Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ARC Review: Forged

Forged (The World of Nightwalkers #4)

by Jacquelyn Frank 


When Katrina Haynes discovers a large man lying wounded in the snow, she fears he is at death’s door. But as Kat tends to his injuries, she quickly realizes that they’re the least of her worries. With an irresistible Scottish brogue and a strange ability to harden his chiseled body like a statue, the stranger awakens a desire she is unable to resist—and a fascination about the intriguing world he exists in.
As a proud Gargoyle, Ahnvil must safeguard the Nightwalker to whom he’s sworn fealty. But as this bewitching woman nurses him back to health, arousing an almost uncontrollable hunger within him, he is possessed with the fierce impulse to protect her as well. And he will have to shield her—for by coming to his rescue, Kat has placed herself in the middle of a supernatural war . . . and exposed herself to dark, powerful magic. As human and Gargoyle forge an unbreakable bond, Kat will discover that despite his intimidating strength and size, one thing Ahnvil does not possess is a heart of stone.
Themes: shifters, paranormal, magick
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well now that was an unexpected turn of events, and one I did not see coming.  The series isn’t so much branching off from the expected H/h combos as it is including some new and interesting characters and bringing in fresh blood to keep the series original, while still being awesome in that it brought in favorite characters from the previous Nightwalkers series.  For some reason, even after the last book, it never occurred to me that future books in the series might have an H/H that weren’t Bodywalkers and I am somewhat glad of my shortsightedness because I was happily surprised to have a sexy Gargoyle and human (mostly) as the lusty leads in this new story. Frank takes us on a thrilling ride from the snowbound mountains of Washington to the sultry heat of New Mexico in a tale of a man whose heart has long been hidden behind a wall of stone and a woman who has never found a place in the world she can feel at ease being herself.  If there is one thing I’ve learned about Jackie, though, it’s to never go into anything she writes with expectations because things will never be as you thought and you will always been pleasantly surprised.
To start Ahnvil’s story we get an interesting bit of background about his life, quickly moving forward to present day where he finds himself at the mercy of his enemies after an ambush.  When he makes a dangerous escape attempt, injured and facing the ultimate death if he doesn’t get home soon, Ahnvil is forced to accept help from Kat, a sexy and naïve human female who pushes all of his buttons and brings to light feelings he thought long buried. When Kat stumbles upon a bleeding half dead…half stone?... man in the snow on her morning walk she never expected the changes and dangers he would bring to her life—much less the excitement and love. Giving in to her long neglected physician side, she immediately gets him back to her home and sets about restoring him to health, no matter how much he scares her or turns her on.  The more she learns about her mystery man, the more she wants to know, but knowing will put her into even more danger and when a stupid choice makes it impossible for her to escape him altogether, Kat finds herself traveling to New Mexico to meet a whole race of people she never thought existed.  And shall I mention there is a mysterious phantom along for the ride (I won’t spoil the surprise on this one but I gotta say I LOVED this part!). Falling for a gargoyle never even entered Kat’s mind, until she met the one sexy man who turns to stone but melts her heart like a lava flow. And when a powerful enemy captures Kat, only by embracing her newly discovered strength and trusting in herself and her man can she find her way back to safety and her new friends and family.
I would normally spend a bit of time talking about the Hero and Heroine at this point, but I find myself unable to touch on them too much without spoiling a lot of surprises in the story so I’ll keep things general as much as possible.  Kat is a strong woman, one who has some real hang-ups and has become something of a recluse, with only her dog for company.  She once thrived on the challenge of being an ER doc, but now she lives quietly on her mountain and is sure she will never find a man to have a future with.  I liked her personality a lot, though I felt she was entirely too conflicted with her desires when faced with a gorgeous naked and horny male. When she learns the truth about herself and finally finds her place in the world, I was so thrilled for her and am looking forward to seeing her in future stories after she has had even more time to develop and grow as a woman. Ahnvil is a bit harder to analyze as, like his name implies, he is hardheaded and too stubborn to open up to Kat very much.  His fears about being with Kat were sweet to see, but when he is at his most lusty I can honestly say I would have been a little scared of his intensity. Accepting help from anyone is tough for him, but as time moves closer and closer to his ultimate destruction, he lets himself come to count on and care for Kat.  When she is taken from him the true depth of his feelings is uncovered and he knows he can never let her go.  The intense heat between Kat and Ahnvil provides an immediate pull that is impossible to resist for too long, but the feelings that develop are delightfully subtle and realistic.  There is laughter, fear, indecision, and vulnerability from the beginning of their relationship, but once they make the conscious decision to be together there is no limit to the passion, love, or strength they can each gain individually and as a couple.
This story of two very different, but oddly perfectly matched individuals finding love with one another is one that I will remember for a while to come. Ahnvil is one of those guys that can just seriously get on your nerves if you let him; he’s brash, sometimes crude, and bossy as hell, but he’s always sweet, sexy, tender, thoughtful, affectionate and protective.  I loved Ahnvil from the minute he walked onto the pages and I am glad I didn’t write him off as a jackass just because he tried mauling the woman rescuing him.  Kat was a different kettle of fish—her I liked from the very beginning.   Firstly I have to point out that she owns my FAVORITE breed of dog and I hate her so much for taking my dog, but moving on. How can you not love the type of woman that will go above and beyond just to rescue a total stranger from harm?  As she learns more and more about the world that she really lives in, she handles the danger and strangeness with great aplomb and dignity, when many others would have passed out from the sudden and continued hits that come her way.  The heat that these two stir in the air as they get closer and closer to each other is so intense it surprises me they weren’t able to just melt the feet of snow around them after the huge blizzard. I loved the overall plot line, the intriguing plot twists and the startling truths that come to light several times in this story.  I liked this spin-off series before, but now I can officially say I’m in love and will be longing for the next books and the future story arcs that will come from the changes to the World of the Nightwalkers. Keep the hits coming Jackie.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: A Demon in Dallas

