Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: He's So Fine

He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11)



For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It's the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone ... until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she's rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she's ever laid hands on.
Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to "save" him. In fact, he'd like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He's just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole's heart, or will it be the end of Olivia's days in little Lucky Harbor?
Themes: Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating:  
The saga of the small town of Lucky Harbor continues with an interesting look into the life of a former child star and the sexy seaman who steals her heart. Lucky Harbor is a series I started on a whim and expecting it to just be a short foray into the lives of three estranged sisters who have returned to inherit their family inn, but the adventures didn’t end there.  Shalvis always has the ability to make you smile, cry, laugh and love while bringing to life the small town residents that are truly characters and giving the story life.  This final trilogy in the series began with a grumpy but sexy boat builder and the bright and terrifyingly cheerful neighbor that sneaks under his guard to love him, but this story is just as interesting and kicks off with one very hilarious, slightly unconformable interaction between the H/H.   I am sad to see this series ending, but know that the characters of Lucky Harbor will always be there when I’m ready to return to a visit. 
Olivia and Cole's story begins with her sweet but extremely misguided attempt to save him from drowning.  Cole is working on the boat early one morning, when a shock sends him sailing into the water.  Just as he recovers and resurfaces, he finds himself forced under again but the sexy woman that jumps in to “save” him.  A stooges-esque series of events follows leading up to Olivia and Cole finding themselves naked and freezing on his boat, and suddenly they are much closer in contact with one another than either is really comfortable with.  But the impact of having her in his arms is too much for Cole to resist even though he know very little about his mysterious neighbor.  After she escapes, Olivia finds herself thinking more and more about Cole, but knows she can’t form a relationship with him because of the craziness of the past she is hiding from.  But when the past comes back to haunt her in a big way, can she count on Cole to be on her side, or will she forever be left wondering what could have been?
Cole is a very sweet guy, with a bit of a savior complex in that he is always looking out for the others around him and everyone depends on his steady nature.   As he finds himself faced with the flighty but sweet Olivia there is no denying he wants her physically, but the emotional pull is something he never expected and is ill prepared to fight against.  It was great watching him try to sneak around, tunnel under, and finally just knock down the walls she had wrapped around herself so he would have a chance with her.   Cole's relationships with his friends and family were obviously big reasons he became such a good man, while maintaining the sexy edge that we’d expect from a man that spent years on oil rigs and then working his butt off to become a successful business men.  Stubborn, imaginative, and fast thinking, he is able to get most any situation turned around to his advantage.  Once he understands that having unrealistic expectations of others is just setting yourself up for disappointment, thankfully he is able to forgive others their transgressions and find a way to love, learning that not everyone is perfect.
Olivia has led an interesting and, in many ways, sad life.  She began her life in the spotlight, which is never a good place for a child, but she has escaped that world and never wants to go back there.  She has landed in Lucky Harbor, a place that she visited and loved as a kid, and hopes to be able to live her life in peace and solitude, and is succeeding pretty well.  Until she feels the need to rescue Cole when she sees him get shocked and land in the ocean early one fall morning.  She has watched and lusted after him from afar, but never planned to get involved.  The pull between them, especially when they are pressed naked together, is just too strong to deny or resist. She’s willing to indulge in a fantastic fling, but quickly she realizes that she can’t have a fling with a man like Cole.  Pulled deeper into a relationship she can’t handle, Olivia scrambles to push back, but when her family takes their demands for her time to a new level, causing a riff between her and Cole, Olivia sees just what she will be losing if she can’t get Cole back. I loved seeing her take on life and interactions with the town’s people, particularly the kids.  I will say that I wished she would have come clean with Cole earlier, having been warned that dishonesty was a major no-no for him, but I can see that he fear may have prevented that decision.
Being the second to last book in a long running series, I had very high expectations for He’s So Fine, and wasn’t let down, though I wished it had been a bit longer for some extra scenes.   There was plenty of the expected laughter, tears, sweetness and sadness running through the love story and the lust that fueled the chemistry between these two.  Cole was a bit rigid in some ways, but goodhearted for the most part, even though he needed a butt kicking from his sister to prevent him making a big mistake.  He was a lovable character, flawed, sweet, caring, and able to laugh at himself while still being strong, determined and steady.  Olivia is one of those women that can get anything she sets her mind to, mainly because she is willing to work her butt off to find solutions to problems and get what she really wants.  It was sad at times to see how her family continues to take advantage of her sweet and giving nature, but I can see that with Cole in her life now, there will be no more of that.  Olivia and Cole made a great team, had off the charts chemistry, and will obviously be a beautiful couple for decades to come.  With the End on its ways, He’s So Fine, hits just the right notes and gives us enough info to understand just what might be coming for the last of the boat boys (as I call Cole and his 2 best friends) in the next story.  I can already tell that this series will end on a high note, and though it pains me to say goodbye, I imagine that whatever wonderful story takes its place on Shalvis’s Release Schedule will be equally or even more entertaining. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

