and intrigue, running parallel to the story of two people reestablishing their love.  It was also great to get flashbacks of the beginning of their relationship, allowing us to see not only where they are, but also where they were then and hints of where they will be going in the future.  This is a great series, so even if you haven’t read any of the Red Stone series, or even book one in this series, I think you’ll love Sensual Surrender as much as I have.  Embrace the sexy men and women of the Serafina and their home in Sin City.   

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

ARC Review: The Warrior's Bride

The Warrior's Bride (Lairds Of The Loch #3)

by Amanda Scott


Robert MacAulay, heir to the influential Baron of Ardincaple, will risk everything to help his father and his clan. But when Rob becomes involved in a legal tempest stirred by an irresistibly maddening lady, his mission is threatened before it begins . . .
Lady Muriella MacFarlan is impulsive, mercurial, and sometimes illogical. She is a spinner, not just of yarns and threads but also of stories. She can gild the lily or tell a half-truth. When her active imagination lands her in the suds, she's forced to turn to the ever truthful and blunt-spoken Rob for help. Their destinies now entwined, Rob and Muriella may discover that love is one truth that cannot be denied . . .

Themes: Historical, Highlands

Rating: 3 stars

Heat Rating: 


The Lairds of the Loch have finally all found their loves and everyone is back where they belong.  The series has been interesting and full of drama, with love, danger, and action driving each individual story and the overall trilogy arc as well. I have enjoyed the series to this point and was glad to see everyone find their HEAs and an overall happy ending for everyone in the area of the Loch. Scott has a unique writing style and I have enjoyed reading her stories about these three sisters and the special powers that they use to keep themselves and their family safe. The stories of these three amazing sisters have kept my interest and the vivid imagery and details of the land they call home make me feel like I was able to travel these beautiful lands with them.  I’m not sure I would pick up another Scott series right away, because they are very intense, but Murie’s story did at least have some levity as she fumbled her way into a marriage and ultimately into love.
The story revolves around the impulsive actions of Muriella, actions that ultimately land her in some serious hot water.  She is determined to live her life differently that other noblewomen of her day—she wants to be a story teller. She has dedicated herself to learning and sharing the stories of her clan and others, but her imagination and tempestuousness often leads her into dangerous situations. When she encounters Rob on one such spontaneous outing she is immediately angry that he sends her home, tattling on her to her father, and getting her punished.  Deciding to get payback, she sets out to seduce him just to plan to turn him away, but her plan goes awry big-time when she is kidnapped by their long-time foe Dougal, son of the man that usurped her father’s lairdship two decades before.  During the ensuing madness of Murie’s rescue she suddenly finds herself bound to Rob in matrimony and neither of them can escape those consequences. As they work to overcome their differences and build a marriage, trouble is lurking around the corner and only by working together can everything come to a happy ending. 
Rob was a pretty decent guy, one with his own unique ideas about being noble and living his life to the best.  He is a strong willed man, always willing to jump in and help someone, but he keeps himself from others and lives a very private life.  His mother is a master manipulator, his past is disheartening when it comes to love, and his future looks to be bleak, but he never gives in and always fulfills his responsibilities.  He tries to deny any desire for Murie, working hard to see her as just the annoying young girl he always has, but it is obvious she has grown physically, if not always obviously in maturity.  When he pushes her away he never imagines he will be pushing her into such a dangerous situation, so he immediately sets out to rescue her and make up for his mistake. Murie on the other hand has very little regard for the penalties for her mistakes; she has her parents wrapped around her finger, so even when they punish her it’s never very severe, she always seems to come out of every mess just fine.  Faced with a man who demands she grow-up, Murie is infuriated that she can’t charm or cajole her way out of trouble.  Kidnapping never seemed like a possible consequence and certainly not being tried for a crime she never could have even committed. Luckily Rob is able to save her in time, but now she has a new sentence to fulfill, one that will last a lifetime, being Rob’s wife.  Seeing them interacting was interesting, with Rob’s taciturn nature and Murie's sunny charm, each characteristic bleeding over onto the other, they find a balance that will make them a happy and strong couple for life.  They also worked well together, ruling their people, thwarting dastardly deeds, and ultimately returning her father to his rightful place in their clan. 
The ending to this trilogy was chock-full of strange and unlikely circumstances, events that were dangerous and difficult to escape, and even a bit of hilarity.  The “courtship” between Rob and Murie was certainly unorthodox but a laugh riot to be sure, with desire and disagreement, and attempts by those around them to manipulate both Rob and Murie for their own desires. Ultimately I think they were a good match, complementing one another, while having enough differences to incite passion and desire, but not cause any true rifts between them.  It was amazing to see Murie helping the men in her life as they worked to return her father to his place in the clan, and seeing her addressing the King was entertaining as well.  I liked the story all together, and taken with the others in the trilogy, but I can’t say I was blown away by the romance of the story (or the trilogy for that matter).  The historical and dramatic angles of the story were intriguing, the interactions between families and clans enlightening, and it was good to see men with open minds accepting the sisters as they truly were, but I never felt a true connection to any of the couples’ romances and I was missing that bit of spark.  Personally I didn’t love the series, but I did like reading the stories very much, and the secondary characters and their antics were enough to keep me interested, so I say give the series a shot for yourself and see how you feel.  The writing is good, the characters are fascinating, and the drama of the Clan MacFarlan is enough to keep me reading, but if you’re looking for a hot or steamy historical, you might not find what you’re looking for here.