A Demon in Dallas (Huntress Chronicles #1)

by Amy Armstrong 


Two years ago, vampire hunter Raven walked out on the love of her life in order to save his, but now that she needs Connor’s help to locate a demon in Dallas, can she keep their encounter to business only, or is she about to fall for the sexy were-shifter all over again?
When her partner Matt is kidnapped by vampires, it’s down to vampire huntress Raven to locate him. But during her rescue mission, she nearly succumbs to the wicked charms of an evil fairy and is blackmailed by a devious angel who wants her to locate a demon in Dallas. Raven’s superior in the hunters' council gives her just seventy two hours to find Matt before a team of hunters are sent in whose mission statement is kill first, ask questions later. Raven’s going to need help, but the only person she can turn to is her ex-boyfriend Connor, a werewolf who Raven hasn’t been able to get out of her heart or head.
Unwittingly thrown into a battle between good and evil and with danger lurking around every corner, Raven must race against the clock to locate the demon and rescue Matt while dealing with her feelings of guilt for walking out on Connor two years ago - even though she did so to save his life.
Themes: witches, shifters, vampires, paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well this was certainly a different take on the world on magicks and myths, set in modern America with mostly modern individuals and a split between paranormal beings that puts them at odds with each other and puts them in more danger from those that hunt them all.  This was my first experience reading anything by this author and it was interesting and a good read all in all.  The plot was a little choppy with so many things happening in so short a time and not necessarily blending as seamlessly as I’d like, but it was well written and thought through, keeping things from being completely disjointed. I liked the heroine of the story and the hero was sexy and strong.  I don’t usually like stories that come in during the middle of a couple’s time together, always feeling a bit like I’m playing catch-up in their relationship, but this one gave enough back story and detail that I was happily able to connect.  I am looking forward to reading more in this series, and by this author in general.
The story follows hunter, Raven, as she embarks on a mission to save her recently kidnapped partner and best friend.  The mission requires her to enlist the help of the one man she never imagined having to contact again, the man whose heart she broke in an attempt to keep him safe.  Needing Connor’s help puts her heart directly in the path of being ripped from her chest all over again, but when the danger surrounding them begins to mount and their lives become even more complicated, only together can they beat back their enemies.   Connor hoped to never come face-to-face with Raven again, even though she still fills his heart, he cannot trust her again and believes the love he thought they had was never reciprocated.  When the truth of her leaving comes to light, the fury he feels leads Connor to make dangerous decisions, ones that could leave them both broken and battered…or give them the chance to find their HEA once and for all.
Raven was a character I could definitely relate to, a woman that will give up everything to keep her man safe, even her happiness and the life they could have together. She definitely made the tough decision with all the right intentions, but now she has to deal with the fallout of those choices. Raven is a warrior at heart though and she is willing to fight for her chance to find understanding even knowing forgiveness will be impossible for a man like Connor.  But the passion that still flares between them offers a bridge that will give them a slim chance to reconcile.  Connor believes she left him because the love they shared was never real, completely one-sided, and finding out the truth hurts even more than that belief.  Giving in to their needs reminds them both of the connection they have always shared—physical, emotional, and mystical—one that is unbreakable and eternal.  Working together to survive their enemies allows them both to decide that the love they share is worth any fight as long as they are together, which really is the whole point of romance novels to me, so it was a big plus.
While all in all I found the story a bit erratic, there were several points I liked and I will say I enjoyed the book, though it being a bit longer might have given more time to eliminate the spastic feel. Raven and Connor were interesting characters and an entertaining couple.  There were lots of familiar themes in the story and some that were just a little bit strange to me and I haven’t fully grasped the continuing plot that will hold this series together. Raven, as a hunter was a bit of a letdown, with her often being in the position of being rescued, I’d have liked to see her kick ass a bit more often, but I liked her interactions with Connor and others in the story.  Connor was a sweet but heartbroken alpha male and when his fury hits the roof it was certainly a sight to behold, but in the end his loving nature is what made him a good character.  There was plenty of heart between Connor and Raven, though here again had the book been longer I think this could have been explored more as well.   I am looking forward to where this series is going and seeing what else the author has in store, but I hope the next stories are a least a bit longer.
*eBook provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mini-Review: Sinful Seduction