ARC Mini-Review: A Very Levet Christmas

A Very Levet Christmas (Guardians of Eternity #11.5)



A gargoyle of Levet's charm and intelligence should not be facing a solitary Christmas. True, he may appear a little unconventional, not to mention unconventionally little even for a gargoyle. But what Levet lacks in height he makes up for in loyalty, and being banned from the festivities surrounding the Queen of Weres' new pups is quite unfair.
So when a beautiful Christmas angel begs for help in fulfilling her duties, Levet has nothing better to do than agree. Armed with a magical wand, Levet confronts Damon, a pureblood Were intent on seizing the throne. Challenging the King will put the pups at risk and drive away Damon's potential mate, Gia. Who better to convince Damon to choose love, not war, than a gargoyle expert in "l’amour"? With a little magic, and a lot of Levet, this may yet be a truly wonderful Christmastime.

Themes: Holiday, werewolves, paranormals
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating:  
Ok, while I am a huge fan of this series and this author I have to say I was vastly disappointed in this novella, though I will say it was more like a short story than a novella.  That being said, had I known it was just a short story, I may have gone into the story with lower expectations, because for just a short holiday read there was plenty of humor and some drama, even if there wasn’t really much “romance”.  The story takes less than an hour to read and is almost real time, with the characters only living through a few hours during the entire story. 
Levet has been barred from the den of the new Queen of the Weres who has just given birth, her husband being a bit snarly and overprotective of her in her weakened state.   Deciding that he is obviously not welcome, Levet heads home, but finds himself meeting a Christmas Angel, trapped and unable to carry out her very important mission.  When he accepts the mission, he finds himself faced with an equal snarly challenger to the kingdom and the two of them travel through Damon’s past as he is taught the true lesson of love.  The Journey changes Damon and forces him to face some difficult truths, which ultimately leads him to make a better decision.  
I enjoyed the heart of the story and would have loved it were it a little longer with a bit more meat on it.  There was of course some interesting moments between the kings of Weres and Vampires, and their exasperation as they dealt with the much loved gargoyle (by the females at least).  There were some laughs, some sweet moments, and some tears. So overall I give it a three, just because I love Levet and getting to see some familiar faces puts you in the mood for the next book.  
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Evernight

Evernight (Darkest London #5)