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

ARC Review: Silence of the Wolf

Silence of the Wolf (Heart of the Wolf #13)

by Terry Spear


Gray werewolf Tom Silver is determined to find the wolves who have been attacking local livestock. While tracking the pack through the Rockies, a blizzard forces him into a remote cabin where he hears a plane crash nearby.
When he discovers the sole survivor is a beautiful female werewolf/coyote shifter mix, bound as a prisoner, he knows it's his duty to hide her. Now, they are both at risk as a search ensues for the missing prisoner.
Will Tom be able to protect this beautiful stranger while tracking down the wolves responsible for terrorizing the local livestock?
Themes: Paranormal, Shifters, Werewolves
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Returning to the world of these crazy and alpha werewolves, we get an interesting glimpse into pack dynamics and relations with other packs as well.  The series has gotten so complicated recently, with so many different packs having been introduced, that I have missed seeing some of my favorite characters from the beginning of the series, but this book brings a lot of them back together, interweaving the relationships between everyone and in a lot of ways (thought not officially) combining the local packs into an even larger family.  I will say that I was a bit annoyed by the misleading nature of the blurb.  It made it sound like Tom has no connection to Elizabeth until he rescues her from the plane and that’s not the way it really was at all.  Other than that the story itself was great, the writing was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a lot of the couples that we met a long time ago in previous books.
The story actually begins with Elizabeth’s arrival in Silver Town, where she is visiting the ski resort to write an article and to meet with a friend from her former pack that has evidence of the truth about her parents’ deaths. When her ride arrives at the B & B to take her to the ski slopes she is floored to find herself instantly attracted to Tom Silver, brother of the local wolf pack Alpha, but nowhere near as surprised as Tom himself is.  Though it is his responsibility to keep Elizabeth safe while she’s in their territory, there is no denying that he is attracted to her and that just makes everything even more complicated.  When Elizabeth finds herself wrapped up in trouble, the pack instantly rallies around her and Tom finds himself unable to deny his visceral attraction and need to keep her safe. However she is determined to keep the pack and her new friends out of danger, so she returns to her home, which turn out to only put her into even more danger. Now comes the plane crash, where Tom rescues his girl.  Once they are safe again, Tom puts into motion a plan to find out the truth surrounding Elizabeth’s attacks and keep her safe once and for all.  And giving in to that need shows Tom that Elizabeth is his perfect woman and the only woman he could ever mate for life.
I liked Elizabeth from the very beginning, with her strength and refusal to allow herself to be bullied, like she has been in her past.  Being isolated from others of her kind since her parents’ deaths, has left her with a bad taste in her mouth concerning shifters in general and wolves in particular. Her initial attraction to Tom leaves her wary, but he is just too handsome and sweet to resist for long.  Seeing how wonderful he is makes her rethink her prejudices, but she is afraid he’ll change his mind about her, as so many others have in the past, once he understands the stigma that comes with her being a half-breed. Tom also feels the instant pull to Elizabeth, but he isn’t ready by any means to settle down and find a mate.  As they get to know each other better and learn more about the circumstances surrounding them, it becomes apparent that there is more there then just a base sensual attraction, the love they are both learning to believe in could be real if they just allow the emotion to grow.
Being a long-standing fan of this series, and others by the author as well, I enjoyed every second of Tom’s story, even though there was certainly some serious drama and heartache.  I loved seeing Tom and Elizabeth interacting with each other and the others in the pack as well.  The pack is like one huge family, with wit and teasing, love and loyalty, and the best of all is that they never let each other down in the hard times. Elizabeth comes to count on the rest of the pack as much as she does Tom, for the first time in forever allowing others to support and aid her in life. There are fireworks between Elizabeth and Tom even in the most unlikely of situations and when they finally give in to the passion between them there is no denying the fire that they start. The truth surrounding Elizabeth’s past was sad but not surprising because even though they are shifters, they are human and can be lead by greed and jealousy and be just as treacherous as the rest of the human population.  We get to see several previous couples come into this story, in different ways and see the whole web that links some characters I’d either forgotten were linked or never realized the connection.  I am looking forward to seeing what comes next in the series, but I know that no matter what comes next I know I will enjoy it immensely.  The Heart of the Wolf lives on and will always be one of my favorites.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ARC Review: The Raider