Sinful Seduction (Red Stone Security #8)

by Katie Reus


He'll do anything to protect her....
Former Marine and newest Red Stone Security employee Alexander Blue is still adjusting to the civilian world after a decade spent at war, but when he sees someone in danger, nothing can take away that intrinsic need to protect. After stopping a would-be mugger, Blue finds himself being bandaged up by a sensual local artist in her Key West condo. He never expected to stay the night, even if it is on her couch. The mysterious Mina gets under his skin in a way he never thought possible. When it becomes clear that her mugging wasn’t random and she’s being targeted by deadly men, Blue has no problem stepping into the role of protector.
But she doesn't want to be saved
Tired of being coddled and treated like a child, Mina has tried to distance herself from her family. When danger finds her, she’s forced to turn to the sexy stranger who she feels a strong, unexpected connection with. In him she sees glimmers of herself; a little broken, withdrawn and wary of the world. Soon she learns that the biggest threat might not be from the men trying to kidnap her, but from the quiet warrior who poses an immediate risk to her heart.
Themes: contemporary, mercenary 
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
 The hot steamy fun continues in this newest edition to the Red Stone Security series.  I love this series and have for a while and am thrilled it didn’t end when the spin-off Seraphina series began. The characters in this series are always interesting, sexy, smart and full of heart. Though we haven’t known Alexander Blue for very long, his personality pulls you in from the beginning and you immediately know you want to learn so much more about him.  Being a follower of the series I can say that you will enjoy this book whether or not you’ve read others in the series, but you are missing out on greatness if you don’t go back to number one and try them all.
When Alexander Blue finds himself at loose ends between missions, he never imagined he’d run into a dangerous conspiracy that would require all his exceptional skill to keep himself and the sexy Mina safe. Rescuing her from muggers, there is an immediate connection and he finds himself reluctant to leave her once he gets her safely home, and surprisingly she is just as reluctant to let him go.  Deciding that their attraction is worth investigating, they soon find themselves irresistibly drawn together and when it becomes apparent that she is in continued danger, Blue will do everything in his power to keep her safe, while keeping her with him.  Mina likewise is willing to give up some of her hard won independence to keep them both safe, but will she give up more to have a future with Blue?
Overall the story was intriguing, the romance was quick but well written, the love that develops was believable and I can honestly say this is one I will be reading again.  Mina is the type of woman I could see being my friend, even though she’s disgustingly beautiful.  She’s sweet, down to earth, uncompromising, and passionate about what she wants outs of life.  She uses her head as well as her heart to lead her life and help her make the best decisions for her life.  Blue is an obviously wounded warrior, one that has lost a lot of his faith in men, but refuses to give up on keeping the darkness from overtaking his life and putting those he cares about in danger.  I loved watching him in action when he protected them from or attacked the bad guys.  I even liked seeing him a bit uncertain in the beginning of his relationship with Mina, making him seem more human and less superhero.  The danger they had to deal with was not as intriguing as some in previous stories, and was sad to say a bit forgettable, but I felt the attacks and battles were there to bring them together more than anything, so they did their job. I was thrilled with this novella and I am looking forward to even more in this series, though the length continues to frustrate me because I just want so much more at a time.  A great series that continues to keep my interest and bring me back again and again.  Great work Katie.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Dark Heat