by Kristen Callihan


Once the night comes . . .
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him—until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
Love must cast aside the shadows . . .
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable—and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.
Themes: historical, paranormal, demons, vampires
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Every once in a while, I come across a truly great series, one that is completely original and grabs my attention from the get-go, and the Darkest London series is one of these series.  Kristen Callihan has the ability to take you back into time, but still blow your mind with the alternate view of “history” she uses to enhance her characters and drive her plots.  I never imagined when I ran across this series just how many twists and turns it would take and how great it would truly be.  Whether dealing with magick, demons, murder, mayhem, love, romance, or family drama, there seems to be nothing that Callihan can’t address and make magical. This story picks up right where the previous story left off, taking us through the changes Will has undergone since his captivity and the trauma that has turned Holly into a reclusive and fearful woman.  I was thrilled to see them work through their problems and find a way to happiness, and am just dying to know what might be coming next. 
Will and Holly are both dealing with the fall out of their kidnappings, though they certainly both will never be the same.  Will has become a monster, with no control over his mind and a desire for revenge that shapes the madness that he suffers. When he crashes back into Holly’s life, intent on enacting his revenge against her, he didn’t realize he would actually be finding a cure to the disease eating away at his body and mind.   Holly is beyond surprised when she is faced with the changes she unintentionally wrought on Will under the duress of the demon that had captured them both.  Determined to find a solution to their dilemma while keeping Will sane and safe, Holly finds a temporary solution, but unfortunately it requires keeping Will close and the danger he poses to her heart and soul are even greater than the ones that he presents to her body.  Together they battle to defeat an unlikely enemy, find a permanent solution to Will’s troubles, and keep them both alive, but the more closely they work the more the passion between them become undeniable.  But the truth of their predicament becomes even more terrifying when their true enemy is uncovered, and there is no way they can defeat the fate driving their lives without the ultimate sacrifice… unless they can simply change their fates.
Will is a unique and intense paradox, a man driven by his base nature, but with a deep and loving heart once he embraces the truth he has buried in his heart for decades.   The physical changes to his body are the least of his worries as the metal that is overtaking him begins to encroach on his mind, leaving him a maddened beast more often than not, putting all those around him, even his closest friends, into the ultimate danger.  Keeping Holly close at hand to defeat the metal’s spread is a temporary fix, but he’s willing to help her and keep her alive so she can find a cure for him.  Only when he is faced with the truth of really having her so close he begins to understand that he needs her for so much more.   While Will was an ass more often than not, his passionate nature, strangely heroic behavior and intense belief in Holly’s ability to save him make him a perfect, if slightly tarnished, white knight to keep Holly from falling into the reclusive and slightly mad tendencies of her bloodline.
Holly is an intriguing character, mainly because she is the total antithesis of every heroine of historical romance I have ever read.  She is hard as nails, very scientifically minded and full of spunk, not something you’d usually find in a woman of this era.  Kidnapped and taken into the lab of a demon, forced to experiment and find a way to increase the demon's power, she never imagined she would be faced with the aftermath of her experiment.  Will pulls at the heart she has always denied and kept buried under scientific inquiry.  Her own sensual nature has been squashed for so long that she isn’t even sure she knows how to embrace it at this point, but there is no denying the basic chemistry or the more unexplainable emotions that are ever present between them.  The magical skill that keeps Will in her immediate care is one that I have only heard snippets about in the past and would love to see in person, but the most important of her skills is her ability to imagine and think outside the box as she is designing. Her ability to focus on her science, to the detriment of even her own health, makes her truly passionate side, one finally uncovered by Will, even more surprising and enjoyable to see her embracing.  All in all Holly was a great character that finally reached her full potential only with the help of her true mate and her perfect match.
The originality of this story and the characters that lived through it give Evernight, the edge that most stories never have and the softness of exposing two vulnerable hearts and teaching them to love together. The enemies and dangers are vast, the science just realistic enough, the magick sometimes terrifying and sometimes beyond even my considerable understanding, but at the core the story remains the story of two hearts finding a way to defeat all enemies and find each other.  Holly has lived her life on her terms for so long, never taking in to account her innately human need to connect, but when she finally is brutally reminded she makes those connections quickly and irrevocably.  Will has been badly damaged, but he is not without hope of redemption.  As they explore their new connection and work together to find a way to win all their battles, there is no way one can overlook the need they have for one another on several levels.  The passion between them was intense and heated, and the love that develops is just as much so.   But arguably, the most important of their weapons is their stubbornness and determination to find a way to win and have a future together.  I am wondering just whose book will be next but I have no doubts I will love it as much as Evernight and all the others that have come before.   Way to go Kristen!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Siren's Song

Siren's Song (Gray Court #5)