The Raider (Highland Guard #8)

by Monica McCarty


After consolidating his gains against the enemy English, King Robert the Bruce of Scotland sends his best soldiers to fortify the lawless borders. These legendary warriors of the Highland Guard let nothing come before king and country - except the calling of their heart.
Of all Bruce’s elite warriors, Robert “Raider” Boyd is the most formidable. A true patriot whose bare hands are a deadly weapon, Robbie is the fierce enforcer of the Guard, and his hatred of the English has been honed to a razor-sharp edge. But vengeance proves bittersweet when his enemy’s beautiful sister falls into his hands and he finds himself fighting temptation - a battle he badly wants to lose.
Lady Rosalin Clifford barely recognizes the rebel prisoner she saved from execution six years ago. Though her girlish ideals for fairness have matured into a passion for justice, Rosalin believes she betrayed her brother when she helped this dangerous man escape. Now her traitorous act has come back to haunt her. But she can’t deny the longing this tormented warrior ignites in her, or deny the passion that turns sworn enemies into lovers. Is the gentle love of a true English Rose enough to free Scotland’s most brutal warrior from a path of vengeance - before it’s too late?
Themes: Historical, Highlanders
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Returning to the war-torn but still beautiful wilds of historical Scotland, Monica McCarty reminds us of the power of love to overcome all things, be they long standing feuds, world-changing wars, or the simple misunderstandings of two different cultures. The Highland Guard series has become one of my favorite all time historical romance series, for several different reasons, but the most important being the ability of the author to always amaze and keep her stories fresh, no matter how similar the heroes may seem; McCarty has a way of keeping any likenesses from directing the story and gives as unique and varied a plot to each story as each character has themselves. I have been looking forward to Robbie’s story for a long time, but never imagined it would be quite as heart-breaking, world-changing,  or mind-blowing as it turned out.  There is so much rich history and vivid detail to the stories that you can feel yourself sinking in until you are immediately transported to the world of Robert the Bruce and his amazing Highland Guard.  If you haven’t jumped on the McCarty bandwagon yet, I can only say I feel a little sorry for you. :)
Raider is the story of two people, from different sides of the war, both looking for a way to keep their families and friends safe, and neither willing to concede that perhaps the only way to do that is by simply walking away from the fight.  Robbie Boyd has fought for Scotland in different guises for over a decade, losing his entire family and many of his friends to the battles and raids led by the English.  This has understandably led to an INTENSE hatred of all things English.  When aided in escaping the treachery of the English, Boyd finds his help in the most unlikely of places—a young girl that has released him from prison, who tugs at his heart and his memory for the next half decade.  The tide of war has changed since that fateful night and he is determined to do his duty to king and country by ensuring the borderlands are safe from raiding and a truce is acquired.  Finding an unlikely trading asset in Rosalin Clifford, he knows immediately that she is more than meets the eye.  When the truth comes to light for Robbie, that Rosalin is his young savior from all those years ago, he is conflicted about keeping her as a hostage, mainly because keeping her close but resisting her charms is something even his lauded control might not be able to handle.  When they find themselves becoming closer and closer, neither of them can deny the connection forged six years earlier in the unlikeliest of places, a connection that is becoming stronger than steel and just as unbreakable.  As incidents around them become more heated, can their love exist without total trust or will they lose the hope of a future that only surrender can provide?
Robbie “Raider” Boyd, the man known as the strongest in all of Scotland, was a surprising character in all.  I knew from previous stories that his determination to win at all costs was growing into a darker place in recent years, seeing how that one fact of nationality forces him to overlook any goodness in a person was terrible.  I always liked Robbie, but seeing him dealing with Rosalin was certainly eye-opening, and not in a good way.  While it was obvious he wanted Rosalin, even cared for her, he fought those feelings so strongly that I swore he would never accept.  Seeing him strike out again and again at those around him, be they friend, lover or even fellow Guard members, reminded me of a wounded bear, unsure how to make the pain end, but unwilling to accept anyone’s help to solve the problem.  While he was sexy all the time, my favorite scenes were the tender moments of caring, or even the more passionate moments where Rosalin is his entire focus and his entire reason for existing. He made me cry right along with Rosalin as he denied their relationship or even worse when he went out of his way to hurt Rosalin as a way to push her away.   In the end he was brave enough to stand up for what was right, but not without having to have his entire world taken from him and being shown just how empty his life really is without love.
Rosalin, sweet Rosalin; I can say with all certainly, she surprised the hell out of me.  Even having read the blurb for the story, I was thrilled and amazed when sixteen year-old Rosalin went against her powerful brother and even the interests of her country to free Robbie and his men from an unfair imprisonment, not even knowing the full story of just how unfair it really was.  Several years later, coming face-to-face with the man she released, terrified that she made a grievous error; she nonetheless is determined to not allow his darkness to put her or her family into peril.  Repeatedly she challenges Robbie and his men, even wins several battles with her wits, but she never once allows herself to forget the danger she is in.  Though it is buried deep, she never once forgets that warmth and sweetness she knows exists somewhere deep inside Robbie, tenderness that flashes through in small amounts in the most unexpected of times.   Rosalin was an amazing character, full of sass, independence, and a determination to match even Boyd’s, with the soft underbelly of a woman that has been in love with a man who has changed so much as to be almost unrecognizable to her in the intervening years.  Watching her spar with, challenge, and ultimately win over Robbie and even his friends, we see a side of a woman that is defiantly way before her time.  She looks for the goodness in others and once they have her trust she fights with everything inside her to make others see that goodness as well. I wanna be Rosalin when I grow up!
From the very beginning of this series, I (and many other readers) have been salivating for Robbie’s story.  He is just one of those characters that jumps out and grabs your heart and mind and refuses to let go until he has had his say and found his HEA with the woman of his heart.  Rosalin is obviously his perfect mate.  Just as strong-minded and willful, Rosalin matches Robbie at every turn, using her goodness and light to overcome the shadows lurking in his heart and soul.  The passion between them is evident from the very moment they learn the truth of their identities and escalates to some very interesting interaction when they are in private. I couldn’t see how McCarty was going to overcome the differences between them and allow them to have a future, but I can say for sure that the ending came as a surprise that left me crying and laughing with equal measure.  Boyd is one of those men that are so set in their ways, even though they have strayed from their original nature, that only something as drastic as a bomb going off (figuratively of course since we are in the 1300s people!) can push them off their charted course and allow them to change and grow. Rosalin is that bomb, in the shape of a sexy, sweet, sensual woman.  It was sad to see all the strife going on in the world during that time, but knowing that there was a least a bit of goodness on both sides, though neither side could see it in the other, shows me that the war might not be pretty but in the end the world will balance out.  McCarty is a master of historical fiction as far as I’m concerned, weaving tales of romance, danger, and drama into the historical facts and even myths that shaped a great nation and culture.   I love reading anything she writes, but she did a beautiful job with Robbie and Rosalin's story and it is one that I will be returning to again and again.  I was saddened by a loss of one of the guardsmen, but I’m hoping that will resolve itself soon.  I am already dying for Gregor “Arrow” MacGregor's story to come out so I can see just how the most handsome man in Scotland will fall to one his perfect match.  Bravo Monica, Bravo.