Dark Heat (Dark Kings 0.1-0.3)

by Donna Grant 


The Dark Kings are sworn to defend an ancient legacy of dragon magic. But their fiercest challenge lies in the modern world, where a woman’s love conquers all. These are their stories.
Dark Craving
Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love...with a mortal woman.
Night’s Awakening
The dark immortal warriors were never meant to experience human desire. But when Guy, a member of an ancient order of shape-shifting warriors, meets Elena—a mere mortal whose beauty and blind ambition shakes him to his core—all bets are off...
Dawn’s Desire
For centuries, the Dragon Kings have hidden their shapeshifting powers from the world. But when a mortal enemy threatens to expose them, the warrior Banan must leave his secret lair in the Highlands to risk his life for the dragons within—and resist the temptations of human love.
Passion’s Claim
Banan has been waiting for centuries for someone like Jane. Guy knew it was love at first sight with Elena. Can two Dragon Kings commit to two immortal women for eternity? Or does fate have something else in store?
Themes: shifters, dragons, magick, paranormal
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating:
 Dark Craving
Hal and Cassie’s story is one that happened REALLY fast, but I could see the instant connection between them and had no problem believing the love that developed between them, even at so fast a speed.  Cassie stumbles into Hal’s life, moving into the cottage down the road from the Dragon Kings’ home and finding that Murphy’s Law is in all its glory when it comes to her life.  Hal stumbles on her in need of rescuing and before he even learns who she is, he is pulled to her and the desire that flares through him is unexpectedly strong.  Never imagining that she could accept him, Hal is still determined be her hero, but she discovers his secret and loves him anyway there’s no turning back for them.
Hal is a sexy beast (pun intended) and sweet to the core, a true gentleman and one that maintains his spirit and sweetness despite the length of his life and the loneliness that is beginning to flow into him.  Jane is just the woman to pull him back from the edge and the two of them make a perfect match.  The passion between them is hot as dragon-fire and there is no denying that their HEA is destined and at no time will they ever separate.  This story was a great beginning to the series and introduction to the real lives of the Dragon Kings.  If you have read the Warriors series most of these characters will be familiar to you, but getting to learn more about the Dragon Kings was a serious thrill. I can say for sure though that when Con finally falls in love with a woman the world will change forever.
Night’s Awakening
Elena and Guy on the other hand have quite a bit of angst and danger in their story.  Elena has come to the highlands with her boss on a caving adventure, never imagining her life will soon be in the hands of a very sexy, alpha, but deadly male and his distrustful friends. When she is rescued from the dark cave by Guy she feels a connection to him, but her fears of the men keep her pushing him away, but when they give her their trust and ask for her help with uncovering a new enemy she can’t say no to them and especially not to the undeniable desire she has for Guy. Thankfully they are able to overcome the dangers surrounding Elena and find their HEA… or are they?
Elena doesn’t start off as my favorite type of character.  She’s a bit meek, letting her boss lead her into dangerous situations and then when she is left to her own devices it takes her a little too long in my opinion to step up and defend herself.  When she finally finds her spine I found myself liking her much more.  And seeing her heal and love Guy, we see the sensual and sweet sides of her as well. Guy is the ultimate bad boy; a broody, sexy, and suspicious Dragon, Guy resists the pull to Elena because they cannot trust her motives for being in their mountain, there are just too many coincidences for her not to have been there to try to expose the Dragon Kings…right? But when she earns their trust and he is able to have his wicked way with her, his feeling are unquestionable and there is no chance he’ll ever let her leave him.  Seeing the Kings in action to keep Elena safe was fabulous and I cannot wait to get another chance to read more about Elena and Guy in their part of Passion’s Claim. Con is becoming a bit of a character that I love to hate, one that I cannot wait to see get his butt kicked by love, but I have a feeling we’ll be waiting a while to see this happen.