by Dana Marie Bell


A crescendo of evil could destroy their perfect harmony.
Oberon is well and truly lost, with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or where he’s going. One woman makes his palms sweat and his heart race, a woman with turquoise eyes and a beautiful voice. Instinct tells him she’s the only one who can save him.
Cassie knows the truth—he is the High King, her truebond, the one man born to be hers and hers alone. Restoring his memory and keeping him out of the Black Court’s clutches is her mission, though success means losing him. Yet to give the world back its High King, she will make that sacrifice.
As soon as Oberon’s memory comes crashing back through his mind’s closed door, he makes one vow. Though beset by enemies, chased and attacked, he will return to his rightful place with his Queen by his side.
Except when he makes good on his vow, all hell breaks loose. And when Cassie's life is threatened, the Fae world will bow before the High King or pay the price in blood.
Themes: erotica, paranormal, magick, MERMAIDS!
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
For any fan of Fairy/Faerie lore, the story of Oberon finding love again after his Titania turns to the dark side is one that cannot be missed.  I am an avid Bell fan and have loved this series since I read the very first story several years ago.  While I was surprised to see the flexibility of the world these characters existed in, I have known from the beginning that there were two characters’ stories I just HAD to read, Robin “Puck” Goodfellow and King Oberon, and holy hell did both of their stories take me on an amazing adventure.  The last story was in fact Puck’s and left us with MANY loose ends and lots of intrigue around Oberon and his future.  The wait is finally over and after reading Siren’s Song I can honestly say, there was no better mate for Oberon than a rebellious, intelligent, and spunky mermaid Princess.
Cassie has been in a few stories now, giving us a chance to get to know more about her, but never really explaining just how important her role will be. When Oberon’s memories are stolen, she sets out to return him to his life and his throne, knowing the entire time that in doing so she might lose any chance with him, even though he is her truebonded mate.  Oberon, even without his memories, retains a scary amount of intelligence and all of his not insufficient magick, but he senses the connection with the sexy siren that has come to his rescue.  As Cassie and Oberon travel across the country, working to recover his past, they both fall deeper and deeper into their connection, and when his memories come back in a rush, there is no way to deny that a connection between them still burns.  But with enemies circling the waters even closer to them then they realized and the future of their entire world hanging in the balance, can they overcome all obstacles and arguments and have their happy ending? Or will it all wash away with the next tide, leaving them both duty-bound and desperately lonely?
I just loved both Cassie and Oberon’s characters and the love that developed between them.  The chemistry is obvious from the first minute, though they both try to deny it for different reasons.  Cassie is layered with mystery and as we are slowly given more info, I come to understand just how unique a woman she really is in her world.  Independent, compassionate, sweet and sensual, she refuses to give up her happiness without a fight, even if it will leave her on the run from her own parents her entire life.   The way she slowly brings Oberon back to himself, healing him, even at her own expense, shows the love that she already has for the enigmatic ruler of their world—and her heart.  Oberon is the quintessential “onion” male—the layers to him are endless, and each one if more surprising when it is uncovered.  Obviously his heart is heavily guarded, having suffered the ultimate betrayal from his first mate, Titania, but that heart is not cold by any means; his love for his family and closest friends and the faith he has in the goodness of others shows that if a woman could get past his fears she would become the most cherished woman that any could ever hope for.  I loved watching Oberon take charge and kick ass when his woman is threatened, but turning around and using his quick and cunning mind to keep his kingdom free of strife. 
Overall, Siren’s Song, definitely lives up to its name, drawing the reader in and the taking them on a wild ride through the minds and hearts of the rulers of the magickal kingdom and the people that support them.  Seeing previous couples and the ways their lives have changed through the books was a real enticement as well, especially Shane and Akane and Robin and Michaela.  Cassie was a sensual, exciting, intelligent, and beautiful soul that perfectly complements the darkness that lingers in Oberon’s heart, but her strength and rebel nature are just as interesting.  Oberon has a long road to travel to regain his memories, but as he travels it he remembers the beauty of love and finds himself believing in others once again, starting with his tenuous trust of Cassie.  When they finally both give in to the desire and destiny circling them, the heat burns through the pages and there is no denying these two have enough chemistry to sustain their passions through their immortal lives.   Once again Bell has given me a story that I can sink my teeth into, and the history and mythological freedom she takes, strays just enough that you can still understand and appreciate the original mythos but believe the new direction she has taken as well.  Cannot wait to find out whose story might be next, though I have my suspicions and it will be AWESOME!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: The Prince Who Loved Me

The Prince Who Loved Me (The Oxenburg Princes #1)

by Karen Hawkins 


A handsome, rakish prince who doesn't believe in true love meets a stubborn lass who will settle for nothing less...
Prince Alexsey Romanovin enjoys his carefree life, flirting—and more—with every lovely lady who crosses his path. But when the interfering Grand Duchess Natasha decides it's time for her grandson to wed, Alexsey finds himself in Scotland, determined to foil her plans. Brainy, bookish, and bespectacled, Bronwyn Murdoch seems the perfect answer—she isn't at all to the duchess' taste.
Living at the beck and call of her ambitious stepmother and social butterfly stepsisters, Bronwyn has little time for a handsome flirt—no matter how intoxicating his kisses are. After all, no spoiled, arrogant prince would be seriously interested in a firm-minded female like herself. So . . . wouldn't it be fun to turn his "game" upside down and prove that an ordinary woman can bring a prince to his knees?