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

ARC Review: Angel Seduced

Angel Seduced (The Hidden #3)

by Jaime Rush 


My name is Kye Rivers. I am a Deuce Crescent, which means I have magick running through my veins. Even though my family is Deuce, too, I have always felt like an outcast. Why? Because my particular gift revolves around sensuality, which makes my family uncomfortable. I get my validation and satisfaction from helping people with their sexual pathos. The price for my magick is that falling in love interferes with my abilities. Losing my abilities, and my career, isn’t worth getting involved with some guy who will probably break my heart anyway.
When I met the new bartender, a rare Caido who works at the nightclub that serves as my office and second home, I felt an electric draw like never before. Even scarier, Kasabian isn’t like other angel/human Crescents, who are cool and asexual. Kasabian craves emotions…and he craves me. I fear that what’s different in him is dangerous for both of us.

Themes: Paranormal, Magick, Shifters

Rating: 4 stars

Heat Rating: 


The conclusion to this action packed trilogy is one that cannot be missed.  This series grabbed my attention long ago with just one word…DRAGONS… but the greatness of the other characters and the fantastic interweaving of several plot lines reminds me just why I love this author so much. Rush has a way with words that suck you into every detail of the action and the lives of her characters making you feel like you are right there beside them battling the forces of evil. And really who doesn’t want to feel like a hero just by reading along? The magic of this trilogy comes to a conclusion with a bang and the emotional connection between the H/H is so intense and obviously meant to be that you almost wish you could have more of them just for the “fun”. If you haven’t joined the Hidden in their quest to keep Mundanes safe, I recommend you do so quickly.
Angel Seduced begins with just what you’d think—an Angel seduced by a sexy woman.  Except he’s not really an angel and she is in no way trying to seduce him. Kasabian is a Caido, descended from fallen angels, with the emotional curse that comes along with his existence and he is immediately drawn to Kye when she comes to the bar he is working at.  Her sensuality oozes from her pores, but neither of them is interested in anything more than a casual flirt, even those his craving for her is much more than just a sexual need. Kye’s magick is different from many of her kind, she uses her sensual magick as a sex therapist and to help others deal with their relationships, but meeting Kasabian changes her life forever.  Drawn into a dangerous plot to take over the Hidden world, Kasabian and Kye need each other for survival, but soon the pull between them become undeniable and giving in offers too much pleasure to resist.  But as the danger gets more deadly, Kye and Kasabian have to rely on one another to stay alive and keep the lives of thousands from being destroyed.  Kye knows she shouldn’t rely on an emotionally stunted, mostly arrogant Caido but the love she feels for him is stronger than her doubt; but will it be strong enough to save them both in the end?
Kye is a very interesting woman.  She comes off as a strong character with confidence and bravery as she faces off with her naysayers, but really her vulnerabilities make her a better woman.  She has been looked down on by her family for the nature of her magic and her chosen profession. Her ability to help people gives her a boost, but that feeling of inadequacy has spilled over into her personal relationships, mostly in the fact that she doesn’t allow herself to have one.  Meeting Kasabian sends her for a loop because she isn’t as able to resist his charms as she normally is and when he asks her for help in saving the lives of several children in danger she gives into the need to feel needed, never knowing the true consequences of their actions.  When the magic backfires and links them in a very intense emotional way, neither Kye nor Kasabian are readily able to handle the connection.  Kasabian is different even than most Caidos; a childhood trauma has left him with a darkness in his soul that he doesn’t understand but he knows it is dangerous and desires Kye more than anything.  As they grow closer, their connection deepening and their lust turning into something much more profound, Kasabian’s soul screams to keep Kye for his own, but he fears what he doesn’t understand—primarily any emotion.  He is the perfect wounded hero, giving up his own emotional well-being for the lives and happiness of others, but sometimes the most important thing a hero can do is accept that he needs love too.
The overall plot of this trilogy ends in Angel Seduced with the third angle of the triad being defeated as the Tryah attempt to escape their centuries old prison.  The last two attempts (which you can read about in Dragon Awakened and Magic Possessed) were thwarted by others, and this is the last chance for the bad guys to win.  Thankfully, with a lot of help from their friends and a bit of luck, Kye and Kasabian are able to save the day and keep the bad guys from doing too much damage.  The premise of this trilogy was interesting and timely.  I didn’t realize in the beginning that all three books would be happening simultaneously , but as you read the third story you begin to understand just how much was really going on in that three or four days.  This was masterfully done; how many authors can write three separate and unique love stories revolving around three different but linked villains and still manage to make each battle and each heroic act crucial? Well I can say without any doubt that Rush does it and does it fabulously.  I didn’t feel like I was just getting details of the battles, I was right there alongside them, knowing just what others were doing on their end and knowing that in the end the heroes would win the day.
I was sad to see the Hidden trilogy end here, and I hope that we might get more in the overall world because these creatures are very interesting and have some unique qualities I haven’t found in other series.  Kye and Kasabian are well matched characters with their issues and shortcomings making them both in need of the love that they could only find together.  Seeing them work together to overcome their emotional and exterior issues as they battle the clock and their enemies, shows me that nothing is impossible.  The supporting characters throughout the entire series, and especially this book, keep the story even more interesting and the possibility of stories for them in the future is an intriguing one.  Overall I have loved this trilogy, but surprising for me Kye and Kasabian’s story was my favorite of all.  The love between them was obvious, but at the same time you see the pain that love can sometimes cause. I was thrilled that Kye and Kasabian overcome their fears and was able to find their HEA, after saving the world of course.  Rush has given me another wonderful experience, and remains one of my favorite go-to authors.  Please give us more of the Hidden!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ARC Review: True to the Highlander