Dawn’s Desire
Jane just can’t seem to catch a break.  Just when she starts to find her niche at her job, she overhears her boss talking about something she just couldn’t have heard.  When she contacts Elena, attempting to spill the beans, Jane finds herself pulled into a world of danger, deceit and Dragons.  Never imagining that she can be of any help to them, Jane is surprised when she is recruited to help Elena and the Kings to find out more about their new enemy and his plans for them. But meeting Banan changes everything for her. Can she keep her new friends safe, guard their secret, and perhaps find love with one sexy, sweet Dragon shifter?
Jane is a woman I find myself relating to easily.  Though she stumbles into a conspiracy that she should never have encountered, she immediately takes steps to do the right thing, not giving too much thought to the consequences that might develop for her. When her passion for Banan begins to develop into something much deeper there is no way for her to escape Banan and certainly nowhere for her to run from him or her own feelings.  Banan is a sweet and considerate guy, one that puts his woman above any consequences, even the chance of exposing the Kings to the humans, if that’s what it takes to keep her safe.  When he decides she is his, there is no turning back, he commits wholeheartedly, no matter his fears, concerns, or worries about the future.  He trusts that their love will overcome anything… and he’s not wrong.  And all I can say about Con is: karma is a bitch and when he falls for a woman finally, like more and more of the kings have, there is no way in hell I’m gonna miss reading about it!.
Passion’s Claim
This story is more of a two-part epilogue to two of the previous stories than its own story, but it adds just that extra touch of greatness to the stories and the overall series.  Part one revolves around Jane and Banan and the changes coming to their relationship and their lives.  They have been together a little while now and have settled into their love, but neither of them have had the courage to broach the next big step—the binding ceremony that will mark her as his mate for life.  After a set of sweet circumstances, Banan and Jane finally take that step and their love is enriched and proven beyond any doubt.  Part two is about Guy and Elena and their story is a bit more complicated, heart-wrenching and sad, mostly because Guy is just too much the silent type to talk issues out and that leads to a huge misconception on bother their parts that stands the chance of tearing them apart and breaking their hearts for all time.
I loved both of these stories for different reasons.  Jane and Banan’s was sweet and loving, with only a bit of nerves and angst that quickly went out the door, reminding us how great a couple they are.  Jane and Banan are still both great characters and their love is obvious.  Elena and Guy’s story was more challenging to read with lots of tears and sadness before Elena finally turns everything around and gets her man.  I found myself liking Elena even more, knowing that she was able to get past her hang-ups to make sure that they don’t throw away their chance at true happiness.  When she finally came to her senses and started fighting for them, I knew there was no way she could fail and she would get her man and keep him forever.  Two great shorties that wrap up the Kings stories beautifully. 
I seriously CANNOT wait for the next full length novel in the series and any future stories.  I have loved all these stories and the Dragon Kings’ cameos in the Warriors books as well.  If you haven’t read that series you will maybe miss some of the subtle mentions of that series (and of course the greatness of that series cannot be forgotten), but you will still enjoy this series. I am looking forward to the future plotlines and finding out where the Dragon Kings are headed and what women will earn their hearts.
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