Themes: historical, Highlanders
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well a new series has branched in the wonderfully witty, intriguing, and often-hilarious mind of Karen Hawkins.  I have read almost all of Karen’s books and have loved each one for its laughter, tears, and sometimes-exasperating characters.  If you are looking for a heavy and emotionally angst filled story this might not be the best choice, but for the lighter side of historical romance, you can’t do better than Hawkins.  This new series, while not technically a spin-off of the previous does carry over some familiar names and return you to a familiar place and time.  This is just one of the reasons I loved Alexsey and Bronwyn’s story of mistaken identities, challenges and ultimately lifelong love.  And let’s not negate the awesomeness of a sexy Gypsy Prince and his crazy Gypsy grandmother and all the antics they can get up to.
Bronwyn is enjoying a book in her favorite woodland hideaway when she is interrupted by the most handsome man she has ever seen and is immediately attracted to him, a truly novel experience for her.  And when he decides that he will steal a kiss, she doesn’t really put up much of a fight.  Alexsey has traveled with his grandmother to Scotland in an attempt to win her favor so she will release his birthright as king of the Gypsies to her, but he has no plans to actually enjoy his time there while he dodges her attempts at marriage matching.  When he takes the sweet and sensual woodland maiden into his arms though, he never imagines just how much his life will change.  After they are both outed, their true identities revealed to each other, the passion that was there doesn’t dissipate and each is determined to get something from the other, while maintaining their freedom and their hearts.  However, seldom can we plan for the true feelings that can develop with the chemistry that combines to make a love for the ages.  The question is can they each let go of their personal agendas in order to find happiness with one another?
Alexsey is an arrogant reprobate for sure, but he is sweet and sexy so it is really easy to overlook those less than stellar parts of his personality.  Having met his brother in a previous story, I knew I would like Alexsey in the end, but I found myself quite often wanting to knock the hell out of him for being so shortsighted and narrow-minded.  Letting go of his plans and just deciding to enjoy his time with Bronwyn humanizes him in a big way and makes me like him even more.  Seeing how sweet he is to his grandmother, without letting her very strong will trample him, shows the true measure of the man, even as his intentions toward Bronwyn are not exactly honorable.  I loved seeing him fall in love with a woman just as unwilling to give her heart to a scoundrel and then having to get down on his knees—metaphorically, of course—to get her to accept his love and proposal.  It’s obvious to me that he will make a great king and lead his people with a steady and compassionate hand. 
Bronwyn, the poor girl, just wants to be left alone, on the shelf so to speak, to enjoy her freedom and independence.  She tried to fit into the mold of the ladies of London, but her brain and her rebellious streak just never gave her a chance.  Now that she has matured there is no way she will give up her independence, not even for a man like Alexsey, even if he has captured her heart and soul.  Bronwyn’s wit and intelligence put her way ahead of all the frilly and empty-headed ladies of their era and, though her stepmother wishes otherwise, there is no changing her and making her into a debutante.  Her love of books, adventure, and family round her out into a character that will make you understand the true meaning of the phrase “a woman before her time” as there is no doubt she would fit in quite well in 2014.  Seeing her come up with a plan to best Alexsey, you can see right away that both will have their hearts broken, unless there is some serious intervention, mostly because while she is trying to manipulate his feelings, her own are sinking deeper and deeper into her heart.  
The Prince Who Loved Me, while set in the days gone by, could just as easily be a story set in modern times; a tale of the damage that misconceptions and assumptions can cause, along with the drama of a woman trying to find her way in a world where she doesn’t fit in and a man trying to reconcile his duty and his heart’s desires.  Bronwyn was an interesting character, reminding me of many a great historical heroine, with a tough outer shell, determination in spades, and a soft and loving nature underneath.  Alexsey was an arrogant mule, but sexy as hell for it, using his not-inconsiderable seductive skills to give Bronwyn the adventure of her life and teaching her that being independent doesn’t necessarily mean being alone, while learning the true meaning of love from her.  Alexsey is a passionate man and when he sets his mind to seduce Bronwyn there is no denying him, the heat that stirs between them threatening to burn the reader right along with them.  And when tragedy threatens their perfectly planned relationship, only by overcoming the naysayers in their lives and proving to each other the depth of their love do they have a chance to reach their happy ending.   I am seriously dying to see what other trouble these princes can get into and just what their lovely and clever as hell Grandmother Natasha will do to keep them in line and find them their perfect matches.   Another great series by Karen Hawkins in the making.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mini-Review: Burning Desire