True to the Highlander (Loch Moigh #1)

by Barbara Longley


Treachery rules the Highlands of 1423. With their king captured by the English, Scottish nobles plot to ransom James behind the back of the brutal regent holding their land in his iron grip. But not every clan wishes to see King James back on his throne…
Sitting atop this powder keg of bloodthirsty rivalries, Malcolm of clan MacKintosh takes the mysterious, lone maiden he finds along his road as a bad omen…though an undeniably beautiful one. When he attempts to save her from a rogue within his own garrison, she deftly brings Malcolm to his knees. Who is this willful lass who has so quickly laid siege to his heart?
Alethia Goodsky has met all kinds working at the New York Renaissance Festival, but no one like the fortune-teller who tasks her with a cryptic life-saving mission and flings her into the fifteenth century. Now Alethia must rely on her wits to unravel the mystery in this violent land. Malcolm has sworn to protect her, but her gifts may soon make her his protector. With enemies closing in, Alethia must choose between finding a way home…and remaining true to her Highlander.
Themes: Historical, Paranormal, Time Travel

Rating: 4.25 stars

Heat Rating: 


A new author is always a welcome discovery and I have found a gem to add to my shelves in Barbara Longley.  I was a bit skeptical when I read the blurb to this story because I’ve found very few time travel romances I have really enjoyed, but this one definitely joins the ranks.  Longley uses just a bit of magic to set the story, but the real point is the love that can develop between two such different individuals if they just allow themselves the chance to give in.  Longley takes us from 21st-century New York to the wilds of 15th-century Scotland, a dangerous and volatile place, and to the love of an amazing highland warrior that never imagines his match in this strange and intriguingly exotic lass.  I found myself so enraptured with this story that I couldn’t put it down and finally fell asleep with it still in my hands, something that honestly rarely happens.  The story pulls you in from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very ending, though even that’s not the whole story because I’m already DYING for the next two books!!  Finesse, subtlety, and flair all provide a well-written, fascinating, and intriguing tale of two lovers that were meant to be even though their worlds were separated by the world and six centuries.
Alethia is working her usual renaissance fair circuit as she gears up for her first year at Julliard, filling her need for her music and her love of history as she earns a little extra cash, never imagining her life is about to change irrevocably.  Though she knows she shouldn't, she is drawn in by the tears of the gypsy fortune teller that has set up her tent at the fair.  The woman is obviously nuts, but seems harmless enough, until a simple conversation has her waking up on the road in the middle of nowhere Scotland six centuries in the past.  Waking to find herself surrounded by a rather intimidating band of riders, Alethia is determined to get away from them so she can figure out a way to get home.  Malcolm, the son of the local Laird, doesn’t have time for the mysterious wildcat that he has discovered alone on his land, but he is unable to turn away from her and decides that until her mystery is solved he’ll keep her close.   Arriving in his keep, Alethia finds herself surrounded by the people and things she’s always found most interesting and though she knows she shouldn’t, she quickly become attached to her new world—especially to Malcolm.  As they get to know one another more, the passion between them is irresistible and Malcolm knows that Alethia is the type of woman that he wants for his own.  Alethia has only one goal, complete her assigned task to save Malcolm and then get herself back home, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.  As they both find themselves falling deeper and deeper, the truth of their lives will soon make the choice to trust or move on for them if they don’t work together to overcome their pasts, understand their present, and uncover the future that awaits them.
Wow, can I just say I love the attributes of these characters.  Alethia is a half-Scottish, half-Native American beauty, with smarts, skills, and determination.  (Being a similar mix of mutt I definitely loved her background) She is fiery, sassy, and sensual, all things that lead Malcolm on a merry chase.  Though she is in the ultimate vulnerable position, a woman alone out of time and surrounded by potential enemies, she is determined to find a place for herself in this new world, even as she hopes to be able to make her way home someday. Her ability to fend for herself instead of depending on Malcolm for every little thing vexes him to no end, but makes me smile every time and reminds me that even though the cultures are different, women will always find a way to confuse the men around them.  I loved seeing her stand up to Malcolm, even as she falls in love with him, and it is obvious that she has so much love to give.  I look forward to seeing her grow even more in future stories.  