ARC Mini-Review: To Love a Highlander

To Love A Highlander (Scandalous Scots #1)



As one of the bastards born to the Stirling court, Sorley the Hawk has never known his mother or father. It's a burning quest he has devoted himself to uncovering at any cost. But as a roguish warrior who serves at the pleasure of the King, his prowess-both on the battlefield and in his bedchamber-is legendary. So when a flame-haired Highland lass sneaks into his quarters with a tantalizing proposition, he can't resist taking her up on her offer . . .
Lady Mirabelle MacLaren will do anything to keep from marrying her odious suitor, even sully her own good name. And who better to despoil her than his sworn enemy, the one they call "Hawk?" As they set about the enjoyable task of ruining her reputation, Hawk and Mirabelle soon learn that rebellion never tasted so sweet.
Themes: historical, Scotland, highlanders
Rating: 3.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well, I liked this book a lot, though not as much as the prequel to be honest and I can’t say I loved it.  The story was well written, interesting, with just enough passion and intrigue to keep the book going.   If you missed the prequel you’re missing out on a great story, but you will not in any way be lost reading this story.  The characters were well written, the plot was inventive and the setting was fascinating and beautiful.
Mirabelle is a brave woman, one that has taken her destiny into her own hands, determined to have a chance to be able to be with the only man she has ever loved and to also keep herself from being stuck with a devil of a man instead.  Having once fallen head over heels at first sight, neither Mirabelle and Sorley ever really recovered from their first meeting and when they come together again things get complicated quickly. When his past comes back to haunt him and their passion becomes too much to handle, neither of them are willing to give up on their love for anything.
Mirabelle is a great character and I loved her a lot.  She is modern beyond her times, unwilling to lose her man again and sweet to boot. Watching her blossom under Sorley’s attentions while she brings out the sweet and loving side of him made everything worthwhile.  Even though her plan is to gain Sorley’s help in tarnishing her reputation, it is obvious to reader that her ulterior motive is just to have a chance to be with the man she loves.  Sorley, one of those guys with a strange code of honor, attempts to refuse Mirabelle at every turn, trying to keep from feeling anything for her again, while still protecting her from the villain after her and determined to release her in the end to a future match with someone he feels more deserving of her.  Somewhere during all his planning, Sorley fails to take into account the fact that a woman like her knows her mind and when she decides just what she wants there is no resisting her or his love for her.
Overall, while I liked the story there was a sense there was a little something missing for me; there was a point that the story took a sudden turn for both characters and suddenly they went from making plans to never be together to suddenly declaring their undying love and deciding to marry and live HEA.  I liked Mirabelle and Sorley a great deal and the love that they both shared in the end was passionate, lasting, and sweet.  Seeing Sorley on missions and in action saving his woman was eye-opening since we mostly see him as a lady killer instead of a serious warrior. Mirabelle’s plan was a good one, something I could see any modern woman doing to try to get her man, and her bravery and heart kept her safe in some scary situations. I just wish that there had been a more subtle change of heart for the couple, one that showed the gradual change from determined to split to deciding to be together forever. I loved the connection with Archie McNab and am looking forward to the development of that story line in future books, since I have a hunch just where this is going.  Meeting Sorley’s three other friends was great too and I believe they will be the heroes in the rest of the books in the series; I do know Roag is next and I’m looking forward to it greatly. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Shadowed (mild spoliers)

Shadowed (Dark Protectors #6)