Burning Desire (Dark Kings #3)

by Donna Grant


The Dark Kings have fought for centuries to preserve their dragon magic. But can one warrior resist the greatest temptation of all?
In his quest to destroy the Dark Fae—his nemesis—the Dragon King known as Kiril goes to Ireland as a spy. When a gorgeous, mysterious woman tries to seduce him, Kiril instantly sees through her glamour to the Dark Fae beneath. Shara isn’t just any Dark; she’s from one of the most powerful bloodlines—and despite the dangers, Kiril can’t stay away from her. He’s enthralled by her smile, enslaved by the undeniable passion…
Shara has one chance to make things right with her family—and to prove her worth. It seemed like such an easy mission…until she actually meets Kiril. His charm, his sexual magnetism is too much for her to ignore. Shara knows that falling into Kiril’s arms can bring her nothing but trouble. Yet she discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had…and an attraction that knows no bounds. But is her desire for Kiril worth the risk of eternal doom for them both?
Themes: paranormal, dragons, Fae
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
As I have already written a detailed review for the serial releases of this story I just wanted to share a bit of my opinion about the story as a whole. Having once again ventured into the world of Scotland, through the eyes of Donna Grant, we get to experience the greatness of the Dragon Kings.  This newest addition is the story of Kiril’s foray into the dark side as he tries to discover more about the Kings’ new enemies and save an old friend as well.  Kiril has been in Ireland, earth base for the Dark Fae, for a good while now, but has made little to no progress with finding any news about Rhi, their Light Fae ally who has been kidnapped by the Dark. The Dark have stepped up their game and they are actively trying to capture Kiril and finally keep a captive Dragon King.  But their new lure is reluctant and one that is irresistible to Kiril but still won’t pull him into the trap.  Shara is a Dark, sort of, and she has been given a mission that will redeem her in the eye of her family and her people. If only she can get over her feelings for Kiril and accomplish it.
This story certainly took some interesting twists and turns, through lies, passions, betrayals and forgiveness, as well as showing us a side of the Light Fae queen that I never expected.  Both Kiril and Shara are faced with their deepest fears and must find a way to overcome them if they are to defeat their enemies and make it out of this war alive.  The biggest danger, of course, being their love and the risks they take being together.  When they are both put in the ultimate danger, the trust they have tenuously been building is put to the ultimate test, and though they hit their bumps along the way, in the end they are able to overcome the danger keeping them apart and have a chance to build a future together. 
Each of the Kings, especially Con, plays a prominent role in this story, and we get to see a more complex and slightly darker side to Ulrick, though even still I cannot decide is he is truly an enemy or just a male blinded by his rage and unwilling to give up his revenge.  Hopefully he will fall on the side of good in the end.  But the most important part of this story is the message that no matter our origins it is our choices and our inner strengths that really define our lives and make us who we are.  Shara might have been born to the Dark, but she has never really had what it takes to sustain that evil and the compassion and innate goodness shines through even as she plots for ways to save herself from her family and their evil plans.  Kiril obviously had some issues to work through with trust, but in the end he too was able to find a balance and come to understand the importance of Shara and the love they have found together.  I am looking forward to the next story in the series and learning more about the Kings.  My biggest fear is that more kings will appear as the battle wages, lengthening the series and bringing even more intricate worries, but mostly I fear this because for pity’s sakes, someone please convince Donna to tell us who Rhi’s lover was before I lose my dang mind!! If she drags out this mystery for too many more books I may just have to track her down and beg and plead with her to share the secret!   Keep up the great work Donna and you will always have a fan in me.