Malcolm is your typical medieval prince of the castle: arrogant, determined, bossy, and always in the right, but his good attributes thankfully outweigh his shortcomings.  Basically he is just a good man, but still a man, so he is lost when it comes to dealing with Alethia.  He is strong, sexy and sees his way as the only way, but as he gets to know Alethia more and more, once he gets over the frustration, he begins to see just how much of a prize she is.  Though he keeps his emotions close to the kilt :), it is obvious to all but Alethia that he is head over heels for her, but showing her just how much she means to him is a bit more difficult for Malcolm.  He has never been one to jump right in and tackle the emotional issues he finds himself in, but when the necessity arises you can always count on him to give Alethia just what she needs—a man to support and cherish her through all time.
True to the Highlander is one of those historical romances that can lead you a bit astray with the belief that it is a paranormal romance; I grant you there is a bit of magic involved, but so many historical novels were written when magic was more accepted and understood so for me I can’t agree with that classification.  What I can say is that it was a wonderfully written, sensual and spectacular historical romance that takes you back to the time of fairies, knights, and chivalry, where, though lives of women were hard, there were enough good men in the world to give you hope that love could be found. Alethia is a brilliant and breathtaking character with the will and strength to see her through even the most challenging of life experiences: falling in love with a true highlander.   Malcolm is a strong alpha male, with the inner core of goodness that allows him to shine as a man to strive to find for yourself.  Together Malcolm and Alethia sparkle with passion, whether they are fighting or loving, and seeing them together on the page draws you in to their every emotion.  There was just enough villainy in this story, historically accurate too I might add, to give the goodness of the MacKintosh clan a foil and give all those sexy men something to do with their time, other than drive the women nuts.  I have read a lot of authors still early in their careers, but I am happy to have gotten in on the ground floor with Barbara and will be spreading the word about her to all my favorite friends.  I can’t wait to find out how she handles Robley and Hunter’s stories, the next two in the trilogy, but I will be sure to keep the tissues and chocolate on hand for those, after reading Alethia's story. 

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review: Magic Possessed

Magic Possessed (The Hidden #2)