by Rebecca Zanetti 


Jase Kayrs was the fun brother. The warm, charming, easy-going brother of the vampire leaders. Until he was taken and tortured by demons with their evil mind tricks for nearly five years. Upon his return, he’s dark, violent, and not the man they all thought they knew. Not the man he once was. He’s haunted that the only reason the demons would have let him live was to use him as a weapon against his family—but he can’t figure out when or how he’ll explode. Plus, once again the demons are after Jase with a vengeance…or rather, a female demon he rejected is out to destroy him.
Then the king asks Jase for a favor…a big one. To mate with one of their allies in order to save her. She’s everything that’s good and light in the world…while he’s at home with darkness. Yet he agrees…knowing mating may be the only chance to save them both.
Themes: vampires, witches, shifters, paranormal
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Honestly, I just don’t know where to begin with this review.  I have been looking forward to reading Jase's story for so long, wondering and anticipating who his mate might be, and never expecting this turn of events.  I was thrilled when I finally got the chance to read this story and thought I’m sad it is over, I can say I LOVED this story every second my nose was stuffed in the pages. The series, to this point, has taken a long time; I think the overall storyline is a twenty or so year gap from book one to this one, but the time has been filled with war, chaos, alliances, betrayals, and the love that conquers it all.  Jase being the last of the Kayrs brothers to get his story signals to me a coming end to the series and though that makes me a little sad, knowing that this fabulous family will have peace again soon gives me a happy feeling in my brain and heart. While Jase’s story is on the heavy side with a lot of issues being dealt with for both Jase and Brenna, the love they find in each other and the healing that comes from that love gives the story a heartwarming angle that was unexpected, what with all the war, death, and psychosis being dealt with. If you haven’t read the previous stories you will definitely be lost, but Zanetti writes with enough flair and skill that you will find yourself engrossed regardless.
After being held captive for five years, Jase is not the same man anyone remembers, least of all his family, or the woman who once had a crush on him.  But when Jase comes to Brenna with a chance to regain her strength and perhaps find a measure of happiness as his mate, what’s a girl to do other than reluctantly accept his offer.  Though Jase has his own motives for offering to mate with Brenna, there is no denying the heat that she kindles in his body or the emotions that she brings to the surface.  She is a light to his darkness, even when he knows that darkness has consumed him.  Working together to try to find a way to keep Brenna safe, and possibly save the world from imploding on her birthday, Brenna and Jase quickly develop a deeper connection, one that could keep them both safe or could destroy them both in the end. 
Brenna is a character that has always intrigued me a bit, one that we have met in the past, but never really gotten to know as more than the miraculously born eighth daughter of a seventh daughter—something that is unheard of in the history of Witches—and Moira’s little sister.  Her strength has been waning for years since she was poisoned with the only substance known to be able to sicken witches.  She has been battling it with every method, both scientific and magical, but she is losing the battle and only by regaining her strength before her birthday can she have any chance of averting a disaster prophesied to be caused by a combination of extraordinary events culminating on her birthday. Thought she has never believed the prophecies, others do, and the factions both for and against her have placed her in danger more times than she can count and mating with Jase might be the best way to get her life back and have a future.  She has had a crush on him for years, but never imagined she’d have a chance with him.  Even knowing the practical nature of their mating, she quickly begins to fall for the dark and scary vampire and protecting her heart becomes her new life goal.  But most importantly she has to save him from the darkness he has descended into so he has a chance to recover his loving and light nature.
Oh what to say about Jase.  He was once such a light and joyful guy, even as he was a trained killer and soldier, finding happiness in the smallest of experiences and the love of his family and friends. But all that changed when he was kidnapped and tortured by the demons.  Though he was rescued by his family he has not really recovered and doesn’t really want to heal.  He lives only for duty and vengeance now, for the chance to take his revenge against the sick demons that tortured and twisted him and ruined his family.  Even mating with Brenna is just another weapon for his quest for vengeance, believing that by mating with her he can regain his gifts and even earn some of hers so he can wreak havoc on the world. He never imagined that he would feel anything again, much less the love he begins to feel for the sweet, slightly naïve, and loving Brenna.  Brenna gives him the chance to change, to become a man worthy of her and though she is way too good for him, Jase begins to work toward becoming that man.   When the chance for ultimate revenge comes along, his only thought changes to keeping his mate safe and finding a way to heal for her.  Finding his true nature and becoming again the man he was becomes possible in the light Brenna shines on his life.
Having said all that, I can say for sure this book is full of some serious drama; kidnappings, betrayals, battles, escalations of the war, changes in the entire world of the Realm and even the chance for peace in the near future.  The war is definitely winding down and we get hints that soon the end will come one way or another and it will come down to the three kids we have been watching grow through the entire series: Janie, Kalin, and Zane.  Jase and Brenna’s story gives us hope for change, even as the war continues to wage, but their mating certainly has quite the impact on the world.  I loved seeing Jase face his demons (no pun intended) and finally find the healing he has needed, as well as finding the love he buried deep for his family and being able to give that love to Brenna.  Seeing Brenna come into her own was amazing as well, because though she has been declining in health for several years, she never stopped hoping for a cure and a chance to regain her powers, and boy howdy does she get her power boost at just the most important time. Brenna and Jase’s passion burns up the pages whenever they are together, even if they are just sniping at each other or challenging one another’s dominance, but my favorite parts are when Brenna pulls the sweet side of Jase out to play.  The love that they discover for one another is one that will lead to many happy years for them and will give them both the confidence to tackle any challenges or defeat any enemies. I am seriously looking forward to whatever comes next in this series, but most notably I am looking forward to finding out what happens in the ultimate battle to win the war.  I have never found a Zanetti book or series I didn’t enjoy, but Jase’s book pulled on every emotion and reminded me why I became such an avid reader almost a decade ago. 
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Hot Package

Hot Package (Hostile Operations Team #3)