For full review see my blog posts:
Burning Desire Part 1 & 2
Burning Desire Part
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: Irresistible Force

Irresistible Force (K-9 Rescue #1)

by D.D. Ayres


When adrenaline runs high, so does the force of desire…
For Shay Appleton, it’s love at first sight when a gorgeous stray dog is brought into the animal shelter where she works. She just knows he’ll make a terrific watch dog—and with an abusive ex who won’t let go, she needs all the protection she can get. But Shay never suspected that her new pet is actually a trained police K-9 named Bogart—until Bogart’s even more gorgeous, human partner shows up on her doorstep.
Officer James Cannon is one tall, strong alpha male who’s convinced that Shay stole his dog. But once he gets closer to the suspect, he realizes that this stubborn, independent woman not only needs a guard dog, she needs James as well. It seems that someone from her past is stalking her, and threatening her life. When danger meets desire, will James risk his career and his best friend…to protect the woman who’s stolen his heart?
Themes: police, k-9s, contemporary
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
And an all new series begins.  I am a huge fan of romance stories revolving around animal lovers and stories about policemen are even better, but combining the two… YUM!  This series revolves around different k-9 police officers in different areas and different branches, but all carrying through the theme of sexy, strong, alpha guys that are animal lovers and will kick any man’s ass that threatens their women.  Honestly who could beat that?   The novella that acted as a prologue to this story, Necessary Force, was a pretty great story, set in DC, and involving an FBI k-9 cop and a renowned photo journalist.  This first full length novel takes us to the south and introduces us to a sexy small town k-9 cop and the woman that has stolen his dog—and quite possibly his heart. These are the only two stories I have read by this author and I really enjoyed her plots and relationships, even though her writing was a bit choppy at times.   I will definitely be reading the next in the series to see what kind of k-9 cop we’ll meet next.
James has traveled to a small hidden cabin in the south, following a tip that will lead him to his stolen k-9 partner, but he never realized that waiting along with the dog is his future.  When he sees Shay with his dog, Bogart (who she calls Prince), he is surprised to discover that she isn’t the nefarious scoundrel he expected, but is instead a tired and fearful woman, driven to find a way to overcome her past and keep herself safe from the world around her.  Shay instantly triggers his cop instinct and James cannot resist the chance to learn more about her, but when they give into their passions, instead of bringing them closer, Shay is determined even more to push him away.  Overcoming her fears and insecurities might just pose the biggest challenge this overachieving badass has ever faced, but with the help of his trusty side-kick there’s nothing that can stand in the way of making Shay his woman.
Though it might seem that James is the most important character in this story, being the k-9 cop that the series revolves around, Shay is really the character that drives this story and brings the most plot challenges for readers.  To begin, she is obviously scared of her ex and finds herself at a crossroads trying to keep him from taking over her life.  Then there is the added layer of her fears based on past life experiences and the truth of her past that just might be too much for many men to handle.  When her walls begin to come down, we get to see the soft and loving woman that she is, but it doesn’t negate the true survivor she has become.  You can tell from the beginning that she has a core of steel and nothing will break her, not even her own insecurities when it comes to falling for James.  There was also an obvious sweetness in the way she interacted with Bogart/Prince, even before she begins to show that sweetness to the humans around her as well.  I could honestly say I would love to have a friend like her and was thrilled to see her find her love with James. 
So, though he’s not the driving characters of this story,   James is of course not to be overlooked seeing as he is the hero.  James is a strong male character that is obviously the type of guy that every woman wishes she could find.  Compassionate, sweet, caring, and strong, there is nothing that can defeat James once he puts his mind to something.   Once James accepts his desire for Shay, even long after that initial desire is quenched, there is no way he will give up a chance to really get to know and love this woman that has captured his attention.  Using his skills and intelligence to keep her safe, and offering her the emotional support she really needs, James is able to draw Shay out of her shell and give her the confidence to realize she is falling in love right alongside him.   They say the best way to tell a person’s true mettle is how they treat an animal, which makes it obvious to all that James is a true white knight with all the character and strength needed to keep the world safe. 
Irresistible Force was a very enjoyable read, with a few interesting developments, plot twists that were just the tiniest bit predictable, but still great to read,  and characters that you can connect with on a deeper level.  I loved Bogart/Prince and it is obvious to the readers that Ayres has a true understanding of the greatness of dogs and the love that comes with being loved by these amazing creatures.   James and Shay have their differences and their hurdles to overcome, but seeing them working together it becomes evident how great a team they could make, far into the future.  Shay is a woman that has been beaten down by others and her own past, but she is definitely not broken by any means.  Once she finds her inner strength and the confidence to fight for herself we get to see her take some interesting chances and ultimately become her own hero in the end.  James, while definitely a nosey man, is determined to keep Shay safe and show her how good they could be together if she’d stop fighting.   I enjoyed the story as a whole, and the heat between James and Shay was palpable through most of the story.  My only issue was that the story seemed to be a bit erratic in the writing, with the POV switching mid stream and sometimes the changes in the minds of the characters being somewhat abrupt.  I am looking forward to seeing more in this series and seeing the writing develop and mature.  
p.s. I suggest that after reading this story you take the opportunity to visit you local shelter and donate either time or money to the cause, or even consider adopting or just becoming a foster family for all the animals trapped in shelters like Bogart might have been without Shay’s intervention.  Just my little soapbox rant! :) Enjoy the story.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mini-Review: Hot Shot