They are the Hidden.
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe…

Too Hot To Handle
Her brother was mysteriously murdered with no witnesses, clues—or motives. Yet Violet Castanega knows he won't be the last to die unless she seeks help. But the Hidden's law enforcement won't come to the aid of her rowdy dragon clan, and the only person who will listen to her is one tough cop. Violet has tangled with him before, and it got rough. This time, it's getting hot…
Too Close For Comfort
Powerful Guard member Kade Kavanaugh has been ordered to take out Violet Castanega. While assassination orders don't come with explanations, his instincts scream that killing the feisty beauty is wrong. Now Kade must put his career, not to mention his life, on the line to save her. But as the passion—and the danger—heat up between Kade and Violet, can they survive the darkest magick of all?
Themes: dragons, paranormal, magick
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well that was certainly an unexpected story with lots of twists and turns.  I have been looking forward to the next in this series almost since I finished reading book one. This series is one that grabbed my attention from the very first novella and has yet to release my imagination from its hold. The basic premise of the series is that there is a hidden world within our own, one that consists of Dragon shapeshifters, magick users (Deuces), and even descendants of fallen angels (Caidos). Rush weaves an enchanting but terrifying tail of evil, and shows that it takes only the bravery and love of a few to overcome great and terrible odds and defeat that evil. This second full length novel in the Hidden series shows a second level of battles being orchestrated by a greater being in an attempt to regain their power and dominion over the Hidden and mundanes alike.  It should also be noted that this book takes place simultaneously as book one, Dragon Awakened, giving the impressions of a very intricate plot to overthrow the world.
Violet’s brother has just been brutally murdered and she just can’t understand the reason why. Determined to understand, she begins asking questions of the Dragons living on the fringes of the magick that gives all members of the Hidden their strength and energy.  Soon she discovers a plot that will lead her to seek the help of the Guard (the Hidden's police force) and led her down a dark and dangerous road.  Luckily traveling that road with her is Kade, a magick user and guard member, who has decided to follow his gut and work with Violet to uncover the conspiracy around the deaths of all the Dragons. Soon their intense attraction pulls them together in a heated relationship that neither imagines ever going anywhere permanent, but that neither is able to deny or hide from. When all their beliefs are tested and the truth behind this evil plot comes out, neither Violet nor Kade will come out unscathed and only by banding together can they survive.  Coming to depend on each other, however, provides another hurdle as their passion slowly blooms into something deeper and even more beautiful.  But can a dedicated Deuce Guard and a trouble-making but sexy dragoness really bind their lives together forever?
Kade was an odd duck for me to read about. On the one hand his nature is impulsive, strong willed, and adventurous, but on the other hand he has been living against his nature to conform to the requirements of his job for years.  He is just following orders when he sets  out to assassinate Violet, but when he comes across her in a very vulnerable state, he is inexplicably unable to fulfill his mission, instead deciding to question Violet and try to understand why her murder has been called for.  He immediately feels a connection to Violet, one that burns through every cell of his body, and he suspects she also feels that heat.  As Kade pulls more and more away from just being a coldhearted “cop” (for lack of a better word) and more into a passionate man determined to right a wrong, I find myself falling more and more for him, as does Violet.  Violet herself is a multifaceted gem, that has been hidden in the pile of rocks she calls her family.  She had her wild and reckless days in her youth, but has become a levelheaded and responsible adult, the voice of reason in her deadly family, which has given her an interesting amount of credibility with others in the Fringes.  When she takes on the task of saving all the dragons from a dangerous plot to wipe them out, she does what she thinks is best by contacting the guard, never knowing she is putting her own life on the line. I liked Violet a lot, especially her willingness to do whatever it takes to keep her family and friends safe. When she is faced with the ultimate test, she finds that loving Kade isn't as scary as she thought it might be and using that love to keep him safe and sane is worth any heartache.
In the end, I was amazed at the interweaving and planning required for such an elaborate plot and am REALLY looking forward to finding out what’s happening in book three, as I suspect it will also be happening in the same three-day time period as book one and two.  Kade and Violet work well together as a team to overcome all odds, even going so far as to trust each other to the depths of their souls.  Kade is a tough and terrifying man, who has lived his life, since the death of his father, for duty and honor and to protect his sister from shame, but when he is faced with an unthinkable decision, the goodness inside him and his own high morals overshadow his adherence to duty.  Violet is a perfect foil for him, with her wild antics and teasing nature, she perfectly balances his true protective but adventurous temperament.  When their love sneaks up on them both, it was great to see them both open their eyes to the wonder of the relationship they could share.  I also loved getting a glimpse of the overall deadly plot that seems to be running through all three stories on the series and knowing just who the bad guys ultimately are is intriguing.  Seeing more of the world they inhabit and getting to meet more of the characters was great, as well as getting hints of whose story might be next.  Can’t wait to find out if good ultimately defeats evil.

*Book provided by publisher for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ARC Review: Once in a Lifetime

Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbor #9)