By Lynn Raye Harris 


When public relations expert Olivia Reese stumbles onto evidence of a dangerous conspiracy right before Christmas, there’s only one man she can call for help. Billy “The Kid” Blake is a member of an elite military unit—the Hostile Operations Team—and he’s Olivia’s former lover.
Billy never forgot the sexy woman who rocked his world—and his bed—before she walked out on him. Now that she needs his help, he’ll do anything he can to keep her safe. But as time runs out and the snow piles up, can Billy and Olivia work together to thwart a lethal plot against the Pentagon without getting involved again?
Themes: military, contemporary, holiday
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Hot Package is a novella set in the interesting, testosterone fueled world of the HOT team, a group of exceptional men that lead extraordinary lives, and often find themselves falling in love in the strangest of circumstances.  Billy’s story has a fun holiday twist, along with sad truths being faced by both the H/h and the return of love thought lost.  I have enjoyed this series from the beginning and am looking forward to more, but I can honestly say, though I enjoy these novellas, the full length novels are much my preference.  While Harris uses every word she writes to pull you into her world, the longer novels give you more time to develop deeper feelings for the characters and more time for the plot to unravel and of course more time for the love to develop between the couples.  I am very much looking forward to the next full length novel.
Billy and Olivia’s story starts with Olivia getting pulled into a plot by her company to endanger lives all in the name of capitalism.  Determined to keep her company from ruining of those they are bound to protect she takes the evidence she has to the only man she knows who might be able to help: her former lover and member of the HOT team, Billy “the Kid” Blake.  When she walked out of his life a year earlier she had her reasons, and though she never stopped loving him, she never planned to go back either.  Her past has shaped how she interacts with men and she is unable to trust in her heart or any chance of true love or happiness, even though Billy means the world to her.  When Billy finds her walking through his woods late one evening through a snowstorm he's more than surprised, he is staggered by the emotion she still pulls from him and terrified that the danger she has stumbled into will put her life in jeopardy, but he is not willing to forgive her for walking away from them.  Working with his team, Billy and Olivia find their investigation taking them even deeper than expected into the conspiracy her company is wrapped up in and it places them both into mortal danger.  Will the love and trust they had, but both gave up on, be rediscovered in time to keep them both alive?
Olivia and Billy were both characters that were heavily influenced by their pasts, most notably their parental examples of love and relationships.  Billy has never been able to forgive his mother and when Olivia repeats his mother’s mistakes, Billy is unable to forgive her either, but he sure as hell can’t forget her.  Billy was a sweet guy under all his alpha bad-ass-ness, but he was definitely broken in a lot of ways.  Never having faced his past he can’t seem to find a way to let go and have a future.  Watching him interact with the guys of HOT was fabulous though because he is seriously a smart guy.  When he finally accepts that sometimes you have to just let the past go in order to have a chance for a happy future, I find myself wishing I had a Billy of my own.  Olivia has her own hang-ups though.  Her mother’s love life was really a revolving door of men and she was obviously too concerned about herself to worry about the impact she was having on her daughter.  Consequently, Olivia just can’t seem to accept love when it comes her way.  Thought she knows she loved him, she can’t seem to give in and accept that she and Billy might just get their HEA if they are willing to stick it out and work for it.  Seeing her finally come to the same conclusion was awesome and I found myself truly liking her once she decided to stop letting her mom’s dysfunction rule her life.
I enjoyed the novella very much, disregarding the fact it was too short for my liking.  The overall plot was interesting, with a bit of action, conspiracy, espionage, and betrayal.  Seeing the HOT team and getting to read more about past couples was a big plus, and of course I am even more intrigued to read future books about other HOT members.  Olivia was a decent character and it was intriguing to see her working through her issues so she could be with Billy.  Billy was the best kind of guy, one that has his issues but is willing to work past them.  The love between them was obvious even as they both fought the passion that still flared a year after their breakup.  There was a bit of pain, a lot of passion, plenty of sweet love, and the overall sense that these two will be a couple for a long time to come.  Even if you haven’t read other books in this series I can honestly say this is a great stand-alone read, though of course the other books are just as good so reading them would not be a bad idea. I am dying to read Dangerously Hot, Lucky and Kevin’s book, and seeing what mischief they find themselves wrapped up in.
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.