Hot Shot (Hostile Operations Team #5)

by Lynn Raye Harris 


Cool under pressure… Until now.
Hostile Operations Team sniper Jack “Hawk” Hunter is cool, methodical, and utterly lethal. Nothing rattles Jack’s calm. But that was before he learned he fathered a child three years ago—a child who has just been kidnapped.
Gina Domenico is a superstar, a pop sensation with a string of hit records. But deep inside, she’s still the lonely girl she’s always been. When Jack saved her from an arms dealer, they spent three unforgettable days together waiting for rescue—and Gina fell hard for the sexy soldier before he walked away forever.
But now she needs his help and she’ll do anything to get it. Though Jack can never forgive Gina for keeping his child from him, he’ll do everything in his power—and HOT’s—to bring their son home safely.
Nothing is what it seems, however, and their fates hang in the balance as someone else pulls the strings…and brings them ever closer to an explosive confrontation that could either save their son—or cost them everything.
Themes: military, contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well that was quite a story of two different worlds clashing.  Harris takes us back into the world of the HOT team and the women that stand behind their men in this tale of forbidden attraction, love overcoming obstacles, and learning to trust in the emotions that drive us all.  I loved seeing Hawk healing from the loss of his previous wife with Gina’s help and the honest love of his new son.  I was very surprised to see Harris take this approach, as others I’ve read along the same vein usually have the woman come back when they are pregnant for the “surprise, you’re a daddy” moment, but in this case the timing was crucial, especially in that the truth may never have come out had the danger not arisen.  The overall story was interesting, but the core of this story was definitely each of the main characters overcoming their pasts in order to have a future together, free of the ghosts that have long haunted them.  Another great HOT story with passion, drama, danger, and the sizzle of two opposing forces coming together to find love.
While I have always enjoyed a good “insta-family” story as much as the next girl, I almost always have doubts about the total package working out well, but with Gina and Hawk I believed they would find a way from the very beginning, even if they didn’t.  The strength of Hawk’s character is what I knew would make him a great husband and an even better father.  He would never allow anyone he cared for to remain in danger for long, much less the first woman he has connected with since his late wife, and sure as hell not the child they created together.  I loved that the story began in the past, allowing us to see the beginning of their courtship instead of just getting a prologue and then boom there’s a baby—which has been a peeve of mine in previous similar stories.   Once Gina enlists Hawk and his team’s help, there is no doubt in my mind they will win the war and find a way to keep everyone safe, even if there are a few dark and twisted moments. 
Hawk and Gina were both interesting characters, and the meshing of those personalities was enough to keep the pages burning up, even without the extra drama they were dealing with.  A whirlwind romance is an understatement and it was interesting to see how they each dealt with the circumstances and pitfalls that were inherent to each of their lifestyles.  I have enjoyed each installment of this series very much, and am thrilled to find out what is coming next in HOT Rebel.  Harris had taken the often overworked “mercenary” angle and turned these men and women into rich, deep, and lively characters that are easy to fall in love with.  But I wonder if we will see any more lady warriors stepping into the void left by Hawk, which would be amazing.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.