by Jill Shalvis 


After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he's back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she's not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.
Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben - even though he has absolutely no idea what she's done . . .
Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Understanding the past, exploring the present, and discovering the possibilities for the future, Shalvis takes us on a journey to find love and forgiveness in her newest trip to Lucky Harbor. Returning to Lucky Harbor for me is like going to visit your favorite crazy aunt for the summer and getting to enjoy the antics of her small town crazy neighbors.  There is never a shortage of the hilarious, ridiculous, and outlandish, and even though there is never an intention too, someone always gets hurt by the gossip.  If you haven’t followed the Lucky Harbor series to this point you will still enjoy the book, I guarantee, though you will not be as invested as us loyal followers. I have been looking forward to Aubrey’s story for a while now as her friends and cohorts found love in the last two books. I also wanted to get to know Ben more and finally find out all his secrets.   This story, aptly named Once in a Lifetime, is a book that you should read at least once and a tale of love that only comes around once, one that is meant to be and not to be missed,
Ben has returned to his hometown in Lucky Harbor with only one goal, finding his place in life now, without his late wife and without the entanglements of relationships. But the ever present Aubrey is impossible to ignore, even though she spells trouble in huge capital letters.   When he finds himself working side-by-side to bring her dreams of a successful business to life, he learns more about the sexy blonde who has haunted his nights since he returned. Aubrey is trying to earn herself some good karma, trying to make up for her bad decisions in the past, but things aren't going quite as she imagined.  When Ben pushes himself into her life—and her bed—she finds him irresistible and decides she can have a bit of fun with him without feelings or entanglements getting in the way.  The more time they spend together, however, the deeper her emotions become for Ben, something neither of them wants.  So how does a woman that has never depended on anyone find her balance with a man who not only doesn’t need her, but doesn’t seem to want anything she has to offer? Only Ben can show her her true value and give her the one thing she’s always wanted—a partner in life.
Oh man where to start with these two… Aubrey is a prickly, sarcastic, guarded and vulnerable young woman who has never had anyone in her life appreciate her for anything beyond her looks.  She’s been in trouble numerous times in her life, but has always found a way to pull herself back up after each hit.  I respected her for the way she never let anyone’s barbs outwardly affect her, but it is obvious that the hurt she feels is felt deeply and has made her fearful of having a happy life.  She is a hard worker and clearly intelligent, though most disregard that aspect of her personality and when she sees something she wants, she goes after it with all she has inside her. Enter Ben.  The shortsighted, grumpy, withdrawn man that is allowing his grief and anger at his past to affect not only his present, but any chance at the future.  He initially sees only the sexy blonde that is Aubrey, but as he begins to dig deeper into her personality, her wit, charm, and sensuality become more than obvious too him, not to mention her fears and vulnerabilities. Though he is unwilling to open himself up to her, he pushes and pushes for her to open to him, falling deeper in the process himself.  Sadly when it comes time to forgive and move on, so that he and Aubrey can be together, he balks and uses the opportunity to pull away, back into his shell.  I was so angry at him for doing that to her, but I can say I was thrilled when he finally pulled his head out of his butt and decided to step back into the land of the living and give them a chance at a future.
Lucky Harbor is the kind of place everyone should experience at least once for themselves. The characters that support—or sometimes tear down—the main characters in each story are well-written, side-splitting, and provide perfect counterpoints to the deep emotional storms that always brew in a Shalvis romance. Ben and Aubrey have a rocky relationship, one they both deny they are in until the very end, and they both have enormous amounts of issues to contend with.  It is obvious from the beginning they are a good fit though; Ben’s quiet and solemn nature perfectly tempers Aubrey’s impulsiveness and bossy assertiveness.  Seeing them interacting reminds us that sometimes not only do opposites attract, but they can make the most colorful and grandiose explosions. When acceptance finally allows them to embrace one another, Ben and Aubrey find that life together is way better than anything they can build apart.  That type of love really does come only Once in a Lifetime (pun intended) and knowing that they were able to overcome all the problems that could have kept them apart, gives me hope that a love like this can be found for us all.  Another hit out of the park for Jill Shalvis, a best-selling author that never lets me down and keeps her fans coming back for more of the small town antics of Lucky Harbor, WA.   I’m dying for the next in the series already, because just the hints we've gotten of Sam make me think he’ll make an awesome Hero. Keep up the great work, Jill.
p.s. Let it not be forgotten that Aubrey, like many of us romance lovers, is a bit of a bibliophile and a good bit of the story is set inside her beautifully renovated, newly reopened family bookstore! :) Just saying.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

*Don't forget to check out my previous post that includes an exclusive excerpt of Once in a Lifetime and a chance to win an amazing prize from Jill's Publishers. *

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jill Shalvis' Once In A Lifetime: Excerpt and Giveaway!

I am very excited to be a part of  the blog tour for Once In a Lifetime, the latest book by  New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis!!  We have an excerpt, along with the book blurb and a link to a Jill's social netowrking pages.  Don't forget to enter the amazing giveaway, which includes a $50 gift card to an e-tailer and a copy of Once In a Lifetime! All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win! And look for my review of Ben and Aubrey's story coming soon.

Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbor, #9) 




After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he's back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she's not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben - even though he has absolutely no idea what she's done . . .

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?


“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. Once again he was close. Too close. So damn close. “At all,” she added, hearing with some alarm that her voice had softened. Everything had softened, at just his proximity. “Ever,” she whispered, and found her gaze locked on his mouth.

He had a really great mouth.

“I don’t want to talk, either,” that mouth said very seriously. And then he lowered his head. They shared a breath for a beat, just long enough for her to know what was going to happen and feel the anticipation swamp her.

Then he kissed her, deep and slow and utterly mesmerizing. His hands were firm on her back. Needing an anchor, she reached out and grasped his shirt and leaned into him. He was warm and solid, so very solid, emitting the kind of strength that she herself was a pint low on today.
Leaning in more, she felt his body respond.

Someone moaned. I did, she realized, swamped with the sensation of being wanted, even just physically. She took in the delicious taste of him, the feel of him, the sound of his very male groan when she stroked her tongue to his.

Things got a little hazy then. A lot hazy. She felt his hands move over her, melting her bones away. She touched him, too. Her hands wandered all over his body—and good Lord, what a body.

She had no idea how long they kissed—and kissed—but she didn’t think about stopping until she ran out of air. Breathing hard, she slowly opened her eyes and stared directly into his.
They’d heated. Darkened. And something else. He wasn’t looking so relaxed now. In fact, he was looking the opposite of relaxed. He looked…feral.

And she was his prey.

Pre-order Links

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Blog Tour Giveaway

Jill and her teams have very generously provided you a chance to win an awesome prto celebrate the released of this newest addition to her Lucky Harbor series. Just fill in the rafflecopter below to be entered to win an e-gift card to an online retailer and a copy of Once In A Lifetime.

Author Biography

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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